Antifascism, really simply, is just organising against fascist ideas and the people and groups who support and spread them.
We do this by establishing certain ideas and practices such as No Platform – where we agree and enforce that people or groups attempting to spread fascist or supremacist views shouldn’t have a natural right to speak freely and should be militantly challenged where they try. Above anything this is just from learning from history, fascists don’t play fair, where they speak they aren’t “arguing in the marketplace of ideas” they’re inciting violence and often using their publicity to enable their groups to be in a better position to crush opposition tomorrow. Simply – you don’t debate fascists, you smash them.
We can do this in a lot of different ways, some of them easier and some hard, because many things undermine fascist ideas, many things can be Antifascism. One thing generally agreed on by militant Antifascists is that we cannot use the state to do Antifascism, the police, government and major parties are all part of the problem, not the solution.
Historically, focus has always been on the more violent aspects of antifascism, and while physical confrontation remains important, it’s only a small part of Antifascism and the idea that Antifascists are all thugs desperate for violence as Fox News would have you believe is made up.
Antifascists come from a wide range of backgrounds and the groups they form as such are very different from each other, some groups are closed, tight knit groups in order to prevent fascist or police infiltration and others are more open, aiming to bring new people in to the movement.
Many of the most effective Antifascist groups haven’t even claimed the term Antifa and used the flags most of us do, many of the most important and radical antifascist groups of the 20th century were set up out of necessity and community self defence more than anything else, such as the Bangladesh Youth Movement and many more South Asian and Black groups set up in response to racist attacks in the 1970s and 80s.
Most people in Antifascism are doing just that organising in the short or long term for self defence against the far right ideas that threaten to dominate the streets as well as the halls of power.
Everyone gets into Antifascism for different reasons and we all have a different path to ending up in the active struggle against the far right.
One Antifascist told us how their path into antifascism came from ending up in natural conflict with a friend at school who got sucked into the Alt-Right pipeline leading the antifascist to reach out to Antifascists and research how to deal with Nazis.
Another Antifascist told us that memories of having their house covered in swastikas and bricks through their windows for their Jewish identity provides a pretty clear basis for being an active Antifascist for a lifetime. Others talk of the simple fact of being under direct threat from the far right as queer and trans people in the UK and needing to organise against the far right now for self defence.
More broadly, as Anarchists and Radical Leftists, we organise against the far right because fascism, unlike a lot of mainstream political ideologies, comes into direct confrontation with liberatory and revolutionary left wing movements. Not only do fascists target leftists when they can, but also fascists organise working class people to act against their own interests by breaking down working class communities based on solidarity and instead trying to organise people into serving alongside the rich on the basis of race, gender and nationality against other working class people.
We recognise that only a strong working class movement based on solidarity and anti-capitalism can break us out of capitalism and the bootboys of capitalism trying to divide us into rival camps need to be driven out if we want any hope of doing that!
Antifascism can be done by anyone in as many creative ways as you can imagine, including many ways that you may not think of. 40 Ways to Fight Fascists gives some basic ideas on how broad these can be.
One of the most commonly overlooked methods of fighting the far right is building genuinely strong communities where the far right may be looking to target, these don’t even necessarily be organised under the banner of Antifascism, as long as they depend on solidarity to exist, they will become a problem for fascists trying to organise and will self organise against the far right.
Fascists are strongest where individuals are isolated and often angry, if there isn’t an existing community to help direct that anger towards power and the real causes of their problems, fascists will come in to direct their anger towards minoritised and more vulnerable communities. Often very white areas who have no or few links to working class communities of colour can be rallied to fascism easily whereas in areas with strong inter community links, whether that be through mutual aid projects, trade unionism, sports clubs or more can rally against fascism together.
Militant Antifascism subscribes to the belief that often it can be very effective to physically run fascists out the area, this is partially because fascists pride themselves on their violence, ever since Mussolini’s Blackshirts, fascists thrive on being the physically strongest group in the area, this is why we say “Never Let them Have the Streets!” If we can break their idea that fascists are the scariest in the streets then they will have to reflect hard on what their ideology stands for and when they try and attack a vulnerable community they’ll think twice!
We will organise counter demonstrations to not only show that we often have the numbers and support on our side, but also to physically disrupt their goals, a bad demonstration means fascists blame each other and infighting breaks out, stopping them from being able to carry out their violent goals can sometimes be as simple as standing in a road where they hope to march and not moving when they try and come towards you!
In an increasingly digital world, Antifascism can also be done sitting at your laptop, doxxing – sharing fascists personal information online can be a very effective method of deterring the far right from showing their faces in public. As well as this, researching the far right and keeping track of who’s who is vital to countering them.
The most important thing, as dramatic as it sounds, is that when we fight fascism, the fight itself is a living embodiment of the world we want to create and live in, this means organising not just externally against overt fascists but also improving ourselves and our own movements while we go along. We have to be as organised against sexism and abusive behaviour, transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism, classism and policing as we are against Neo-Nazis and we have to always keep the image of what we aim for in our minds, without doing this we would build our fight against fascism on a soft foundation and our movement will crumble when pressure is applied.
London is Antifascist!