The Necessary Importance of Anti-Fascism


The struggle against Fascism is a matter of life or death; it's about time you take a side.


By Alex Rickel


Anti-Fascists taking direct action against state enforced oppression in Portland.

If you are one of the many Americans who oppose ideas such as racism, white nationalism, and complete corporate control of our government, than you are an Anti-Fascist.


Identifying as an Anti-Fascist simply means that you actively oppose the forces of hate and deceit that so desperately wish to impede upon our freedoms and rights as working people. There is no political mindset more aligned with American values such as freedom, liberty, and democracy, like Anti-Fascism is. At its core, the sadistic ideology that is Fascism demands the forfeiture of these sacred values that we as Americans hold in the highest of regard; that is why it is our duty as citizens, from all different backgrounds and walks of life, to stand in solidarity together as bold and empowered Anti-Fascists.


 

It has been a common theme throughout our nation’s history, that working Americans are unknowingly and unwillingly coerced into believing propaganda forced upon us by the ruling

capitalist class, the same small group of ruling elites who control both our media as well as our government. For the sole purpose of protecting their own selfish desires, these very same powers have successfully been able to convince a sizable group of our population to oppose ideas and causes that would further serve our inherent interests as working Americans.


This is precisely why in recent years, at the behest of their capitalist donors, the mainstream media and political establishment have done everything in their power to deceive the American working-class into believing that Anti-Fascism, or “Antifa” as they like to call it, is some scary ‘boogie man’ that we should all be afraid of. Billionaire-owned mainstream news outlets such as CNN, FOX, and MSNBC, just to name a small few, have pulled every piece of trickery out of their hats to convince us that Anti-Fascists are somehow Fascists themselves. This falsehood is nothing more than dishonest propaganda.


The mainstream media attempts to portray Anti-Fascists in this way because some of the tactics utilized by Anti-Fascists are violent in nature. Let it be clear: every political ideology or system, whether it be right leaning or left leaning, uses violence to maintain its power. Take for example the United States government. It doesn’t matter if the government is under the control of the Democrats (liberals) or the Republicans (conservatives), police maintain order through violence here in the streets while our military commits despicable acts of cruelty against citizens of other sovereign nations; regardless of who’s in charge, the state will use its monopoly on violence against anyone it deems a threat to its absolute power.


Anti-Fascists will use violence when it’s appropriate and necessary, though it is certainly not the only tool which Anti-Fascists will utilize to halt the spread of Fascism. Anti-Fascist action comes in many forms, both peaceful and not-so peaceful. Both approaches of dealing with Fascist influence will be addressed through detailed historical and contemporary examples later on in this series of articles; nonetheless, to understand why violence directed at Fascists is a critical and necessary aspect in putting an end to their disgusting ideology, we must look at the context in which this violence is occurring.



As with any real world occurrence, context is paramount in determining the morality and ethicality of the actions committed by various actors participating in a given situation. We would almost all agree that if someone breaks into your place of living to potentially harm you and your loved ones, it is justified to protect yourself, even if that means using violence. Anti-Fascists believe violence directed at Fascists in a wide array of situations and scenarios is justified due to the fact that Fascists quite literally believe in the forceful and violent removal of all ethnic, racial, and religious minorities from our country in order to create a white’s-only state. Every political ideology or system of government uses violence in one capacity or another; the key difference between Anti-Fascists and Fascists is who their violence is directed towards. Whereas Fascists promote the use of violence against women, ethnic and racial minorities, and a plethora of other groups they deem ‘inferior’ to themselves, Anti-Fascists commit violence against these thugs who would divide and destroy our communities if left to spread their villainy.


Working-class folk singer, Peggy Seeger, highlights this point best in her song, “Song of Choice”, with the lyrics, “In January you’ve still got the choice, You can cut the weeds before they start to bud, If you leave them to grow high, they’ll silence your voice, And in December you may pay with your blood”. The weed that is Fascism must be cut down before it is given the chance to place roots in our communities, or else one day it may just be too late. Even in small doses, Fascism can have detrimental consequences. Take for example the poster boy of Fascism; Adolf Hitler joined the Nazi Party when it was merely a routy organization of no more than 60 guys getting hammered at their local pub. Likewise, Benito Mussolini’s “Blackshirts' ' formed from only 100 war veterans looking to take out their misdirected rage on something or someone. To think, what if Hitler’s Brownshirts or Mussolini’s Blackshirts were met with staunch resistance, barring them from meeting and spreading their hate to the unwashed masses? Would the need for Anti-Fascism exist in the modern world if the Anti-Fascists of days old had taken the Fascist menace more seriously? Perhaps, though we will never know; the Fascists of the early and mid-1900’s are long-gone, yet the hateful ideology that is Fascism continues to survive all over the world in various aspects of our government and society. To repel and ultimately destroy Fascism by any means necessary, we must clearly identify this ideological threat to all working people, and there is no better place to start learning about what Fascism truly is than from the founder himself.


 

Benito Mussolini coined the political term Fascism in 1919 in the wake of Italy’s defeat in World War 1. He hailed Fascism as “The Third Way”, providing the people of his country with a path which he thought would restore Italian ‘glory’ in the post-war world. From the perspective of the average Italian citizen of the time, they were longing for a better past when their nation was strong and proud; they were fed up with the weak decisions of the preexisting ‘liberal order’, and many turned to more radical ideologies- Communism being one of those popular alternatives. Fear was mounting amongst the members of Italy’s conservative ruling class that a Communist revolution was on the horizon, posing a very serious threat to their power; therefore, when Mussolini’s Blackshirts took to the streets to ‘restore order’ by beating up Communists and other Leftists, the Italian government did very little to get in their way. Mussolini drafted, from his understanding of the world as well as the current political climate of his country, the core principles of Fascism which he believed would appeal to the average Italian citizen.


The characteristics of Fascism differ from nation to nation plagued by this political ideology; although, political scientists and historians tend to agree on what these core beliefs consist of. The historian Robert Paxton elegantly lays out the core beliefs of Fascism in his book, The Anatomy of Fascism, by describing it as,

“A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

Most captivating of what Fascism ultimately strives to achieve can be found in this quote by Mussolini, who proclaimed: “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” In order to achieve this corporatist state, Fascists believe in and perpetuate views such as Extreme Nationalism, Superiority of the Nation’s People, Heightened Militarism, and Absolute Power Resting in the Hands of a Charismatic Dictator. The collection of these characteristics can be easily recognized as fundamental beliefs amongst all Fascist governments, from Fascist Italy to Nazi German, to Nationalist Spain or the Japanese Empire. In order for us to gain a better understanding as to why adopting the political mindset of Anti-Fascism is not only just, but also necessary, let us examine each aforementioned characteristic of Fascism in detail and explore the reasons why these beliefs always lead to such violent and self-destructive regimes.


Keep in mind, if you are against all of these ideas in cooperation with each other because you believe they pose a threat to your existence or the existence of people you know and care about, than you are an Anti-Fascist; stopping the spread of these inherently destructive ideals before they are able to strangle the life and blood out of our communities is as essential to our survival as much as food and water are.



Fascists propagandize mythologized stories of national heroes and their epic triumphs to foster a sense of superiority amongst the dominant ethnic group of that nation. These weaponized tales become the foundation on which the Fascists proclaim that only they can ‘make the nation great again’ by forcing society to adhere to the old ways of a time when everything was supposedly better. Instead of allowing the “barren intellectualism” of science and reason to guide the direction of the nation, these heavily doctored legends of a glorious past become the standard by which everyone is required to live by.


Fascists will shamelessly scapegoat ethnic, religious, political, and or racial minorities as the primary reason as to why the nation is enduring hardship and in a state of decline, all to further emphasize their message of superiority. The hateful and baseless rhetoric pushed by Fascists always leads to violence waged against these minority groups, as it is the cumulative response of citizens who have been repeatedly conditioned into falsely believing that these “problem groups” are the primary reason they and their family are experiencing unnecessary hardship. Rather than serving the interests of the people by addressing the root causes and issues that lead to national turmoil, Fascists will blame societal issues such as poverty, unemployment, and social unrest on these minority groups as a means to consolidate their own power. When times are tough, everyone wants someone to point the finger at; Fascists play on these general insecurities in an attempt to convince the masses that they, the racially and politically ‘superior’ people, must lead the country in order to restore this fantasized idea of greatness. It is no wonder why Fascism is referred to as the ideology of “ignorance paired dangerously with intolerance.”



Members of the militant Fascist organization "Proud Boys" can be seen committing acts of unprovoked and politically-motivated violence against Anti-Fascist demonstrators who showed up in various instances to defend their communities.


A prominent example of how this perpetuation of superiority creates hate-fueled violence directed at minority groups, is the rhetoric used by Adolf Hitler against the Jewish population in Germany during and after his rise to power. Throughout his entire political career, from just an important figure in a not-so-important organization (at that time), to his reign as supreme ruler of Nazi Germany, Hitler never eased up on brazenly displaying his hatred of Jews for the entire world to see. In his infamous book, Mein Kampf, or simply, My Struggle, he makes it clear the he doesn’t just hate Jews, he also hates anyone who he deems non-German, while dangerously tying nationality to race, highlighting this when stating: “It was and it is Jews who bring the Negroes into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily resulting bastardization, throwing it down from its cultural and political height, and himself rising to be its master.” It is no surprise that subscribers of his hate would turn to violence against these groups he deemed inferior, especially when later in his book, while talking about the international significance of the elimination of the Jews, he bluntly says it “...must necessarily be a bloody process.” Hitler needed to foster a sense of superiority amongst ethnic Germans, and by doing so, he dehumanized anyone who didn't fit into his niche group of vaguely described traits which seemed to change all of the time. This carefully designed power structure serves as a base of support for any further actions or policies carried out by Fascists, hence why it is one of the most instrumental and destructive characteristics of the ideology.



It is common knowledge regarding the mass amounts of horrific and inhumane violence that would follow Hitler’s ascension to power, yet before he could use the state to carry out these despicable acts, he and his followers intimidated and used other violent tactics against members of minority groups as well as against followers of other political parties and ideologies. The nationalist and militarist sentiments that are crucial to the formation and existence of any Fascist movement invigorate its supporters to undertake these acts of radical violence as a means of direct political action. Fascists will justify their hate and subsequent violence directed at people of minority groups as a means to a better end, cementing the fact that they are willing to do literally anything in pursuit of power. The Fascist movements that were most successful were those in countries who’s democracies were perceived as relatively weak and disliked by the general population, allowing the Fascists to more-easily justify one of the key aspects of the ideology: authoritarianism.


Faith in the democratic principles of government are abandoned in favor of support for a strong central figure of complete authority; in Germany, this unifying strongman was Hitler- in Italy, it was Mussolini. Democracy is seen as a weak, inefficient, and an archaic form of government in the eyes of Fascists, because it allows members of groups they deem inferior to participate in and lead the political decision making that either directly or indirectly has an effect on the nation as a whole. Rallying around a strongman who is given ultimate authority to act in confidence on behalf of the nation, is a key characteristic of Fascism because it is perceived as the most effective means by which much-needed change can swiftly occur. Fascists believe that it is necessary for the ‘dominant people’ of the nation to completely mobilize society under a one-party state, led by this strongman figure, which exerts complete and unilateral control over all political, social, and economic affairs, in order to actualize these mythologized national goals such as successful armed conflict and an overall restoration to the same ‘former glory’ Fascists everywhere never shut up about.


Fascists are no more than morally-absent con artists hoping to seize absolute power through means of intimidation, the spread of misinformation, and a general arrogance of superiority which they violently impose on the everyday working-class person. Authoritarians are the bullies of politics, and as I’ve demonstrated prior, Fascists are the biggest bullies of all. The end goal for Fascists is to become the only political party in government with the absence of any means by which the people could possibly challenge or overthrow the government. You are living under Fascism and you want that to change, so are you going to go out and vote for that change? Well, no, because the Fascists won’t allow you to vote, let alone support any other political ideology or movement publicly.. So, do you march in the streets and try to change the government that way? Good luck with that; if the Fascists get their way and take complete control of the government, you would be lucky to walk away from any act of disobedience against them with your life. Fascists don’t particularly like perceived threats to their power, so by eliminating democracy, no one can vote them out, and by successfully morphing their zealous supporters into radical militant nationalists, no one can stand in defiance against them without suffering the very real and potentially fatal consequences.


"Giving corporations absolute control over the economic affairs of our country is the worst conceivable thing that could happen to everyday working people like you and me."

The last, and arguably most important, characteristic to note that comprises Fascism is what makes it most detrimental to the stability and well-being of working-class people: it’s embrace of corporatism. Giving corporations absolute control over the economic affairs of our country is the worst conceivable thing that could happen to everyday working people like you and me. This complete economic takeover by the existing capitalist elites, paired with the absence of democracy, completely shuns those who must work for a living from participating not only in political life, but also in the economic decision making that has a direct and very real impact on us and our communities.


Under the current neoliberal order, which continues to dominate almost every aspect of American social, political, and economic life, working people have it extremely rough. This probably comes as no surprise to you; unless you are someone who doesn’t need to work in order to survive, you work for a living, just like an overwhelming majority of people do. Life is a daily struggle for a lot of people right now, there is no doubt about that; however, under Fascism, the day-to-day struggles of working people would be greatly intensified in the worst conceivable ways.


Like clockwork, one of the very first actions carried out by Mussolini, Hitler, and all other Fascist demagogues following their ascension of power, was the outlawing of labor unions, left-wing political parties, and any pro-worker news organization daring to still publish similar content to what you will find in this very article. Corporations are handed absolute control over industry and all other means of production within the nation, thus allowing them to exert any means of influence over their workers (us), including the deployment of violence as a means to coerce workers into working grueling hours in unbearable conditions for starvation wages. At least under our current political system, though very much dominated by the interests of corporations, the working people of this country are able to influence public policy even if in the smallest of ways; whereas under Fascism, those same capitalist elites who control every aspect of your job, now control every aspect of our government with the elimination of any means by which we the people can hold them accountable.


Working Americans, people like you and I who have to work for a living, should have significantly more say over our political system as well as the places where we spend most of our lives working. Under Fascism, the ability for us working people to democratically shape and influence our communities and workplaces, is stripped from us in favor of giving complete control of our communities resources and people to a handful of corrupted individuals whose primary goal above everything else is to make a profit. After all, corporatism is just a late-stage form of unregulated capitalism which is cruelly upheld by the state in order to extract as much value as possible out of working people at the expense of our sweat and blood. This corporatist dream that Fascists long for would make it impossible for you to better your position in life; as long as the ruling capitalist elite are making money, regardless of how they are doing it, there is no incentive for them to take an interest in you or your problems as a working person. You are nothing more than a pawn of the new and cruel system of worker exploitation under a Fascist regime, cementing why it is so urgent and necessary to our survival to fight back against these ideals before they have a chance to become a reality.


If you, or anyone you know, love, or care for in any other way, is someone who Fascists would categorize as ‘inferior’, then it doesn’t matter much if you are poor or rich, Fascism is a very real threat to the life you currently live. If you genuinely care about the survival of those who the Fascists would cruelly butcher if given the chance, then there is no question that embracing Anti-Fascism is the only choice for you. Regardless of your own race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and background, it is vital in defeating Fascism here and everywhere that we all stand in solidarity with one another regardless of how bad things get out there. The biggest threat to Fascism is organized Anti-Fascists willing to go above and beyond to protect each other and the interests of our community. When working people unite together, there is NO force greater that can move us- it’s that plain and simple.


 

“How do Anti-Fascists fight back against Fascism?” may be a question you’ve rightfully asked yourself by now, because I’ve explained exactly what Fascism is and why it is so unbelievably cruel and evil, but have yet to touch up on how Fascism can be and is fought. Anti-Fascism is as much a mindset as it is a thing that you do; in order to consider yourself an Anti-Fascist, you must actively be opposing Fascism in one way or another. You wouldn’t consider someone to be kind unless they exhibited the qualities of someone who is indeed kind, just like you wouldn’t consider someone who says they are an Anti-Fascist, yet never seems to speak up or take action against Fascist elements in the community, an Anti-Fascist. Being an Anti-Fascist isn’t as easy as simply registering for a political party, yet it’s also not much-more difficult than just being a kind person to others; it’s something that’s worth putting in the effort towards considering what’s at stake.


Anti-Fascist action comes in all shapes and sizes, both peaceful and not-so peaceful, as mentioned earlier in this article. Most peaceful forms of Anti-Fascist action we see deployed here in the United States consists of exposing Fascists through investigative means who, rightfully so, try to hide the fact that they are associated with one Fascist group or another. Stopping Fascists from spreading their hate-filled lies to the general public can be as simple as exposing their Fascist activity and tendencies to people they know in their community; I personally would want to know if someone prominent in my community, like a doctor or police officer or teacher, believes in these destructive and hateful ideas. In most cases, this will lead to the ousted Fascist losing their career, losing close bonds with friends and family, and or an unpredictable amount of other damage done to their life. The reasoning behind taking this approach to disrupt Fascist activities, whether you agree with it or not, is meant to set an example to everybody else who would listen to and take seriously the hateful rhetoric of Fascists, that this kind of political behavior is not allowed in our working-class communities.


Picture: Dave Killen/The Oregonian

To combat Fascism, you don’t have to dress up in black and march in the streets, or commit any acts of violence even; although, there may eventually come a day when the Fascist menace has grown too big and too powerful that you must decide whether the lack of inaction on your part is worth the green-lighting of violence by them. Context is key; many of us Anti-Fascists are caring, empathetic, and involved individuals who want what’s best for our community, whereas the Fascists want the exact opposite. I am not encouraging anyone to commit any unnecessary acts of violence against anyone else- what I am encouraging is the use of any means necessary to protect the freedoms and liberties of you, your family and friends, and all other working people who want to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.


Violence directed at Fascists by self-proclaimed Anti-Fascist almost always happens when Fascists attempt to spread their villainy and hate in a manner that is disruptive and harmful to the greater community. When Fascists come marching through predominantly immigrant neighborhoods chanting racist slogans and threatening the use of violence against those whom they are attempting to intimidate, many Anti-Fascists see the use of violence to prevent these provocative actions as a necessity. The police certainly won’t stop Fascists from parading their hate through the streets, and if the community won’t come together to tackle this responsibility of meeting them head-on, then the now emboldened Fascists will only increase their membership and the frequency in which they carry out such toxic events.



In the next article of this series, we will look at real world examples, both historical and contemporary, to get a better understanding of the various types of Anti-Fascist actions carried out and how effective these different approaches and methods are. As Anti-Fascists, it is most preferable that we carry out Anti-Fascist action under a government that has not yet fallen to the Fascist menace, because more often than not, any display of Anti-Fascist action under a Fascist government is met with a life sentence of either prison or death. Preventing Fascism from placing roots anywhere in the United States is quite literally a life or death matter for most of us, that is why there is no better time than now to learn more about how you can play a part in building a stronger and more inclusive community that is immune to the evil deceptions of Fascism.


"The other face of Anti-Fascism is building a society that is immune to the appeal of Fascism. Building a strong workers movement, investing in community sustainability, and taking a vested interest in the wellbeing of the other working people around you, are the most meaningful and effective tools we can use to build a community that won’t turn to xenophobia or right-wing extremism in the wake of turmoil."

Daniel, an Anti-Fascist from Madrid who is deeply involved in his community as a leader and labor organizer, claims that there are ‘2 faces to Anti-Fascism’. The first face of Anti-Fascism is trying to stop Fascist groups from organizing and achieving their genocidal aspirations by taking direct action against them. The other face of Anti-Fascism is building a society that is immune to the appeal of Fascism. Building a strong workers movement, investing in community sustainability, and taking a vested interest in the wellbeing of the other working people around you, are the most meaningful and effective tools we can use to build a community that won’t turn to xenophobia or right-wing extremism in the wake of turmoil. There would be no appeal to Fascism if we lived in this better world we all believe and know is possible; therefore, the most Anti-Fascist thing that you can arguably do is look out and fight for the interests of working people just like yourself.


If you walk away from reading this article considering yourself an Anti-Fascist, congratulations, you openly and actively oppose beliefs such as racism, white-nationalism, Corporatism and all the other despicable ideas that Fascists cling to. Take pride in knowing that you are on the right side of history, though don’t become complacent in how things are right now; all it takes is one charismatic strongman to convince enough people that all of the violence and hate and deceit is a price worth paying if it means making our country “great again”. Only we can prevent the spread of Fascism; only we can build a better world for all working class people. There is no better time to start, and there is no one more capable of contributing towards building this better world than you are.




Some great examples of artwork meant to highlight the significance of and need for Anti-Fascist action.

If you liked what you read here you should check out other articles here on the website.


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