Posts Tagged ‘Unionism’

Guy Debord’s Cat: Violence to Fascists Is Justified

September 9, 2017

Following the violent clashes between the White supremacists, neo-Confederates and outright Nazis and the counter-protesters in Charlottesville the week before last, there have been a series of articles and denunciations of the Anti-Fascists for their physical attacks on the marching hordes of the extreme Right. One of those criticizing them is the veteran critic of capitalism, racism and imperialism, Noam Chomsky, who stated that by using violence, Antifa handed them a ‘propaganda coup’. Others have gone further, and complained that Antifa are against free speech, and so are as bad, or worse, as the Nazis they attacked.

The French philosophical feline strongly rejects this attitude, and has written a blog post explaining just why he supports violence against Fascism. This includes two videos, both of which are well worth watching. One is about the 43 Group, a band of Jewish ex-servicemen, who had seen for themselves the horrific results of Nazi anti-Semitism when they were among the troops, who liberated Auschwitz. After the War, they were disgusted to find the kind of people, who had committed such monstrous atrocities were not only at large, but preaching their murderous doctrines and hatred. They resolved to treat them as they deserved, and hit them time and again force them off the streets.

The second video is presented by Mensi Mensforth, a member of the eighties band Angelic Upstarts. He also talks about the long history of anti-Fascists using physical violence, from struggles in the 1930s against Mosley’s BUF, to today’s battles with the NF and related Nazi gangs. Mensforth and the others speaking on the programme make the point that the people the Antifa are fighting are themselves extremely violent. They talk about Asians in the poorer parts of Britain being firebombed out of their homes. Mensforth himself describes how his stance against the NF so infuriated them, that they tried to silence him by attacking him at one of the Upstart’s gigs. He was saved by Antifa, who were there to defend him.

The Cat starts off by making the point that Antifa is a position, not an organization. The word stands for Anti-Fascist Action, and while later in the article he states that Anti-Fascist Action was set up in 1985 by Red Action and other anti-Fascist groups, he makes the point that if you are opposed to Fascism, then you are Antifa. He also makes the point that Nazis and related organisations in the US have been allowed to march by claiming free speech as their defence, and supported by the local law enforcement agencies and Libertarian organisations, some of whom have their own, very dubious agendas.

Buddy Hell is particularly annoyed by the middle class liberals, who are defending the Nazis’ right to say the unspeakable. He makes the point that Fascists are capitalism’s shock troops. Their leaders come from the middle and upper classes, and they and their vile doctrine emerge when capitalism is in crisis. And they don’t march through White, middle class areas. Their purpose is to divide the working class, and they march through working class and immigrant neighbourhoods as a display of triumphalism and a provocation.

He also makes the point that Fascists are also supported by the petite bourgeoisie and sections of the free press. The free world has tolerated the seizure of power by innumerable right-wing dictatorial groups, but the moment a left-wing government appears the supposed free world immediately tries to destabilize it.

And Fascists themselves are extremely violent. He states very graphically that if you turn the other cheek to a Fascist, they’ll slash it with a razor, and says

I support the activities of militant anti-fascists because I think their use of force is a necessary tactic to counter the violence of the far-right on the streets. If you think allowing neo-fascists a platform to say whatever they like is necessary because you believe everyone has a right to free speech, just imagine what would happen if the far-right ever came to power. The free speech, that you cherish so dearly, would be taken away and you’d be carted off to prison or worse. Now you can accuse me of histrionics if you like, but you’ll have to name a country in which the far-right have gained power and have allowed people to criticize them. I can’t think of one.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/militant-anti-fascism-why-i-support-it/

Now I don’t support violence against anyone, and don’t wish to encourage any more of it, even against the Far Right. Real violence is anything but fun, and people have been seriously hurt and killed in the battles between Fascists and anti-Fascists.

But the Cat is right on several points. Fascists are and have always been extremely violent. They’ve been so every since George Sorel wrote his ‘Reflexions sur la Violence’ as a militant 19th century anarcho-syndicalist. Sorel later rejected syndicalism in favour of extreme right-wing nationalist and monarchist groups, but his book remained popular and influential amongst right-wing intellectuals like Mussolini. The kernel of Fascism in Italy were the Fasci di Combattimenti, bands of demobilized ex-servicemen, who went around beating up Socialists, Communists and anyone they thought that was insufficiently patriotic, or just didn’t like. One of their symbols, was the fasces – the bundle of rods with an axe sticking out, which symbolized the power of the lictor, the Roman official, who could have citizens beaten and beheaded. The other, rather less official, but very widely used, was the manganello. This was the club with which Fascist gangs used to beat their opponents in street battles, after which the victims were dosed with castor oil to humiliate them by making them soil themselves.

Before the Nazis seized power in Germany, they also used to go round fighting street battles and beating up Jews and leftists. One of their songs in Berlin was all about how they were going to carry on beating people up, ‘until the Jew lies bleeding at our feet’.

And they weren’t any better in Britain. Mosley’s BUF lost its support partly because it was notorious for its violence, particularly after the infamous Olympia rally, where the BUF’s stewards savagely beat a number of left-wing protestors. And after the war, the BNP, NF and related groups deliberately recruited ‘bovver boys’ and football hooligans. Or as one of their leaders themselves said at the time, ‘robust young men to defend Britain against Communism’. And the evidence for their extreme violence is extremely plentiful. If you go on YouTube, there are a number of videos from World In Action and other documentaries showing just how brutally violent they are. And more often than not, their victims are the weak and defenceless. One of the speakers in one of these documentaries is a female teacher, who describes how she and her colleagues were attacked without provocation by a group of NF thugs when they were having a meeting in a pub. Matthew Collins in his book, Hate, describes how he participated in an attack on an anti-Nazi meeting in one of the rooms above the local library. Those they attacked were mostly women, including a pregnant Asian lady, who was so terrified she tried to barricade herself in the toilets. These are not thugs attacking other thugs. They’re bullies. And when they do meet concerted, violent resistance, as one of the speakers in one of the videos says, they run away.

The decision of the ’43 group to give a dam’ good hiding to the Fascists is entirely understandable. One of the speakers in the video describes how he and the other old comrades put their hands together with Rabbi Hardman, the Jewish army chaplain, and swore ‘Never again’ when they saw the sheer carnage and barbarity at Auschwitz. Rabbi Hardman states he saw bodies piled as high as the surrounding buildings. Another squaddies tells how he met one woman, one of the death camp’s inmates, who had been driven mad because the Nazis had snatched her baby away from her, thrown it up into the air, and then shot it. This treatment wasn’t unique to the Jews. The Beeb a little while ago screened a programme about the Nazi occupation of Poland. One of the incidents that occurred there was when Polish mothers were required to take their children to be examined by the reich authorities. One woman’s child was deemed biologically unfit. It was snatched out of its mother’s arms, thrown onto the floor, and shot.

Most normal people would have felt horror and anger if they had witnessed what these servicemen had seen. And when it is done to one’s own ethnic or religious group, when one thinks how it could have been one’s own spouse, parents, children, or other relatives and friends lying down there among the bodies, those feelings are naturally going to turn into an intense rage, or in this case, a steely determination to do everything they could to stop it ever occurring again.

The speakers in the video make the point that they didn’t reject non-violent persuasion. They tried it, and found that it didn’t work. They state that it was a case of ‘both…and…’ rather than ‘either…or…’. But it didn’t work on the convinced Fascists. And so they resolved to disrupt their meetings and force them off the streets.

At the time there were 40 or so Fascist meetings every month in London, and the BUF, or Mosley’s successor organisations, were not opposed, and indeed supported, by the London police. This has been corroborated by other historians. Larry O’Hara wrote an article in Lobster back in the 1990s about how the metropolitan police turned a blind eye to Fascist meetings, even when they openly broke the law. Such as drinking a toast to the destruction of the Jews. Indeed, it was quite often anti-Fascist protesters, who were arrested, rather than the stormtroopers.

Not all police forces were as tolerant as London’s, however. One of the speakers describes how they heard that the Blackshirts were planning to go down and hold a rally in Brighton. So the ’43 Group let the Brighton fuzz know they would also be down there to disrupt the meeting. The rozzers duly replied that the Fascists were quite within their rights, and the police would allow them to go ahead following the principle of free speech. But in practice, they only sent one officer. He was obviously just a token presence, and the former servicemen were able to give their opponents a sound beating.

They describe how, when they attacked a Fascist gathering, their intention was to seize and overturn the podium. Among those, who got what they deserved was Hamm, Mosley’s second in command. They also reveal that they had considerable information given to them about the location of meetings and so on from informers within the Fascists’ own ranks. These were people, who had joined the party, and found out it wasn’t what they thought it was. Ultimately, the ’43 group were successful. They point out that due to their attacks Mosley couldn’t appear in public, and they talk about their pride as Jews and citizens in closing him down.

Mensforth’s video also begins with people from the East End describing the antics of Mosley’s Blackshirts in their day, and their role in the Battle of Cable Street. This was when the BUF tried to march through the East End, but were beaten off by a group of trade unionists, Communists and Jews. The speakers describe how they also fought the police, who were protecting the Fascists.

Describing the activities of contemporary Nazis, they point out that they want to keep the working class divided, and encourage racial hatred to that end. When there are no ethnic minorities available for them to whip up hate against, as in Glasgow, they find another outsider group to serve the same purpose, like Roman Catholics. One of the speakers is a Glaswegian, who was a former member of one of the Fascist groups in Scotland, as well as a Protestant supporter of one of the very Unionist football clubs. One of the songs their supporters sing is ‘Billy’s Boys’. He states most of the supporters think it’s about William of Orange, but in fact it’s about one of Mosley’s lieutenants in that part of Scotland in the 1930s. This particular speaker was drawn into it through the sectarian politics of Scots football clubs. He left when he started getting leaflets from the organization telling him to support their policies against Israel, and supporting South American dictators and death squads.

Watching these videos, it struck me that some, at least, of the violent antifa, aren’t thugs using violence for the sheer pleasure of it. They’re just people, who actually take Fascism seriously. Very seriously. To many people, the Fascist fringe are so grotesque that they’re a joke, and the numbers involved in their marches are so trivial that there’s absolutely no danger of these morons gaining power. They’re figures of fun, like the American National Socialist White People’s Party in the Blues Brothers. And it’s because they aren’t taken as a serious threat, that they and their wretched marches are tolerated. Despite considerable, and very vocal opposition, I hasten to add.

And indeed there is a certain amount of grim humour to be found there. They are so twisted, that they can be unintentionally hilarious, and mocking them does have the right effect. Hope Not Hate a few days ago put up a piece about how one of the squadristi was upset with the organization, because it was taking the mick out of him. And Private Eye also reported how members were leaving the BNP after it had been mocked in the pages of Ian Hislop’s mighty organ. The Third Reich was long ago, and so were the various Fascist dictatorships in Central and South America, as well as all the other brutal right-wing regimes that have seized power around the world.

But if you’ve seen what Fascism has done, and your family and friends have been attacked or worse by its supporters over here, your attitude might be very different. The Klan and the neo-Confederates really aren’t a joke to Blacks, Jews and other minority groups, because of the lynchings and the use of terror and extreme violence. Over in Britain, the British Fascist groups supported not only the Unionist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, but they also gave sanctuary to a group of Italian Fascists in the 1980s following the Bologna railway bombing, which killed more than a hundred people. And given the horrific atrocities the death squads committed in Latin America – things so revolting that they cannot be decently described in a family blog, it becomes a very good question why the members of various Conservative and Libertarian societies weren’t attacked or beaten when they decided to invite these scum to their annual dinners.

I don’t support violence, let alone vigilanteeism, but the Cat has done a good job in explaining why violent resistance against Fascism may be justified. As he points out, this is violence against those, who are absolutely serious in their intention to imprison, torture and kill millions, if they came to power. Their tolerated at the moment because they aren’t a significant threat. But that can change. Free speech is not an absolute, and there have to be limits to toleration. It’s why we have laws against hate speech, no matter how they right may decry them as ‘political correctness’.

Vox Political on the Sun’s Two-Faced Support for the Conservatives and SNP

May 2, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has written this piece, Manipulation (clumsy, obvious and failed), on the rabid support for the Tories and the SNP respectively in the separate editions of the Sun for south and north of the Border. For England and Wales, the Scum proudly proclaims Cameron as the political titan leading us all into a new age of prosperity, and saving us all from those dreadful people in the Labour party and SNP.

The Scottish Sun and Sturgeon as Star Wars Heroine

Viewers in Scotland have their own programme, as the TV broadcasters say. There the Sun has portrayed Nicola sturgeon as Princess Leia from Star Wars, offering A New Hope. Presumably this reference to Star Wars means that they hope her term as political titan (Scots version) will be followed by five sequels. This metaphor could be a very mixed message for SNP voters and Sun readers, if it’s remembered that despite the massive affection for the films by Star Wars fans all over the world, the last three were pretty much panned by the critics. The first of the sequels, The Phantom Menace, was accused of racism and homophobia. Jar Jar Binks, who was clearly intended by Lucas to be a sympathetic comic underdog, instead managed to annoy just about everyone. To the point that one group of fans released their own, bootleg version, The Phantom Edit, which had the character edited out completely.

And the three sequels chart the gradual corruption of Annekin Skywalker from promising young pilot, robot creator and Jedi apprentice, to the Sith lord of evil, Darth Vader. Which could be a metaphor for the corruption of British politics from the 1970s onwards due to the pernicious influence of one Rupert Murdoch. There is a Chancellor Palpatine, and he’s in charge of New International and Fox News. It’s so much easier than a high profile political post.

Murdoch, the SNP and a Tory Victory

Mike makes the point that the Scottish Sun’s support of Sturgeon and the Scots Nationalists is a marriage of convenience, intended to ensure that the SNP destroy Labour in Scotland, and curtail wider support for Labour in the rest of the UK, thus ensuring an overall Tory victory. Mike writes of the Murdoch press that

They reckon that, with this pluralism, they can encourage enough Sun readers to vote Tory in England and Wales, while the Scots have been primed to vote SNP already – locking Labour out of office and putting Cameron back into Downing Street.

Rupert is banking on Labour sticking to its refusal to work with the SNP, leaving the way open for another Conservative-led Coalition government. That way, we can all look forward to another “It’s the Sun what won it!” headline in the south, and a “Never mind!” sop to the Scots, who’ll be locked into the union but with no say in anything that happens – because they voted for nationalism.

Voters in Scotland may find it hard to square the right-wing rag’s support for the SNP with that party’s own claim to be left-of-centre – but then, the SNP has found it impossible to square its claim that voters should avoid voting Labour in Scotland so the SNP can do a deal with Labour after the election, or to justify its refusal to ask voters south of the border to vote Labour (John Swinney refused to do so – what – seven times on a TV news report). The reason is that the SNP needs a strong Tory performance in England and Wales, otherwise Labour won’t need to make a deal with anyone. It’s a completely contradictory position that Nicola Sturgeon and her gang have glossed over with repeated – and often false – attacks on Labour.

The Sun, and Irish Nationalism and Ulster Unionism

In fact, this isn’t the first time the Sun has adopted a contradictory stance, supporting both Unionism and nationalism according to which side of the Border its editions are aimed. The Sun also has an edition for Eire, as well as a separate version for Northern Ireland. The actual content for both versions is put together in Wapping, and this has had highly amusing consequences when things have gone wrong. Such as an incident back in the 1990s, when someone pressed the wrong button, sending the contents of the two papers to each other. The result was that readers in Eire, suddenly found that the paper’s editorial stance had changed from being highly supportive of the Good Friday agreement to rabidly hostile. Loyalist readers north and east of the Border were also left wondering why the paper had ditched its opposition to the peace process, and was now supporting a united Ireland. Outrage and complaints followed.

Murdoch, Alex Salmond and the SNP

In Scotland, the SNP has been very careful to solicit the support of the Murdoch press. Alex Salmond himself met the Dirty Digger personally at least 12 times, more than the other leading politicians. All British politicos have in the past been very careful to get the power of the press on their side, including and especially Tony Blair. Salmond and Sturgeon have been no exception. The advantages to both parties are obvious. The SNP gets the support of the press, while Murdoch acquires sympathetic political support for his media empire. Remember: Murdoch is terrified about losing a fraction of his grip on the British press following a Miliband victory. As I’ve posted a few moments ago, he has told his journalists that his entire media empire is in jeopardy and could be ended if Labour gets in.

This support is not given freely. It’s very much a poisoned chalice, and the prices is high: continued support for Murdoch’s policies. Blair bought Murdoch’s loyalty as part of the New Labour project. This was his attempt to recreate the Labour Party as a centre-right, neo-liberal party with a slightly more benign attitude to welfare and workers’ rights than the Tories. And throughout his administration, Blair was always worried about his latest policies would be received by Murdoch, and the other press barons like Dacre and Richard Desmond.

Writers and commentators on Murdoch himself have stated that the press baron has pursued a consistent political line. He has always demanded privatisation and deregulation, including that of the NHS, attacked trade unions, workers’ rights and demanded savage reductions to welfare benefits and the infrastructure of the welfare state.

He is not a suitable bedfellow for the leader of any self-respecting left-wing party, whether Labour or the SNP.

I’ve no doubt that both Salmond and Sturgeon feel that gaining Murdoch’s support for the election need not lead them into further political indebtedness, or allow him to influence the rest of their policies. They’re wrong. The fact that Salmond met him so many times indicates how dependent he feels on gaining Murdoch’s support. And Murdoch will play on that.

Just like Palpatine does to Annakin Skywalker in the Star Wars sequels.

To go back to the Star Wars metaphor, Murdoch does not offer A New Hope, but The Revenge of the Sith.

The Guardian Adds a Few More Details on Jonathan Stanley’s UKIP Resignation

March 20, 2015

I posted an article yesterday about the resignation from UKIP of Jonathan Stanley, a Scotland-based surgeon. Mr Stanley was their candidate for Westmoreland and Lonsdale. He resigned citing racism and sectarianism in the Scottish party as his reasons for leaving, along with the party’s failure to publish documents he had written about the deaths of eleven babies and a mother in the University Hospitals of the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

The Guardian today published an article reporting Mr Stanley’s resignation as one of three blows and scandals to hit the party. The other two were the investigation of Janice Atkinson for fiddling her expenses from the EU, and the suspension of Stephen Howd, a barrister, and their candidate for Scunthorpe, over allegations of harassment at his workplace.

The Guardian’s report says little about this. Most of the article is about Stanley’s resignation and Atkinson’s fraud, adding a few more details about why he resigned. In addition to the sectarianism and culture of bullying, he also strongly objected to the party’s use of ‘the language of English nationalism’. He felt it was damaging and corrosive to the Eurosceptic and Unionist cause.

He also took issue with part of Farage’s plan to exclude migrants from state support for five years after they came here. Along with his other reasons, he stated he could not support the exclusion of migrant children from state education and medical care.

Stanley’s absolutely right. It is totally unacceptable that migrant children, in particular, should be punished and left vulnerable because their parents came here in search of a better life. It’s also a move that is absolutely certain to do immense harm. If you exclude children from state education, and they cannot afford the immense fees of private tuition, then automatically you create an unskilled underclass, who will have no other recourse but crime. Especially if they cannot claim dole or other benefits.

I’ve similarly reblogged material from Vox Political, where Mike has produced the opinions of doctors and social workers that if migrants are excluded from the NHS, then it could lead to more infectious disease going untreated. You think of the chaos and suffering that could arise, if someone contracted Ebola, because they came from or visited West Africa, and were excluded from state medical treatment and couldn’t afford to go privately.

Or more prosaic problems and deaths that could arise from more ordinary problems going untreated, like meningitis or appendicitis. And does anyone really want to see women left to give birth without proper medical care, especially after the rave reviews of the Beeb’s Call The Midwife? That programme showed exactly the problems women faced bearing children in the East End slums in 1950s austerity Britain. No-one should want that privation and poverty to come back.

Except, it seems, Farage, and the rest of the Kipper, Tory and Lib Dem goons, who crave to see the NHS carved up and sold off.

The Guardian’s article is at: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/20/ukip-faces-crisis-two-parliamentary-candidates-suspended-one-resigns

Homelessness, Evictions and Revolution: Ireland, 19th century; Britain, 21st?

May 16, 2014

Irish Eviction Pic

I found this photo of an Irish peasant being evicted from his holding in the W.H. Smith History of the World: The Last Five Hundred Years (Feltham: Hamlyn 1984), p. 519. The caption for it reads:

Evicting a peasant from his holding: the poverty-stricken Irish peasantry’s resentment of prosperous English absentee landlords was just one contributory factor in the unstoppable demand for Home Rule and the dissolution of the Union of England and Ireland.

The oppression of the Irish peasantry through heavy rents and the eviction of large numbers, who couldn’t pay, created bitter resentment that did indeed contribute strongly to the demand for Home Rule, popular uprisings and Fenian – Irish nationalist – terrorism against the British. And I wonder how long it will be before the Tory cuts and the mass poverty they have caused in Britain will lead to the same resentment and violence in the UK.

Many people now in Britain also feel alienated and abandoned by a political class that appears isolated and out of touch with the needs of the British people themselves, and concerned only with the further enrichment of the extremely wealthy through further privatisation and tax cuts. The government’s austerity programme has led to a level of starvation in the UK not seen since the 19th century. Rising house prices have created a ‘Generation Rent’, who have little opportunity to get on the property ladder. And the notorious ‘Bedroom Tax’ and prohibition on the further construction of council housing have seen people forced out of their homes and into Bed and Breakfast accommodation and hotels, simply because they can no longer afford the rent on their council houses. And as the rich get richer, British cities like London are seeing a social cleansing as the poor and working class are forced out to the suburbs and less expensive towns as they are priced out by the rich.

If these policies continue, the resentment and alienation felt by the poor, working and lower middle class in this country will get worse. And the celebrations up and down the country last year of the death of Margaret Thatcher show just how long and deeply such bitterness can and will last. Thatcher was overthrown by the Tories in a cabinet coup in the first years of the 1990s nearly a quarter of a century ago.

You can only push people so far before the bitterness and resentment turns to violence. The shooting of Mark Duggan in 2010 resulted in rioting, and it only needs more incidents like that to cause further unrest. Boris Johnson is clearly worried about it, otherwise he wouldn’t be trying to purchase two second-hand water cannons from the Germans. And one of the causes of radical resentment in the Federal Republic was the death of a protester after being hit by water cannon during a riot in 1969. I’m not saying that violence, rioting and terrorism will inevitably occur. The popular mood at the moment seems simply to be one of sullen resignation. Nevertheless, if people are left without hope, and the government appears too distant, self-interested and arrogant, the potential is there. The existence of formal parliamentary democracy may not make much difference, if people feel that there is no real choice, or there is a continued dominance of one political party. It is believed that if Scotland secedes, the result will be a decline in the number of Labour MPs, with the result that future government are likely to be dominated by the Conservatives. The existence of democracy in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s did not prevent the revival of Irish nationalist terrorism, because the dominance of the Unionist party meant that the Roman Catholic population did not feel that their grievances and institutional oppression against them were being addressed. It may therefore not be long before a similar situation arises in Britain and England, where large number of the poor and working class feel they have no alternative for making themselves heard except through violence and acts of terror.

I don’t want that. There’s been enough bloodshed in British history already. Hopefully this can be prevented before it’s too late. The ‘Bedroom Tax’, Workfare, and cuts to welfare benefit all need to be scrapped, and a government elected determined to create real jobs, rather than just the illusion to serve the corporate interests of wealthy donors. It needs a more representative parliament, with members drawn from the working and lower middle classes, rather than the professionals and lawyers, who now predominate. And certainly not the Eton-educated aristos now forming the present cabinet. Only in this way can we stop, and possibly just begin to reverse, the bitter resentment and hatred now forming against Britain’s out of touch, complacent and exploitative elite. A resentment that if it goes further will lead to violence and bloodshed that may last decades.