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+2 votes
Anarchists often seem to be at the forefront of groups/marches/demos that explicitly face off against fascists/neonazis and try to marginalize them. I find myself in agreement with this tactic, however I wonder why the confrontation with fascists is so much more heated than with supporters of other sorts of political ideologies and if such a tactic is 'against', so to speak, anarchist principles? I suppose this is more like two questions:

First, do you think there is a relationship between anarchism and anti-fascism...

And if so, how would you characterize this anti-fa strain of anarchism with respect to the tactic of marginalizing, silencing, perhaps oppressing/dominating that seems antithetical to anarchism in general?
by (1.0k points)

3 Answers

+4 votes
All political factions are our enemies. However fascists, with their desire towards total control of both the state and economic spheres, through both authoritarian measures and hyper-nationalism represent, arguably, the most virulent contrast to anarchy. they are, without any question, our enemy.

Which is not what you asked. You asked about the relationship to anti-fascism. there is an historic relationship: anarchists were active in struggles against the Fascists, Nazis, Franco, the Greek Junta, and many other fascist powers of the mid-20th century. In all of these places anarchists faced severe and widespread repression at the hands of the fascists, so yeah, we have some beef.

Additionally, the anti-fa movement has direct connections with the same factions of the left that anarchists do (NO!- I am not saying that the anti-fa's or the anarchists are the same as- or a part of- the left, just that there are connections, Jeeez!)- in particular the autonomen - which is where black bloc tactics and the related (if not the same) tactics of the anti-fa's developed from.

All the history and lineage doesn't matter though. Fuck the fascists. They need to be confronted and fought at every chance. Concerns about restricting their freedoms are hollow, in my opinion. I expect that those who would not respect my right to live free from their authority would attack me, and that their way of understanding the world is in perpetual conflict with mine. There is no reason I need to not act on the information I have (that being that they profess to be fascists - if they don't believe in fascism, they probably ought not claim it). certainly this is touchy- at what point am I just deciding to liquidate my enemies the same as they might? I can't draw you a line, but there is one.

One last thought- I would posit that confronting fascists (who, at least in the US, are often protected by the powers of the capitalist state, aka: the cops) with whatever tactics are appropriate provides a poignant piece of propaganda by (if not deed) action: Not only are fascists being confronted militantly and directly (confronting oppressive, domineering forces or individuals), but they are being confronted outside of the confines of legally prescribed and sanctioned counter-protesting. It doesn't ask the city to not issue a permit or for permission to confront what it hates. It expects that the cops will work to protect their kindred authoritarians. It is individuals coming together and acting for themselves, and each other to protect their freedom and autonomy.
by (22.1k points)
But all that doesn't mean we shouldn't be anti-state, anti-commie, anti-democrat, anti-monarchist, anti-sexist, and so forth. Which things we focus on will depend on just where and who we are, and what experiences we've had up until now.
+6 votes
It is true that fascism is the most extreme form of opposition to anarchism.

As someone who tries to be careful (and therefore mostly descriptive) with my language, I would have to say there is only a tenuous relationship. Part of the problem is the imprecision of the term "anti-fascism." Its formulation and usage has a specific history that is lost on most post-68 radicals, and that history and usage is intimately tied to Stalinism. Like the term "anti-imperialism"* doesn't just mean being against imperialism, "anti-fascism" doesn't just mean being against fascism. They both mean a particular way of organizing against imperialism and fascism.

Prior to WWII and up to the mid-60s, virtually every Stalinist referred to themselves as "anti-fascist," mostly to avoid calling themselves Communist; this was in keeping with the Popular Front strategy adopted by the Comintern in 1935, which focused on not alienating the allegedly progressive segments of the liberal middle class. The mythology of this period is still strong, so much so that there are plenty of liberals and incoherent Leftists (are there any other kind?) who deny that there's such a thing as Stalinism...

I sympathize with the passion and reasoning behind ingrate's response, but the connection of anarchism with the German autonomen in general, and the autonome antifa in particular, is even more tenuous than the North American connection. The German autonomen never identified their tendency as anarchist for the simple reason that the majority of them are not anarchists. They are extraparliamentary militants who refer to themselves as "radical leftists." As is the case with many political tendencies, people's self-identification ends up having much more to do with an organizational strategy than with a philosophical/theoretical perspective. The autonomen, as extraparliamentarians and non-party leftists, use direct action as a principle, fearlessly confronting fascists and cops (and occasionally other folks); this makes their actions very attractive to North American anarchists, but it doesn't make the autonomen anarchist. My information on this comes from numerous discussions with veterans of Autonome Antifa (M).

Anarchists don't have a trademark on direct action, which means that not every person or group or (more or less) identifiable tendency that uses direct action is automatically anarchist. Again, this is a problem of making one's self-identification mostly about an organizational strategy.

by (570 points)
I'm glad you answered with this. My intention wasn't to claim the autonomen, etc as anarchists, but to touch on the cross pollination of ideas and tactics.

I was unaware of the historic use of anti-fascist in the same way that anti-imperialist is used.
The historic use of "anti-fascist" is actually much worse than "anti-imperialism." The amount of bullshit that was tolerated in its name plus the extra thirty or so years of its existence has irrevocably tarnished its applicability for conscious anti-statists. Also check this:
–1 vote
Fascism is antithetical to anarchism, not its suppression. It comes down to how you define self-defense..coercion..domination.
by (2.5k points)