Monday, February 22, 2010

Fascism/anti-fascism notes

First, an item of parochial London interest, and below that some discussion of anti-fascist strategy.

Tess Culnane
Transpontine: Lewisham Nazi working at City Hall
Never let it be said that the BNP is not an equal opportunities employer. Why, they are happy to employ people with a background in all sorts of neo-nazi factions, not just those who have been consistently loyal to leader Nick Griffin.

According to Adam Bienkov at Liberal Conspiracy, BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook has employed Tess Culnane, who stood for the National Front in competition with the BNP candidate for the London Assembly seat of Greenwich and Lewisham in 2008. She has also associated with the openly Hitler-worshipping British People's Party.

Seemingly she has now been welcomed back into the BNP, which she left in 2006 citing differences with the leadership. She stood for the BNP in the February 2009 Lewisham Council byelection in Downham ward. You can get a flavour of her supporters on various far right forums which I won't link to here. Here's once choice comment: 'Thank you Tess, The foreigners and queers who run Lewisham on behalf of our parasite enemies did not have an unchallenged contest'.
More from Socialist Unity.

How to defeat the BNP and EDL
Andy has an interesting post on British fascism past and present, partly in response to some predictable re-spouting of the tired useless formulae of the SWP front Unite Against Fascism. I think he is mostly right and partly wrong. I might get around to the partly wrong bit at some point, but I wanted to highlight two contributions from the comment thread. First, Paul Stott at #43:
#29 [Richard Seymour] wrote "The Nazis are in control of the organisation. They run its publications, its media relations, its electoral strategy etc, its strategy regarding street activism, etc. Its two MEPs are hardcore Nazis, whatever their public protestations to the contrary. Its major regional organisers are Nazis. Its advisory council is packed with Nazis. The Nazis can’t be marginalised because they lead and direct the party from top to bottom.”
This is rubbish with bells on - like calling a member of the Socalist Party a Stalinist who worships the USSR.
The BNP is not a nazi organisation. I would argue its leading members are fascists, but it should not be beyond the wit of Socialists to spot that there is a difference between fascism and Nazism.
Worse the like of Searchlight, the BBC and the UAF have wasted the best part of a decade trying to pin the nazi tail on the BNP - it has not worked, mainly because it cannot work.
What is urgently needed is a recognition that grasps the need to separate the BNP from its voting base (a base that I would argue is not largely made up of fascists, and certainly not made up of Nazis) and possibly even its supporters from its permanent membership. Its supporters are pissed off white working class people in unfashionable areas who have no voice - in large part because the Labour party (and the wider left?) long ago lost interest in them.
Then again - the left could just carry on shouting Nazi at everyone?
Second, David Rosenberg at #21 (Atzmon link added by me):
 If you haven’t read it, “East London for Mosley 1933-40″ by Thomas Linehan is worth looking at - it backs up what you say about the class basis of fascism against the received wisdom of orthodox marxists, showing wide support across a range of working class occupations and communities in East London and South West Essex for Mosley’s BUF.
You’ve given part of the story of the aftermath of Cable Street.In the week before the march 77,000 people signed a petition organised by the Jewish People’s Council against Fascism calling on the march to be banned - the Home Secretary refused to consider this, though a few weeks earlier when Mosley was marching through Leeds the local police took a decision to divert the march away for the Jewish area.
A point that is not fully appreciated about Mosley’s plans for October 4th is that if you look at the ad in the BUF’s paper the week before it refers to “four marching columns” and “four great meetings” - so it really was an attempt at a military style invasion of the area. Whatever meetings the BUF had after that they didn’t try that style of operation again. After Cable street, the BUF did have some further street meetings on the outskirts of the area it had wanted to march through on October 4th. It didn’t attempt to meet in the streets it had been denied by 250,000 to 300,000 anti-fascists on October 4th.
They picked up some 2000 new members in the 6-8 weeks after the Battle of Cable Street - but mainly young bruisers up for a fight rather than ideologically committed recruits and they soon fell away again. Meanwhile as a result of the recriminations after Cable Street many who had dedicated themselves to Mosley stopped believing in their leader’s ability, and split off or gave up. Mosley’s paper, the Blackshirt, acknowledged Cable street as a humiliation (but vowed revenge). Overall it was a powerful blow to the fascists and a massive boost to the confidence and unity of anti-fascists.
You refer to the “alliance between the hard left and the Jewish community”as if these were seperate entities. Much of the hard left of the area sprung from the Jewish community, but it succeeded in bringing into the fight the hard left from outside the Jewish community - and convincing them that the fight against antisemitism was their fight too - and many Jews who were less political but outraged both by the fascists and by the local rabbis and Jewish communal leaders urging them to stay in and ignore the fascists.I think you overestimate the success with getting local clergy on board - some like Father Groser played a key role but many others continued to spout antisemitism from the pulpit and some of the Irish catholic labour Councillors in Stepney openly supported Franco in the Spanish Civil war. The real work in bringing together the Jewish and Irish catholic communities of the East End was done through the Tenants Defence committees.
Anyway, thought provoking post. Just noticed elsewhere that the SWP’s (former?) favourite sax player has distinguished himself with a new piece in something called “dissident voice” telling us how prophetic the protocols of the elders of the elders of Zion were - seems like as the film concludes Mosley’s antisemitic messages live on after his death.
But I do think Mosley was offering his recruits more than racist rhetoric and I think Griffin does as well - so in developing our tactics for confronting and winning first-time BNP voters away from them we have to understand the appeal of fascism as well as simplistic racist narratives.

2 comments:

ModernityBlog said...

I take some blame, I have done it myself, it's very easy to characterise the BNPers as Nazis, but in the cold light of day and analysing them with a degree of sense they are not. They have plenty of connections to neo-Nazis and who can forget the tattooed torso of Nick Griffin's bodyguard, plastered with swastikas and "I love Hitler" stuff.

But the BNP are morphing to a more traditional neofascist grouping, and so should be treated differently, that is far more dangerous.

David Rosenberg's stuff is invariably good, shame he doesn't have a blog, shame the JSG doesn't have one!

Still I wonder how he brings himself to post on SU blog sometimes, most of his considered words go over the heads of the posters.

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