According to Donald Trump, as evidenced by his 4th of July speech, and many others, Antifa is one of the main components of a dangerous far left movement out to destroy traditional American cultural, social, economical and political values. Antifa has become the figurehead of a vaguely described mortal enemy of the nation and its people, with the political left described as the umbrella under which it operates.
The observation that so many Americans, mainly found on the conservative right, agree with the POTUS is a testament to the power of propaganda as well as to the failing of education and critical thinking among large sections of the population. To understand what Antifa is, it is important to first understand what fascism is; Antifa is short for anti-fascism or anti-fascist after all, and one can not know what it is if one doesn't understand what it fights against to begin with. It's also crucial to comprehend that Antifa isn't an organisation of any kind; there's no membership involved, there's no leadership or organisational structure, and it's not centralized in any way. When you fight against fascism, no matter by what means or in which community, you're Antifa; hence the title of this post.
So, what is fascism? I've touched on this in several of my recent posts, but was never 100% satisfied with my explanation. The trouble with rigidly defining this term is that it isn't an ideology in itself. The best known historical instances of fascist regimes, Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy, are known mainly for their violence and authoritarianism, which is why many people believe that's the best description. The problem with that is that consequently many other violent authoritarian regimes that are in no way fascist, have nevertheless been described, and are still seen as fascist; Lenin, Stalin and Mao did bad things, were violent and authoritarian, but not fascist. In fact, Trump, Bolsonaro and UK's Boris Johnson much better resemble a leaning to true fascism than any of the aforementioned leaders. As mentioned in today's video, one of the better descriptions of fascism comes from historian Robert Paxton, who describes fascism in the last chapter of his book The Anatomy of Fascism as follows:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
Tucker Carlson Setting Stage for Violence If Trump Loses
It's tempting to view Antifa as a far left reactionary movement, as the non-ideology it fights against is itself a far right reactionary movement against leftist and progressive forces. Like I said in my post American Proto-Fascism a few days ago, fascists as well as the enablers of fascists (proto-fascists) fight for a return to a mythologized past of the nation, when it was somehow still pure and unaffected by the evil progressives who advocate for silly policies like affirmative action, feminism and LGBTQ rights. This is the reason why many Republicans will describe all Democrats as Marxists or communists, when they're nothing of the kind. Popular right wing commentator on Fox News, Tucker Carlson, is one of the poster childs who propagandizes this extremist view on left leaning politics and politicians, and he hailed Trump's horrible fascistoid 4th of July address to the nation as one of the best he's ever heard from the current POTUS; watch the above linked video for a good look at Carlson's monologue and how it sets the stage for far right violence if Trump loses the general elections in November. It's also a perfect example of fascists "working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites", as described by Robert Paxton.
But with all this said, ad including the numerous posts I've written on this rising danger, I still don't feel I've done a particularly good job at describing and warning against the very real rise of neo-fascism in America and the rest of the western civilizations. I also feel that there can't be enough said about it, not until we've left this threat behind us, not until we're truly all Antifa. Me writing these posts makes me Antifa. Participating in local protests against neo-fascists or in counter protests against protests organized by neo-Nazis, makes you Antifa. Writing a letter to the school board to protest against a known white nationalist coming to speak at the school is Antifa. And to watch the below linked video, which is an hour long but is one of the best and thorough examinations of the philosophy of Antifa I've ever seen, is a good start. So please, enjoy! And this channel Philosophy Tube is excellent, so leave a like and subscribe while you're at it :-)
The Philosophy of Antifa | Philosophy Tube
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