American Consequences - October 2017

shops from Portland to Brooklyn. There is no specific profile of an antifa member, they exist nationwide, and social media has now given them a tool to both organize themselves and amplify their message. When it comes to the political beliefs of antifa, they are, to borrow a phrase from writer George Packer, “more a meme than a movement.” Antifa opposes fascism, but their definition of fascism is elastic beyond comprehension... They consider invited conservative speakers to college campuses to be fascists. The same goes for free speech rallies, which antifa treats as the moral equivalent of a Ku Klux Klan meeting. Anyone who opposes orthodox leftism in America can, and in many cases already has, been labeled a “fascist” by antifa, which again What they want is also anybody’s guess. We know that antifa hates Trump, but replacing him with the wildly corrupt and blatantly corporatist stooge Hillary Clinton isn’t really an option for any self-respecting anarchist. Antifa don’t have a list of demands, or even a single specific demand. As much as anything else, antifa is a collection of emotions that have been cultivated and aggravated on the political Left for decades. Ultimately their activism amounts to virtue signaling through violence. None of this is new. Antifa are the latest iteration of a longstanding cultural phenomenon among progressives. Trump is is basically a group of white guys in black uniforms who threaten to punch anyone they don’t like. Antifa doesn’t get irony.

not antifa’s cause, merely their excuse. In fact, the same tactics and amorphous, quasi-anarchist ideology they espouse today has been a part of left-wing activist circles for decades. Go back and watch video of the World Trade Organization riots back in 1999, and you will see familiar scenes of black- clad anarchists, going toe-to-toe with riot police for sport and indulging their pseudo- revolutionary fantasies. Their objection that time around was to globalism. More recently, there was a “black bloc” splinter faction of the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. I covered almost all of the major Occupy gatherings in New York City, and that was my first introduction to the tactics and imagery of anarchist protestors... They gathered specifically to antagonize police, force confrontations with them, livestream their exploits on the internet, and generally cause chaos. Antifa today is a rebranding of this earlier leftist impulse, with a more full-throated embrace of violence, and a desire to shape our national political dialogue with threats and spectacle instead of reason and debate. The good news is that antifa’s delusions will almost certainly never become a major political force. The more the American people know about the group and its activities, the more they reject it. Antifa will likely be forgotten soon – and then rapidly resurrected under a new name, with a new purpose, so that left-wing activists can play at being petty radicals once again.

Trump is not antifa’s cause, merely their excuse.

78 | October 2017

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