Friday, June 18, 2010

The English Defence League continued

More on the English Defence League, from Malatesta:
The ‘non-racist, non-violent’ EDL are much more attractive to the casual and not-so-casual racist in that they offer the potential of a scrap, a barrel of lager and a much needed ego-boost. This week has been eventful on a small level for the EDL. At the weekend a few EDL ‘supporters’ confronted a pro-Palestinian demo in Birmingham and after a bit of fruitless argy-bargy attempted to go and watch the England game but found themselves barred from the boozers and filmed by the cops. They then went home to watch the telly. On Tuesday, a handful of EDL went to Whitechapel in East London and after being kettled into a boozer for a bit were then escorted out of the area by the cops for their own safety, pursued by a large and angry crowd of locals. We can presume that the EDL are not likely to set up a local chapter there. Further out in Barking on the same day the EDL/BNP were attending the Royal Anglian homecoming parade as were ‘Muslims Against Crusades.’ This new grupuscule is very similar in tactics and ideology to Anselm Choudary’s Islam4UK and after making a bit of noise they were abused by the EDL/BNP contingent and then escorted away by the police. These ‘militant Islamic’ groups are as suspect as the EDL in that they gather in extremists who are then more easily monitored by the state. With their usual naivety the EDL assume that all anti-fascists, UAF, SWP etc., support these bozos and are therefore claiming a great victory against anti-fascism. So this week’s activities by the EDL have amounted to little more than a humiliation in Whitechapel, several photos to put in their hooligan scrapbooks and a few crowing posts on Indymedia. The SDL have also planned a demo in Kilmarnock this weekend but if their previous excursions north are anything to go by this may be dismal.
 Nick Ryan in OpenDemocracy has a long and pretty good account of the micro-politics of the East End of London, including EDL's war with the Islamists, and the conflict between Islamism and secularism in the Bangladeshi community, and a trip down memory lane to the days of Mosely. Here's the opening:
This Sunday two armies are threatening to clash on the streets of the East End of London. One involves a broad coalition of ethnic, Islamic and far-left groups, plus trade unions, churches and teachers. The other is a loose collection of far-right thugs, football hooligan 'firms', UKIP aficionados, and the odd Sikh or two, united by a fear (or hatred) of Islam.
Finally, this post by Yascha Mounk is not about the EDL, but rather about the new European right, which is instructive for thinking about where the EDL might go.


James Bloodworth said...

I can't help but see the EDL as just another branch of identity politics. Albeit an extreme manifestation of it.

Much of the left doesn't really believe in fundamental economic change any longer, sadly in my view, so rather they look to those who define themselves "as a Muslim/homosexual/disabled person etc.". As if that in itself somehow qualifies one as a revolutionary. It would seem that the white working class also want their share of the identity politics pie, the EDL embodying their favoured football-patriotism and drinking culture.

While there are obviously a large number of racists in the EDL, I think the majority are just pissed off working class folk whose grievences can be put down to neo-liberal economic policies which have left them well and truly on the scrapheap.

I wrote a post on my "reasons for the EDL" here:

P.S. I've been enjoying your EDL links as I think this is really getting quite serious: there is potential for serious disorder as the movement grows and the government cuts kick in.

bob said...

Thanks James. I noticed your post last night, which I'd somehow missed, and will read it properly. i broadly agree with your comment here about identity politics and "racism". More later!

Duncan said...

I dunno Bob, I've yet to see any evidence that Nick Ryan has anything useful to say about anything.

bob said...

Duncan, I'd never heard of Ryan before. Should I have? What's wrong with him, and what problems do you have with the OpenDem piece?

I'm interested too in your take on the EDL.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Ryan's one of the Searchlight team I believe, with all that implies. In particular, I find his approach to the far right sensationalist and simplistic a lot of the time. At least part of the motivation for that that is likely to be financial. Lurid race war stories are more likely to sell than nuanced analysis. He's mentioned here by Red Action (the "Nazis are Small" article):