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Is Antifa authoritarian?

Posted byu/m-i-m
/ anarcho-communist
9 months ago
Is Antifa authoritarian?

Just to be clear, I'm completely antifascist and I understand the antifas view on self-defence as necessary against fascists and nazis.

But I'm not sure I agree, because the way many Antifa supporters reason is much alike the way the the Stalinist Soviet Union reasoned during the WWII. Many Antifa supporters even refers to how important the Soviet was to winning the war to justify their own violence against fascists. As I understand most of the founders of the Antifa movement was also communist (pro-Soviet that is).

Using a method of oppressive violence against fascists to suppress their position is much alike the methods used in the Soviet to suppress anarchists for example. So I'd say that oppressive violence is kind of essential to authoritarian thinking.

Surely some of you should have thought about this, so I'm asking: what do you think?

EDIT: To be extra clear: Antifa is NOT an organized group with opinions and rules. I want to understand the culture inside, just that.

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level 1
17 points
9 months ago

Only by a thoroughly reductive definition of the word "authoritarian" that ultimately defines any act by any individual as authoritarian.

Is the "expression of power" (or whatever it is you want to call the most fundamental authoritarian act) inherently bad in all cases? Is it bad because of who initiates it/whom is subjected to it? Is it bad because of their ideological impetus behind the action?

I think those are better questions to ask than "If A is sort of like B, and B is sort of like C, then should A be treated according to every aspect of C?"

level 2
/ anarcho-communist
-3 points
9 months ago

The comparison I made is more generally a majority oppressing a minority, which I would see as a kind of authoritarian act. What I want to understand is if and how you could make fascists an exception from that, without making it authoritarian.

level 1
17 points
9 months ago

Only if violence = Authoritarianism.

Then again, if you're being overtly reductionist like this, I doubt you could understand Antifa principles and Authoritarianism, in general, anyways.

level 2
-5 points
9 months ago
(1 child)

level 1
Transancom / Those Anarcho-Punks are Mysterious...
12 points
9 months ago

antifa is a decentralized group of people who do things in order to combat fascism. that's the only mission statement, really. to say there's any ideology set in stone is false, since you cant get one right answer that accounts for everyone involved. hell, i know a guy who was an ancap at the time who's been on the streets protesting

level 2
/ anarcho-communist
-1 points
9 months ago

I know my definition of antifa is a bit narrow, and I'm focusing on the violent part of the group, which is far from all members. But I still almost never hear anyone on the left-wing condemn the violence against fascists, and that makes me wonder: why is there such a large consensus on that "punching a nazi" is right?

Also when analysing the way these people reason it's very much the way I described above.

level 3
17 points
9 months ago

It's not a group and it doesn't have members. Some groups using the label may be violent, take it out with them. Antifa is a direct action ideology against a certain political system. It makes no statements about what is or is not appropriate. The only statement that comes with the ideology is that fascism needs to be opposed. This has taken many different forms in the past and will take many more in the future.

Concering the question about punching Nazis, that is an often discussed and quite contentious point. I certainly wouldn't call it a "large conscensus" and that sentiment seems to align with the relatively low number of Nazis being punched.

The reason why many of us agree with open violence is because fascism is the most extreme manifestation of everything we oppose. Not only does it excel in causing systematic harm to people, it does so in the most insidious manner. It poses as a restructuring of society in favour of the working class, when in actuallity class roles are simply distributed along certain identitarian lines. A new borgeoisie and a new proletariat come into existence and the transgressions towards that lower class are severe. In part, of course, because public support was secured through a systematic propaganda war to blame the target demographic for all the economic and social ills. Hate runs rampant and once the class lines are redrawn, the victimized demographics are subjected to the full retribution of a hateful amalgamation of state and supporting public middle class. As such it serves both as the culmination as well as a reset of the cyclic capitalist disenfranchisement of the working class. The left is particularly helpless to this kind of populist movement, as it loses support from its working class base, simply because easy answers and easily assailable culprits are a much easier sale than complex answers and powerful adversaries, no matter their content of truth.

Therefore the fascist idea can not be allowed to gain traction, as its methods have historically proven to be exceptionally effective against the left. Without a constantly active left, center governments already drift to the right. Add far-right efforts and you have another human catastrophe in the making. In every single instance of fascism, this was an explicitly violent affair. Therefore any opposition is defensive in nature and self-defense, be it communal or personal defense, warrants violent means.

level 4
/ anarcho-communist
2 points
9 months ago

Thank you for a good answer.

Although it's not organized I'd still call it a group with members. Sociologically it should be seen as a group if people identify with it, and therefore I'm not viewing it as a kind of individual with it's own opinions and will. I'm instead trying to analyse the culture within the group and trying to understand how they reason. I'm getting the feeling it's a kind of authoritarian reasoning.

As with the self-defence reasoning I understand and can't argue against. Well put though!

level 5
3 points
9 months ago
edited 9 months ago

That really depends on what you mean with authoritarian. It certainly can take an oppressive form towards certain motions. It is important to remember here, that anarchists are not generally opposed to hierarchy, but to unjust hierarchy. Some just hierarchies conceivably exist, such as the oppression of landlordism or protection from crime (depending on how crime is defined). Or indeed the oppression of fascism. These are usually justified by the first order transgression of the system that is being oppressed.

The governance of people is a complex subject, after all, and it doesn't suddenly get less complex just because it is done by the people themselves. Anarchism is not a flawless system, after all. It is the process by which we can produce and dismantle systems depending on whether they serve their function for the good of all people. Some systems need to be suppressed and if oppressing them is the best way we can do this, then that is what we should do.

But keep in mind that being a fascist is a choice, and many anarchists spend a lot of time to educate people on the matters of class and organize them to attain their freedom themselves. A lot of what makes a disenfranchised worker turn to the reactionary right instead of the revolutionary left is a lacking understanding of the complex web of systems that cause their disenfranchisement. This has always been the primary struggle for many strands of anarchism and oppressing fascism is a specific avenue of attack against specific people who should know better, but for a variety of reasons do not. These reasons can range from a lifetime of indoctrination to outright malicious intent. This specific avenue of attack is what is generally considered the anti-fascist aspect of anarchism, or antifa. It is not the only thing we do about the systems that cause fascism and that is important to understand. Oppression of these systems is a last resort, if you will.

Ideally this isn't ever necessary, but sometimes our collective failures or the victories of our adversaries or simply the wild circumstances of life leave us with no good options. Sometimes all you can do is to appropriate the fields from a landlord, or punch a Nazi propagandist, or shoot a murderer. Undoubtedly these are manifestations of counter-hierarchy and if that is how you define authoritarian, the definition is met. If it wasn't, I would assume, the subject of punching a Nazi would be a lot less contentious in anarchist circles.

level 5
1 point
9 months ago

Yeah​, Antifa organizing is like '60s hippies agreeing on a uniform.

level 1
Libertarian Socialist
6 points
9 months ago

Violence isn't inherently authoritarian

level 2
/ anarcho-communist
-4 points
9 months ago

That's why I'm saying oppressive violence.

level 1
3 points
9 months ago

By your nuance-less definition taking any action at all is authoritarian

level 1
2 points
9 months ago

No. Authoritarian implies the imposition of authority over others nothing which is inherent to the neutralization of threats. Though of course it depends on how you define it, but it's about how one goes about doing such things. If for example one tried to stop fascism by forbidding reading of books or through state repression and instituting a monolithic morality then it could be considered authoritarian, but autonomous disruption of fascist activity and neutralization of fascist threats that use ethical means that subjugate no one but rather repel, bloody the nose of a bully so to speak, or destroy is not inherently authoritarian it matters not who is the majority or minority. Antifa do not usually wish to subjugate the fascist into a formal or informal rule of a authority they wish fight back against the forces that are trying to do just that or to destroy what attempts to destroy them. Maybe there's a slippage that needs to be minded, but pushing NeoNazis out of a punk bar or shutting down a fascist rally isn't authoritarian if it isn't done to impose an authority.

level 1
1 point
9 months ago

As long as the target is richard spencer and his ilk, and not right-wing trolls or populists that occasionally flirt with fascists but are really just trying to be edgy, then violence is appropriate. Or if they are just right-wing but are still pushing violent, authoritarian policies. Supressing ann coulter, milo, and shapiro is counter-productive to the legitimacy of the antifa movement. suppressing corporatists like robert mercer, neo-fascist groups like the traditionalist workers party, or even warmongering/police-state pushing politicians is resistance against violent oppression (although not all would fit the category of fascism). However, I believe civil disobedience and destroying property (flippantly of course) would still be preferable than violence.

homepage: homepage: http://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchism/comments/7c3qf0/is_antifa_authoritarian/

Lol 14.Aug.2018 18:08

Fuck You

Wait, there's a topic?

M k.

Welp - is Antia authoritarian...

Stupid question.


There are Antifa organizations in every part of the world, ya fucken genius. Antifa has no leaders. Antifa has no hierarchies. No one gives orders as to how any group should behave at any time. So, which/what Antifa do you speak of, Cupcake?

Also, do yourself a good thing and learn the definition of authoritarianism, dip shit.

Open Letter To Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area (aka Antifa) 16.Aug.2018 02:19

Steven DeCaprio

Adverse Possession

This blog is dedicated to explore the possibilities of and strategies relevant to squatting especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Monday, March 6, 2017

An Open Letter Denouncing Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area
(aka Antifa)

Antifa has no place in Oakland because it is a racist, reactionary, reductive, counter-revolutionary, and nihilistic organization that has attacked workers and community members as well as engaged in intimidation increasing police repression against marginalized communities.

I am writing this open letter to demand that Antifa in Oakland disband and to denounce their recent efforts which caused the Oakland Police Department to force the Oakland Metro Operahouse to cancel a recent concert and face increased repression while resisting displacement and gentrification.

Some Background About the Situation

Recently individuals identifying as Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area (aka Antifa, see:  https://www.facebook.com/antifabayarea/) circulated a post on social media demanding that the Oakland Metro Operahouse cancel a concert with the band Marduk from Sweden. This and all related posts have since been removed from social media.

I contacted my friends in Sweden who are part of the punk and metal scenes as well as anti-authoritarian organizing. I was informed that Marduk were not Nazis, and that Antifa was misinformed. I shared this information with Antifa and asked them to discontinue their campaign. I received no response.

Antifa member gloats about police cancellation
In their post Antifa made a call to action threatening to shut down the show by force if the Oakland Metro Operahouse refused to comply with Antifa's demands.

Members of Antifa were aware that law enforcement was monitoring social media. Prior to Antifa's actions The Oakland Metro Operahouse had been subject to harassment by city officials looking for an excuse to shut down the venue as part of an effort to gentrify the Jack London Warehouse district.

The Oakland Police Department denied the permit for the concert citing the threat of violence in light of the recent protests at U.C. Berkeley against Milo Yiannopoulis.

My Background

I am Lebanese-American, a social justice organizer, and a musician in the punk and heavy metal scenes. In the late 80s the Nazi-skin/neo-Nazi scene was growing and increasing numbers of Nazis came out to punk shows. My friends and I were attacked by Nazis during this time, and the relative safety we found in the punk scene was disappearing.

One day I confronted the Nazis and about a dozen Nazis violently attacked me as other punks stood by and watched. After that the punks mobilized to run the Nazis out of the shows. Eventually the Nazis were driven out of the scene. Similar situations like this were occurring across the U.S.

I moved to Oakland in 1997 and soon began organizing with the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation working with family members of those killed by law enforcement. When reaching out to Anarchists I was often told that they only wanted to work with other anarchists thus precluding them from working with marginalized communities.

I found more success finding allies in the punk and metal scenes which were more racially diverse and less dogmatic about political ideology.

I am also a musician who has played numerous shows at the Oakland Metro Operahouse.

Antifa Caused Law Enforcement to Target Marginalized Communities

Founded in 2001 the Oakland Metro Operahouse has its roots in the punk D.I.Y. tradition and is unique in Oakland because it emphasizes outsider artists. This is particularly relevant to marginalized communities which are underserved by other venues.

Because of this the Oakland Metro Operahouse has been targeted for harassment by real estate speculators and city officials looking to gentrify the Jack London Square neighborhood where the Oakland Metro Operahouse is located.

Threats against the Oakland Metro Operahouse by Antifa were posted on the internet while the permit for the Marduk show was pending. This provided the Oakland Police Department the opportunity to deny the permit for the show. Because of this the Oakland Metro Operahouse is facing increased police repression moving forward.

I have been informed by Antifa that they had no plans to carry out any direct action and that their members were aware that law enforcement was monitoring their communications. Accordingly, Antifa was aware that their threats would result in a response by law enforcement.

This cavalier attitude is an example of privilege and entitlement common among activists who do not personally experience police repression and engage in activities that put marginalized people at risk. Antifa has the privilege of making anonymous threats while it is the Oakland Metro Operahouse, their employees, and the communities they serve who are put at risk.

I attempted to arrange a meeting between members of Antifa and the founders of the Oakland Metro Operahouse to de-escalate the police repression caused by their actions. Antifa was unwilling to meet or consider our proposals.

Antifa Is Racist

German Antifa Logo
Antifa is a movement that was resurrected in the 1980s in Germany from an older group that was active prior to World War II. The original name Antifaschistische Aktion was shortened to Antifa and the logos of the red and black flags in a circle were adopted.

In 1999 I was in Hannover and saw the band Dir Yassin perform. Dir Yassin was an Israeli band involved with organizing against mandatory military conscription in Israel and was critical of Zionism. I was informed by one of the organizers of the show that Antifa considers any band that criticizes Israel to be anti-Semitic which Antifa considers equivalent to fascism. Because Dir Yassin was comprised of Israeli Jews I was told that they were the only band that would not be attacked by Antifa in Germany for criticizing Israel.

Dir Yassin Album Art
Later I learned that Antifa protests often include activists waving Israeli flags and carrying Zionist banners.

As a Lebanese-American I have always felt connected with the struggle of the Palestinian people. I believe that the liberation of the Palestinian people is inextricably tied to the liberation of all people of color in the world. Like many other Arabs I feel unwelcome within movements that embrace Zionism.

Based on a number of experiences I have come to realize that racism against West Asians is pervasive within the radical left in Germany in which Antifa originated. Antifa in Germany does not fight racism. They claim to fight fascism and "anti-Semitism" which they define to include any criticism of the state of Israel. They do not hold a position against fascism in other countries, and they do not fight discrimination against people of color. In fact, by allowing Israeli flags and Zionist banners at their actions Antifa in Germany is making it known that West Asians are not welcome.

On Bay Area Antifa's Facebook page they post frequently from the website  https://itsgoingdown.org/ (aka IGD) which is an insurrectionary anarchist website advocating the formation of Antifa chapters across the U.S. IGD is encouraging anarchists to form Antifa chapters and proclaim themselves "allies" of marginalized people and claim leadership for themselves rather than work directly as true allies. IGD's motto is "Choosing Sides Getting Organized". Accordingly, IGD and Antifa are "choosing sides" supporting Israel's occupation of Palestine.

Antifa Zionists in Germany
This foisting of a racist Zionist organization upon movements emerging in response to the election of Donald Trump is reminiscent of infiltration of movements by agent provocateurs such as COINTELPRO. Antifa's parent organization in Germany supports the occupation of Palestine which is interconnected to a larger foreign policy by the U.S. and its allies to invade and occupy lands in West Asia. We should not let our movements be infiltrated and coopted by organizations supporting U.S. military aggression.

For its part, Bay Area Antifa is perpetuating the anarchist pattern of claiming leadership on issues affecting marginalized people while simultaneously excluding marginalized people from their efforts. This is particularly true in Oakland where anarchists are commonly viewed as outsiders by historic organizers.

The actions of Bay Area Antifa are hostile to people of color in Oakland. Not only did Antifa's actions increase repression by the Oakland Police Department, but Antifa also falsely asserted that white supremacists are welcome at the Oakland Metro Operahouse. Prior to Antifa's campaign white supremacists were largely unaware of Marduk whose audience does not historically include white supremacists. However, in recent concerts targeted by Antifa in other cities there has been an increase in attendance by racists. Many of the people attending shows at the Oakland Metro Operahouse are people of color including immigrants whose safety is placed at risk by conflicts with white supremacists attending events. This is particularly true at heavy metal concerts that draw a large Latinx audience.

Anitfa is Reactionary, Reductive, and Counter-Revolutionary

By its very nature Antifa defines itself by what it stands against and not by what it stands for. Antifa's ongoing relevance necessitates the ongoing existence of fascists.

As self-identified Nazi organizing declined in the 1990s Antifa became obsessed with heavy metal. This was because a convicted murderer who had been part of the metal scene in Norway self-identified as a Nazi in the mid-90s. Antifa embraced the reductive and reactionary position of opposing any metal band with any tenuous connection to that individual or any content that could be construed as symbolizing Nazi sympathies. Because of this Antifa has erroneously targeted numerous heavy metal groups.

Also, it is counter-revolutionary for an organization that was imported from Germany, which excludes people of color, and exists primarily on the internet to assume leadership over historic grassroots organizing by marginalized people here in the U.S.; and divert those organizing efforts to engage in an obsession attacking obscure heavy metal bands with allegations of racism based on conjecture.

Antifa Attacked Workers and Allies

In their campaign Antifa contacted anyone involved with the Oakland Metro Operahouse; spamming them with messages claiming that Marduk were Nazis and demanding that people cancel the show. Many of the people contacted by Antifa were employees of the Oakland Metro Operahouse who were not involved with booking and their friends. Individuals who voiced skepticism about Antifa's claims had their names and photos posted online by Antifa who claimed that they were Nazi sympathizers.

Beyond targeting those who disagreed with them, Antifa also demanded that others withdraw support from the Oakland Metro Operahouse. The Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair canceled their event on the same day that Antifa began making these threats. The Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair has not yet publicly explained if they canceled due to threats by Antifa.

Antifa Out of Oakland

I ask members of Antifa to stop organizing under that name and engage in self-reflection on how to be better allies to historic movements led by marginalized people.

I ask that Antifa make a public statement disavowing their online threats and make assurances that they will not attack the Oakland Metro Operahouse so that the Oakland Police Department will no longer be able to use Antifa as an excuse for harassment.

I ask Antifa to remove any postings identifying employees of the Oakland Metro Operahouse or community members who disagreed with them.

I ask that anyone or any group that withdrew support due to demands by Antifa resume their support of the Oakland Metro Operahouse including the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair.

I ask everyone in Oakland to support the Oakland Metro Operahouse as it fights to survive against the forces of gentrification.

Steven DeCaprio
March 6, 2017