Notes on the Regressive Left, Part III

ANTIFA: Kangaroo Court Implemented by a Street Mob


This blog was also published in the Q2 2017 issue of Secular World, magazine of Atheist Alliance International, pages 22-23.

More discussion about the Antifa movement, how it harms the left and dovetails with neoliberalism.

Sommaire en français Un autre blogue au sujet du mouvement Antifa, comment il nuit à la gauche et comment ses buts convergent avec ceux du néoliberalisme.

The Antifa hatefully hate “hate.” They have all the rationality of a kangaroo court implemented by a violent street mob. They are like obnoxious children playing at revolution. It is difficult to know exactly what their ideas are, because they are so loosely organized. But we can judge them by their actions.

The Antifa are intellectually sloppy and physically violent, which is a dangerous combination, because they are unable to judge when violence is justified (which should be rarely, basically in self-defense) and they are unable to judge whom should be the target of their opposition. Bad behaviour, badly directed = disaster waiting to happen.

The Antifa are incompetent anarchists, unable to identify clearly whom we should be fighting. Only when the enemy clearly identifies itself (by wearing neo-Nazi symbols or KKK attire, such as in Charlottesville) are they able to judge correctly.

The burden of definition of “fascism” falls especially on those who oppose it violently.

If you want to oppose “fascism” then you must define what that is. If you allow yourself to employ violence, then it is even more important to define who fascists are, as rigorously and as precisely as possible, in order to avoid serious errors. The burden of definition of “fascism” falls especially on those who oppose it violently.

When is anti-fascist violence justified? Hint: If your country is being invaded by Hitler’s army (like Poland in 1939) then violence is justified. If an academic threatens to speak about his/her research or his/her book at your university, then violence is NOT justified.

The Antifa claim to oppose neoliberalism. But they are anti-nationalists and apparently oppose all borders. Thus they facilitate neoliberalism which has similar goals — against nationalism, against borders — because that allows corporations free reign and prevents the nation-state from adopting measures to improve or protect the quality of life of its citizens — measures such as workers’ rights, social programmes, environmental regulations, corporate regulation, secularism, etc. The use of national boundaries is foolishly denounced by the Antifa and other pseudo-leftists as “xenophobic”, “fascist” or worse. One of the consequences of this is that the Antifa oppose secularism, because secularism requires the state to impose some reasonable constraints on religious expression within the state apparatus.

A few examples of counterproductive Antifa actions:

  • Quebec City, 2017-08-20, where Antifa beat up a man because he was carrying an anti-monarchist flag.
  • Toronto Gay Pride, 2017, where a gang identifying itself as Antifa tried to stop Iranian gay Muslims and ex-Muslims from marching in the parade, accusing them of “Islamophobia”. At least the Antifa were not violent in this case. They withdrew when the police intervened and the Iranians were then able to march.
  • Middlebury College, Vermont, 2017-03-02, where there were violent protests against a speaking engagement by Charles Murray. Hate Murray if you must, but he is not a fascist by any reasonable definition of that term.
  • Montreal, 2015, a peaceful demonstration against legislation (Draft Bill 59) which would have censored criticism of religion by labelling it “hate speech” was met by Antifa counter-protesters chanting anti-fascist and anti-racist slogans. The counter-protesters were apparently too stupid to recognize the difference between religion and race. Police kept the two groups apart and there was apparently no violence. Fortunately the legislation (which the Antifa effectively supported) was withdrawn, because it would have been the equivalent of a new anti-blasphemy law at the provincial level.
  • Numerous incidents in Berkeley, California. A good overview of events there is provided by Raymond Barglow in Radically Wrong in Berkeley.

One of the most effective ways of undermining a cause is to defend it badly…

If you consider yourself a leftist but support the Antifa, then what the hell is wrong with you? You are probably in denial. Loyalty to a cause may be a virtue; but if many ostensible proponents of that cause make major errors which harm the cause and enable its adversaries, then blind loyalty is no longer a virtue, rather it is a vice. One of the most effective ways of undermining a cause is to defend it badly (thanks to François Doyon for this excellent meme); one of the best ways to promote a cause is to criticize its errors. As leftists, we must recognize that the Antifa feed into the extreme right. The Antifa are an extreme manifestation of the fanatical postmodernist nonsense underlying what has become known as the “regressive left” and which has seriously undermined progressive politics.

Suggested reading: Noam Chomsky: ‘Antifa is Wrong in Principle — a Major Gift to the Militant Right’. You will find criticism of the Antifa on many right-wing web sites, and that is only to be expected, because when so-called leftists discredit the left by behaving like assholes, then of course the right loves to talk about it. As Barglow observes:

Not surprisingly, Berkeley’s intolerance has become a favorite subject on Fox News and other right-wing media. […] But voices on the left have criticized this intolerance too: veterans of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement issued a statement in support of Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus, explaining that “Banning him just plays into his hands politically…. The best way to battle his bigoted discourse is to critique and refute it.” Violent demonstrations in Berkeley, purporting to “fight fascism,” fuel it instead; […]

Our duty is to oppose Antifa and to boycott all Antifa events — i.e. do not join them. Find other, more intelligent and more effective ways (peaceful protest, debate, writing, etc.) to express your opposition to ideas which you consider dangerous or retrograde.

Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part IV: A Collection of Important Articles

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