The Anti-Fascist Handbook

In the wake of tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, and Donald Trump’s initial refusal to denounce the white nationalists behind it all, the “antifa” opposition movement is suddenly appearing everywhere. But what is it, precisely? And where did it come from?

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, often clad all in black with balaclavas covering their faces, fighting police at the presidential inauguration, on California college campuses protesting right-wing speakers, and, most recently, on the streets of Charlottesville, VA, protecting, among others, a group of ministers including Cornel West from neo-Nazi violence. (West would later tell reporters, “The anti-fascists saved our lives.”)

Simply, antifa aims to deny fascists the opportunity to promote their oppressive politics, and to protect tolerant communities from acts of violence promulgated by fascists. Critics say shutting down political adversaries is anti-democratic; antifa adherents argue that the horrors of fascism must never be allowed the slightest chance to triumph again.

In a smart and gripping investigation, historian and former Occupy Wall Street organizer Mark Bray provides a detailed survey of the full history of anti-fascism from its origins to the present day — the first transnational history of postwar anti-fascism in English. Based on interviews with anti-fascists from around the world, Antifa details the tactics of the movement and the philosophy behind it, offering insight into the growing but little-understood resistance fighting back against fascism in all its guises.


Mark writing in the Washington Post, 8/16/17: President Trump equated antifa with white supremacists. Here’s why he’s wrong.

Mark appearing on Democracy Now!, 8/16/17: “How can we make sure: Never again? By any means necessary, this can never happen again.

Mark Bray discusses antifa on Democracy Now!, 8/16/17:

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 Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, and 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 PostForeign Policy, Salon, and numerous edited volumes. He currently teaches history at Rutgers University.

“Incisive.” —The New York Times

“Insurgent activist movements need spokesmen, intellectuals and apologists, and for the moment Mark Bray is filling in as all three… impeccably timed.” Washington Post

“The book that strikes fear in the heart of Donald Trump.” —Rep. Keith Ellison

“In the Trump era, Bray’s Handbook is essential reading.” —The Progressive

“Antifa is written from a commendable place of engagement and provides a serviceable genealogy for militant anti-fascism in the present, and Bray’s often well-reasoned defense of controversial tactics should and will make the critics reflect. The book is at its best when criticizing the liberal view that official democratic institutions alone are sufficient to prevent a fascist seizure of power.” LA Review of Books

“Arrives as a timely and thoroughly researched primer on the movement’s philosophy and tactics… readers of Antifa can be assured of gaining insight on an increasingly visible and misunderstood group looking to keep the genocidal past from repeating.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Bray rightly highlights the genuinely disturbing rise of the fascist ghost and the strategies (from singing over speeches to more ‘direct action’) Antifa uses.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“We would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the antifascists who approached, over 300, 350 antifascists.” —Dr. Cornel West, on Charlottesville

Some advice from antifa activists in the book:

“The most important thing you can do is never do [antifa] alone… create at least a small group you trust.” —Murray, Baltimore

“The best way to combat fascism to build a broader left-wing movement.” —Ole, Denmark

“Take seriously all that goes into organizing… create democratric space where people can get involved for the first time… create a culture of solidarity and respect.” —Kieran, Minneapolis

“See how racism or fascism or other forms of oppression are playing out in your community because it’s not going to look the same from one city to the next.” —Walter Tull, Montreal

“Learn how to be secure online.” —Iggy, Atlanta

“It’s not a game show called ‘Woh’s the toughest anti-fascist?’ All methods complement each other… the guys who fight fascism cannot exist without a theory which is written by those at home writing.” —Georg, Germany

“Get rid of your ego.” —Maya, Texas

“If someone is more interested in recruiting people to their own group than doing anti-fascist work, get rid of them.” —It’s Going Down