It’s action and style, not doctrine, that unites them. In a world where racist movements form an archipelago of brown-walled islands — with friendly governments in power in Hungary, Poland and the United States — antifa fights back, and although not murderous, is not squeamish about its means. Considering normal political action hopeless, some antifa activists claim inspiration from the left-wing paramilitaries of Weimar Germany and from the Black Panther Party. They are aware of, or unimpressed by, the fact that when Hitler came to power, he crushed the left-wing militias, and that, having branded themselves as gun-toters, the Panthers became targets of convenience for police and federal agents.
In antifa circles, the theme of hypermasculine bravado is often right out front, and unsurprisingly, a large majority of the antifa camp are men. Muscularity is prized. After last weekend, one anarchist from Charlottesville described himself as “a blue-collar person, with a job, family, and responsibilities” who “did not behave peacefully when I saw a thousand Nazis occupy a sizable American city. I fought them with the most persuasive instruments at hand, the way both my grandfathers did. I was maced, punched, kicked, and beaten with sticks, but I gave as good as I got, and usually better.”