Sunday, 4 March 2012

Anti-fascist coordinating meeting report

Today, Liverpool Antifascists hosted a meeting at the Liverpool Guild of Students to discuss building an effective resistance to fascism both in the immediate term and beyond. Following the events of 18 February, it was organised as an opportunity to regroup and to make sure that the same mistakes were not repeated in the future. About 45 people attended.

The meeting opened with the secretary of LiverAF briefly recounting that Saturday and explaining that, whilst the organisation has had numerous successes over the past few years, the situation has changed dramatically of late. Both the electoral collapse of the BNP and disillusionment with the nature of EDL demos had led to the rise of the NWI and similar groups, with a much younger base up for more direct and physical confrontation with the left. This was why militant anti-fascists needed to build up the links to mobilise greater numbers and to be able to take much more effective direct action in opposition to the far right.

Following from this introduction, there was a broad discussion on the way in which fascism had shifted focus back to controlling the streets, political answers to the alienation that drove working class youth to the far-right and the tactics of ideological and physical opposition.

A fair amount of the discussion revolved around the strengths and weaknesses of existing organisation. This included criticisms of LiverAF's handling of the demonstration on 18 February, part of which was down to under-estimation on our own part whilst part was down to the unique combination of factors which saw us having to protect the anti-police brutality demonstration. Certainly, we have acknowledged where mistakes were made and will be making sure we don't repeat them.

The main focus of the meeting was the decision by the NWI to call a demonstration in the North West on Saturday 24 March. It isn't yet known where this demonstration will take place, and though there are a number of likely targets we will only know when it is announced. A proposal was put forward that LiverAF publicly call a counter demonstration, that we decide a meeting point in Liverpool for those attending and that transport from their to the mobilisation is arranged once we know where the fascists are headed. It was further proposed that we call on other anti-fascist groups to do the same. This proposal passed unanimously and a statement will be released shortly.

The rest of the meeting focused on other practical questions such as defence of meetings and events from attack, anti-fascist stewarding and building within the trade union movement, particularly at a grassroots level. It was also stressed that this should occur in a non-sectarian manner, with individual political differences put aside when it came to repelling attacks by the far-right. A number of constructive points were made and no doubt building on the issues raised and the actions agreed is something that will continue on in the long term.

The threat of the far-right is not something that will go away any time soon. The task for militant anti-fascists is to respond effectively to this realignment towards controlling the streets and build a broad working class movement that is willing to oppose them directly. If you wish to get involved in Liverpool, then make sure you get in touch.