One way to shed light on the term antifa is to look back to 1949, when the Anglo-Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh published his quasi-autobiographical short story “Compassion,” set in rural Yugoslavia during World War II. Depicting a well-meaning albeit hapless British liaison officer forced to work with some obnoxiously pushy Communist partisans, Waugh contrasts the down-to-earth if naive mindset of a middle-class Englishman with the narrow-minded ideology informing socialist guerilla cells. At one point, for instance, the Communists invite Major Gordon to a celebration:
The Anti-Fascist Theater Group was organizing a Liberation Concert and had politely asked him to supply words and music of English anti-fascist songs, so that all the allies would be suitably represented. Major Gordon had to explain that his country had no anti-fascist songs and no patriotic songs that anyone cared to sing. The Commissar noted this further evidence of Western decadence with grim satisfaction. For once there was no need to elaborate. The Commissar understood. It was just as he had been told years before in Moscow.
Here it should be clear that the term “anti-fascist” was not a word ordinary British (and American) soldiers used to describe themselves. It is a term of Soviet origin, and serves to mask the assumption that socialism is the only alternative to fascism. Coming as they did from a still somewhat sane, wholesome, and organic culture, the Englishmen who fought the Second World War did not memorize the propagandist lyrics to “anti-fascist songs.”
The genealogy of the term antifa notwithstanding, we should not go too far in conflating the contemporary phenomenon with the old Marxists of yesteryear, insists political historian Paul Gottfried in his Antifascism: The Course of a Crusade: Insofar as it works in concert with oligarchs, pushes for unlimited sexual license, and promotes the annihilation of culture as such, the modern antifascist Left is actually much worse than traditional Communism, or at least more deranged. As Gottfried notes, today’s Left “has catered to groups that have nothing in common with the native-born working class, the Left’s historic base that it now often condemns as bigoted and unenlightened,” and it “seeks to break free of national attachments that an older, traditional Left in varying degrees affirmed.”
If a fascist is someone who exhibits what Erich Fromm disingenuously condemned as “the authoritarian mind,” an anti-fascist turns out to be somebody who has a frenzied hostility toward authority per se—that is, authority such as was once unambiguously invested in parents, pastors, teachers, and so on. Insofar as the antifa movement recognizes no higher authority and no transcendent limits to its seek-and-destroy mission, it is a totalitarian movement aimed at demolishing family, church, education, and Western civilization as such. Since the fasces symbolized Rome and Rome is a touchstone in Western culture and Christianity, anyone who is single-mindedly committed to cleansing society of every “fascist” taint must level one Western institution after another, until at last everything normal human beings cherish lies in pieces.