Because they are revolutionary Marxist totalitarians. I am likewise opposed to liberal democracy, but for polar opposite reasons than Marxists, Nazis, or Islamists. Liberal democracy was an important historic achievement, but only in a limited way. The overthrow of the traditional ancient regime model of society by the modern bourgeois republics was a necessary stage in political evolution just as the replacement of emperor-worship in ancient societies with the “divine right of kings” ethos of the monotheist religions was a step forward in its own time. However, the effect of liberal democracy was to establish the oligarchical dictatorship of state-capitalism with the creation of electoral coronation systems as the means of conveying legitimacy upon the state. Serious anarchist thought involves an effort to retain the achievements of liberal democracy (e.g. freedom of opinion and minimal limitations on the power of the state) while ultimately working to abolish the state altogether. Marxism, Nazism, and Islamism have all been retrograde movements that sought to abolish the achievements of modern liberalism while restoring the “cult of the leader” and/ or theocratic concepts of past models of the state.
By Sean Illing
When Donald Trump used the phrase “alt-left” to describe the anti-neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville last week, most people had no idea what he meant. I’m actually not sure he knew what he meant.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’? Do they have any assemblage of guilt?” Trump said during a rambling press conference.
If the alt-left exists, it’s probably best represented by “antifa” (short for “anti-fascist”) — a loose network of left-wing activists who physically resist people they consider fascists. These are often the scruffy, bandana-clad people who show up at alt-right rallies or speaking events in order to shut them down before they happen, and they openly embrace violence as a justifiable means to that end.
Antifa is not a monolithic organization, nor does it have anything like a hierarchical leadership structure. It’s an umbrella group that shares a number of causes, the most important of which is resisting white nationalist movements. Adherents are mostly socialists, anarchists, and communists who, according to Mark Bray, a historian at Dartmouth College and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, “reject turning to the police or the state to halt the advance of white supremacy. Instead they advocate popular opposition to fascism as we witnessed in Charlottesville.”
I reached out to Bray to discuss the group and its burgeoning impact on American politics. He’s sympathetic to antifa’s cause and makes no effort to hide that. He describes the book as “an unabashedly partisan call to arms that aims to equip a new generation of anti-fascists with the history and theory necessary to defeat the resurgent far right.”
In this interview, we talk about the ethics of “militant anti-fascism,” why groups like antifa don’t care if they hurt the Democratic Party, and why resisting fascism in a liberal democracy poses a unique challenge to conventional political norms.