The Real History of Antifa

Before the Soviet takeover, Afghan women comprised 50% of government workers, 70% of schoolteachers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul. Now the literacy rate for women is 12.6%. Only 6% of women get a high school education.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, Afghanistan enjoyed the essence of a national government and Kabul was known as the “Paris of Central Asia.” But for four decades, the people of Afghanistan have been subjected to a succession of brutal wars, from the Soviet occupation (1979–1989) to a period of tribal civil wars (1990–1996), the oppressive rule of the Taliban (1996-2001), and the ensuing attempt to build a democracy. These conflicts have left Afghanistan’s infrastructure and economy devastated. In addition to being one of the poorest countries in the world, today Afghanistan has the globe’s highest infant mortality rate.

Women and girls have often been the worst victims of conflict. Under the Taliban, women were forced to wear an all-encompassing burqa in public and barred from working outside the home. They were also banned from attending schools, riding bicycles, wearing brightly colored clothes, and laughing loudly.

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The dark history of the radical Left’s enforcement arm.

With riots and civil unrest metastasizing across the United States, the president declared he intends to designate Antifa as a terrorist group. Predictably, the talking heads rushed out to declare that Antifa doesn’t really exist, and even if it did the president couldn’t possibly target it using that legal designation. They argue Antifa is an amorphous blob of discontents, not a functioning organization, and certainly not one which could be designated and targeted for concentrated counterterrorism enforcement.

As usual, the Twitterati don’t know what they are talking about. Reality is both simpler and more complex.

To begin at the beginning: Antifa—real name: Antifaschisitsche Aktion—was born during the street-fights of the 1932 Weimar Republic. It was founded by the Stalinist Communist Party of Germany (KPD), although various Communist “anti-fascist defense” units were associated with the KPD much earlier.

Anti-fascist Action’s sole purpose was to help the KPD combat other political parties for control of the streets in the revolutionary politics of the rapidly failing Weimar Republic.

And yes, they fought the Nazis.

But they also fought liberal parties, conservative parties, and anyone and everyone who got in their way. While these early antecedents were short-lived, it is useful to view Antifa in this context. More than anything, Antifa exists to serve as a tool of revolutionary politics in a failed (or failing) state.

Antifa would reestablish itself in the early 1980s, also in Germany, out of Autonomism. Autonomism is an anti-authoritarian anarcho-Marxist ideology associated with the Communist urban guerilla organizations of 1970s and ’80s Europe like Red Army Faction and the Red Brigade. Autonomism would find a home among the young punks of Germany’s squatters’ rights movement. Around this time, Antifa tactics like the “black block,” where large numbers of rioters dress in black and move together in formation as part of a larger protest, were developed.

Coming to America

Antifa would form in a similar fashion in the United States, but under a different name.

According to Antifa lore, an effort by young punks to expel neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the music scene led to the formation of Anti-Racist Action (ARA), beginning in the Midwest and then spreading outward. As chapters formed in various cities, regional councils and networks were formed, such as the Midwest Anti-Fascist Network (MAFN) in 1995.

But present at the birth of ARA were members of America’s long-time revolutionary clique, with roots going all the way back to the domestic terror group Weather Underground. Consulting the young anti-racist punks in the formation of ARA were members of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (JBAKC). Several separate ARAs would go on to form one of the largest Antifa networks in the country, Torch Antifa, whose website was registered by a former JBAKC member.

JBAKC was formed as a front for the May 19th Communist Organization (MCO), itself founded out of the remnants of the Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, the FALN and other terrorist groups of the ’60s and ’70s. (May 19 was chosen since it was the birthday of both Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh.)

Following a split in the Weather Underground leadership over whether to emphasize class or racial struggle, the MCO emphasized working for “black liberation.” Members of the MCO were responsible for several bombings and robberies in the 1980s, including the infamous 1981 Brinks Armored Car Robbery.

JBAKC used its newsletter “Death to the Klan!” to highlight street fighting with Klansmen, accuse Reagan officials of white supremacy, endorse MCO bank robberies as “expropriation,” and promote communist insurgencies taking place in Nicaragua and El Salvador. It is important, again, to keep in mind that this was all done under the guise of “fighting white supremacy.”

The logic of JBAKC and the May 19th Communist Organization, and the same ideology which drives Antifa today, was that at its core the United States was founded on white supremacy, and therefore needs to be destroyed. Their “Cops and Klan Go Hand in Hand” slogan suggests there is no distinction between neo-Nazis and America’s institutions.

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