Who are Antifa?

Date: 
Fri, 2017/09/15

First coming to prominence when they drove Milo Yiannopoulos off the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, Antifa have become the face of the "violent left." But who exactly are they?

Short for anti-fascist, Antifa is not so much an organized group as it is an ideology. Rejecting the idea of peaceful protesting, proponents of Antifa argue that violence and direct action are the most efficient ways to combat social injustice. Seeing the police as ineffectual against perceived social threats, Antifa take enforcing equality and fighting injustice into their own hands. They can trace their roots back to Hitler and Mussolini’s regimes, concluding that it would have been easier to stop the rise of those fascist states had such ideologies not been allowed to reach the national stage.

Today, members of Antifa are largely independent young leftists who organize via online message boards. While most of the attention the media gives them focuses on their violent action during political protests, most members of Antifa work to expose individuals they perceive as fascists or to disrupt meetings of fascist organizations. Antifa have exposed many neo-Nazis and members of the Klu Klux Klan to their communities. While preaching a goal of ending violent injustice, members of Antifa see violence as necessary to gain the attention of the public to their cause. Any property damage which takes place during a protest is reasoned to be a necessary loss for a larger cause.

Following the election of President Donald Trump, members of Antifa are drawing new membership from previously peaceful groups of ideologically left individuals. The Antifa argument hinges largely on a perceived failure of checks and balances in social justice, which is bolstered by the upswing in the publicity of white supremacist gatherings. Many right-leaning individuals argue that Antifa is the only violent political organization actively protesting, while many left-leaning individuals argue that Antifa exists only as a response to violent far right organizations already in existence. As policies and positions become radically polarized, individuals on either side of the political spectrum are increasingly looking to ideological groups that support and defend their own views. Regardless of the ethical implications of violence on either side, the political discussion in America is seemingly increasingly becoming a series of tit for tat reprisals.