Antifa: the Anti-fascist Handbook ‘What Trump said made the book seem even more urgent’ – The Guardian

Anti-fascist counter-protesters seen outside Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia on 12 August. White nationalists and neo-Nazis were forced to leave the park when their Unite the Right rally was declared an unlawful gathering. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When US president Donald Trump drew a parallel between the far-right protestors in Charlottesville and counter demonstrators last week, saying that, You had people that were very fine people on both sides. Not all those people were neo-Nazis, not all those people were white supremacists, Melville House rushed into action.

The independent publisher worked around the clock to get a new book printed following Trumps remarks, and one week later, Antifa: the Anti-fascist Handbook is on bookshop shelves. A history of and guide to the anti-fascism movement, Antifa had originally been scheduled for September, but everything in Charlottesville, and Trumps odd behaviour around it, meant we tried to accelerate it even more, said Melville House co-founder Dennis Johnson. When the president said what he said, it made the book seem even more urgent.

After an initial print run of 10,000 copies, Melville House has already printed another 20,000. Its day by day and developing, said Johnson. Its really taking off very fast.

Johnson had signed up author Mark Bray, a political movement scholar and Occupy Wall Street organiser, after hearing him speak on the radio about the masked, black-clad antifa activists who prevented rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from appearing in Berkeley, California earlier this year. Activists told the Guardian at the time that its absolutely acceptable to use violence. They are 100% certain to use it against us.

It was a programme about whether or not that was censorship, and then Mark Bray came on and said we have to fight fascism differently, said Johnson. I thought it was fascinating, and I had an agreement with him to write a book by that evening. The word antifa is in the air, and it hadnt been before. Americans dont have the first-hand experience of fascism that Europeans have.

Brays book Antifa covers the history of the anti-fascism movement, from its origins in Europe in the 1920s to its exponential growth in the US over the last year. As well as interviews with antifa activists, it also details the tactics of the movement and the philosophy behind it. Bray describes his book as an unabashedly partisan call to arms that aims to equip a new generation of anti-fascists with the history and theory necessary to defeat the resurgent far right.

It argues that militant anti-fascism is a reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat that persisted after 1945 and that has become especially menacing in recent years. You may not walk away from this book a convinced anti-fascist, but at least you will understand that anti-fascism is a legitimate political tradition growing out of a century of global struggle, he writes. I hope Antifa will aid and inspire those who will take up the fight against fascism in the years to come so that someday there will be no need for this book.

Johnson said that people are very puzzled by the presidents support of Nazis in America. Most of us have someone who fought the Nazis, and people dont know how to respond, he said. People are puzzled by how to react should they stand up to violence with violence, or should they not?

One classic anti-fascist situation was seen in Charlottesville, he said, when a group of antifa activists protected a group of clergy. One of them, Reverend Seth Wispelwey told ThinkProgress after: A group of white supremacists broke through our line with shields. Some of them were screaming and spitting slurs [as they] physically shoved clergy aside with their shields. Thats when antifa saved our lives.

One of the most fundamental principles of antifa is no platform for fascism, Bray argues, and is a rejection of the liberal notion that fascism is a school of thought worthy of open debate and consideration. Their activities include educational campaigns, working with communities, monitoring fascist individuals and being prepared to physically confront the far right when necessary.

Though this last facet of anti-fascism gets the most attention, it is actually only a small fraction of the thankless drudgery that is committing oneself to tracking the scum of the earth, Bray said.

Antifa is the first in what Johnson said will be a series on the current political climate in the US. The next book, which is not by Bray, will cover impeachment. The word Trump never appears in the book, but it is a history of impeachment, and what the rules are, Johnson said. Its something weve concocted on how to deal with the political situation in the US. It is just all-consuming, and were trying to put out books to help deal with it.

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Antifa: the Anti-fascist Handbook ‘What Trump said made the book seem even more urgent’ – The Guardian

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Antifa |

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