top of page

Who are the Antifa?

For as long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism.

Mya Cole finds out a bit more about those opposing the alt-right.

Illustration by Hope McConnell.

The term ‘fascism’ was coined in Benito Mussolini’s Italy in 1932. The word is derived from the Latin term ‘fasces’, which literally means a bundle of wooden rods with a projecting axe blade, which in Ancient Rome was a symbol of a magistrate’s power and jurisdiction over the people.

Today, fascism remains a term for authoritarianism and extreme nationalism. It has spread around the world, from the Golden Dawn political party in Greece to Australia’s New Guard, and is still infiltrating its way into society today.

But for as long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism. Behold antifa; a radical, pan-leftist politics of social revolution applied to fighting the far right. Its partisans are typically communists, socialists and anarchists who reject turning to the police or the state to stop the advance of fascism.

There’s a myriad of underground antifa groups whose Facebook pages warn against planned action, such as this one: “DO NOT discuss criminal activity or make any action plans on our Facebook wall. You should never make plans with a stranger on Facebook to do this work…Undoubtedly enemies will fish around [for] posts of that nature so be wary.”

This may seem quite intense, but this is a radical organisation attempting radical action and they mean business – since it’s inception, antifa has been fighting violence with violence.

Personally, I have a strong feeling of antipathy towards fascist ideologies and actions. It makes me feel sick to think about the terror fascism continues to spread across the world. The most recent example being the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a young woman was killed in the midst of a white supremacist rally. This tragedy is the result of fascism, pure and simple – the work of white supremacists, the KKK and neo-nazis.

In a short documentary, Vice’s Elle Reeve spent time with white nationalist leaders, following the events that took place on Saturday 13th August in Charlottesville. Here’s what she had to say about the leaders of these alt-right groups: “They’re really here to show they’re more than just an internet meme, that they’re a big, real presence that can organise in a physical space.”

Aside from the violence, one of the most dangerous things about these alt-right groups is that people don’t take them seriously. They’re seen as a bit of a joke, idiot rednecks, etc. But you only need to see the hatred in their eyes to know these people are serious. Well, guess who also showed up at this rally? Antifa, of course, staying true to its saying coined by the Anti-Racist Action Network (ARA), “we go where they go.”

Earlier this year, a group of New Zealanders united against fascism marched down Auckland’s Queen Street in protest to European ‘culture clubs’ (white supremacist groups) that were set up by a group of students at the local universities.

I find it mind-boggling that in a country so shaped by European culture that these sort of fascist groups can exist. Do we not already speak the Queen’s English in a country that was not originally the United Kingdom’s own?

I am lucky to live in a reasonably safe country that is not under obvious attack by fascists, but I do live in a world that is. Although I do not receive death threats for the colour of my skin, I am sensitive to the fact that there are people living with that very real threat every day.

I haven’t been tested thus far in my life to see if I would fight violence with violence, but I do feel strongly about anti-fascism, and I often wonder if passive resistance can only go so far. In the words of Whina Cooper; “You can never win anything unless you were there to do something.”

bottom of page