Updated: Mar 19
Antifa is a far-left Anti-Fascist Movement that is an array of decentralized autonomous networks of Affinity Groups. Affinity groups can vary between 5 to 20 comrades who conspire together and build close-knit relationships between the members. The clusters' overall goal is to combat the dictatorial leadership style primarily shown in Fascist regimes. This is clearly depicted in a manual called "Affinity 101: Build Your own Autonomous Initiatives and Groups," which can be found posted by an account on Telegram called @revtoolbox. This provides an excellent insight into how these Anti-Fascist groups are formed and how they operate internally. The instructions further state that "Affinity groups challenge top-down decision-making and organizing and empower those involved to take direct creative action." This allows "people to "be" the Action they want to see by giving complete freedom and decision-making power to the affinity group."
Direct Action is a method of protest used to fight back against the oppressive system. During my time spent in Portland, Oregon, during the summer and fall months of 2020, I learned for many of the lead organizers about these very same tactics. The Anti-Fascist in PDX has the primary belief in Anarchism and uses Direct Action to show their dissent against the state or authoritative entity that the community directly opposes. DA's can come in many forms, such as conflict mediation, blocking evictions, and draining police resources to bring about the necessary political or social transformation within the local, regional, or national governing structures.
The question then arises, "Just who are these Anarchists?" This manual explains this very political ideology and helps understand more about Direct Actions. It states that "Anarchism is a loose framework of ideas and movements that shares the goal of helping people live without oppressive systems like capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and yes the state." This is the foundation on which Anarchists take Direct Action against the Capitalist structure due to "a society in which each of us is stripped of our individual and collective agency in which we are told we cannot solve problems directly." Needless to say, many of the Anti-Capitalist are communists as well because "capitalism is not a society in which you work to make money to then buy things. It is the opposite of that. Capitalism is a society in which some small number of people leverage the stuff they already own, the capital, to make money from the rest of us who labor. Capitalism is bullshit. It's killing us, and it's destroying the world, and it needs to be stopped."
Even though this belief is instilled in many of their constituents. Many misguided and misinformed individuals have been influenced by the mainstream media. Numerous outlets have claimed that Antifa is the primary source for the vandalism shown within their communities. This has also been used as a label that places the entire spectrum of left-wing protesters into one basis. This has caused many people to have discord with the vast number of nonviolent organizations that don't deserve the upfront aggression. Donald J. Trump placed this label on the broad assemblages of the Anti-Fascist organizations. When @realdonaldtrump tweeted on May 31, 2020, and expressed that "The United States of America will be designating Antifa; as a Terrorist Organization." This statement is an unfair accusation because Antifa is not an organized entity but a belief structure that contains a vast number of affiliated groups.
People also are given the impression that anyone dressed in all black clothes is a "Member of Antifa." This is entirely inaccurate as this is a tactic used called "Black Bloc" and is when an individual gets blocked up in all black clothes, gear, and accessories. This allows them to blend in with the crowd of blacked-out individuals and protect their identity from being exposed. A practice that is embodied worldwide, used by a wide range of political and non-political organizations, mainly used to remain anonymous. Preventing many individuals from being doxed by people who disclose their personal data, such as a home address, identity, and other private material, might not be available to the general public. Consequently, this has led to many arrests and has provided footage to the authorities, enabling them to suppress lead organizers and identify individuals within the movement to stop and eliminate the voices that oppose them.
Over the years of brutality and being harassed by law enforcement has caused many organizations affiliated on the left to call for Police and prisons' Abolition. The left-wing organizations don't think that isolating individuals who have violated the laws will help them learn from their mistakes and effectively engage with society after their incarceration is concluded. "The Abolitionist Horizon" is a guide online made by @dsaemerge on Instagram. This manual gives you an exact depiction of "Building a World Without Police or Prisons." The instructions written in the handbook stated, "Police and Prisons do not exist to prevent violence, stop violence, or seek justice for violence. These institutions have always existed to protect capital, private property, white supremacy, gender violence, and other forms of oppression." The post further elaborated on this notion stating, "We must also take away the power of police and prisons by challenging their presence in our communities."
This Democratic Socialists of America organization stated that the only way to Abolish the Police was through:
1. " Mutal Aid," which pooled the community's resources together and provided for those in need in the absence of State-runed systems, that did not assist in the public's well fair of its citizens.
2. "Collective Care" provided the community with mental and emotional health spaces.
3. "Conflict Mediation" addressed uncomplicated matters like disputes between neighbors without getting the Police involved. This also meant the abolitionist needed to build crisis centers and self-defense groups as a community alternative to being policed.
These are just some ways that the Anti-Fascist communities on the left planned to implement new tactics to create a better world without an authoritative infrastructure that only had been built for oppression and exploitation of its people. This is not to say that all of the Anti-Facsicts federations protest in a nonviolent manner. Many call for a violent revolution of that state and the federal government to overthrow American Democracy and the Capitalist infrastructure.
One of the most prominent organizations in Portland known for this is Safe PDX, which can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @safepdx. As stated in their bio, they are an "Abolitionist collective advocating for an end to state violence. We keep us safe! Black Lives Matter." This collective is the primary force for the violent Direct Actions in Portland, Oregon. I have been to several protests organized by this group and many of which have turned into riots. Day 100 was the most memorable DA held by this group and many others like @ShieldPDX, @snackbloc, @pdxewoks, @PDXActionMedics, etc. This resulted in several mortars being thrown at the Police and other protesters alike. They even set one of their fellow comrades on fire when they launched a Molotov cocktail over the crowd towards the Police, missing them all together and hitting several of their own comrades.
Violence is no surprise, though, as they posted a flyer on their communication relay on Telegram giving detailed instructions on how to set a car on fire. Displaying several black and white photos of vehicles that had been set ablaze. Implying for readers to quote use, "Good quality firelighters." Instructing that "hi-energy individually sealed or 'gell' are the best" type of igniters to "Help prevent forensic traces on your clothes." Enabling you to avoid being identified by government officials. The instructions go onto depict two different positions for the placement of the incendiary device. For the maximum shock and aw, use position 1 by "placing it directly on top of the wheel under the arch below the fuel tank/cap. This will result in a fuel tank explosion if products are hi-energy." If you are just looking to burn a car without making a big scene, try position 2. Grab your 'gell' and "push into/through outer engine grill. This will result in an engine fire which will also destroy the vehicle." In case you are having second thoughts, don't be. These are "the cars of the wealthy classes, the corporations and state are the fuel of our urban barricades and the flame of our international solidarity." Join the cause and help "in the act of social war against the capitalist system and consumer culture." The flyer then ends with a sizeable Anti-Fascist logo, displaying on the bottom right-hand corner. Depicting the symbol of a large (A) that is placed in the middle of a circle.
None of this is a secret, though, as it is all online and in-plane sight for those willing to do the research. My hope in writing this was to give you a more well-rounded knowledge of the specific organizations and background of Antifa, looking to combat the misinformation that is out there currently. I am also by no means condemning or advocating for these actions, only giving my observation. As many people on the left say, "people over property."
Please comment below, would love to hear what you think about Antifa. Also, did I miss anything? If so, what could I have included? As always, thanks for your support, and stay safe out there.