Formally stated, Newton's third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Translated, every time White Ethno-Nationalists and 1488's move their agenda on the street, they are confronted by Antifa. Every place Ethnat-1488 goes, Antifa follows-often getting there first.
Stick to stick, shield to shield, pepper spray shot to pepper spray shot, Antifa is matching the Alt White's ground attack blow for blow.
Virtually unheard of until Donald Trump attempted to rebrand them on August 15 as the Alt-Left, Antifa is an intriguing political movement of a new type. They are no more the "Alt-Left" than they are the moral equivalent of the white supremists. In truth, there is no Alt-Left, self identified or otherwise.
Indeed, one of Antifa's most enduring qualities is its reluctance to be guided by the vector of a muscular ideology. But does anyone really need to be "political," or "ideologically driven" to oppose violent advocates of racial superiority? A functioning brain and rudimentary grasp of contemporary affairs should suffice. That being said, Antifa has located itself on the center "left," of the political spectrum. Still, they don't subscribe to a definitive political platform or claim allegiance to party.
Antifa vibrates to a cosmos based on one simple fact based reality. The fact is that fascist movements not met by violent resistance, can and will grow, even to the point of seizing state power. History shows that moral condemnation and peaceful protest alone, are the enterprises of wishful thinking and costly failure.
Scott Crow, a self-described Antifa activist put it this way, "Hate speech is not free speech. If you are endangering people with what you say and the actions that are behind them, then you do not have the right to do that." Thus, Antifa feels its position is ethically justified and strategically effective.
So just who is Antifa? Best to think of them as Marvel comic book action figures. By day, they are students, teachers, nurses, call center operators and baristas serving moca lattes at tony suburban communities. But when they are called, emailed, texted or Facebooked, they dawn their black combat gear and show up to fight the Klan, Nazis and other neo-fascist forces. In Minnesota, one youth arrested and clothed in Black bloc, once unrobed was identified as the son of Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine.
Like most superheroes, they exist largely in anonymity. Many come to battle masked, a wise practice for the street fighters who harbor no illusions about "enemy lists" maintained by the deep state, and the Alt White 1488's.
Last month, the Justice Department attempted to force Dreamhost--a web hosting company to turn over information on anyone who visited the disruptj20.org site used by groups protesting Trump's inauguration. Over 200 people were arrested, including Antifa activists. After Trump's' August 12 speech targeting Antifa, the Justice Department is preparing to kick down some doors. Dreamhost has refused to turn over the data, and now finds itself in the dock of a courtroom.
Antifa are essentially leaderless combatants, possessing no hierarchical organizational structure. They thrive on local autonomy and creative decentralism. That model has worked well since Antifa first surfaced back in 2007. Its flagship chapter is the Rose City Chapter in Portland, Oregon.
On those occasions when Antifa activists conduct interviews, they are plain spoken and truthful. Questioned about Donald Trump's post Charlottesville rant claiming they attend protests armed, they pleaded guilty as charged. Antifa also has a history of visiting violence against property as wel as 1488's. In Berkeley, in February 2017 they hurled Molotov cocktails and smashed windows after shutting down Alt White guru Milo Yiannopoules. Nor are they shy about taking the fight to the police. Antifa is "direct action plus."
Apart from the engaging in pitched battles and street demonstrations, Antifa is battling the Alt White on other fronts. They expose Alt White activists to their neighbors and employers, engages in public education programs and pressure venues to cancel Alt White events.
In their fight against the Alt White, Antifa is finding allies in the struggle. In battle, they often find themselves shoulder to shoulder with Black Lives Matter activists. After Charlottesville, Anonymous, hacked into the Daily Stormer website, shutting it down with an apparent DOS attack.
In the wake of Charlottesville, Antifa's brand has become synonymous with the fight against the Alt White. They are now front and center in a critical struggle. Should they remain true to their principles, they will remain there.
A Tale of Post-Ideological Resistance
From Lucha No Feik
Presented as a personal, good faith critique of antifa and not merely an anti-political purist attack, in light of the current moment. Note: this is speaking from a non-European context.
1.: Antifa is essentially limited by being mostly just anti-fascism (or to a degree somewhat against white-supremacy) but antifa usually stops short of being actually radical or revolutionary (explained below). Antifa acts a wall (“¡no pasarán!“) where as revolt is a bulldozer. As an anarchist I am not interested in just stopping the current tide but creating a whole new wave.
2.: Antifa in Los Angeles (& in its vicinity) from what I have seen has been a mostly white subculture, where white Leftists can express their anti-racist-ness instead of an embodying an actual (anti)political force. They show up to nazi rallies but not much else. I did read somewhere that a NYC antifa group once drove up to Queens for a pro-immigrant noise demo ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
3.: A united front against fascism has never really worked out well for those of us who want to destroy more than just fascism. Our desires to do more than destroy, and/or prevent fascism, find themselves indefinitely tabled. Antifa is not a political project and has no real political content beyond “let’s beat up racists.” I do see now an attempt to extend the project of antifa beyond this historical limit point but instead of attempting to extend the project I would rather further other actual radical projects.
4.: Anti-fascism tends to point to a return to a less-racist status quo but usually does not look at structural things deeply enough to understand that to be against white-supremacy would include being against the USA as a colonial nation-state. Antifa sees trees where there is indeed a forest; in that they view the enemy as an individual (i.e. Trump) or groupings of Nazis or other racist white-nationalists instead of analyzing the structural nature of our racist society. This is an analysis that is but a few steps removed from the Liberal position that we should just all get along.
5.: Antifa often bases itself in a type of good vs. evil moralism which assume being against white-supremacy or racism is a purely personal choice made by good people, thus once again obscuring structural and impersonal white-supremacy. Antifa often makes appeals to “duty” as its motive, instead of self-defense or something else (though now the language has shifted toward self-defense). This likely speaks to the historical mostly white makeup of antifa.
6.: To describe every material action against racists and/or white nationalists as antifa, as some in antifa do, is to erase the resistance and revolt of those who are not antifa but something all their own.
If Antifa were to oust Donald Trump and to somehow de-mobilize every single racist in this society we would be left with a situation akin to what those in the Arab Spring experienced. The head of the State and its lackeys may be ousted but there persists the structure of the State and its manifold institutions. A reportback from Tunisia states as much. The revolt against fascism (or a bonafide dictator) must seek to go beyond a sort of purification of the territory. Racism is not just the action of organized white racists, but the perpetuation of a whole system. Obviously, what is not mentioned above is another glaring omission of antifa: a substantive critique of capitalism.
Lastly, antifa bears no real critique of democracy, whether representative or direct. This is mostly due to its lack of politics. This returns to the reality that antifa lies dormant when the status quo, that does not trouble it, rumbles on. As noted in Dixie Be Damned, “white supremacy’s greatest ally in this country has been democracy, not fascism.” Since antifa relies on demonization as part of its mobilization, it could not (and did not) mobilize in any way against the Obama administration. Antifa may have seen Obama as contemptible, but fears of being seen as racist blocked resistance to Obama and his policies (this was even more broadly seen on the Left). Anarchists and anti-state communists bear no such compunctions. We know the enemy is not just fascism or organized white racists but the whole of this society.
All this to say, of course I am against fascism but I am also against many other things. Critiques of these notes will come on like a flood. I may be attacked as not giving the answer to what is to be done now in our current moment. I would contend that the goal is the same (full communism) but because of the upswing of the Right that we will need defensive measures. It would behoove us to make of our defensive measures ones that are also offensive. The Liberals and the Left already are making calls for unity and safety above all, but what has been necessary is to foster antagonisms and the antagonisms have never been as high as they are now. Should we put away our partisan rage now? And on safety: this society has not only failed to keep us safe before Trump, it has been actively attacking us as an internal insurgency with racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, transphobic, xenophobic and capitalist violence. Safety should be a given but we know that real safety comes with a fundamentally different form of life.
Let’s open the possibilities of our revolt against this society instead of foreclosing them. Let’s roll.
ANTIFA: DIRECT ACTION PLUS
ON ANTIFA, SOME CRITICAL NOTES
From the Anarchist Website: Its Going Down
Antifa - Shuts down Milo Yiannopoules in Berkeley
Rose City Antifa Statement on Direct Action, Education an Maintaining Cultural Left Spaces
Rose City Antifa opposes fascist organizing through direct action, education, and by maintaining
political and cultural Left spaces.
Direct action includes all activity that immediately stops, subverts or opposes public organizing by fascists. Our two goals in this are: prevention and/or consequences. We assess each scenario to determine which of these two directives seems most relevant, and proceed accordingly. When it is not logistically possible to prevent fascist organizing itself, we provide consequences to the organizers.
An example of this is our successful “outing” campaign in August of 2008 revealing the organizing efforts of several key Volksfront members to their neighbors and co-workers. (Volksfront is an international white supremacist organization that originated in Portland.) The boneheads in this case were "outed" as a result of their participation in a nationwide white pride event in Missouri. Some lost their jobs, some even moved out of state after this campaign. The direct action component is supported by the constant research and monitoring of fascist organizations.
Education is crucial to creating a real grassroots resistance to the insidious doctrine of fascism. In these uncertain times people are vulnerable to the easy answers that fascist theory offers. No need to worry about complex systems of international Capital, blame it on a secret cabal of Jews, the Mexican living down the street, or the homosexual teaching your child immorality. Fascism offers tangible and accessible enemies, enemies that can easily be beat, often because they are already in an underprivileged position in our society.
The new face of fascism is much more sophisticated than the shaved-head, tattooed stereotype of the 80s--though those guys are around too. Fascists often couch their racist agenda in the language of anti-globalism. They know how to appeal to environmentalist sensibilities, they are often anti-war, and they can even be mistaken for feminists now and again.
We want to arm people with the analytical tools necessary to effectively unveil the underlying racist/sexist/ homophobic agenda beneath the pleasant veneer. We also strive to offer a more radical analysis of the dynamics of oppression to people that may not have access to it. Often people don’t really know what fascism means, let alone how it manifests or can be prevented. We strive to provide a more in-depth, sophisticated analysis than the liberal or conservative narratives on fascism. To this end we produce and distribute material that we believe serves this purpose.
Solidarity organizing helps us create antifascist spaces, culture and relationships that are, at least for the moment, inoculated against the oppressive norms that define our broader society. We believe it is important to know what you are for, in addition to what you are against, and to model these values in principled and cooperative relationships within a community network.
Social and cultural events can be as important to weaving a more cohesive resistance as any formal meeting. We believe that being antifa is a measure of what you do, not simply a measure of what you don’t do. Simply not saying racist things does not make you anti-racist. We must actively work against a larger society, which is built on oppressive relationships, and find ways to carve out pockets where new values can emerge. Part of this is simple mutual aid; we ally ourselves with groups that hold common values and support their work in any way we can. The other part of this is offering an attractive vision for the future to the disenfranchised youth that are actively recruited by neo-Nazis, as well as Christian right and other hate groups.
The young, white, working-class men that are recruited to the radical right often have legitimate cause to feel anger and frustration. They have been cast aside by a dehumanizing world, and the Left has abandoned them.
We want to offer a culture that they can see themselves signing on to, one that seeks to build a classless, free society. A vacuum will always seek to be filled, and while we are perfectly willing and able to eject those values and people that are toxic to a free society, we must also be willing to fill that space up with meaningful and imaginative new solutions.
This principle essentially dovetails with the education principle. Intellectual understanding alone will not stop fascism without real world application, and a lifestyle is shallow and ineffectual without a strategic, theoretical framework.