Antifa: Does It Portend Well for India?

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Members of the Great Lakes anti-fascist organisation (Antifa) fly flags during a protest against the Alt-right outside a hotel in Warren, Michigan. — Reuters

Antifa is the acronym of anti-fascism committed to establish a communist world order. And in the US, Antifa’s immediate goal is to bring the Trump regime to an end.

Asad Mirza | Clarion India

RECENT protests in the United States have brought another player on the scene. It’s Antifa which has been spearheading the protests in the US and several other European countries.

What is Antifa?

Simply put it is the acronym of anti-fascism. Unsubstantiated historical evidence shows that Antifa is, in fact, highly networked, well funded and has a global presence. It has a flat organisational structure with dozens and possibly hundreds of local groups. It is committed to establish a communist world order. And in the US, Antifa’s immediate goal is to bring the Trump regime to an end.

Security experts claim that Antifa in the US and Europe employs extreme violence and destruction of public and private property to prod the police into violent reaction, which could be used to prove the Antifa’s claim that the government is ‘fascist.’

On the other hand, some European governments use Antifa to serve their specific purposes. Bettina Röhl, a German scribe, writing for Neue Zürcher Zeitung (New Zurich Newspaper, a Swiss-German newspaper published from Zurich, Germany) claims that Antifa is not only officially tolerated, but is being paid by the German government to fight the far right.

She asserts that out of cowardice, its members cover their faces and hide their identities. Antifa poses a constant threat of violence and attacks on politicians and police officers. It promotes mindless destruction of property on a large scale.

Recently, US Attorney General William Barr blamed Antifa – as a militant movement – for the violence that has erupted at George Floyd protests across the United States.

“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” he said.

Earlier, US President Donald J Trump had instructed the US Justice Department to designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation.

The media outlets, analysts and academics sympathetic to Antifa argue that the group cannot be classified as a terrorist organisation as they say it is a vaguely defined protest movement that lacks a centralised command or organisational structure. Thus, according to them it is a spontaneous response of the people, which happens when something out of the ordinary against the liberties of the people takes place. Mark Bray, an Antifa supporter in America and author of the book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, asserts that Antifa “is not an overarching organization with a chain of command.”

What is Antifa’s ideology?

In simpler terms, Antifa can be described as a trans-national rebellious movement that endeavours, often with extreme violence, to subvert liberal democracy, with the aim of replacing global capitalism with communism. Antifa’s stated long-term objective, both in America and abroad, is to establish a communist world order. In the US, Antifa’s immediate aim is to bring about the demise of the Trump administration.

Antifa claims to oppose ‘fascism’, a term it often uses as a widely critical or judgmental to discredit those who hold opposing political beliefs to it. The traditional meaning of ‘fascism’ as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is ‘a totalitarian governmental system led by a dictator and emphasising an aggressive nationalism, militarism, and often racism.’

Antifa originated in Germany and spread to countries like Slovenia, Spain, Italy, France and the UK. However, after the fall of the East Germany, it was discovered that the erstwhile state secret police Stassi used the Antifa in its fight against the far-right elements in Germany.

Now this leads us to wonder whether the evolving situation in India, fulfils the Webster’s definition or not? The protests, which shook the country beginning in November 2019, have been dubbed variously, but remember most of the protests across India were spontaneous and headless; they survived completely on the support of the common populace and students.

So, will it be possible for any movement like Antifa to emerge in India? Doubts are expressed regarding emergence of such a scenario but the evolving conditions might lead to it. If we have to stop the emergence of an Indian Antifa, the political powers that be need to engage more with people with sincerity and with concrete action to demonstrate their commitment to the people’s welfare.

Recent events have shown that the public is fast losing trust in the government and its policies, as most of them are considered as anti-people, particularly the poor people.

In the current scenario, the government needs to show more empathy to the common man to win his trust if it wants to be seen as pro-people. Change of strategy to handle the prevailing Covid pandemic might give it a fair chance to project itself as pro-people committed to the country’s progress. Besides, it should take the decisions which are in best interest of all, particularly the common man, lest the day is not far when it may have to deal with the Indian Antifa.

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Asad Mirza is a senior journalist and commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on Muslim, educational, international affairs and interfaith issues. Email: [email protected]

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