Behind ‘Antifa’s’ mask

Antifa epitomize both Marcuse’s philosophy and their German Communist roots through assault and vandalism.

Demonstrators in Berkeley, California. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Demonstrators in Berkeley, California.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the immediate aftermath of last month’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, several prominent figures – including a CNN anchor and the editor- in-chief of The Atlantic magazine – equated the left-wing “Antifa” activists with the thousands of Allied soldiers who stormed Normandy’s beaches to invade Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” on D-Day.
A more appropriate equation would be with the thousands of soldiers in the Red Army who marched toward Berlin with the intent to brutally establish Soviet hegemony in the so-called German Democratic Republic after defeating Hitler.
Despite antiseptic portrayals throughout American media, Antifa are more than “anti-fascists.” Antifa represent the chaos of Germany’s Weimar Republic and provide the violent complement to academic neo-Marxism. Like their philosophical comrades, Antifa seek to destroy the Western ideal of liberty under law and to impose a revival of one of history’s most repressive ideologies.
Bernd Langer, whose 80 Years of Anti-Fascist Action was published by Germany’s Association for the Promotion of Anti-Fascist Literature, succinctly defined the rhetorical subterfuge.
“Anti-fascism is a strategy rather than an ideology,” wrote Langer, a former Antifa member, for “an anti-capitalist form of struggle.”
Antifa – short for the German “Antifaschistische Aktion” – served as the paramilitary arm of the German Communist Party (KPD), which the Soviet Union funded. In other words, Antifa became the German Communists’ version of the Nazis’ brown-shirted SA.
The KPD made no secret of Antifa’s affiliation. A 1932 photo of KPD headquarters in Berlin prominently displayed the double-flagged Antifa emblem among other Communist symbols and slogans. In a photo from the 1932 Unity Congress of Antifa in Berlin, the double-flagged banner shared space with the hammer and sickle and with two large cartoons. One supported the KPD; the other mocked the SPD, Germany’s Social Democratic Party. Today, Antifa’s goal to suppress “fascism” reflects the views of neo-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse, one of the Frankfurt School’s leading thinkers.
“A policy of unequal treatment would protect radicalism on the Left against that on the Right,” Marcuse wrote in Repressive Tolerance, his 1965 essay. “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left” extending “to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.”
In expressing his contempt for “the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for ‘the other side,’” Marcuse maintained in 1968 “that there are issues where either there is no ‘other side’ in any more than a formalistic sense, or where ‘the other side’ is demonstrably ‘regressive’ and impedes possible improvement of the human condition.”
The ideal society, Marcuse wrote, would demand “the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements” that not only “promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion” but also “oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.” and “may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions.”
Marcuse even justified violence.
“I believe that there is a ‘natural right’ of resistance for oppressed and overpowered minorities to use extralegal means if the legal ones have proved to be inadequate,” Marcuse wrote. “Law and order are always and everywhere the law and order which protect the established hierarchy; it is nonsensical to invoke the absolute authority of this law and this order against those who suffer from it and struggle against it [...] for their share of humanity. If they use violence, they do not start a new chain of violence but try to break an established one.”
Antifa epitomize both Marcuse’s philosophy and their German Communist roots through assault and vandalism. In February, officials at California’s UC Berkeley canceled a speech by former editor Milo Yiannopoulos when Antifa started fires, broke windows, attacked bystanders with pepper spray and flagpoles, painted graffiti on nearby businesses and destroyed automatic teller machines that same night.
In the Antifa mind, capitalism enables “fascism” – as Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), stated in a 2016 report.
“They argue that the capitalist state produces fascism, or at least tolerates it,” the report stated. “Therefore, anti-fascism is directed not only against actual or supposed right-wing extremists, but also always against the state and its representatives, in particular members of the security authorities.”
Moreover, Antifa consider any opposition as fascist – regardless of beliefs – just as their German Communist forebears did when they equated anti-capitalism with anti-fascism.
“According to this,” Langer wrote, “the other parties opposed to the KPD were fascist, especially the SPD.”
Antifa illustrated that mentality on August 27 in another rally at Berkeley against Marxism. Four Antifa assailants beat an unarmed videographer, who was curled in a fetal position on the pavement. Others stalked members of Berkeley’s College Republicans – including one young woman – at a gas station and shouted, “We are real hungry for supremacists and there is more of us,” reported The Washington Post.
By exploiting legitimate contempt for white supremacism and neo-Nazism, Antifa disguise their true goal: imposing the kind of society that persecuted Natan Sharansky and his fellow Russian Jews.
The author is a freelance writer from California who publishes on religion, politics and morality.