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Antifa: Left Wing Militants on the Rise

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Antifa explained

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The violence and murder of a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend has been attributed to far-right elements that descended on the city to demonstrate against the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate war hero Robert E Lee.

President Donald Trump drew widespread criticism on Saturday when he said that there was violence on "many sides" in Charlottesville and initially neglected to explicitly censure the white supremacists who organised the rally.

On Monday, he bowed to pressure to castigate the KKK, white supremacists and neo-nazis.

But many conservatives say blame should be shared by Antifa, a loosely affiliated group of far-left protesters.

Critics argue the media tends to excuse violence by Antifa militants just because they are fighting white supremacists and their odious ideology.

What exactly is Antifa?

The social causes of Antifa (short for anti-fascist or Anti-Fascist action) are easily identifiable as left-leaning.

Most members oppose all forms of racism and sexism, and strongly oppose what they see as the nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-Muslim policies that Mr Trump has enacted.

However, as their name indicates, Antifa focuses more on fighting far-right ideology than encouraging pro-left policy.

Unlike the mainstream left, they do not seek to gain power through traditional channels - winning elections and passing bills into law.

Antifa is anti-government and anti-capitalist, and their methodologies are often perceived as more closely aligned with anarchists than the mainstream left.

Antifa does not shy away from militant protest methods, including the destruction of property and sometimes physical violence.

They were present at the 2017 Berkeley protests of far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos and at violent protests against Donald Trump's inauguration; they were also present at Charlottesville.

Much like the far-right, Antifa members around the world comprise a patchwork of groups, though the most active appear to be based in the US, the UK (under the name Anti-Fascist Action) and Germany (Antifaschistische Aktion).

The German movement was founded in 1932 to provide a militant far-left group to counter the fast-rising Nazi party.

They were disbanded in 1933 after Hitler took control of parliament and resurrected in the 1980s as a response to neo-Nazism after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

President Trump's election seems to have been something of a touchstone for the Antifa movement, which has links with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and various anarchist groups.

According to James Anderson, one of a group of people who run the popular anti-fascist and anarchist news site, It's Going Down, interest has spiked since Mr Trump's election.

The It's Going Down website, which received around 300 hits daily in 2015, now garners between 10-20,000 hits a day.

Since the events in Charlottesville on Saturday, the It's Going Down Twitter handle has gained 2,000 new followers.

While interest may have spiked since Mr Trump's election, it is all but impossible to quantify how many people are active members of Antifa.

Much like the far-right, chapters of Antifa are loosely connected and highly secretive, and organise mostly on message boards such as Reddit and over social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Antifa has become a popular topic for right-leaning websites and among conservative pundits.

Fox News commentator and conservative speaker Erick Erickson says in The Resurgent, a conservative blog, that "Antifa and the white supremacists are two sides of a common coin. The people dead in Charlottesville died because of one neo-Nazi, but there were dozen [sic] of people left bleeding in the streets because of Antifa".

Meanwhile, a change.org petition lobbying Mr Trump to declare Antifa a domestic terror organisation has garnered nearly 100,000 supporters.

While Antifa has gained relatively little attention in the mainstream media, that may soon change.

According to Mr Anderson, the events in Charlottesville over the weekend represent a "sea change" in how Antifa is perceived.

"This is a huge turning point and vindication for our movement," he said.

"We are working with Black Lives Matter, local clergy, this is not a movement that wants to be a lone group of militants," he said.

"This is about popular power. Sometimes that looks controversial - but this is a broad movement, and we are looking to engage a wide variety of people."

 

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Meanwhile, a change.org petition lobbying Mr Trump to declare Antifa a domestic terror organisation has garnered nearly 100,000 supporters.

I'm good with that if at the same time we extend that courtesy to the participants of the pro statue marches

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Good thread to start. These people are extremist and violent. They claim to be anti-fascist, which is fine and good, but they're also anti-conservatism, anti-Zionist (in a radical way), and anti-free speech. 

I don't know if we should call them terrorists- that seems to be stretching the term out too loosely-but they're definitely a vicious gang of ideological thugs that should be condemned by decent people at every opportunity. 

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+1

Once upon a time I spent a day biking through a WTO protest and talking to marchers.  This was 20 years ago now and those guys were there.  Maybe 5% of the overall number and the regular protesters hated them, but they were there to cause trouble and the ideology was just a means to an end.

Edited by Dinsy Ejotuz

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I'm starting an alt-moderate radical militant group.   We fight the extreme left and extreme right by sitting on our butts, drinking beer, watching football and eating pizza.   

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Just now, Godsbrother said:

I'm starting an alt-moderate radical militant group.   We fight the extreme left and extreme right by sitting on our butts, drinking beer, watching football and eating pizza.   

A chillitia?

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My first experience with them was earlier this year at a Marduk (Swedish black metal band) concert in Austin. They accused Marduk of being Nazis. They do have WWII imagery and songs, but Nazis? Nah.

Anyway, there were about 25 of them with 2x4 clubs and megaphones chanting at us about 5 feet from the club entrance. Admittedly,  it was a little intimidating because you just don't know if they're going to attack or use mace.  One on one, no worries. With clubs in multiple numbers? That could be a problem. Eventually the cops showed up and moved them about 50 yards away and they dispersed after a couple of hours.

Allegedly at some point earlier in the day, someone in a van tried to run them over and another person pulled a gun on them. It seems that they were mostly there because some known Austin white supremacist was supposed to attend the concert.


Anyway, I don't mind protesters, but there shouldn't be violence. One of these days, it's going to be way worse than what we saw on Saturday. Especially with people carrying semi-automatic weapons.

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They're definitely an issue and shouldn't be swept under the rug just because they're anti-Nazi.

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4 minutes ago, Juxtatarot said:

I'm curious how one can be anti-government and anti-capitalist.  Seems to me that you've got to pick at least one.

Maybe they're also anti-picking stuff

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4 minutes ago, Juxtatarot said:

I'm curious how one can be anti-government and anti-capitalist.  Seems to me that you've got to pick at least one.

Well, the government in most places run capitalist policies

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20 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

All I'm all for criticizing Antifa, but it seems odd to do so shortly after a violent outburst by white nationalists having nothing to do with Antifa.

Well, they were in Charlottesville too it seems

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5 minutes ago, Juxtatarot said:

I'm curious how one can be anti-government and anti-capitalist.  Seems to me that you've got to pick at least one.

Extreme leftists tend to believe that our government has been corrupted by Wall Street and corporate interests (many Bernie fans believe this as well). 

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1 minute ago, Josie Maran said:

I like their Nazi-fighting activities, and since I'm unaware of any other stuff about them I give Antifa a big thumb's up.  :thumbup:

Shtick I hope? They don't just fight Nazis, they show up at conservative gatherings, they attempt to shut down free speech, and they are almost always violent. 

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Just now, timschochet said:

Shtick I hope? They don't just fight Nazis, they show up at conservative gatherings, they attempt to shut down free speech, and they are almost always violent. 

:shrug:

Never even heard of them until last year.

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Does anyone have any evidence that antifa was engaged in any sort of violence over the weekend in Charlottesville? 

What would people say are the worst acts of violence perpetrated by this movement?

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11 minutes ago, Juxtatarot said:

I'm curious how one can be anti-government and anti-capitalist.  Seems to me that you've got to pick at least one.

There are plenty of anarchist philosophies that are expressly anti-capitalist and anti-government.  Lots of collective labor movement groups are both.

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7 minutes ago, msommer said:

Well, the government in most places run capitalist policies

If that's the case, wouldn't they not be anti-government but rather just for a different type of government?  (I'm honestly trying to understand their position.)

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1 minute ago, Juxtatarot said:

If that's the case, wouldn't they not be anti-government but rather just for a different type of government?  (I'm honestly trying to understand their position.)

They are at the very least anti this government.

Now the anarchists who seem to be part of the antifa movement are against any government and capitalism (as well as communism). They want no government, no laws, no personal property rights etc.

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14 minutes ago, msommer said:

They are at the very least anti this government.

Now the anarchists who seem to be part of the antifa movement are against any government and capitalism (as well as communism). They want no government, no laws, no personal property rights etc.

That's a pretty broad statement.  Take a look at the International Workers Association (IWA).  I doubt you'll hear them say they want no laws.  They want just laws and a just organization built through democratic management of the means of production and levers of power.

I'm not an anarchist philosophy scholar by any means, but there are plenty of books on the topic.

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1 hour ago, timschochet said:

Extreme leftists tend to believe that our government has been corrupted by Wall Street and corporate interests (many Bernie fans believe this as well). 

Isnt it obvious?

Edited by Run It Up
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To paraphrase from Ron Paul: The white fascist NAZIs and antifa both hate liberty. This is the diet version of 20s and 30s all over again- think Spanish Civil War. Both sides are socialists battling over their own version of socialism.

 

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Alternatively, this is just Nazi's (or sympathetic conservatives) muddying the water to say "look, they do it too" as they run crying to their mother. I wouldn't conflate antifas with the black bloc anarchist stuff that uses protests as an excuse to destroy stuff.

Edited by huthut

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2 hours ago, Godsbrother said:

I'm starting an alt-moderate radical militant group.   We fight the extreme left and extreme right by sitting on our butts, drinking beer, watching football and eating pizza.   

"What do we want?"

"Reasonable discourse?"

"When do we want it?"

"At a time convenient to all parties involved!"

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2 hours ago, IvanKaramazov said:

All I'm all for criticizing Antifa, but it seems odd to do so shortly after a violent outburst by white nationalists having nothing to do with Antifa.

My Facebook news feed disagrees with you. 

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2 hours ago, TobiasFunke said:

Does anyone have any evidence that antifa was engaged in any sort of violence over the weekend in Charlottesville? 

What would people say are the worst acts of violence perpetrated by this movement?

Can anyone give me an answer to these questions?  I'm aware of the Berkeley and Inaugural vandalism and the Spencer punch.  Is that really the worst these people have done? 

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Just now, SacramentoBob said:

Not seeing an issue here.

That's the problem.  I like some things they do in theory - like punching Nazis - but you can't just have people punching each other in the streets.

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5 minutes ago, Henry Ford said:

That's the problem.  I like some things they do in theory - like punching Nazis - but you can't just have people punching each other in the streets.

Disagree.

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19 minutes ago, Henry Ford said:

Yeah, like the guy in this gif that isn't Richard Spencer.

I thought in the FFA it had been settled you could punch Nazis?

Edited by msommer

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8 minutes ago, Henry Ford said:

That's the problem.  I like some things they do in theory - like punching Nazis - but you can't just have people punching each other in the streets.

We've already covered this.  It's perfectly cromulent behavior to punch a Nazi.

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9 minutes ago, Henry Ford said:

That's the problem.  I like some things they do in theory - like punching Nazis - but you can't just have people punching each other in the streets.

Also, they run with plenty of fringe groups and it's likely only a matter of time before they kill someone. 

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1 minute ago, SacramentoBob said:

We've already covered this.  It's perfectly cromulent behavior to punch a Nazi.

But, I believe, punching Antifa guys should be allowed as well.

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Just now, msommer said:

But, I believe, punching Antifa guys should be allowed as well.

Why?  Unlike Nazi-ism there's nothing inherently hateful or repugnant about their beliefs.  In fact their core belief seems pretty solid to me.  Aren't most of us anti-facism?  I certainly hope so.

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Just now, msommer said:

But, I believe, punching Antifa guys should be allowed as well.

Antifa is not equivalent to NAZI. Antifa is a broad term for a lot of different left groups. Many of them are just anti-fascist or anti-racist. I don't think punching a person because they are in BLM should be allowed. As a matter of fact, it's the exact type of thinking that makes us hate KKK members and NAZIs. There are a lot of anarchists in there as well and yeah, f them. 

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1 minute ago, TobiasFunke said:

Why?  Unlike Nazi-ism there's nothing inherently hateful or repugnant about their beliefs.  In fact their core belief seems pretty solid to me.  Aren't most of us anti-facism?  I certainly hope so.

At their base, but for a number of the AntiFa groups, that's like saying the Confederacy believed in states' rights.  They're kind of a loose coalition of groups with different goals and mindsets and definitions of "fascism."

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1 minute ago, Ilov80s said:

Antifa is not equivalent to NAZI. Antifa is a broad term for a lot of different left groups. Many of them are just anti-fascist or anti-racist. I don't think punching a person because they are in BLM should be allowed. As a matter of fact, it's the exact type of thinking that makes us hate KKK members and NAZIs. There are a lot of anarchists in there as well and yeah, f them. 

Right.  "AntiFa" isn't the same group that arose to oppose the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s anymore.

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6 hours ago, msommer said:

Antifa explained

Antifa is anti-government and anti-capitalist, and their methodologies are often perceived as more closely aligned with anarchists than the mainstream left.

They are anarchists more than anything else. I wouldn't label them part of the left any more than Westboro Baptist Church should be labeled part of the right.

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4 minutes ago, Henry Ford said:

At their base, but for a number of the AntiFa groups, that's like saying the Confederacy believed in states' rights.  They're kind of a loose coalition of groups with different goals and mindsets and definitions of "fascism."

Except that the Cornerstone Speech made it clear that slavery/the inferiority of black people was a core tenet of the Confederacy.  And with modern day white supremacists, bigotry and a push to remove minorities from the United States are are core belief we can fairly attribute to them (and certainly to Spencer). What's the evidence that antifa has a similarly repugnant core belief?  @msommer said he would be OK with people punching antifa members, not some subgroup with some sort of well-established core belief that makes them punch-worthy.

Edited by TobiasFunke

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