Uniting the Anti-Fascists?


Below is a short piece written by anti Fascist campaigner David Landau in which he notes that the whilst there have been some progress in the struggle against the BNP, the fascist tide has not been turned and the anti fascist movement faces challenges after the BNP gained there first seat on the London assembly.

MH

Uniting the Anti-Fascists?

By Dave Landau

Much hard work, some of it good, some of it not so good, was done in
campaigning against the fascists. But the fascist tide has not been turned. Many
reasons some of which are to do with anti-fascists the campaigns. Problems:

Sectarianism Some of activity was done by independent anti-fascist
anti-racist groups, but much was done under the rival umbrellas of Unite Against
Fascism and Hope Not Hate/Together. Clearly there is a problem in being both
united and together! In some parts of the country people are happy link up with
both umbrella’s. In places like London however, differences are stronger.
South East Region of the TUC (SERTUC) played the role of a super-umbrella
supporting initiatives of both UAF and Together.

The absurdity of this particular split to me is that there are no substantial
differences – much is at the level of talking up differences or painting the
other in a version that does not reflect the truth. Now I am not for unity at
any price. If, for example, an anti-fascist campaign adopted the Beverley
Hughes/New Labour position that you need stronger immigration controls because
immigration feeds the BNP – yes there are people in the anti-fascist movement
(in my own local campaign) who are otherwise good in many other ways who think
this is the way to take the ground from the fascists – then I don’t think that
I could be part of it. But these are not the kinds of differences that
divide the umbrellas (see later on immigration). So one thing that I want to fight
for is to end this silly conflict.

Popular Frontism Both UAF and Together are into engaging with the Tories,
having them on the platform, whilst in some cases not having Left List or
Respect on the platform (not a great loss perhaps but the principle of the thing
when they are standing in the election but you have the Tories up there), an
emphasis on celebrity endorsements, using the phrases like ‘Defending the Britain
We Love’ (I had to swallow hard to give that leaflet out). Now I am not
dogmatic about who you involve – I was very pleased that the Bishop of Barking put
out a statement asking people to vote against the BNP, some would call this
popular frontism but I don’t care. Its when you don’t criticize the mainstream
whose policies have created the despair that feeds fascism and whose racism
maintains the framework in which the fascists operate.

We need a movement based on trades unions, grass roots communities and those
under attack from the fascists; the kind of genuine anti-fascist United Front
which stopped the fascists in Cable Street in 1936 and in Lewisham in 1977.

United Fronts are frayed at the edges A theoretical pause. United Fronts
are very dialectical creatures. Whilst we can have a strict definition of the
United Front as an Aristotelean category, going through a series of campaigns
and movements saying ‘this one is a united front whilst thats a popular front,
and those lot are bloody 3rd period sectarians’, the reality doesn’t work like
this. On the one (right) hand our partners in a united front will be class
collaborationists or at least their leadership is. Sometimes the social
democrats, even ‘left social democrats’, are running the local state. So in order to
form an alliance with them, we have enter popular front type formations and
try and make them into united fronts. On the other (left) hand defeating
fascism is conditional on a fight for a socialist alternative. We can argue that
this is the job of the (non-existent) workers’ party which should not foist its
program on a UF. However, a united front in action, can be the embodiment
of that socialist alternative – workers controlling the streets or linking with
other struggles which when added together are all about a socialist
alternative.

Immigration lies at the heart of fascist propaganda now and for always. So
the challenge to the legitimacy of illegality, them and us, national and
racial identities and so forth is fundamental to defeating their ideas. Now, it
would not generally be right to try and impose a position of no immigration
controls on a united front campaign. A mass campaign will necessarily embrace people
who have differing positions on this question (although a Nottingham
Anti-Fascist Conference agreed to sponsor the 29th March Conference against
immigration controls which is great). On the other hand it is down to the socialists and
other anti-racist campaigners to take these arguments up. In particular we
must fight against these campaigns adopting other positions on immigration such
as advocating ‘non-racist fair controls’. It was noticable that Strangers
Into Citizens were given a prominent position at the Love Music Hate Racism
Carnival. No One is Illegal, No Borders or Campaign Against Immigration Controls
were not invited to speak or to lead the march – no surprise there then.
SERTUC and Searchlight also work closely with Strangers….

Local Roots One of the big problems when UAF was set up was that it expected
local campaigns to simply fall into line. This was one of the reasons for
the acrimony and whey the Hope Not Hate/Together network coalesced around
Searchlight. UAF put out national material it expected everybody to use. More
recently Hope Not Hate has caught the UAF disease and groups tend to not produce
their own material but instead distribute material produced centrally by
Searchlight. Central material is a useful resource for local groups but we need to
produce stuff which addresses what the BNP is saying locally and relates our
campaign to local issues like a hospital closure or whatever. If the money that
the umbrellas both raise from TUs and other benefactors could be made
available to local groups to produce their material that would be very handy. Not
all of us have a local Trades Council and some of them are broke anyway.

So What Do We Want? The anti-fascist movement needs to re-group, needs to
relate to new forces. In London we face a big challenge with them having a seat
on the London Assembly. In places like Stoke-on-Trent there are similar
challenges. SERTUC or equivalents elsewhere to call a conference of all
anti-fascists to knock heads together but also discuss the POLITICS of the way forward.
Then some genuine differences of substance will come out but will hopefully
be debated constructively.

When Do We Want It? As soon as bloody possible.

Dave

PS Love Music Hate Racism have called a demo tomorrow night (Tuesday)
6pm at City Hall, the first London Assembly meeting with BNP member Barnbrook. Don’t know
who else is supporting it but we should be.

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3 Comments

Filed under anti racism and popular culture, BNP, Democracy/Elections/democratic accountability/organized

3 responses to “Uniting the Anti-Fascists?

  1. solo mi voce

    whilst i am not a BNP supporter to present them as the only fascist party in the UK is slightly laughable.

    The new labour project is by definition a fascist project, especially under the leadership of Brown seeking his idea of ‘big – tent’ politics (read a union of government and business ie. fascism)

    Looking at the infringement of civil liberties (the surveillance state) as well as demands on people to think in the ‘right’ way (political correctness), it is reasonably clear that we already have a state that can be seen as fascist, ok without the racism that is indicative of Nazism, but with the formation of a ‘common enemy’ which would be terrorism and ‘islamofascism’; the Italians, Chileans and Germans all used terrorism in this way, allbeit ‘socialist’ rather than ‘islamic’.

    You mention immigration, and whilst there is much to be celebrated about the contribution that immigrants have made to the UK, the BNP is gaining ground as the immigration has been handled so poorly. New labour policy on immigration has been to ignore the situation on one level and push the agenda on the other (at best because it is such a politically sensitive issue, at worst as a deliberate policy) and as a result there is a huge groundswell of opinion against immigration.

    By spending 10 years not counting people in, not providing adequate support for host communities and assaulting the native British culture (through such things as diversity coordinators, translating DVLA etc. documents into over 30 languages) they have made immigration into an issue that could have been avoided had the policy of assimilation not multi culturalism been followed. As it is, racial/ethnic/religious groups (both indigenous and non indigenous) have formed in opposition to each other raising racial tension and partly explaining the BNPs slow but steady rise over the last couple of years.

    Whilst I understand that your group is ideologically committed to open borders, movement and resettlement of people on the scale that we have seen over the last 10 years (500,000 Russian women have been traffikd for sex to western Europe since 1994, one country, one industry) is both detrimental to the host community (as it feels a cultural assault, especially when we add in the removed right of free speech when it comes to racial/immigration issues) as well as the sending society (who suffer loss of population, skills etc.) as well as the people being trafficked (who suffer exploitation and occasionally violence).

    You need to address the sense of homelessness that is felt by many indigenous Britons when they look in their towns and see alien cultural influences promoted over the indigenous culture. Sensitivity over pointless issues (such as renaming Christmas ‘winterfest’ in Birmingham) which alienates indigenous peoples whilst at the same time not addressing issues of importance to immigrant peoples (such as housing, schools). The issue is not that there is a lack of respect for other cultures, but that other cultures are seen to be promoted over the indigenous culture (such as serving Halal meat at schools, even where majority is not Moslem).

    Taking a more international perspective, why is it racist in the UK to advocate English fluency as a pre requisite for citizenship (as in Estonia) or to build a national identity that allows for the development of subcultures but is still related to the indigenous culture (like the USA or Kazakhstan)? Racism is different from wishing to protect culture, and by confusing the two issues you give ammunition to the BNP who can utilize the legitimate cultural and political grievances of indigenous peoples and turn them into a force for racism and racist policies.

    As a final point, the recent Met police report saying that on average immigrants are no more or less likely to commit crimes is an example of the disinformation and confusion tied into the subject. Whilst it is true that majority of immigration populations are seeking work, immigrants from states such as Somalia are often involved in high level organised crime. This is not surprising, as the political situation is some states is such that criminal activity and violence is a normal part of life. To allow groups of people into the UK with no checks or support is asking for trouble in the long run.

    So, to conclude if you wish to fight fascism, then New labour should be your first point of call. It is a fascist party which describes itself as ‘the political arm of the British people’ and the rise in support for the BNP comes from New labour’s disastrous stewardship of the nation over the last 10 years. To fight fascism, you need to address people’s legitimate concerns about work, housing, social welfare and not cloud the issue by allowing racism to be a part of what you are trying to do. A ‘united front’ sounds like a great structure, just make sure you include everyone and allow for their legitimate opinions to be heard and discussed. This would include views on deportation, citizenship, multiculturalism/pluralism and so on. You must try to understand why it is that the BNP are doing well from an objective point of view if you are to combat the political and social problems that are indicitave of poorly managed (or deliberate?) immigration policy.

  2. Mick Hall

    solo mi voce

    Thanks for leaving this comment, I posted it to another e-list i belong to, asking what the members thought of it. The majority consulted felt your not a covert nazi and that you are female, as you made such a well structured argument and many of the points you made were spot on.

    Myself I felt your analysis was fair comment, as to are your criticism of new labour, although I felt you were weak on how to fight NL, in my view the best we can hope for is for a new left reformist party which has space within for revolutionaries. A party in the mould of the European left party.

    I considered posting your comments as an article on http://organizedrage.blogspot.com/, but before I did so I would need to know a little more about you.

    Best regards

    Mick

  3. solo mi voce

    Hi Mick,

    Thanks for your positive comments. Backgroundwise, I am male and an observer. I am not active politically, but would be described as an anarchist (left) or libertarian (right). Personally I do not like such labels, as I am me and not a label. Regardless of that, my core belief is of minimal state interference in the private sphere, whilst accepting pragmatic necessity of it in some areas of society.

    My issue (as with many others) is that it is easy to point out the failings of New labour/neoliberalism , but within my mind there are no connections I can make to come up with a better solution. For me, a lurch to the left or right is as bad as we have now, but a stateless society obviously has practical issues in implementation and maintenance. I have no problem with wealth accumulation or personal motivation, my only requirement is that people are honest about their intentions. In my opinion, the only way to spread understanding of diverse lifestyles is through trust, openness and honesty.

    I suppose the only way to beat the stateists is by engaging democratically with the people – we have to ask why do we employ representatives to represent us when they represent on behalf of interest groups? I would accept a policy i disagreed with if it is agreed by an informed debate and true support (i will sometimes be in the majority, sometimes in the minority) but i cannot support policies that are done behind closed doors and only seek to serve the short term political interests of our representatives and the small groups of lobbyists who are involved with them.

    for the record, i am not a covert nazi but I am not left wing. (in my understanding left wing is stateist, feel free to correct me) but if we are to defeat fascism, then even though our political philosophy/economics are different, our aims are the same and we can build a consensus within that framework of respect for the individual because they are as deserving of respect as me.

    hope that makes sense.

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