Over the past month, the word “Antifa” is being repeatedly heard in public. The impetus for this was certainly the unrest and protests in the United States, but also the statement by Donald Trump that the United States plans to declare Antifa a terrorist organization.
Propastop seeks to clarify the nature of the concept and who uses it and why.
According to Wikipedia, Antifa is a derivative of the German word Antifaschismus or antifascism. According to the Estonian language Wikipedia, this is a movement uniting people with a left-wing and anarchist worldview, which opposes racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and sexism, as well as facilitators of fascism.
The most active centers of the Antifa movement have been Germany and the United States, and the details of what Antifa means in one area or another also vary considerably.
Antifa and the USA
In the United States, Antifa involves political expression, supported by digital activism and structured actions that can go hand in hand with the destruction of property and physical violence, and the persecution of racists, fascists and far-right extremists.
Anti-power, anti-government, and anti-capitalism are the central themes of their activity in the United States, with anarchists, communists, and socialists at the heart of the movement. Among the supporters of the movement are promoters of social democracy and individuals with left-wing worldviews.
The Antifa movement has come to be noticed due to the unrest in the United States, which has included marauding – property being destroyed and burned with violence being used against those in power. This is part of the nature of the Antifa movement, for which “black bloc” has become a separate term. The members of the Black bloc are dressed in black and wear masks in front of their faces. In addition to causing physical chaos, their aim is to protect protesters from the police and supporters of Nazism.
Antifa and Estonia
In Estonia, Antifa is a relatively new phenomenon and it still lacks clearly perceptible boundaries. At the beginning of June, Elise Rohtmets, one of the activists at the Feministeerium (an independent feminist media outlet in Estonia), published a large article about the nature of Antifa in Eesti Päevaleht, describing the characteristics of the movement through the USA version.
In Estonia, it is worth paying attention to the introduction of the term Antifa (which is directly derived from the term anti-fascism), as Estonia is in the Kremlin’s sphere of interest and anti-fascism is one of the main narratives that the Russian leadership seeks to spread in this region.
In the past, Estonia’s “own” anti-fascist movement, led by pro-Kremlin activists, was very active. The leader of the movement was Andrei Zarenkov, who is still a member of the board of MTÜ Natsivaba Eesti (NGO Nazi free Estonia). He also actively organized the actions of the Bronze Night events. The NGO is part of the Kremlin’s “World without Nazism” movement, whose membership also includes, for example, Johan Bäckman, a Kremlin minded activist from Finland who has become famous in Estonia. The Kremlin has funded various efforts by such figures to combat fascism.
Recently, the activity on Social Media by the anarchist movement Punamust (Red Black) has also been of note. To what extent the people behind it try to introduce the term Antifa in Estonia and what techniques it entails, time will tell. We have also noticed that Kremlin-minded activists are getting excited about the planned protests against fascism in Estonia.