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Antifa is a 'major gift to the right
World-renowned academic prompts criticism for his comments about the anti-fascist movement in the wake of Charlottesville

Oppenheim, Maya

Publisher:  Canadian Dimension
Date Written:  24/08/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article

In the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville and tension between white supremacists and anti-fascists, Noam Chomsky condemns Antifa militant tactics and suggests constructive activism based in education is more effective.


Antifa, shorthand for anti-fascist organisations, refers to a loose coalition of militant, decentralised, grassroots groups which are opposed to the far-right. The movement, which was founded in Europe in the 1920s, has dominated headlines in the wake of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville earlier this month. Neo-Nazis, KKK members and "alt-right" supporters clashed with anti-fascists and a woman was left dead after a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters.


While many only associate the anti-fascist movement with militant direct action, it is worth noting it adopts a wide variety of tactics. This includes union organisation, migrant solidarity, public education programmes, ousting white supremacists and neo-Nazis to their neighbours and employers, and urging venues to cancel far-right events.


Eleanor Penny, who has written extensively on fascism and the far-right, told The Independent: "Chomsky treats the battle against fascism as a battle for moral purity than can be won when the left remain respectful, polite, and deferent." She added: "But fascists have no interest in winning that battle. They don't care about respecting free speech or the right to a fair trial; they've openly declared their murderous intent towards people of colour (and other undesirables) and they'll pursue that goal by any means necessary. In this context, physical resistance is a duty, an act of self-defence, not an unsightly outpost of leftist moral decline."


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