Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

As Trump’s Crassness Reaches New Heights Antifa in the Spotlight.

with 17 comments

Trump’s Crassness Reaches New Heights.

In the wake of these events Louis Proyect has written an important article,

Antifa and the perils of adventurism

I would suggest reading the full post but these extracts are worth flagging up:

Turning now to Charlottesville, it is obvious to me that if the protests had been disciplined and under the control of marshals such as was the norm during the Vietnam antiwar movement, there would have been much less of a chance that James Fields would have been able to drive his Dodge Challenger into a crowd, killing a young woman and injuring 19 others.

The antifa contingent came to the city with the intent of turning it into a battle between the fascists and their own street fighters in the same way that it “intervened” at the Berkeley protest against Milo Yiannopoulos. Fortunately, nobody was killed or injured at Berkeley but the protest lacked political clarity.

The same cannot be said about his appearance at the University of Washington in Seattle on Inauguration Day. During a melee between the black bloc and cops outside the hall where Yiannopoulos was speaking, IWW member Josh Dukes was shot by Elizabeth Hokoana, a Trump supporter. Her husband Marc was arrested with her as an accomplice. Dukes has lost his gall bladder, half his colon and is left with a severely damaged liver.

If you want to keep tabs of the adventurists who are unaccountable to anybody outside of their ranks, you need to consult the “It’s Going Down” website. There you can read an assessment of the Charlottesville events by an anonymous author, which is typical of the lack of accountability that exists in this milieu. Titled “Charlottesville and the Rise of Fascism in the USA: What We Need to Do”, it is certainly not what one would call an exercise in false modesty.

Louis summarises the ideas behind these groups, which could stand for sections of the  larger and more important (not least because fascism has held state power in countries on the Continent European anti-fascist movements,

The enemy is not fascism as much as it is capitalism that exploits the working class according to civilized norms that would never be associated with the swastika or other fascist regalia. How do I know? Just read the NY Times op-ed page that screams bloody murder about Trump but gave Obama and Hillary Clinton a free pass. It was, after all, Democratic Party indifference to the suffering of the majority of Americans that led to the current crisis.

In a way, the American antifa movement suffers the same kind of political myopia as the original movement in postwar Germany, where Socialists and Communists tried to root out the residual Nazism left behind in the German state. This history is detailed in a Jacobin article titled “The Lost History of Antifa” written by contributing editor Loren Balhorn who is a member of Die Linke.

This is harshly put, but the ultimate focus on “capitalism” remains behind  many, though far from all,  present day movements in Europe.

Unfortunately Louis fails to mention the more positive side of this hard-line approach, that is building working class resistance to the far–right. The British Anti-Facsist Action may not have represented large forces but the ideas they held could sum this stand up, “AFA had what they called a “twin-track” strategy: physical confrontation of fascists on the streets and ideological struggle against fascism in working class communities.”

At a time when the French Front National is the largest party amongst manual employees and has an ever stronger presence in the traditionally unionised left-voting areas of France, such as the North, this remains an issue which has to be taken seriously.

Proyect ends with these controversial comments,

As a small, self-appointed savior of the America people, the antifa milieu has little grasp of the tasks that face us. Right now it is the cops, not Richard Spencer, that is killing Black people with impunity. All across the country, fracking and other forms of environmental despoliation will be on the rise under Donald Trump. This requires a powerful mass movement to confront, not small-scale skirmishes. We are dealing with frightening confrontations over North Korea that cry out for a new anti-nuclear movement, not stupid, childish window-breaking.

I doubt that anybody involved with window-breaking, fist-fighting idiocy is capable of rising to the occasion but I urge people who have been seduced by their fake militancy in the same way that they got a kick out of the viral Richard Spencer getting punched video to wise up. We are in for some stormy battles and intelligence is needed much more than empty bravado.

This is how the US media reports Antifa,

What is Antifa? CNN.

Antifa is short for anti-fascists. The term is used to define a broad group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left — often the far left — but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform. The group doesn’t have an official leader or headquarters, although groups in certain states hold regular meetings.

Antifa positions can be hard to define, but many members support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites. Some employ radical or militant tactics to get their message across.

Scott Crow, a longtime Antifa organizer, says the “radical ideals” promoted by Antifas are starting to be adopted by liberals. “They would never have looked at (those ideals) before, because they saw us as the enemy as much as the right-wingers.”

The majority of Antifa members don’t fall into a stereotype. Since the election of President Donald Trump, however, most new Antifa members are young voters.

The exact origins of the group are unknown, but Antifa can be traced to Nazi Germany and Anti-Fascist Action, a militant group founded in the 1980s in the United Kingdom.

Modern-day members of Antifa have become more active in making themselves known at public rallies and within the progressive movement, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “What they’re trying to do now is not only become prominent through violence at these high-profile rallies, but also to reach out through small meetings and through social networking to cultivate disenfranchised progressives who heretofore were peaceful,” Levin said.

Members have been spotted at high-profile, right-wing events across the country, including Milo Yiannopoulos’ appearance at the University of California, Berkeley in February. They also protested (at – Blog Editor’s note)  President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

While it can be difficult to distinguish Antifa activists from other protesters, some dress head to toe in black. Members call this the “Black Bloc.” They also wear masks to hide their identities from the police and whomever they are protesting (against – Blog Editor’s note).

The group is known for causing damage to property during protests. In Berkeley, black-clad protesters wearing masks threw Molotov cocktails and smashed windows at the student union center where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held. Crow said members use violence as a means of self-defense and they believe property destruction does not equate to violence.

“There is a place for violence. Is that the world that we want to live in? No. Is it the world we want to inhabit? No. Is it the world we want to create? No. But will we push back? Yes,” Crow said.

Peter Beinart gives a different perspective.

What Trump Gets Wrong About Antifa

If the President is concerned about violence on the left, he can start by fighting the white supremacist movements whose growth has fueled its rise.

In his Tuesday press conference, Donald Trump talked at length about what he called “the alt left.” White supremacists, he claimed, weren’t the only people in Charlottesville last weekend that deserved condemnation. “You had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he declared. “Nobody wants to say that.”

I can say with great confidence that Trump’s final sentence is untrue. I can do so because the September issue of The Atlantic contains an essay of mine entitled “The Rise of the Violent Left,” which discusses the very phenomenon that Trump claims “nobody wants” to discuss. Trump is right that, in Charlottesville and beyond, the violence of some leftist activists constitutes a real problem. Where he’s wrong is in suggesting that it’s a problem in any way comparable to white supremacism.

What Trump calls “the alt left” (I’ll explain why that’s a bad term later) is actually antifa, which is short for anti-fascist. The movement traces its roots to the militant leftists who in the 1920s and 1930s brawled with fascists on the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. It revived in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when anti-racist punks in Britain and Germany mobilized to defeat Neo-Nazi skinheads who were infiltrating the music scene. Via punk, groups calling themselves anti-racist action—and later, anti-fascist action or antifa—sprung up in the United States. They have seen explosive growth in the Trump era for an obvious reason: There’s more open white supremacism to mobilize against.

As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifa activists generally combat white supremacism not by trying to change government policy but through direct action. They try to publicly identify white supremacists and get them fired from their jobs and evicted from their apartments. And they disrupt white-supremacist rallies, including by force.

As I argued in my essay, some of their tactics are genuinely troubling….

Full article here.

This is how Spencer Sunshine reported his experience of Charlottesville.

I Almost Died in Charlottesville

The anti-racist demonstration against the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the most frightening I have ever been to. Yes, I was in the crowd when a car—driven by a man who had been marching in uniform with a neo-Nazi group—slammed into the crowd, killing one and injuring at least 19. But that was only part of it. With armed militias on the streets playing an unclear role, police being even more opaque about their intent and 1,000 fascists on the streets of what seemed like a ghost town, this was not an ordinary demonstration.

Although the event was set to start at noon, attendees of the White nationalist “Unite the Right” rally started gathering at Emancipation Park early in the morning. Various counter-protesters met up in different parts of the city rather than holding a single, unified rally or march, and anti-racist clergy members headed directly to the park early in the morning. Around 9:30 a.m., the antifascists who ended up having fights with White nationalists arrived.

Authorities almost immediately lost control of the situation and declared the White nationalist rally and the anti-racist counter-demonstration an “unlawful assembly.” At about 1:40 p.m., the car rammed into anti-racists who were celebrating the fact that “Unite the Right” had been halted.

Charlottesville, Virginia, is a picturesque town, filled with precious little houses and statues of Confederate generals. It was the city council’s attempt to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that set off previous Far Right demonstrations. The first, a torch-lit rally led by alt-right figure Richard Spencer, was in May. The second, a small Ku Klux Klan rally, took place in July. But the August 12 event billed as “Unite the Right” ended up being the largest White nationalist gathering since a 1987 rally in Forsyth County, Georgia, in support of it remaining a sundown county where Black people weren’t allowed to live. That drew 3,000 people.

I have been warning people for the past year about the rising tide of White nationalist violence. In a July 2016 article for Colorlines, when it still looked like Republican candidate Donald Trump would go down in flames, I warned about a new wave of White nationalist and other Far Right violence. I saw that Trump was energizing the movement. A series of clashes with antifascists also seemed to invigorate some of the Far Right. I sounded the alarm in June—after Jeremy Christianallegedly murdered two men on a Portland, Oregon, light rail who were trying to stop his racist and Islamophobic harassment of two young women—that we should “expect more murders” from the Far Right. Their movement is a drumbeat of violence, created by the demonizing narratives they use against groups they perceive to be threats: “foreign enemies,” historically oppressed groups and domestic political opponents. Whether they are people of color, Muslims, Jewish people, LGBTQ people or perceived Communists, the Far Right always imagines a monster that they can act monstrous toward.

Last week, I published another warning on the website of Political Research Associates where I am an associate fellow. I wrote that up to 1,000 people were coming to “Unite the Right,” including members of the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America. James Alex Fields Jr., the 20-year-old who was charged with murder for allegedly driving his car into a mass of counter-protesters, rallied with the group that day, sporting their logo and shield.

In fact, the only thing I was wrong about was that counter-protestors didn’t outnumber the White nationalists as I predicted they would. They appeared to be there in equal numbers, and during the face-off at the park in the morning, the White nationalists outnumbered the anti-racist counter-protestors by about five to one.

Full article here.
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Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2017 at 12:05 pm

17 Responses

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  1. Hey 😀 It’s looking good 😀

    President Donald J. Trump

    August 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

  2. I can’t comment about the USA but I have experience of Anti Fascist Action in East London in the eighties and early nineties. They had no working class support and were a group of young university drop outs and unemployed working class boozers who created a culture of violence as some kind of purifying force not unlike that of their equivalents on the far right. They would turn up to peaceful protests and provoke a fight with anyone who disagreed with them even if that was from the left which it usually was.

    Their leader in Hackney was particularly disagreeable, almost always drunk, individual whose name I can’t at the moment remember, whom I never saw sober on at least five or six events.

    Dave Roberts

    August 16, 2017 at 4:49 pm

  3. Thanks for that Dave.

    I was active in anti-fascist activism in the 1970s/early 1980s (I began after being at Red Lion Square), notably in the community based LARAFC,:

    The SWP and the Anti Nazi League, Some Observations.

    https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/the-swp-and-the-anti-nazi-league-some-observations/

    The following gives a better history of our West Midland’s activism at the time than I could: The Respectable Revolutionaries: Leamington Anti-Racist Anti-Fascist Committee 1977–1981 Doug Lowe

    http://www.whatnextjournal.org.uk/Pages/Latest/LARAFC.html

    There has been some anti-fascist activity in Ipswich over the years, but nothing dramatic, and it’s just been part of wider left campaigning (for example a couple of times when the BNP stood in council elections).

    For more recent developments I was reluctant to make detailed comments, though I have always had the impression that there were some braggarts about in these groups.

    These days the major problem is the link between nationalism, anti-EU campaigns and racism, rather than specific far-right groups.

    Andrew Coates

    August 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm

  4. I can’t comment on other part of the country but in East London the SWP and its predecessor the IS played their usual opportunistic role. Local people would organise something, squatters played a big role in this and most of the squatting movement in Tower Hamlets was actually local working class young people, and it would be written up in Socialist Worker as having bee organised by them. They were dab hands at handing out placards and running to the fron of a march or demo with their banner.

    As far as the festivals were concerned on the day the NY ran riot down Brick Lane because we didn’t have enough people to stop them the ANL/SWP had organised a festival in Brockwell Park in south London I think it was and told people to stay away from the East End so as ” not to divide the movement”. By coincidence there was film of this on London Live a few minutes ago as a part of the Secret History of Our Streets series this one about Arnold Circus and the Bangladeshi squatters. Film of smashed shop windows and a Bangladeshi who was assaulted. You won’t find the SWP mentioning that one.

    Dave Roberts

    August 16, 2017 at 9:09 pm

  5. Should have been the NF of course.

    Dave Roberts

    August 16, 2017 at 9:18 pm

  6. My memory has kicked in now and I can recall this incident, which I witnessed, on The Isle of Dogs during the campaign to get rid of the BNPs Derek Beacon who was elected in Millwall in September 1993. I was involved in the campaign down there and the ANL/SWP/Antifa were always regarded as outside trouble makers who turned up at weekends and thought they were running the show. They regarded all locals as fascists and lost no time in telling them so.

    On particular Saturday after they had done a bit of leafleting they retired to The Island Queen which they claimed they had ” captured ” from the BNP as it was there that Beacon had his victory party after the result was announced in Jack Dash house just over the road. Suitably pissed they then went into Castalia Square nearby and spent some time drinking cans of strong lager shouting abuse at the local residents and then burnt a Union Jack.

    Although Beacon was defeated on a nearly ninety per cent turn out he actually increased his overall vote largely on the antics of the far left like the ones I have described above. The claims to be building working class opposition to fascism are and always have been a joke.

    This section of the left is typified by narcissism whereby they are the keepers of the flame of anti fascism and everyone else is middle class or prepared to compromise with fascism by actually talking to BNP voters and convincing them they are wrong. You’d be surprised how effective the latter tactic can be.

    They indulge in group think and speak and constantly refer to the thirties, Cable St, the seventies and the ANL and see themselves as the torch bearers and the vanguard of a tradition, the latter is important to justify their tactics which are nothing more than self gratification.

    The real opposition was provided by some local churches with money from Canary Wharf which was mortified at the world wide publicity at a fascist councillor representing a ward in what they were building into a world class financial centre.

    Dave Roberts

    August 17, 2017 at 5:52 am

  7. Is a filter on as I have twice tried to do a post about the Antifa on The Isle of Dogs around the anto BNP campaign of 93/94?

    Dave Roberts

    August 17, 2017 at 5:54 am

  8. “Hey 😀 It’s looking good :D” What’s that supposed to even mean?

    Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton

    August 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

  9. I have no idea why this got caught up.

    The only filter is for a few names of abusive people.

    Sorry.

    Andrew Coates

    August 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

  10. Andrew Coates

    August 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

  11. There are more filters on here than a packet of fags 😉

    Rizla

    August 17, 2017 at 12:56 pm

  12. Trump makes a refreshing change from the usual “politically correct” horseshit we are subjected to. Of course being the most powerful man on the planet President Trump isn’t frightened to speak his mind for fear of losing his job, newspaper column, chat show; fear of being imprisoned; fear of being attacked on the streets of Ipswich even. People nowadays are actually scared of saying what they actually think whether they are in the media spotlight or just regular members of the public. There is no such think as free speech in the Western world.

    Free Speech

    August 18, 2017 at 11:11 am

  13. Since when is Trump’s condoning of pro-slavery Confederate butcher generals, murderous neonazis and the Ku Klux Klan ‘refreshing’??? Even right-wing politicians in his own Republican party like McCain, Romney and Rubio now attack him. So does British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May; unfortunately without withdrawing the invitation for Trump’s state visit:

    https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/british-theresa-may-trumps-poodle-even-after-charlottesville/

    petrel41

    August 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm

  14. What’s the alternative, Dave? You sound very bitter…

    Chris Mc

    August 21, 2017 at 7:32 am

  15. It is amazing that Comrade Coates published a comment describing the SWP as “opportunistic”. Knock us over with a feather duster.

    Gobsmacked

    August 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

  16. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? There is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our cogmmunity and I enjoyed reading your work. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. If “OK” please let me know via email.

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

    Autumn Cote

    September 6, 2017 at 7:12 pm


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