Militant Antifascism: An Alternative (Historical) Reading


This article offers an alternative historical reading of militant antifascism and argues that application of the “gang” designation is overly reductionist. Whilst there is a historical connection between “gangs” and militant antifascism, and militant antifascists do engage in “gang” behaviors, a “gang” designation pays no attention to the multiplicities of militant antifascism; its transnational evolution and character; and above all, the ideological motivations of the antifascists themselves.

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  1. 1.

    My primary works on antifascism are Nigel Copsey, Anti-Fascism in Britain 2nd edit. Abingdon: Routledge, 2017; and Nigel Copsey and Andrzej Olechnowicz (eds.) Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010.

  2. 2.

    Eve Rosenhaft, Beating the Fascists? The German Communists and Political Violence, 1929–1933. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983, p. 131.

  3. 3.

    Ibid., p. 132

  4. 4.

    Ibid., p. 159

  5. 5.

    Quoted in Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 226.

  6. 6.


  7. 7.

    See Tom Behan, The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini. London: Bookmarks, 2003, p. 61.

  8. 8.

    Philip V. Cannistraro, Blackshirts in Little Italy: Italian Americans and Fascism 1921–1929. West Lafayette, IN: Bordighera Press, 1999, p.84.

  9. 9.

    Ibid., p. 137.

  10. 10.

    See Warren Grover, Nazis in Newark. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2003.

  11. 11.

    Quoted in Faja, Antifa U.S.A.: A history in their own words. Independently published (7 Sept. 2017), p. 13.

  12. 12.

    Quoted in Anna Key (ed.) Beating Fascism: Anarchist Anti-Fascism in Theory and Practice. London: Kate Sharpley Library, 2006, p. 46.

  13. 13.

    See Antifa forum, Antifascism in Canada, 1996. p 37.

  14. 14.

    Quoted in Faja, Antifa U.S.A, p. 14.

  15. 15.

    Fighting Talk, Magazine of Anti-Fascist Action, no. 7, p. 6.

  16. 16.

    Quoted in Nigel Copsey, “Crossing Borders: Anti-Fascist Action (UK) and Transnational Anti-Fascist Militancy in the 1990s”. In Contemporary European History (Volume 25 (4)), November 2016, 707–727.

  17. 17.

    Quoted in Copsey, Anti-Fascism in Britain, p. 178.

  18. 18.

    See Antifa forum, The Nature of the Beast, 1998, p. 43.

  19. 19.

    Anti-Fascist Action, An Introduction to London AFA, 1991, p. 3.

  20. 20.

    Quoted in Sean Birchall, Beating the Fascists: The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist Action. London: Freedom Press, p. 369. Emphasis as original.

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Copsey, N. Militant Antifascism: An Alternative (Historical) Reading. Soc 55, 243–247 (2018).

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  • Antifascism
  • Antifa
  • Militant antifascists
  • Anti-Fascist Action
  • Anti-Racist Action