For Beinart warns that the left is lurching into totalitarianism and violence. “Antifa” purport to be anti-fascist. But they define as fascist anyone they disagree with including mainstream conservatives. Hence their violent suppression of commentators and scholars such as the conservative columnist Ann Coulter, the Breitbart controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos and the political scientist Charles Murray.
What Antifa most certainly do not do is defend democracy, freedom and liberal values. As Beinart observes:
“Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.”
If this was just a bunch of anarchists, the problem wouldn’t be so bad. What takes this onto a different level altogether is the fact that the mainstream left does not disavow Antifa but tolerates, sanitises and condones it. Referring specifically to the assault last January on the white supremacist Richard Spencer, Beinart continues:
“Such tactics have elicited substantial support from the mainstream left. When the masked antifa activist was filmed assaulting Spencer on Inauguration Day, another piece in The Nation described his punch as an act of ‘kinetic beauty.’ Slate ran an approving article about a humorous piano ballad that glorified the assault. Twitter was inundated with viral versions of the video set to different songs, prompting the former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau to tweet, ‘I don’t care how many different songs you set Richard Spencer being punched to, I’ll laugh at every one.’
“The violence is not directed only at avowed racists like Spencer: In June of last year, demonstrators – at least some of whom were associated with antifa – punched and threw eggs at people exiting a Trump rally in San Jose, California. An article in It’s Going Down celebrated the ‘righteous beatings.’”
As I wrote in The Times (£) yesterday, this has produced an unholy alliance between the left and the far right:
“A white supremacist called Richard Spencer invented the blanket term ‘alt-right’ to associate his ilk with conservatives seeking merely to defend American identity and core values. Through this tactic, Spencer intended to boost the far right and simultaneously smear and thus destroy regular conservatives.
“The left has seized upon this smear with unbridled joy, routinely using the
‘alt-right’ term to try to destroy the national identity agenda by bracketing it with white supremacism. The result is a powerful boost for the far right. From deserved obscurity, they suddenly find the left are transmitting their every utterance to the world. The phrase “useful idiots” comes inescapably to mind.”
Far from the left fighting the far-right, it is in fact inadvertently giving it the most powerful boost it has received since Nazism was defeated in 1945. This is not just because the left is using the far-right to smear and undermine mainstream conservatives, whose aim to defend western culture has been viciously equated over many decades now with white racism.
It’s also that – just as we can see over Islamisation – the fascist right has moved into the vacuum left by mainstream cultural and political establishment, which either shuts its eyes to the undermining of western values (US Republican Party, UK Conservative Party) or has put itself at the vanguard of the attempt to replace the west and even human identity itself by a new world order (US Democratic Party, UK Labour Party).
The outcome is as predictable as it is terrible. This is why.
The equation of mainstream “national identity” conservatism with white supremacism is a foul lie. “National identity” conservatives want to uphold core western cultural values they deeply cherish and share with each other. The racist and fascist far-right is driven by loathing of racial and ethnic groups deemed to be inferior. The former is based on love; the latter is based on hate.
But here’s the awful thing. The more the mainstream establishment abandons or undermines western national identity, the more the fascist right postures that it alone is defending it. The more the fascist right flexes its muscles, the more the left seizes on those people as cultural aggressors, falsely presents the totalitarian left along with the Islamists as their victims and the heroic defenders of freedom, and assassinates the character of anyone who dares protest that the left along with the Islamists are in fact the twin destroyers of freedom and the major threat to it. The more mainstream society flees in terror from this cultural battleground, the greater the vacuum into which the fascist right will increasingly march. If mainstream society doesn’t get its act together, totalitarianism will win.
This fearsome situation is the reason Donald J Trump came to power. The west has simply come off the cultural rails. Conservatism, the attitude of mind which conserves what is valuable in a society and defends it as the cultural legacy to be handed down to generations as yet unborn, no longer knows what it is supposed to be defending. Faced with the focused and implacable onslaught of secularism and left-wing ideology aimed at undermining and destroying the cultural legacy of the west, conservatives have scattered in total bewilderment, confusion and fear.
As a result the west, the crucible of reason, freedom and order, is repudiating these altogether and reverting to a Hobbesian war of all against all.
I have repeatedly stated my concern about Trump’s psychological flaws and his patent inadequacy for the great office he holds. But I separate the man from what he represents: the promotion and defence of American and western core values. That’s what his 63 million voters were saying they wanted when they elected him.
Those ranged against him are the apogee of what has been happening for the past fifty years: the willed undermining of the west by the totalitarian left. The gross and suicidal disorder of the age has thrown up a president who stands outside the boundaries of what is acceptable because western society itself has inverted truth and lies, right and wrong, justice and injustice. Trump is the creation of the left – and the more ugly their attempt to destroy him, the more they remind us just why this man was elected.
Trump is very far from what I would have chosen as the holder of any public office. But when I see the contempt for democracy shown by those trying to lever him out, the vicious lies and frankly deranged character assassination deployed against him and his team, the violence and intimidation used by his opponents – and the way in which the media keep the public in widespread ignorance of all this because the media, along with the rest of the intelligentsia, have their minds hermetically sealed by the same group-think – I know who frightens me more.