President Donald Trump spent much of the year blaming the “antifa” for the violent riots that erupted in some cities in the U.S. following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Although many noted that “Antifa”-short for antifascists-is not a formal organization, but rather a generic term for a number of leftist militant groups that oppose or resist neo-Nazis and white racists, the president vowed to declare it a terrorist organization.
This looks unlikely now that Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate who rejected the threat of the movement in the first presidential debate and said, “His own FBI director said … the Antifa is an idea, not an organization,” referring to FBI director Chris Wray.
The movement came to the fore under Trump’s presidency, but will it continue to protest with Biden in office?
(The) fascist movement that metastasized around Trump will not disappear (with Biden in office).
Andy Zee, rejection of fascism
Arie Perliger, professor of security studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, told Washington Newsday that because the antifascist movement is “basically a collection of local groups, it has no coordination mechanism to make such collective decisions.
But he does not believe that the antifa will disappear when Trump leaves office.
“I think it will focus more on how it can really promote its goals, its objectives, in this new political environment that is more responsive to its goals, its ideas, that is more open to hearing its voices and its views,” Perliger said.
Andy Zee of Refuse Fascism, a group that calls the Trump administration fascist, told Washington Newsday that the “fascist movement that metastasized around Trump will not disappear” when Biden is in office.
“In one form or another this will have to be fought, but the defeat of Trump will put everyone who wants social and environmental justice and all progressive social movements in a potentially stronger position,” Zee said.
Mark Bray, a historian and author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” told Washington Newsday that the history of such militant, anti-fascist policies in the U.S. has been going on for several decades and will continue regardless of who is in power.
But he added that the importance of antifa in national politics “has been greatly overrated by Trump for political purposes.
“There were groups that didn’t always call themselves antifa, but there were groups that did this kind of work against the far right when George Bush was in office, when Bill Clinton was in office, when George W. Bush was in office, when Obama was in office and Trump was in office, so it’s a policy that will continue,” Bray said.
“It’s a policy that responds to the threat to the far right, whether that threat has access to the White House or not,” Bray said.
But he noted that the number of antifa groups in the U.S. and their membership “has everything to do with the rise and fall of far-right politics.
Bray said that there had been a decline in anti-fascist activity in the early 2000s, but this changed when the so-called old right began its attempt to be publicly present and when Trump launched his first campaign for the presidency.
“So many of the antifa groups I interviewed for my book formed in 2015, 2016 and 2017 in response to this perceived new threat,” Bray said. “So, although the antifa continues as politics and as a movement, regardless of who is in office, the changes in right-wing extremist politics play a very important role in determining how many groups, how many people in these groups participate and what the anti-fascist resistance looks like.
With Biden in power, the far right will certainly have less influence on national politics, Bray said.
“But trumpism as a kind of phenomenon will not disappear,” he added. “Many other politicians will try to capitalize on its legacy by promoting these kinds of ideas or policies at local or state level.
“The types of extreme right-wing groups that have been encouraged by Trump will continue to exist and in some cases will become even more dangerous as they may give up hope of the ability of their desired, essentially fascist ethno-state to exist within the framework of the United States,” he said. “And how antifascism in this context a