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Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,854 ratings  ·  306 reviews
As long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism—also known as "antifa." Born out of resistance to Mussolini and Hitler in Europe during the 1920s and '30s, the antifa movement has suddenly burst into the headlines amidst opposition to the Trump administration and the alt-right. They could be seen in news reports, clad all in black with balaclavas covering th ...more
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Melville House
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Popular Answered Questions
Malum I understand that you're trying to be rhetorical, but I'll give this question a go anyway.

1. No on deserves to get their "brain smashed".
2. As far a…more
I understand that you're trying to be rhetorical, but I'll give this question a go anyway.

1. No on deserves to get their "brain smashed".
2. As far as I know, no one was ever arrested for the attack on Andy Ngo, so we don't know who did it. You might see this as a coverup or "Liberal conspiracy" (along with taking your guns and cancelling Christmas), but I can't help you there.
3. Antifa (not "Anti-fa". Your misspelling shows you didn't even attempt to research this yourself at all but, again, I understand your question was just meant to be a "gotcha" question to make you feel smug) is not an organization. Therefore, Antifa can't "brain smash" anyone or order anyone to be "brain smashed".
4. Even if Antifa was an organization, and even if they did "brain smash" someone, it would be unfair to judge an entire group by the actions of a few members. When the Trump supporters "brain smashed" the police officer to death during the storming of the capitol, did that instantly make every Trump supporter complicit in that crime? Of course not. When Anders Behring Breivik committed mass murder in the name of Christianity, did that make all Christians responsible for his crime? You know it didn't.

Instead of yelling into the void to make yourself feel superior to people you disagree with, I honestly suggest you do something more productive with your time. Help out around your community, plant a garden, or read a book to better educate yourself on the issues that you pretend to care about. (less)

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Jason Gordon
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A word of warning to those who want to read this book: do not watch the television interviews. They do not do the book any justice whatsoever.

Here are a number of things I liked about the book:

1). It provides a comprehensive history of anti-fascism in the Western world. When the book discusses anti-fascism in America, it places it squarely in the anti-racist resistance against the Jim Crow South (which is indeed a fascist regime). Mark Bray also discusses anti-fascism in the West in the contex
Conor Ahern
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, self-help
When I first picked this up, this was my "Eat, Pray, Love" on the subway: what do the two have in common, you ask? Well what better way to get your groove back than frolicking through India and Europe giving fascists whatfor!

Just kidding. They do not (I assume) have anything in common; rather, I felt some embarrassment
about being seen reading it on the subway, and so would contort my hands in such a way that it would be near impossible for anyone to read the cover. Partially this is because th
Leo Robertson
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The partisan approach had limited appeal.

I didn't know that anti-fascists think of themselves as disbanding once the fascist problem is taken care of. That would be cool, because it would support a "they started it" argument. But because I know the author would like to promote anti-fascism, I'm not inclined to believe him (at least every time) when he says in his narrative that anti-fascist action is the reason for fascists disbanding. Or even that the fascists did disband. The author admits the
Charles Haywood
Jan 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
More than twenty years ago, as a very young man, I traveled in Ukraine. In one place, the local authorities were excavating a mass grave from the 1930s. Hundreds of skeletons, men and women, many with flesh and clothes still attached, had been laid out on wooden platforms, for attempted identification before reburial. If you looked, it was easy to see the cause of each person’s death—a square hole in the head. Why square? Because the Communists had hammered in a railroad spike. Why does this mat ...more
Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ كايِلان راتكِليف
"Never Again!"

I've linked a very lively interview at the bottom of this review between the author of this book Mark Bray, and journalist / author Chris Hedges on his show On Contact. As the reader might imagine, it was on Antifa, political violence and the current climate in the American political hemisphere. My conclusion after watching the debate was unexpected. Frankly, despite being a big fan of Hedges, I felt his experience in war zones as a foreign correspondent - and the subsequent d
Kunal Thakker
Jun 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
This entire book tries, and fails, to justify anti-social and violent behaviour as a form of ‘self-defence’ to fascism by changing the definition of ‘self-defence’ to ‘offensive tactics in order to forestall the potential need for literal self-defence down the line.’

There is an element of paranoia to the ANTIFA ideology as the author labels anybody he disagrees with as a ‘fascist’ without actually exploring their views and providing evidence of specific examples of policies or opinions that can
TR Peterson
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good overview of anti-fascist movements over the years up to and including Antifa in the US today. The author also looks at arguments about violence, free speech and no platforming as well. He clearly outlines how liberal notions of free speech are not ones that Antifa adheres to and why. It is written from a pro-Antifa perspective which one may or may not agree with but you do get a very clear understanding of their views and where they come from. A very timely book. 4 of 5 stars.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ok, so I read this.. And what did I learn... well, that they actually like to be the "shut it down Left" and consider it not only a compliment, but their responsibility, to be known as those who drown out, dox, shame and censor any and all voices with whom they disagree. Their excuse is that if free speech hurts someone's feelings, then free speech is bad and needs to be silenced. ...more
Tonstant Weader
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to read Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by historian Mark Bray because I am conflicted by Antifa. On the one hand, every human being who aspires to morality and decency must be anti-fascist. On the other hand, violence other than in self-defense is an immoral tactic. It is also strategically wrong. However, I wanted to understand how they perceived this moral dilemma.

The first chapters are a history of the anti-fascist movement. This resembles nothing so much as a military campaign hi
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for those who take the struggle against capitalism, patriarchy, transphobia, and racism, seriously. After tracing the history of fascism and antifascism throughout Europe and, to a smaller degree, the US, Mark Bray points to five historical lessons:

1)Fascist revolutions have never succeeded. Fascists gained power legally.

2)To varying degrees, many interwar antifa leaders and theorists assumed that fascism was simply a variant of traditional counterrevolutionary politics. Th
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I was expecting a somewhat more intellectually sophisticated defense of Antifa actions and philosophy. The book displays too few new contents, and I feel free to skip several parts that presented some well-known facts about the twentieth century.
I was more interested in the Antifa views regarding free speech and violence. The argument for violence is grounded in the historical fact that on several occasions fascists used the current legal system to take power. I think this argumen
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Essential reading--not just a history but a wealth of ideas and inspiration for the future.
Mrs. Europaea
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bray sheds new light and understanding on a highly misunderstood and represented movement. Antifa gets misrepresented through the media and often times through it's own members and this disinformation spreads like wildfire casting a very negative view on what is ultimately a positive movement for the freedoms of all people.

That said, Bray states several times that the book was rushed because they wanted to get the information out there as soon as possible in this current political climate under
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is not only an important and well researched brief history of antifa, it is also entertainingly written. Sometimes books like this, though containing excellent information, can get dry. This one definitely is not. So if you are a person who is honestly interested in this topic, please ignore the reactionary far-right reviews by fragile people who think fascism is somehow on the same playing field as anti-fascism. People who are pro racism and genocide are not the same as people who fig ...more
Scott Holstad
These days? An absolutely essential book. Necessary, especially in 2020 America. Because most Americans haven't been exposed to historical fascism the way Europeans have, most don't have an accurate, complete or in some cases any understanding at all about this very dangerous movement, let alone its textbook (or playbook) tactics and techniques that are nearly always virtually identical, starting with a Goebbels-styled propaganda blitz, complete with massive amounts of lies, disinformation, fear ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This probably shouldn't be called a "handbook." It's not so much a how-to thing as it is an explanation to an audience that's unlikely to join in. That's fine though. I think most people interested in this book would rather it be that way. Antifa's been in the news a lot lately and it's been misrepresented to the point of being treated as the name of one activist group when it's really just a way to describe many diverse groups who oppose fascism. A lot of these groups are explicitly anarchist o ...more
James Klagge
I found this book at a propitious time, shortly after I got back from the counter-protest to the alt-right rally in Charlottesville in August. That was my first experience with antifa. This is an excellent book to learn about antifa--although it is not an unbiased report. In fact it is written by an antifa sympathizer who is also a "scholar" of the movement. The author draws on many personal interviews with antifa activists to supplement a careful history and survey of the movement. But the book ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sometimes this book wanders too much for me. It feels like it gets caught up in examples and loses the narrative thread. But here's the thing: it poses a lot of the same questions and responses I feel like I've been dealing with for 4.5 years of graduate school studying social movements. I don't feel as if I have more answers than I did before reading it (though I do have a better sense of organizing, both geographically and historically); instead, I feel less alone in my critiques of the public ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is tight as fuck. It starts with a history of anti-fascist movements, which includes Jewish WW2 veterans physically breaking up meetings of fascists who said they didn't burn up enough Jews in the camps, all the way to current deplatforming efforts. There are so many efforts that shut down fascists its incredible. The author also breaks down arguments made against violent efforts not working (they have and do) and the ways it's disingenuous to say antifascist are anti-free speech. This ...more
Crypto Punk
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Whoever said that a bunch of leftists in a group is nothing but an echo chamber, has probably never been in a room with more than one or two leftists. As someone who loves debating political ideologies on multiple platforms, I am well aware of the myriad differences in opinions across the left political spectrum. If I had a penny for every time a fellow left-leaning person told me that my ideas are stupid, I'd probably qualify to be bourgeoisie by now. I bring up all this because these are thing ...more
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
In one of the 2020 presidential debates, Trump stated that “Someone’s gotta do something about Antifa...” Knowing little about Antifa, this came to me as a challenge to look closer at who and what Antifa is, and if we should fear Antifa. While it’s not the endpoint, what better place to begin than the Antifa Handbook?

Who is Antifa and what is its purpose? In short, Antifa is anti-fascism. Antifa is not a unified organization but rather a movement; it lacks any hierarchical leadership structure a
Krystelle Zuanic
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
This was pretty ‘meh’ in totality. Let me be entirely transparent when I say that I am completely anti-fascist myself, and therefore the views of Antifa are not so radical in my thinking (with that being said, I lack the predeliction to physical violence that has manifested in some capacities). With that being said, this book was fairly bone dry. The history was lengthy and yet lacked any personal connections through anecdotes, and the presentation on Antifa thinking was far less comprehensive t ...more
Christopher McQuain
On a certain "literary" level, I found that this book could've used an editor (or a more stringent, hands-on one), along with that disappearing luxury, a basic copy editor (misspellings, weird punctuation, word-choice redundancies all abound....). It's not as well-written or -organized as it could be. On the other hand, virtually no other book has the claim to urgency, and consequent justification for having been rushed out (in early 2017), that this one does. And that sense of urgency, along wi ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
You get what it says.

Antifa is a history of the Anti-Facist movement and puts into perspective the history, politics and organizing behind it. It gives a stronger context of its place in past and current politics and answers many current questions being asked of Antifa and gives some perspective on what free speech means in a greater context.

Bray pulls no punches on the side he's taking or partisanship, however if you are interested in understanding many sides of the current climate it's an im
Ali Benam
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thorough and well written. Definitely a must-read.
Hampton Stall
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
mark bray, as good as always
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: socio-politics
Helpful, inspirational, and interesting.
Shawn Birss
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though it reads as hastily written (basing most of the history on popcorn accounts from very few sources, especially from the music scene) and incomplete (missing almost all history of antifa resistance outside of Western Europe and the United States) this book is still probably the most comprehensive and in depth report on the history of antifa action as a popular movement that has yet been gathered. It is interesting reading, especially for anyone interested in the rise of skinhead culture dur ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really good book for anyone unfamiliar with Antifa, especially those who think they just appeared with the rise of Trump. The first part of the book deals with the general history of Antifa from the Western perspective and provides an explanation of why it was formed, what kind of people formed it, and what they wanted to accomplish and how. It really helps to provide a legitimacy to a movement that is frequently belittled and misunderstood in the press. I especially enjoyed Bray's tie ...more
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Anarchist & Radic...: Global Culture of Antifascists 1 12 Jan 06, 2021 12:21AM  

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Mark Bray is a historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe who was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street. He is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, and the co-editor of Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Critical Quarterly, R ...more

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Here’s some trivia for your next vacation get-together: The concept of the summer “beach read” book goes all the way back to the Victorian...
11 likes · 8 comments
“The tragic irony of modern anti-fascism is that the more successful it is, the more its raison d'etre is called into question. Its greatest successes lie in hypothetical limbo: How many murderous fascist movements have been nipped in the bud over the past 70 years by antifa groups before their violence could metastasize? We will never know--and that's a very good thing indeed.” 9 likes
“Anti-fascism is many things, but perhaps most fundamentally it is an argument about the historical continuity between different eras of far-right violence and the many forms of collective self-defense that it has necessitated across the globe over the past century.” 6 likes
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