Antifa's founding can be traced back to 2007 in Portland and the Rose City Antifa group. Prior to 2016, the group's activities were limited to harassing neo-Nazi gatherings and doxing white supremacists. But that changed in 2016 after the election of Donald Trump, when the group declared a national emergency.
Rose City Antifa has a website full of information about the group. In their FAQ (frequently asked questions) section, they admit that fascism can be difficult to define as all fascist movements do not have the same features. They utilize a definition of fascism that is based on a cluster of traits, so that a specific definition is never mentioned. While a movement may not have every one of these traits, if there is a preponderance (a specific number is never defined but we can believe that it's two or more) then Antifa will classify that movement or group as fascist. By these criteria, Antifa clearly is fascist.
Seven of the traits of Fascism listed on their page are:
- the creation of a vilified other
- reliance on violence or threats of violence to impose views on others
- anti-conservative, and
- portraying the current social and political situation as one of dire decay brought about by decadence and corruption.
Anti-Enlightenment and Anti-Reason: The core philosophy of the Enlightenment and the concept of reason can be traced to the Socratic Method of debate, where one side presents a case, a second side presents a counter argument, and the debate back and forth about the idea in front of a group where ideas are freely spoken and judged for their merit.
Antifa claims to be against racism and hate speech. In fact, most people are against racism and hate speech and when they hear it, they freely make up their mind and assume that speaker is an idiot. And in a free society, people can say and do stupid things freely without being stopped forcefully unless they're inciting violence.
Antifa says that all fascists should be prevented from speaking. They are against the concept of free speech and have no problem violating the First Amendment rights of others. They are therefore anti-Enlightenment and anti-reason.
"Failing to stop fascists from speaking, that is, giving them the opportunity to organize and impose their agenda on the rest of us - makes you as bad as them."
The Creation of the Vilified Other: By having a broad list of traits that can be used to label someone as a fascist and then shut them out of society Antifa itself is creating a vilified other.
Reliance on Violence or Threats of Violence to Impose Views on Others: Showing up to demonstrations and events in a ski mask with bats and mace to club those you define as "fascist" fits this criterion. Likewise, the assault on journalist Andy Ngo was meant to serve as a message to anyone who professed a negative view of the group.
Anti-Liberal: The United States of America is a liberal democracy that Antifa rejects because they claim, without proof, that the liberal democratically elected leaders "have more in common with fascism than they do with us" So, the elected leaders and voters must therefore be part of the vilified others. They also criticize the liberals that defend free speech.
Anti-Conservative: They have showed up to harass and attack participants at conservative gatherings that were not-alt right and did not have any ties to White Nationalism on the basis that conservatives are oppressive fascists.
Portraying the Current Social and Political Situation as One of Dire Decay Brought About by Decadence and Corruption: "Likewise, we reject the "right" of the government and police - who have more in common with fascists than they do with us - to decide for us when fascists have crossed the line by merely expressing themselves into posing an immediate threat."
By rejecting the democratically elected law makers and law enforcers as corrupted fascists they are portraying the current situation as decayed by corruption where the only hope for healing is for them to take matters into their own hands.
By using Antifa's own definition that one can be a fascist by having traits found in Fascist government, Antifa is fascist by their own logic. It's clear that they believe the current liberal democracy government of the country has failed and what the people need are strong incorruptible leaders to take the reins and do what is needed to fix it in their image.
And while Antifa does not have a leader or spokesperson whose identity is publicly known, there is someone is running their official website and planning their protests. They might be keeping their identity secret for now out of fear of law enforcement, but they are likely out there.
Photo credit: Old White Truck