Frequently Asked Questions & Suggested Readings/Videos
1) What is Antifa?
Antifa, short for Anti-Fascist, is a term to used describe both individuals opposed to fascism and a loose movement of organizations who engage in direct conflict with fascist and neo-nazi organizations. While many types of organizations consider their goals to be to fight racism and fascism, “Antifa” as a moniker usually implies the group or person is militant in their analysis and willing to engage in or support those that engage in direct confrontation and disruptive tactics against neo-nazis, klansmen, and other types of bigots.
Antifa Philadelphia are an Anti-Fascist organization operating in Philly and the surrounding area. We were founded in 2012.
More reading on the history of Anti-Fascism/militant Anti-Fascism:
Physical Resistance by Dave Hamm
2) I have heard that Antifa are violent, is this true?
Anyone who is resisting Neo-Nazi, KKK or other Fascist groups will inevitably be forced to at least defend themselves from violence. Liberal and Pacifist Anti-Racists are attacked for their completely legal and non-violent work regularly. Antifa know that when you oppose fascism and racism, or if you are a member of a population being targeted by fascists, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Furthermore, since militant Antifa have hostile relationships with the state and law enforcement, we have only each other to depend on when fascists are on the move.
Many Anti-Fascists do not engage in direct confrontation with fascists for a variety of reasons or concerns. But all Antifa know that confrontation is an important element in defeating fascism. An important part of fascist ideology is centered around “controlling the streets,” meaning establishing a hegemony over the political sphere and subcultures, unfettered access to young people for recruits, and a stage to perform their elaborate street theater propaganda rallies. When Anti-Fascists are successful, it means the Nazis and fascists in their town are completely neutralized on the streets, forcing them to act in a totally clandestine way.
Antifa generally adhere to a “no platform” policy for racists and fascists, meaning we would oppose their organizations attempts to speak in public, hold political demonstrations, or recruit openly. History has shown time and time again what happens when demagogues are allowed to lie and inflame people’s bigotries in short-sighted pursuit of power. Only the most privileged or naïve can still assume a “wait and see” attitude towards nazis and fascists.
“If fascism could be defeated in debate, I assure you that it would never have happened, neither in Germany, nor in Italy, nor anywhere else. Those who recognized its threat at the time and tried to stop it were, I assume, also called “a mob”. Regrettably too many “fair-minded” people didn’t either try, or want to stop it, and, as I witnessed myself during the war, accommodated themselves when it took over … People who witnessed fascism at its height are dying out, but the ideology is still here, and its apologists are working hard at a comeback. Past experience should teach us that fascism must be stopped before it takes hold again of too many minds, and becomes useful once again to some powerful interests.”
– Franz Frison, Holocaust survivor, 12th December, 1988
More reading on violence and no platform policy:
The Failure of Nonviolence by Peter Gelderoos
3) How is your group organized?
Some of our organizing models and structure is private, but Antifa Philadelphia is an Anti-Authoritarian group. This means we do not have any hierarchies, official leadership, positions of power or subordinates. We are also explicitly Anti-Capitalist. Therefore our membership is overwhelmingly Anarchist. Non-anarchists have and can be members, supporters or allies, but if you are not prepared to operate in a horizontal manner, then this is not the group for you.
4) How do I join?
We’ll be honest. It is extremely difficult to join PA currently. You can send us an e-mail if you’d like to join, but due to the extreme level of repression and our group not being built to train people new to this work, we tend to only recruit experienced people we meet organically.
5) I don’t really want to/can’t commit to join a group right now. Does that mean we can’t work together?
Not at all. We have plenty of friends around town who aren’t into official organizations or just can’t commit to the responsibilities of membership who help out when they can. But again, we aren’t going to just work with random people from the internet.
6) What is “Anti-Antifa?” What is Rock Against Communism?
Anti-Antifa is exactly what it sounds like: fascists. It is a label made up by nazis in order to try and mobilize the less-principles part ofs youth and music subcultures who have had conflicts with Antifa. Usually over their complicity in nazi and fascist movements recruiting and operating in those subcultures. Basically if someone reps Anti-Antifa they are at best a right wing nationalist, and at worst a full-on nazi.
Rock Against Communism is another code word employed by the Racist Right. RAC was started by the National Front in England as a direct response to Rock Against Racism, an Anti-Nazi League Campaign. The original RAC bands were Neo-Nazi punk bands, though these days the term is claimed by a slightly broader political span, ranging from Far Right Nationalist Racist Sexist Xenophobes without swastikas to Far Right Nationalist Racist Sexist Xenophobes with Swastikas.
RAC, Anti-Antifa and other code words are utilized by Fascists who want to make space for their politics in sub-cultural spaces by jettisoning unfavorable associations and symbols.
More reading on Anti-Antifa and Rock Against Communism:
7) What are some lower-risk things I can do to help?
You can help us gather intel by sending us tips, promote our public events and demonstrations, and defend Antifa when they come under attack from the left and liberals in the media and online.
8) What are some other suggested readings or videos I can check out to learn more?
Here are some good docs about Antifa:
Fighting Talk (short doc about AFA in England)
Chasseur De Skins (doc about Anti-Racist French Skinheads)
161>88 (doc about Anti-Fascism in Czech Republic)
Invisible Revolution (doc about Anti-Racist Action in the U.S. in the early 2000s)
Anti-Fascist Attitude (doc about Antifa in Russia)
Ivan, In Memory of Our Friend (doc about murdered Russian Antifa)
Here are some good readings to check out (we of course do not agree with 100% with everything below but they are worth reading):
“Beating the Fascists” by Sean Birchall
“Physical Resistance” by Dave Hann
“Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” by Mark Bray
“Militant Anti-Fascism” by M. Testa
9) I live kind of far from Philly but I want to get involved, what can I do?
There is probably an Antifa group closer to you, or you could start one with some friends.
10) I love your logo, can we use/modify it?
Sure! Just please don’t sell merch with the logo on it if you aren’t going to contribute the money to the Anti-Fascist movement in some way
11) Why don’t you believe in Freedom of Speech for Fascists/Nazis?
We absolutely believe in the free exchange of ideas. We never ever support state limits on Speech, Assembly or Press. We are Anti-Authoritarians: we never support the state, period.
What we do support is community outrage when someone is pushing an ideology inexorably linked to violent acts committed against us and those we love. The link between space in public debate and acts is undeniable. Public rallies and events allow movements to grow, the larger a movement becomes the more likely individuals or small groups will begin to take action. When Nazi and Fascist movements have a large public presence, attacks on oppressed people increase. When Nazi and Fascist movements are weak and in hiding, they decrease. This is undeniable and makes total sense.
Some would claim that legitimacy in the public sphere reduces “extremist” violence from the far right. While we would debate that, and the Trump administration serves as proof, that argument also fails to understand the violence that the state employs daily. Sure, if you control the ability to legally murder people or imprison and enslave them, then extralegal murders become less necessary in the mind of the Fascist. But that’s hardly a net reduction in their violence, for obvious reasons.
No one would act surprised or incredulous if a group held a rally in support of a child molester or torturing kittens and an angry mob formed and drove them off the streets, or forced them to cower behind state protection. No one would consider that “the death of free speech.” They would shrug their shoulders and say “that’s what you get going out in public and talking that stupid shit.” We think intelligent people should feel the same about nazis and fascists.
There are actual attacks on Free Speech going on in this country and world right now, but the racist, sexist and queerphobic trash being pushed on us in danger of censorship. A private company choosing to ban a content creator because of the acts they inspire is not government censorship, nor is it militant Anti-Fascism. Same goes for venues that cancel concerts after learning an act has Nazi ties or fans. Those are pragmatic profit-driven decisions reflecting popular opinion regarding racist and fascist politics. Translation: it is bad for business to cater to nazis, because it makes it likely they’ll be all you cater to.