- ANTIFA (anti-fascist) is a fluid organisation with no real leadership or structure, according to a Charles Sturt academic
- The benefit of a leaderless resistance and direct action is that there is no specific organisation for security agencies to target
- Disruption of ANTIFA will likely be achieved through disruption of the communication links between online organisers and the fluid membership
Lecturer in intelligence and security studies in the Charles Sturt Australian
Graduate School of Policing and Security Dr
Troy Whitford said ANTIFA (anti-fascist) is a fluid organisation with no real leadership or structure.
“ANTIFA is predominately an ideology of progressive left wing thought that can be described as a leaderless resistance that uses direct action,” Dr Whitford said.
“Leaderless resistance means there is no central leadership but rather smaller cells that plan and conduct their own tactics and operations to counter what they perceive as far right wing, or ‘fascist’, repression.”
Dr Whitford said ‘direct action’ was first used by environmentalists in the 1980s and 1990s, and it provides ideology and training but encourages individuals or small groups to conduct activities.
“The benefit of a leaderless resistance and direct action is there is no specific organisation for security agencies to target,” Dr Whitford said.
“Rather it is the ideology that binds people together, and people will also opt in and out of ANTIFA campaigns based on their own world views, supporting some campaigns but not others.”
The fluid nature makes it difficult for law enforcement and national security agencies to target ANTIFA ‘members’.
Dr Whitford said the greatest weakness of ANTIFA − and the area that will be exploited by law enforcement or national security − is the heavy reliance on social media to organise and conduct activities.
“Disruption of ANTIFA will likely be achieved through disruption of the communication links between online organisers and the fluid membership,” he said.
“But their weakness is also their strength in that, without social media, the fluidity and direct action campaigns of the supporters of the ideology cannot be harnessed as well as it has been globally to date.”
Dr Whitford said if ANTIFA is denied social media it will either collapse or be forced to adopt more traditional forms of organisation with an identified leadership, membership and organisational structure, such as physical meetings.
“If ANTIFA is forced to change into a more traditional-style organisation, it then becomes easier for law enforcement and national security agencies to target,” he said.
“It is going to be difficult to identify suspected adherents and prove affiliation under the current organisational structure of ANTIFA.”Dr Whitford is the co-author of Terrorism and Counter Terrorism: A Comprehensive Introduction to Actors and Actions.