"What's equality? Muck in the yard, Historic nations grow, from above to below" W.B. Yeats Three Songs
If you listened carefully enough to the din of broken glass and shrill Leftist lamentations, you’d have heard another sound this weekend: the death rattle of Antifa. The cheap assault on Richard Spencer, along with the damage wrought in Washington DC, does not mitigate the fact that so-called ‘anti-fascism,’ in all meaningful respects, has been dying since the mid-1990s. What we witnessed in the weekend that has just passed was the desperate actions of a spent force. What occurred was disgraceful, and we should challenge it, but we shouldn’t be unduly disturbed about future prospects. Nor should we exaggerate the threat these people pose, or our response to it. In its death agonies, Antifa has been as noisy as it was in life, and this noise may have caused the less well-informed to conclude that there was vitality yet in this old hag. The perceptive, however, will have noted that this noise only slightly masked the increasing senility of an obsolete movement that has struggled, staggered, and gasped its way to the pyrrhic victory of a cheap-shot and a few burnt trashcans. In this new era, the age of Trump, Brexit, Nationalist murmurings across Europe, and the rise of the Alt-Right, anti-fascism is politically dead.
No autopsy is required. ‘Anti-fascism’ was born with the defect that would ultimately carry it off; a deformation of its vital systems that for long periods rendered it heavily dependent on its adversaries for political oxygen. Part of this deformation arose from its internal divisions. On the one hand, a substantial element of Antifa activity consists of the peaceful, democratic type. These are the misguided vicar’s daughters and soccer moms who are inveigled into organizing, attending, or donating to ‘anti-racist’ demonstrations, music concerns, or similar public events. We witnessed much of its constituency in the Women’s March that followed Trump’s inauguration. This element has always been ideologically lightweight, and participates less out of ideological convictions than it does out of vague moral twinges and panics. The other element of Antifa has always been smaller, but is the one we are perhaps more familiar with. This is the revolutionary anti-fascist or crypto-Bolshevik wing, consisting of Trotskyists, Marxists, Anarchists, and Jews. Its members possess a tangled mess of often conflicting ideologies that are nevertheless set aside in the name of confronting the perceived fascist threat. The latter element has always frightened and disillusioned the former. The tensions between the two have marred the history of anti-fascism, which witnessed several fractures, and failed attempts at even the most basic form of ideological unification, from the 1970s to the 2010s.
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