Home > General Politics, Local Democracy, Religion > Anti-fascism in a new era

Anti-fascism in a new era

This is a guest (re-)post by Bob From Brockley.

I originally posted a version of this post last Autumn. I have asked TCF to re-post it for me (slightly edited) because I posted it at a very busy time at my blog, so it got very little debate, and I wanted to test it out away from my comfort zone. But I am asking now because I think the situation is becoming more and more critical for anti-fascists. The continued decline of the BNP is a positive but it has opened the space for the re-emergence of more emphatically Nazi sects, while its ideas and narratives have infected the political mainstream as authoritarian xenophobic politics spread beyond the fascist fringe. Meanwhile, the English Defence League has seen a continued violent rise based on a style of politics the BNP long ago abandoned, and could well form the nucleus of a new far right alignment. These changes pose the questions of militant anti-fascism more urgently than ever.

Waterloo Sunset has published a very helpful critique of Searchlight’s announcement of a brave new era for anti-fascism. Searchlight call for a re-thinking of the reality of fascism, and a step away from some of the old orthodoxies of militant anti-fascism. Like WS, I agree that there is some truth in the analysis of the changing situation put forward by Nick Lowles and Paul Meszaros, and like WS I am far from convinced of either the newness or the wisdom of the new course they chart. But I am far from sure what the right course is.

As WS points out, the aspects of the new Searchlight analysis which are correct were actually set out very clearly a decade and a half ago by London Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) in its Filling the Vacuum document, which led eventually to the self-dissolution of AFA and a turn to community politics. In short, the battle against the BNP on the streets had been won by the early 1990s, but the BNP were winning a cultural war in the communities where white working class people felt let down and abandoned by mainstream society, and in particular by the left and the Labour movement.

But, as WS also points out, the way to engage those communities is not to enter the political mainstream, or to do the Labour Party’s business and re-connect the electorate in those communities with the political machine which abandoned them. That only further sacrifices our credibility.

The way to fill the vacuum, instead, is to build the grassroots initiatives that take seriously the real concerns of such communities – especially now, in an age of rising unemployment, financial crisis and unfairly imposed austerity. (These grassroots initiatives look different in every locality. The relationship with the Labour Party, trade unions and so on will be negotiated differently depending on local circumstances. Meszaros and Lowles are right about the need for flexible, local solutions informed by local knowledge.)

Related to this is the issue of who the constituency of this sort of activity should be, something which, as WS notes, is skirted around in the Searchlight text. They talk about “the community”, “real people”, “real communities”, “ordinary people”, “real ordinary people”, “the mainstream”, “the anti-BNP voter”, “Mr and Mrs Smith”, “the public mood”. But this vagueness contrasts to the more specific constituency identified in the analysis of the BNP’s growth: “The BNP was building inside communities and tapping into widespread discontent with the political system. More significantly, and often ignored by many, the BNP was engaging in a cultural war that was successfully drawing upon a loss of identity and meaning among many white working class people. By carefully nurturing an image of itself as victim and speaking up “for the silent majority” the BNP could offer a new white nationalist identity to people who felt let down and abandoned by society.” Those who are experiencing a loss of identity and meaning, who feel let down and abandoned by society, are a very specific constituency, and it is them, and not “Mr and Mrs Smith” that anti-fascists need to engage with.

But where does that leave militant anti-fascism? Is its job over? The key problem with the Searchlight analysis of militant anti-fascism is to reduce it to the philosophy of “No Platform”. In my view, this is simplistic and misleading.

No Platform” is a policy that relates primarily to student unions and trade unions. For a student union, for example, No Platform means using the power of the union to keep fascists off campus – denying them a platform in the college or university. For council workers, it might mean stopping council premises being used by fascists.

No Platform is sometimes counterposed to “free speech”, but No Platform is not historically a policy of calling upon the state to ban fascists, but rather of using one’s own resources to deny them a platform in one’s own institutions. If I tell someone that in my house, in front of my kids, they should refrain from swearing, I am not infringing their free speech in general, just saying what the rules are in my house. No Platform, historically, was never about bans and police actions; it was about people setting the rules in their own houses.

What happened was that No Platform took on the status of a fetish, an absolute value, and a life of its own, in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with the wider ethos of anti-fascism. We see this reflected in two very different ways. For many anti-authoritarians, anti-fascism became a lifestyle choice; the hoodie and scarf became a uniform; and anyone outside the charmed circle of the antifa milieu was not trusted.

On the authoritarian left, in the white collar unions and student unions dominated by the SWP, we see calls for BNP teachers to be sacked, or agencies like the EHRC taking the BNP to court over its membership rules – meaningless, bureaucratic, legalistic interpretations which rely on the state and disempower citizens, while allowing the BNP to paint itself as the heroic victim of censorship.

Meanwhile, in the real world – in the world of the internet and YouTube and Facebook, where platforms for hate endlessly proliferate; in the a period when the BNP have achieved a wider support base of people who are in no sense fascist; and in an age of increasingly sophisticated policing and surveillance – the ideal of No Platform has become meaningless.

Ironically, coinciding with the concept’s irrelevance, the SWP front Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has re-discovered it with a vengeance, probably noting that they can gain competitive advantage in the anti-fascist market by making “militancy” their USP. Hence childish actions like throwing eggs at Nick Griffin, which might be fun but have zero or negative effect.

Militant anti-fascism, however, never meant just street fighting. AFA, for example, saw it as a two-track strategy: physical and ideological confrontation, the latter less spectacular but taking up at least much of the organisation’s energy. To list just a few examples I can recall, in London and elsewhere, we did a huge amount of work with football fans, organised carnivals and local history workshops, developed a political response to knife attacks in London, did estate-based work in issues like housing transfer and anti-social behaviour. This approach was also that of our predecessors, as you can see if you read the autobiography of Joe Jacobs for instance.

Another challenge for militant anti-fascism is how to deal with forms of fascism that don’t look like the old NF did – forms of fascism that fester among “oppressed” minorities, among people that hate the BNP. When this challenge was recently posed by Carl, it was totally failed by both UAF and Searchlight. But when it was posed in the East End in the summer of 2010, more positive results were seen. Whitechapel United Against Division mobilised working class white and Bangladeshi local people to protest both the Islamists and the EDL. And the statement “Against fascism in all its colours”, condemning both, was signed by a wide range of local organisations, from the Bangladesh Welfare Association to the Brick Lane Mosque to the Whitechapel Anarchist Group.

This points to a neglected part of the militant anti-fascist story. A large part of the history of militant anti-fascism in Britain, from the Jewish East End in the 1930s to Southall and Brick Lane in the 1970s and 1980s, has been communities defending themselves from violent attacks. With the BNP’s turn in the 1990s from the battle for the streets to the battle for the ballot box, that sort of violence was less common. But with the rise of the EDL since 2009, Asian communities are once again under attack. If anti-fascism is to have any credibility with these communities, and especially their youth, an appeal to “Mr and Mrs Smith” is not the right approach. And this opens a space that reactionary jihadi groups are happy to move into. Anti-fascism, then, needs to fill the vacuum in white working class communities, but also drive a wedge between angry Muslims and the far right Islamist political entrepreneurs appealing to them. Doing both at once will be no easy task.

In conclusion, I agree with Meszaros and Lowles that we urgently need to re-think the old dogmas in new times. But I don’t think they offer us the tools to do so.

  1. May 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Great post – no definitive answers but genuinely thought-provoking: I was involved in anti-fascist work on and off in various guises in the 90’s and I’m much more ambiguous now.

    There has been, in different quarters, a fetishistion of both direct action and ‘no platform’. At the risk of indulging in pop-psychology, I think one factor in this was that in a period when the political compass was spinning and disorientating, ‘anti-fascism’provided a kind of reassuring certainty – and even a degree of self-righteousness.

    On a very practical level I know that trying now to engage with the EDL-sympathising young lads I work with is a very different era from when we were chasing around after C18 boneheads.

    • May 27, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Good point journeyman. At the risk of being over-simplistic, the problem today is fascism with an Islamic face has sent the Left – typically the champion of the underdog, and in many cases quite rightly – into a mind spin. The worst outcome of this is to suggest extreme right wing Islamism is somehow the logical extension of western imperialism and homeland racism, which strikes me as being a rather colonial mindset, denying the notion that extremists are able to make stupid decisions for themselves.

      The way of trying to change the minds of EDL-sympathisers is to curb the myths surrounding numbers of extremists within Islamic communities, which is relatively minor – and of course many Islamist sympathies are actively frowned upon within those communities. The EDL are a clash of civilisations organisation, one which neglects to mention Muslims, too, are engaged in the fight against fascism of all kinds, but particularly fascism with an Islamic face.

      As Bob has mentioned, an anti-fascism for the new era should remember how the landscape has changed, and whereas before it dealt with the “boneheads”, the fascist mindset is varied today, and we ought to be wary of this.

  2. May 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I’ll be brief. You’ll fail with the EDL because you’re wrong about Islam. It’s irrelevant how many Muslims are extreme or not extreme when the core of the ideology they’re born to or convert to is extremely extreme. There just isn’t a way to make a moderate takeover of the world acceptable.

    The only thing that stops the extreme parts of Islam manifesting is when Islam perceives itself to be weak: if this isn’t the case and if nothing is done to make Islam weak, it will revert to it’s principal aim of conquering the world. Note, however, Islam is not that interested in converting people: Islam as a system only works when it rules a non-Muslim majority because it needs the productivity of Infidels to survive. That is why, absent the vast, unearned wealth from oil, Islamic civilisations always collapse.

    But back to the EDL. They (we, I count myself sympathetic) are not racist, don’t seek authoritarian forms of government and aren’t even anti immigration! The point is they are anti Islamic immigration. I even discussed that with the head of the Vlaams Belang from Belgium while explaining to him how amazing Israel has been at absorbing Jewish immigrants. He was in complete agreement. It’s not about the numbers, its only about the attitude of the particular immigrants.

    You’ll fail intellectually against the EDL because you don’t understand the threat of Islam and, if you try, you’ll fail on the streets in muscular confrontation because you’ll never have the numbers they’ll gain. There are now too many people living side by side with assertive, bold, Muslims who’ve never been told no and who don’t see any prospect of being told no. If you, as “anti fascists” think you can align with the ultimate fascist system* and survive with your morals intact, you’ll loose even quicker and your women will be raped just like the fools who drift around “Palestine” or Tahiri Square.

    Brian of London (in Tel Aviv because I saw the future in London and decided to get my Jewish butt out of the firing line and back home to Israel).

    * the one that Hitler is reported to have wished the German people followed from birth because subverting Christianity is harder though he managed it.

  3. May 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Journeyman, thank you for the kind and thoughtful comments.

    Brian, I couldn’t disagree more. I disagree with what you say about Islam. I am an opponent of political Islam, but I do not agree that Islam itself is the problem. I “live side by side” with plenty of “assertive, bold, Muslims”, including Turkish Cypriots, Pakistanis, Somalis and lots of British-born Asians, and the picture you paint of Islam is totally unrecognisable to me.

    And I profoundly disagree with you about the EDL. I would like to think that your absence from Britain might excuse you from not being aware of what they are about, but I doubt that it does. Sure, there are rank and file EDL members and people attracted to them who are not racist, but as an organisation it is, and its leadership is crawling with fascists, many of whom were in Jew-hating organisations not long ago, and some of whom still are.

    It’s one thing to sit at your chair in Israel and call all Muslims fascists, but the EDL are putting their money where their mouth is, making the clash of civilisations they warn of a reality, violently attacking completely innocent Muslims
    not to mention Sikhs and other Asians who get caught in their paths and they ignorantly imagine are Muslim. (I have friends in Luton who can testify to that, and a Hindu Gujerati friend in Leicester who got something thrown at her the day the EDL were there.)

    As for the EDL’s semi-imaginary “Jewish Division” (one woman of questionable sanity who calls the Chief Rabbi an appeaser and kapo, plus a few of her Facebook friends in Israel and America) and the EDL’s support for Israel, that is support that any half-rational supporter of Israel should realise they can do without.

  4. paulinlancs
    May 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for this post, Bob.

    Sorry I missed it at the time. From my mainstream Labout Party perspective I note your fairly casual dismissal of the Labour party as any kind of anti-fascist (potential) force, although I also note your insistence on locally appropriate engagement It is both understandable and slightly disheartening that you think anti-fascists would simply be ‘doing the Labour party’s business’; the party does have a lot to do to re-establish its credibility on this score, and I’m actually writing a long post/essay on this issue at the moment, in relation to the Blue Labour movement. I’ll certainly be linking back to this piece.

    I agree wholeheartedly that ‘no platform’ has come to be seen as sim,ply the opposite of free speech, and that to allow it to remain so plays into the fascists hand as they seek to claim some kind of false, but credible, moral high ground. I think the distinction you make between using our own resources to stimmie the voices of fascism, vs whiney-sounding calls for fascists to be banned etc., is an important one. As one example, I think the ‘no platform’ calls around Griffin on Question Time sounded illiberal, but I’s love to have seen the NUJ/BBC union coming together to mandate their members not to film Question time if he remained on. There’s an important difference between the two approaches that we need to keep locating. Similarly, TCF’s call for a boycott of Iain Dale’s blog beaaty contest was shouted down as being ‘against free speech’ in some way, whereas we (Dave and I at the time) sought to make clear that we didn’t seek a ban on Dale interviewing Griffin, but were simply seeking to use our own resources to remind him of his responsibilities as a magazine owner. But we’ll need to keep refining those arguments, because they are made against a barrage of noise form the right which would rather ‘no platform’ be seen as a leftwing illiberalism.

  5. May 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    BobFromBrockley :
    Brian, I couldn’t disagree more. I disagree with what you say about Islam. I am an opponent of political Islam, but I do not agree that Islam itself is the problem. I “live side by side” with plenty of “assertive, bold, Muslims”, including Turkish Cypriots, Pakistanis, Somalis and lots of British-born Asians, and the picture you paint of Islam is totally unrecognisable to me.

    Let’s not get into a comparison of how large our respective country’s minority Muslim populations are shall we (Israel has the highest proportion of Muslims of any non Muslim run country (I believe though India is could be close).

    The problem for the UK is that you’re at the point where Islam is political. Islam will drive the voting intents of its adherants, it’s women won’t be able to act with free will and your politicians are already, obviously, more beholden to it than any other “religion”. Other religions can advance their own particular self interests, but only Islam has a political goal woven into its fabric.

    So in the end, as much as you don’t recognise my points on Islam, that doesn’t matter because you are fighting the political part.

    I may answer your other points if I have more time later.

  6. May 27, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    @ Paul

    Obviously, I don’t speak for Bob, but to give my own views on some of the points you’ve raised.

    Sorry I missed it at the time. From my mainstream Labout Party perspective I note your fairly casual dismissal of the Labour party as any kind of anti-fascist (potential) force, although I also note your insistence on locally appropriate engagement I

    I don’t think anybody is talking about Labour Party activists being person non grata! I’ve happily worked with Labour folks in the past, I’m sure I will in the future. If we’re talking about the LP as an institution, the situation is more complicated. When working as anti-fascists, I think that needs to take priority over party (or even other ideological) affiliations. I don’t think that the purpose of anti-fascism is to recruit people to anarchism or to sell Trot papers. And I don’t think it’s purpose is to build the Labour vote. In other words, all I do is apply the same principle to Labour Party members I do to everyone else, which I think is reasonable.

    It is both understandable and slightly disheartening that you think anti-fascists would simply be ‘doing the Labour party’s business’;

    Bob’s talking about the “anybody but fascist” tactic used by liberal anti-fascism. That’s not actually synonymous with the Labour Party for me; there are people who follow it who aren’t anything to do with the Labour Party (the SWP being an obvious example) and their are Labour Party members who don’t sign up to that approach.

    A good example of that tactic in action would be the Barking election, where liberal anti-fascism all pushed its weight into what was de facto campaigning for Hodge.

    There’s several problems with this approach. The first is that it lines up the BNP in opposition to all the mainstream political parties. But the BNP can benefit from that and has in the past. The BNP like to present themselves as the radical alternative to the mainstream, so pointing out they’re not part of the mainstream is pointless at best and counterproductive at worst. And if antifascists line up fullscale alongside the political establishment, it makes them look like just another part of that establishment. Especially among those disillusioned with mainstream politics, who are one of the BNP’s main targets for gaining support.

    Related to that, in some areas where the BNP are/have been active (like Oldham) they’re already capitalising on local hostility to the Labour Party. In that situation, allying with the Labour Party is actively dangerous. In those kind of areas, I do think that Labour Party activists have a responsibility to push party loyalty to one side for the greater good, when working on anti-fascist campagning.

    the party does have a lot to do to re-establish its credibility on this score,

    I can completely understand that being a major objective for you, as a Labour Party activist. Equally, I’m sure you can understand those of us that aren’t supportive of the Labour Party, or even those of us who are actively hostile to it, aren’t going to be helping you with that.

    But I think both sides of this debate need to push that to one side when we’re working on anti-fascist stuff. This simply isn’t the right arena for that to be played out in.

  7. JayJ
    May 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    To cut through the bull, the view seems to be: The press are right, Islamists are to blame for the misfortune of Muslims. They created the EDL, a new type of far right organisation. I say this is rubbish. I see a direct link between the old ‘nigger’ and Jew hating morons and the new generation. This generation, egged on by the previous ‘paki’ hating generation, has simply shifted from overt racism to culture clashes but the same moronic base prejudice underpins these people. Hatred against Muslims is nothing new, not some post 9-11 pnenomenon, what is new is the attitude of some leftists. Leftists lik yourselves who pt some blame on the victims.

  8. Duncan
    May 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I’m sympathetic the article here, and have written similar stuff myself previously, but this isn’t anti-fascism for a new era, it’s anti-fascism for the previous era. Roughly, I would date this period from the late-1990’s when the BNP conclusively abandoned street politics to 2009.

    In this period, the analysis originally offered in Filling the Vacuum and later refined by the IWCA was entirely correct. This doesn’t happen often with left groups: what they said would happen, did happen. The solution they offered was entirely correct and the fact that it never emerged in reality doesn’t make it any less valid.

    For the last few months, I’ve become increasingly sceptical that this is still the case. I argued a few years ago that success and growth were masking divisions in the BNP and that if their rise was ever halted or reversed it would lead to serious internal problems as personal and political clashes boiled over. Added to this is the fact that success breeds greater expectations. Election results which would have been unthinkable to fascists in 2000 are now greeted with disappointment.

    The political situation has changed enormously in the last couple of years. I’m not sure where this leaves anti-fascist politics.

    The continued decline of the BNP is a positive but it has opened the space for the re-emergence of more emphatically Nazi sects

    What evidence do you have for this? Britain’s small groups of unreconstructed fascists remain disorganised and utterly isolated, perhaps more so now than they ever have been. Disatisfaction with the BNP has not led to a growth in their numbers and the only credible initiative emerging from their ranks in several years, the English National Resistance would-be youth movement, has come to nothing.

    The main consequence, so far, has been a move of sections of the BNP towards ‘softer’ right groups, usually termed ‘civic nationalists’ by others on the far right, such as the English Democrats or the new Britain First/Britannia Campaigning Ltd group.

  9. Bob
    May 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Thanks Paul, WS and Duncan for interesting comments.

    @Paul From my mainstream Labout Party perspective I note your fairly casual dismissal of the Labour party as any kind of anti-fascist (potential) force, although I also note your insistence on locally appropriate engagement It is both understandable and slightly disheartening that you think anti-fascists would simply be ‘doing the Labour party’s business’; the party does have a lot to do to re-establish its credibility on this score

    My view is that on a local level sometimes the Labour party can be an asset, sometimes it’s part of the problem, and this is very much a place by place issue. I’ve lived in both sorts of places. And I think rank and file Labour people should always be welcome in an anti-fascist context.

    But since the BNP’s electoral rise, (liberal) anti-fascism has mainly mobilised people at election time and not in between, and then all that anti-fascism can say is “vote Labour”, which does nothing to challenge fascism ideologically. And it let’s Labour off the hook for its failures. And it does the job of community work that it so badly fails to do in most places.

    Re no platform – yes, good examples.

  10. Bob
    May 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

    @Duncan, actually it was probably you I most had in mind when I asked Carl to post this here, altho you were one of the few people who commented on the last version.

    I thought I made it clear (altho my inappropriate title undercuts it) that I am not proposing a way forward, an anti-fascism for a new era, I’m saying I am unsatisfied with the alternatives on offer and that we need a new paradigm but i don’t know what it is.

    On what the threat is now, I am starting to come over to something like your view. I agree the BNP are less and less the main challenge, but the new terrain is still very unclear to me.

    Clearly the EDL are a major issue. Having seen the EDL in the flesh in London the other week, having seen so much evidence of their fascist links, having read Brian of London’s posts at Israellycool, having seen the mad “Jewish Division” let loose in the comment thread of another blog, I’m thinking that I have been underestimating both their appeal to people who would never have touched the BNP with a bargepole, but also why they are as bad or worse than the BNP.

    I agree that the fringe neo-Nazi groups are not the main problem, but I keep reading about new and old groups coming out of the wordwork, maybe not on any serious scale, but it seems to add up. I haven’t looked at it systematically or anything, so maybe I’m wrong.

    And then there is the issue of the penetration of BNP style thought into the mainstream, both in setting the immigration agenda for Labour and in terms of the possibility of some kind of Euro-style authoritarian populist re-alignment in the mold of the Swedish Democrats etc. I really don’t know what to think.

    Now you’ve remembered your posting rights, it would be great, Duncan, if you’d consider a post on what you think an anti-fascist strategy should look like now. I’ve noticed groups like Manchester AFA launching and re-launching (seems like “Alliance” is now a more fashionable brand than “Action” for the final A, which is fine with me). Is this the time for a new broad-based militant anti-fascist orgnisation? Is it something that should be done locally or on a national scale? If the FTV moment has passed, should we return to something more like the old twin-track model? What do you think?

    • May 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      I really shouldn’t be here, but I’m finding your discussions fascinating.

      Bob :
      Clearly the EDL are a major issue. Having seen the EDL in the flesh in London the other week, having seen so much evidence of their fascist links, having read Brian of London’s posts at Israellycool, having seen the mad “Jewish Division” let loose in the comment thread of another blog, I’m thinking that I have been underestimating both their appeal to people who would never have touched the BNP with a bargepole, but also why they are as bad or worse than the BNP.

      I think you’re missing something. I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong for my own ego’s sake, I’m doing so in the hope that you’ll understand the nature of what you’re really facing in the UK and perhaps drag some of you to the right side.

      The founders of the EDL (many of who have distinctly dubious backgrounds from my point of view) found the global counter Jihad movement on their own. It did not find them. They read some of the better web sites and some of the better books even, on Islam by people who I count as personal friends. Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller (yes really), Andy Bostom and a host of others. These people (despite what the lunatic Charles Johnson would have you believe) are not friends of the traditional right. And I was at the Brussels meeting with the Vlaams Belang that precipitated the madness of King Charles.

      If I were to characterise the politics of the majority of counter Jihad campaigners (and remember, nearly all the European ones hide behind pseudonyms) it would be libertarian. That’s about the only common thread because really, in the face of Jihad, economic politics isn’t that important. What does matter is personal freedom (within the framework of the enlightened west).

      As an example, and if I haven’t made you’re heads flip with Geller, I met the head of the NRA early on in my counter Jihad work. Up to then I guess I was more with Michael Moore on the subject of guns. The more I looked at it, the more I liked the idea of the NRA and the more I came to understand it’s stance on personal freedom, small government and the rights and responsibilities of a truly free people. The Americans pay a heavy toll for their right to keep and bear arms, but that is their choice and when a potential tyrant like Obama is in the driving seat, they’re very

      The problem for you, with your stance as “anti” something is that, though I call it the counter Jihad, the EDL are now wrapped up with people who are pro freedom. And that is very powerful. For sure some of them came in with stupid notions about Jews or blacks but I can personally see that moving aside and I can’t see those elements doing anything but disappear into obscurity. I can see how these people are the true anti-fascists and true anti-fascisism is a huge problem for the today’s liberal fascists!

      • May 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm

        “many of whom” … jeezzz mustn’t type these things on an iPad.

    • Duncan
      May 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      Now you’ve remembered your posting rights, it would be great, Duncan, if you’d consider a post on what you think an anti-fascist strategy should look like now.

      The problem with this is I’m not sure what one would look like! As long as I’ve been politically active, if there was one issue I was sure about it was anti-fascism and the need for a grassroots political alternative in working-class communities to halt the rise of the far right. Not only has my conviction in the validity of this perspective eroded in recent months but I’d been hard pressed to even identify the nature of the threat emanating from the far right.

      That said, it seems to a useful place to start so I’ll have a think and prepare a post on the trajectory of the BNP and the possibility of something like the Dutch Freedom Party emerging, once I remember my login details that is (this is embarassing.

  11. May 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Um, Brian, you do know that Roberta has openly stated that she doesn’t care if Neo-Nazis turn up on EDL events as long as they’re quiet about it?

    I can’t see those elements doing anything but disappear into obscurity.

    What, even people like Hel Gower (who used to run with C18) are fully integrated in the EDL leadership structure?

    And when there’s a large ‘unofficial’ forum that openly incorporates both BNP and EDL members and has that as one of its aims. A “patriot” front.

    The much vaunted expulsion from a demonstration wasn’t done for ideological reasons. It was because the person in question and his mates were openly accusing Yaxley-Lennon of using EDL funds to enrich himself.

    Assuming you are actually genuine, I have to say, you’re coming across as not knowing much about the UK far right and/or the football firm milieu. Whereas some of us have first hand knowledge and experience of both and are basing our analysis of the EDL on that.

    It’s kinda cute you think you’re talking to liberals as well. To break the news to you, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people commentating on this thread really do not identify as such. (Personally, I have no problems with gun ownership. And I reject the libertarians claims to “small government” simply because they don’t apply them consistently across the board).

    Put simply, trying to argue that the Islamists are a bad thing that should be opposed is pointless. Very few here will disagree with you. What is going to be far more difficult for you is arguing that we shouldn’t be seeing the EDL and the Islamists as two sides of the same coin. I won’t bore you with the ideological background to that. I will point out that Choudry and the EDL are currently in a symbiotic relationship, where both sides need each other to justify their existence and gain support.

    I’ll end with a pop quiz.

    Who were the first group, in the UK, to demonstrate against Abu Hamza?

  12. socialrepublican
    May 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “If I were to characterise the politics of the majority of counter Jihad campaigners (and remember, nearly all the European ones hide behind pseudonyms) it would be libertarian”

    Which is odd given that they call for a coersive regime of border control, policing and “purification” that would make the Staasi blush. Their stateless utopia is to be guranteed by a vast state mechanism of observation, violence and cultural homogeniety.

    The fact they are so comfortable with genocidal apologists such as the heroic Mladic cult or the Greco-fascist project for “hellenising” Anatolia or provide cover for neo-fascist celebration of Nazi era collaborators or rightest “recovering” anti-Semites demonstrates the thinness of their respect for liberty and the centrality of their fanstasy Götterdämmerung.

  13. May 31, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I’ve been too busy to reply, and notice that WS has said most of what I meant to say to Brian. Speaking as a small-state, pro-gun and passionately anti-Islamist type of guy myself, I am also very sceptical of the “libertarian” claim of the anti-jihad movement, which seems to me rather an alliance of some social liberals with arch-conservative and rebranded fascist forces, but even if we take it at face value there is a huge gap between the EDL and the web-based anti-jihad movement. Some of the leaders of the EDL are savvy enough to seek ideological cover for their thuggery and found their way to the anti-jihad movement, which in turn is very happy to find other people putting their money where the movement’s mouth is and actually making the clash of civilisations a reality on the streets of Luton and Leicester by drunkenly beating up Sikhs. I might return and make a more reasoned comment, but it is hard to take seriously someone who uses the word “maniac” for Charles Johnson while consorting with Roberta Moore and Pamela Geller.

    • June 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

      I’ve not met Roberta in person but have spoken with her. As is usual I suspect the impression of her gained from the web is a caricature of her real self. Hopefully I’ll meet her soon either when I return to the UK for a visit or she comes here.

      I know Pamela very well and as I’ve also met most of the “Nazis” that Johnson froths about. I prefer my judgment of those people to his. In fact, it was my old podcast (Shire Network News) that interviewed Fillip DeWinter. I’ll stand by the impressions I have of most of the upcoming so called new European anti-JIhad politicians that I’ve met.

      I’ve not met Charles, but I did interact with him a long time back.

      I’m glad to read about the pro-gun, small state sentiments because I felt there was something worth answering here instead of the UAF hard left camp that is the usual nemesis of the EDL.

      But back to the EDL, I might be wrong, you guys might be right, but in all the years of effort I and others put into the intellectual counter Jihad with our blogs, podcasts and books, I realised that it was all talking to a fairly small audience. The EDL is reaching a bigger and very different audience and on Islam I feel that working within is better than just standing on the side and hoping it goes in a direction I like.

      I, personally, don’t try to push them on Israel but if they ask I’ll give them my firmly pro Zionist views. I also have a firm belief that, in a way most Israelis have avoided acknowledging for years, Islam is the root of Israel’s problem and by not addressing the religious base of the Arab desire to end the Jewish state, we will never get anywhere. They don’t have to take my views and I know for sure that, because these views are so widely discredited in the UK it is very hard to pass on a picture contrary to the BBCs schtick of poor oppressed Palestinians and evil Jewish Israelis. You mention one person by name and I interact with her on a regular basis. If she still hates Jews in line with Combat 18, I haven’t felt it.

    • socialrepublican
      June 1, 2011 at 10:44 am

      As in the Pamela who seriously contented that Obama was Malcolm X’s love child, the Pamela who pushed the “story” that there was a military coup in order for the killing of OBL to take place, the Pamela who is a staunch defender of the genocidal greater Serbia project.

      I’m very glad you have been impressed by the VB. It’s nice to have friends, even if they are very thinly disguised fascists

      I do like “I tried to explain to anti-semites why they are wrong, but they’re not ready for it and I won’t push them, their heart is in the right place”. Are you quite emotionally dependant?

      • June 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm

        Have you met the leaders of the VB?

      • Socialrepublican
        June 3, 2011 at 12:34 am

        As a policy, I don’t seek out personal encounters with vanila-fascists. Off you fuck

    • Duncan
      June 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      I dunno Bob, since the piece begins with a link to an article by Matthew Taylor in support of the argument I would take it with more than a pinch of salt!

  14. June 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    [Carl, just passing by, why do you allow a EDL supporter to push his ludicrous nonsense here? Brian of London is probably to the right of Enoch Powell and an active apologist for the neo-Nazis in the EDL. No plaform him, please.]

    • June 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm


    • June 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      I’m loathe to censor, though if you can show me anything ad hominem or racist then I’ll do the dreaded banning thing.

  15. brianoflondon
    June 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Socialrepublican :
    As a policy, I don’t seek out personal encounters with vanila-fascists. Off you fuck

    There is a serious point. You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. You’ve never met these people, you rely on second hand opinions and you probably don’t seek out sympathetic reports to balance the negative ones you’re drawn to.

    I’ve met these people, read the negative and positive press and a whole lot more. I’ve spent time, energy and money to do this and you dismiss my opinion which I state without vitriol or expletive. Good for you. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

    And I’ll fuck off when I’m good and ready unless Modernity gets his way and has me banned, because that’s always the first resort of a fascist faced with an opinion he doesn’t like.

    • Socialrepublican
      June 4, 2011 at 6:00 am

      No, I rely on the policy and programs, rhetoric and personal histories of the “anti Jihad” movement. I never meet a current member of the NSDAP yet I’m on pretty good ground relying on primary and secondary sources to say they are fascists on a certain ilk. Likewise VB’s ultra-nationalism, their proud and loud links with more open ultra-nationalists from around the continant, their reformulation of a new other, their decline/resurrection narrative (“If faith collapses, civilization goes with it”, Paul Belien) and their admiration of Cetniki ethnic cleansing as well as a litany of rascist and violent incidents (Hans van Themsche or Luk Dieudonné for example)lead me to the conclusion that they are vanilla fascists going on to just as odious “Civic nationalists”.

      Or that one of the their MEP (Karel Dillen) was a translator for Maurice Bardèche’s works (a fascist, brother of a member of the SS Charlemagne division, thought that there was still some Jew killing in Europe to be done post 1945)

      Or that Marie-Rose Morel, in 2005, was happy to meet Bulgarian politician and part time holocaust denier Volen Siderov.

      May I suggest you don’t have a clue about your new found associates, their history, their ideas and their pathologies. Off you fuck and do your research

      • Socialrepublican
        June 4, 2011 at 6:07 am

        I would also add for shits and giggles, that Ayaan Hirsi Ali called VB “a racist, anti-Semitic, extremist party that is unkind to women and that should be outlawed.”.

  16. June 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    @ Brian

    How many jihadists have you hung round with then? Because, after all, unless you’ve socialised with them it’s apparently impossible to judge their political program.

  1. June 1, 2011 at 1:28 am

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