We are All Antifa

Antifa is shorthand for antifascist. Antifa is not an organization, in the sense that it has no hierarchical structure, no real leadership, nothing connecting those who are called, or call themselves, Antifa, other than a shared ideology of fascism being bad and the need to oppose it. Fascism is far-right dictatorial rule, enforced by violence. Under fascism, a single party, under a single ruler, controls every aspect of life within a state. Political discourse, news, the economy, entertainment, the public and private lives of groups and individuals, are all controlled by the dictator and their party through enforcement by the police and the military. To be antifascist means simply to be opposed to that. If you don’t think one person or one small group of people should be controlling every aspect of everyone’s life within a state, you’re antifascist. If you oppose the brutalizing and murdering of civilians at the hands of the police and military, you’re antifascist. If you believe in democracy and freedom, you’re antifascist.

When Trump and his supporters say that they oppose Antifa, they are saying that they oppose the basic principles of antifascism, which means that they support fascism. They oppose democracy. They oppose freedom. They want to crush dissent through violence and make the US a fascist state.

Unfortunately, the groundwork to make the US a fascist nation was laid long before Trump.

Jingoism is insidiously toxic and destructive. In the guise of patriotism, we’re told that our nation is the greatest the world has ever known. In the jingoist mindset, our national superiority means that all other nations, all other people, are lesser, less important, less valuable, less human, less deserving of universal human rights. We couch this perceived self-superiority in patriotism as justification: we exert military dominance over other countries because we’re the champions of freedom and democracy; we make mistakes, but they’re justified by our good intentions; everything we do is right because we’re the good guys.

The extreme militarism of the United States, along with the militarization of national, state, and local police forces might as well have been planned by a fascist cabal. Together, these armed groups, ostensibly meant to protect us and our interests and all that propagandist noise, comprise the largest and deadliest force the world has ever seen, and they are ripe for exploitation. It wouldn’t take much effort on the part of a fascist dictator, particularly a phony tough guy chickenhawk bitch like Trump, who encourages violence and thuggery and defends murderers to keep the soldiers and the officers of the nation on his side and compel them to enforce his rule. At the expense of education, healthcare, every valuable social service that would make us a thriving and truly strong nation, we’ve put the majority of our national wealth into arming and training killers. We’ve allowed this obscene buildup on the premise that these armed forces are meant to protect us. We’re seeing more evidence daily that their purpose is to control us, and we can expect more and worse in days to come.

The diseases of white supremacy and nationalism have infected this country to different degrees since its founding. This country has always had an elite class, an underclass, and the class between the two which enforces the will of the elites, oppressing the underclass, hoping to be allowed to join them and to themselves be superior to the underclass. Capital, money, has always been the driving factor behind this class structure, behind racism, behind the hate that’s always been an influential undercurrent of life in this country. Artificial racial lines made the class hierarchy easy to distinguish. Wealthy Whites on top, Blacks on the Bottom, poor Whites maintaining and enforcing that separation.

These factors, in concert, in themselves, bring our country close in character to that of a fascist state. One could argue that for non-White people, when the country was a slave state, and then post-Civil War when it was an apartheid state, the US was a fascist nation. There were separate political parties, power was dispersed among many groups and individuals, but in terms of the racial and economic hierarchy there was one group of people that held supreme power over another group of people, power that was enforced with violence.

American democracy is spoken of as the great national treasure and the pride of our nation’s existence. The idea of it is so praised and championed that one could be forgiven for missing the lack of it in practice. We were a fraud for most of our existence, claiming to be a democratic state in which the majority of people, everyone but White men, had no voice in politics, the law, society at large. It was only in recent history that we started crawling towards democracy, and every vile act of suppression and oppression has been used to limit democracy since. Even our model of representative democracy, already inferior to fully participatory direct democracy, fails on its merits. Unless a democracy is universally easy, free, and fair, it is not a democracy.

Fascism, authoritarianism, dictatorship, plutocracy, feudalism, monarchy, all those political philosophies over which we claim our own holds superiority have a commonality: they are antithetical to freedom and democracy. To oppose any and all of them is to champion freedom and democracy, to stand for what are claimed as the core principles of our nation.

Because of the way they’ve been depicted in the media, and frankly because of the way some of them present themselves, those who self-apply the Antifa label don’t make their vilification too difficult: they wear black masks and they’re not pacifists. There’ve been videos recorded and disseminated showing “Antifa members” engaged in violence, fighting with white supremacists, punching Nazis in the face. To some, engaging in any form of violence somehow makes a person as bad as the person they’re fighting. When the person they’re fighting, however, is a white supremacist, a Nazi, a fascist, a person whose whole ideology and purpose is to dominate and inflict violence upon others with impunity, they must be fought, and they deserve to be punched. You can’t win every conflict through nonviolence. Violence can be necessary, particularly when countering violence and protecting others. Violence can be productive.

The labeling of Antifa as a terrorist organization by Deranged Turd is a telling move. At the time of writing this, the official action needed to designate Antifa a terrorist organization has not happened, that process perhaps made difficult by the fact that Antifa isn’t really an organization and that there isn’t evidence of them conducting any terrorist activities.

Not that illegality and nonsensical bullshit have stopped this administration or law enforcement authorities in the past. If Antifa is designated a terrorist group, it will be difficult for law enforcement and federal authorities to prove that a suspect is a member of Antifa, since Antifa isn’t an organization and doesn’t have members, but we can’t count on a lack of evidence preventing prosecution, or persecution. We can expect them to exploit the weakest, most spurious excuses for evidence in a crusade against “Antifa terrorists.” If you so much as comment on or like a post about Antifa, perhaps that video from the 2017 Women’s March in which an apparent Antifa “member” punches Richard Spencer in the face, you could be accused of sympathizing with a terrorist organization. They could call me Antifa for writing this, and I’ve never even had the pleasure of punching a Nazi.

We can expect them to reach even further. Through loose language and willfully biased interpretations of legal definitions, they could claim that anyone whose views or actions align in any way with those of Antifa, or are opposed to those of the administration, is part of Antifa. If you oppose police brutality, or the detention of immigrants, or the prison industry, or the military industrial complex, or even such broad no-brainers as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, you could be labeled an “Antifa terrorist.”

Once that’s taken care of, once you’re slapped with the “terrorist” tag, your rights are forfeited. The already eroded and regularly violated rights to which we are legally constitutionally entitled aren’t extended to “terrorists.” You could be shipped off to Guantanamo or abducted to some unknown “black site” without due process, without any opportunity to even challenge the absurd claims made against you.

Even without an official bullshit terrorist designation, Trump’s baseless claims and fear mongering regarding Antifa have already begun having their desired effect on the magas. With the flaming soapbox of hate and lies that Twitter still allows him, the help of his media meat-puppets, and some literal Nazi-inspired social media ads, he’s successfully presented his braindead boogaloo base with their all but imaginary enemy and given them their marching orders. The heavily armed cracker contingent of this country, whether they worship the Turd or just find his attitude and embrace of all things white supremacist appealing, has been happy to take the lie and march in the anti-Antifa army. Never mind that they are unlikely, hardly have a chance, of encountering the “Antifa terrorists” of deranged fascist imaginings. The militant crackers marching through cities and towns, with assault rifles, looking for Soros-funded (or whatever other rich, liberal, likely Jewish, boogie man the Right scares them with) leftist soldiers, are not going to find them. There’s no evidence that they exist. A few handfuls of young anarchists and socialists dressing in black and getting into shoving matches with fascists and abusive cops does not an army make.

But the fascists will find enemies.

They probably won’t have anything to do with Antifa, and they probably won’t be armed, but the right-wing fascist mobs that the turd is inciting to violence will find people who fit the bill in their minds of dangerous radical leftists, and they’ll shoot to kill. They will shoot people on the premise that they are “members of Antifa.” They will kill people and call them “Antifa terrorists.” It could be any one of us, or anyone we know. Anyone who holds a sign at a protest, maybe gets a little aggressive at a rally, says something in their daily life with no connection to political activism, or just ticks off the wrong psychopath in a Facebook comment thread and gets doxed. Deranged Turd is not just mouthing off at critics; he is sending the message that everyone who disagrees with him, with what he does, his acts of fascism, is Antifa, a terrorist, an enemy of the state. Trump is going to get (more) people killed.