In the wake of the Charlottesville protests and the killing of a protestor, there is focus on a group known as Anti-Fascist Action.
Last weekend, Charlottesville was the site of a major gathering of white supremacist groups. Focused on the renewed energy the far-right movement has garnered since the election of Trump, the Virginia town was the scene of a show of the strength. The alt-right, a term coined the describe the politics of the resurgent far-right, has received a lot of media focus. The media outlet of the alt-right is Breitbart. Steven Bannon is a co-founder of this news website. Bannon subsequently has become one of Donald Trump’s chief advisors.
Violence flared as far-right groups attacked counter-protestors. A large number of individuals assembled in Charlottesville to protest the appearance of far-right groups. Those assembling to counter the hate groups were made up of a wide section of society but among them was Anti-Fascist Action.
Who Are They?
It is a collection of groups and individuals. They don’t have a leadership or headquarters as such, but rather it tends to organise in localised areas. It is an international movement. The movement has groups in cities across the world.
Anti-Fascist Action doesn’t have a centralised ideology like other political groupings on the left. The group attracts members from a broad range of society, including immigrant groups, left-wing activists and politicised individuals. The one common theme that binds them together is a willingness to use physical force against far-right and neo-Nazi groups.
The group emerged in Germany during the rise of the Nazi party. They were a collection of people who attempt to violently stop the ethnic cleansing of Jews and other minority groups during that period. The group can also trace its roots to left-wing movements who attempted to stop Mussolini in Italy and the International Brigades who fought fascism in Spain. The group witnessed a re-emergence in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s when the country witnessed a growth in far-right groups. The National Front saw a surge in popularity, and Anti-Fascist Action stepped in to physically stop them.
They have now emerged in the United States as Trump causes political upheaval in the country. Their mission is to fight the alt-right in the streets and to expose the neo-Nazi roots of the group. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Centre released a report which found that there were over 900 cases of attacks on minority groups within 10 days of Trump’s election. Ant-Fascist Action believes that it has a duty to protect these minority groups by violently confronting the groups responsible.
The group has often been on the receiving end of criticism from traditional mainstream Liberals. Those on the political centre accuse Anti-Fascist Action of bringing into disrepute legitimate political protest by using acts of violence. They have been condemned for taking away from a broader political appeal by using physical force. However, the group has regularly responded that violence is the only means at their disposal to stop neo-Nazi groups. From their perspective, far-right groups want to enact violence on defenceless minorities. In this context, they believe that violent action is legitimate.
The emergence of Anti-Fascist Action further demonstrates the political polarisation that is currently being experienced in the United States. As Trump wavered in his condemnation of the killing of a protestor, he caused further isolation of many minorities. Into this space has emerged the anti-fascist movement to shut down violently racist groups, who appear buoyed by the President’s comments.
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