Antifascism, or, Why We Fight
The second to last week in April is the anniversary of the start of Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which, as the biggest act of Jewish resistance to the Nazi regime, should serve as a very important and powerful reminder why the fight against fascism cannot end until the last person is convinced of its dangers and of the need to stand united against it. This text seeks to examine and explain why the need to fight against fascism—in real life and in this game, with whatever means one has at one's disposal—is not only the morally, historically, and politically right choice, but an absolute necessity.
For this purpose several questions need to be answered:
What is Fascism?
As with many terms, the definition of fascism is often academically contested, and while discussions in different academic and political contexts use different concepts of fascism, the definition for the practical purpose sees it as a right-wing ideology that seeks to establish a radically nationalistic authoritarian system; that is often based on racialist and racist views; that seeks to suppress social and political plurality by appealing to an exclusionary racial or national community; that has a concept of superiority and inferiority of ethnicities in an external context and of social groups in an internal context; and that seeks to institute policies that discriminate against groups that are traditionally marginalized, i.e., those that are further removed from social power structures than other groups—namely homosexuals, people who don't define their sexuality in heteronormative model, certain religious denominations, the socio-economically weak, women, minority groups, etc. Furthermore, fascism seeks to oppress—often to the point of physical annihilation—those who oppose it, including people who adhere to democratic principles; the left; people defined as, by their standards, belonging to the wrong religion; pacifists, etc.; as well as those who don't fit in their definition of a "national community," like immigrants or people defined as nationally or racially "inferior," or people who don't adhere to their model of how life should be led.
Fascism stands for oppression, curtailing political and civil rights, enslavement, discrimination, imprisonment, and political violence. Fascism is not an opinion, it is a crime.
Is it still dangerous?
In many a discussion, people will remark that fascism has been over since 1945. However, historically, fascism has survived the end of the Second World War, unfortunately rather successfully: The fascist regime in Portugal ended in 1974; the Franco regime in Spain only ended in 1975; Pinochet's rule in Chile ended in 1990; regimes like Turkmenistan are still in power; and even in Europe, fascism has waged campaigns of political and ethnic violence reaching from pogroms in the first half of the 90s against immigrants in Germany to even more recent army conspiracy in Belgium to the letter bomb attacks by Franz Fuchs in Austria to killing sprees in Russia. Even today, aided by the recent economic crisis, fascism is on the rise in several countries in Europe and, on a smaller scale, in the US.
In Greece, the Golden Dawn Party with rhetoric, symbols, and policies taken directly from the historic Nazis, is gaining in popular support so far that if elections would take place right now, they'd be in third place. At the same time—and as reported by newspapers such as The Guardian—they have killing squads in the streets of Athens targeting immigrants, they have infiltrated Greek law enforcement, and in some places, they have attacked left wing demonstrations and institutions with such violence that it resulted in fighting in the streets with the army intervening.
In the US, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that since 2008, the membership of fascist, white power, and nationalist groups increased eight-fold. The FBI had to intensify their watching of these groups because they consider them a sizable danger to the political and social system. From the Business Plot in 1933 over the KKK to McVeigh and Eric Rudolph, the phenomenon of fascist terrorism in the US is neither new nor not dangerous.
This and many more examples from all over the world prove the dangerous potential fascism still holds for contemporary societies and why anti-Fascism and the antifa fight is something not only the left should be concerned with. All those who value freedom, civil rights, the right to exercise their religion freely, even proponents of the free markets or moderate nationalists must consider the danger of fascism to them. All non-fascists have the moral and political responsibility to stand united against this form of oppression and discrimination.
How do we fight it?
With all appropriate means at our disposal. This includes, but is not limited to, education, information, social ostracization, demonstrations, the voting booth, legislation, and, where appropriate, the help of state authorities and other practical ways.
In a democratic society, the forefront of the anti-Fascist fight is education, to inform people of its dangers and of the obligation to oppose it and to socially ostracize those who adhere to it despite educational efforts. To prevent its spread, fascists must be argued against wherever encountered and be deprived of any platform to spread their hatred and despicable ideology, either by legislation or by blocking them.
“What about free speech?”
This is an argument often heard. But this is a false equivalency. Even if not persuaded by the sheer moral argument against Fascism, we need only to take a look at the law in effect in many democratic states: Fascists' right to free speech, while often not completely taken away, is rightfully curtailed in many European countries, not just by laws against the advocation of violence or racial hatred, but also more directly such as in Germany, Austria, or France, who all explicitly outlaw Nazi parties, for example. This is well within the Convention of Human Rights and the European Human Rights Convention. The European Human Rights Court has ruled on several provisions by these countries and has found that where such a danger to social and democratic order exists, the right to free speech can be limited in such a way. The above examples show the violent danger this ideology poses that, at its very core, includes hatred and violence. That is why exactly in the interest of free speech and democracy, fascism needs to be fought. Fascism in this regard is like child pornography, a form of expression that at its core represents a crime and therefore is reasonably not protected by democracy.
The same applies to this game: The internet is a good platform for fascists to spread their kind of hatred and, it is in the interest of all of us to prevent this movement of hatred and discrimination from growing by recruiting here. Whether roleplayed or real doesn't matter, if it contributes to the spread of fascist ideas, it needs to be curtailed and denied a platform. Of course, this game is not the entire internet, but as long as we have some means at our disposal to help prevent fascism from spreading, we need to use them to the best of our abilities in order to at least take an admittedly tiny, but still important step against the danger this ideology represents in real life. It's not bullying if we ban the bully from the schoolyard and thereby prevent them from hitting other kids.
The fight must continue until the last fascist is convinced he or she is wrong and until nobody can spread this ideology anymore because it has become completely unacceptable in every way.