As I wrote a few days ago, the “Unite the Right” rally in Washington DC over the weekend united some two dozen white supremacists for a complete fizzer. By contrast, thousands of antifa counter-protesters have gathered in anticipation and eventually had to disperse disappointed. In Charlottesville, the first anniversary of the original white supremacist rally passed without any actual white supremacists, with antifa taking out their frustration on the police and the media – which downplayed any incidents lest their damage the narrative of antifa as “anti-hate” activists. The contrast between hundreds of neo-Nazis and white nationalists with tiki torches in 2017 and no neo-Nazis in 2018 (except for the two dozen in Washington) was stark, and antifa quickly claimed victory: the fascists were too scared to turn up.
So happy days ahead? Well, not really, because of the combination of two factors.
Firstly, the lesson that antifa drew from the events of the last year (of which Charlottesville and Washington were just two instances) is that violence works to intimidate opponents, as this representative selection of post-Unite the Right tweets shows:
For any other combination of causes that would be “mission accomplished”. Unfortunately, there is one minor detail: for antifa it’s not just Nazis that are Nazis – pretty much everyone to the left of of their violent and revolutionary anrcho-communist philosophy is a Nazi. This most certainly includes all of the mainstream conservative movement and the Republican Party.
And so this is the (much bigger) problem – real genuine neo-Nazis are an incredibly tiny group within the American society of 320 million people. White supremacists and white nationalists are a somewhat larger group but still quite small in a greater scheme of things. It doesn’t take much to outnumber and intimidate them. Trump supporters, Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, anti-leftists (groups overlapping, but not completely) by contrast number in tens of millions. Their events attract hundreds, thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of activists.
Having seemingly vanquished the actual Nazis and ejected them from the public spaces, antifa will now carry on their violent activities against all the other people they consider to be Nazis. This is all a matter of incentives: what works will be repeated. Also, antifa now enjoys a hero status in the media and among large sections of the Democratic Party, to the extent antifa cares what the “corporate media” and the “establishment plutocrats” think about them. Nevertheless, it can’t be construed as anything else but encouragement in their work of keeping America fascist-free. This is not a recent development; antifa has been attacking the mainstream right for some time now. But now there is more time on their hands and an appetite for destruction. Expect plenty more punching in the months ahead. First they came for the Nazis, then they came for grandmas in MAGA hats.