Where to start learning about antifa

Mark Bray explains the history, goals, and philosophy of antifa in Teen Vogue. Every paragraph is a jewel, you should go read it. Just a taste:

Antifa grows out of a larger revolutionary politics that aspires toward creating a better world, but the primary motivation is to stop racists from organizing; doing that can take many forms, and so the tactical repertoire of anti-fascists is broad.

The vast majority of what they do does not entail any physical confrontation. They focus on researching white supremacists and neo-Nazis across different social media platforms, figuring out who their leaders are, what other groups they are networking with, [and] where they are trying to hold events, so they can contact hotels or local venues to get the owners to cancel the events and, if they refuse to cancel, organize a boycott or campaigns of public pressure against them. They also organize public education campaigns and form alliances with unions and social movements to organize large demonstrations. Part of it, however, and this is what gets the most attention, entails self-defense and, at times, confronting these groups before they can gain enough momentum to promote their politics.


  1. gijoel says

    Oh boy that Washington post article. In Marc Thiessen’s universe up is down and black is white.

  2. stroppy says


    Yet Another Pundit whose only skill is pulling impromptu, just-so stories out of his backside.

  3. starfleetdude says

    Part of it, however, and this is what gets the most attention, entails self-defense and, at times, confronting these groups before they can gain enough momentum to promote their politics.

    To put it bluntly, that part involves initiating physical violence when those groups exercise their right to free speech. Little wonder it gets attention. The above just puts a fog around that fact to blur what actually is happening.

  4. stroppy says

    MB: “confronting these groups”

    sfd: “initiating physical violence”

    To be blunt, that just looks like an inability to read for comprehension. Got anything to actually back up your assertion?

  5. starfleetdude says

    Really now, it’s not as if it hasn’t been in the news recently. Here’s one report from Portland about the incident involving Ngo.

    Alt-Right, Antifa, Cops, and Milkshakes Clash in Downtown Portland – Porland Mercury

    From the report:

    The rest of the afternoon consisted of the left-wing protesters marching around downtown, mostly on the sidewalks, attempting to circumvent PPB blockades and confront the few members of Patriot Prayer. The police were not entirely successful at keeping the opposing groups separated, and several tense confrontations ended with punches, kicks and violent threats. According to the PPB, at least three people, including conservative blogger Andy Ngo, were taken to the hospital for injures sustained in one of these clashes.

    So in this case, it clearly was the antifa bunch that initiated the confrontation and violence that resulted.

  6. Rhett Rothberg says

    So “self defense as a pre emptive measure” and the assault on Andy Ngo values to be supported?

  7. dorfl says


    Given that “exercise their right to free speech” is itself intended to put a fog around what’s actually happening, which is that fascists are trying to lay the groundwork for a future ethnic cleansing, I’m basically fine with people “initiating physical violence” against them.

  8. starfleetdude says


    I’m under no illusion about what the wannabe Nazis are saying, and I’m fine with telling them to stuff it where the sun don’t shine. I’m not o.k. with preemptive violence, and can see it all to easily getting out of hand.

  9. says

    I don’t buy the escalation-argument. Fascists aren’t something new and unknown, we know exactly what they are and how they operate. It’s not a question of if they turn to violence, it’s a question of when. It’s what they do. Their core belief is hate and their primary tool is violence.

  10. unclefrogy says

    so I see starfleetdude I just did not understand before that confronting right wing neo-facists who regularly march armed with firearms who advocate racism and intolerance who advocate racial violence are just exercising their free speech rights and that confronting them often leads to violence that in fact they are being attacked by those who oppose what they stand for. so we should just stand back and let them march around intimidating everyone that they despise without saying anything nor offering any resistance in public that they might see maybe we should just bow down to the inevitability of a fascists take over because they are advocating what exactly.
    uncle frogy

  11. says

    Got to say, every time I see “starfleetdude” posting, he’s doing a crypto-fash thing.

    Demonizing trans people, arguing in favor of Nazi rallies… it becomes clear whose side he’s on…

  12. vucodlak says

    @ starfleetdude and Rhett Rothberg

    Where are you getting “preemptive” from? Nazis are marching because they want to exterminate or enslave non-Nazis. That’s what Nazis do, and that is violence. It’s pretty much as extreme as violence gets. Just because they aren’t, at this precise moment, shoveling bodies into ovens doesn’t mean there’s anything peaceful about them marching and recruiting.

    I mean, for fuck’s sake, their ideological allies in the government have already built and filled concentration camps, with which they are already torturing and killing people. They’re building more camps every day, and making ominous noises about how they’ll fill those up, too. It takes massive ignorance to say that the people who occasionally punch these fuckers are starting the violence. It’s like claiming that the Allies started the Holocaust with the D-Day landings at Normandy. It’s ludicrous nonsense.

  13. starfleetdude says

    I mean, for fuck’s sake, their ideological allies in the government have already built and filled concentration camps, with which they are already torturing and killing people.

    I don’t think making a few wannabe Nazis a proxy for the likes of ICE and the Border Patrol gets rid of said detention camps. The House representatives who went and witnessed what is happening there have my utmost respect. It takes guts to do what they did and tell the people the truth about the horrible conditions they found. That’s doing far more to combat those who want to use the fear of brown people to divide us.

  14. lochaber says

    starfleetdude> your swasticka is showing

    Remember Charlottesville, where the nazis showed up in body armor, with assault rifles, handguns, and melee weapons? Where one of the nazis drove a car into a crowd of peaceful protestors, killing Heather Heyer and severely injuring many more? where a group of nazis beat up a black guy in a parking garage with sticks and clubs, and then got their nazi buddy prosecutor to charge the victim with criminal charges?

    Also, there were peaceful protestors that credited the various antifa groups with saving them from extreme injury, and possibly death from nazi assaults.



    There is nothing peaceful about showing up to a demonstration with firearms. There is nothing peaceful about promoting genocide

  15. unclefrogy says

    absolutely, the representatives who went to the “camps” is an important action. A question to you though. Why should that be the only action that can be taken to resist such development ?
    What makes you the decider how other people chose to resist fascism?
    We know what the fascist intend.
    They are by definition anti-democratic.
    Some may not be willing to do the pacifist resistance thing when confronting them some are clearly not willing to lay down and take the beating but are willing to go toe to toe with them.

    uncle frogy

  16. starfleetdude says

    Why should that be the only action that can be taken to resist such development?

    Well, I didn’t say it should. I am saying that preemptive violence against wannabe Nazis is fodder for Fox News and the like, and I’m sure you know how such propaganda works. I remember when the GOP national convention was in St. Paul back in 2008 and how much fun the black bloc types had smashing a few storefronts. Yeah, stick it to The Man as we used to say back in the day. Didn’t accomplish squat. You know what did? Obama showing up in early July and there being a line miles long of people wanting to see him at the Xcel Center. GOP pwned. Maybe a pacifist show of support by hundreds of people standing up to wannabe Nazis in Portland would have been a better photo op.

  17. vucodlak says

    @ starfleetdude, #14

    The concentration camps and the thinking that lead to their creation did not spring forth fully-formed from the aether. Creating support for that kind of evil is a big part of why the Nazis march and spread their hate. It’s also why they should be prevented from doing so.

    You’re right, though, that a few punches and milkshakes aren’t going to stop this now. This is no longer a question of countering propaganda- we’re well down the road into the nightmare already. The modern equivalent of the Nazis of the 1930s are in every level of government and, once again, they’ve built fucking concentration camps, which are already deliberately killing people through neglect. We’re one short step from mass exterminations.

    This is what those fuckers marching out there have wanted all along. This is what they’ve marched and fought for. This is what we have allowed them to do, by not opposing them with every means necessary. There is no light between the administration, the Republicans, the murderous thugs of ICE/CBP, and the Nazi scum who march in our streets. They are the many faces of a single evil.

  18. Rhett Rothberg says

    Let me see if I understand.

    The Proud Boys are on the verge of shoveling bodies into ovens (which bodies exactly)?

    A couple of milk shakes and sucker punches of gay conservativeVietnamese journalists is going to stop it.

    But if needed, Antifa will fight “the fascists” (who is that exactly)? And the fascists will just lay down and everything will be lollipops and gumdrops? They won’t fight back of course because we’re not advocating for widespread armed conflict are we?

    Oh, and I assume you are participating? Or maybe just cheering on from your keyboard?

    Fun country you guys want to set up here.

  19. kaleberg says

    I was impressed to learn that Vidal Sassoon, the gay, Jewish hair stylist, was an anti-fascist street fighter back in 1943 England. It’s an old honorable tradition.

  20. vucodlak says

    @ Rhett Rothberg, #19

    Let me see if I understand.

    Alas, no, but given the poor reading comprehension and understanding of world events on display in the rest of your comment, that’s hardly surprising.

    The Proud Boys are on the verge of shoveling bodies into ovens (which bodies exactly)?

    I doubt those spoiled little fascist thugs even know which end of a shovel to hold. As for your parenthetical, it’s so monumentally stupid that it can’t possibly be a good faith question, so I see no need to address it.

    A couple of milk shakes and sucker punches of gay conservativeVietnamese journalists is going to stop it.

    Answered in my #18.

    But if needed, Antifa will fight “the fascists” (who is that exactly)?

    Once again, a bad faith parenthetical that I won’t dignify with a further response. And they’re already fighting, or did you already forget what prompted your whine? I’ve already explained that I don’t think their actions will be sufficient to accomplish anything at this point, but I do applaud their spirit.

    And the fascists will just lay down and everything will be lollipops and gumdrops?

    No, they mean to kill us all. Civil war is a near certainty at this point. Short of a miracle, I’m not sure that humanity will survive this time. There are Nazis and fellow travelers in the White House, at the head of the most powerful military in the world. They have nukes. If we manage to get close to removing them, they’ll almost certainly use them. If we fail to remove them, humanity might limp along for a little longer, but it’ll be hell on Earth.

    Oh, and I assume you are participating?

    I admit, it’s been a long time since I laid hands on a Nazi. Until 2015, I’d almost convinced myself that they were the last flailing remnant of a dying ideology, but then their savior stole an election with the help of Russian kleptocrats. Now I see the extent of my folly, and I wish I had seen the big picture sooner.

    But, to answer your question directly, I don’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter. I am already a participant in this nightmare whether I wish to be or not.

  21. dma8751482 says


    Pardon me in advance, this is my first time commenting here. And I know I tend to ramble somewhat, it’s a weakness of mine.

    I doubt that Trump or his asinine friends would actually attempt to use nukes in the event that they’re removed through being voted out- in fact knowing him I’m almost convinced he couldn’t remember the codes if he tried. Besides, something tells me that behind all the bluster, he’s a coward who will likely surrender in the unlikely event an actual civil war happens where he’s not guaranteed to win- assuming of course he doesn’t alienate his most politically powerful allies first.

    That said, while direct action does have its merits I get the sense that the administration will ultimately crumble because to Trump himself will become unable to lead it. Unlike Hitler, he’s an old man who’s not half as healthy as he thinks he is, and while Mike Pence is hardly an improvement the man doesn’t have the same degree of bile or superficial charisma that makes Trump attractive to his bootlickers.

    Of course, the possibility of his actually being voted out depends very much on whether or not the Dems’ candidate ends up being a second Obama- preferably one who isn’t quite so meek about compromising (although that itself will be dependent on who gets into the legislature).And while Antifa can’t directly influence elections, but I can see them providing protection against the voter suppression tactics that the alt-right will almost certainly employ.

    In any case, I grow convinced that the best long-term solution would involve the dissolution of both major political parties, and perhaps the two-party system as a whole; they’re too far divorced from contemporary problems even at the best of times, and it would be for the best that both the atavistic GOP and the inept Democrats join the Whig Party in the dustbin of US history. Ideally I would then prefer that political parties as a whole be disposed of in US politics completely (as old George Washington felt) but I suppose I should at least try to put limits on my fantasies.

    For now at least, I know we are the ones who have time on our side- even the nastiest of their bunch are still flesh and blood, and they’re not the ones who recognize that we can inoculate future generations against their ideology. Outfighting them may not be possible, but outlasting them is.

  22. logicalcat says


    You keep calling them wannabe Nazis. They are always wannabes, until they are not. They were wannabes in 1930 Germany as well, until it it got real. This is how it starts. People being assholes because it feels empowering even if they don’t actually believe in the ideology, but eventually it will become very real. Hell many would argue that it has already got there. The Nazis didn’t start off as ‘true believers’ in the cause back in 1930’s Germany. It was a slow build similar to today. History is repeating itself, and everyone is hell bent on pretending its not.

  23. F.O. says

    @dma8751482 #23: Political change is not the only, nor the first priority.
    Protecting the targets of fascists violence is.
    Unlike antifa, with a body count of exactly zero, fascists have killed and are killing.

    The second priority is to preventing fascists from organizing and gaining more power.

    Also, fuck optics and whatever Fox News could use as ammo, they will use anything anyway.

  24. says

    starfleetdude @17: “I am saying that preemptive violence against wannabe Nazis is fodder for Fox News and the like…”

    Considering that “fodder for Fox News and the like” demonstrably includes completely fabricated bullshit, I have to ask: What could Antifa do, or fail to do, that would not constitute “fodder for Fox News and the like”?

  25. says

    It’s worth noting that Hitler didn’t start the Final Solution running until a few years after he became Chancellor. It might be worthwhile for the likes of starfleetdude and “Rhett Rothberg” to do a bit of research on what sort of shit went down in Germany in the time between Hitler’s Chancellorship and the advent of the Final Solution. Bonus points if you compare and contrast what’s going down in the US, today, with what went down in Germany, back then.

  26. cartomancer says

    kaleberg, #21,

    Indeed, it is an old tradition. And, as Sassoon and the rest of the 43 group show, a successful one. Oswald Moseley’s thugs didn’t get much of a foothold in British politics, and the armed resistance were instrumental in that.

  27. Dunc says

    starfleetdude: You keep coming back to “pre-emptive violence”. What’s “pre-emptive” about it? The various neo-nazi groups involved – and the wider alt-right and militia movements – have been engaged in violence for quite some time. The only way you can argue that antifa are engaged in “pre-emptive” violence is if you somehow believe that each time the neo-nazis appear in public is sui generis, and entirely unconnected with any previous violence on the part of the groups (and often individuals) concerned.

    How many times do they need to attack people before fighting back stops being “pre-emptive”? Or will every neo-nazi / alt-right / miltia incident always be the work of “lone wolves” who don’t represent a wider movement, even as they explicitly reference that movement in their internal discussions, and the manifestos they issue before each new atrocity? When do you recognise that there’s a pattern here?

  28. wzrd1 says

    @starfleetdude, never was into Starfleet’s methods, but then I’ve always leaned toward Special Circumstances. Likely, you’d loathe my knife missile and its CAM micro-missiles.*

    #23, we know the individual personally as well, much to our annoyance. While, some years ago, your assessment might be correct, there are subsequent signs that cause some measure of alarm and comfort.
    Your assessment that he’d not recall the biscuit codes is probable, then and especially now, as it’s a long string and one has to remember a specific place for the challenge response code sequence.
    Yes, I know the entire system, start to finish, it was part of my early military career, it’s not changed a lot in some segments, in others, it got insanely complex.
    With greater age and disability and worse, mental faculties losses, fear dominates, which is frequently expressed, especially in males, aggressively. Don’t count on the man you knew being the man today, from our own benchmark, he’s way off of the wire and widening his path.**

    *Culture knife missiles are loaded with micro-missiles with CAM warheads, condensed antimatter. Alas, I’m rather low on such supplies, currently, likely resupply will be in 20000 years. ;)

    **Off the wire refers to military missiles that were wire driven (by extension, some torpedoes in naval use as well, but they adapted more rapidly than Army, due to the probability of the damned thing circling back and killing its launcher), where the missile, when the wire got broken, went wild. Current models don’t do that, but it takes a few seconds at times for the missile to notice and destruct course.

  29. stroppy says

    I like the Star Trek episode “Patterns of Force” where a cultural observer contaminates a planet with Nazi-esque ideas. Of course it goes from bad to worse and in the end he repents (yay!) is killed by his deputy (double-yay!) and the whole fascist thing collapses (triple-yay!).

    I also like any episode where Starfleet gives malevolent members their comeuppance.

  30. dma8751482 says

    @F.O. I know, and I don’t deny th importance of that protection. But political change is the best approach to deny the fascists the positions of major power that they’d be able to do the most damage with- to say nothing of the fact that if the tanks start rolling out then the standard direct action tactics become suicidal.

    I suppose my only real critique is that antifa by its own nature is more reactive than proactive (despite what starfleetdude apparently thinks). There has to be something they can do that not only smacks them back into the shadows, but also makes them stay there as well.

  31. logicalcat says


    There’s little to nothing we or antifa can do. Its up to the centrists to get their act together and stop being gullible. We can vote, so there’s that.

  32. John Morales says


    I suppose my only real critique is that antifa by its own nature is more reactive than proactive (despite what starfleetdude apparently thinks).

    Biologically, that’s what antibodies are supposed to do.

    (the alternative is auto-immune disease)

    Or: a feature, not a bug.

  33. says

    As one of the people who WILL be targeted for extermination — whether for disability, gender identity, or general queerness — I very much appreciate that there are people out there standing up and literally fighting for me and people like me who, for whatever reason, can’t take direct action ourselves.

    Oh, and wzrd1? You can fuck off with your rambling bullshit.