Sunday 4 May 2008

If you tolerate this

The single scariest result from this years's election, as I said in my last article, is the accelerating rise of the Nazi BNP. As well as a seat on the Greater London Assembly, they have also gained 10 councillors nationally - including 3 in Rotherham and 2 in the Amber Valley of Derbyshire, both "in my back yard". How could this have happened?

The most obvious answer is disillusionment with the Labour government, and the lack of a credible left alternative in most areas, leading people to turn to the right wing. People in areas where employment was decimated by the last Tory government, where coal mines and steel works were shut by Thatcher and then Major (such as South Yorkshire, including Rotherham) will be rather unlikely to vote Tory! Which often leaves just the BNP as a protest vote.

At the same time, there has been an increase in reactionary right-wing thinking, driven by the capitalist Establishment. The media-created myth of the White Working Class™, moral panics about Terrorism™ and the scapegoating of asylum seekers, have all acted as a catalyst for racist bellyfeel, and vice versa. Meanwhile, constant attacks on Incapacity Benefit and its claimants, have catalysed with disablist bellyfeel. ('Bellyfeel' is an Orwellian expression, used in '1984', to describe deep-seated feelings and beliefs, often confused with 'common sense', which are the result of alienation mixed with prolonged and sustained mass-brainwashing by the Establishment. Often confused with 'human nature'). Under these circumstances, the discriminatory and oppressive b***s*** of the Nazis gains an undeserved hearing.

Last but not least, the anti-fascist movement seems to be increasingly fragmented. Since the Anti-Nazi League seemed to split into Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism, even though the two groups campaign together, they sometimes feel like two separate entities. At least compared with the days of the Anti Nazi League, which organised both the music festivals and the leafleting and campaigning on the ground.

But a potentially more serious division occurred when Searchlight - a long standing anti-fascist organisation, best known for Searchlight newspaper/magazine, with much respect among the left - made a tactical error by seeming to promote a Labour vote as the way to keep the BNP out. (Hardly a good way to build a united front with anti-fascists not only across the left, but also Lib Dems and even Tories who oppose the racist and anti-democratic beliefs of the Nazis). Meanwhile, Searchlight - often under the 'Hope Hot Hate' banner - have moved towards advertising campaigns (eg adverts on buses) and links with national newspapers such as the Daily Mirror. Useful as these tactics are as a tool for spreading the anti-fascist message, they are no substitute for effective grassroots campaigning in the communities where the BNP are attempting to build support. Likewise, the support of celebrities such as Alan Sugar, although welcome, is no substitute for mass support among the workers and minority groups who will suffer if the Nazis ever get real power.

To beat back the Nazis, unity is the key. Even if the left can't unite in opposition to the government, we must unite in opposition to the fascists.

The consequences of our failure to do so could be catastrophic. Maybe even fatal :(

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