George Orwell Was A Leftist Who Would’ve Supported Antifa And Not Thought We Had To Give Nazis Quarter
Eric Arthur Blair better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His works are marked by an awareness of social injustice, and an opposition to totalitarianism.
Though he disagrees with their tactics, Ronald Radosh does an excellent job of trying to define the leftist group Antifa through the words of academics and supporters:
There’s no consensus of what antifa stands for, or if their tactics will achieve their stated goals. Is it, as leftist professor Todd Gitlin asserts, simply a “particular strand of aggressive left-wing activism,” that is a “defensive response to the growing presence of right-wing extremism,” or is it, as liberal editor and columnist Josh Marshall writes, a group which empowers “violence over law… the surest route to the destruction of democracy and dictatorship?”
Many trace the group’s origins back to the antifascists who fought Mussolini in 1920’s Italy and the communist action groups that engaged in street fighting with Hitler’s SA Brownshirts in the early 1930s in Weimar Germany. Indeed, antifa’s ultimate justification for their use of violence is that era. Resistance, historian Mark Bray argued in The Washington Post, should “simply be flipped on in a crisis. Once the Nazi and fascist parties gained control of government, it was too late to pull the emergency brake.”
Writing in The Nation, antifa activist Natasha Lennard urges liberals not to criticize them for being “willing to put their bodies on the line against neo-Nazis.” Seeing fascism in the U.S. “in Trump’s ascendance,” Lennard eschews “polite protest,” favoring in its place making sure that “all far-right events will be bombarded and besieged.”
Comparing herself and her comrades directly to “the international militant brigades fighting Franco in Spain, the Red Front Fighters’ League in Germany who were fighting Nazis since the party’s formation in the 1920s,” and the members of the “43 Group in England fighting Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists” in street brawls in London, she emphasizes that they all depended upon “physical combat.”
Similar to Civil Rights, it seems like many on the right want to claim leftist success as its own. Namely, Orwell and his two most recognized literary achievements are being used to paint the left into something the author himself would’ve opposed. The latest focus of this historical misdirection is Antifa. Mike Stuchberry, who is becoming one of my favorite social media friendly historians, is not fooled by the right’s latest trick play.
Orwell Is As Antifa As It Gets
George Orwell volunteered to fight fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Essentially, General Francisco Franco, allied with Hitler and having Nazi support, led a military coup in 1936. They called themselves Nationalists (though they were fascists) fighting against the outgunned and outmanned Republicans (anti-Fascist).
Between 1936 and 1939, the nationalists rolled across Spain besieging Republican strongholds such as Barcelona. Crucial to Nationalist success was Nazi support, particularly from bombers in the Condor Legion. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica shows the aftermath of a bombing raid on the town of Guernica on the 26th of April, 1937. It is arguably one of the most powerful anti-war statements ever made.
In an attempt to support the Republicans, communist organizations from all over the world formed ‘international brigades’ to fight. There was a British Battalion in the Spanish Civil War comprising volunteers who wanted to support the fight against fascism. One of those volunteers was Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell.
Orwell fought fascists on the frontline until he was shot through the throat. He then returned to England. Orwell’s time fighting fascists in Spain had such an impact on him, he wrote one of the defining books on it, Homage to Catalonia.
If Orwell was here, he’d not be siding with Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates and other Fascist groups. He would confront those groups violently to stop them because that’s what he did.
While the right can magnify the fact that
Stalinism did terrify Orwell, they can’t take any solace in knowing that what enraged him was fascism. He was ready to die to oppose it. That’s Antifa.