Monday, March 22, 2010

Cross post - After Bolton: tactical choices for anti-fascists

Some feel we should be blogging 24/7. Yes you, fuckwit in residence Anon. Well we all have lives outside the internet. You know, work, life , stuff to deal with. Sometimes I blog lots, other times I struggle to find time. I had planned to do a round up on the demo in Bolton, might still find some time . In the meantime I have cross posted Dave's post here, to kickstart a discussion about what the left needs to do re the rise of the far right .

OVER the top comparisons with the streets of Italy during the Bienno Rosso thankfully remain alarmist nonsense. But it is the case that the fascist right now has an established street thug presence in Britain for the first time since the 1970s, and has even started to intimidate leftwing meetings.
Broadly there are two potential responses from the left. The first is to attempt physical confrontation, as happened in the face-off between the English Defence League and Socialist Workers’ Party-led Unite Against Fascism campaign in Bolton yesterday.
There are conflicting reports about what happened. Socialist Worker was quick to proclaim the day ‘a huge success’. Sure. What else could it possibly have been, comrades? But even discounting the perennial police tendency to downplay the numbers on leftwing mobilisations, most media accounts suggest that the EDL had significantly more support.
If matters had come to a serious scrap, there is little doubt as to which side would have got a pasting. For all the streetfighting man belligerence of the UAF leadership – and two key SWP figures were arrested on the Bolton demo – there is a real question as to whether or not the far left is actually capable of putting a tough guy strategy into practice.
Trying to do so may be counterproductive, anyway. Rather than bus white student lefties into northern mill towns en masse, the real task at hand is to get local people to turn up in large numbers wherever the EDL decides to march. Many people will understandably not show their faces if violence is virtually guaranteed.
And of course, the EDL, which includes all too many seasoned football hooligans, is absolutely up for a ruck. The promise of a spot of bit of a barney on the day will only come as an added attraction to the layers it seeks to influence.
The second approach, typified by Searchlight-sponsored Hope Not Hate, centres on such comparatively unglamorous tactics as the organisation of anti-racist pop concerts, and the hard graft of canvassing in areas where the British National Party has a good chance of securing local government or even Westminster representation.
Sections of the far left criticise HnH as ineffectual at best and craven cowardice at worst. But at least it is not being distracted by an outfit that remains – for now, at least – thankfully a sideshow. It is also quite clear which of the two campaigns is having the greater impact.
This is not an either/or choice. Clearly, there could be times ahead when reruns of Cable Street or Lewisham will be on the order of the day. Progressive organisations will probably have to reconsider their security measures. But in the meantime, my donation ahead of the election will going to HnH.

Previous posts related to this, found here.

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