Michael Malice recently tweeted out “Fighting the Nazis doesn’t mean that you are FDR. It might mean that you are Stalin.” This got me thinking about the rise of North American Antifa groups, the tactics, and the excessive labeling of opposition as Nazis in general. There is a very large issue in modern debate where the title of “Nazi” gets thrown around too loosely. This leads to issues not only from the inaccuracy of it, but also the damage people create in their efforts in “fighting Nazis.”
I’ve previously covered the issue with the “Literally Hitler” argument before, and many of the same problems apply here. The appeal to emotion fallacy at play via the association, the ad hominem used to silence opposition, and the general lack of understanding of what the Nazis were or stood for makes the entire accusation generally a quagmire from the start. What makes it worse though is how the excessive use of the term weakens its overall meaning and the impact that being confronted with actual Nazis should invoke. The boy shouldn’t cry wolf.
The biggest issue here isn’t that though; it’s what happens when we try to justify courses of action in the name of combating these “Nazis” and, in turn, cause more harm than good. Before we get into the consequences of laying the claim that they’re “fighting Nazis,” Let’s review what Nazis actually are.
National socialism held several different positions from what is generally touted by the public. They were both anti-communist and anti-capitalist, electing instead to allow private ownership of business to benefit from the advancements brought on by competition, but did so under a heavy umbrella of state control through various regulatory powers. The Nazis supported some leftward concepts like socialized health care and forms of welfare for their needy (though, only due to the post-depression and war issues rather than genuine kindness or concern), but much of their policies were built on the concepts of social Darwinism and the idea of German superiority.
Their intent, on paper at least, when it came to their form of totalitarianism was based on the idea of forcibly reordering society in the favor of their Volk. This involved completely disregarding the notion of individuality and suppressing activities they saw as negative to the German spirit, such as homosexuality or having women in the political sphere. They were heavily expansionist as well, but that and their views on the Jewish population need not be expanded on here as they are common knowledge.
To loop back to the point, much of the Nazi vision for the world should be opposed as it spits in the face of the values we hold. Those that wish to simply start fighting Nazis, in general, miss the mark. A great example of this is Antifa. As a group, they generally support anarcho-communism and wish to oppose any form of fascism they encounter. Opposing fascism is a noble goal; on paper at least. Though he’s been out of the news for a while, let’s look back at Milo Yiannopoulos. Here you have a gay man that espoused praise for capitalism, individualism, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. Sure, we could make the case that his views of LGBT, Islam, and women in general, along with his support of countries taking on more nationalized views when it comes to security and trade. If we did that though, it would be a half case at best. Antifa did just that.
Protesting wherever he would present, rioting on several occasions, continuous death threats, etc. all because they considered him a Nazi with what was poor cause for their claims. He was targeted as often or even more so than Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed Nazi. Flipping away from the damage there, and the damages we’ve seen more recently (such as the removal of historic WWII footage from YouTube in the name of removing racism from their platform), there’s the damage they receive on their own side. Crying “Nazis!” every five seconds wherever someone is pro-capitalism, or against some form of socialism, or takes issue with PC culture or SJWs only leads to their opinions becoming irrelevant.
Before reading this, when was the last time you thought or heard about Antifa outside of some limited or fleeting piece of news? They lost their relevancy because in their desperate attempt to go off fighting Nazis, they allowed themselves to inflict too much damage. Damage to both relatively innocent people, and to themselves. It’s for this reason, and many, many historical examples, that we cannot allow our actions to be predicated on who our enemies are, nor can we be so hasty in declaring who and what they are.