The fact that it is getting old to say that anti-fascists are more fascist than the people they accuse of being fascists never gets old. For the latter part of last year and so far this year, it has been proven again and again that there is no greater endorsement for an idea than censorship.
Antifa are criminals, surely, but worse than that, they are butchers of the English language. I'll use the Rose City Antifa website as an example. Just what do they have to offer?
‘We want to arm people with the analytical tools necessary to effectively unveil the underlying racist/sexist/homophobic agenda beneath the pleasant veneer.'
And what is the shape of this analysis? One would hope that their ethics would be better than their editing, as one section on their FAQ page bears the cumbersome blunder, ‘Aren't Neo-Nazis are irrelevant?'
But who are they, aside from bad editors? In the ‘About' section, we're given the hard-won answer, ‘We are Rose City Antifa.' Never really getting beyond this fact now told to us twice already, we must settle for learning about what exactly they do. Nationally, we have our examples: For ‘direct action,' read physical violence. For ‘education,' read pointing out fascists. For ‘solidarity,' aside from its being nothing but a redundant general assembly buzzword, means that everyone agrees, once educated, about who they should beat up.
‘We also strive to offer a more radical analysis of the dynamics of oppression to people that may not have access to it.' In other words, they teach people who didn't go to university that the real fascists don't call themselves fascists and are, in fact, everywhere. That, or they just give zines to people who have so many late fees at the library that they can't check anything out anymore. ‘We strive to provide a more in-depth, sophisticated analysis than the liberal or conservative narratives on fascism.'
Their more in-depth, sophisticated analysis consists of the ‘Articles' section, which is really just announcements, calls to action, and pieces in which they, occasionally, locate local fascists (even if the said ‘fascists' don't consider themselves such). The ‘Literature' section under ‘Resources' has books one can either buy or attempt to download for free (the free links didn't work for me).
I turned to the FAQ page for some kind of working definition of fascism that I would instantly recognize. Under a section called ‘What is Fascism?' we're told, ‘Fascism can be difficult to define as all fascist movements do not include the exact same features. Fascism itself is based on the melding of antithetical ideas and contains internal logical inconsistencies…'
If not all fascism contains the same features, are we granted the promise that fascists, at the very least, might be identified in some common historical context at all? While the Nazis and their ‘working toward the Fuehrer' style of methodology certainly led to contradictions on a unilateral scale, historically, fascism has been easy, at least topologically, to identify since fascists were usually proudly uniformed. There is no mention of Mussolini in the immediate matter of the site, nor is there mention of the wholly intentional etymology of the word ‘fascism.' Rather, one must recourse to Britannica for a working answer:
‘Europe's first fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, took the name of his party from the Latin word fasces, which referred to a bundle of elm or birch rods (usually containing an ax) used as a symbol of penal authority in ancient Rome. Although fascist parties and movements differed significantly from each other, they had many characteristics in common, including extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: "people's community"), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation.'
Not only is this definition easy to find, but it doesn't beg the question as Antifa's sorry answer does: why form an anti-fascist group if fascism, by its very nature, falls apart so easily in one's red, hateful hands? Without bothering to tell us how they arrived at their definition, RCA come out of the gate with their big guns:
‘Fascism is an ultra-nationalist ideology that mobilizes around and glorifies a national identity defined in exclusive racial, cultural, and/or historical terms, valuing this identity above all other interests.'
In other words, fascist ideology involves having a nation. You know who else held these views? Every country Hitler and Mussolini invaded. RCA provide wanting examples for what, precisely, justifies their use of the word ‘ultra' in relation to nationalism. While it would be tautological enough to suggest that all countries before World War I were fascist, where does that put Germany, who actively antagonized the sovereignty of other nations? Would the Germans be globalists?
Even Antifa's depiction of fascist psychology is backward. ‘The core national identity of fascism is contrasted and enforced by the dehumanization and scapegoating of marginalized or oppressed groups, and the creation of a vilified "other".'
I find it important to understand, first of all, that fascists considered themselves to be the marginalized people and scapegoated from that position-a distinction that Antifa will not admit since the Left (among whom they consider themselves) does this just as much, just as often and with just as much fervor. Heinous, yes. It's part of politics. Extremists will always do what we don't like about ourselves better than we do.
‘It has an authoritarian structure usually revolving around a single, charismatic leader.' The word ‘usually' should be omitted. When we're not dealing with a strong, charismatic leader in conjunction with an authoritarian structure we are left, simply, with the whole of the Left.
One FAQ asks, ‘Won't Antifa resistance only backfire by generating interest in them?'
The a priori answer is simply, eternally, absolutely, by some mysterious law that goes ever unexplained, by some turn of divine providence, ‘Resistance to fascism doesn't increase interest in fascist views.' If you honestly expected them to provide you with examples, I feel as sorry for you as Antifa does for someone who grew up in a red state. One who is not willing to locate a historical event within a historical context is doomed to answer fair questions unfairly.
Further down, however, we're offered the contradictory view, again, without examples, that ignoring fascist views does help increase them (a convenient view of the world for the activist).
‘And fascists around the world are still terrorizing and murdering people.' Where? Perhaps we'll never know unless we lower ourselves to the same standards which pass for education and analysis in the RCA community and simply pick out nations with leaders who seem to want to be nations.
In the FAQ, when another reasonable phantom asks the honest question, ‘Isn't institutionalized racism the real threat today, not the extremists at the fringe?' it is answered with the following:
‘Our society's institutions are indeed deeply racist, and our organizing must challenge and dismantle them. But the visibility of neo-Nazis and fringe fascists enables other right-wing groups to frame themselves as moderates, legitimizing their racist and xenophobic positions and the systems of power and privilege they defend. Taking a stand against fascists is an essential step toward discrediting the structures and values at the root of institutionalized racism. Plus suit-and-tie fascists are infiltrating positions of influence in academia and politics, giving them dangerous power to advance racist policies on an institutional level.'
First of all, I'm calling bluff on this myth of fascism's ‘influence in academia.' Secondly, the mention of ‘right-wing groups' is even more telling than it already immediately appears. Yes, their very need to mention ‘right-wing groups' indicates that they, the Left, do not even consider the possibility that such a tenuous designation as ‘fascism' could ever be applied to anyone among them. What I find more interesting, however, is this curious suggestion that ‘fringe fascists' need to hide behind the guise of moderation. Idealists, on a fundamental level, do not understand how this works, but if someone is acting moderately, it doesn't matter what they are deep down inside, they are moderate as far as we're concerned, which is (should be) all that matters. Try to reverse it. Imagine someone advocated genocide and then said, ‘You know, underneath all this, I'm really a moderate, so you shouldn't take my violence all that seriously.' On this level, one is what one does. Antifa will not admit this because it would mean they would have to own up to their own violence. The above paragraph indicates that this metaphysical version of fascism they've completely imagined is more of a threat to them than institutionalized racism. In other words, they are above fighting tangible forces. No. Their war is a war of ideas. It would seem that it can get worse. Not only are Antifa hypocrites and charlatans, they're cowards.
‘It's both naïve and disrespectful to their victims to minimize the reality of fascist violence.' I will not demand anecdotal evidence of fascist violence with this statement, but assume we're talking about a rhetorical fascist violence and an accompanied rhetorical minimization of it by a rhetorical agent; in other words, despite being on the site and reading about all of this, the reader is being condescended to as a doubter of fascist horrors.
‘Fascists act directly to carry out their agenda rather than limiting themselves to representative democracy, so even small numbers can be disproportionately dangerous, making it crucial to deal with them swiftly.'
But they just said a while back that fringe groups seek to gain power through representative democracy. Also, their propensity to directly carry out their agenda is not necessarily an anti-democratic notion, and there is no immediate connection to what is so ‘disproportionately dangerous' about this. Furthermore, the phrase ‘disproportionately dangerous' is a rhetorical tautology as well. One man with a gun, logically, has the potential to be more dangerous than ten men. One man with a knife might be more dangerous than two or three without a knife, but the man standing out of eyesight with no weapons at all might have an advantage on each of them. The examples are endless. Democracy fetishism causes people to think in proportions, not propensities or qualities. With that said, who was more dangerous when Alt-Right mouth-peace, Richard Spencer was sucker-punched by an Antifa member while giving an interview on camera? Antifa might say that Richard Spencer's ideas cannot be tolerated and thus, the sucker-punch was deserved. I'll stoop low enough to play that game. If sucker-punching people worked, wouldn't the mafia and every terrorist and dictator on earth have simply gotten by sucker-punching people to get what they wanted? No, I don't even think Antifa believes that sucker-punching people stops others from thinking the way they think. Even more than intimidation, it is about releasing personal tension, which I would admire, had it not been performed on someone, namely Richard Spencer, who doesn't espouse his own views with fists, no matter what one thinks of his views. Similarly, Milo Yionnopoulos, who is not a white nationalist as Spencer is, had a lecture (for lack of a better word) canceled in Berkeley due to violent rioting outside at the hands of Antifa members in black masks. ‘…the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down,' Milo said in a Facebook statement afterward. Right after the 2016 election, similar heavy riots which featured Antifa members in black masks took place in Portland, along with many other cities around the country.
One section of the RCA ‘About' page bears the title, ‘Rose City Antifa opposes fascist organizing through direct action, education, and by maintaining political and cultural Left spaces.'
The use of the phrase ‘Left spaces,' along with every other slapdash distinction in reference to fascism on their site is pure undergrad Deleuzianism spiraled out of control. While Anti-Oedipus set out to subvert fascist tendencies even within a person's psychological makeup, Antifa turns their attention right back outward. No trace of fascism is remote enough, nuanced enough or slippery enough to escape their grasp. Their discursive net, no matter how clumsy, is big enough to catch them all.
‘Direct action includes all activity that immediately stops, subverts or opposes public organizing by fascists. Our two goals in this are: prevention and/or consequences.' They don't seem to think that these are not binary opposites, nor are they mutually exclusive.
‘Education is crucial to creating a real grassroots resistance to the insidious doctrine of fascism. In these uncertain times people are vulnerable to the easy answers that fascist theory offers. No need to worry about complex systems of international Capital, blame it on a secret cabal of Jews, the Mexican living down the street, or the homosexual teaching your child immorality. Fascism offers tangible and accessible enemies, enemies that can easily be beat, often because they are already in an underprivileged position in our society.'
Ouch! I've never looked, statistically, into how many Jews, Mexicans or homosexuals are part of Antifa, but had I been one of those three myself, this last passage certainly would have caused me to turn the dial of investment. The mainstream liberal media is certainly race-obsessed in their constant polls of successfully won demographics as disconcerting stamps of their all-inclusive virtue, but rarely do I come upon such sentiments as these in such an outright manner. What in the world is the difference, on an ideological level, between RCA's view of fascism which blames Jews, Mexicans and homosexuals for the downfalls of society, and RCA's preposterous extension of good tidings which takes the shape of an abusive father telling his son he's a wimp? One thing is certain: Antifa doesn't have much faith that these groups can organize and subvert fascism on their own. Minorities are, as ever, indebted to the almighty Left to protect them from the big bad Right.
‘The new face of fascism is much more sophisticated than the shaved-head, tattooed stereotype of the 80s--though those guys are around too. Fascists often couch their racist agenda in the language of anti-globalism. They know how to appeal to environmentalist sensibilities, they are often anti-war, and they can even be mistaken for feminists now and again.' Pray, what is the world coming to when the spotless angel of cultural light that is feminism can be accused of being fascist? As far as being anti-war? If there was a single shrewd decision concerning the writing of the content on this website, it's that the above passage didn't keep going with something like this: ‘Fascists may come off as pacifists. Some fascists actually love the Jews.'
What does ‘anti-globalism' have to do with fascism, aside from providing the Left with fuel to call people xenophobes? Real fascists were operating in an old-world model of empire. The EU models itself partially on the notion of empire, but mostly as an economic entity. The Left refuses even the vaguest approximation between empires of the past and the EU. Fascist supporters were under no delusions that their conquering of other countries was going to do wonderful things for diversity and tolerance. That's the difference. The Left have been hypnotized by the dialectical trick involved in endorsing or denying globalism. The medallion swings back and forth as their eyes shift between a Hegelian ‘nationalism,' and ‘diversity,' ‘nationalism,' ‘diversity,' until the two are finally fused in globalism. They see no other options. America can't join Mexico or Canada, so the quickest way to appear tolerant is to let everyone in. Now, whether or not you think this is right or wrong, one would hope that someone had all their work ahead of them if they wished to call you ‘fascist' for not endorsing open borders. Furthermore, one forgets that many anarchists are anti-globalist, many aboriginal peoples are anti-globalist, many Christians, many Muslims, many communist republics, many Americans on the Right, many neutral countries, and yes, even a liberal or two. Groups like Isis might have a global plan, but nothing they have in mind would resemble the globalism of the west. There are as many globalisms as there are groups of people, and one could argue that anti-globalisms, on a discursive level, could be their own alternative forms of globalism, but I won't get into that here.
The point I make is that Antifa resort to a common ideological method to get their point across. They say that the enemy is everywhere but hard to trace, therefore, they seek out every approximation and eliminate it. They say that a group no one really cares about holds more weight and is more on the rise than people think it is in order to make it appear more of a threat (and don't forget, they sell merchandise on their website. It's hard to sell anti-fascist shirts if you run out of fascists). I suspect, to my dismay, that anti-fascists have as much hate in their hearts as people who don't like hipsters. The only difference is that anti-fascists are in the fortunate position to claim the extra moral authority one needs to punch the people they don't like in the face and to throw bricks at their cars.
In actuality, fascism is hooked to life support. Its presence is not large. If it ever makes a comeback, it will not be because western culture suddenly accepts it and starts liking their fashion sense after so much democratic subliminal messaging from suit-and-tie fascists. It will be because some disgruntled group will react with extreme prejudice, first, toward the groups who are most violent, and then, toward whoever funded them. I don't know whether or not this will happen again and don't claim to have an idea which direction events will turn. One thing is certain though: Antifa's propensity to ‘out' people as fascists is going to fail if something resembling real fascism with real, tangible power ever develops in the future. The real fascists didn't have to be outed. They marched in the streets and took Italy even when they were outvoted. Whom does that resemble (yes, I'm aware that Trump is still in office)? Free speech, in fascism, was considered toxic. On the Left and certainly among Antifa, if they don't like free speech, they call it ‘hate speech.' The list of approximations goes on and on. My point is not that every single person Antifa have ever targeted is a saint. My point is that extremism, especially in ideology, eventually leads to this kind of violence.
Ideologies are created, in part, by eliminating ideas from a particular vocabulary and appropriating others which lead to a positive emotional reaction, an intoxicating emotional reaction, a sense of exaltation, the feeling that a set of questions have been answered and that some good is being done for those who endorse the ideas. But when the words which have dropped out of that ideology become so emotionally dangerous that their termination is rendered contemporaneous with those who say them, we have fallen head first into a world of linguistic terrorism, in which reality doesn't matter, in which definitions rule no matter how arbitrary, and in which words have more power than their means of expression and people have as much value as their ability to subscribe to the views which best line up with the most positive emotional reactions.
Nowhere on the site did I read anything about RCA conversing or debating with their enemies. Not one mention of a fascist who had his mind changed by the blessings of globalism. Not one person saying they had their eyes opened by Antifa and that everything seems so clear now. No, anti-fascism is part of the status quo. It is one feature in the domain of accepted radicality. Just as RCA claims that fascism offers easy answers, and while historically it may have, anti-fascism now has the market on easy answers. These reversals seem so painfully obvious to me and have been hammered into the ground so many times by other people that they're now a cliché.
Eventually, it will get old to say that it is all getting old. After that, it will get old to get old to say that it is getting old, and so on and so on, unless we figure out a way to get around this. Self-defense is, primarily, the type of violence I think is worth endorsing, though I'm willing to admit that even self-defense is a tenuous term unless everyone only defended themselves and never attacked (which would just be world peace). So where does one go from there? Are we to simply eat the butchered meat of language or do we hunt new game? Create new words? There are many directions to go, but I have one meager one to propose. Simply over-use the word ‘fascist' or ‘fasces' in a manner as arbitrary and non-moral as possible. A thousand times, no, I do not mean form an actual fascist group. I mean, for instance, open up fascist ice-cream shops that welcome everyone. Become a fascist comedian. Have fascist sections in the libraries and bookstores which feature nothing to do with fascism per se. Create a fascist diversity day that welcomes anyone who's nice and doesn't punch people or break windows. Hell, even start an explicitly anti-anti-fascist group. Imagine fascist candy, fascist love letters, fascist postcards. Use the word fascist as a blessing or a swearword.
The point is not to endorse an idea, but to rob a word of power. People will stop caring about words and look at behavior. Eventually it will be said of anyone still carping on about fascism and accusing anyone of fascism who leans an inch to the Right of Mao Zedong, ‘What are you? An anti-fascist?' This will become the new pejorative. It will be associated with violence, carnage, bigotry and small-mindedness, as it should be. But don't worry, the anti-fascists will get their chance to say, ‘What are you, an anti-anti-fascist?' and so on forever, as the political dyads involved in emotional movements like Leftism and fascism and representative government always lead to this sort of bipartisan psychology.
If we really wish to keep anything like fascism from appearing again, we need to deal first with the fascism of language and the power we give words and ideas, independent of their execution. Is it a final answer? Certainly not, but violence is more final than I would like.