Antista Is Not Antifa

Libertarians deplore Antifa, as it is an organization wedded to violent tactics. Antifa’s violence strengthens the State and police forces, whom the people, rightfully fearful of disorder, turn to for security and stability, there being no other established institutions to insure them.

Anti-state or Antista must be sharply distinguished from Antifa. Antista looks toward the diminishment of the State’s powers, accomplished by peaceful means. There is to be no violent revolution. Murray Rothbard stressed the educational focus of the libertarian:

“It becomes, therefore, a prime libertarian task to discover, coalesce, nurture, and advance its cadre — a task of which all too many libertarians remain completely ignorant. For no amount of oppression or misery will lead to a successful movement for freedom unless such a cadre exists and is able to educate and rally the intellectuals and the general public.”

Antifa consists of branches scattered geographically whose adherents decide on their own actions. The objective connecting their supporters is anti-fascism. The tactics connecting their participants are violent. The Wikipedia description (footnotes omitted) gets us in the ballpark:

“The Antifa movement is a conglomeration of left wing autonomous, self-styled anti-fascist militant groups in the United States. The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action, harassing those whom they identify as fascists, racists or right wing extremists. Conflicts are both online and in real life.

“They engage in varied protest tactics, which include digital activism, property damage and physical violence. They tend to be anti-capitalist and they are predominantly far-left and militant left, which includes anarchists, communists and socialists. Their stated focus is on fighting far-right and white supremacist ideologies directly, rather than politically.”

Antifa members recently vandalized the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan. They left behind a one-page manifesto, available at the linked Breitbart report, that strongly attacks the U.S. government, the Republican Party and “The Democrats”. In some instances, the charges in this brief indictment coincide with those leveled by libertarians. They mention the “war machine”, “incarceration rates”, police brutality, the private prison industry, and government terror activities.

The Antifa objective that’s stated in this letter is an end to “American barbarism”. What should replace the state is not spelled out. If we could delve into the predominant political philosophy of Antifa adherents, it would probably be socialist/communist anarchism. This philosophy is completely unworkable. It falls apart even on a small scale.

The violent tactics of Antifa will surely elicit repression by existing state authorities; and their violence will alienate vast numbers of Americans, the very people whose eventual support is needed to change America’s political system. Sadly, Antifa is finding acceptance, even support, at university campuses. Antifa’s violence against the right-wing is being reinforced by an outpouring of violent anti-Trump exhortations from Hollywood and entertainment notables. Lately, a handful of black Democratic politicians has raised the level of their rhetoric. Hillary Clinton is the latest Democrat to board this bandwagon.

Anti-statist intellectuals and libertarians may agree with Antifa members on some counts of the indictment against our government. The reasons for our condemnation, the intellectual grounds, differ radically from those of communist anarchists. Our reasons are rooted in principles of self-ownership, homesteading and property rights that are completely alien to the very opposite communist anarchist ideas. Libertarian principles condemn using violent tactics, except under conditions of self-defense. The latter requirements are stringent. Libertarians do not promote taking the law into one’s own hands.

Within the array of libertarian organizations and among the thousands of articles penned over the past 50 years or so, one would be hard put to find any prominent case being made in support of violent tactics.

Any coincidence of the libertarian critique of government with that of Antifa does not imply a coincidence in the philosophies of the two: Antista is not Antifa.

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10:44 am on October 13, 2018