What Does Antifa Fight For? It's The Radical Arm Of Liberal Politics

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Antifa activists made waves this weekend for their actions in Charlottesville, Virginia. While counter-protesting the "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally, Antifa activists came armed with baseball bats and flamethrowers to fight against the white supremacist groups who were represented at the march. Many people wonder what exactly the Antifa movement stands for: Antifa fights for the same beliefs that many Americans hold today, but they take their actions much further by underscoring their protests with violence and destruction.

Antifa stands for anti-fascists, and it's important to denote that Antifa is more of a political movement than a group. While there are locally organizing chapters of Antifa activists, there's not much in the way of a central leadership structure. Each Antifa chapter and activist can have vastly different motivations and principles for their political actions, but they generally all follow the same ideology — violence is necessary when fascism is threatening freedom.

One Antifa activist explained the label to Time as being a literal take on the phrase social justice warrior. "The standard for antifa ideology is anti-capitalism, anti-fascism of course," said the activist, who remained unnamed. "Those are kind of the two main pillars, but within that, encompassed, it also comes with being anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-ableism, anti-transphobia, anything like that and just protecting people who are marginalized and oppressed.”

Despite its seemingly good intentions, the movement has drawn serious criticism for activists' use of violence and destruction to underline their political concerns rather than peaceful protest. It's not a new phenomenon — according to The Atlantic, "Antifa traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain." Yet many argue that the movement's stance on violence places them in the same category as the hate groups against which they were counter-protesting in Charlottesville.

At the end of the day, everyone is trying to do what they think will protect them and their families from harm. Even white supremacists are just trying to hold on to something that they see as theirs, and that natural instinct to protect is understandable. But as a society, people need to come together and figure out what can and cannot be tolerated. Public displays of Nazism clearly seems to be on the cannot side, and Antifa violence, as unseemly as it may be, might be the price the nation must pay to prevent the ideological evils of white supremacy from furthering infecting the American consciousness.