Watching the breakdown of civil order in America, we ask ourselves: could it happen here? The initial answer is no. British anarchists have been cheerfully throwing things on May Day for years. A mildly sinister ‘Anonymous’ style demonstration took over Parliament Square on Guy Fawkes day last year – but without serious upset.

At the other end of the spectrum, our ‘Far Right’ is not same beast as America’s. Even the small minority of White Nationalists which congregated in Charlottesville is not present in the UK. Similarly we have not – and will not – seen the election of a Donald Trump. The absurd attempt to equate Brexit with a Trump-type turn in British politics has failed.

The narrative of America’s unreconstructed Neo-Fascists is crude but clear. That of Antifa is more subtle. At its heart is the equivalence between ‘psychological violence’ – namely the holding or articulating of offensive beliefs – with physical violence. From this flows the claim that psychological violence can be met with physical violence, and therefore that Antifa’s violence is actually defensive (not pre-emptive, note; as the threat of physical violence is not required to take action). Antifa also reserves the right to define psychological violence unilaterally.

The mainstream take comfort from the idea that only Neo-Nazis are at risk. But the accusation of psychological violence does not stop at Neo-Nazis. In the Antifa stronghold of Portland, followers threatened forcibly to remove from a civic parade any of the town’s Republican voters. The idea has further become embedded that the very idea of free speech – let alone its practice – is psychologically violent and therefore deserving of extra-legal force (the breaking up of Boston’s Free Speech rally was a case in point). That provides an extremely large target group of mainstream conservatives – some of whom are surely at risk of counter-radicalisation if they are attacked. Similarly, an anti-Marxism march is now to be targetted.

Under such circumstances, the concept of victim-identified psychological violence should be handled with extreme care. Unfortunately, it is not. The announcement of the Crown Prosecution Service’s sentencing crackdown for online hate-crime leant heavily on the idea. Although the ostensible justification for criminalising hate-speech is that it leads to physical crime, the Director of Public Prosecution’s launch article in the Guardian finished on limiting ‘division and intolerance’ and media hostility. In other words, psychological violence – which she promises to meet with physical coercion in the form of arrest. Meanwhile the CPS website defines a hate incident as any ‘which the victim – or anyone else – thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them’. Here we find precisely the unilateral, self-rooted definition of psychological violence employed by Antifa.

The CPS hopes to expand its own remit with this move. But the lesson of the US is that activists are ever more willing to short-circuit the state and respond directly to their personalised definitions of psychological violence. The CPS is therefore treading a fine line by giving these concepts greater legitimacy. If Britain’s anarchist fringe perceives ever more psychological violence present in society, it too will feel more justified in bypassing the state by means of ‘defensive’ violence of its own. This will only drive a re-radicalistion of Far Right, in turn growing the base of a British Antifa. At best, you have to give it to the CPS for keeping itself in a job. At worst, it may be undermining the very order it is supposed to keep.