Thursday, August 29, 2019

James Scaminaci's takedown of Mark Bray's book on Antifa

I found this quoted on Facebook and have not found the source. It deserves a wider readership.

"Mark Bray, a historian with a new book on the Antifa, is everywhere. His central claim, upon which everything depends, particularly in the current situation, is his false claim that no one took the fascists seriously in the 1920s and 1930s, and therefore the Antifa of today is compelled by historical necessity and moral duty to protect vulnerable populations with violence. This central claim is false. It is bad history. In fact, it is a complete distortion of the history of Weimar.

Here is Bray's central claim in Part 2 of his interview on Democracy Now!
So, in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, part of the problem is that, across the political spectrum, many people did not take this threat seriously until it was too late. By not confronting them with their fists, they ended up having to confront them with tanks.
I am not a historian and certainly not a scholar of Weimar Germany. But, Richard J. Evans, is a historian and recognized expert on Nazi Germany. His Volume 1, The Coming of the Third Reich, in various sections covers the brutal street battles between the Nazis, Communists, and Social Democrats. What is clear is that these street battles produced fear in Germany's middle class and had them turn towards the Nazis in the 1933 election.

The Nazis had at various times the Steel Helmets, the Fighting Leagues, and then the Brownshirts. The Social Democrats had the Reichsbanner. The Communists had the Red Front-Fighters League (page 73). All started around 1919-1920. So, the idea that no one took the Nazis seriously and did not fight them in the streets is ludicrous.

On pages 237-244, Evans writes about the Communist-Nazi clashes. The Communists had almost daily demonstrations and had declared parts of cities no-go zones for opponents. There were many reasons for Communist-Social Democratic hatred, but from 1928 onwards the Communists battled the Social Democrats.

On page 242, in a possible echo to today's Antifa, Evans wrote that the Communists' "hostility to the Weimar Republic, based on its extremist condemnation of all its governments, blinded it completely to the threat posed by Nazism to the Weimar political system."

On page 243, Evans noted that in the open street fighting "the Communists were slowly beaten back into their heartlands in the slums and tenement districts by the continual brutal pressure of brownshirt violence. In this conflict, bourgeois sympathies were generally on the side of the Nazis, who, after all, were not threatening to destroy capitalism or create a 'Soviet Germany' if they came to power."

And on pages 269-270, Evans details the number of deaths and injuries incurred by these political paramilitary forces. In 1924-1929, "stable years," Nazis claimed 29 deaths by the Communists, while the Communists claimed 92 deaths from fascists. Steel Helmets suffered 26 deaths and the Reichsbanner 18 deaths. Injuries to all were counted in the thousands.

In 1930, the Nazis claimed "17 deaths, rising to 42 in 1931 and 84 in 1932." The Communists reported "44 1930, 52 in 1931 and 75 in the first six months of 1932 alone, while over 50 Reichsbanner men died in battles with the Nazis on the streets from 1929 to 1933." And. on page 273 Evans noted that the police sympathized with the Nazis.

Thus, an objective reading of the Weimar Republic would determine that the Nazi brownshirts did not rise up on the streets with nobody paying attention. The Social Democrats and the Communists were certainly paying attention and engaged them in brutal street battles.

Bray's entire argument rests on his bad history that the Nazis rose to power because no one confronted them in Germany. Thus, the current Antifa is absolutely correct in fighting the fascists in the streets in America and abridging their constitutional rights to speak and assemble.

No one interviewing Bray has called him on his bad history. They have accepted his ridiculous claim at face value and then let him pontificate on why the "illiberal" (his word for the Antifa) should be allowed to fight with the fascists.

If we go down this path of street fighting, democracy and the rule of law will be its victims. Bray ignores the correlation of forces in America. The Trump administration and his AG Sessions have all the tools they need to suppress all progressive protests under the guise of stopping leftwing and rightwing violence. Antifa violence and suppressing the constitutional rights of the fascists, even Trump supporters, plays into Trump's hands. I cannot see how this strategy works out for the better."

—James Scaminaci III