Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a gift to the far right and US state repression


Chomsky argues the current manifestation of the anti-fascist movement should not be compared with earlier historical configurations PHOTO/AFP/Getty

Exclusive: Renowned academic says antifascist movement has initiated the use of force in ways that are ‘completely unacceptable’

Noam Chomsky has criticised the anti-fascist movement and argues its tactics are a gift to the far right and US state repression.

The renowned academic, widely considered the founder of modern linguistics, says anti-fascists have instigated the use of violence in wholly reprehensible ways.

Antifa, shorthand for the anti-fascist movement, refers to a loose decentralised coalition of groups which oppose the far right via grassroots action rather than depending on the police or the state. While the movement dates back to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s, it has gained increasing attention since anti-fascist activists clashed with neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and alt-right supporters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the summer.

Tensions between fascists and counter-protesters made headlines across the world after a 20-year-old man, who officials say had Nazi sympathies, mowed his car into the crowd of peaceful anti-fascist demonstrators and killed a female civil rights activist.

The spotlight on the movement intensified again in September after confidential documents obtained by Politico revealed federal authorities had been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that antifa had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, and the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as “domestic terrorist violence”. President Donald Trump subsequently berated antifa as “bad dudes”.

Chomsky, a prominent voice on the left, has now voiced his frustrations with antifa, telling The Independent that physically preventing members of far-right groups from expressing their views is counter-productive.

“Antifa is very far from a structured organisation. It is largely a collection of people disturbed about the ugly and ominous forces that have broken into the public arena with particular venom since Trump removed the cork from the bottle,” the 89-year-old says.

“Associated with the loose antifa array are fringe groups that have initiated the use of force in ways that are completely unacceptable and are a welcome gift to the far right and the repressive forces of the state, while also providing some justification for the absurd claim that antifa is comparable to the far-right forces.”

Chomsky argues that violence paves the way for state actions reminiscent of Cointelpro (acronym for Counter Intelligence Programme), which he describes as “the most extreme domestic state-terrorist programme in US history”.

This is a reference to a series of covert and often illegal projects carried out by the FBI aimed at scrutinising, infiltrating and disrupting political organisations. The anti-Vietnam war movement, which Chomsky played a key role in, and the Civil Rights movement were subject to such measures.

Chomsky, who recently left his post as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to become a laureate professor at the University of Arizona, believes such events should be allowed to go ahead but be challenged with non-violent confrontation and educational methods of resistance.

Independent for more

Comments are closed.