What The Artist Behind A Comics Style History Of Anti Fascist Resistance Thinks You Should Know About Antifa

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One of the tactics that jumped out at me from that history was the idea of “no platform,” which is something you might see discussed these days, often as an affront to free speech. Can you explain what people should know about the history of the idea?

The place I’m most familiar with where the idea of “no platform” was really implemented was in the United Kingdom. It was really promoted by Anti-Fascist Action in England in the 1980s, and the general strategy is to deny fascists a public platform from which they can spread their propaganda and also organize and recruit. That’s why these large public events that the far-right has been trying to organize in the last few years have been targeted by anti-fascists to shut them down — that’s part of the no-platform strategy.

The idea behind that is to try to stop them from spreading this poisonous political message that they have, and also trying to deny them the public space from which they can organize and carry out attacks in the streets after their meetings. That’s basically what “no platform” means.

Is there anything that you notice these days people tend to get wrong about the history or concept of anti-fascist resistance?

What I really notice, coming from the United States predominantly, is this kind of demonization of antifa and the false equivalency that it’s just as bad as the fascists. Antifa wouldn’t exist if there weren’t these fascist and far-right groups mobilizing and carrying out attacks. If you look at the last couple of years, there’s been over two dozen people killed by far-right and fascist groups and individuals, and antifa hasn’t killed anybody.

Some people might argue that, even if one causes the other, direct confrontation of the type antifa movements rely on isn’t good, or that non-violent resistance is a better response to the violent rhetoric of fascism. What’s your take on that?

If you look at the number of people who have been killed by fascists and far-right extremists over the last couple years or even decades, it dwarfs Islamic [extremist] terrorist attacks in the United Sates. They’ve killed a lot of people and a lot of people have been assaulted. In terms of using violent and militant means to shut down fascist organizing, I think [white nationalist] Richard Spencer demonstrates very clearly the success of militant anti-fascism. He canceled his speaking tour; he declared that antifa was winning; it wasn’t fun anymore for him to go out promoting hatred. That would be my main response. The book has a number of examples of militant anti-fascism working.

What about the moral side of it, the idea that violence just isn’t the right response?

Nazism was finally defeated through the terrible destruction of World War II, if that’s what people want to go to because they think it’s not right to confront fascists when they’re in the streets. Confronting fascists in the streets when they’re a much smaller movement is a lot better than waging a world war to shut down a fascist state.

Was there anything in your research that really surprised you?

I began the book with Italy and what really surprised me was the >Arditi del Popolo [a militant anti-fascist group founded in Italy in 1921], and the level of armed resistance that was carried out in the early 1920s against the fascists and their paramilitary group, the Blackshirts — including urban warfare and gun battles in small towns and cities.

To what extent is today’s antifa connected to the early antifascists like the Arditi del Popolo?

I think in Italy there probably is a fairly direct lineage. In the United States and Canada, it’s a different kind of situation and there’s no direct lineage to these groups in the 1920s and ‘30s. Even antifa, which was revived by groups in the 1980s in West Germany, doesn’t claim or have a direct lineage to the Communist Party antifa group that was set up in the 1930s. They modified the original antifa logo, but it’s a very different movement today. People do draw inspiration and lessons from these previous movements, but I think the movements of today are new. There were periods of time when [antifa movements] didn’t exist or weren’t really mobilizing, because the far right was in decline. As they revived, then you see a revival of antifa groups.

Where do you think this history is leading us next?

I think for the foreseeable future we’re going to be dealing with the growth of populist far-right parties, as we’ve seen in Europe. It’s really hard to predict what the future will be, but I do think there will be more intense struggles and I think this type of activity we’ve been seeing in the U.S., I think it’s going to continue for a while.

Source : https://www.yahoo.com/news/artist-behind-comics-style-history-223033997.html

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