In response to the violence erupting during the protests against the murder of George Floyd under the knee of the Minneapolis police, Donald Trump has tweeted his decision that Antifa will be declared a terrorist organization. This has been a goal of right-wing agitators for several years now, ever since they found their ideology challenged in a way that is not the polite sniffles of establishment Democrats on Sunday news shows. Today’s Antifa is but the latest iteration of opposition to fascism that has gone under a variety of related names. It comes as no surprise that the contemporary right wing feels themselves threatened. Fascists do not like having their deeds held up to criticism and cry in rage when their brutality on the streets meets resistance, and when they gain power, they do everything they can to silence the opposition.
What Trump might have in mind is anyone’s guess, since the U.S. has no legal authority to designate groups within the country as terrorist organizations, and in any case, Antifa is not similar to the Mafia or even to a political party. William Barr has said that he will use the power of the Department of Justice to pursue charges against people who cross state lines to riot, though, indicating that the Trump administration will take any steps available to them in setting up and then setting ablaze their current favorite bogeyman. Or perhaps they will not, since in Trump’s world, a tweet is an executive order is a sufficient act. And his supporters will believe that everything has been done.
At this point, I am less and less concerned about what the right wing claims Antifa has done. Whatever the reality is, Antifa is not SPECTRE. It is not even a single organization. And getting solid evidence on what some people who identify as members may or may not have done is made increasingly difficult by the politicization of events. And in my view, whatever they have done is not enough.
I mean exactly that. We have to remove fascism and neoliberalism from office. I have no regrets over any Nazi who gets punched, nor do I feel sorry for the anxieties of the Karens. The Republican Party is made up of theocrats who would like to turn this nation into a Christian dictatorship, plutocrats who are sucking the working class dry, and anarchists who dream of a return to some mythical past when white men were free to own the rest of the world. And the Democrats are here to enable them. The protests and riots have not yet created an existential challenge to the people in power. The presence of the National Guard in some states and the riots in many cities are no threat at for the moment, since property damage and even deaths of ordinary people cause no distress for those who can protect themselves with security details, insurance policies, and the members of Congress whom they have purchased.
And while voting remains important, it is also not enough. The good people have tried to vote, and whether as a result of the Democratic Party establishment machinations or the imbecility of privileged voters, the country has been twice denied a candidate who would support anything resembling progress. At this point, the normal routes have been closed. The only choices left are increasingly bad, and for the sake of the country, the least of these — continual, unrelenting protest — had better work. If it does not, the combination of readily available communication and justified rage against the people in power is a binary explosive. Those elites have a short window of time in which to decide that the police violence, low wages, and withholding any opportunity to rise the socio-economic ladder imposed on America’s black population — and indeed on most of the country of any race — are not worth the chaos that is building. If not, if sharing some of the wealth generated from the resources and labor of America that the richest people have concentrated in their hands is too much to ask, history offers examples of revolutions that were far more drastic than the one that Bernie Sanders proposed. If we are not all Antifa now, history will remember us as a population that would not stand up for ourselves.