In our hectic, everyday lives, many of us focus so heavily on work and family commitments that we neglect the idea of play. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, dear reader, you probably stopped playing. Today, when we somehow manage to carve out some leisure time, we’re more likely to zone out and watch Netflix than engage in actual play. That’s a shame, because play is not just essential for children; it’s an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well.
Engaging in play offers one the opportunity to forget about the nagging boss, loan repayments, PTA meetings, and that expanding waistline. Play offers the opportunity to be social in an unstructured, creative way. This can, of course, involve role play, where individuals assume the identity of fictional characters and embark upon adventures. Some of the parameters of these adventures are specified by the game one is playing; play also allows for lots of imaginative improvisation.
However, as Fifty Shades of Grey demonstrated, improvised play can take a nasty turn very quickly.
In a 2005 article, Vince Londini discussed the dangers associated with extreme improvisation. Players may find themselves swallowed up in an imaginary world, largely detached from reality. They may even confuse the fantasy of the game with the real world. Perhaps Londini should write another essay on Antifa, a group of cowards who engage in sporadic bursts of improvised violence. Though this medley of black-clad anarchists doesn’t have an official leader or headquarters, members tend to worship at the altar of wokeness.
The group’s position can be hard to define, but many members claim to support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites. As we saw with the assault of Andy Ngo, some members are willing to employ radical or militant tactics to get their message across.
What kind of message, exactly?
Antifa, as the name suggests, purports to be an anti-fascist group. Its members believe that President Trump is trying to push an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda.
Well, this is simply not the case.
For all the division and acrimony in political debate and online, American society is, by international and historical standards, strikingly liberal and tolerant. In fact, America has never been safer. Crime has dramatically fallen over the past decade — both violent and non-violent.
Truly fascist dictatorships suppress individual liberties, imprison opponents, and forbid strikes. Does this sound like the United States of 2019?
Absolutely not. A truly fascist dictator controls the bureaucracy, all the branches of government, including the judiciary. In the United States, a truly fascist dictator would have full control over semi-independent institutions such as the Federal Reserve.
Antifa’s failure to recognize basic facts is symptomatic of a much bigger problem within American society. Words appear to have lost all meaning. It seems everyone is a fascist these days. Doesn’t matter who, doesn’t matter why, they are fascists. Of course, lots of people really were fascists once; and they were responsible for the deaths of millions. As Scotty Hendricks, a writer for Big Think, put it:
“The constant use of the term in our political discourse as a pejorative does those people a disservice. It is also detrimental to we the living. You’ve heard of the boy who cried wolf, imagine the fate of the boy who cried Fascism.”
Yes, fascists do exist. However, in the interests of being able to correctly identify them, may I suggest reading an essay by Robert Paxton, an American political scientist and historian. In 1988, Paxton, widely considered the father of fascism studies, wrote the aptly titled “The Five Stages of Fascism.”
In the essay, he outlined a number of feelings that act as “mobilizing passions” for fascist regimes. They are:
1. The primacy of the group. Supporting the group feels more important than maintaining either individual or universal rights.
2. Believing that one’s group is a victim. This justifies any behavior against the group’s enemies.
3. A strong sense of community or brotherhood. This brotherhood’s “unity and purity are forged by common conviction, if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.”
4. Individual self-esteem is tied up in the grandeur of the group. Paxton called this an “enhanced sense of identity and belonging.”
On closer look, maybe the United States does have a penchant for fascism problem after all. Antifa, the ostensibly anti-fascist group, appear to harbor the aforementioned “mobilizing passions.”
Take the first point, for example. With the recent attack on Ngo, the primacy of the group was painfully evident. The second point revolves around the concept of victimology. Need I say any more? The third point, which involves the possibility of violence, has already been proven. And the fourth point, which involves trading in one’s autonomy for group recognition, is synonymous with the nefarious concept of identity politics.
Antifa, it seems, is a misnomer. This is a group comprised of paramilitary like anarchists. Antifa’s modus operandi? Violence and intimidation.
What, exactly, is the group fighting against?