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Recently, there have been calls by prominent politicians to designate “antifa” a domestic terrorist organization–most recently by Trump. This comes after Senator Bill Cassidy’s (R-Louisiana) Senate Resolution 279 (S.Res. 279) introduced on July 18th, which was co-sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). On July 18th, Cruz made a series of tweets in which he specifically called “antifa” a “terrorist organization” made up of “radicals” who pursue their political ends indiscriminately through violence. In these tweets, he says, “[antifa’s] central purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views.” On July 27th, Trump made a tweet that echoed this sentiment, saying, “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA […] a major Organization of Terror.” In the wake of this, various antifascist collectives have issued statements condemning the State’s endeavor to criminalize antifascism.
On the whole, the attempt to demonize, stifle, and suppress antifascists from countering violent and deadly fascists and Nazis, and defending their communities, is nothing new. From violent repression against antifascists in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy to Francoist Spain, we are historically aware of the State’s desire to extinguish antifascist opposition. Outside of political forums, we can still see this today in the streets, where police have collaborated with fascists and other far-right groups and have targeted antifascists while allowing violent white supremacists to terrorize communities with violence and hateful speech.
Today, in response to these calls for the designation of “antifa” a terrorist organization, the many mass shootings by white supremacists, recent massive ICE raids, and in solidarity with antifascists in the US and globally, we are going to characterize fascism, destroy blatant falsehoods about antifa (shorthand for antifascism/antifascist), and issue a statement condemning criminalization of antifascism. #AntifaIsSelfDefense
So, what is fascism? Fascism is an ultra-nationalist, ethnonationalist (often referred to as white nationalism), ideology that seeks to purge ethnic and cultural minorities and members of the LGBT+ community and to bring about an all-white nation-state, which we call an ethnostate. It is a racist, misogynist, sexist, violent, and murderous ideology that romanticizes atomic family-era values and gender roles, where cisgender, heterosexual men have power, cisgender, heterosexual women are sexual objects without rights, and where transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people are killed, purged, or worse. As well, non-whites, Jews, and other “degenerates” are seen as political enemies in an elaborate conspiracy theory to carry out “white genocide” and to replace white culture, another conspiracy theory known as “the great replacement.”
Anti-Semitism is a hallmark of fascism, closely followed by ultra-racism, misogyny, and transphobia. Anti-Jewish sentiment plays a large role in fascism. To fascists, Jews are a bugaboo, a shadowy cabal that possesses all the power in society and uses that power to globally influence society and culture in ways that, as the conspiracy goes, spread anti-white sentiment to further white genocide and replace white, “Western” culture. We can see this in the recent Discord chat leaks by independent media Unicorn Riot, where members of fascist organizations such as Vanguard America (now called Patriot Front), Identity Evropa (now called American Identity Movement), Traditionalist Worker Party (now defunct), League of the South, and others posted a plethora of anti-Semitic messages depicting murder and explicitly conspiring to commit murder at 2017’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
In popular discourse, fascism is often attributed to being exclusively a far-right-wing ideology, citing groups like Patriot Prayer or Proud Boys as an example. Concurrently, fascism has also been attributed to being exclusively left-wing by people like Dinesh D’Souza, citing National Socialist Germany or Mussolini’s ideas of a working-class revolutionary. Nazi Germany particularly is talked about a great deal by people who conceptualize fascism as a left-wing phenomenon, with talking points highlighting the socialism in National Socialism. The truth is that fascism is malleable: it is an ultra-,ethnonationalist ideology that appropriates elements and trappings of the left; however, that does not mean that fascism is exclusively a left-wing phenomenon.
For instance, the National Socialism of Nazi Germany adopted leftist conceptions of the working-class into a Volksgemeinschaft, a “people’s community” but based on racial purity. National Socialism sought to redefine socialism with a nationalist twist as an alternative to Marxist socialism and free market capitalism. It incorporated leftist notions of a united working-class to envision a united pure German volk, or folk, rejected citizenship to Jews and to those of Jewish descent, and supported land reform and nationalization of industries. In fact, during the early 1920s, the German Worker’s Party was renamed to the National Socialist German Worker’s Party to attract workers away from left-wing parties like the Social Democrats and the communists.
What is more, the appropriation of leftist ideas does not end there, with neo-fascist ideologies coming into existence like Third Positionism and even Fourth Positionism that goes beyond the binary left-right political spectrum but borrows or combines leftist and rightist elements.
But here is the kicker: fascism in all of its forms upholds inequality, elitism, and racial and social hierarchy–which inextricably links it to the right. It is wrong to say a historical political regime on the left was fascist, due to its lack of these principal traits. The terms authoritarian or even totalitarian would be more applicable. Fascism is always an elitist, ultra-nationalist, racist ethnonationalist ideology that upholds fundamental inequality based on racial and social hierarchy that is inextricably linked to the far-right–regardless of whether it uses “socialism” in its name or claims to be anti-capitalist or “revolutionary.”
Is Antifa a Terrorist Organization?
The answer is unequivocally no. The same applies to the question: “Is antifa fascist?” Antifascism is by definition anti-fascist. It is a blatant lie that antifascists 1. use indiscriminate violence against random people or anyone who opposes their views and 2. that they are “intolerant radicals pursuing an extreme agenda.”
A. Antifascists do not target people with violence; they expose racists and fascists to the public and they defend their communities against racist and fascist violence and murder–and that does include confronting these bigoted people at fascist rallies, such as Unite the Right, where these bigots have said they intend to do violence against vulnerable communities. Taking a stand against those with violent and genocidal ideology does not itself make one either a terrorist or a fascist. With this said, antifa is against domestic terrorism (which is largely or almost completely carried out by white supremacists) and antifascist activists have proactively tried to either prevent domestic terrorism by exposing violent white supremacists or stop domestic terrorists from committing terrorism, as per antifascists exposing adherents of murderous ideology.
B. Antifascism being by definition anti-fascist is intolerant of intolerance, anti-intolerance. Antifascists promote an egalitarian, non-hierarchal, that is, a horizontal society free of class and State where all are equal, equitable, regardless of one’s skin color, gender, sex, or anything else.
C. Antifa is not an organization and therefore, aside from the above, it would be patently absurd to designate antifa a domestic terrorist organization. Rather, there are different antifascist collectives in the US and globally that are decentralized and autonomous, meaning, leaderless and acting independently from each other with no central authority, although groups can come together in solidarity uniting for the same goals. This is a far cry from “a domestic terrorist organization” and if the Senate Resolution was passed, it would include anyone at all who is against fascism, not only those who dress in black and wear masks to remain anonymous. By the way, black bloc is a tactic and not an aesthetic that designates one as “antifa.”
Haleyville Antifa Statement on Criminalization of Antifascism
Haleyville Anti-Rapist/Anti-fascist Action is a group that researches, tracks, and exposes rapists and sexual abusers in our community and fascist, racist organizations and people both locally and nationwide. We have published articles documenting various abusers, members of fascist and racist groups, and these organizations themselves. We stand against these bigots and the State that protects them and lets them commit abuse and violence with impunity. We will not submit to a system that seeks to further white supremacy and abuse. We are here to protect our community from sexual abusers and violent fascists seeking to destroy vulnerable communities. Our values and aims are clear: we support a diverse society of all communities and we will defend all oppressed people against bigotry: the poor, the homeless, Black people and people of color, people of the LGBT+ community, Natives, migrants, immigrants, and refugees.
We condemn any attempts to further white supremacy by the State via imposing criminalization of antifascism and antifascist actions. Antifascism is community self-defense against violence and oppression by fascists, the State, and the police who uphold the State’s absurd laws. ¡No pasarán!
Important and pertinent links:
It’s Going Down
This Week in Fascism