Andy Ngo’s new book Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy is as important to understanding where we are today as Ann Coulter’s Adios America! was before Donald Trump's election. Ngo shows that far from being just an “idea,” as President Joe Biden would have us believe, Antifa comprises highly organized groups of dedicated activists with an extreme political agenda and a commitment to violence. But Ngo also shows, perhaps less consciously, that Antifa operates with de-facto backing from the Ruling Class, including Main Stream Media journalists, the principal enforcers of the current order. Ngo suggests Antifa are a revolutionary threat to the power structure and could overthrow it. But the truth is much worse—Antifa are simply the System’s militant wing.
What makes Unmasked so remarkable is that Ngo doesn’t limit himself to anecdotal reporting, nor does he retreat to abstract theorizing. Instead, like a great historian, he seamlessly integrates his experiences and other primary sources with political theory. He shows, often literally with chapter and verse, what motivates Antifa, how they are organized, how they are trained, and how this is turned into concrete action:
Where there is no single capital A ‘Antifa’ organization with one leader, there are indeed localized cells and groups with formalized structures and memberships. Though officially leaderless, these are organizations by every definition.
The [Rose City Antifa] curriculum is modeled on a university course. Yet it includes training on how to use guns and do reconnaissance against enemies.
Ngo also helpfully reports on the history the Antifa brand, especially its origins in the Red Front Fighters’ League of the pre-Hitler German Communist Party. He’s especially astute to note that “the German Communist Party [KPD] and its various offshoots viewed social democrats and liberals as ‘social fascists’ no different from Nazis.” Needless to say, KPD leader Ernst Thälman’s strategy of fighting the more moderate Social Democrats ahead of the Nazis was glossed over by Communist propaganda after World War II. East German hagiographies of Thälman, like Sohn Seiner Klasse and Führer Seiner Klasse (“Son of His Class,” “Leader of His Class”) portray him as fighting the Nazis above all else.
Ngo also describes “anti-fascism’s” parallels with the East German regime. After all, the Berlin Wall was formally called the “Anti Fascist Protection Rampart.” The East German secret police, the so-called Stasi, resemble nothing so much as today’s journalists (and FBI) complaining that they can’t tattle on people listening to Clubhouse [From Clubhouse to Twitter Spaces, social media grapples with live audio moderation, by Elizabeth Culliford, Reuters, February 25, 2021].
When Ngo describes the Communist takeovers of East Germany and Vietnam, the latter of which his family fled, he’s warning Americans that we face a Communist coup. Historically, “anti-fascism” was created by, and has always been a front for, Communist or Communist-adjacent groups.
(I don’t dispute Ngo’s characterization of the movement as “anarchist-communist.” It sounds clumsy, but anarcho-communism is a venerable Leftist tradition that goes back to Marx’s great rival Mikhail Bakunin. I was surprised, though, that Ngo didn’t mention that the three-arrow “Iron Front” symbol widely used by Antifa today actually came from the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The SPD opposed the Communists just as much as they did monarchists and the National Socialists.
He’s right, but when looking at what Antifa prioritize today, it does seem preoccupied with boutique progressive causes like transgenderism and policing speech. While physical attacks are common, doxing and complaining to capitalist employers are what Antifa do best of all.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine East Germany or the USSR tolerating the cultural degeneracy championed by today’s Antifa. The Soviet Bloc was positively social-conservative compared to 2021 post-America.
Ngo’s reporting on the specific individuals, curriculum, tactics, and operational plans of Antifa are a testament to his skill as a researcher (not to mention his guts.) However, one thing jumps out of the book repeatedly. Despite all their emphasis on “OpSec” and paranoia about law enforcement, Antifa aren’t actually especially secret. Like illegal aliens who lecture us on television about their lives “in the shadows,” it’s not a huge mystery who is in Antifa. We know what groups exist, where they operate and what they are doing. They openly operate on Twitter, Facebook etc.
In contrast to the Proud Boys or bewildered Boomers who wandered into the Capitol last month, Antifa can operate openly because it has the tacit approval of law enforcement and Main Stream Media outlets. Thus Ngo describes in shocking detail Antifa groups’ training workshops, including combat training. Right-wing activity even at this level would be shut down by the government instantly.
It’s an obvious point but bears repeating—how radical are your opinions when you have police, the military, corporate America, and the media all supporting you? Antifa violence exists because it is permitted, arguably encouraged, to exist. Despite President Trump’s blustering promises, these Antifa groups were never labeled “terrorists” nor, inexplicably, was systematic federal law enforcement action ever taken against them.
During the CHAZ insurrection, Antifa was allowed to more or less claim sovereignty in a major American city for a period of weeks. If nationalists had tried that, it would have ended in drone strikes. The glee with which progressives hailed the execution of Ashli Babbitt tells us what they’re willing to do. The “Capitol Insurrection” would have been heralded as another Bastille Day had it come from the other side.
Antifa is faux rebellion. None of these people have ever faced real opposition in their lives. And when groups like the Proud Boys did emerge to challenge them—and actually started winning, for example at the Battle of Berkeley—the state intervened to save Antifa. See FBI Arrests White "Serial Rioters"—And Ignores Antifa, Proud Boys Persecution: Four Years For Fighting Back, and Ann Coulter On Jake Gardner: Innocent Until Proven Trump Supporter.
Ngo points out repeatedly that Antifa conduct themselves to present a certain media image. Yet this is a two-way relationship. While Antifa are eager to make sure only their narrative gets out, Regime journalists willingly collaborate. It’s a mistake to even speak of journalists or Antifa as being separate categories of people.
After all, we know that journalists change their coverage to help Antifa present their narrative. Consider New York Times hackette Taylor Lorenz, who recently started an online controversy by accusing someone of using a slur on the Clubhouse application [New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz blasted for false claim tech entrepreneur used ‘r-slur’ on social media app, by Joseph Wulfsohn, Foxnews, February 8, 2021].
Perhaps she was told such tweets would be career-ending or maybe she figured that out on her own. She deleted them and joined the winning team.
The rest is history. Lorenz has made a career doxing random people, notably Pamela Geller’s daughters.
This also explains why Regime “journalists”—make that Journofa—seem to hate Ngo so much. Ngo provides many examples of independent journalists like himself recording and livestreaming footage that provide “the up-close, raw, and uncensored look into Antifa’s extremism.” Such raw footage strips Regime Media reporters of the ability to craft the Narrative.
Ngo writes that Antifa “have made it a priority to keep out journalists like myself, even releasing manuals on how to obstruct to the work of unapproved press.” However, the critical point is what he says next:
“[T]hey’ve [Antifa] made key allies in the media to counter negative coverage, amplify their propaganda messaging, and discredit their shared opponents. The American public has been inundated with nonstop propaganda that obfuscates and lies about Antifa, simultaneously presenting them as anti-fascists righting racism, and a figment of the right’s imagination.” [Emphases added]
Thus Ngo accuses corporate journalists, quite rightly, of knowingly spreading propaganda or being “actually members of the militant Antifa movement.”
Ngo’s guide on how to “identify Antifa press” is important. If you see a reporter freely videoing protests without being attacked, “that is a good sign the journalist produces Antifa-approved content.”
But I must take issue with Ngo’s conclusion that the “movement is made of organized networks of anarchist-communists who have the goal, training, and determination to overthrow the US government.” Is that what Antifa actually fights for in the real world?
For example, CHAZ didn’t end with a heroic last stand. It ended after bored city workers scattered some riffraff without much effort. It existed as long as left-wing city politicians defended it against then-President Donald Trump. It vanished the moment that city authorities decided to regain control.
Insofar as Antifa have a real impact, it’s not in organizing rent strikes or fighting banks. Instead, they are most effective when calling up oligarchs to get working-class people fired. Is such a group really a threat to the US government… or something of a partner?
Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on domestic terrorism. Andy Ngo was one of the witnesses [Republican witness hits media coverage of Antifa and far-left violence at domestic terrorism hearing, by Zachary Halachak, Washington Examiner, February 24, 2021]. However, the main focus of the hearing was “white supremacy and right-wing extremism,” at least according to Rep. Val Demings [Domestic Terror Still Thorny Issue for Lawmakers After Capitol Attack, by Brandi Buchman, Courthouse News Service, February 24, 2021]. The World Socialist Web Site sneered that Ngo “served as a sounding board for all the lies and libels against hundreds of thousands of youth and workers of all races and ethnicities who marched peacefully in response to last May’s police murder of George Floyd” [Republicans use hearing on domestic terrorism to defend Trump and promote far-right forces, by Jacob Crosse, WSWS, February 24, 2021].
Ngo himself tweeted that Democrats “rebuffed” him.
Citing months of organized violence in the Pacific Northwest by #antifa & their allies, I gave testimony to Congress urging lawmakers to treat far-left violent extremism with more urgency. I was rebuffed by Democrats. https://t.co/LHmji2WyZl— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) February 25, 2021
The Democrats showed no interest in his testimony seriously nor did the Main Stream Media. It simply vanished into the ether of non-news like the massive increase in homicides around the country [WATCH: Andy Ngo testifies to Congress on the rise of domestic terrorism in America, The Post Millennial, February 24, 2021].
As Ngo himself points out early in his book, the United States government is tremendously powerful. Anarcho-communists hardly seem a credible threat to its legitimacy. Rather than wanting to crush them, at least some Democrats favor what Antifa are doing—and certainly want to downplay it.
Thus the presumptive next Attorney General, Merrick Garland, blithely dismissed an attack on a federal courthouse because it happened at night. If anything, the new administration seems determined to put the power of the state behind these “anarcho-communists.”
And rather than trying to create a Workers’ Paradise, what Antifa actually do is make the world safe for Woke Capital.
While Antifa violence is real, the danger to ordinary people is not so much that some rampaging mob will come into their house at four in the morning. The danger is that Antifa will see a Politically Incorrect tweet and render a person unemployable, with an assist from “journalist” allies.
Ngo’s book is essential reading. However, he may not fully understand the threat. The problem isn’t that Antifa is trying to overthrow the state. The problem is that the state and Antifa are working together against ordinary Americans.
What we’re living under is something far worse than Antifa’s imagined “anarcho-communism.” It’s what the late Sam Francis presciently called anarcho-tyranny, with the worst features of lawlessness and autocracy combined.
This is why our situation is not as bad as Ngo suggests. It’s far, far worse.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him |Tweet him @VDAREJamesK] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc. His latest book is Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right. Read VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow's Preface here.