By Conor Holohan
You will have to forgive the various references to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the following paragraphs. My argument that Antifa are as totalitarian as those they claim to oppose is one rooted in historical evidence. For this reason, a historical perspective of totalitarian regimes and practices must be established. There is, in my view, a historical blind spot among many millennials. A blind spot which explains their thirst for censorship and a larger state involvement in our lives. Many young people need to learn the history of the ideas they endorse so vigorously.
Antifa are a loose amalgamation of communists, anarchists and socialists who engage in aggressive protests and direct action. Their stated goal is to oppose fascism wherever it is found. Hard to disagree with, right? But they’re not as cuddly as they sound. When their methods and characteristics are explored, their own totalitarianism is revealed.
They do not believe in achieving their means through political channels, but through forced censorship and aggression. They attack public property, engage in physical violence and release propaganda dedicated to furthering their cause. Those who oppose their worldview are heretics whose speech is seen as dangerous to the collective good and a progressive society.
Any reader of George Orwell’s 1984, anyone who knows about pre-war Germany or the Soviet Union, anyone remotely educated in the characteristics of authoritarianism should oppose this group. However, to many on the millennial left, particularly in university, the group make a positive contribution to the world. These young people who appease Antifa claim to believe in the personal freedom to be whatever you want to be unhindered by the hateful speech of others. However they, like Antifa, are not as keen on the personal freedom to think what you want or to say what you want.
People who support or appease Antifa have to recognise a crucial fact: Collectivism, from which communism and extreme nationalism both are born, demands that anti-liberty methods are employed in order to protect the good of the whole. The idea that opponents of the collective good are legitimate targets for censorship and violence has led to hundreds of millions of deaths worldwide by the likes of the Nazis and the Soviet Union.
Any attempt to deny this is simple historical ignorance, yet the likes of Antifa wear the Soviet hammer and sickle with pride that they are standing up to western oppression. You know, that western oppression that allows wretched thought criminals to speak out against the consensus and endanger a cohesive collective success? That western oppression that allows a peaceful transition of power between two democratically elected presidents? That peaceful transition of power which Antifa militantly protested, some even using Molotov cocktails to damage private property?
If a group of the political right acted in this way they would rightly be condemned, and they always are, yet many of my peers have a double standard when it comes to Antifa. This is a product of growing myth that to be left wing is of higher virtue and morality than to be on the right. The very concept that one political or philosophical outlook is morally superior to others is dangerous to free society. That concept justifies violence and censorship against opponents, because opponents are evil people with menacing motives.
They support political violence, but only against their opponents. They endorse censorship, but only of their immoral and dangerous adversaries. Yet what are they opposing? Most of the time the reply to this question will be ‘Nazis’ or, obviously, ‘fascists’. They’re opposing intolerance and oppression and hatred, some say. But they’re intolerant towards their opponents, wish to suppress their opponents, and, if they’re prepared to join a group based on destroying them, they hate their opponents.
Scott Crow, a prolific Antifa organiser, has said that; ‘if you are endangering people with what you say and the actions that are behind them, then you do not have the right to do that. And so we go to cause conflict, to shut them down where they are, because we don’t believe that Nazis or fascists of any stripe should have a mouthpiece.’ If you replace the words ‘Nazis or fascists’ with ‘Communists’, they you will see how similar to the Nazis Antifa are. Authoritarian measures are always justified with the claim that they will protect the majority and their interests. Indeed, a major piece of legislation curtailing the civil rights of Germans in 1933 was called the Law for the Protection of People and State. The greater good is always the excuse.
By now you can see plainly that Antifa employ totalitarian methods for totalitarian reasons. The significant overlap of means and motives with the regimes they claim to oppose means they are in fact two sides of the same snowflake. They, like so many totalitarian regimes, cannot risk their ideas being exposed to an open marketplace of debate.
If they did, their hypocrisy would be highlighted and their narrative of social conflict dismantled. They would be forced to accept that their idea of society as an amalgamation of segregated groups perpetuates division and inhibits the chances of a colour-blind society. To avoid this, they engage in this ideological protectionism, attempting insulate themselves from scrutiny and opposition, as it is essential to their continuation and to their goal of a progressive utopia.
If these so-called anti-fascists knew the first thing about the concepts of totalitarianism and fascism, they would pay credence to the fact that one day the collective good may shift and their ‘progressive’ ideas will fall out of fashion. With no protection against censorship or political violence, where will they hide? To those sympathetic to censorship; be careful what you wish for.