Sunday, 10 October 2010

Reflections on antifascism at the end of a long day

Today, or rather yesterday given that I'm writing this after midnight, has been a long day. It began with a visit to the City Centre to see if the BNP would show themselves after last week's drubbing, and ended with a few pints after two neo-Nazis shat themselves. In between, there was a fair bit of marching.

In the spirit of lazy blogging, I'm not going to repeat here what others have already covered far better than I could anyway.

You can find coverage of the James Larkin march and rally (including a couple of videos I uploaded to YouTube for their use) over at the Liverpool Solidarity Federation site. The story of a couple of fascists fleeing the Swan after antifascists went in for a pint is up on the Liverpool Antifascists website.

But what I would like to offer one thought on is what happened in Leicester today. Or, rather, Hope not Hate's interpretation of events;
One of the main positives of the day was that the overwhelming majority of locals heeded advice and stayed away. Yesterday 700 turned up at our HOPE not hate peace vigil and we are hoping for even greater numbers for our community event tomorrow. It would have been understandable for local people to take to the streets to demonstrate their anger but wisely people decided that this was precisely what the EDL wanted.
I'm sorry, but what the fuck?

In Bradford, it was pretty solidly established that physical opposition was a vital part of keeping the EDL at bay. Liverpool Antifascists members saw that first-hand, at the event. Hell, I saw it from all the way over here in Liverpool.

In Leicester, the same was true. Hope not Hate had a peace vigil, did the EDL's scaremongering for them, and pissed off. UAF had a party nearby.

Meanwhile, the EDL broke out of their pen, and fought with locals - who were luckily organised for self-defence. Had they not been, then those who "refused to get provoked into violence" (Hope not Hate) and held "an impressive display of unity" (UAF) would have been guilty of leaving the people of Leicester to a gang of violent fascists.

The level of ignorance and insular thinking on display from both groups is staggering.

Nick Lowles of HnH reports that the EDL "randomly attacked young Asian and black people." But there is no thought at any point that this the problem that needs to be confronted, rather than briefly lamented before hopping off to a "peace vigil" to "turn your back on" the war on the streets.

UAF are more honest and acknowledge that "large numbers of local people came out to defend their local areas." But the idea that antifascists should be part of that never crosses their minds.

Luckily, although they try to monopolise the movement, and succeed at hogging the media limelight, neither organisation is the be-all and end-all of antifascism.

There are people willing to get out there, physically confront the fascists, and defend their streets and communites. They are antifascists. Anybody who doesn't do that, especially if in an organisation claiming to oppose the far-right, is quite simply a coward.