Before I write this I should disclaim that I am a gypsy, I celebrate Victory Day and watch the parades every year. I know how to sing Katjusha in the original Russian. I own Red Army artefacts from the Eastern front. When I criticise antifascism, it is not because I am in favour of fascism, but to the contrary, antifascism is not good enough. It is a weak and self-defeating ideal against a real and dangerous threat to the productive forces of human civilisation.
And I think we saw this first hand during the Trump administration. When hundreds of thousands of people not just in the US, but also in many other places mobilised against the alt right. With hundreds and thousands of people and likely millions in sparsely organised crowdfunding to various projects, and what was there to show for it? Dead bodies, medical bills, trial dates and… oh yeah, zero tangible political accomplishments.
But hey, at least a bunch of progressive college media types became celebrities on twitter and instagram, so who cares about the safety of minorities when there’s advertising revenue to be had?
I used to consider myself an antifascist for many years, until I realised just how meaningless such an idea is. Because when you think about it, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Because you could remove fascism with any number of political forces. Such as feudalism, imperialism, colonialism, monarchism and any number of equally terrible modes of social organising.
Even social democrats, who are basically fascists without the military budget, are invited to the table. As though replacing police state eugenics with social engineering eugenics is good enough somehow.
Technically speaking, since fascism is more a process of consolidating political power rather than a sustaining long term social order, most fascist societies aim to eventually reform back to the status quo. Their goal is generally to restore the monarchy, or introduce a new aristocracy, or in some way or other, herald a status quo which places a strict ruling class above the nation’s many subjects who are then a replacement for the fascist government.
Even Franco, who is likely the longest governing fascist leader, was really just in it to maintain the Spanish monarchy, and successfully did so as Spain remains a monarchy to this day. It is no longer fascist, but it is also not a republic, and that was the point of the Falangists in the civil war. They fought for monarchism to be maintained.
Similarly, the Nazis was a reaction to the Soviet Union, and their goal was to destroy bolshevism. They failed in doing so, but most high ranking Nazi military who remained after the war was perfectly content with serving a liberal parliament in West Germany.
So my point is, even most fascists are antifascists. When fascism has served its purpose, they’ll gladly get rid of it, it’s a very expensive and unsustainable system. The police budget alone let me tell you…
And then you have men like Winston Churchill, he was an antifascist, and he killed 4 million people in Bengal, and he described the Bengali people as “a beastly people with a beastly religion.” So even genocidal racists can be antifascists.
And a lot of antifascists upon hearing this criticism will then do something which in my opinion is a pitfall of doctrinaires. Because they respond to this by redefining fascism to include feudalism, imperialism, colonialism and all the other things that a contemporary human would consider bad.
Which leaves you with a cluster of “Anti-Bad” people.
And that to me is what I find to be the weakness of antifascism. Because why would you be anti-bad? That seems like a very unambitious thing when you can simply be good.
Because as I spent time organising with antifascists I noticed that a lot of them were actually insufferable arseholes. They weren’t racist or homophobic… for the most part, but they were just sort of generally abusive and horrible to be around. They were harassing, threatening and beating people even without any fascism around. Simply because they were petty criminals looking for drug money or some other nonsense reason to hurt others.
And I think that’s the kind of crowd you end up with when the only bar you need to clear is to not like Mussolini very much. People will say they’re proud to be antifascists. But what is there to be proud of? You expect praise because you wake up in the morning without an overwhelming urge to kill Jews and Gypsies? Is that your big accomplishment? You want us all to give you a medal for this? Enormous sense of entitlement.
It’s almost like politically correct white supremacy, since either way you got a bunch of people who feel proud over having accomplished nothing.
And the reason why I point this out is precisely due to how I am a gypsy, because we have the Romanipen. That’s a code of honour and principled behaviour. We do not have Nazi blood units, or Phenotypical skull measurements, or something like this to determine who is or is not a gypsy. If you were raised with our culture and taught honour, then as long as you have this honour, you are a gypsy.
And honour is value positive, it is to be good as opposed to anti-bad.
And often when I was around these people I didn’t fit in, because I had principles. Frequently when they wanted to do something underhanded or immoral, something that felt sadistic or gratuitous, I’d feel reservations. I never dared to speak up since I knew what happened to people who “defended the fascists.”
But for instance stealing from ordinary people to fund political projects bothers me. I didn’t care much if people stole from big corporations, but ordinary civilians? I didn’t like it.
I also didn’t like it when they went after minors. To my mind, if a child said something, it was the parents’ fault for not educating them responsibly. But some would harass kids, and I mean like school kids, probably not older than ten to thirteen.
This I am happy to say I refused to tolerate. I opposed this behaviour even though they gave me a hard time about it. Because the Romanipen makes very strict rules about never being cruel to kids. You’re just not allowed, no matter how tedious they are.
I also didn’t like how they treated minorities. Always you’d have some group, and often it was lead by some selection of white guys telling people to stop only listening to white guys. They never actually put minorities in charge, but rather relegated them to positions of “representation”.
Which more often than not just meant they had to be sockpuppets for whatever the white guys wanted since they’d almost exclusively select “representatives” who had socially progressive educations in universities and colleges that were largely funded and controlled by a board of trustees that contained a similar selection of white guys.
But this was generally justified on the basis that these minority figures had some kind of inner and deeper essence that connected them to the ethnic wisdom and social adversities of their respective peoples, so it didn’t matter that they had their worldview comprised of the same doctrines and popular media and culture as anyone else, because not even that could tame the great and essential minority magic that made them “representatives.”
(Also in case you might not realise, this model of viewpoint epistemology is actually extremely racist.)
Because it boggles the mind how when a fascist says that minority cultures or ethnic groups cannot assimilate, then that’s considered bad. But when an antifascist says that minority cultures or ethnic groups cannot assimilate, then that’s considered good. Because in the end, that is the premise for this very simplified and convenient model of “representation.”
And as the token Eurasian, I experienced a lot of strange things due to this. Since all the other Asians saw me as a kind of ambassador between my respective cultural polarities, and would often talk to me in private about how all the weird woke people made them feel uncomfortable, but how they were worried about saying anything since they didn’t want to be accused of being fascists.
And that’s totally understandable. I always spoke up against cancel culture since when I grew up as a kid my family was on a death list because of actual Neo-Nazis, so unless people want to kidnap or assassinate me, then I’m generally not afraid of them.
Plus, what are they going to do? Call my employer? I’m an immigrant. Only people who will hire me are relatives.
Because yes, when cancel culture appears in the media, it’s usually about rich celebrities. But the more mundane instances of mob mentality or mass harassment over political outrage is generally more nuanced, and often involves college educated middle class types targeting people who live on the margins, who are quite frequently minorities. Including women, and ethnic minorities, and of course sometimes people who exist within both categories.
And often when I talk to these people in private, they seem just as nervous about fascists as they do antifascists, because while antifascists won’t attack them for being racist, they will gladly attack them for not adhering to microscopically defined niche politics that is largely only accessible to people who can afford mountains of tuition fees.
So you’re either hated by the fascists for being a minority, or you’re hated by the antifascists for being poor. Very common situation.
Even other poor people who are antifascists will often join these sects that spur them to overcompensate by attacking other poor people. There was even a general assumption that people from a rural poor background was always more racist than people from a middle class urban background.
And that is of course absolute nonsense. In fact, all history indicates that the rural poor are often less racist since they have no real motive of profit. What are they going to do? Get rich by redlining the swamp? Maybe gentrify their fields?
Doesn’t matter if you wear lenseless reading glasses and refer to corn as le maïs. And call your grazing field a bovine zen garden, and put a vintage bicycle basket on your combine harvester because at the end of the day you’re still a farmer living on a farmer’s income!
And I think another amusing irony is that when I talked to antifascists from other regions who had their own organisations, then more often than not, the really bad stories they’d tell me involved other antifascists. It was rarely the police or the fascists who ruined their lives, it was the people who knew where they lived, and who could really do some damage to them.
Because when, again, all you need to do to qualify is to be better than a violent racist, then there’s a wide margin. That means that really, the only minimum requirement for you is to be a violent asshole. So there were a lot of bullies, and liars, and con artists, and cheats and even thieves.
Granted, I was one of the thieves, but I never stole from civilians, that’s not right. I was a gentleman thief, always has been.
And that bothered me too, how many violent criminals we had. Some really nasty people. Like our leader used to be a crack head who assaulted a woman once. But he had his whole “I’m a reformed man” spiel and we all know how those guys can talk themselves into getting a million second chances.
Especially since he was very manipulative, and covered head to toes in tattoos and would often tell stories about all the people he’s beaten up for trivial reasons. Needless to say, he understood crowd control. He knew how to make people stay silent when everyone wanted to say something. And when they did say something, he knew how to stir up conflict so that someone would always deal with his critics on his behalf.
Oh yeah, and he was a diagnosed sociopath. Did I mention that?
Point is, maybe antifascism isn’t good enough. Seems to me like higher standards are needed. We need real organisations, with concrete ideas instead of ideological vacuums of what people shouldn’t be. Organisations that are equipped for more than just emergency management and street fights. Organisations where people can speak intelligently, appeal to reason and stop fascism before it even begins by strengthening the working class.
The idea that we have these weekend criminals who study for degrees and live in the suburbs acting like the authorities on what it means to be moral is a fiasco. It’s a controlled opposition. It is to fight stupidity with stupidity. You can only fight stupidity with intelligence, and that means that there are more tools in the toolbox than just a baseball bat.
I think that if you want to resist extremist ideas that police will often overlook or be sympathetic towards, then that’s good. Democracy requires popular resistance to such threats. But I also think that with great power comes great responsibility. You must be twice as smart, twice as disciplined, twice as principled and twice as dignified as your opponent. You must be presentable and trustworthy and act like a good citizen, because only good citizens can make a good city.
And yes, I get that this is a very long winded way of saying “Get a haircut you hippies!” but seriously, get a haircut you hippies.
Because this is precisely why history shows how clean cut and well trained soldiers and partisans of the Red Army have done far more to defend our freedoms than any two bit hooligan with a molotov and a soapbox.
When I wish to understand resistance to barbarity, then I will look towards the wisdom of the great Josip Tito, not a slightly different barbarian.