Antifa Toronto Interview
What you read below is a text based interview conducted between Gregory/Matthew Zink (founders and editors of PoliQuads Magazine) and Antifa Toronto. It spanned the course of a week and we tried to be as balanced as possible when delivering our questions to the anonymous responders. From what we gather they are indeed an authentic chapter of Antifa whose representatives were accommodating but also very skeptical of our intentions. We are presenting the interview in its nearly full and un-edited form. We did cut out some unnecessary back and forth regarding introductions at the beginning, and cleaned things up a bit. As always highlighted in our “Editor’s Notes”, if Antifa is unsatisfied with anything offered below we are open to the idea of having them submit additional content and then re-releasing this issue. Enjoy!
Hello, my name is Gregory Zink and I’m the senior editor at PoliQuads Magazine. We have a digital publication focusing on your organization. We would really love if someone in your group would write a piece for us explaining the philosophy behind your movement. We would feature it as a special editorial. Is there anyone there that can help us out?
Additionally, we could sign a confidentiality agreement to secure your identity. Please let me know as we would love to have your side of the story, thanks for your time.
What's your take on the Antifa philosophy?
I am not exactly sure what the concrete Antifa philosophy is and that is what we were hoping you could enlighten us with. Explaining what the principles are, what its goals are, whom you perceive to be threats, how you justify civil disturbances, and whether or not Antifa is a force for good.
Antifa really doesn't work the way you may think Antifa works which to me, anyway, is evident in your request [for an interview or editorial]…Have you done any research? Watch this:
The Philosophy of Antifa | Philosophy Tube
You're in Niagara Greg?
We leave the research to our contributors and would only review for accuracy and editing purposes. But we are aware of the political debate surrounding Antifa. Yes, we are in Niagara. And thank you for the video I will watch this tonight.
Watch the video and do some research, you'll have lots of answers. Honestly, we don't think the format of your magazine will present readers with an accurate picture. Your goal is to give people clarity by showing them a plethora of articles exploring multiple perspectives on any given issue. It sounds noble. Unfortunately, psychology and social science have demonstrated time and again that it doesn't work. The "Marketplace of Ideas" is a fundamentally flawed concept. The result is inevitably greater polarization with people becoming more entrenched in whatever position they held, to begin with. To change minds, you must begin by changing hearts, which is a much more difficult task. And it will only be undermined by allowing the far right a seat at the table. Granting the Right a platform gives them the veneer of legitimacy. It normalizes their toxic message. We won't sit down with them. The Alt-Right, white nationalists, identitarians or whatever else they want to call themselves have no place in a civilized society.
So, and I am not being facetious, I am simply asking, you want to change hearts and minds while not engaging with the arguments against your movement? How will people make an informed decision about Antifa if they can’t actually hear from Antifa? Remember we are not asking you to actually sit down with anyone besides ourselves and that is only in the literary sense. Special editorial, no one will know who you are, or that you are even contributing. And interesting, you consider “The Right” in general as toxic? Or just the far right/alt-right? And also the structure of the magazine…how would you recommend it be laid out?
Greg, watch the video, it really will explain a lot......(you are also not only talking with one person) and, that's relevant to understanding the philosophy
Hello again, I've watched the video you recommended and found it to be rather enlightening. With that said though I do have some lingering questions that I don't feel were addressed. How does ANTIFA claim the authority to label someone a fascist? Are there any specific criteria used? What happens when there is disagreement upon who is considered a fascist? For example, the recent protest outside Tucker Carlson’s house seems to have sowed some discord within the group about who should be considered a fascist.
Authority is irrelevant. You don't need authority to look at this and say "That's a car.":
Isn’t moral authority relevant when we’re talking about people and not an inanimate object?
You don't need any kind of authority to call someone a fascist. The criteria that determine whether someone fits that definition as follows:
-prone to machismo.
The key difference between a fascist and say...your casually racist grandfather is that a fascist openly advocates for policies that enforce the above list. Fascists tend to embrace their racism. As opposed to casual racists who - while problematic - like to tell themselves that they believe in equality even though they really don't
Given the decentralized nature of the organization, is it fair for a group or individual to even claim membership? If nobody (or everybody) can speak for ANTIFA isn’t it a natural consequence that you’d have to rely on a subjective interpretation of the guiding principles of the organization? And if you are relying on subjective interpretations how does the group maintain any sense of unity?
This applies to any kind of social activism left or right. There are ideological differences in any group. No group is a monolith. And there is no single method for dealing with those differences. We don't interact much with other Antifa groups. In our own group, we're all pretty much on the same page.
Where does the sliding scale of fascism end? Let’s say someone is a self-declared Neo-Nazi, does that make the use of violence against that person justified? What if it’s the alt-right? What if it’s just a conservative? What if it’s a liberal with some positions that align with the right (i.e., concerns about immigration)? What about non-violent anarchists/socialists/libertarians? Is anyone who doesn’t agree with you 100% a fascist?
This is a ludicrous question - at least the end of it is - and it demonstrates to me that you're not asking in good faith. But all right.
Antifascist activism is opposing fascism by any means necessary. Those are the keywords to understand "by any means necessary." So, in other words, violence is justified if and only if it is necessary to stop fascist activism. So what justifies violence against a hypothetical fascist is not what the fascist believes but what the fascist DOES. So, if the fascist is spreading hate in the form of a public speech, we show up and shout him down. We make it clear that he is not welcome in our community. But we do it with words. Violence is not necessary, so - in this case - violence is not justified. If, however, this hypothetical fascist decides that he's going to beat up Muslims, then we will intervene to stop him. And if that requires the use of force, we will not hesitate.
How do you screen potential members? It seems that you wouldn’t want genuinely insane people or potential moles to infiltrate your ranks so how does a decentralized ANTIFA keep members in check if they go too far or don’t go far enough?
Every group uses different methods. We'd rather not tell you ours because that would undermine their effectiveness.
It seems like ANTIFA gives leftist totalitarians a pass while exclusively focusing on right-wing totalitarians…Are there any examples of ANTIFA also holding people on the left accountable?
Holding people on the Left accountable for what? We see very little evidence of these so-called "leftist totalitarians."
It seems as if ANTIFA should be in direct opposition to radical Islam given their anti-woman, anti-LGBTQAI views and fascist style of government yet if any group criticizes Islam or mass immigration from Islamic countries they get labelled as fascists and are then subject to protests/violence.
You're really revealing your right-leaning sensibilities here. We are, of course, opposed to anti-woman and anti-queer views regardless of who is spreading them. But it's a mistake to conflate these views with Islam. You might notice that we also don't denounce Christianity even though most Canadian fascists identify as Christian. Why? Because whether or not you embrace fascism has nothing to do with your religion. There are atheist fascists, Christian fascists, Hindu fascists and fascists of all other stripes. Targeting a marginalized group - which Muslims are - under the guise of opposing fascism is vile. And if you want to know how we police ourselves, this is one example. Anyone who tries to use anti-fascist activism as an excuse to attack and bully minorities will find no friends here.
What is the greatest fascist threat on the planet right now and how is ANTIFA addressing it?
Fascists openly practicing their beliefs offer a myriad of threat, including
-devolving Canada into a totalitarian state similar to Nazi Germany
-Creating social conditions in which queer people/Muslims/Jews/Non-Whites must fear for their lives.
There are many others. All of these threats are critical. We oppose these threats by denying fascists the opportunity to spread their vitriol. We show up to their events. We shout them down. We report their tweets. We ban their comments. We create content documenting the flaws in their reasoning. We cut off their funding. We persuade public institutions to deny them an opportunity to speak. And if necessary, we defend ourselves and minority groups from fascist violence.
How is remaining anonymous and wearing masks not in direct conflict with ANTIFA’s stated mission to expose and dox fascists to get them fired? If you truly believe in fighting fascism then why hide your identity?
Because there is an institutional bias in favour of fascists. Fascists and other conservatives do not threaten established power structures. Antifascists and other leftists do threaten those structures. The police have been a front-line of white supremacist violence for centuries. They will be far more lenient toward fascists than they will toward anyone who wants to protect people of colour from their aggression. Fascists do not have to fear the Establishment. We do.
Racism and racial oppression seem to be defining traits of Antifascist mobilization and action, but does Antifa have any criticisms of the intersectionality/identity politics movement?
No. We support intersectionality.
Where do you see the anti-fascist movement heading in the next 20 years?
No one can answer that question.