The next Bristol Indymedia film night, supported by Bristol Radical History Group and Bristol AntiFa, on Monday 5 October at The Cube, focuses on fighting fascism. It will feature a short film about The Battle of Cable Street (in 1936), and a talk by two veteran anti-fascist streetfighters, the authors of the book No Retreat. The book, and its authors, have themselves stirred up controversy, and its worth checking out this interview with them, as well as this questionning review. But in any case do turn up on Monday to engage in the debate and make up your own mind!
It is true of course that over the period covered by the book, 1977 to 1997, the boot boys of various fascist and far-right groups were beaten off the streets, and that is one main reason why the fascist BNP has turned towards the apparent respectability of party politics, smart suits and PR spin. This change of tactics by the BNP has seen them improve their results electorally. With the rise in racism accompanying the present economic crisis, and political scaremongering by the major political parties, it is a fact that the fight against racism and fascism remains a major issue for all those with a desire to see true social justice and total equality. The question of how we successfully win this battle is causing much debate, and an article written for Red Pepper mag by a Bristol author, and posted extensively on the internet, has helped focus the debate. You can read here that article ‘Give up anti-fascim’ in full.
Adding to this potent mix we now have the English Defence League, who claim to be independent of the BNP despite many proven links. They say they are opposing the islamification of the UK, and have been doing so by marching in areas with large ethnic minority groups, usually where mosques are or are about to be built. Their marches come resplendent with St George cross flags, football shirts, and shaven heads, and have been vociferously and violently opposed by largely Asian youth and anti-fascist campaigners, and have resulted in large numbers of arrests. In many ways their tactics mirror those of the NF in the late 1970’s, who marched provocatively in areas such as Southall (in West London), which has a large Sikh and Asian population – that particular march in 1979 became famous both for the violent opposition to the NF, and the death of the anti-racist campaigner Blair Peach at the hands of the Met Police’s paramilitary SPG, and the subsequent police cover-up.
So far the EDL have not got significant numbers onto the streets, and have been generally battered each time, a situation that will no doubt be repeated if they are stupid enough to carry out their promise to march down Stapleton Road in East Bristol. However, as with the BNP, just battering them off the streets isn’t enough. We need to look further to understand why they are able to garner (largely passive) support, and work out how to deal with that. An interesting response has come from a group in Lichfield (just north of Birmingham) who have a blog and forum called Class Crisis. They have tried to address, amongst other things, the problems casued by what they see as imposed political multiculturailsm leading to community divisions based on ethnicity, religion and national identity – see their article here and check out some of the interesting links they have.
Clearly the need to oppose racism and fascism, and negate their causes, is a vital step for all of us on the long road to a social revolution. How to do it is an ongoing debate that has some way to run….