The idea that Antifa is planning some naughtiness doesn’t really come as a shock. The loose organization is notorious for causing trouble–usually violent trouble–anywhere they show up. It’s what they do. They don’t just hold up a handful of signs and chant some semi-clever slogans. No, they start fires, break windows, and hit people with bicycle locks.

Now word has surfaced that Antifa has something serious planned for November 4th. A series of posts on social media claim the group is planning on launching a civil war on that day, as a matter of fact.

However, Antifa members argue they plan nothing of the sort. Instead, their own social media accounts seem to claim they simply plan protests for that day.

Now, to be sure, Antifa’s protests may well look like the start of a civil war, what with all the wanton destruction of property and the violence against anyone not obviously on their side, however, for them that’s just a “peaceful protest.” One can only imagine what their idea of kicking off a civil war would look like.

However, the group behind the protests claims they have no intention of doing any such thing.

What is actually happening on November 4? A protest is being launched by the activist group Refuse Fascism, which is intended to stir a non-violent mass movement to remove Trump from office, according to Perry Hoberman, a professor at the University of Southern California who is a member of the group’s steering committee. The idea is to mobilize people to hit the streets in a peaceful demonstration against Trump’s administration, Hoberman says, stressing that it has absolutely nothing to do with starting another American civil war.

“Right wingers will spin anything into anything,” Hoberman says of the civil war conspiracy. “It’s just an attempt to smear anyone who isn’t a fascist.”

A protester, left, confronts a supporter of President Donald Trump, right, during a May Day protest, Monday, May 1, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

 

Considering what Newsweek reports as the roots of the rumor, Hoberman may not be wrong calling it a conspiracy theory. The mainstream media organization credits the origins of this story to a report that originally ran on Infowars, the site owned by noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. While Infowars has some legitimate news some of the time, it also has some pretty far out there stories, as well.

Newsweek sources the origin of the story to this post at Infowars. That post, written by Jones acolyte Paul Joseph Watson, contains only one link to any source. In this case, it’s to a group called the Revolutionary Communist Party. Watson writes:

A long diatribe written by Andy Zee posted on the Revolutionary Communist Party website makes it clear that the events, which leftists hope will attract “millions,” are not planned to be just ordinary protests.

“There is a break with what have been the norms we confront, and to deal with this there must be a break with the “normal” ways people seek change from government. The normal forms of petition and protest DO NOT APPLY with Trump—even as they have been difficult enough under the normal functioning of this system,” writes Zee.

“Sharp agitation” and “politically provocative actions” must be employed to achieve the complete overthrow of the administration, according to Zee.

Zee cites The Coming Civil War by Bob Avakian, “the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and architect of the new synthesis of communism,” as a template for the planned unrest.

Except, Zee doesn’t actually say that. Here’s what was actually posted at the Revolutionary Communist Party site:

Pence is now the political leader of a theocratic Christian fundamentalism—that we should more accurately call Christian fascism. Decades in the making, the roots of this are gone into extensively in The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy… And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer and The Coming Civil War, both by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and architect of the new synthesis of communism.

Protesters march in a May Day demonstration on Monday, May 1, 2017, near City Hall in Philadelphia. Public school teachers, immigration advocates and social and racial justice groups took to the streets in May Day demonstrations across Pennsylvania, with many inspired to vent about President Donald Trump’s 101st day in office. (AP Photo/Kristen De Groot)

 

Zee is citing the book as having outlined this mythical “Christian fascism’s” rise. While Zee clearly calls for more than ordinary protests, which probably does mean the violent overthrow of our legitimately elected government, it’s difficult to cite this as evidence that Antifa is planning anything in particular.

Then there’s the group behind the November 4th protests themselves, Refuse Fascism. While the name makes it clear they have similar goals to Antifa, at least one member of the organization argues that the group is planning on non-violent protest.

Sunsara Taylor, who is with the organization, said they are planning “a mass non-violent political protest.” She said “the misinformation and lies being spread by the alt-right echo chamber about Antifa planning a civil war … are lies through and through.”

Taylor herself does not identify as “Antifa,” but said that the group welcomes protestors from all backgrounds, including those “who identify as Antifa, as well as Hillary supporters, Bernie people …”

Though Taylor and Refuse Fascism do not condone violence, protesters in anarchist “black blocs” who are frequently aligned with the anti-fascist movement have been violent during some pastprotests.

Of course, just because you say you’re planning a non-violent protest doesn’t mean that’s how it’ll turn out. Especially since Refuse Fascism has links to one Andy Zee. A transcript of a talk given by Zee on Refuse Fascism’s site comes from a Teach-In held back in April. In fact, Taylor appears to have introduced Zee in the first place. Zee describes the links between himself and Refuse Fascism:

As Sunsara said, my name is Andy Zee. I am one of the initiators of Refuse Fascism, and the Spokesperson for Revolution Books. I am also an advocate for The New Communism developed by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian.

So the ties are clear, and we already have Zee stating that protests “do not apply” to Trump, but what do we lack? Any actual suggestion of launching a civil war on November 4th.

If you were going to start a civil war on a given day, would you broadcast that date far and wide so the government you sought to topple would have ample time to plan and pre-position forces to combat your uprising? Probably not.

That said, masking it as a supposedly non-violent protest might be an attractive way to try and fly under the government’s radar. After all, protests are protected speech, right?

A protester of President Donald Trump carries a caricature poster of the President near Trump Tower (background right) Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

 

Don’t consider that one too likely, however. Calls for protests will invariably attract legions who have no interest in violence and will become a burden when it’s time to launch an offensive. They create the potential to separate groups as people push and prod their way through the crowd. They create a panicked mob the moment the shooting starts, a mob that’s just as difficult for you to deal with as it is for your enemy. Probably more so if you are convinced your enemies are heartless fascists who would fire into a crowd.

No, it’s not likely that anything is planned for November 4th except for a handful of protests that may well get far too rowdy. Black-clad Antifa goons may well bust some windows, start some fires, and probably engage in some kind of assault, but beyond that?

Yes, Andy Zee appears to call for something more than protests, but he’s also just one person. Is he the almost obligatory communist hothead calling for revolution, or is he a critical part of Refuse Fascism’s regime? From here, it’s hard to tell. What isn’t difficult to tell is that while he may believe that something more is called for in dealing with Donald Trump, his fellow travelers lack any real means to accomplish that.

They lack the numbers, the training, or the logistics to overthrow the United States government, especially since the vast majority of the military, police, and private gun owners oppose everything they stand for. What’s more, it’s unlikely they don’t know that since all three are objects of scorn amongst that crowd.

That said, if you’re in a city where one of these protests is taking place, it pays to remain vigilant. Even if Refuse Fascism is steadfast and heartfelt in their desire for the protest to remain non-violent, it doesn’t mean that desire is shared by all who will take part. All it takes is one spark to turn a tense but peaceful protest into an all-out riot, so be careful.

It’s unlikely there will be any attempt at a civil war on November 4th, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get ugly enough without it.