6 reasons why Chomsky is wrong about antifa

6 reasons why Chomsky is wrong about antifa

Noam Chomsky recently made some comments about antifa, and militant anti-fascism in general, which were as ill-timed as they were ill-informed. Here's what we think he's got wrong about the subject.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the spotlight has been turned on the reality of fascist violence in America. The murder of Heather Heyer is only the most recent in a year which has seen numerous other killings (such as the two on the Portland MAX in May and Timothy Caughman in New York City), with the 2015 killing of nine worshippers at Denmark Vesey's church in Charleston by Dylann Roof showing a continuity of far-right violence long before the election of Donald Trump.

Despite all this, many liberal talking heads have also decided that now is the time to condemn those opposing the fascists. Perhaps the most upsetting, has been the intervention of Noam Chomsky, given how important a figure he was to our politics when we were growing up. But what did Chomsky get wrong?

1) Antifa's 'predecessors' are more significant than Chomsky thinks

Chomsky describes Antifa as "a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were" with "some limited similarity to the Weather Underground". While we might take issue with Chomsky's description of contemporary Antifa, another problem is his misrepresentation of its "predecessors".

Antifa's predecessors have almost nothing to do with the Weather Underground. Rather, they can be seen in the mass mobilisation against Mosley's Blackshirts in Cable Street, East London, as well as less famous mobilisations in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hulme and Stockton.

They are the 43 Group and the 62 Group, Jewish-led organisations who took it upon themselves to smash Mosley's attempts to reorganise after the Second World War. They are in the mass mobilisation of locals in Lewisham, South East London, in 1977, the Southall Youth Movement who fought skinheads in the streets and Anti-Fascist Action, who regularly routed fascists throughout the country from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s.

In Europe, they are the Red Warriors of Paris or the Revolutionary Front in Sweden. And in North America they were the Teamsters who formed a defense guard against the Silver Shirts in the 1930s, or Anti-Racist Action who took on Klansmen and the National Socialist Movement from the 1980s until very recently.

None of these can or should be dismissed as easily as Chomsky seems to.

2) Antifa are 'a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant'?

When the extreme-right get smashed by anti-fascists, they are not exuberant.

When anti-fascists in Liverpool wiped the floor with the 2015 White Man March in Liverpool, they were not exuberant; they were utterly humiliated.

When the English Defence League were chased out of Walthamstow in 2012, they were not exuberant, they were utterly humiliated.

The 43 Group, 62 Group and Anti-Fascist Action successfully disrupted organised street fascism in the UK for decades after World War Two.

In all these cases, physical defeats led to increased divisions in the far-right, mutual recriminations and, most importantly, a puncturing of the invincible street-fighter image these groups like to cultivate for themselves.

Of course they will try and spin every defeat as them being victimised. But, they would just as much spin any unopposed march as a successful show of force, especially if they go searching for targets afterwards, as they have done in the past; 'ignore fascists until they go away' only works if you have the privilege of being ignored by them as well.

A physical defeat is not a gift to the militant right; it is one of the most effective ways of keeping them weak.


Attendees of the 'White Man March' not looking very exuberant as they hide in Liverpool Lime Street's left luggage department, 2015.

3) Denying fascists a platform is not 'wrong in principle'

Perhaps Chomsky's most dangerous claim is that "What [antifa] do is often wrong in principle – like blocking talks". We say dangerous because it encourages people to provide space for fascism to grow in.

There is nothing wrong with denying fascists a platform, whether these be rallies, demonstrations, public meetings or debates. Fascists use their platforms to build strength and, as they grow stronger, to attack their opponents.

We are not duty-bound to give fascists somewhere to spread their hate. In 2002, the train drivers' union, Aslef, expelled a member who had been a local election candidate for the far-right BNP. Perhaps Chomsky thinks this is wrong? Perhaps they were duty bound to accept a member who would sow divisions between white and non-white members? Perhaps Aslef should have organised a public debate to hear him out?

Fascists love it when liberals provide them with a platform. It helps them spread their message so that they can build numbers and confidence to crush their opponents - liberals included.

These platforms - whether on city streets or in debate halls - should not be provided.

4) Street confrontations are not always won by 'the toughest and most brutal'...

Chomsky claims "When confrontation shifts to the arena of violence, it's the toughest and most brutal who win – and we know who that is". Yet mass anti-fascist mobilisation can shut down fascists without being 'the most brutal'. In Liverpool, fascists ran to hide in a train station's left luggage department after being outnumbered 10-to-1. In Brighton, fascist marches have been made impossible without heavy police escort due to mass local opposition.

Ultimately, the most powerful force in society is the working class. We can always win when we turn out in force.

5) ... and the far-right aren't always 'the toughest and most brutal' anyway.

It is the stuff of far-right fairy tales that they have the monopoly on using violence. The experience of Post-World War Two Britain is that the far-right, for all their bluster, were not as 'good on the pavement' as they thought they were. From the 43 Group to the 62 Group to AFA, the far-right were frequently beaten on the streets.

While it is important that we focus on building mass, working-class anti-racist movements rather than crack squads of elite anti-fascist special forces, it's also important not to perpetuate the myths which the far-right perpetuate about themselves. Just look at this loser for a start:

6) Physical opposition to fascism does not negate 'constructive activism'

Chomsky's claim that one of the "costs" of physical confrontation with fascists is the "loss of the opportunity for education, organizing, and serious and constructive activism" is a false division. Moreover, it's one that shows a lack of real-life contact with anti-fascists.

In reality, anti-fascists often are involved in activity beyond 'anti-fascism' whether that be migrant solidarity, union organising, anti-police violence or whatever else. They hold film screenings, concerts and football tournaments. The fact that Chomsky misses all this says more about him than it does anti-fascists.

If people are prepared to put their lives and safety on the line to resist fascism that's a choice which should be celebrated. Community self-defense can create space for other organising to happen, whereas un-opposed fascists will happily crash and disrupt left meetings and organising.

A big contingent of antifascist mobilisations in the US have been associated with the IWW, a radical union which puts huge importance on serious, constructive education and organising. You can organise at work Monday to Friday and oppose fascists when they occasionally come to town on Saturday, that's not much of an 'opportunity cost.'

Ultimately, it's important to remember that 'anti-fascism' will never be enough to defeat fascism; in fact, there is no defeating fascism without defeating capitalism. That means building a mass, working-class political culture that stands as an alternative to both the far-right and the liberal politics of 'business as usual': vibrant workplace organisations both inside and out of traditional unions, community groups fighting on housing, police brutality, proper provision for survivors of domestic violence, migrant solidarity, and so much more it couldn't possibly fit here.

We mustn't think of antifa as an end in and of itself. But we don't need the left's most prominent public intellectuals to throw them under the bus either.

Comments

Biffard Misqueegan
Aug 18 2017 20:58

Chomsky has always been more of a civil libertarian than communist/anarchist. It's that left-liberalism that sees protest and "resistance" as nothing more than a tool to win the "battle of ideas" in the bourgeois media.

On a side note, Im surprised there was no mention of the original German Antifaschistische Aktion in point #1

akai
Aug 18 2017 21:47

Just for the record, there were also significant anti-fascist groups in the US and Canada in the 20s and 30s. They were militant and confronted fascists and nazis physically, even killing a few.

l have a few criticisms at times of some specific anti-fascist tendencies or actions, but l agree that these comments are ill-timed and off-base. l guess it is just too cozy up in the ivory tower.

Austenic
Aug 19 2017 09:43

So um even though in history anti-fa fought with nazis on the streets with leadpipes and small arms.. they never prevented them from taking power. In the contrary they always helped the nazis to become the victims and enabled their path to power.

Anybody not seeing this should be castrated.

admin: sexist weirdo threatening those with different opinions banned

sherbu-kteer
Jan 22 2019 14:20

I am surprised Chomsky doesn't know his history. How could he not remember the brave German street fighters of the 30s that managed to stop the rise of the Nazis, preventing Hitler from killing any Jews? Or the proud Italians who stopped Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia by posting embarrassing photos of Fascist electoral candidates on communist blogs?

Seriously though, small-ish groups of radicals throwing rocks at Nazis in the streets haven't stopped Fascism/Nazism before and they won't in the future. The 'battles' (if you can call them that) won by antifa in the past have been small and minor and did not place a big dint in the right wing. Saying that the reason greyshirts didn't rise in the US is because of antifa protestors is absurd, it's romanticising an event way beyond what it actually was.

This kind of romanticising is far too common, you can see it in this post even. Just look:

"Ultimately, the most powerful force in society is the working class. We can always win when we turn out in force."

This is a bizarre use of the collective 'we'. Antifa protestors are mainly leftists and anarchists, at best they represent a tiny fraction of the working class. There is no need for us to overstate how popular we are with the working class, it's obvious to anyone that anarchist and communist ideas are unfortunately not widespread among workers in most countries, let alone the USA.

Overall this article doesn't actually engage with what Chomsky said, or offer anything more than superficial arguments as to why he's wrong. There's the usual tit-for-tat childish thing about mocking Nazis as weak scaredy-cats (they do the same with us), as well as the standard hand-waving attitude to concerns about freedom of speech.

I think the best of way of dealing with fascism is removing the societal factors that lead to its rise (unemployment, alienation, etc). If it's too late for that, then the focus needs to be on trying to "convert" (for lack of a better word) far-right lunatics back into sanity. No white teenager with right-wing tendencies is going to suddenly go "oh, silly me! How could I ever think Jews were bad" when a masked stranger hits them on the head with a club. Considering how much the American right wing is based on an absurd victimhood complex, physical violence genuinely can make things a lot worse, and drive people into the extremist camp.

It's easy to fall back on violence but it's only justifiable when it's a last resort, when there are no other options available.

It's also worth reminding everyone, we're anarchists. We don't believe that our ideology can be put in place through authority and power; Fascists and other totalitarians do. Our ideology is the complete and total negation of authority. Violence and force may be justified in certain situations, but relying on it for ideological purposes undermines our essential beliefs.

Edit 23/1/19: For new readers -- I was being a colossal jerk here and elsewhere in this comment section. I no longer hold the same positions I express here and regret my caustic tone in particular. Feel free to disregard everything I say above and below. I'm leaving it up instead of deleting it because the other comments won't make sense otherwise, and because I think removing them would be kind of cowardly.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 19 2017 12:27
Quote:
Or the proud Italians who stopped Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia by posting embarrassing photos of Fascist electoral candidates on communist blogs?

Personally, I had more in mind the proud Italian anti-fascists who strung up Mussolini from a lampost. Ya know, the ones who ended fascism in Italy.

In any case, might as well go straight to the source on this one:

"Only one thing could have stopped our movement - if our adversaries had understood its principle and from the first day smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement."
- Hitler, 1934

Of course we need to tackle the societal causes of fascism and right-wing populism in general, but once someone has consciously aligned themselves with ideological racism, good luck trying to reason with them.

Jim
Aug 19 2017 12:32

The anarchist argument against antifa appears to be the same argument which lost anarchists the Spanish revolution.

sherbu-kteer
Aug 19 2017 12:50
Quote:
Personally, I had more in mind the proud Italian anti-fascists who strung up Mussolini from a lampost. Ya know, the ones who ended fascism in Italy.

They wouldn't have ended it if they didn't have two of the world's largest military empires helping them. Regardless, the antifascist partisans of the war are completely different to modern 'antifa'. No matter how bad it may seem now, USA 2017 is not Italy 1939. The comparisons only stretch so far.

Quote:
In any case, might as well go straight to the source on this one:

"Only one thing could have stopped our movement - if our adversaries had understood its principle and from the first day smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement."
- Hitler, 1934

Hitler was a lunatic dictator. He is not to be trusted as a source of opinion on his own movement. Historians have spent decades debating exactly why Hitler came to power but I don't think any of them genuinely believe that the reason the Nazis rose was because the left wing was not violent enough against them.

As it happens, left wing Germans did fight street battles with Nazis. They even won a few. But that didn't stop Hitler.

Quote:
Of course we need to tackle the societal causes of fascism and right-wing populism in general, but once someone has consciously aligned themselves with ideological racism, good luck trying to reason with them.

Anti-Nazis in Germany have seen some success with 'exit' programs that have successfully rehabilitated neo-Nazis. As improbable as it may seem to you, even the most extreme Nazis are capable of changing their stripes.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 19 2017 13:05
Quote:
They wouldn't have ended it if they didn't have two of the world's largest military empires helping them.

You say that, but after the war the Western powers were more than happy to leave Fascists in positions of state power and recruit then into their security services. In Italy, it truly was anti-fascism that ended fascism in the country.

And of course the comparison only stretches so far - that's true with all analogies. It's also true that street confrontations didn't succeed in stopping fascism in Italy or Germany - but they did in England.

Just out of curiosity, would you have counselled against the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? Perhaps an exit program for Nazi guards would have been more effective? Even if you don't win, you can't let that shit go without a response - not in the 1920s and not in 2017.

sherbu-kteer
Aug 19 2017 13:16
Quote:
You say that, but after the war the Western powers were more than happy to leave Fascists in positions of state power and recruit then into their security services. In Italy, it truly was anti-fascism that ended fascism in the country.

I know. Doesn't change my point. Mussolini wouldn't have fallen without the assistance of the US and the British Commonwealth. Antifascists played an essential role before, during and after the war, I'm not denying that.

Quote:
And of course the comparison only stretches so far - that's true with all analogies. True, street confrontations didn't succeed in stopping fascism in Italy or Germany - but they did in England.

There are many reasons why Fascism didn't rise in the UK. The Battle of Cable Street and other similar events are only one element. Saying that street confrontations stopped British Fascism is misleading and not showing the whole picture

Quote:
Just out of curiosity, would you have counselled against the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? Perhaps an exit program for Nazi guards would have been more effective?

I'm not going to bother responding to that.

akai
Aug 19 2017 14:41

First, to Jim, a big logical fail. Just because Chomsky or some anonymous person on the internet has a criticism, it doesn't make it "the anarchist argument against antifa". You can't just take the opinion of an individual and assign it to a much larger group of people. Especially if the individual is often dubious in his consistent adherence to any idea. You'd have to listen to lots of anarchists, to be able to define a general tendency in thought. And here, even if many anarchists, including myself, have criticisms of some particular anti-fascist actions, or how some things are handled, it doesn't mean that the majority of people would agree with these arguments. l am sure some do, but that doesn't make it "the anarchist argument".

Second, besides Austentic's sexism, the logic is sick. Sort of preaching non-violence against the violent but proposing castration for those who "don't see". Let's dismiss it as a stupid remark.

Of course, what brings fascists to power or not is often a very complex series of issues and factors. Physical reaction to this is not a way to tackle these issues at the roots. But it is a way to confront those who are threatening in public space. Just yesterday l was telling a story about my father, who was not at all political, but went around in a little gang stopping nazis because they had been going around beating people who hung around with people of color or Jews. Lots of young tough poor kids did this, because they just didn't like people coming around and beating on them because of their skin color, religion, nationality, etc. lt's a very basic thing that there are those who would inflict all sorts of harrassment, pain and punishment on different categories of people - LGBT, foreigners, Muslims, people of color .... and who actually have started to do this. Where there is no reaction, they take this as societal consent and keep doing.

Fascism needs to be countered with spreading a different type of equalitarian politics through everyday community, workplace and organizational work. lMO, this work cannot be done only in small groups of radicals, but we have to try to influence the mainstream in some ways and work out of the traditional radical comfort zones.

That said, where communities have been victimized by right-wing, racist and fascist violence, it is very motivating to come together to fight this off, even if it's something like a symbolic blockade.

The problem with the argument that these types of anti-fascist actions can't win is the type of defeatism this brings with it. lf it is all hopeless, why should anybody react at all. Somebody here mentioned the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. (Also we could talk of the Warsaw Uprising.) Actually, whether or react or how to react was a real question in those days and there are plenty of books which have said that these Uprisings were basically suicide, implying they shouldn't have happened. l don't want to go into the history too much because it's really upsetting, but people risked their lives many years earlier even so that Nazism wouldn't spread and that in the early days of the occupation, there was a lack of sufficient militant reaction, partly understandable due to a lack of guns but also there was a sort of hope that the Allies would just sort of come along and rescue everybody. This idea that people should wait for the big guns of the state instead of organizing themselves proved costly. A bit later, quite a significant resistance went up, but at that point, they were already at such a disadvantage. To get off historical speculation, the long and short of it is that people need to react before they set up the ovens.

lt is upsetting to me that people seem to be saying that taking any action against nazis is "helping them". Of course, if there have been some actions done in an unintelligent way, yes, things can backfire. Have seem this happen in my city more than once, where nationalists gained sympathy after mistakes of antifascists. Of course we need to be critical and we can make concrete analyses of why something can backfire. This can be instructional for comrades and other people. But l don't really see anything here of the sort - just some pacificist stuff and pokes at antifa.

Seriously, the American people have had some pretty good debates throughout history on issues like this. l would recommend Martin Luther King and Malcolm X or other debates from that era about confronting issues of racism with non-violence or not. This will be from a slightly different perspective, but they are extremely valuable, especially the times that less known activists spoke out, because these were often people who had to encounter real racist violence and terror where they lived and it's totally understandable that some people were not convinced by only non-violent civil disobedience.

BTW, as far as anti-fascists are concerned, at least around here, there are lots who also don't want to use any violence, but still think it's important to confront them on the streets.

Ed
Aug 19 2017 15:02

Actually kind of surprised so many people are talking about the failure of Italian and German anti-fascists to stop fascism when the article makes no mention of them. This is intentional: the alt-right are not a government in waiting. They're far more similar to the post-war British far-right (hence most of the examples coming from there): that is, not strong enough to take power but strong enough to menace communities they don't like. British anti-fascists were very successful in dealing with that menace. So I'm confused as to why there's so little engagement with that element of anti-fascist history here.

Tick Tock
Aug 19 2017 15:45

I think Chomsky is largely correct.

Especially on the opportunity costs - your point 6. I do grassroots radical education and organising with some other anarchists and a problem has been that a lot of them are often busy or burnt out from antifa actions.

sam bauer
Aug 19 2017 19:30
Chilli Sauce wrote:
.Just out of curiosity, would you have counselled against the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? Perhaps an exit program for Nazi guards would have been more effective? Even if you don't win, you can't let that shit go without a response - not in the 1920s and not in 2017.

Exit programs exist because many times these people have completely alienated themselves with their friends and family and thus can't leave their organisations. This support does make a difference.

DevastateTheAvenues
Aug 19 2017 17:00
Austenic wrote:
So um even though in history anti-fa fought with nazis on the streets with leadpipes and small arms.. they never prevented them from taking power. In the contrary they always helped the nazis to become the victims and enabled their path to power.

Anybody not seeing this should be castrated.

You conveniently forget that what helped the Nazis come to power were liberals and so-called socialists, particularly Ebert and Noske and their repugnant ilk, who crushed time and again every uprising of the German working class. And you forget that they did this by relying on the Freikorps and putschists that became the Nazis to do the work of massacring workers. In 1918 and 1919, Ebert and Noske and the other rats in the SPD, who had arrogated to themselves supreme direction of the whole German socialist movement, called out the Freikorps to kill striking workers and mutineering soldiers, Luxemberg and Liebknect among them. Then, in 1920, after the Weimar Republic and the Social Democratic Party cynically called for a general strike of the working class in order to preserve its own governance against the Freikorps and Kapp putschists, that same government then turned around and used those same Freikorps and putschists to dissolve by force tens of thousands of armed workers, the army of the Ruhr, explicitly calling for socialism. And then you must know that these very forces, the right-wing paramilitaries and the putschists, would become the Nazis.

Clearly, those "socialists" in government believed they knew the correct course for socialism in Germany, and workers wouldn't follow this course then these "socialists" preferred them shot. It was this situation, in which the armed working class was repeatedly crushed by the far-right in alliance with "socialists" in government, that allowed for the rise of the Nazis. To lay the blame for Nazis at the foot of the (dead) armed workers is unsupportable if it was in the defeat of the armed workers that the Nazis came to power. That is, unless your argument is somewhere along the lines of "the demand for socialism forced the government to call on right-wing paramilitaries to defeat the armed socialists, thus allowing the Nazis to come to power", in which case I guess we should all fuck off and join the local liberals or socdems, because, while the kind of sops who believe this obviously fear Nazis, they really fear social revolution even more.

By the way, "castrated", huh? This is the admonishment you thought was most appropriate? Clearly you are some manarchist or MRA-spiked "socialist" whose primary concern regarding the revolution is how it can help you get your dick wet, and thus assume that castration is of course the most cutting threat to the entire--and entirely male, obviously--movement; or you're a plant from some addled cesspool like Sturmfuck who assumes that this place is just like your scumball old boys club.

dragoonuv
Aug 19 2017 18:04

>'ignore fascists until they go away' only works if you have the privilege of being ignored by them as well.

Not saying you should. By all means Counter protest. And if you or your comrades get hit by all means hit back, you will have the advantage of having the law on your side and not needing a mask. But Chomsky is specifically talking about the black block who go out looking to throw the first punch.

>We are not duty-bound to give fascists somewhere to spread their hate.

No ones asking you to but you have no business attacking those that do offer it. In the era of internet forums and youtube, claiming its crucial that the odious be denied an opportunity to deliver a speech is plainly preposterous and a waste of effort. The motive is for the counter protests is obviously to intimidate the attendees. And the people that antifa have no platformed like milo are not fascists and the fact antifa claimed he was hurt the lefts credibility when we tried to warn people actual nazis were going to gather and riot.

When the left riots because someone tried to deliver a speech it pushes the center away from us. When ordinary people see black clad masked people beating people up on the streets and smashing cars it pushes the centre away from us. And we NEED the center to sympathise with us and not be more likely to join the right.

>In Liverpool, fascists ran to hide in a train station's left luggage department after being outnumbered 10-to-1.

Great. But what do we do when we dont outnumber them 10-1? Thats the point. Antifa is starting a fight we all have to suffer for. Unless we do outnumber them 10-1 we should adopt different strategies.

>The experience of Post-World War Two Britain

Is not anywhere close to today. Britain was and still is a very rough country, and was filled with people that had gone to war against fascism. They also had a much stronger and more militant trade union movement and so were more likely to have rough, working class left wingers amongst their ranks. Almost all the examples you cited were PRE neoliberalisation of the 70's

rooieravotr
Aug 19 2017 22:03

I basically agree with the six points that are made in this peace. The article, however, would be much more credible if it had given the source of Chomsky's remarks, so that people can judge for themselves on the basis of who exactly says what. Criticizing without giving the source of what one criticizes is not ja very good way of handling polemics and controversy. I found some Chomsky quotes which I suppose are the source of the controversy here: [url=http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/noam-chomsky-antifa-is-a-major-gift-to-the-right/article/2631786 ]http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/noam-chomsky-antifa-is-a-major-gift-to-the-right/article/2631786 [/url] If shis is only a short rendition from a longer original, I would be glad to know.

For the rest: good piece.

Talisa
Aug 19 2017 22:17

I agree that when it comes to neo-nazis, kkk, etc., it can help if we confront them with a beating, or by shutting down their talks and denying them free speech when we have the power to do so.

My question is, where do we draw the line?

I have been really uncomfortable with where some leftists have drawn that line. Like a video I saw on YouTube of a talk that leftists shut down by constantly chanting and shouting over it. The speaker was expressing shitty right-wing views, but he's no nazi, and is a critic of the alt-right and white-supremacists. Watching that made me cringe. (I can try to dig up the link if people are interested.)

So again: Where do you draw the line? Who is it ok to prevent from exercising free speech? Who is it ok to physically attack?

Steven.
Aug 19 2017 23:16
rooieravotr wrote:
I basically agree with the six points that are made in this peace. The article, however, would be much more credible if it had given the source of Chomsky's remarks, so that people can judge for themselves on the basis of who exactly says what.

that's a good point, that was an oversight on our part which has now been corrected, with a hyperlink put in to his original comments. Thanks

malllen
Aug 20 2017 02:26

Some of the most effective counter movements in history have been numbers based non violent civil resistance. The fact that this lesson seems lost reflects an astonishing inability to learn from history. We are not pre-determined into groups destined to fight against opposing groups, we are individuals, subject to influence from peers and media, all of us with the potential for both good and bad. Violence enshrines people into position. Everything above suggests you don't believe there is anyway out of a group determination, which is utterly defeatist, illiberal, cowardly, weak and unproductive. Antifa do not espouse liberal values, perhaps leftists although i sincerely doubt it.

Your third point (among others) is just all wrong. You are not required to give anyone a platform. I think it should be obvious that chomsky is not saying that. What you are advocating is removing a platform that someone else with the authority to do so had decided to offer to your opponent. There is a big difference in antifa not being obliged to give someone a platform (that's such a straw man its laughable) and antifa denying another person the right to give their platform to whom they wish. Same goes for your BNP example, if the union didn't want him, that's their choice. No one has to take anyone into their organisation - as if that is what chomsky is talking about - again, laughable. However if said union had decided to allow the BNP person to continue in their organization, who would antifa be to deny them that right? That is chomsky's argument in this case.

There's so much more to say. It's deeply disappointing that some people think they are liberal and righteous at the same time as espousing violence against a group of ambiguous efficacy and importance. That kind of 'blame you for the sins of everyone whom you associate however tentatively with' is exactly what we're trying to talk conservatives out of with islam. (yes yes i know,
you can't be an ok white supremicist, that's not the point - the point is your love of violence against these guys is based on the sins of people who are not them). This is the kind of thing that MLK very clearly and passionately argued against. It's the kind of thing that only perpetuates conflict, enshrining misguided individuals into ever increasing extremes. It's so cosy on the moral high-ground, you can wear a bandanna and feel like a righteous warrior. It's an illusion, you lose authority as soon as you resort to weak, cynical violence.

radicalgraffiti
Aug 20 2017 02:41

liberalism is right wing garbage, no one should be liberal, liberals enable fascists and pretend this is a good thing

malllen
Aug 20 2017 03:07

Violence enables facism. Violence is facist.

jondwhite
Aug 20 2017 06:34
Quote:
Quote:
And of course the comparison only stretches so far - that's true with all analogies. True, street confrontations didn't succeed in stopping fascism in Italy or Germany - but they did in England.

There are many reasons why Fascism didn't rise in the UK. The Battle of Cable Street and other similar events are only one element. Saying that street confrontations stopped British Fascism is misleading and not showing the whole picture

Have to say I agree with Chomsky on this one. And actually the Battle of Cable Street did lead to a rise in British Fascism. It was only when it was ideologically exposed at the Olympia rally that its support dramatically plummeted.
http://www.historytoday.com/daniel-tilles/myth-cable-street
Same happened with the BNP after BBC Question Time. Decades of antifa activity didnt stop them growing to get 2 MEPs. The NF demise was more to do with Thatcher.
Warsaw Uprising was probably right thing to do but by then it was already too late.

szponiasty
Aug 20 2017 08:06

He is not wrong. Antifa escalates tensions and division. Normal people, with families, will turn to the government, for "protection". Antifa is handling society into the hands of police state.

rooieravotr
Aug 20 2017 10:22

Once more about the source of the Chomsky Quote: the Washington Examiner. Is that reliable?Someone I know how is following this, says it is a right wing publication, not above spreading climate denial stuff and things like that. I looked a bio closer, did not immediately find conspiratory-stuff, but a progressive publication it is not, and it is on the gossipy side of things... Are we sure that Chomsky ACTUALLY said these things about Antifa that we are now hotly arguing about?

Sharkfinn
Aug 20 2017 10:41

1) The last time the fascists were beaten it took the combined allied forces. Obviously, people need to violently oppose violent persecution and the working class needs to be able to defend itself against reaction, but it’s deluded to see the street confrontations as something that seriously contributed to fall of fascism. At the current moment Antifa is able only to seriously oppose “fascist” that are so miniscule that it doesn’t make sense in the first place.

2) KKK and the alt right are a tiny fringe, possibly even smaller than the left, meanwhile the golden dawn is in government, they are not weak, only some of them are. I don’t think street confrontations have lot to do with stopping the fash. It’s a pretty generous interpretation to say that the internal fights within the right are a product of left opposition. I mean we don’t need the far right to make us sectarian. These fights are a natural product of the far right’s tendency to use broad coalitions and popular front tactics, and how that interacts with fractured group identity of small sects. Neither did the Night of The Long Knives weaken the nazis one bit. I can see a weird discourse here were libcom is stating that nazies are incredibly dangerous and on the rise, but at the same time our tactics are winning?!

3) I don’t think nazies particularly need unions or university campuses as “platforms” they have the internet. The publicity stunts are there to reach to wider audiences, but I don’t think it’s about whose standing on the pavement, rather whose trending on twitter/youtube or has the access to the press. The whole PLATFORM thing need to be seriously interrogated, the assumption that controlling the streets (if only) constitutes control over “platforms” in the internet age.

4) So why aren’t we living in communism yet? In violent confrontation, strength, and brutality do matter.

5) Again, a really confused description. What about fire bombings of migrant businesses, lone gunman shootings in the US, gas attacks, political assassinations, co-operation with the police and infiltration within the ranks of the military, being in government!! Yes, we can beat the fascist that we can beat (the nerds), but those aren’t the dangerous ones. Also, quite UK centric.

6) Yes, but it’s unclear what is the end game for antifascism. For most of the other stuff described here it would be communism, but with no platforming fascist, I can’t really tell what is the supposed goal anymore. - Stop them from being present in areas the small left already controls? - What is a platform supposed to mean and why would that stop the fascist? The left is used to marching on the streets with lollypops, so stopping fascist from doing that seems logical to us, because that is the activity we happen to fetishize. Fascist are not a threat because they can speak, they are a threat because they are a violent threat, but I don’t really think small black bloc has much to do with protecting people from that. Currently black bloc is a distraction. We need to oppose fascism through other means. Also given that the fash are a weapon of the bourgeoisie and in places where they have power they usually start that with a complicity from the official authorities, confrontation on the streets are unlikely to be the way to beat them. No one is throwing the “antifascist” under the bus by not coddling left wing group think.

zugzwang
Aug 20 2017 10:54
rooieravotr wrote:
Once more about the source of the Chomsky Quote: the Washington Examiner. Is that reliable?Someone I know how is following this, says it is a right wing publication, not above spreading climate denial stuff and things like that. I looked a bio closer, did not immediately find conspiratory-stuff, but a progressive publication it is not, and it is on the gossipy side of things... Are we sure that Chomsky ACTUALLY said these things about Antifa that we are now hotly arguing about?

Yes, according to wiki it's a conservative news source, but Chomsky has made similar comments about "not showing up to events if you don't want to hear someone speak" in the past, as well as defending a holocaust denier, and there is also this reddit where someone email messaged him and got the same kind of response we see in the interview. The Washington Examiner also quoted him directly it seems.

Fleur
Aug 20 2017 13:50

re:Mallen.

I love it when liberals who want to promote nonviolence invoke the name of MLK, seemingly oblivious to the fact he was murdered, that he was armed to the teeth, along with the people who worked with him, that he met with people who employed non-violent tactics, that he never condemned people who took part in physical resistance. Liberals seem to forget that the era, and the era preceding it, was a period of extreme racialized violence, in which African Americans organized in self-defence and and paid for it with their lives. Non violence was only one tactic of the civil rights movement but it's the only one that liberals seem to remember (bit like the myth that non-violence was the thing which drove the British out of India.) It's a very cozy idea, which enables well-meaning people to feel safe and comfortable in their refusal to get involved in the fight.

Perhaps try reading something written by people involved in the civil rights movement, as opposed to watching too many made for TV movies which cast white liberals as protagonists in the civil rights movement. Try these for starters.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18210783-this-nonviolent-stuff-ll-get-you-killed
This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed - Charles E Cobb
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17072350-we-will-shoot-back
We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement - Akinyele Omowale Umoja

There is also the myth that liberals supported the civil rights movement, they largely did not. In 1966, 85% of white people thought that the disruptions of the civil rights movements hurt black people.
http://www.theroot.com/mlk-would-never-shut-down-a-freeway-and-6-other-myths-1790856033
I expect in 50 years time, white liberals will be claiming that physically confronting fascists was their idea all along.

(Edited to fix link.)

Reddebrek
Aug 20 2017 12:17
jondwhite wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
And of course the comparison only stretches so far - that's true with all analogies. True, street confrontations didn't succeed in stopping fascism in Italy or Germany - but they did in England.

There are many reasons why Fascism didn't rise in the UK. The Battle of Cable Street and other similar events are only one element. Saying that street confrontations stopped British Fascism is misleading and not showing the whole picture

Have to say I agree with Chomsky on this one. And actually the Battle of Cable Street did lead to a rise in British Fascism. It was only when it was ideologically exposed at the Olympia rally that its support dramatically plummeted.
http://www.historytoday.com/daniel-tilles/myth-cable-street
Same happened with the BNP after BBC Question Time. Decades of antifa activity didnt stop them growing to get 2 MEPs. The NF demise was more to do with Thatcher.
Warsaw Uprising was probably right thing to do but by then it was already too late.

You might want to re-read that article from History Today because the section on the post Cable Street growth says the growth in support in the aftermath of Cable street depended highly on its exploitation of anti-Semitism. Which is rather important since it chances the framing from sympathy for Black shirts being beaten up, to support for a group willing to attack the Jewish community.

Indeed this is a very important dimension of the victim narrative that is often overlooked. Its not that the far right are being "victimised" that increases sympathy from some elements of society its that there being "victimised" by feared and hated minority groups. There main area of growth was after all the East end, the area with the most extreme anti-Semitic tensions.

It also says that after Olympia many of its more respectable supporters dropped it, but the BUF experienced a bump in new members. Personally I'd like to know whether these respectable types flocked back to the party after Cable street or did they stay away. Because if they stayed away it seems like the Olympia to Cable street BUF fortunes were determined more by political reorientation than anything else.

And of course the question remains if the act of losing a fight and being victims could make the BUF stronger, why wasn't this case when Mosley tried it after WWII? I don't believe anti-Semitism went away, but it doesn't seem to have been quite as attractive a policy as it was in the 30's, so perhaps the real lesson of the BUF is that Fascist groups will grow the more racial tensions they can exploit within society.

The BNP had its best ever election results in the UK in 2010 which was after the Question Time debate (over 500,000 votes nationally), this is just a liberal myth. They collapsed due to infighting, competition and financial strains from the Marmite lawsuit, if Question Time had anything to do with it at all it was to give the BNP a bit of a boost.

As for the NF their decline was the result of infighting and competition amongst the far right in the 80's the eventual winners the BNP(whose birth was influenced by an infiltrator) gave up on confrontations and refocused on elections kinda of an odd thing to do if having their marches shutdown had no real effect on their fortunes.

Reddebrek
Aug 20 2017 12:55
Sharkfinn wrote:
1) The last time the fascists were beaten it took the combined allied forces. Obviously, people need to violently oppose violent persecution and the working class needs to be able to defend itself against reaction, but it’s deluded to see the street confrontations as something that seriously contributed to fall of fascism. At the current moment Antifa is able only to seriously oppose “fascist” that are so miniscule that it doesn’t make sense in the first place.

Err, no. The text your criticising has multiple far more recent examples of Fascist movements being defeated. Even if you're restricting yourself to Fascist governments you're ignoring the collapse and overthrow of Fascist regimes in Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Quote:
2) KKK and the alt right are a tiny fringe, possibly even smaller than the left, meanwhile the golden dawn is in government, they are not weak, only some of them are. I don’t think street confrontations have lot to do with stopping the fash. It’s a pretty generous interpretation to say that the internal fights within the right are a product of left opposition. I mean we don’t need the far right to make us sectarian. These fights are a natural product of the far right’s tendency to use broad coalitions and popular front tactics, and how that interacts with fractured group identity of small sects. Neither did the Night of The Long Knives weaken the nazis one bit. I can see a weird discourse here were libcom is stating that nazies are incredibly dangerous and on the rise, but at the same time our tactics are winning?!

Yes they're small, how do you think ignoring their attempts to grow is a good idea then? Also no the Golden Dawn aren't in government, they're an opposition group in parliament. The closest they've come to government is support and membership of the police, but that is also true the KKK and NSM in the USA.

Quote:
3) I don’t think nazies particularly need unions or university campuses as “platforms” they have the internet. The publicity stunts are there to reach to wider audiences, but I don’t think it’s about whose standing on the pavement, rather whose trending on twitter/youtube or has the access to the press. The whole PLATFORM thing need to be seriously interrogated, the assumption that controlling the streets (if only) constitutes control over “platforms” in the internet age.

This is just confused, they don't need platforms, except for the times when they do... You know far right websites get hacked and shutdown quite regularly right? The internet isn't impervious some of the most serious breaches of Fash operational security have happened thanks to the reliance on the internet. Your second point is a non sequitur too, in what way has the internet change the relationship to physical public space?

Platforms and media are tools, some times some tools are better suited for certain situations. The Internet isn't a sufficient platform for any other political tendency to grow and advance its goals so why should that be true of Fascists? And if it is true for them why are they even bothering with demonstrations and rallies?

Quote:
4) So why aren’t we living in communism yet? In violent confrontation, strength, and brutality do matter.

That isn't what that's saying.

Quote:
5) Again, a really confused description. What about fire bombings of migrant businesses, lone gunman shootings in the US, gas attacks, political assassinations, co-operation with the police and infiltration within the ranks of the military, being in government!! Yes, we can beat the fascist that we can beat (the nerds), but those aren’t the dangerous ones. Also, quite UK centric.

Not really all of your "counter" examples are in the UK too. They're also opposed by Anti Fascists, so this isn't saying anything other than your own assumptions.

Quote:
6) Yes, but it’s unclear what is the end game for antifascism. For most of the other stuff described here it would be communism, but with no platforming fascist, I can’t really tell what is the supposed goal anymore. - Stop them from being present in areas the small left already controls? - What is a platform supposed to mean and why would that stop the fascist? The left is used to marching on the streets with lollypops, so stopping fascist from doing that seems logical to us, because that is the activity we happen to fetishize. Fascist are not a threat because they can speak, they are a threat because they are a violent threat, but I don’t really think small black bloc has much to do with protecting people from that. Currently black bloc is a distraction. We need to oppose fascism through other means. Also given that the fash are a weapon of the bourgeoisie and in places where they have power they usually start that with a complicity from the official authorities, confrontation on the streets are unlikely to be the way to beat them. No one is throwing the “antifascist” under the bus by not coddling left wing group think.

Again this is just confused rambling, there is no coherent point to this, is basically just a collection of strawmen mixed in with telling anti fascists what they already know. Since Fascism is a weapon of capitalism like the blog says, it must be opposed like all the other weapons of capitalism. You're comments about stopping Fascists with lollipops (is that even a term outside the UK?) is also bizarre as that's not even what anti-fascists are most commonly misrepresented as doing. Black Bloc isn't a distraction the only people who say in my experience are those dealing with sour grapes that their preferred political vehicle doesn't have any appeal.

We know it isn't a distraction because despite criticisms and flaws it does what it is designed to do. Provide protection for militants whilst disrupting the actions of an opposing group. Virtually every single large Anti Fascist grouping in history has been made up of members of radical working class organisations of one type or another. These groups do somehow manage to do other work and indeed their Anti-fascist activities are part of that work as it provides a defence from right wing violence.

How exactly is our work supposed to be made easier if we allow another threat free reign in our communities?

Sharkfinn
Aug 20 2017 13:06

Yep, sorry I confused GD with ANEL. That's my bad writing too fast, but the point is still the same. We are not succeeding with stopping the fash. My point isn't do nothing but that "antifa tactics" aren't working and are a distraction. We should consentrate on stuff that actually works in building a movement. Working classes strength is supposed to be at the point of prodction, the streets aren't someting that we can control.