by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
One of the great gifts the British writer George Orwell gave us, in addition to his classics 1984 and Animal Farm, was a clear and uncompromising look at dangerous ideologies. In “Orwell and the British Left,” British writer Ian Williams recalls Orwell’s underlining of “the old, true and unpalatable conclusion that a Communist and a Fascist are somewhat nearer to one another than either is to a democrat.” Orwell’s well-observed conclusion nonetheless scandalized many on the left who rallied behind the Marxist phrase “no enemies on the left.”
Sadly, a quarter century after the fall of Communism, too many leftists are still ignoring Orwell and refusing to acknowledge the reality of left-wing brutality. In the wake of Charlottesville, eyewitnesses and reporters agreed that while the violence was instigated by neo-Nazis and white nationalists, it was countered with bloody counterattacks by left-wingers and black-shirted anarchists wearing masks. There was a clear asymmetric outcome to the violence: A white nationalist mowed down protestors with his car, killing a 32-year-old woman.
But that didn’t mean there were no victims of left-wing violence. Antifa — short for “anti-fascist” — protestors came armed with pepper spray, bricks, and clubs. Antifa members believe that racist speech is violence and that they must counter it physically, not just oppose it with rhetoric or better ideas.