The term Antifa is the short form of the word anti-fascist. The word originates from the Italian word “fascismo” which is derived from the Latin word “fasces”. Fasces, in singular form, is the actual name for the emblem of power for Ancient Rome. The crest of rulers and legislators of ancient Rome, represented as a bundle or a sheaf, which in Italian is called “fascio”. The thought behind this symbol was justified by the notion that “one single stick can break easily, but a bundle of sticks is harder”. This bundle of sticks, a sheaf, have now been deemed the symbol of fascism.
It is important to note that fascism isn’t defined clearly because it is dependent on a perception that is personal and different for each individual. The definition of fascism can be broad by some, narrow making anti-fascism an ideology that is self-manufactured according to perception.
Antifascism and Anarchism have merged in the past two decades by way of symbolism, actions and even portion of ideologies that have caused confusion around the globe. They are considered dangerous Anarchists but “justified” because they oppose fascist ideologies, fascist groups and individuals.
Anarchism is defined as a political theory considering all government authority is excessive, unwarranted and undesirable and advocate for a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of any persons and groups. Anarchists are extreme to “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” and believe violence is acceptable to achieve their goal. They are extreme libertarians.
Antifa of today is a blend of anarchism and perceptual antifascism which is a very dangerous combination. Antifascism is based on personal perception. Some may consider nationalism just and right but others consider it fascism. This is why it is so dangerous and feeds into the hive mentality of those which cannot discern differences and use broad brushes using the term “Nazi” for anyone that they believe are biased, racist and condemning fringe or traditional values that threaten their beliefs.
Antifa is dangerous. Interviewing Antifa Portland they advised me that their ultimate goal is to “punch” and eradicate “Nazis”. I asked them to define “Nazi” and the response received indicates how dangerous they are and how their movement is by definition Domestic Terrorism.
“Nazi’s are people who are white, that work in cubicles. Some of us that are against fascism are white, but they are trans, bi-sexual or homosexual. Only those whites are acceptable. If you are anti-LGBTQ you are our enemy. If you are white and have a 9-5 job you are a fascist. If you are a veteran or active duty military who representing any violence you are a fascist. If you are a police officer you are a fascist.”
Expressing concerns of such statements as I myself am a veteran, I am indifferent to LGBTQ and support a strong and prosperous America. The response I received was even more concerning.
“People like you who say they aren’t racist or bigots but support capitalism are fascist and don’t deserve the air you breathe.”
This is extremism and their outline on how they operate seem to align with what global, readily acknowledged terrorist groups subscribed to.
“Our violence is essential and effective. Killing, striking or destroying the lives of fascists is the ultimate goal. We support communist ideologies in combination with effective socialistic strategies. We live double lives, no one knows who we are and we cover our faces in order to reinforce the idea that we can be anyone and you wouldn’t know it. This terrifies fascists and when you terrify them they will obey the right way a society should function.”
Antifa must be recognized as a domestic terrorist group in the United States because they organize online to dox and target US citizens. They will find out where you work, where you live and attack you and your family to “teach your fascist friends” what happens when they support fascism.
I asked them to define “fascism” and what is acceptable to them. I don’t discriminate, I don’t support suppression but I am pro-prosperity, unity and diversity and integration without imposition. They told me that by definition, even people who portray neutral stances are also “Nazis” because they don’t fight against the police. When posed with the question of how their statement aligns with “Anarchism” the response received further reinforced the notion that they are domestic terrorists.
“Anarchists are against any government. Government imposes fascist laws and rules so they are the enemy too. Antifa today has evolved and we are the ones that can terrorize the people into submission and the Democratic Party recognizes this and this is why they support us.”
Fascists by definition are those that demand to silence hate speech, they commit genocide and ethnic cleansing and they use marginalized groups to purport their political goals. This is the definition Antifa representative across the US provided to me. I posed to all Antifa groups the evidence that this is in fact what they are doing. They wish to crush “hate” speech, they wish to eliminate all persons even their family to “cleanse” their land of “Nazis” and that they use minority groups to accomplish their goals. How can you call yourselves anti-fascists if you are actually by your own definition doing what fascist do?
All responses that I received during my interviews were similar and very alarming reinforcing my notion that they are indeed Domestic Terrorists.
“One day when we clean out our country from extreme fascists and neutral fascist like you, you will understand that we used your weapons against you. Terrorist groups are not like us they make exceptions we don’t. You are either with us or you are the enemy.”
The only purpose Antifa serve is to terrorize the general public and should be christened as Domestic Terrorists.
Mike Stuchbery (Liberalism)
Tore Lindeman (Nationalism)
First, thank you for your service - it might sound odd coming from someone who has written in defence of Antifa. Hear me out, however.
'Antifa’ is more than a bunch of guys that you met in Portland, who may or may not be responding in all seriousness, or good faith.
As you stated, 'Antifa’ has had a synergy with anarchism in the decades since the Second World War. It has no leader, no centralised structure, no shared tenets or creed. Instead, it is situational, flexible and transitory.
'Antifa’ has meant many, many things over last fifty years, with but with only one shared aim - the confrontation of those who would marginalise, denigrate or harm minorities.
Yes, there are those within the larger movement that have an anti-capitalist agenda, one that that may seem inimical to many Americans.
However, these only comprise only part of a much larger whole, one that includes everyone from the staunchest of Marxists to centrist libertarians.
The overthrow of government, or the forced introduction of socialism is not the goal of 'Antifa’, and the vast majority of those who call themselves thus would completely reject the idea.
So, again, thank you for your service - many of us who call ourselves 'Antifa’ can and do recognize the role armed forces play in safeguarding liberty.
Therefore would it be a wise idea to classify 'Antifa’ as a domestic terrorist organization?
No, because it has no structure, no leaders, no creed. How do you prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that someone is part of the movement?
No, because it has no ideological basis beyond stopping those who would marginalize others based on who they are.
No, because nowhere does it have a direct threat to the government of the United States or its people, as part of its core mission - arguably something that each prescribed domestic terrorist organization does.
No, because completely central to America's perception of itself, at least in the eyes of this foreigner, is a struggle against tyranny and injustice.
To classify 'Antifa’ as a domestic terrorist organisation would be to prevent Americans from exercising their right to freely express themselves.
Arguably, it may even impinge on their Second Amendment rights to bear arms - and I know how utterly integral that is to many.
You say that you want America to succeed and be prosperous.
There is nothing within the broad spectrum of ideas that those within 'Antifa’ hold, that is counter to that same goal.
Indeed, anti-fascism could be argued to be the safeguarding of prosperity, and ensuring the opportunity for all to go about making a better life for themselves, without the threat of force.
Surely, that's something you can believe in, and support?
Gregory Zink (Libertarianism- Right)
Tore Lindeman (Nationalism)
“A person engages in domestic terrorism if they commit an act “dangerous to human life” that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation of coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
Ms. Lindeman’s piece admittedly highlights the worst elements of rhetoric/behavior from Antifa (and admittedly I have experienced this myself in doses) but this is not indicative of their whole enterprise. Branding them terrorists is an extreme categorization that does not align with reality and also carries with it some logical conclusions that are problematic. I agree that they have recently exhibited some terror-esque qualities in Portland, and that the cell structure of their decentralized affiliations is similar to that of terrorist networks, but they have not crossed the threshold of full bore terrorist activity…yet. Individuals who commit crimes should be subjected to the full extent of the law, and if collectives like Antifa increasingly initiate the use of force then they should be dealt with accordingly.
Firstly, they are not a genuine threat to liberal democracy and saying this completely ignores their numbers, impact, criminality, and relative positioning next to actual terrorist organizations. Look at the FLQ in Quebec, the IRA in Ireland, Al-Qaeda in the Middle East and North Africa, and both the Weather Underground and The Order in the USA. These were real terrorist organizations who meet every criteria listed by security officials. I could not find any evidence whatsoever that Antifa has ever bombed, kidnapped, assassinated, or threatened broad swathes of a population, or governmental institutions, in a manner aligned with terrorist definitions. The only thing I found was a fake social media post from August of 2017 wherein anonymous trolls were accusing Antifa of planning a civil war in the USA (Snopes debunked these claims and ultimately they never materialized).
It is correct to say that they attempt to “intimidate and coerce a civilian population”, but they are doing it selectively and incrementally as opposed to arbitrarily and immediately. Threatening civilian lives undoubtedly happens within their ranks, but they are not doing it indiscriminately like actual terrorists do. This does not make it right in least but it does contrast against groups like Al-Qaeda who threatened mass destruction. In this regard they technically meet the DHS definition of “domestic terror” but this is akin to marijuana being a Schedule I narcotic next to heroin. Of course marijuana is a drug, but it is not an intravenous opiate that destroys a person’s life.
Again, I admit that they have unjustly coerced certain segments of the civilian population, and it is also true that the revolutionary elements within the movement may well attempt terrorist activities in the future. But until they actually do something deeply criminal (and with frequency) they should not be considered “guilty until proven otherwise” as this would be identical to their philosophy regarding pre-emptive strikes on alleged fascists. The only time they have crossed these definitional boundaries in a concrete way was in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. There they were actively, and violently, opposing ISIS that, quite ironically, could be viewed as aiding US policy objectives as opposed to threatening them.
Another problem with Tore’s wide definition of terrorism is that it would hypothetically encompass organizations like PETA, and Greenpeace. Pursuing this rationale would again mirror Antifa’s own flawed philosophy of vague criteria components when mis-categorizing threats (i.e. seeing Nazi’s where there are not any or saying traditional conservatives are “Far-Right”). So overall I agree that their philosophy is flawed, some of their actions are overzealous and extreme, and that they should be monitored for what they have done in certain locations. For the final time, if they habitually defy socio-political norms then I would be in complete agreement with designating them domestic terrorists. But until then we watch, learn, and discern.