An intrepid investigative journalist Andy Ngo has written a shocking expose of America’s Antifa, or the “Anti-fascist” movement: Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy (New York and Nashville: Center Street, 2021.)
I should qualify this: It is shocking for a casual reader. For me it is business as usual. Not only did I study its original paradigm in interwar Germany, but I also witnessed its modern day iterations in Europe in our times.
I saw their forerunners, punk crews, in Copenhagen in late 1970s and in London in 1980. In Germany in the mid-1990s, I observed their handiwork in Berlin: burned cars, dirty squats, injured policemen. In 2014, in Vienna, I noticed dens were marked with the ubiquitous “A” and “Bourgie raus!” (Middle class out!)
In 2011, in Warsaw, a visiting Berlin Antifa outfit assaulted Napoleonic Wars reenactors during Poland’s Independence Day March. Soon there were Antifa’s Polish avatars. They specialize in violent attacks, not only against patriotic marchers but also abortion opponents, for instance assaulting the latter with a hammer in 2020.
According to Ngo, “antifa are an ideology and movement of radical pan-leftist politics whose adherents are mainly militant anarchist communist or collectivist anarchists … Their defining characteristics are a militant opposition to free markets and the desire to destroy the United States and its institutions, culture, and history” (p. 8).
The current avatar of Antifa in the United States is a highly decentralized motley crew of anarchists, communists, and other violent revolutionaries. It lacks a national structure; instead, it is set up as a plethora of amorphous community organizations with clandestine structures of a number of levels, each requiring initiation.
Each cell is led by an informal, secretive hierarchy of community organizers. It is unclear whether a collective leadership principle applies in each structure, or a single leader dominates. Probably it can be both, depending on a location and particular circumstances.
At least a few of the leaders keep in touch through electronic means and endeavor to coordinate some of their activities. The leaders can either mobilize their followers to action from above or they can join and take over a pre-existing grassroots explosion and channel it into a desired direction.
The organization’s tactics are purely revolutionary. This includes arson attacks on state and other infrastructure, including charitable organizations and others like St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in Portland (p. 76).
According to Ngo, “Antifa know the effect that smashed windows, breached businesses, and fires have on crowd mentality. Each act serves as blood in the water. It can turn protesters into rioters. That’s why antifa teach this in their literature that is disseminated widely online and in real life” (p. 16).
Paradoxically, the Antifa is decentralized in a similar way that America’s neo-Nazi, racist, white supremacist, and other extremist movements. Further, the Antifa’s plan for the destruction of democracy and the United States follows the script laid out in an anti-liberal novel, The Turner Diaries (1978): a decentralized convergence of mass demonstrations and attacks by revolutionaries on the centers of power, culminating in a takeover of Washington, D.C. I believe the author has largely overlooked the connection.
Ngo calls Antifa “a phantom movement by design” (p. 18). “This is the phantom cell structure of antifa that makes them analogous to global jihadism. A unifying ideology and political agenda ties together individuals, cells, and groups” (p. 84). He also traces its origins, at least in their Portland stronghold, to Sweden (p. 82-83).
According to Ngo, “American antifa has the communist and anarchist origins of European antifa, but it has evolved to include contemporary social-justice politics from critical theory. Intersectionality flows through American antifa. The revolution they are fighting for will not be led by workers but rather trans, black, and indigenous ‘folx’ of color” (p. 127).
Since most Antifa activists seem white, one should ponder the uncanny resemblance to the “Helter Skelter” ideology of Charlie Manson from the 1960s. This convicted murderer and sectarian judged Blacks and other minorities to be mentally unfit to lead a revolution and, hence, he offered his services as a leader.
America’s Antifa is a European import but it has morphed in many important ways and it is bound to boomerang back to the Old Continent in a new and improved form. As goes the United States, so does the rest of the (formerly?) Free World.
We owe Andy Ngo a debt of gratitude for his terrible warning.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.
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