The antifa movement has received much press of late, but many still are unaware of what it is or what it represents. In the classical sense, antifa has its historical roots in Germany in the 1930’s and arose as a street gang level reaction to the rise of the Nazi Party. Hence, its name which is short for “anti-fascist.” Although that may seem laudable, it is also a fact that it was mainly composed of Communist Party members which the Nazis hated almost as much as the Jews.
The roots of today’s antifa can also be traced to Germany in the 1980’s. Adopting the street tactics and symbolism of the 1930’s era German Communists, they were a loose affiliation who described themselves as “anti-racists.” Their main battle was fighting the German government and supporting squatters by maintaining they were “victims of capitalism.” Although largely repressed by the German government, they languished for a bit until they took up participating in anti-globalist demonstrations after the fall of Communism in Europe. The main cells are located in Germany, Norway, England, Canada and now the United States.
Americans are new to the phenomena, but the European antifa gained some notoriety by disrupting May Day parades throughout the continent in 2016 and 2017. They tried to disrupt a meeting in Cologne, Germany of the Alternative for Germany political party- a movement opposed to Germany’s Muslim immigrant policies. They also caused widespread riots in France when they mistakenly believed that Marine Le Pen was leading Macron in voting.
In the United States, the antifa came into full bloom after the election of Donald Trump. Many leading publications downplayed their violent tactics. Both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News referred to them as “anti-fascist movements.” Esquire described them as “anti-fascist vigilantes” who “protested” pro-Trump rallies because they (the Trump rallies) attracted neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The Nation also applauded the group likening them to those who fought the KKK. And the Southern Poverty Law Center stated they “bravely” confronted neo-Nazis and the KKK in the streets. In short, they view the antifa as “idealists” who differ from your run-of-the-mill progressive only in that they are “in a hurry.”
In reality, they often resort to the brutal tactics of actual fascists exhibiting an intolerant and totalitarian mindset. Its real target is not fascism, but conservatism. One website- Refuse Fascism- under an article headline of “What is Fascism?” failed to define the term, as the name would suggest, other than to declare that Donald Trump was a fascist.
Their street tactics are now well-known and are nothing short of thuggery. The most infamous offshoot is a group called the Black Bloc who dress in black hoodies, black jeans and wear black scarves across their faces. There is a reason for this: it makes it difficult for a victim, witness, or the police to identify a perpetrator. One of their own websites admits: “…when everyone in a group looks the same, it is difficult for the police and others to tell who did what.”
The purported reason they engage in property damage is because private property- especially those of businesses- represent the “repression of capitalism.” Therefore, they are legitimate targets. According to one website- the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective- breaking a storefront window of a business creates “a vent to let some fresh air into the oppressive atmosphere of a retail outlet.” Seriously…they said that.
They use what is called the “stoplight method” of protest and anarchy. Red lights are those willing to commit the most violence and risk arrest. Yellow lights do not commit violence, but pledge to allow the red lights to hide among them to avoid detection. Green lights serve to swell the ranks. The group generally swarms a victim- property or person- to allow the red light to do their deed while the yellows and greens obstruct the views of witnesses and victims. The yellows further add to the mayhem by holding placards and signs to further obstruct vision.
Antifa also uses a method called “deplatforming” which became common in Britain. Here, members use bull horns, whistles, or loud chants to drown out speeches by anyone they consider fascist (i.e., conservative). They also form human walls to block anyone from attending an event.
Although there appears to be some organization, that is true only with respect to tactics. There are certainly some online publications out there like Repress This, The Invention of the White Race, Our Enemies in Blue, and Whatever You Do, Don’t Talk to the Police. They do not necessarily call for rallies but let it be known if some particular speaker is scheduled somewhere.
Because of this amorphous organization, it is difficult to trace money to these groups. However, one such group that is known to lend some financial support is called ANSWER- Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. ANSWER in turn has received some funding from Media Matters, an online operation that ran Hillary Clinton’s propaganda arm called Correct the Record. Two major sources of donations for Media Matters comes from George Soros and Tom Steyer. Major Leftist contributors are so far removed from the chain of money that they can claim no responsibility for funding the antifa.
One group with known direct financial support is the Alliance for Global Justice (AGJ) which receives direct, known support from the Open Society Institute run by George Soros and the Tides Foundation. The AGJ bankrolls the publication Refuse Fascism- the primary go-to online site of the antifa. The AGJ’s goals are summarized in their own words:
…a unified grassroots movement capable of creating a socially, ecologically and economically just world [that offers] alternatives to the domination of governments, global financial institutions, and multinational corporations which denigrate the world’s peoples and devastate ecosystems…government’s duty to satisfy the right of people to shelter, sufficient food, medical care, education, employment, [and] leisure… and to dismantle societal structures that distribute wealth in ways that deny anyone those basic rights…group rights [are] equal to or superior to the rights of individuals articulated by 18th Century European men.
In short, they are politically misguided street thugs who wish to propagate a failed economic system called communism.