John Reeve

Musician, Artist, Technologist


“Antifa” is not a group

“Antifa” is not a group

I dunno who needs to hear this, but “antifa” isn’t a group.

Saying that “antifa” is communicating anything or engaging in an action is like saying “jazz music theory” or “the 5-paragraph written academic essay” is doing stuff.

“Antifa” is a term used for a specific strategy, not a group of people… it’s not even as coherent of a group as “jazz musicians” or “middle school English teachers”.

By itself, it’s enough to know that if you’re hearing people talk about “antifa”, you’re almost definitely listening to some level or misinformation and propaganda designed to make you scared.

I personally don’t like accepting things without argument though. So, if you’re skeptical, here’s why I think that antifa isn’t a group:

  • I read a lot of anarchist literature, history, and theory, from Bakunin and Kropotkin to Chomsky to Freddy Pereleman
  • I listen to a lot of anarchist news reporting, usually in the form of podcasts; “Final Straw Radio” and “It’s Going Down: This is America” are two very interesting ones

You’re welcome to do these things too. All that history, both recent and in the far past, is out there on the net for you to read. You may not like what you find: there are a lot of really interesting bits of history that make it basically impossible to have any sympathy with the US governments.

But that history is there, and you can see, for instance, what the communication leading up to the counter protest for the “Unite the Right” rally in Charleston looks like. It’s not super complicated. Because there’s no organization or underlying doctrine, it’s mostly a bunch of people being like “hey, me and 4 of my friends are going to show up at this time and place”, and then different folks responding to that call.

There are a lot of folks out there who are fighting fascism.

They do communicate.

But they are just as likely to start a co-op creating hand sanitizer as they are to put together a medical kit and go out in the streets to help people hurt by the police. They aren’t generally engaging in active insurrection, and they aren’t generally even out breaking windows.

A lot of folks are very aware of, say, the 1968 democratic convention and how that went down. The folks on the anarchist left aren’t generally in favor of making the world harder for people who already have it hard.

So, like, as someone who pays a lot of attention to the anarchist left:

  • “antifa” isn’t a group
  • if you’re hearing people talking about “antifa”, you’re almost definitely hearing misinformation

That begs the question of who is doing the misinforming and why… I have no idea on that. My guess is that there are a bunch of folks out there who are doing it for a lot of reasons:

  • Trump likes it cause it creates a specific “bad guy”
  • the far right is engaged in trying to start “Civil War II: Electric Boogaloo” (I’m not joking… they literally refer to it as “teh boog”)
  • liberals like it because it makes it easier not to think about the immateriality of protesting when you can separate out the “foreign” agitators from the noble, peaceful sagvages

All those things seem like they are in play to me.

You’re welcome to disagree or whatever, but that’s my opinion as someone who has been watching the anarchist left for quite a while.

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