The Washington Examiner spoke with Noam Chomsky, the far left MIT professor, about the anarchist protest group Antifa. Chomsky’s view of the group was not what you would call a ringing endorsement:
“As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”…
Chomsky said, “what they do is often wrong in principle – like blocking talks – and [the movement] is generally self-destructive.”
“When confrontation shifts to the arena of violence, it’s the toughest and most brutal who win – and we know who that is,” said Chomsky, a professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “That’s quite apart from the opportunity costs – the loss of the opportunity for education, organizing, and serious and constructive activism.”
To his credit, Chomsky is against blocking other people’s speech. Apparently, that’s one reason he’s not too fond of the group.
As for it being a minuscule fringe, that’s true but it’s also true of the Nazis and white nationalists Antifa is opposing. Last Saturday’s white nationalist/Nazi march in Charlottesville was the largest national gathering of its kind in decades. But the number of people involved was in the hundreds, maybe up to 1,000 or a little over. In a country of 300 million people, that’s not a very significant number. It’s a tiny fringe.
As for the most brutal winning, I’m sure Chomsky means to say that the right will win because it is willing to be more violent. But that’s not always the case. When a few dozen members of a racist group announced a march in Sacramento last year, as many as 300 anti-fascists showed up. The result was a violent riot in which numerous people were stabbed and sent to the hospital. Most of the stabbers were never identified by police because they were wearing masks. Sometimes, the largest and most violent group turns out to be Antifa.
This year we’ve seen the rise of a new Antifa group called Redneck Revolt. The group claims to have chapters in 30 regions and was present in Charlottesville last Saturday. Here’s a report from anarchist website It’s Going Down on their involvement:
At many points during the day, groups of white supremacists approached Justice Park, but at each instance, Redneck Revolt members formed a unified skirmish line against them, and the white supremacists backed down. Most of the groups were not easily identified, but at separate points, contingents from Identity Europa and the Proud Boys were recognized. The groups that threatened the park yelled racial and homophobic slurs, and many yelled things specifically at the Redneck Revolt fire teams which indicated that they were familiar with our principles. Some of the groups that approached numbered as many as 40 people, but the security of Justice Park was never breached.
Antifa is definitely a fringe, but then so are white nationalists. As for which group is larger or more violent, that may depend on the day and the location.