Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Is Antifa?

In a better world Donald Trump would have stifled his thoughts about moral equivalence yesterday. They made him look like he was taking back what he had said the day before. Unfortunately, we do not live in this better world and Trump continues to blurt out what comes to mind, regardless. Whatever else you think, he will certainly go down as the president who has most fully mastered the Freudian art of free association.

If psychoanalysts knew anything about psychoanalysis, they would acclaim Donald Trump the model of the cured patient.

Today’s radical and anarchist left, now going by the name of the Antifa, for Antifascists, is not a bunch of nice people. They have happily adopted the methods of prior fascist brigades, from the German Brown Shirts to Mao’s Red Guards.

According to Peter Beinart—not a right wing loon—the Antifa radicals have given themselves the right to determine who speaks and who does not speak, who can and cannot exercise the right to free and peaceable assembly.

But in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not. That authority rests on no democratic foundation. Unlike the politicians they revile, the men and women of antifa cannot be voted out of office. Generally, they don’t even disclose their names.

The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.

Like the fascist right the anti-fascist left has no use for democracy:

Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.

In June of last year, demonstrators—at least some of whom were associated with antifa—punched and threw eggs at people exiting a Trump rally in San Jose, California. An article in It’s Going Down celebrated the “righteous beatings.”

Obviously, the antifascists are just as fascistic as the fascists they abhor. Beinart argues effectively that the fascist right and the antifascist left feed each other, provoke each other and produce a cycle of violence.

Some of the violence counts as relatively mild. Beinart reminds us:

On Inauguration Day, a masked activist punched the white-supremacist leader Richard Spencer. In February, protesters violently disrupted UC Berkeley’s plans to host a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor. In March, protesters pushed and shoved the controversial conservative political scientist Charles Murray when he spoke at Middlebury College, in Vermont.

On Inauguration Day antifa radicals committed numerous acts of violence, including firebombing cars. They did the same at Berkeley. At Middlebury they sent one woman to the hospital. We are not talking about engaging in free and open debate.

The Antifa radicals happily rationalize their actions:

Antifascists call such actions defensive. Hate speech against vulnerable minorities, they argue, leads to violence against vulnerable minorities. But Trump supporters and white nationalists see antifa’s attacks as an assault on their right to freely assemble, which they in turn seek to reassert. The result is a level of sustained political street warfare not seen in the U.S. since the 1960s. A few weeks after the attacks in San Jose, for instance, a white-supremacist leader announced that he would host a march in Sacramento to protest the attacks at Trump rallies. Anti-Fascist Action Sacramento called for a counterdemonstration; in the end, at least 10 people were stabbed.

Some of the fascist Trump supporters have turned to violence. This, from Portland, Oregon:

When antifascists forced the cancellation of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, Trump supporters responded with a “March for Free Speech.” Among those who attended was Jeremy Christian, a burly ex-con draped in an American flag, who uttered racial slurs and made Nazi salutes. A few weeks later, on May 25, a man believed to be Christian was filmed calling antifa “a bunch of punk bitches.”

The next day, Christian boarded a light-rail train and began yelling that “colored people” were ruining the city. He fixed his attention on two teenage girls, one African American and the other wearing a hijab, and told them “to go back to Saudi Arabia” or “kill themselves.” As the girls retreated to the back of the train, three men interposed themselves between Christian and his targets. “Please,” one said, “get off this train.” Christian stabbed all three. One bled to death on the train. One was declared dead at a local hospital. One survived.

The cycle continued. Nine days after the attack, on June 4, Trump supporters hosted another Portland rally, this one featuring Chapman, who had gained fame with his assault on the antifascist in Berkeley. Antifa activists threw bricks until the police dispersed them with stun grenades and tear gas.

Since they are anarchists, the Antifa radicals have no use for the state. One should add that fascist radicals are at permanent war against the state, also:

What’s eroding in Portland is the quality Max Weber considered essential to a functioning state: a monopoly on legitimate violence. As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent. With help from other left-wing activists, they’re already having some success at disrupting government. Demonstrators have interrupted so many city-council meetings that in February, the council met behind locked doors. In February and March, activists protesting police violence and the city’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline hounded Mayor Ted Wheeler so persistently at his home that he took refuge in a hotel. The fateful email to parade organizers warned, “The police cannot stop us from shutting down roads.”

Of course, this has been happening on college campuses for quite some time now. Dissident students are shut down, penalized for not being politically correct. On campuses professors have the power to grade students. Often that suffices as an instrument of mind control. On the streets anarchists try to impose their views with threats of violence. Their agenda, Kevin Williamson wrote, is their anger. But they are trying to show that they are so right and their opponents so wrong that any means of fighting them are justified. 

It is fair to note that Antifa radicals and Democratic politicians have never produced any outrage over acts of Islamist terrorism. Not a smidgen of outrage.... And have never even been willing to criticize them. Which is more of a threat to Western Civilization: the alt-right or radical Islam?


Anonymous said...

Antifa in Germany are supported financially by the Social Democrats (SPD) and JUSO, their youth organisation. There are special tariffs for attending a protest and bonuses for carrying a placard. To date, only one Antifa-person has been charged with crimes committed during the riots in Hamburg at the time of the G20 summit - where cars went up in flames and stores were looted by masked Antifa from all over Europe. Olaf Scholz, mayor of Hamburg is a long time member of the SPD and a former Vice President of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

Sam L. said...

Which is more threat? I say it's the Ctrl-Left:

Ares Olympus said...

Seems like a fair summary. Militant direct action to fight the good fight attracts people who have trouble with the subtleties of reality, perhaps in good mirroring of their target offenders.

And social justice whatever its virtues appears easily coopted by this ideology. Its scapegoating pure and simple - project your own vices onto others and see if they'll carry it for you.

Neo Nazis have offensive ideas, but they're just ideas. And I have little evidence public silencing works. It just pushes people tighter into their corners.

I have to conclude it should be illegal to cover your face in a protest or demonstration. Mobs have enough anonymity already.

Myself I all almost feel I need to identify my worst prejudices and express them openly to test what free speech is still free.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The word fascism is almost invariably ill-defined, and always pointed outward. The traditional right/left political spectrum is anarchism on the end of extreme individualism, and communism is extreme collectivism. All others are meaningless distinctions and confuse nomenclature. The Nazis were actually totalitarian collectivists (NSDAP). If you want to say there was a lot of nationalism so as to make fascism appear distinct, then you have to lop the Stalin-era Soviets in that corner because it was equally totalitarian with a similarly nationalist bent. People try to say communists and fascists are different, but the means, controls and results are identical. Progressives and _____ supremacists are both ideologically collectivist. So, for the sake of conversation, you want to say fascists are nationalistic totalitarian collectivists, then fine... after all, that descriptor sounds so much more sinister, which makes it perfect for today's Sports Center news media. They're eating it up.

What we're witnessing is an assertive ideological "anti-fascist" movement that is just as fringe, just as bizarre, just as scary, and just as fascist as the KKK/Nazis/alt-right groups they claim to oppose. These "antifa" eruptions are not promoting individual freedom of thought or speech. Nay, they want to stop certain people from gathering to speak and think in certain ways. It's a movement that certainly doesn't feature a lot pluralism, save the plurality of costumes, hair colors, tattoos and weaponry. These eruptions are well-organized and well-funded. They aren't "counter-protests," they're well-choreographed riots. For them, it's a war.

This is the face of direct action today: Occupy ___, Black Lives Matter, Robert Creamer, Soros-funded groups, etc. Like the media, they define their allegiance not as much by what they promote or are for, but rather their opposition to what they despise. In claiming to hate hate, they are seeking outlets to express their own hate and rationalize it as "social justice." They're driven by hate and fear, recruiting unemployed humanities graduates who look at the rent-a-mob as their "posse." Their recruits need only demonstrate anger and hate looking for a purpose, and they are welcomed as useful idiots. It's just another Jeremy Christian who's merely chosen a different collectivist belief system. James Fields is James Hodgkinson.

These "antifa" people don't really care much for Western Civilization. And this isn't really a distinction, because they don't really care for much of anybody or anything. They're anarchists -- it's call about them and their struggle against all human institutions and standards. They're not creators, they are destroyers. They hate what love, commitment, industry and creativity produce. They are so self-loathing that they can't think straight. They hate humanity. They've stopped thinking amidst all the despair and hopelessness they have about the human condition (which does not apply to them, of course). They don't hate Islamism because they hate their own culture more. After all, if the Muslims are unhappy, it must be our fault. Mean people suck (read: other mean people, not them).

The "antifa" is rooted in therapy culture. It comes from this idea that all ideas are good and worthy, and all people are equal and deserving of what they want. It's self-evidently nuts. Such beliefs ultimately breed anger and discontentment as young people walk innocently into the realities of human society -- realities they are ill-prepared for because they have been raised in an ultra-protected petting zoo. No wonder they're pissed. This is a culture of narcissism and entitlement, and we see it weaponized on the streets of America in the form of the "antifa." We can't say "anti-fascist" because the Twitterverse says that's one syllable too many. Let's just call them what they are: thugs.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Really, in the end, the "antifa" think they're anarchists, but they're really collectivists who are angry they can't do anything with their lives. In the end, they echo collectivist values, which means the that they don't know what they're talking about. They're claiming to be anarchists, but they're really collectivists. They want the same things as the skinheads, but it's with different colors and symbols. Like the Islamists, it's a game of "Submit or die." So it's one big, happy family. The antifans are pseudo-intellectuals with degrees in victimology. They want a participation trophy, but instead tear down monuments of people long ago who actually accomplished something. Yes, Robert E. Lee accomplished something. That's what they hate. Lee's memory lives on, while these thugs will die in obscurity. The antifa may not like it, but Lee had more men who loved him when he died than the antifa ever will. The antifa are playing war. Lee lived it. These collectivist "anarchists" are at war with a bogeyman who only shows up when they look in the mirror. Yes, THAT is the image of hate. It's no different than being a skinhead. An anarchist seeks to live for himself, but I'll bet if you polled all these kids, they'd tell you they think Zuckerberg's idea of universal income is pretty nifty. Well, you need a pretty sophisticated institution apparatus to send out all those checks. I thought you were an anarchist...

Ares Olympus said...

IAC, now tell us what you really think!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Maybe we should get rid of Civil War battlefields, too. They have statues of Confederates. Wouldn't our understanding of history be better if we pretended it didn't exist? That way no one would be offended. It'd be like a national UNDO button.

Anonymous said...

Let's get rid of all statues. Problem solved.

Ares Olympus said...

Iac, on statues, it is tricky. How do you memorialize you're history without idolizing one point of view. The south apparently still has grievances for being invaded 150 some years ago. How do we heal that shame? Does honoring southern generals? There certainly are some military tradition of honoring rival leaders who behaved with honor.

I agree this should be open for discussion and maybe balance can be found.