by Paul Bradford
Antifa rules the streets of Portland and sows chaos in many other American cities. Millions of Americans don’t like Antifa, but many struggle to figure out who these black-masked radicals really are.
Conservatives like to call Antifa “fascist” or the modern-day successor to the Ku Klux Klan. Liberals will insist either that Antifa is a nonexistent, right-wing fantasy or that they’re secret white supremacists out to discredit the “peaceful” protesters.
Conservatives and liberals both throw out terrible historical comparisons when discussing Antifa. Cable news talkers compare them to the American soldiers storming Omaha Beach on D-Day while conservatives view them as more like the Nazis fighting our boys.
It’s worth our time to explain what exactly Antifa is.
Antifa and Its Enemies
Antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” is a far-left movement dedicated to fighting whatever its adherents think is fascism. It’s a loose organization without a clear structure or public leaders. Its name comes from a Communist-organized group in Weimar Germany. Unlike their ancestors, most American Antifa would better be described as anarchists rather than Communists. But it’s a mistake to think of Antifa as particularly ideological. Yes, they are extreme leftists, but what primarily defines them is who they target and the goals advanced by their violence. And it’s not exactly Communism.
Antifa may describe themselves as anti-capitalists, but they don’t target capital. They’re not intimidating corporate CEOs or rioting over jobs being shipped overseas. They don’t try to shut down banks or financial institutions. They focus exclusively on enemies they share with mainstream liberals—Trump supporters, the police, ICE, the “alt-Right,” conservatives, etc.
They never seem to go after targets that would draw condemnation from liberal elites. With the exception of the police and some politicians, they go after powerless people. It’s easy for them to sucker punch a random Trump supporter in the street. That person’s story will never be told in the media and reporters will believe whatever lies Antifa spread about their victims.
Commentators love to give their historic examples for Antifa. If the commentators see Antifa as Communists, they offer Communist examples. If they see Antifa as Nazis, they compare them to the stormtroopers. If they see Antifa as racist Democrats, they say Antifa is the new Ku Klux Klan. Most of these examples are peddled haphazardly and make little sense.
Antifa’s members are not fascists or “racist Democrats” in disguise. They are on the far-Left, which makes the Communist comparisons more apt. (Some conservatives will retort: “But the fascists are on the far-Left!” Nearly all scholars, including conservatives like Stanley Payne and Paul Gottfried, strongly disagree that fascism is a left-wing phenomenon. In any case, the only thing shared between fascists and Antifa is a love of violence.)
Antifa isn’t like state-run Communist bodies such as the Stasi. They are (fortunately) not picking up people and taking them to the gulags on the orders of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Antifa also doesn’t resemble left-wing terror groups like the Weathermen or the Red Army Faction. Those groups operated as cells with obvious leaders and clear ideological goals. Their actions weren’t directing mindless mob violence. The RAF and the Weathermen planned and carried out bombings, kidnappings, and hijackings. While both of those groups receive some posthumous adoration from idiotic leftists, neither was tolerated by the authorities. Both groups were zealously pursued by the authorities and few dared to defend their terrorism publicly. Antifa, on the other hand, is ignored by the authorities and regularly defended in the public square.
Sanctioned By the Elite
Maoist Red Guards are the best historical analogy. The Red Guards were mobs of students endorsed by the highest authority in Chinese Communism and given free rein to attack dissidents. Their main purpose was to shore up the regime’s power and ensure the public toed the Communist Party line. The Red Guards weren’t necessarily controlled by the state, but they were sanctioned by the regime and advanced the interests of the nation’s elites.
Antifa does the same for our liberal elites.
Individual Antifa may be anarchists or Communists, but their actions ultimately benefit liberals. The black-masked radicals can scream “liberals get the bullet, too!” all they want, but their activity helps squishy liberals the most.
Antifa doesn’t harm big business or the military-industrial complex—they only ensure that it’s difficult for the Right to organize and speak freely in America. In fact, big business and the military-industrial complex essentially endorsed the riots and promised to donate more to left-wing causes. Most of the businesses they burn down are local shops that can’t recoup the costs of destruction, allowing giant corporations to gobble up even more of the market. The riots ensure only chains can survive.
Several mainstream media outlets run puff pieces on the black-masked anarchists and celebrate them as American heroes, further indicating the elite’s comfort with Antifa. If they were a real threat to the current order, we wouldn’t see CNN lying for them. These anchors would demand their prosecution and denounce their violence. But the mainstream media doesn’t care about torched small businesses in flyover country, beaten Trump supporters, or injured cops. Those are all bad, expendable Americans in the eyes of liberal journalists.
Reinforcing the Power Structure
For all their bluster about the revolution, Antifa ultimately is a tool for liberal elites. That’s why the Democratic Party, corporate execs, and major media outlets sanction their violence. The only leader who wants to put a stop to their marauding is Donald Trump. His critics love to mock him for allowing this violence, but it’s hard for him to stop it when all the other powers in government and society side with Antifa.
Antifa fully exploits the anarcho-tyranny that rules this land. They don’t have to worry about prosecution, but anyone who stands up to their violence can expect the full brunt of the law. See Kyle Rittenhouse and Steven Baca for what happens when you dare defend yourself against Antifa. Elites know they must protect their attack dogs from any consequences.
Antifa is a dangerous group, but it isn’t a truly revolutionary group. It operates more like a mob than an army. They’re not fascists or klansmen—they’re leftists. And their most distinguishing characteristic is that they don’t challenge the power structure; they reinforce it.
The people who challenge the power structure the most exist on the political Right. That’s why liberal elites tolerate Antifa violence. The black-masked thugs do their dirty work for them.
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Paul Bradford is a Capitol Hill refugee now earning an honest living.