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Movement Antifa

Antifa: Definition and History

The anti-fascist protest movement known as antifa gained new prominence in the United States after the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, in August 2017. In Charlottesville and at many subsequent events held by white supremacists or right-wing extremists, antifa activists have aggressively confronted what they believe to be authoritarian movements and groups. While most counter-protestors tend to be peaceful, there have been several instances where encounters between antifa and the far-right have turned violent.

These violent counter-protesters are often part of “antifa” (short for “antifascist”), a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements. Their ideology is rooted in the assumption that the Nazi party would never have been able to come to power in Germany if people had more aggressively fought them in the streets in the 1920s and 30s. Most antifa come from the anarchist movement or from the far left, though since the 2016 presidential election, some people with more mainstream political backgrounds have also joined their ranks.

These antifa sometimes use a logo with a double flag, usually in black and red. The antifa movement began in the 1960s in Europe, and had reached the US by the end of the 1970s.  Most people who show up to counter or oppose white supremacist public events are peaceful demonstrators, but when antifa show up, as they frequently do, they can increase the chances that an event may turn violent. 

The antifa (/ænˈtiːfə, ˈæntiˌfɑː/) movement in the United States is a militant, predominantly left-wing, anti-fascist political activist movement that comprises autonomous activist groups that aim to achieve their political objectives through the use of direct action rather than through policy reform. Activists engage in varied protest tactics, including digital activism, property damage and physical violence, and harassment against those whom they identify as fascist, racist, or on the far-right.

Individuals involved in the movement tend to hold anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist views and subscribe to a range of left-wing ideologies such as anarchism, communism, Marxism, social democracy and socialism. Both the name antifa and the logo with two flags representing anarchism and communism are derived from the German Antifa movement.