For the past year I have been watching videos of the antics and riots between antifa and everyone they don’t like. (And if you don’t identify totally with antifa, antifa definitely is against you, no matter what your politics are.) As I’ve been studying their beliefs and tactics it occurred to me that they were imitating the communist agitators of years past, particularly of the Red Guard in the Chinese Revolution.
When you understand how the Red Guard ran almost unchecked throughout China and virtually destroyed that nation during that time, and you see the similarities between those communists and antifa, it is easy to realize that the “antifa” that is currently creating havoc could certainly be a real and serious threat to our liberty in a constitutional republic.
While the two groups are not exactly identical, currently I see four common threads between the Red Guard and antifa:
1. Young people populated both movements.
In 1966 Mao Zedong was a disgraced leader within the communist leadership of China. His “Great Leap Forward” (1958-1962) was a socialist economic plan that brought disaster upon China’s economy. The resulting famine on the collective farms and production of useless pig iron was so bad that in those four years an estimated 45 million people died from either being worked to death, starvation, or imprisonment. (For more information about this era, I suggest reading “Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe.”)
Mao looked for ways to climb back into power, and in 1966 he saw his chance by endorsing students at Beijing University and Tsinghua University who were even more radical and left-wing than the communist leadership of the country! (How much more left-wing can you get? Things would get pretty crazy and violent as it turned out.)
Large gatherings of students from all over the country came to Beijing to get their “blessings” from Mao, and then scattered across the land to protest everyone and anyone whom they thought were not “revolutionary” enough. The Red Guard, Mao’s personal army, were almost entirely made up of young people.
Watch the videos of people protesting in Washington, D.C. on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, or in Portland, or in Charlottesville, or in Berkely, or beating up Trump supporters in the past year, and you will see almost all young people. Most are college-aged and older into their 30s. I have not seen too many of them close to my age (55).
I will say at this point, however, that while the Red Guard was manipulated and controlled by a single “cult” figure (Mao Zedong), antifa is decentralized and does not have one single charismatic figure directing everything (as far as we know for now). Nor is antifa funded or endorsed by our federal government.
2. Both have demanded ideological purity.
The Red Guard spread out to every major city in China, determined to root out anyone they thought was not 100 percent devoted to revolutionary thought as interpreted by Mao. Fellow communists were driven from their positions in government, in universities, and in factories, and surrounded by thousands of screaming mobs, demanding that the “traitor” or follower of “the capitalist road” publicly confess their crimes.
The Red Guard practiced shaming their victims in what they called “struggle sessions.” If someone was not Marxist “enough” or expressed any doubt at all in the inerrancy of Chairman Mao, then they were forced to sit in these sessions while everyone around them screamed criticism and accusations at them. They were expected to then criticize themselves and do “penance” of some sort. (Sometimes these sessions were conducted in sports arenas for thousands to watch!) Usually there was no forgiveness.
Antifa does something similar by publicly denouncing anyone who does not agree to their agenda 100 percent by labeling them as a “fascist.” They say they are for feminism, pro-choice, pro-homosexual rights (however they choose to define it), anti-capitalist, and anti-Christian. They say they are anti-racism. While some of us could go for some of their ideas (what sane and moral person would be FOR racism?), unless you agree with them on everything you are a vile enemy who must be silenced…by any means necessary.
Please read this fair and enlightening article from The Atlantic about the antifa riot at Middlebury College. Antifa and their sympathizers shouted down not only a conservative guest speaker (Charles Murray), but then violently attacked his liberal host Allison Stang (who was trying to protect Murray!).
3. Both have denied absolute moral authority.
A belief in God or any absolute eternal moral authority outside of ourselves is not a part of the belief system of the Red Guard of the 1960s or antifa of today. The Red Guard were ardent Marxist-Leninists and thus atheistic to the core. Antifa is comprised of hard-core self confessed Marxist-Leninists as well as anarchists who acknowledge no Deity or absolute eternal moral authority.
This has really struck me as strange since a communist government is a totalitarian top-down government in which only a few elitists rule over everyone else. Anarchists supposedly reject government. How can they co-exist? For now they co-exist simply out of their mutual hatred of capitalism, a Judeo-Christian ethic, and a constitutional republic. However, their coalition cannot possibly last.
A belief in the rule of law is foreign to both groups. “By any means necessary” or “the end justifies the means” is the only rule recognized by those who live by mob rule. Of course there never was free speech in communist China, but even the leftists who dared to speak out against the Red Guard were harassed, shouted down, and eventually murdered in cold blood. Antifa activists are a law unto themselves and proudly attempt to crush any speech or peaceful or lawful assembly that they do not approve of.
Here is the official website of the antifa front group, “By Any Means Necessary” (affectionately known as “BAMN”).
If they don’t like you, they simply label you a “white supremacist” (even if you are not) and attack you. Antifa is very public in their hatred of free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of conscience. Just read their stuff and watch their riots on video. Here is a sample, but I’m sure you can find much more.
4. Both have tried to erase the past.
Neither of these groups were/are peaceful. The Red Guard hounded thousands of people to commit suicide and just outright murdered thousands of others. Even the Chinese government today admits that anywhere from 1.5 million to 2 million people died as a result of Mao’s Red Guard rampage.
The Red Guards went through China to rid their country of “the Four Olds,” which were: “old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas.” Those are pretty broad categories, aren’t they? Mao’s young hoodlums went on a rampage destroying anything they thought was old. They burned, looted, smashed, or tore down thousands of priceless works of art from ancient Chinese culture.
The Red Guard wanted to rid China of its past — anything that “offended” them was a target. They even raided cemeteries and dug up corpses of ancient Chinese leaders! At the Ming Tombs they dragged out the remains of the Wanli Emperor and his empress (dead for about 400 years), denounced these corpses as enemies of the people, and burned them. At the cemetery of Confucius, the Red Guard dug up the remains of the Duke of Yansheng and hanged the corpse on a tree. Statues, tombs, shrines, monasteries, paintings, and priceless records from antiquity were destroyed by the Red Guard.
We have all seen protestors rant and rave either for getting rid of statues of Confederate soldiers or keeping them. There have also been calls for eliminating the names of cities, parks, or institutions that have anything to do dead people whose lives offend our sensibilities today (like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both slave owners). We have seen mobs “courageously” vandalize statues that cannot fight back. Some have even tried to dig up the bones of Confederate General Nathan Forrest!
(Never mind that Forrest resigned from the Ku Klux Klan and denounced them not long after its founding. Never mind that he later in life converted to Christianity, advocated for blacks to be admitted to law school in Tennessee. Never mind that in 1874 he told the governor of Tennessee that he would personally “exterminate” white people who promoted continued violence against blacks. No, we must dig up his bones to make ourselves “feel better” and change history I suppose. Except it changes no history at all.)
All of this attempt to remove history that is “offensive” is simply an attempt to erase history in much the same way the Red Guards tried in the 1960s. They, like the Red Guard, believe that only they have the correct view of history, and only they have the moral authority to erase anything that competes with their view of the past. By controlling the past, their goal will be to influence our thinking as a culture in the future. If America was illegitimate from its founding, then they have the right (so they think) to remake it in their image. If the “politically correct” mobs get their way, it will not end well for our country.
Antifa has not murdered anyone yet (thank God). Tragically one young lady was murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottesville. Dozens and dozens of others have been badly beaten in riots between antifa and those who oppose them. When antifa shows up, they come in their own version of riot gear, brandishing shields and baseball bats (or worse). But they are actually arming up with guns as well as baseball bats, and they are training. This article in Mother Jones confirms it.
Tragically, it won’t be long before many people get killed.
5. Both have been made up of factions.
The Red Guard destroyed China for less than three years (1966-1968/69), although the Cultural Revolution did not “officially” end until the death of Mao and the arrest of his collaborators in 1976. The Red Guard, however, was made up of dozens of competing factions, each desirous of Mao’s approval and control of the country. They eventually tried to destroy one another until the Chinese “People’s Liberation Army” put down all Guard factions by force of arms.
Antifa is made up of competing groups as well: hard-core communists, anarchists, not-as-violent progressives, and fellow travelers. True communists and anarchists will not tolerate one another forever. Their ideologies are far too different. And the not-so-violent progressives will be eaten by the other two violent groups.
Both groups were/are composed of people who were/are young and ignorant, fanatical, and vicious. If the police do not arrest these antifa thugs, and if the courts do not put them in prison for their violence, I do not see a happy end anytime in the near future. Antifa will continue until they are stopped.