10 Antifascist Books to Help You Prepare for What’s Next

Feb 2, 2021 | PEWG blog


Following the events of January 6th, we’ve been hearing a lot of folks talk about wanting to get involved in doing antifascist work. Solidarity Against Hate – Boston has a long history of and fairly single-issue focus on organizing popular mobilizations against fascist groups, which means our schedule is actually pretty clear for the time being–the fash are on the back foot; the most indefatigable public-humilation-courters have finally, after many years, pissed off the FBI; and it is got damb freezing, so the fash don’t seem to want to be in the streets any more than we do. Mark Sahady, one of our most prominent local chuds, is even banned from having rallies for us to counter as a term of his probation. To this we say “LOL, sucks to suck” and are currently putting the bulk of our attention to two things: One, cleaning up far-right stickering and tagging, and two, preparing for whatever form the far-right is going to take when it regroups.   

Which makes this a really good time to stay in all cozy-like and engage in some solid, pragmatic political education. If you’re not already following intel accounts like @AntiFashGordon, @discord__panic, @AntifaGarfield, @IdavoxOPP, and @RWParlerWatch, as well as researchers and reporters like @chick_in_kiev, @socialistdogmom, @lilsarg, @_grendan, and @EmilyGorcenski, to stay up to date on the current movements, members and iconography–well, you should get on that. You could also read up at newenglandwhitesupremacists.com to keep tabs on the local far right and at itsgoingdown.org‘s “This Week in Fascism” and “Getting Organized” columns to stay up on fighting the far right generally. If any reputable orgs in your area are holding trainings or webinars on community defense, de-escalation, understanding the far right, or related topics, go to them!

And, if you want to log off and give your eyeballs a break from the doomscrolling, here, in no particular order, are ten excellent good old-fashioned books for antifascists to read before direct action season comes around again:

1. Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, Dr. Mark Bray. Part history, part polemic, and not quite as much of a “handbook” as the name might suggest, this book is an indispensable introduction to what antifascist organizing is, how it developed, why it works the way it does, and what it accomplishes. If you’re new to antifascism, this will answer a lot of questions and get you started thinking strategically about countering the far-right.

If you would prefer to have the book and its core arguments summarized for you in a posh British accent, we recommend Abigail Thorn’s video The Philosophy of Antifa.

2. Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It, Shane Burley. Published in 2017 by a journalist from Portland, Oregon, Fascism Today is one of the first books to focus on the recent development of mass mobilization against fascism paired with more traditional “antifa”-style antifascist organizing. While some of the organizations named have changed since 2017, the basic strategies outlined are still key to understanding the far right and how to respond to it.

3. Blood Red Lines: How Nativism Fuels the Right, Brendan O’Connor. This timely book makes the case for the importance of “border fascism” as the key to understanding the far right. O’Connor argues that a preoccupation with borders and boundaries–both geographic and social–is the throughline that unites the many disparate forms of theoretically incoherent assholery on the far right, and the desire to maintain and reinforce these borders is behind the increasing paranoia and violence we see as “conservatives” descend into fascism.

4. Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, Talia Lavin. Do you not intend to leave your house until 2022 and are thinking of getting into the far-right online research game? Talia Lavin has done a bunch of this already so that you don’t have to, because damn, there is some really vile shit out there on Al Gore’s internet. With her trademark humor and sharp analysis, Lavin guides us, Virgil-like, through the seven levels of Hell that is the Nazi internet. 

5. Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, Patrick Van Horne and James A. Riley. MASSIVE COPAGANDA WARNING on this one. Buried within this 230-page ode to the glories of the U.S. Marine Corps (barf) lies a usable, practical 100-page guide to situational awareness. Definitely worth the slog for anyone who plans to be spending time at risky street actions, doing community safety work, or otherwise in situations where you might want to keep your head on a swivel. (Just reading it is also a pretty good exercise in keeping calm when confronted with right-wing garbage, too.)

6. Confronting Fascism: Discussion Documents for a Militant Movement, Don Hamerquist, J. Sakai, Anti-Racist Action Chicago, Mark Salotte. This collection of documents takes a proverbial wrecking ball to classical leftist theories of what fascism is and how it works, arguing that many of them have not been meaningfully updated since they failed to adequately confront fascism in the 20s and 30s. The essays in Confronting Fascism, though composed in the early 2000s, remain a timely intervention and thorough meditation on the petit-bourgeois class rage we call fascism, and provide new, productive frameworks for thinking through the events of January 6th.

7. The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements, Gord Hill. Indigenous author Gord Hill brings us a bold, action-packed graphic novel detailing the history of fascism and the resistance movements thereto. The comic book format makes it a fun, colorful read, but the content is solidly grounded in historical fact.

8. Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Military America, Kathleen Belew. A history of the post-1945 white power movement, showing how anticommunism and the experience of defeat in Vietnam united previously fractious Klansmen and Nazis. They found both old targets (people of color, Jews, and social movements) and new (the federal government), leading to atrocities like the Oklahoma City bombing and influencing the far right we know today. 

9. Resistance: The LGBT Fight Against Fascism in WWII, Avery Cassell. Queer people rock and have been fighting fascism forever. Before WW2, there were thriving scenes for the LGBTQ community in Paris and Berlin, but the rise of Hitler put an end to that. The LGBTQ people who gought fascism during WWII are not necessarily well known, but their stories, told in this wonderful and readable graphic novel, are a DAMN INSPIRATION FOR US ALL.

and last but definitely not least,

10. 40 Ways to Fight Fascists: Street-Legal Tactics for Community Activists, Spencer Sunshine. This no-nonsense pamphlet from longtime far-right researcher Spencer Sunshine, in collaboration with the much-more-famous-than-us Portland-based antifascist mass mobilization group PopMob, lays out a variety of ways to start doing targeted, concrete, and completely legal antifascist organizing, many of which are suitable for “aboveground” organizations and individuals for whom traditional “antifa”-style ninja shit might not be appropriate. 

You can buy these books basically anywhere but we strongly recommend, wherever possible, buying them directly from the publisher, or from your local radical bookstore. If you’re in Boston, that would be the Lucy Parsons Center, an amazing little community space that will also give you free antifascist stickers along with your book purchase. If you’d like to support a Black-owned Boston bookstore, Frugal Bookstore is now several months removed from being inundated with requests for White Fragility and would probably like a change of pace.