Antifascist Action

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Antifaschistische Aktion memorial in Adelsdorf, Germany
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I should be at home smoking weed and cleaning my apartment, but these fucking Nazis are ruining my goddamn weekend. Goddamn Nazis.
—Sign spotted at an antifascist counter-protest.[1]
I'm gonna tell you fascists
You may be surprised
The people in this world
Are getting organized
You're bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose
Woody Guthrie, "All You Fascists Bound to Lose"

Antifascist Action (Antifa,[note 1] AFA, or simply Anti-Fascism) is a global movement of left-wing activist groups that has the primary aim of "smashing fascism"[2] in all its forms. The claimed "fascism" the collective primarily opposes includes various forms of oppression (such as sexism, racism, homophobia, and in recent times, Islamophobia), along with government corruption, global capitalism, and war.


The name 'Antifascist Action' (Antifaschistische Aktion in German) first appeared in Germany in 1932, and was a moniker used by the German Communist Party (KPD) of the German Weimar Republic. The purpose of AFA was to present a militant alternative to the brutality of the Nazi Party SA goon-squads against communists and leftists. The German AFA was short-lived, being shut down by the Nazis in 1933.

In the United States, there have been several precedents to AFA, going back to the Americans in the Abraham Lincoln BrigadeWikipedia who fought Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Mother Jones has a rather incomplete chronology of "Nazi Punching in America".[3] The roots of modern antifa probably started in Britain in the mid-1970s with Rock Against RacismWikipedia and the Socialist Workers Party's Anti-Nazi LeagueWikipedia (later known as Unite Against FascismWikipedia).

In 1985, an AFA collective began in Britain which comprised numerous anarchist, Trotskyist, and other left-wing groups. AFA was active in brawls with Neo-Nazi organisations such as the National Front and had numerous violent confrontations, such as an attack on a Neo-Nazi in 1990 which resulted in lengthy prison sentences for several anti-fascist activists.[4]

Present day[edit]

Antifa in Köln, Germany (2008)

AFA has continued to maintain a presence in Germany, and since the 1990s, collectives have developed in other countries, including Sweden,[5][6] Denmark,[7] and Australia.[8] The Antifa movement also exists in Greece, where its supporters sometimes clash with police and with nationalists.[9][10][11]

Australia's AFA collectives gained strong media exposure in 2015-16 following several rallies conducted in cities across the country by AFA activists, in response to the growth of the far-right white-nationalist Reclaim Australia and United Patriots Front movements. During some far-right rallies, as in Bendigo, Antifa activists arrived to confront nationalists, causing violent confrontations and numerous arrests. Antifa or Antifa supporters celebrated their confrontations with nationalists, posting some online.[12] Antifa's Sydney collective, Anti Fascist Action Sydney, got into additional violent clashes with nationalists at the now defunct far-right Party For Freedom's 10th anniversary commemorations of the 2005 Cronulla race-riots.[13] In 2018 Antifa activists in Sydney established a community action group in response to the newly-established white-nationalist "Lads Society", the successor-organisation of the United Patriots Front.

Even ISIS terrorists are afraid of these guys[14]

AFA protesters have a tendency to form a "black bloc", a tactic which involves masked participants dressing in black, largely for protection of identity.[15][note 2] Protesters usually chant and carry banners advocating for the overcoming of the racist far-right.

Despite not being an organisation and having no official leadership or hierarchical structure in place, Antifa gained the distinction of U.S. President Donald "Some Neo-Nazis Are Very Fine People" Trump singling it out as a "domestic terrorist" movement. The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness,[16] as well as the DHS and the FBI, associate Antifa with "domestic terrorist violence".[17] In May 2020, during the U.S.-wide protests that took place after the extrajudicial killing in police custody of George Floyd, an African American man, Trump stated in a tweet that the US Government would be "designating Antifa as a terrorist organisation".[18]


Criticism of the AFA movement has come mainly from the right wing.[19][20][21][22] Although criticism of modern European Antifascist movements is often based on the violent action they take to advance their position, including carrying illegal weapons to combat opponents and breaking into houses of suspected Neo-Nazis,[23] shootings of Golden Dawn members,[24] as well as chasing protestors,[25][26] violent disturbances with nationalists and police,[27][28][29][30][31][32] plus "patrols" against,[33] causing serious injury to,[34][35] and generally aggressively opposing nationalists.[36][37]

However, there are legitimate criticisms from other leftists who are somewhat sympathetic to the fight against fascism but are not in the group nor see violence as an acceptable solution to the mission. The main criticism and claim is that when Antifa initiates violence, it is counter-productive because it makes the fascists and racists look like victims — which is what such people are actually counting on. Some Antifa Facebook pages advocate and depict violence, destruction, and theft of property against fascists,[38][39][40] while others publicly identify fascists from demonstrations, many of whom attempt to conceal their identity.[41] The Swedish Antifascist organization Revolutionary Front accepts violence in its declaration of principles, stating it recognizes all struggle methods and sees peaceful resistance and revolutionary violence as equal.[42]

Elements of Antifa have at times initiated violence, known as squadismWikipedia in the UK,[43] and the decentralized nature of Antifa means that it's difficult to interpret who is Antifa and who has just showed up to start fighting. The groups that Antifa has protested against, however, have a long and brutal history (e.g., Nazi Germany and the KKK) associated with their ideologies that continues to this day (e.g., Aryan Circle, Operation Red Dog, Anders Behring Breivik, and Varg Vikernes). Consequently, it is unsurprising that most Antifa-aligned groups argue that violence is necessary to combat the influence of fascism and believe that purely peaceful methods simply do not work against fascist groups.

However, antifascist activism has also been linked to a reduction of open fascist activity. One notable case is Richard Spencer canceling university trips because of antifascist opposition.[44] Antifascist activism has been linked to a reduction of open Neo-Nazism in the punk scene during the 1980s,[45] and militant Jewish antifascist activism led to decreasing support for Oswald Mosley's fascist movement during the 1940s.[46]

Internal divisions[edit]

The anti-Deutsch, pro-Israel wing of Antifa co-opting a slogan by the German anti-nuclear wing in protest of Iran's program to develop nuclear capabilities

Antifascist groups usually agree on very few things and there is no such thing as "national headquarters", and even local groups are often best understood as a coalition of disparate groups allied for a common goal or even a single demonstration that don't see eye to eye on other issues. Groups that are subsumed under the "Antifa" label can be as diverse as unreformed Stalinist tankies, green-leftist ecological activists in the vein of Greenpeace, or hedonistic leftists who consider the former two buzzkills. While conflicts are usually ignored during common demonstrations against fascism or "fascism", they sometimes break out into the open even then. Some specific Antifa groups may only be anarchist or communist, or can include a mixture of individuals with different persuasions across the left. Problems include tactical considerations such as which form(s) of violence — if any — should be considered, as well as ideological differences and the uneasiness of some libertarian leftists to march next to someone holding a hammer and sickle banner. As per the usual, the stance on Israel is also a hot button issue, especially if someone brings an Israeli flag or wears a keffiyeh.Wikipedia The oddity comes from a left-wing German anti-nationalist group, the AntideutschWikipedia (Anti-Germans), which argues that modern leftism is too critical of Israel and thus too antisemitic, and that Germans did not do enough to renounce their Nazi pasts. This led to some unorthodox and seemingly contradictory positions, such as opposing Pan-Arabism and Iran due to their hostility towards Israel, but supporting Slobodan Milošević and Serbia during the Yugoslav Wars, which they view as victims of Nazism.

Conspiracy theories[edit]

A common conspiracy theory in parts of the right is that "the" Antifa is financed or works in the employ of "them": the government, globalists, elites, George Soros, or — even more tellingly — "teh Jooz". The idea that Antifa is supported by any of these entities is preposterous because receiving financial support from these particular entities would be anathema to Antifa's anti-capitalist politics.[47] Despite the patent ridiculousness of those claims, various non-right wing people frequently allude to this and "leak" ridiculously fake "evidence" for the government financing "the" Antifa and "ordering" violence or property damage.

Liberal commentator Robert Reich — normally a strident critic of conspiracy theories — has promoted the claim that Antifa are financed by the far right. Urging readers to "Connect these dots," he laid out alleged parallel goals of Antifa at UC Berkeley and Breitbart news.[48] Some on the left, particularly in Berkeley, have criticized him for this.[49][50]

Most interestingly, when people started to realize there was no way to back their ridiculous conspiracy theories, the far right started making their own "Antifas" on the internet[51] and raiding antifascist rallies. The most notable example is a group of right wingers who showed up to a protest and unfurled a banner that promoted pedophilia (they must have an interesting relationship with the Pizzagate pushers) right in front of a cameraman, who immediately forwarded the picture to Mike Cernovich, who they were protesting against. Today, that image is a gospel truth of the right.[52][53][54]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Can also be all-lowercase, i.e. antifa.
  2. Which is illegal in several countries with Anti-mask lawsWikipedia such as in Germany.


  1. Fascist v. Antifascist
  2. Compare: Antifa: A New Political Resistance? (2017-03-23): "[...] Antifa groups in the Bay Area and Southern California share the common goal of ‘smashing fascism’ with groups from across the country, such as NYC Antifa."
  3. Left Hook: A Brief History of Nazi Punching in America: Forty years of leftists fighting neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and assorted white supremacists by Wes Enzinna (May/June 2017) Mother Jones.
  4. Birchall, Sean, Beating The Fascists: The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist Action (London: Freedom Press, 2010) p. 195
  5. Clearly labeled Antifascists in Sweden
  6. Antifacistisk Aktion (website in Swedish)
  7. Antifacistisk Aktion (website in Danish)
  8. Antifa Australia WordPress blog as well as that of the Sydney branch
  14. The Untold Story of Syria’s Antifa Platoon, Rolling Stone
  16. Anarchist extremists: Antifa
  17. Antifa: US security agencies label group 'domestic terrorists', Lucy Pasha-Robinson, 3 September 2017
  18. Trump says he's naming antifa a 'Terrorist Organization.' Can he do that?
  19. Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a 'major gift to the right', Maya Oppenheim, Tuesday 22 August 2017
  20. The Daily Show: Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Antagonists of the Alt-Right
  21. Current Affairs: Thinking Strategically About Free Speech And Violence, August 20, 2017
  22. Vox: The case against antifa, German Lopez on August 29, 2017
  26. Many condemn violence by Antifascists
  27. Projectiles fly in Britain
  28. Scuffles in Dover, England
  30. Antifascists vs Water Cannons
  31. Riot Police vs Antifa in Frankfurt, Germany
  32. Antifa goes wild in Berlin
  43. See the Wikipedia article on Anti-Fascist Action.
  47. Five myths about antifa by Mark Bray (September 11, 2020 at 6:28 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  48. Robert Reich, "Who Sent the Thugs to Berkeley?" Newsweek, 2/14/17
  49. Aleah Jennings-Newhouse, "Robert Reich publishes controversial theory regarding Yiannopoulos demonstration" The Daily Cal, February 9, 2017
  50. Hart Eagleburger and Jack Rusk "Disappointing Reactions to the Anti-Milo Berkeley Antifa Action" Left Voice, February 16, 2017
  51. "Kekistan Antifa" Twitter account @KekistanANTIFA as seen on Sep. 10, 2017. Accessed Sep. 18, 2019.
  52. "Did Antifa Bring a Pro-Pedophilia Poster to a Rally?". The Daily Dot. 31 October 2017. Retrieved on 23 October 2018.
  53. Weill, Kelly (31 October 2017). "Alt-Right Frames Protesters as Pedophiles With Fake NAMBLA Sign". The Daily Beast. Retrieved on 23 October 2018
  54. Singal, Jesse. "This Might Be the Most Insane and Depressing Fake-News Story Yet". Retrieved on 23 October 2018.