Buy the book!
– Chris (Germany) –
Rough actionism in a rough book – Peter Cricket “My Life Antifa”
The fact that Peter Cricket is not a full-time author and that the book was published in a DIY mentality is omnipresent.
The sentences are sometimes a bit bumpy, there are typing errors here and there and the content has no dramaturgical structure. It’s more of a chronological collection of notes, stories, thoughts, and reflections that Peter has put together in a book.
But right from the start I didn’t expect any “The Lord of the Rings” in a 161 edition.
I think I expected exactly what I got.
A rough story about an active and organized anti-fascist from the middle of Europe, which is written just as rough and bumpy.
The journey on which the reader is taken is by no means just the story of Peter, it also reflects the development of Nazi structures over time and what new ways had to be found to counter these structures.
As far as the objective look at the content of the book, all that comes next is information about the book as well as my subjective opinion / my reading experience.
How did I get the book in the first place? Quite simply, Peter wrote a private message to the band account of my band “Keep It Alive” and explained that he wrote this book, the proceeds will go to an anti-racism project in his city and whether we will help him with the Spreading could help.
I was curious about what kind of book it was on the homepage “www.mylifeantifa.com” and bought it without further ado. (Or if you buy the e-book for 6 € on the homepage, you will receive several English-language PDF versions and all conceivable formats for your e-book reader.)
I started reading after the download and couldn’t put the book down. Only a sick dog and stress at work interrupted my reading orgy. In the meantime I am finished and have to write these lines out of an inner urge.
With each of the 100 stories, I felt more and more connected to Peter.
It is unbelievable how two people who have never seen each other and don’t know each other can have so many parallels in their lives. From the way you grew up, the way you “practiced” anti-fascism, being / having been straight edge to your love for hardcore (and yes Peter, also for the Beastie Boys). Even our dogs are the same age wtf ?!
Peter and I write almost every day now and I think I speak for both of us when I say: “We like to do it!”.
If we had grown up together in the same country and city, we could certainly have become very good friends. (And one of us would have ended up in jail for sure)
My rating objectively 8/10
My rating subjectively 10/10 Conclusion: Buy the book!
same as in real life
– one situation follows another.
– Bea (Polska) –
You’re a teenager growing up in blocks of flats district in the late ‘90s.
Your parents are working, living together, you used to go for family holidays, having all you need – what can “go wrong”?
Peter Cricket begins his story in his teenage years – which aren’t much different than my or my friends’ teenagehood. Block of flats, school, yard. Better or worse friends, gameplays to which you need only a bit of imagination but any expensive stuff the majority of guys didn’t have money for. Parents – typical working-class people, younger sister and grandpa, whose stories about the 2nd World War influenced the author’s worldview, living in the countryside.
Well, we can call it a calm before the storm, maybe puberty and need of finding your place in the crowd – whatever. In cases of many people I know, it was the same unpredictable, non-scheduled, came suddenly and stayed with us till now somehow (of course, not with all of us but for the sure majority – we are rarely hearing something about the rest who was just changing their views swaying with the wind) – it’s just that one day you go for the gig, start talking with someone, hear some song or – as it was in author’s case – just make a DIY T-shirt with a crossed swastika. And it begins.
Every time I am supposed to write something about such stories, I don’t find it as the easiest task in the world. However, I know that the fair assessment can come rather (only?) from people who had/have something in common with this whole “environment” / “scene” – no matter if they were occasionally taking part in demos or organising these demos or got punched by nazi or punched a nazi…we have even too many scenarios and for sure won’t take “it didn’t happen for sure” reading position.
“My life Antifa” is a collection of 100 kinda-loose notes describing the life of a member of a radical antifascist group. Without any glamorizing, feeling sorry for hurt nazis, justifying his actions or contemplating if they were good or maybe not – basically, without any contemplating like that as the author in the very beginning admits he doesn’t regret anything, moreover believes it helped him to become a better person.
Peter tells his story in English despite the fact the action takes place in the centre of Europe, nevertheless, it’s not any university English so no worries – everything is easy to understand and exact.
So you’re living in your housing estate, attending school classes, hanging out with friends. And suddenly the world reveals things you didn’t have a clue about and it’s only on you if you’re gonna crush it or avoid and continue your way – or maybe take the throwing side and decide to be on this so-called “better-than-everyone-else” position – young Peter discovers demonstrations, nazis walking on the streets and having a beer in pubs, gigs, punk rock, actually everything overlaps and interweaves with each other, creating one coherent but distressing whole for which he’s not prepared yet – and he’s only gonna find out it’s not possible to be prepared completely to everything. Notes which book consists of are brief and – same as in real life – one situation follows another. On one page we observe a wild fight in a pub and on the next one we have a moment to calm down, look into the author’s mentality, relations with family and partners or friends, or readjust loose retrospection and thoughts. It helps us to feel a situation and together with the author take part in the next events of his life.
The team of Peter’s friends is also changing over the years, same as his approach to actions he takes, tactics, conclusions are being drawn, emotions – better controlled. Beginnings look like moves of the boat in the middle of a sea in the time of the first storm – but thanks to better and better-planned behaviors he’s able to take back the control (or at least not let himself drown) and observe the sky getting more and more bright. Also in this case – together with Antifa growing in power and nazis feeling less and less confident, antifascist can plant disagree for attendance of nazis on streets and gigs, get the support of bands which are closer to be “mainstream” part of this scene than playing for fuel-money and pot of soup before the show. But it’s important not to be deceived by those initial appearances as it’s not any beautiful story about bad kids winning over evil – this evil is still hiding somewhere and even when it has been limited, it’s still waiting for the proper moment to appear again and again.
There is also one thing in this book I’m not able to fully agree with – I don’t think the his country is any super-special place speaking about fighting nazis, lack of squats, culture centers, basically – things which need to be defended and which are gathering people.
I think every region and every group had to work out its strategy. Fact that some countries have squats for example in the capital cities doesn’t mean that everything is concentrated around. That doesn’t mean that crews from smaller cities had the same job as these big city ones just because some squat is existing there. Some actions – even in the mobile-phones and Internet era – were unknown and we were hearing about them only after a few years, of course unofficially, even if it’s a fact that bigger crew was often kinda fused for similar but not same smaller cities actions.
Being surrounded by squats, gigs and the whole big city doesn’t always mean having a point you have to defend – sometimes it’s just being on display and knowing that everyone knows where you can be – even if you don’t want it. We’re still learning, we’re not gonna know for probably a very long time about many things happening around (maybe forever) as it’s not stuff to be discussed by beer. I’d say anyway that as antifascist in my group(s) we were both beginning with some stuff and reacting for another one. And according to my own experience, it works the same way both in bigger and smaller cities. Anyway, it’s still some point leading to observation and exchanging experiences, for sure anything wrong – each of us describes own story exactly basing on own view.
To make a long story short – “My life Antifa” isn’t a book I can describe basing on some schedule. It’s not a book you can understand in 100% and perfectly fit your own life and activism being happy everything looks the same. It’s a personal story coming from personal experiences and thoughts which despite the possibility of being similar are still a part of only one thing – Peter’s life. We’re being made to discuss, understand reality, think what kind of war is going on and what’s gonna be our tactic to not get caught flat-footed. One of the next beginnings or continuation of discussions we’re still having.
So I’d like to thank Peter very much for revealing such a private part of his person as it can’t be easy in any way. For letting readers see what was before and how it looks now. And as it has been said in the book – it was both him, mine and for sure many other reader’s decisions to take a stand, defend weaker and discriminated people, take action. As it’s our mission.
Fight with nazis, motivation
and inner demons.
– Izurewara (Czech) –
This book isn’t heroic epos about rightful flawless superhumans fighting against the higher evil. It’s quite the opposite. It’s actually not ever declaring what good and evil are. It’s a very personal confession. Peter doesn’t fight “only” with nazis, but also with his motivations and inner demons. Understanding the sacrifices he made and all possible consequences which can happen make him very conscious about the situation and doesn’t even let him glorify or justify his actions. But still, he cannot stop fighting for the right thing he believes that the right thing is admitting that some people can see his way over the line and they can be right.
This is actually the point why this book is that interesting – Peter isn’t an ultimate hero. You will easily get the feeling that this guy can be your neighbor from the next door. An ordinary guy who fights for what he believes. …and you will never know!
A reflection on Peter Cricket's
100 notes from 20 years in Antifa
To chronicle your life as a militant antifascist is not a novelty. Some of these chronicles have found a pretty broad readership, for example Sean Birchall’s Beating the Fascists and DJ Stalingrad’s Exodus—although the latter, curiously, has never appeared in English. Now, we also have My Life: Antifa by Peter Cricket.
Peter Cricket is, as we can safely assume, a pseudonym. Perhaps a misleading one. If you approach the book without any prior knowledge, it might take you a while to figure out that it’s set in the Czech Republic. That this matters, is made clear by the author himself. He repeatedly stresses the unique conditions he faced as a militant antifascist in a small country without a broader radical scene or infrastructure to fall back onto. The antifascism he lived was not about defending radical leftist spaces or structures, but to prevent Nazis from establishing their own.
In the foreword, Mr Cricket speaks of “ridiculous ego-trips and macho stories” with regard to his book. It might explain some of the language. Nazis are routinely called “chickenshit wimps” or “shitstain cowards”. I suppose some of their other characteristics are more worrisome, but hey, it’s a tough life on the streets. The descriptions of the author’s “crew” clashing with their Nazi opponents are, at times, reminiscent of gangs staking out their territory. Then again, it’s not of their own choosing.
Hardcore punks will appreciate a lengthy episode about a Terror-headlined show in Prague, where—with the help of the bands’ members, kudos!—a group of Nazis were prevented from entering the venue. There is plenty of interesting stuff about right-wingers trying to infiltrate the hardcore scene in general. Cricket says that one of the most tangible outcomes of the antifascist movement in the Czech Republic were video interviews with hardcore bands taking a stand against fascism. “Once and for good it transformed the audiences at hardcore gigs and their thinking.” Way to go.
Another strength of the book are the open words by Mr Cricket about how his experiences have changed him as a person: the way he interacts with others, how he perceives his environment, how he observes the world around him. At one point, he concludes that his time as an antifascist militant has turned him into an “anti-social individual”. A sad outcome, if it’s true, but perhaps not surprising.
Frankly, the life described in the book is reminiscent of the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”, a life that doesn’t seem terribly attractive. Yet, as the author stresses, in the context of antifascist action, it’s also a life that brings results. I suppose we must be glad that some folks choose it despite the costs. There’s a disclaimer in the beginning of the book, warning readers about “scenes of extreme violence”. Usually, I’m not much one for disclaimers, but in this case it seems appropriate. Despite Mr Cricket stating, at one point, that he didn’t “analyze stuff too deeply”, the book contains quite a bit of reflection on antifascist tactics, too. Another strength of the book, not least as it’s tied to personal experience.
If you’re interested in sports, you’ll appreciate the information you get on Sparta Prague supporters; it might help you understand why a Sparta Prague player, Ondřej Kúdela, received a ten-game suspension for uttering a racial slur toward a black opponent earlier this year. On a lighter note, I was happy to see that Mr Cricket and I share a teenage idol in the hockey player Jaromír Jágr—I even had the Penguins shirt!
My Life: Antifa is available as a self-published e-book, a true DIY endeavor! There’s a website with promo and download options. The trailer and audio samples are on the dramatic side (where did they get this voice?), but alright, we’re dealing with dramatic stuff here. The book is well-worth the read for anyone interested in these matters.
A reflection on Peter Cricket's
100 notes from 20 years in Antifa
Simple, straight to the point autobiography of an Antifa activist. Would recommend to everyone interested in practical reality of militant antifascism.