On Antifa

First off, the name. Really? You’re branding it? And with a meaningless trio of syllables that at first glance (or first dozen or two glances) look like something Julie Andrews would sing to a family of Austrian children? You’re going with that?

Really, kids, it’s not self-evident. Is antifascist too musty, too redolent of the past, even though the echoes of that past are the very thing you oppose?

Or is antifa, like, cool? Honestly, it sounds straight out of Valley Girl, but Moon is 49 now, and you don’t even know what we’re talking about, because we’re even older, and we obviously don’t get it, so never mind us and our old-fashioned Quest for Meaning. Call it what you want.

Just don’t call us that.

Some people are already trying. If you’re opposed to fascists, you’re antifa! Well, no, we’re antifascist, the public-domain version, not the self-consciously branded version. It’s in our soul, not on our t-shirt. We were antifascist when Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still dead, and we’ll be antifascist until we die, which will likely be around the time antifa becomes retro, a branded emotional fashion that was very much of its moment, and no other.

We really don’t like the name.

Bit that’s the least of it.

We accept that antifa is a decentralized movement, that anyone can pick up the banner (which is probably cool, too) and run with it, that despite the traceable historical background, what one person claims cannot be regarded as representative of an amorphous whole, and that the one person we happened to encounter expressing the principles of antifa may have just been the luck of the draw.

But what that one person said really bothered us. Deeply. Deeply enough for us to accept the name, so that antifa need not be confused with antifascist, because to be antifascist is to oppose fascists, while being antifa is to be a declared member of something we want no part of.

What that one person said was simple and short. Here it is:

for those who still don’t fucking get it

Nazis want Jews, Muslims, POC, LGBTQP people, ‘non-contributing’ disabled people dead just for existing.

Antifa want Nazis dead because they are aware of the above and want those people to be safe.

It is not “the same thing”. It is not “more hate”. It is defending the world against people who want most of the people in it dead.

This statement was posted in the days after Charlottesville, when emotions were running high. (Including ours.) And in the aftermath of “all sides”, you can understand the reason for it: Attempts to spread the blame are really attempts to absolve the instigators. This person was defending her right to fight fire with fire, to defeat Nazis by any means necessary.

And y’know, we really don’t have a problem with that, not in the abstract. The Charlottesville Nazis came armed. One man drove eight hours from Ohio so he could murder a woman with his car in broad daylight. Counterprotesting involves actual, serious, proven risk. And your martyrdom will not shame Americans into decency.

But.

This is the part where we get into trouble. If you do not accept the statement as offered, all of it, without reservation, there is a problem with you. Especially if your reservation regards how violence is expressed.

But that’s the reservation we have, and it runs deep. Because the violence she expresses here is the very violence she opposes.

So let’s talk about violence.

Friday night in Charlottesville, the Nazis held their infamous tiki march. They were gathered in a large crowd, conveniently well-lit. A few well-placed snipers could have easily picked off large numbers of them. And why not? They’re Nazis. They want us dead. Better we kill them first.

That’s the violence she’s expressing. Righteous violence. Romantic violence. Violence in service of a branded cause that’s greater than all of us.

Which is also the violence the Nazis are expressing.

The problem isn’t the violence. It’s the romanticization of it. It’s the self-justification of violence that washes away your sins in committing it, that excuses your indiscretions, because hey, we’re fighting Nazis, and shit happens.

It’s the same impulse. Knocking heads for God is still knocking heads, but now you have a glorious excuse.

Our problem with the Left, which has always been our problem with the Left, is that they can be fucking stupid. We share many, maybe even most, of their goals, but their tactics often show too little awareness of reality or too much self-absorption.

So here is the reality: American white supremacists are dangerous people. They have proven themselves such, individually and collectively, for decades. They indeed would be better off dead, for all the harm they have caused.

But that is not the immediate problem. The immediate problem is that they have become emboldened, showing their faces in public, in large groups, brandishing weapons. And they have adopted causes — like statues — to incite others to their ranks. They seek provocation, because a provocative response benefits them.

And you’re playing into their hands.

Your violence, as expressed, will not rally the public behind you. It will only feed the “all sides” argument, provide facts for the lies. Fascism is violence. Righteous violence. Romantic violence.

By all means, defend yourselves. Defend others. Protect the weak. Nonviolence is only a tactic, not a moral imperative, and not appropriate to all circumstances. But America has not yet devolved into actual civil war, and when it does, the bad guys will have more guns.

Franco finally did die, after all. But only after he ran the joint for thirty-six years. Because for all we romanticize the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, the antifascists lost.

44 comments:

8:07 am • Saturday • September 2, 2017

What’s wrong with hating actual Nazis? Besides nothing.

1:39 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

Gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Speaking as one of the first people who’s gonna be shoved into the ovens, this is now a matter of survival. The antifascists are the only people standing between us and the Tdumbp Nazis.

When fascism seizes control of a country as it has in the US, the police and the military always turn on the civilian population 100% of the time. This is then followed by the mass murder of everyone considered undesirable. There’s a reason that Twitler’s hellbent on supplying them with military weaponry in order to violently surpress anyone resisting the RepubliKKKans’ racist kleptocracy. It’s either us or them, and I’m choosing us.

2:03 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@¡Andrew!: More than a few people disagree with me on this one, and as deeply as I disagree with the point I raise. But I can’t let go of it. Romanticized violence — not violence, but romanticized violence — is a dangerous justification.

4:27 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@nojo: There’s a wise Polish expression from World War II: “Pray that you never have the opportunity to become a hero.” It means that you’re going to die saving others. I haven’t heard of anyone romanticizing our current dystopian fustercluck.

5:00 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@¡Andrew!: The romanticization is what I read into that quoted statement, and it was my gut reaction the first time I read it a couple weeks ago. My reading is certainly open to challenge — and has been — but I can’t let go of it. It bothers the shit out of me, and for the reason stated: It’s the thing we’re fighting against.

There’s a story that came out after I wrote this about antifa protesters beating up photographers at Berkeley:

“What I saw was a photographer—a white guy, thirty-something, pink shorts, black tee-shirt; media affiliation, if any, still unknown—taking blows to the head and body while cradling his camera like a football recovered post-fumble. Evidently, he’d captured something the antifas didn’t want him to document. They wanted to destroy the evidence, and he wasn’t going to hand it over.”

I’m not going to take this too far, because (1) Berkeley, and (2) Black Bloc, not antifa as such, as Dave Weigel points out. But I had never heard of Black Bloc, so I had to chase down that thread, and, well, the conflation is easy when you’re dealing with two amorphous groups (Hint: Clothing!), especially when one applies what the other espouses.

There’s also the argument — which both you and Tommy offer — that we’re already in it too deep for my nuanced pearl-clutching. (I will accept the recital of examples as given.) I can only respond not quite yet, that we’re not yet engaged in open civil war, although we’re pretty damn close, and we know from Charlottesville that little institutional protection will be on hand when it breaks out. White Americans will decry the violence and give cover to the authoritarian politicians who run the joint. At that point, I won’t give a shit about moral dilemmas. I just don’t think we’re at that point yet.

5:43 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@nojo: I’m sure we’ll all be comforted when aPauling Lyan issues another mealy-mouthed statement through a spokestwit that he’s “troubled.”

5:54 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@nojo: Keep in mind: Institutions will not save you. They’ve either become corrupted (KKKongress, poh-leese) or impotent (courts, the Federal Bureau of Incompetence). You also can write off most lefty organizations, unless you enjoy insufferable, interminable meetings about the possibility of holding more meetings about creating even more committees to write even more bylaws. “If I may call your attention once again to Section 7, paragraph B…” Oh sorry, I’ve just blown my brains out and saved the Nazis the trouble.

6:16 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

I don’t know any antifa types, so I can only speculate about their goals and behavior. However, I certainly don’t have any confidence in the authorities to contain the KKK/Tdumbp Nazis/white supremacists. Overall, they seem to be a mix of sympathizers (poh-leese, military, RepubliKKKan politicos) and/or enabling supporters (ACLU).

A civil war as we traditionally picture it isn’t going to happen because this is a class war that doesn’t break along geographic lines. I foresee the right-wing engaging in mass shootings, bombings, and similar terrorist tactics, while the states form regional power blocks (ex. California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii) that determine their own economic and foreign policies and tell the federal gummit to fuck off.

9:30 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

I’ ve stolen this comment from this Op-Ed, because I just woke up, and I’m processing a very strange dream that involved Tracy Chapman and Jasmine Guy.

jim guerin san diego 8 hours ago

Protesters who will not allow other protesters to beat on people are necessary elements to the mix. Call it the “Billy Jack” syndrome: most peaceful people appreciate it when someone shows up to protect them.

The NYT article “Who’s Afraid of Antifa?” (August 28th) described the majority of these resisters as using defensive strategies, not promoting particular agendas, arising in semi organized or non organized fashion. This anarchist style comforts me, because it is not organized “against” any group, and citizen activists are a warning that police are either not protecting us, or are themselves scaring the community. So long as the strategies remain defensive against hatred, I welcome the citizens who do the role the police should be playing. We must defend ourselves. By the way, sadistic individuals will ALWAYS show up if they think a fight is brewing. They need to be weeded out by those involved.

9:34 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

/Best of America/

A post to help us feel better about our flaming dumpster country.

I luuuuuuve travel videos and fantasies about voyaging to exciting places. What could be better? Experiencing it at 100 times normal speed to awesome music. Tune in, turn on, take a deep hit. Enjoy : )

Chicago

Los Angeles

Santa Barbara

Seattle

9:38 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I miss the hell out of you.

9:42 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@¡Andrew!: When was the last time you went dancing? I was trying to remember when I did, and I can’t. That means I’m due.

9:48 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

I’ve been listening to too much James Blake, Fink, Danilo Perez, Thom Yorke, Gabrielle Aplin…I need to delete Shazam.

9:53 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

Fucking Sopranos

10:05 pm • Saturday • September 2, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I know an antifascist, and they would be one of the first in the ovens. They are a non-gender-conforming, ex-Mormon, hockey-playing, ex-pat Boston Southie, and I’d bail them out in a heartbeat.

8:57 am • Sunday • September 3, 2017

“Antifa want Nazis dead because they are aware of the above and want those people to be safe…”

It’s the “we want them dead” bit that crosses the line, here. One should want Nazis, Klansmen and the alt-right marginalized and ostracized from polite society. We don’t want them teaching our children or showing up on TV shows handing out their opinions as if they were just another valid and acceptable point on the U.S. political spectrum. But once you start calling for political assassination, even of people as heinous as Nazis, then you’re just a short road from Pol Pot and “year zero.” I’d be happy if today’s crop of neo-Nazis died in dingy old nursing homes, alone and bitter, cursing the Zionist Occupation Government, the Trilateral Commission and the Freemasons and wondering why their children never come to visit… just as long as their ideas are universally acknowledged as vile and unconscionable.

11:34 am • Sunday • September 3, 2017

@JNOV: Oh wow–I don’t think I’ve heard that song since undergrad! Excellent.

12:03 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

What happens when Trump quits, is impeached, and/or incarcerated?

The current destabilization of the US due to political and trade uncertainty immediately shifts the world on its axis. Trump tweets, and the world tilts. Some of the global damage might lead to wars.

Let’s say that the world hasn’t suffered irreparable harm. What do the white supremacists do when Trump quits, is impeached, and or incarcerated? Do they keep on keepin’ on?

We are so fucked.

12:04 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Me too, but it was an oldie by then. <3

12:30 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

@JNOV: Pence takes over, everybody pretends nothing happened.

The visible supremacists return underground. Dog-whistling, the proven method of pandering to their interests while denying their influence, resumes.

Nothing substantial changes. More cities drown. We remain fucked.

We are in the emergency room right now. Even if we survive the blunt-force trauma, we’ll remain in the hospital a very long time.

12:34 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

@JNOV: It was Andrew who mapped moral hazard onto politics, for which blowjobs remain owed. There will be no political consequences (and practically no legal consequences) to Trump’s brief tenure, and nothing will prevent it from happening again.

1:39 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

@nojo: A friend of mine who is some sort of international and national politics, trade and finance, global financial imbalances, exchange-rate regimes and reserves management, fiscal and monetary policy, sovereign debt and bonds, banking, regulatory and industrial policy, energy and commodities markets, automobiles and other manufacturing industries, economic and financial forecasting dude thinks Trump has fucked the world.

2:48 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

@JNOV: I’m not hearing that noise elsewhere yet, that the economic harm is irredeemable. There’s a lot of entropy built up behind the Current World Order, and a lot of people have a stake in maintaining it.

But let’s define terms: We are still living in the post-World War II economy, Bretton Woods and all that. The last fundamental change was Nixon taking the US off the gold standard, but that can also be considered an alignment toward the ideal, not away from it.

So, seventy years of relative stability, 1945-present. Compare that to, say, 1875-1945, or 1805-1875. You might also say that the Industrial Revolution (and formal economic capitalism) has found its steady state. Plenty has changed since 1945, but not how the machine works.

Trump is throwing sand in the gears. But I don’t see him yet fucking up the contraption. His predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, have done plenty to remove the safeties, and we came very close in 2008 to just blowing shit up. Trump may be creating the conditions for another meltdown, but if that results in a realignment of the existing system, that’s still not a failure of the system itself.

(Whether the system should fail is a separate question, of course.)

So, no, I’m not seeing warnings about Trump fucking shit up like that. The global economic system is not yet imperiled.

The real existential danger is climate change. We’re already beyond the tipping point for that, and Trump’s delays will only make ameliorization more difficult. At which point a historically stable economic system won’t make a fucking difference.

2:52 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

Sometimes I feel like I hit the sweet spot for human existence. I would really like to be proven wrong.

3:08 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

So here’s what I realized in the Eighties, when I was in my 20s. I forget the proximate cause — Reagan provided more than a few — but in the thirty years since, I have found no reason to revise it:

We are in a bus, barreling toward a cliff. The danger is visible, manifest, but people are ignoring it, because avoiding the danger would require changes they are unwilling to accept. And besides, it hasn’t yet happened. It is a predictable, inevitable result, but it hasn’t yet happened. Once the bus has flown off the cliff, then they’ll do something about it, because they have no choice, but then it will be too late.

Actually, y’know, I’m going to revise it right now: We’ve flown off the cliff, we’re freefalling down the canyon, and still folks are unwilling to accept it. We’re going to continue denying it until the moment we crash and burn.

Here lies humanity, former apex predator, too stupid to survive.

3:39 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

FDR faced this problem in the years leading up to World War II: There was a clear and present danger, and then shit happened in 1939, and still there was significant denial. (Here’s where Lindbergh’s America First comes into play.) That’s why there’s a conspiracy theory that he engineered Pearl Harbor to force the issue: Wait any longer, and it would simply be too late.

But now cities are drowning, and still we do nothing. We don’t even bother considering steps that would make urban immersion less catastrophic. There used to be a lot of land around Houston that could soak up floodwater. That land is now paved.

4:53 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

What’s wrong simple and elegant DIE!, NAZI! FUCKS!, FUCKING! DIE!

11:32 pm • Sunday • September 3, 2017

This Jew will not go quietly. My great aunt had a tattoo on her arm. These people need to be destroyed before they can blow up a Reichstag.

12:11 am • Monday • September 4, 2017

@blogenfreude: Truth

2:53 am • Monday • September 4, 2017

@JNOV: that we are even in a position where we might go back to the 30s, much less the 50s, is horrific. The work of conservatives is to drag us into the past, but to turn the clock back 85 years cannot be tolerated. I will pick up a brickbat and defend every inch of ground. Fuck them all.

3:07 pm • Monday • September 4, 2017

@blogenfreude: It’s more like they want us to tailspin back into the 1850s.

9:38 pm • Tuesday • September 5, 2017

@¡Andrew!: LOOK AT THIS! I almost get the panty-tossing thing. Almost. He’s still alive, right?

12:49 pm • Wednesday • September 6, 2017

@JNOV: OMGOMGOMG! Dave Reichert just announced he won’t run for reelection in 2018–you did it! This is a game changer that could finally flip the district. It’s a bit early–ohfuckit–VICTORY!

11:36 pm • Wednesday • September 6, 2017

@¡Andrew!: will let you two have your moment.

1:47 am • Thursday • September 7, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I JUST SAW THAT! OMG OMG OMG! We’re going to have a great D primary, but I will be in Thurston County by then.

NONE THE MOTHER FUCKING LESS!

8:33 am • Thursday • September 7, 2017

Mil gracias to the Eastsiders who bravely worked against the odds to run that shameless asshole, Sheriff Hairspray outta office.

1:59 pm • Thursday • September 7, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I’m trying to sell my Repeal and Replace Dave Reichert website. I’ll keep donating to my pick for the 8th despite moving.

2:28 pm • Thursday • September 7, 2017

@JNOV: Several great Dem candidates have announced, so there’s something for everyone. ‘Pubs are still suspiciously quiet, probably trying to figure out who on the obnoxious asshole spectrum from Dino Rossi to Pam Roach could actually win the 8th now.

After Twitler starts a nuclear war, all that will remain will be smoldering piles of rubble and Roach.

2:32 pm • Thursday • September 7, 2017

It took the CBC almost ten full minutes to list all of Trashp’s scandals from just the last three months. Remember the sweet, innocent, golden days just after the Comey firing? Whatta focking shitstorming mess the nation has become even since then.

12:25 am • Friday • September 8, 2017

/Best of America/

A post to help us feel better about our flaming dumpster country.

Record Percentage of Americans Support Gay Marriage

Sixty percent of those polled say they support same-sex marriage, which is up from 59 percent in 2015 and 53 percent in 2013.

Wow. I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. Amazing.

9:58 pm • Friday • September 8, 2017

@JNOV: Where in Thurston County?

3:48 am • Saturday • September 9, 2017

@SanFranLefty: Whoops! Lewis County – Centralia. I’m so tired that I have insomnia, and I thought that October started on Monday.

Check out this crazy shit.

Puget Sound Energy supplies electricity where I currently live. I went to PSE’s website and tried to transfer service to the new place, but it kept showing that I had transferred gas. I don’t have gas in this place.

I picked up the phone.

45 minutes later, I have gas (hot water heater), and I thought I had electricity, but had I not asked what the previous resident had paid for electricity, I wouldn’t have learned that fucking Centralia supplies electricity to the city and not PSE.

Okay.

Call Centralia City People – they need the transfer of whatever first.

Fine.

Water and sewer? Centralia. Good. That makes sense. By the way, I need garbage cans. Centralia does not pick up garbage? Some company somewhere else does?

Fine.

The number is on the Centralia webpage? I’m looking at it right now and I don’t see it. Oh, I click on those words up there that don’t look like a hyperlink because of piss-poor design. Okay.

Hi, garbage people. Can you sign me up for the hauling away of the trash? What? Um, okay, let’s go with the small(ish) garbage can, the recycling can that comes in one size and the optional yard waste can. No dog shit in the yard waste? No problem. No Himalayan Blackberries either? But you have a noxious weed pick up service. Okay. Um, I’ll take the once a week trash and the every other week recycling and the yard waste, um, when? I can change garbage to every other week? Okay. So I’m on schedule B for garbage and what? You’ll send me a calendar with refrigerator magnets, and I’ll call when I need yard waste removal for things larger than 4″ in diameter. Okay. How about I set all of the cans out every week and they can choose which ones to empty?

The USPS stopped delivering my mail here on 9/1. Mail forwarding is supposed to start on the 22nd. Pro Tip: If you ever need to speak to someone at the post office, call Amazon and say some shit was lost in the mail – they’ve got the mainline to the USPS and have saved its sorry ass from irrelevance.

Back to Centralia City folks. I can have four chickens but no rooster. Okay. What about goats? No goats, but you like my idea of requesting a goat variance because they will eat the blackberries that grow along the Skoocumchuck on the property. Okay. I’ll give it a shot. Yeah, that water looks radioactive to me, too.

Hi, Title Company. Do you think we’ll close on the 15th? Wait. The legal contract that I didn’t read apparently says closing is on the 29th? Fucking shit.

Hi, mover guy – um can you move me on the 30th?

Hi, landlord – I am not going to be able to clean my apartment on the 30th. You’ll only charge me $75? I kiss your feet.

Meanwhile I was not excused from 20 hours of mandatory OT this month, and I’m just ugh.

I have to remember to reschedule the Comcast thing, but I think October starts on Monday.

And the fucking fence. I keep trying to tell myself that I’ve walked this monster dog three times a day for over 1.5 years. I can walk her in the yard until the fence is installed. (Check this out .

What was your question?

3:44 pm • Monday • September 11, 2017

@JNOV: I feel for you here but am laughing my ass off.

Regarding the dog fence thing, we have a neighbor with 2 dobies that just make the hairs stand up on my back. Their hidden fence works but for them but the dogs still scare the shit out of everyone that tries to walk up the street. Another neighbor had some hyper mutt that would just blast through hers to be able to go play with everyone in the neighborhood. You could hear the dog scream in pain but she would get free and go wild licking people and jumping on everyone. They gave up on it.

9:42 pm • Monday • September 11, 2017

@DElurker: Hey, you! Yeah – I don’t like electric fences. There’s the whole training/electrocution aspect, plus other animals can get in your yard.

And I need a nap.

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