Dancing With the Devil
Photo by Roscoe Myrick
Dystopia is finally here, but we seem to have our sides mixed up as of late.
We live in a time when Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation move forward with labeling anti-fascists groups as domestic terrorist organizations while removing white supremacists groups from those very same lists. The militarization of police has resumed, while the United States continues to wage its imperial wars across the planet regardless of the fact that climate change has begun to ravage our world. Every conceivable method of shoring up the police state that began to take definitive shape under the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama is once again being implemented.
But what do “progressive” and liberal news sites harp on about? It’s all about Russia, sheet cake, Melania Trump’s post-hurricane footwear, and the threat of a shadowy villainous phantom that has been set loose on an unsuspecting humanity. But that evil is not the growing threat of a resurgent far right. Oh, no. To them, that evil is its exact opposite: a collection of disparate groups collectively known as “antifa”.
And just what is antifa? To many it is nothing but a motley collection of violent thugs that destroy private property and assault poor white men with Confederate battle flags and trendy swastikas, robbing them of their precious right to free speech. Poor devils! In actuality there is no such thing as one organization called antifa. It is, in reality, a catchall term for a number of far-left, generally anti-capitalist groups, generally anti-capitalists, that actively oppose the rebirth of fascism. They are by definition anti-homophobic, anti-racist, and anti-sexist. In other words, they are the exact opposite of Nazis. To be antifa is to act against fascism, not to believe in anything specific other than the protection of others who may be targeted by bigots, by any means necessary. For a much better description the recently published book by Mark Bray, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, serves as an excellent primer and essential reading.
At this point, dear reader, you might find yourself asking how, if they are the exact opposite of Nazis, could the antifa be comparable “in every way” to Nazis (as some misfortunate souls like Chris Hedges, The New York Times, The Washington Post and even The Guardian, continue to vomit on every conceivable media outlet out there). The answer lies in the necessity of liberalism to create false equivalencies in order to maintain the status quo. In other words the often-parroted claim that antifa and Nazism are morally equitable is, quite simply, complete bullshit.
Radical leftists are often accused of being utopian in their thinking, but at this point it has become quite evident that it is liberals who are living in complete fantasy while leftists are the consummate realists. When anarchists, communists, and other anti-capitalists say that it is impossible to negotiate with fascists it is because they have the weight of history and experience behind their arguments. Meanwhile it should be apparent that liberal attacks against antifa are simply reflecting a socio-political strategy of deflection in order to ensure the survival of their class and racial privilege.
Collaboration by Western governments with fascist and totalitarian regimes is nothing new, of course. Nor is the branding of groups actively engaged in conflict with those regimes as “terrorists” a new development either. We’ve all seen it before. Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Pinochet’s Chile… the list goes on and on. And Western governments like it that way. Capitalism likes it that way. Markets remain stabilized, foreign investment secured, social justice movements squashed.
At the end of the day the call to resist “violence” is all about political theater. Conservatives play along with fascists due to their cultish obsession with law and order and their simmering white supremacist tendencies. Liberals, while also indulging in white supremacy, attack anti-fascist groups because they can recognize a good sacrificial lamb when they see one. By doing that they hope they can distract the wolves from chomping down on their own neck. The center and the center-right, mostly proud capitalist Democrats and other “progressive” Wall Street darlings would rather see leftists beaten and killed before they themselves become the targets. Actions like these simply echo the late Nikos Poulantzas’s critique of fascism, where he stated that the Third Reich wouldn’t have survived without liberal support. At the end of the day they’ll simply obey orders and be good, law-abiding citizens. Just like their liberal fellows in the Reich proved to be.
Liberals refuse to abandon their capitalist white privilege, and would rather see blood spilled in order to maintain their idiotic concept of “centrism” before even thinking about considering any kind of support for anti-capitalist anti-fascists. It is purely an attempt at damage control, their way of making sure that violence stays where it belongs: centered against African-Americans, Muslims, Gays, and Latinos.
The liberal obsession with championing military intervention abroad and attacking active resistance to fascism at home by criminalizing anything that is even remotely associated to their imaginary concept of a shadowy antifa organization, regardless of the fact that such a thing does not exist, only serves to underscore the fact that their obsession with “non-violence” is purely a self-serving lie.
This, then, is the real motivation behind the major push by the mainstream liberal media towards criminalizing the very idea of antifa, and why liberals have insisted on non-scandals like Russia. It goes beyond the concept of news fabrication. Like all good propaganda, it is the constant flooding of all media with a single message, nonstop. And it is the blandest kind of appeasement. It must be said that liberals labeling antifa as the equivalent of Nazis seems to be as suicidal an action as insisting on an alternative treatment to a deadly tumor that involves the patient “playing nice” to the malignant growth, all the while opposing chemotherapy and surgery as measures “too extreme” to even be considered.
I can see the Saturday Night Live sketch now: “Your tumor needs a hug. And some sheet cake.” Queue the canned laughter and the outro music.
Centrists like Trevor Noah and white liberals like Tina Fey and Samantha Bee speak from class privilege and would rather have the rest of us stressing the need to learn to coexist with the closest thing to real evil that our species has ever produced instead. Watching someone like Noah, a South African man who should know all too well what the horrors of white supremacy entail, ridiculing a “vegan antifa” on cable television (and therefore championing the silencing of dissent) is all the evidence needed to denounce the tragic consequences of following this sort of terminal liberalism to its logical and horrific conclusion. Even someone as knowledgeable as Noam Chomsky seems to have completely lost the plot when it comes to anti-fascism.
Make no mistake about this. Fascism is a tumor. You don’t negotiate or appease a tumor. You cut the fucking thing out, and in this case antifa is one of society’s scalpels. So keep that in mind whenever you, dear reader, choose to repeat some nonsense that your favorite talking head spewed out late at night. Words have consequences, now more than ever.
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz is a native son of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and a third-year doctoral student of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. He specializes in labor history, the history of anarchism and other anti-authoritarian political groups of the Left in the British Empire, especially South Africa and Australia, as well as pursuing an outside minor in political philosophy.
This article originally appeared on Counterpunch.org.