Antifa in Theory and in Practice

Johnstone, Diana
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/09/antifa-in-theory-and-in-practice/

Publisher:  CounterPunch
Date Written:  09/10/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21336

In recent weeks, a totally disoriented left has been widely exhorted to unify around a masked vanguard calling itself Antifa, for anti-fascist. Hooded and dressed in black, Antifa is essentially a variation of the Black Bloc, familiar for introducing violence into peaceful demonstrations in many countries. Imported from Europe, the label Antifa sounds more political. American Antifa looks very much like a middle class wedding between Identity Politics and gang warfare.

Abstract: 
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However, even the most justifiable emotional concerns do not necessarily contribute to wise counsel. Violent reactions to fear may seem to be strong and effective when in reality they are morally weak and practically ineffectual.

We are in a period of great political confusion. Labeling every manifestation of “political incorrectness” as fascism impedes clarification of debate over issues that very much need to be defined and clarified.

The scarcity of fascists has been compensated by identifying criticism of immigration as fascism. This identification, in connection with rejection of national borders, derives much of its emotional force above all from the ancestral fear in the Jewish community of being excluded from the nations in which they find themselves.

The issue of immigration has different aspects in different places. It is not the same in European countries as in the United States. There is a basic distinction between immigrants and immigration. Immigrants are people who deserve consideration. Immigration is a policy that needs to be evaluated. It should be possible to discuss the policy without being accused of persecuting the people. After all, trade union leaders have traditionally opposed mass immigration, not out of racism, but because it can be a deliberate capitalist strategy to bring down wages.

In reality, immigration is a complex subject, with many aspects that can lead to reasonable compromise. But to polarize the issue misses the chances for compromise. By making mass immigration the litmus test of whether or not one is fascist, Antifa intimidation impedes reasonable discussion. Without discussion, without readiness to listen to all viewpoints, the issue will simply divide the population into two camps, for and against. And who will win such a confrontation?

A recent survey* shows that mass immigration is increasingly unpopular in all European countries. The complexity of the issue is shown by the fact that in the vast majority of European countries, most people believe they have a duty to welcome refugees, but disapprove of continued mass immigration. The official argument that immigration is a good thing is accepted by only 40%, compared to 60% of all Europeans who believe that “immigration is bad for our country”. A left whose principal cause is open borders will become increasingly unpopular.

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