By a commentator for Tjen Folket Media.
Picture: The book’s author, Mark Bray.
You fight them by writing letters and making phone calls so you don’t have to fight them with fists. You fight them with fists so you don’t have to fight them with knives. You fight them with knives so you don’t have to fight them with guns. You fight them with guns so you don’t have to fight them with tanks.
Book Review – “Antifa, Antifascist Handbook”, by Mark Bray
Antifa sets out to retell a summarized antifascist history in order to improve knowledge about antifascism.
Bray’s book is, in his own works, an attempt to create the first transnational summarized history of antifascism in the post-WWII period in English. Bray has his background in the anarchist-inspired Occupy Wall Street movement, something which has given him access to interview subjects that few other journalists have had the opportunity to meet.
The first half of the book is a history, but the rest attempts to be a sort of “do-it-yourself” handbook for people who wish to wage antifascist struggle. It is packed full with tips and advice from antifascist struggles, both before WWII, all the way until the present day.
The first chapter deals with antifascism in the interim-world war period. It discusses the history behind the antifascist symbology, and that wherever fascism grows, antifascism will grow too. A high point of the book is the blockade that stopped Oswald Mosley on Cable Street, but there are also several exciting stories about Italy, Spain, and Germany.
The book is very detailed and informative, but is especially sympathetic towards autonomous organizing and anarchism. This is especially present in the section on the Spanish Civil War, where the author goes to great lengths to attack communist efforts.
The book makes a cursory, approving nod towards antifascist resistance during WWII, but quickly moves on.
The second chapter addresses antifascism from WWII until 2000 and how different groups grew together by necessity in the struggle against a common enemy: punks, skinheads, and minorities who stood united and defended themselves against threats. Mainstream culture often believes that skinheads are Nazis. As the author explains, they were not originally connected, but Nazis have attempted to appropriate this subculture. Nazi skinheads are referred to as boneheads, while other skins formed several leagues to fight back, like SHARP (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice) and RASH (Red and Anarchist Skinheads).
Chapter three deals with antifascism since the turn of the century. Some of the high points here are the blockades in Sweden and Dresden, where antifascists of all types joined together to block and hinder Nazi marches. This chapter also discusses what the author refers to as “Pinstripe Fascists”.
On Greece, and how Gyllent Daggry, the Nazi party that had for a long time been the butt of jokes and who nobody took seriously, suddenly saw an upswing and advance after the financial crisis sent the country into an economic quagmire in 2008…
The last part of the book with chapters like “Five Historical Lessons for Anti-Fascists” and “‘So Much for the Tolerant Left’: ‘No Platform’ and Free Speech”, is a series of debate pieces, where Bray attempts to address many of the counterarguments that antifascists face. Can one have violent and non-violent antifascism at the same time?
Mass mobilization versus militant organizing, which enemies antifascists face, and how to choose the tactics that are to be used in regards to different enemies are all subjects that Bray addresses in this part of the book.
Unfortunately, this is where the book is at its weakest. While it is very clear about how to deal with open Nazis and Islamophobes like SIAN, it lacks an approach to dealing with so-called Pinstripe Fascists who sit in Parliaments or local governments.
The book is interesting and can be read by those who are simply curious about what antifascism is all about, as well as by driven antifascists.
The book can be found in its entirety here: Antifa, antifascist handbook
Audiobook narrated by Keith Szarabajka