Politics dictionary


or anti-fascist

What does antifa mean?

Antifa is a political group and movement that advocates the resistance of fascism as an ideology. Antifa may also refer to a participant in the aforementioned movement.

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Where does antifa come from?

San Diego Free Press

It’s hard to know exactly when the word originated, but it’s likely that antifa was first a shortening of anti-fascist. It could also have been the shortened name of a German anti-fascist group Antifaschistische Aktion, which was founded in 1932. Anti-fascist movements had been around since at least the 1920s, in opposition to Mussolini’s dictatorship, but Antifaschistische Aktion was one of the first and most prominent organization to use the term in their name. This group also gives the modern antifa movement its black and red flag logo. This group and similar groups began to be widely referred to as Antifa by the late 2000s, though the term was used in German quite a bit earlier.

Greater visibility and recent resurgence of antifa is a response to the concerns related to Donald Trump’s presidency and other world events. As it started to gain visibility around 2016, antifa has gained notoriety as well. Besides general altercations that have occurred between antifa and the so-called alt-right, one incident stands out in particular. This is the punching of white nationalist Richard Spencer, which happened on January 20, 2017—President Trump’s inauguration day. One of these punches was caught on camera and was widely circulated on the internet. Spencer himself said in a tweet that he was “physically assaulted twice by antifas.”

Examples of antifa

Antifa needs to incorporate anti-racism workshops into their praxis & maintain rapport with rural communities where fascists try to operate.”
Hezballer @BlackAutonomist Twitter (May 15, 2017)
Antifa activists may be considered to be on ‘the left’ of the political spectrum, but they have very distinct differences with liberals.”
Joseph Milord, “The ‘Alt-Left’ Wants You To Know It Hates Racists More Than You Do,” Elite Daily (February 28, 2017)
“Physical confrontation is just a small aspect of antifa direct action, but the history of anti-fascist, anti-racist action is not one of so-called allies standing in polite disapproval or donning safety pins.”
Natasha Lennard, “Anti-Fascists Will Fight Trumps’ Fascism in the Streets,” The Nation (January 19, 2017)

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Who uses antifa?

Antifa is a very versatile word. Antifas are those who participate in the movement itself, as in antifa protesters or antifa activists. It’s also the name of the movement proper, though this may also be called the antifa movement.

Due to the nature of the environment in which it exists, antifa is an extremely politically charged word and is often positioned as a natural opposition to the alt-right. As a group, antifa dislikes fascism and therefore the alt-right.

Opponents of the antifa movement might describe themselves as anti-antifa. They dislike antifa because they view antifa as a group trying to stop them from broadcasting their beliefs to others. In response to this perception, anti-antifa often complain that their free speech is being suppressed. They mock antifa, saying that it must stand in for anti-first amendment, not anti-fascist. They say this because antifa tries to stop them from spreading their ideology (which often embraces white nationalism, white supremacy, and other ideas that promote hate and intolerance). Little do these people know, having first amendment rights doesn’t exempt you from criticism or opposition. Antifas do believe in free speech, unless it’s hate speech, which they oppose.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of antifa like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of antifa that will help our users expand their word mastery.