“I knew it was possible, but I didn’t think it could actually happen”. How many of us had these thoughts rattling around our heads in the aftermath of Nick Griffin’s election to the European Parliament? 6 May 2010 could inspire the mass resurrection of such sentiments.
Yet in the face of abundant and very clear “messages” of the political dangers we face mainstream anti-fascism appears consistently myopic and complacent.
What are these ignored “messages”? A resurgent, organised right; a discredited Labour party; palpable anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim public sentiment; the collapse of grass-roots working class organisation; political disenfranchisement and widespread anger at the manifold anti-working class attacks from successive governments. Further back, the dangers of a disunited and politically disorientated opposition to fascism.
In the face of all this, groups like the Socialist Workers Party’s “Unite Against Fascism” and Searchlight’s “Hope not Hate”campaign have not adapted. Rather than organise anti-fascist campaigns that address themselves to working class political concerns, UAF and HnH peddle a more or less apolitical opposition. The former concentrates on “exposing” the Nazi roots of the British National Party, the latter on contrasting the positives of “local life” to the BNP’s message. Both of these tactics have an element of necessity, but in isolation they are not sufficient to combat the fascists.
When it comes to stopping the anti-Muslim racists of the English Defence League, different problems crop up. Where UAF is incapable of working with united, democratic campaigns to stop EDL actions, HnH prefers to call for state bans and proscriptions.
We need a different form of organisation: a campaign that addresses itself to the new political realities, offering working class politics and initiating working class organisation against the British National Party. In response to the EDL we need to organise for working class self-defence, uniting white, black and Muslim workers to stop the racists from marching.
Building a working-class antifascist and anti-racist network
Saturday 27 March, 12-5pm,
Queens Walk Community Centre, Queens Walk, The Meadows, Nottingham.