Thursday, September 08, 2011

The EDL in East London

In Tower Hamlets

I wasn’t in Tower Hamlets on Saturday, when the English Defence League attempted at “static” demonstration there, but I’ve now managed to read through a fair amount of commentary and reportage. It seems it was a victory for everyone. For the EDL, they mobilised something from 600 to 1000 people, got a lot of media attention, drank a lot and had a generally fun day – although they failed to actually get to Tower Hamlets. For the “anti-fascists”, endlessly re-living the Battle of Cable Street, they considerably outnumbered the EDL and managed to keep the bigots out of the borough – except it was the police and not them who managed that. For the police, there was relatively little disorder and mayhem, and Theresa May’s ban on a march managed to get enforced – although it took 3000 pairs of boots on the ground and undoubtedly a huge bill to pay.

The EDL and the Muslims
The English Defence League, parroted by many of its middle class apologists in the Harry’s Place comments threads, claims to be against “Islamism” or “Islamic extremism” and not against “Islam in general”. This claim is completely hollow. Here’s some comments from EDL supporters, to give you a flavour of their real views. Or, more to the point, watch this video of Stephen “Tommy Robinson” Yaxley-Lennon (the EDL’s cult of personality fuhrer) advocating Anders Breivik style policies in London on Saturday:
"Every single Muslim watching this video on youtube, on 77, you got away with killing and maiming British citizens ... you had better understand that we have built a network from one end of the country to the other end... and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our British citizens killed maimed or hurt on British soil ever again."
As one Indymedia contributor says, “So if some Islamist terrorists carry out another 77 style attack, it will be the fault of any Muslim living in Britain and they should be attacked?”

Or, for more evidence, read some of the examples from Laurie Penny’s report, which is actually one of the better things she’s written.

Sarah AB quotes Maryam Namazie, who knows a thing or two about Islamism, on this subject in an HP comment thread:
“And it is also clear who [the EDL] are from their tactics, one of which is organising demonstrations in front of mosques and terrorising people passing by or entering. Look, if you are concerned about the political Islamic movement and mosques being funded by Islamic states to promotes Islamism, then by all means demonstrate but why not do it at the Qatar embassy (if you are concerned about the Burnley mosque for example) or for that matter Jack Straw’s office (who is thought to be responsible for the Emir of Qatar’s £1.5 million gift to the mosque). Yes I am opposed to faith schools but I wouldn’t stand with a group that brings out thugs in front of an Islamic school and threatens children going in who are sent their by their parents…”
I wouldn't, by the way, bother reading an HP comment thread on this topic. It’s full of the usual toxicity: HP below-the-line commenters, unlike the above the line posters, see all Muslims as scum and see the EDL as generally good “working class” chaps who are to be applauded for sticking it to the Pakis. Possibly the only perceptive comment I read came from one CBinTowerHamlets:
Unlike your regular extremist organisation, the EDL is not infamous because of its stated agenda, but simply because of its nature, the thuggery of its members and their general Islamophobia. If you were to define it by its stated objectives, namely opposition to [Muslims Against Crusaders, Anjem Chaudhury’s horrible extremist cult] and to compulsory sharia law, then it’s so mainstream that most Muslims would agree with it. If you define it by its members’ behaviour, then even most Islamophobes would steer clear of it. I don’t think it’s a “proper” extremist organisation, it’s just a bunch of angry pals, largely from the football hooligan fraternity, who decided to go demonstrate and enjoy a ‘day out’ doing so. They’re full of latent prejudice but haven’t developed an extremist ideology from it.

The EDL and the Jews
As reported here, EDL leader and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) broke his bail conditions to turn up at the demo – dressed in ridiculous comedy haredi rabbi disguise (under yet another nom de guerre: Rabbi Benjamin Kidderman. He’s a veritable Sacha Baron-Cohen!) – and on the arm of Roberta Moore. Moore, for those lucky enough not to know, is the frothing at the mouth former leader of the EDL’s alleged “Jewish Division” (a handful of American and Israeli Jews and British non-Jews on Facebook, with no real world presence apart from Roberta and a couple of her pals).

The first point about this is that Moore claimed to have parted ways with the EDL on account of it having Nazis in it. In turn, the EDL claimed that they couldn't stomach her because of her links to the Jewish Task Force, Victor Vancier’s vicious and fascist terrorist organisation. In fact, if I were the EDL, I’d want to be shot of her, because most ordinary Zionist Jews wouldn't touch her with a bargepole, as she’s someone who calls the Chief Rabbi a “kapo” for occasionally talking to Muslims. Looks like either they were both lying, or her and Yaxley-Lennon have patched up their differences. (A statement on the “EDL JDIV” website, which I won;t link to, does not clarify mjuch, but says Moore is re-taking leadership of the Division

The second point is the offensiveness of the rabbi garb. As Mark Gardner puts it: “the joke reveals a vital political lesson: The EDL is only interested in Jews (and Israel) as devices with which to try and provoke Muslims. No good will come of this for either Jews or Muslims. It is racist politics and anyone who sincerely cares about anti-racism, Jews, or Israel, should condemn it. “

In fact, it is not unlikely that the EDL’s love affair with the Jews will come to an end, and there is evidence that their Euro-populist kin in other places have already done so.

The EDL and global counter-jihad
Roberta Moore is one of the many figures connecting the EDL to the diffuse and diverse global counter-jihad movement. At the conservative site, American Thinker, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, an intelligent and interesting voice at the moderate end of the anti-jihad movement, whose blog is well worth following) takes up the story. He writes that one of the primary reasons Pamela Geller has declared her support for the EDL is that
the organization has featured a "Jewish division" (hailed by her main colleague as a "development much to be applauded").  The EDL Jewish division's leader -- Roberta Moore -- is described by Geller as the person she "most trusted" in the EDL; and when Moore fell out with the EDL amid professed concern on Moore's part over the presence of neo-fascists in the group, Pamela withdrew her support for the EDL too.  What is clear is that she wholeheartedly endorses Moore and the Jewish division, and it was their part in the EDL -- more than anything -- that apparently led Pamela to gush routinely about the EDL.  For instance, she once proclaimed how she wished she "could be there to stand with the English Defense League" in support of a rally for Geert Wilders.
In reality, however, the fallout between Moore and the EDL's leadership was not due to allegations of infiltration by neo-Nazis.  Rather, the EDL leadership and numerous members of the rank-and-file were alarmed at Moore and the Jewish division's alliance with and outspoken support for the American-based Kahanist group "The Jewish Task Force (JTF)," headed by convicted terrorist Chaim ben Pesach (aka Victor Vancier), who is also banned from entering Israel.
Vancier did much to set back the work of Soviet Jewish dissidents like Natan Sharansky in the 1980s with his bombing campaigns directed at, amongst other targets, an FBI informer's car and a hall where the Soviet State Symphony Orchestra was performing.  Unsurprisingly, Vancier has praised Baruch Goldstein -- perpetrator of the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre -- as a "great hero."

In fact, the EDL is itself based on a cult of violence. Its roots are in football hooliganism. It has connections (via co-founder and ex-member Paul Ray) with both Anders Breivik and with organised crime. These people take the clash of civilisations thesis as seriously as al-Qaeda do, and they are working hard to hasten it.

The EDL and class
I was struck by the way in which EDL apologists in the HP comment thread constantly invoke the EDL’s working class, ordinary Joe credentials. This echoes the phenomenon in mainstream politics whereby, as Laurie Penny puts it well, “On both sides of the political spectrum, politicians and policymakers have urged us to try to understand the disenfranchisement of white, far-right groups like the EDL, rather than dismissing their protests as "mindless violence".” In other words, the white working class as beleaguered native becomes an alibi or a cipher for right-wing politics in the hands of privileged members of the political class.

This dishonours the vast majority of working class people, most of whom are not EDL supporters or frothing anti-migrant bigots. It conflates class with ethnicity, because it misses out the fact that most Muslim people in Britain are every bit as authentically salt of the earth working class as the EDL. And it misrepresents the EDL, whose rank and file might be mainly working class, but whose leadership are pretty well-healed and which is funded by American millionaires.

On the other hand, like Patrick Hayes, I also smell more than a whiff of class conceit among liberal anti-EDL commentators, including Laurie Penny, who harp on about the EDL’s cropped hair, football shirts and beer guts. Surely the liberal de-humanising of the EDL is not that different from Tory politicians talking about a feral underclass?

The EDL and fascism
Most liberals, as well as the sub-Trotskyists of the SWP, see the EDL as fascist. I’ve said this before on this blog, but I don't think this is a helpful appellation. Going back to CB’s comment I already quoted, I think this is a better characterisation, if less useful for turning into chants on a demo: “I don’t think it’s a “proper” extremist organisation, it’s just a bunch of angry pals, largely from the football hooligan fraternity, who decided to go demonstrate and enjoy a ‘day out’ doing so. They’re full of latent prejudice but haven’t developed an extremist ideology from it.” It is true that there are fascists and ex-fascists in the leadership of the EDL, but they lack most of the features that define fascism. I think they are more comparable to the “proto-fascist” anti-alien groups that operated in the East End a hundred years ago, like the British Brothers League.

However, that doesn't mean that anti-fascists shouldn't pay attention to them. Just as the anti-alien movement mutated into Mosleyism, the EDL have the potential to become much more ideologically malignant. And anyway the terror and hate they spread among Asian communities is reason enough to want to crush them. So, in the next part of this post, I turn to some of the issues around the anti-fascist response to the EDL.

Peter Tatchell and Islamist homophobia
Peter Tatchell bravely and honourably took a contrarian position at the demonstration, marching with placards saying "Stop EDL & far right Islamists. No to ALL hate" and on the other side: "Gays & Muslims UNITE! Stop the EDL". I find his brand of identity politics intensely grating, the notion that “the LGBT community” should be speaking with one voice on every issues, “as” LGBTs. (And since when did LGBT become a noun Peter, instead of an adjective?)

But I admire the courage and consistency with which he articulates it. Here, he notes the lack of such consistency among his fellow identitarians: “there were lots of LGBT protesters against the EDL. But I never saw a single one with a gay badge, placard, t-shirt or rainbow flag. It was as if they'd all gone back in the closet. Why? Normally, on other demos, they always proclaim their LGBT identity. How strange. We were the only visibly gay protesters in the entire anti-EDL demonstration.” And in this case, because the EDL claim to speak for LGBT people under attack from Islamists, there’s a very good reason to be there “as” a queer, to show the EDL don’t speak for gay people – a point Andy Godfrey made here.

Tatchell also records the abuse he received from a small handful of Muslim youths in Tower Hamlets and from their (presumably non-Muslim) LGBT fellow travellers. But he also records that he won many over, and that he was defended by Muslims too.

The only problem I have with what he says is that Muslim and LGBT appear as mutually exclusive categories in his formula “Gays & Muslims UNITE!", and his “LGBTs” seem to be normatively white. Of course, few mainstream practising Muslims are out gays or identify with the lilywhite, middle class, queer culture Tatchell speaks for. And in the identity politics game there is only really room for one identity, so if Muslims are under attack, as they are now, the Muslim identity is likely to have the trump hand. But I know there are plenty of lesbian and gay people in East London who identify as Muslim or who are ethnically Bangladeshi and from Muslim backgrounds, and Tatchell seems to be keeping them invisible here. There are indeed grassroots LGBT Muslim groups, like Imaan, who Tatchell ought to be working with.

However, where I completely agree with Tatchell is when he says this:
What too many anti-fascists refuse to acknowledge is that Islamist fundamentalism mirrors the right-wing ideology of the EDL (and the BNP). In fact, the Islamist goals are much more dangerous. They want to establish a theocratic tyranny, ban trade unions and political parties and deny women equal human rights. They endorse hatred and violence against Jewish, Hindu and LGBT people. Muslims who don't follow their particular brand of Islam would face severe persecution in their Islamist state. These fanatical sects condone terrorism and the suicide bombing of innocent civilians. Not even the BNP and EDL are this extreme.
The failure of many people on the Left to speak out against Islamist fundamentalism is de facto collusion with extremism and a betrayal of the Muslim majority. It also creates a political vacuum, which the EDL is seeking to exploit and manipulate.
Some anti-fascists argue that we should not condemn the Islamists because this will fuel anti-Muslim sentiment. Wrong. Protesting against the fundamentalists and defending mainstream Muslims is actually the most effective way to undermine Islamophobia.
In the absence of a left-wing critique of the Islamist far right, the EDL is able to pose as the sole critic of Islamist extremism and to mount indiscriminate attacks on the whole Muslim community.
This silence and inaction by many on the left is objectively (albeit unintentionally) colluding with both fundamentalist fanaticism and anti-Muslim prejudice.
To be credible and effective, opponents of the EDL need to be consistent by also taking a stand against right-wing Islamists. Only this way can we offer a principled alternative to the EDL that isolates and targets the extremists without demonising the whole Muslim population.
I endorse that point 100%. Yet Tatchell is little more than a lone voice making it. In fact, he is heavily demonised in radical circles. I’ve been told he is a “homonationalist”, a “queer imperialist”, and of course an “Islamophobe” and probably a “neocon” for speaking the truth on this matter. But while the ultra-radicals who use that language defend Islamists, they can never build a real alliance with them, or indeed with mainstream Muslims. They can be Islamism’s useful idiots, but they will never be respected on their own terms by any Muslim. Their defence is both dishonest and ultimately racist – the racism of low expectations: amongst their white friends, they talk the pro-choice, anti-heteronormative, morally libertarian dogma, but anyone who tries to impose this on brown people is a homonationalist or queer imperialist. In contrast, Tatchell’s refusal to pretend to be someone else for the benefit of the bigots, and his dogged insistence on honestly “engaging”, and on washing dirty laundry in public, is the only way forward for a meaningful alliance between the left and the communities under attack from the EDL.

Tatchell is also attacked by Simon of Latte Labour who trots out “liberal interventionist”, “decent left” and, crime of crimes, no longer “a lefty” to tar the man. Simon’s post makes some good points, but is incoherent. For starters, Simon says “We are not told which "Islamic fundamentalists" Tatchell has in mind.” I think it’s pretty obvious: the ones whose provocations in the East End and elsewhere (including “Gay-free zone” stickers) fuel the EDL. Simon says “Of course there are issues with [LGBT rights] amongst Muslims, as there are in all other significant religious and cultural groups.” But Tatchell isn’t talking about Muslim homophobia; he’s talking about Islamist homophobia. Simon says “After I've stood shoulder-to-shoulder to [a homophobic Muslim] on a protest march, or formed a line around his mosque, after he has witnessed a local LGTBQ group helping to defend him and his fellow worshippers from fascists - then the response might be very different when I challenge a homophobic comment than it otherwise might have been.” But that’s precisely what Tatchell is doing: standing against the EDL in solidarity with East End Muslims but as a gay man. I’ll stop there, because Carl refutes Simon’s post extremely well, so read him instead of me. (Andy Godfrey, more convincingly and at much less length, makes some similar points to Simon.)

Tatchell was attacked from the other side (well, attacked is too strong a word, because it was a very sympathetic attack) by Jonathan Narvey at The Propagandist. Jonathan tells of Peter for arguing with the homophobic kids. “You don't argue with haters. You walk away from them. You tell them to fuck off.Actually, if Tatchell’s account is truthful, it seems he won some of the haters over, so I think he took the right strategy. But I also felt Narvey’s position was a little hollow, given he thinks we should engage with bigots like the Jewish Defence League, who I think are well described as haters. “Tatchell clearly can't tell his friends from his enemies”, Jonathan continues. But it seems to me that Tatchell is one of the few people who sees that we have more than one set of enemies.

Hope not Hate and Islamism
Edmund Standing at Harry’s Place, an uncompromising opponent of the EDL, makes some strong criticisms of the main anti-EDL groups. I have mixed feelings about his take. He starts with Hope not Hate, and reprimands them for not demonstrating against Islamist extremism, a position that seems superficially similar to Tatchell’s, and a point related to one which Carl Packman made a while ago and reiterated here. Without wanting to speak for HnH, I disagree with Standing. It seems to me that anti-fascists should indeed oppose right-wing Islamism, for the reasons Tatchell sets out, but not because Islamism is some version of “fascism”. It is related to fascism, but it is different, and therefore it is not the business of HnH, as HnH, to take on Islamism.

Taking on Islamism should be a parallel project, ideally led by non-Islamist Muslims. It would be equally absurd to say that One Law for All, Quilliam or Muslims for a Secular Democracy should actually spend their time campaigning against the BNP. No doubt they do as individuals, but not as anti-Islamists. (Standing’s position reminds me of the standard Trotskyist line about more or less every issue, from defending local libraries to protesting GM crops, that it should “link up” to the class struggle, i.e. be subordinated to the Leninist party.) I think we need a smarter approach.

So, while it is right for anti-fascist individuals, like Tatchell, to protest Islamism and the EDL; protesting Islamism can’t be the main job of anti-fascist organisations.

Hope not Hate, liberal anti-fascism and state bans
Standing also criticises HnH for its links to Socialist Unity, “one of only 5 blogs linked to on Hope Not Hate’s website. Socialist Unity is a blog which routinely smears opponents of Islamism as ‘Islamophobes’ or ‘racists’. It is a website whose writers include John Wight, a man who has linked approvingly to a Holocaust denial website”. I agree that this is an unwise move, but it seems a relatively trivial indictment.

My criticism of HnH is different. I feel that its version of liberal anti-fascism – get the government to ban the march, get the police to arrest the EDL – is wrong and counter-productive. Getting the state to ban protests can never be a good thing. While I shed no tears at the march being banned, I can’t help feeling we’ll be paying for it later. We’ll be paying for it by letting the EDL (like the BNP) pose as the underdog victims of a liberal, politically correct elite. (Tommy Robinson has promised a hunger strike now he’s been re-arrested, so determined is he to play the martyr.) And we’ll be paying for it when it’s our protests that get banned.

Unite Against Fascism, “militant” anti-fascism and macho posturing
Standing also attacks Unite Against Fascism, noting that it is an SWP front and that its spokesperson Weyman Bennett has reportedly made antisemitic comments in the past. Many Harry’s Place types, as well as Andy Newman of Socialist Unity, also indicts UAF for its thuggery. The UAF these days likes to present itself as the “militant” alternative to HnH (after years of attacking AFA for “squadism” (see comment thread here), but to my mind they’re all mouth and no trousers, as the saying goes. Seventy five years ago, the Communist Party tried to force people to rally at Trafalgar Square when Mosley was due to march through the East End; only two days before the march, they caved into the Jewish East End rank and file and agreed to support the mobilisation that we know as the Battle of Cable Street, for fear of looking a bit pathetic at Hyde Park when the masses would stay in Stepney. History repeats itself, and about 48 hours before the EDL march, UAF switched from rallying at Weaver’s Fields to call for meeting on Whitechapel Road, i.e. where most East End anti-fascists would be anyway – and then took the credit for stopping the EDL from getting there. (As far as I can tell, there is barely a word of truth in the Socialist Worker tabloid’s report of the day.)

Islamist “anti-fascists”
Edmund Standing also attacks the Islamists involved in anti-EDL mobilisation in Tower Hamlets, including activists of the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which is a Muslim Brotherhood organisation which has played a complex entrist game in East End politics, controlling Lutfur Rahman’s independent mayoral campaign and major slices of Labour, Respect and the other parties. IFE and the East London Mosque were major players in United East End, the third main group in the anti-fascist camp on Saturday. Carl gives us the reasons why this lot are not good allies. For example, “In 2009, the London Muslim Centre, which is part of the ELM, located adjacent to it, hosted a video link of 9/11 spiritual leader Anwar al-Awlaki, as part of a conference on the “end of days” – advertising poster of which illustrated bombs dropping over a darkened New York City.” You could get plenty more examples from Martin Bright.

Anti-Zionist “anti-fascists”
Another blot on the anti-fascist camp is those who try and reinforce the myth that the EDL are some kind of Zionist front. That’s what the BNP called them, but the sentiment is mainly shared by the anti-Zionist ultras of Respect, JBIG, Jews Against Zionism and so on, with Respect’s Carole Swords and JBIG’s Deborah Fink more or less perfectly mirroring Roberta Moore. The second part of Mark Gardner’s post is good on this topic:
“there are those in the anti-Israel brigade who appear unable to stop placing Zionism and Israel at the centre of their world-view [such as] Carole Swords, a senior Respect activist in Tower Hamlets, whom CST Blog recently noted as having told pro-Israel activists to “go back to bloody Russia!”. “Go back to bloody Russia!” is the kind of “Send ‘Em Back!” sentiment that the EDL can likely identify with; but Swords was most certainly not on the EDL’s side this (or any other) weekend. The boycott Israel activists, including Swords, can be seen in the below video. Its title, “Tower Hamlets kick out the EDL & their Israeli Propogandist [sic] allies”, dangerously alleges that there was some kind of meaningful and independent pro-Israel participation in the EDL’s anti-Muslim provocation. (Swords comes in at about 2.18, amongst those attempting to muster up “Free Palestine” chants from the anti-EDL demonstrators.)
 The potential and actual linkage between antisemitic incidents and anti-lsrael sentiment (e.g, see this hateful graffiti from Manchester last week) is blatant; and linking pro-Israelis with the EDL risks serious antisemitic escalations wherever EDL intensifies its actions.

So, what should we do?
I’ve used the second part of this post to basically criticise all the main and some of the minor forms of anti-fascism that were mobilised against the EDL, and had very little positive to say about anyone. So what do I think we should do? This question requires an answer on two levels. On the immediate level, there’s what we should do on days like September 3. The old militant anti-fascist physical force strategy seems suicidal in the current policing climate and when the EDL are mobilising a thousand bodies, so simply making our presence felt on the other side of the police lines is probably all we can do.

In the long run, though, I think we need to re-build the anti-fascist movement. We need an anti-fascist movement that escapes the left ghetto. We need a movement that faces in at least two ways at once. It needs to be able to orientate to the white working class constituencies the EDL attempt to mobilise, which means not “defending multiculturalism” or apologising for Islamism, but actually relating to the real, concrete concerns of people like Connor’s mum in Laurie Penny’s report. But we also need to orientate to the Muslims and other Asians who are under attack from the EDL terror. I think both these orientations require a very sharp critique of Islamism as well as a more mature analysis of the EDL.

79 comments:

Sarah AB said...

Very interesting. The HnH thing is tricky - I suppose I agree with Edmund up to a point because, when I got sent a questionnaire by them to ask about ways forward etc, I did say maybe they could focus on Islamism slightly more. But I appreciate that these decisions must be very difficult for them.

I wasn't quite sure about your point that HnH should target Islamism for the same reason Quilliam etc should't target the BNP. Organisations such as Quilliam are, by their nature, defined in relation to Islam - but I'm not sure HnH is in the same way - it could be a focus for traditional antifascist types, those who don't care for some traditional antifascist types/techniques but who essentially share their concerns about racism/Islamophobia, Muslims concerned about Islamism - and those who might be concerned by both Islamism and the EDL, including those who are currently sceptical of HnH because they perceive them not to be sufficiently anti-Islamist.

Francis Sedgemore said...

I was in the area on Saturday. Not as part of the "anti-fascist" demo, but leading a cycle tour of community enterprise gardens for the charity Sustain/Capital Growth.

What I saw was a fairly low-key police operation, albeit one with greater than usual manpower. Also muted was the SWP-dominated left-fascist counter demonstration. I say "counter demonstration", but in reality the EDL effort was pretty pathetic, even by their low standards. The EDL may have gotten themselves a few column centimetres of publicity, but overall the day must for them be regarded as a failure. The police handled the situation pretty well, from what I could see, and I continue to support the decision to ban the planned EDL march through Tower Hamlets.

Let the EDL gather on the streets, get rat-arsed and make fools of themselves by all means, but not invade residential communities and terrify vulnerable residents. Banning such marches is not a free speech issue. The EDL can rant and rave all they want, and no-one is stopping them.

modernity said...

Good selection of links and points, a few debatable.

Peter Tactchell has come in for an incredible amount of bile from SU blog, this is just one example,

"Did Peter Tatchell Uses Libel Laws To Delegitimise Criticism?"

http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=6218

Certainly given the amount of animosity in SU blog's Israel related posts recently it would be good if HnH reconsidered their links, but it's conceivable that they didn't realise how appalling SU blog is, and how it has declined.

bob said...

I wouldn't make a free speech argument against ban. I think free speech is a much less important right than not being harassed, attacked, terrorised, incited against etc. I have no time for Spiked fundamentalist civil libertarianism.

However, I think there is a more serious libertarian argument, which is that we should not be empowering the state, full stop.

Francis Sedgemore said...

I quite agree, Bob. It shouldn't be for the home secretary to make such banning orders, but instead local police commanders working with representative community leaders. However, in the absence of a public order regime that favours such localism, I'm not inclined to complain much about Theresa May intervening in the specific case of the EDL in Tower Hamlets.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Duncan's comment over on Though Cowards Flinch is well worth reading in full.

An extract that I think is spot on:

This is all well and good but I have seen very little evidence of people proposing a strategies to tackle the Islamist far right. The strategies on offer, epitomized by the contributors to Harry’s Place, range from writing stern-sounding blog posts about what a bad thing it is, advocating military strikes on parts of the Middle East or calling for more police powers.

Bluntly, what are those (like, but not confined to HP) who define themselves at least in part by their opposition to Islamism, actually doing? Anybody can type a good fight. But unless people are actually going to back that up with action, it's meaningless posturing.

To the best of my knowledge, the only thing HP were involved in organising was that broad counterdemonstration against Al Quds day some years ago. And that's collapsed now, mostly because the organisers weren't prepared to deal with the increasing far right presence on their demo. And I'm not standing next to March for England etc.

Apart from that, what's actually been put into place? Tatchell has done loads, from what I can tell. And has an approach I generally agree with. And he seems to be pretty much doing that singlehandedly. We have the United Against Whitechapel stuff, which I think is a model for future organisation round an impending EDL visit, but doesn't seem to have had a wider effect. And Antifa did do a demo against both Hamza and MFE years ago, but I haven't seen anything like that from them since. (To be fair, I don't think that's a lack of will, so much as the fact Antifa are basically moribund as an organisation).

Now, it would be fair to levy the same criticism against me, because I haven't done much in the area. But then I don't pretend otherwise, whereas the "anti-Islamists" combine their inactivity with a shrill outrage that nobody is listening to them.

The first point about this is that Moore claimed to have parted ways with the EDL on account of it having Nazis in it.

She was lying on that one. She'd previously said she didn't mind Nazis as long as they were quiet about it. (You can dig that out on Expose, if you want to).

But I also felt Narvey’s position was a little hollow, given he thinks we should engage with bigots like the Jewish Defence League, who I think are well described as haters. “Tatchell clearly can't tell his friends from his enemies”, Jonathan continues. But it seems to me that Tatchell is one of the few people who sees that we have more than one set of enemies.

Way too soft. When Tatchell talks about engaging with the "haters" it's clear he's doing so with the intention of changing their minds. Whether that's an effective tactic, I'm unconvinced by, but it's clear that's his motivation. Narvey doesn't "engage" with the JDL etc. He promotes them. His reaction to Brevik was to mock the idea that we should take the threat from the trad far right seriously.

To be fair, he is someone who can "tell his friends from his enemies”. He's a de facto member of the anti-Jihadists. I see nothing in Propagandist Mag the EDL would take issue with. At all. And I do think, as someone who's politically closer to the 'decents' then I am, you should be looking at policing your own ranks. In the same way as I will 'deal' with any National Anarchists who try and turn up at stuff I'm present at.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Edmund Standing at Harry’s Place, an uncompromising opponent of the EDL

I have no doubt believing he is. I will observe that HP wouldn't be forgiving of someone whose defense for writing for an Islamist group was "I only wrote one article and my views are generally well known", certainly without a full apology for doing so. And yet, that is the essence of Standing's retort to people who point out he was linked to the (now openly EDL supporting) Douglas Murray.

So, while it is right for anti-fascist individuals, like Tatchell, to protest Islamism and the EDL; protesting Islamism can’t be the main job of anti-fascist organisations.

Agree, totally. Although there’s an issue with those who will claim that anti Islamist agitation is somehow ‘counterproductive’ which is an equally bad argument. And I will say those for whom anti-fascism is nothing more than theorising without practical application don’t have the knowledge needed for me to take them seriously. It’s the difference between someone who watches football and someone who plays in their local team every weekend.

Standing also criticises HnH for its links to Socialist Unity… I agree that this is an unwise move, but it seems a relatively trivial indictment.

That’s very hypocritical of Standing, considering one of the very few ‘formal’ Harry’s Place statements was an attempt to join hands with Andy Newman to stave off any potential fallout for Searchlight over Fitzgate. There’s also the question why HP called them the “only effective anti BNP organisation”. Does Standing think HP were lying, or does he think that they were mistaken? If the latter, fair enough, but we should note that they have shown themselves to get antifascism wrong, according to one of their own main contributors.

Whether the Socialist Unity/Searchlight lash-up is “trivial” is really down to if you think SU is beyond the pale or not. I do think Standing is right that the linking is significant, considering that HnH only have a small number of links, all to “on-side” blogs. Also, SU posts (specifically by Andy) are a very reliable barometer of current HnH thinking- this isn't just an armchair supporter. He's obviously very close to them and gets stuffs sent. And Nick Lowles and Andy Newman are friends. Lowles rings him up and everything. So I wouldn’t bother emailing HnH on this, if anybody was thinking of doing so.

The UAF these days likes to present itself as the “militant” alternative to HnH (after years of attacking AFA for “squadism” (see comment thread here), but to my mind they’re all mouth and no trousers, as the saying goes.

Indeed. That would back up my point on the dangers of abstract theorising. I don’t doubt that Standing does really believe the UAF are a bunch of hardened street fighters, beating up the far right whenever they get the chance. But the fact he thinks that just proves he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and only deserves mockery. The UAF couldn’t set up a ‘squad’, even if they wanted to. They don’t have the capability.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Another blot on the anti-fascist camp is those who try and reinforce the myth that the EDL are some kind of Zionist front.

Yep, although equally I think some of their opponents go to far in claiming that none of the EDL would define as Zionists, because it would be easier for them if they didn’t. Moore is sincere, as far as that goes. So is the EDL Extra blog (which recently walked out of the EDL). Both sides, by riding their personal hobby-horse on Israel, are missing the fact this is an issue where the EDL has major internal tensions. The idea that anti-fascism, as a movement in its own right, is agnostic on Zionism/Anti-Zionism needs reinforcing and sooner rather than later. If people have to argue about it, do it in the fucking pub. The main aim of anti-fascists should be anti-fascism, not anything else. End of.


The old militant anti-fascist physical force strategy seems suicidal in the current policing climate

That’s too broad. It varies. At Tower Hamlets, confrontation with the main body would have been unwise I think. Despite some of the hysteria from decent types, there’s no way the UAF could have mobilised to take the EDL mobilisation point. Stuff on the periphery, possibly. In Glasgow, Birmingham and Cardiff, the situation on the ground was different. It may also be with NWI activity, which is both likely to be more openly racist and confrontational and be smaller.

In the long run, though, I think we need to re-build the anti-fascist movement. We need an anti-fascist movement that escapes the left ghetto.

We need an AFA mk 2. There are some small shoots of hope (Manchester AFA), but nowhere near where we need to be. We also need to recognise that, as militant anti-fascists, while liberal anti-fascists are not our enemies, neither are they our political allies. And so it ever was…

Finally, on this ridiculously long post, I think Francis has a strong point. But I think the current focus on state bans is a byproduct of quite what a bad shape the anti-fascist movement is currently in. People are looking for the state to do for us what we should, but are currently unable to, do ourselves. We need to treat the disease, not concentrate on the symptom

Waterloo Sunset said...

It seems to have mislaid my middle comment!

Sarah AB said...

"Bluntly, what are those (like, but not confined to HP) who define themselves at least in part by their opposition to Islamism, actually doing?"

WS - I have to say that I've hardly been on *any* demos or marches,of any sort, so I'm certainly in the category you describe.

I suppose I'd feel nervous about the obvious kinds of possible contamination - I would consider going on something organised by BMSD but they don't seem hugely active. That brings me back to HnH - again, I understand their anxieties about going down that road - but they obviously have a squeaky clean record when it comes to the far right, so if they organised something it would bring together people who are concerned about Islamism - but also about Islamophobia.

I agree that (anti)zionism shouldn't be seen as a related issue!

bob said...

I pretty much agree with most of WS's points, with some minor quibbles/additions/questions. I rescued the middle comment from spam.

-To clarify slightly, I think pure squadism is probably the right strategy against the Infidels where possible, and possibly EDL in some instances.
-EDL Extra posted a Roberta Moore statement that made me wonder if they are moving back to the EDL.
-Is Murray now openly supporting EDL? I hadn't seen that.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Sarah AB- I suppose I'd feel nervous about the obvious kinds of possible contamination - I would consider going on something organised by BMSD but they don't seem hugely active.

That's a valid concern and one that would need to be solved by well-organised stewarding of any such event.

The Antifa anti Hamza/MFE demo I talked about previously was a reasonable model to follow. (Some Sikhs who had turned up to oppose the MFE also joined the demo, which obviously helped with the turn-out). And the Islamophobic far right were never going to join an Antifa demo. However, even if Antifa weren't currently too small to repeat this kind of mobilisation, I suspect you wouldn't want to lend your support to a group that openly supports physical attacks on the far right. That's one of the ironies of the current situation. The section of the anti-fascist movement that is closest to the position many people at HP suggest it should take on Islamism, is also the section that is the most militant and the most in favour of physical confrontation, which HP obviously condemn. (I'll state clearly that I don't have any issue with attacks on racists, whether male or female). While I could mischievously suggest people need to decide whether that's more important than taking the fight against Islamism seriously, it makes more sense that you'd just have to organise your own ideal kind of activities.

That brings me back to HnH - again, I understand their anxieties about going down that road - but they obviously have a squeaky clean record when it comes to the far right, so if they organised something it would bring together people who are concerned about Islamism - but also about Islamophobia.

I doubt they're going to be organising anything, from their own perspective. Searchlight/HnH have been very clear that they currently are against mass demos (let alone anything else) against the EDL and are in favour of putting pressure on the police and local councils to deal with them instead. Their main activity at the moment is a combination of monitoring, lobbying and campaigning to get out the Labour vote where the far right are standing. As such, for them to organise activity against Islamists in the way you suggest would take a complete tactical shift on their part.

Bob-

The mobilisation against the Infidels may even open up the possibilities of a more mass militant response, along the line of Waterloo. We shall see.

From what I can tell, EDL Extra is still close to some factions within the EDL, but not the current leadership. And is likely to stay in that limbo for as long as Hel Gower is still in her position. (And, obviously, EDL Extra is in a bit of a bind here. Unlike many disillusioned EDL members, the Infidels are not an option).

See Douglas Murray's speech at the One Law For All conference.

As an additional response to the OP that I forgot to mention, if Martin Bright told me the sky was blue, I'd ask for a second source. He's not reliable. He has a history of regurgitating state propaganda as fact. The most famous of those examples being when he claimed that the Mayday demonstrators would be turning up with "Samurai swords" in the Observer.

Sarah AB said...

I wouldn't support violence no - except to protect oneself or someone else. Apart from anything else, it just plays into the hands of the EDL(or the Islamists if they were the targets of course).

HnH have just published something about MAC.

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/news/article/1947/hope-not-hate-condemns-extremist-exploitation

bob said...

I wouldn't support violence no - except to protect oneself or someone else.
Doesn't protecting Tower Hamlets from rampaging racist thugs count?

Sarah AB said...

Not, if you mean something like the attack on the bus, or on the woman who was kicked in the head, no. I think it's better that the police deal with anyone, or any group, threatening violence.

What (EDL/extremist related) circumstances, more precisely, would justify violence, and what kind of violence?

I suppose I can imagine circumstances in which I might *sympathise* with someone provoked into violence (eg in response to persistent racist taunts).

bob said...

I'm not sure about those specific cases, but it seems to me that if we limit right to violence to direct self-defence then we have to wait until the actual attack happens and stand by when thugs enter an area with the intent to intimidate and sow fear, i.e. we allow victims of racism to be terrorised, and that can't be right.

bob said...

On HnH, interesting how that statement re-dubs HnH as "The anti-extremist campaign group". Possibly they read HP, or even BfB and want to show they also are against Islamism?! Not that I recognise concept of "extremism", a liberal concept which sustains the status quo...

modernity said...

"Both sides, by riding their personal hobby-horse on Israel, are missing the fact this is an issue where the EDL has major internal tensions."

Yes, agreed, but there is a bit more to it than that.

The EDL wave Israeli flags as part wind up, part joke and as a deflection (to avoid the traditional association of the extreme-right with antisemitism, etc).

Such a tactic is transparent, but useful to them.

The real question is, why would anyone believe them?

I think it goes beyond hobby horse politics.

If a politically conscious individual were to analyse the EDL (and the make up of their leadership, stuffed with ex-BNPer, neo-Nazis and their mates) with any degree of objectivity then they would be forced to conclude that the EDL are *not* pro-Israeli or pro-Jewish, merely that it is a ploy.

However, and as Bob pointed out, here's the rub, some 'Lefties' take the EDL at face value and then regurgitate it without any criticism.

This is peculiar behaviour.

That critical, and often highly intelligent, ‘Lefties’ should accept what the EDL say without critically examining it, is unusual.

They should be able to ascertain that the ex-BNPer, neo-Nazi infused EDL leadership by virtue of their ideology actually hate Jews, but find it convenient to play games with this issue

The reason that people accept the EDL’s word in good faith is clear.

They based their views on irrational impulses and prejudices, that’s why people choose to believe what the EDL says, it suits their prejudices.

That is true, of the EDL’s moronic followers and apologists, or those on the ‘Left’ who argue that the EDL are somehow meant to be “Zionists”

And why such people won’t be able to understand the nature of modern neo-fascism, its offshoots or the EDL. They are either moronic or stuffed full of their own prejudices.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Mod

If a politically conscious individual were to analyse the EDL (and the make up of their leadership, stuffed with ex-BNPer, neo-Nazis and their mates) with any degree of objectivity then they would be forced to conclude that the EDL are *not* pro-Israeli or pro-Jewish, merely that it is a ploy.

It depends on which EDLers we're talking about though. If we're talking about the neo-nazi types (Wayne Baldwin, Hel Gower), then I'd agree. That is almost certainly a ploy. Even moreso the Infidels, who are pretty open about that by now, whether on "it's a foreign struggle and we're British" grounds or the open antisemites. (John 'Snowy' Snow is now touting the Protocols around).

However, there's also people within the EDL whose support for Israel runs deeper than that. The Kahanist wing (Roberta Moore, Mark Israel) are, from the available evidence, genuine about their beliefs. As are the people behind the EDL Extra blog. And, even though he's ex BNP, Yaxley-Lennon does seem genuine to me. One of the reasons he fell out with the Infidels was that he is very clear that under his command the EDL will remain publically pro Israel.

And that stance has led to a lash-up with some on the fringes of the zionist movement. They linked up with the JDL in Canada. A lot of the blogs linked to from the Propagandist are pro EDL.

We also have the fact that the infamous photo of Hoffman with his arm round Roberta Moore has never really been explained. I don't think it's active support like the JDL. In fact, I'd take his statement on it at face value:

We are proud that we operate in a country with a tradition of free speech. A public rally is precisely that – public – and no organisation can vet the affiliations of the attendees. If the signatories would rather live in a country where free speech is absent and where the State controls who can and who cannot demonstrate on the streets, they are free to do so but they should be aware that such countries also deny rights to Jews, gays and women – to mention just a few such minorities.

However, considering that Hoffman has also called for the banning of Al Quds day, it's clear this isn't a universal liberal principle for him. So I think it's reasonable to ask why he thinks the policy of 'peaceful co-existence' is correct in this case. He isn't subjectively pro EDL, but that's an objectively pro EDL position.

Look, I can certainly understand why supporters of Israel that don't sympathise with the EDL would rather write off this issue altogether. But, unlike with the BNP, the evidence does not point in that direction. There are those in the EDL who, on their own 'clash of civilisations' terms (or for the less theoretical in their ranks, a simple 'Israel are fighting Muslims' position), are entirely genuine when they claim that they are pro-Israel. And there are those on the far right of the zionist movement that sympathise with them. That shouldn't be overstated, it's a tiny fringe, but it's not non-existent.

Being strongly pro Israel and being an antisemite aren't necessarily mutually exclusive anyway; Le Pen managed it for years.

@ Levi

Because there's no evidence that any of the EDL agree with your analysis of Israel, hence they aren't going to be supporting it on its own grounds.

All you've done is take a fully formed pre-made theory and attempted to force it into this issue. You aren't basing it on any analysis of the EDL. (Your lack of any examples is glaring). In fact, your theory would be exactly the same regardless of the reality of the EDL. Personally, I prefer praxis to dogma.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Well, no, because none of the EDL are supporting Israel on the grounds that they believe it's based on "the ethnic cleansing of and relentless violence against a predominantly Muslim community". The EDL, as a whole, are firm believers in the Eurabia analysis and hence the pro Israel see the Israel/Palestine conflict in terms of defensive violence against a global Islamic conspiracy to take over the world.

For your theory to be the case, they'd need to believe the opposite, surely?

modernity said...

"However, there's also people within the EDL whose support for Israel runs deeper than that."

Sorry, I didn't express that very well I'm not talking about the EDL, rather how their opponents on the Left view them.

I will deferred to others on reading the tea leaves of the EDL, but as Bob remarked:

"Another blot on the anti-fascist camp is those who try and reinforce the myth that the EDL are some kind of Zionist front. "

There are people on the Left who believe that, you only need to read their disjointed thoughts on SU blog.

My point is, that on the one hand said 'anti-fascists' would probably classified the EDL as Nazis, yet lack the analytical framework to see how that is incongruous with their supposed support of Israel and Jews.

That disparity is stark.

Look at it another way, if the EDL proclaimed (as they do) that they are not racists and in fact have some ethnic members, then rightly, most anti-fascists (including the above) would see through that nonsense and why EDL push it.

Yet instead the EDL employ the same tactic concerning Jews and Israel and then analytical abilities go out of the window.

People who would normally be very cynical at the EDL or others say, suddenly become gullible and take the EDL had their word.

It seems to me that the only people who would take them at their word are either morons, the ignorant or those suffering from prejudice.

I accept it could be a combination of the three :)

Flesh said...

So it seems that force against anti-fascism is only bad when the state's agents - aka police - do it. Which explains why the worry about the ban on the march strengthening the EDL's victim narrative doesn't extend to similar concern about attacks on the EDL bus as it tried to leave Tower Hamlets - even though the seams of victimhood there are richer.

Levi9909 said...

Waterloo Sunset

This, "The EDL, as a whole, are firm believers in the Eurabia analysis and hence the pro Israel see the Israel/Palestine conflict in terms of defensive violence against a global Islamic conspiracy to take over the world" and this, "the EDL are supporting Israel on the grounds that they believe it's based on "the ethnic cleansing of and relentless violence against a predominantly Muslim community"" amount to a distinction without a difference. They are certainly not opposites. You are arguing about nothing.

Moddy - the idea that antisemitism and anti-zionism are some essential part of a neo-nazi template is ludicrous. There are clearly many neo-nazis who accept Jews as being sufficiently assimilated to be included in the volk and where they don't accept that, the support for zionism is perfectly compatible with the idea of excluding Jews from the volk.

bob said...

I sent a couple of Levi comments to spam without reading them, and haven’t managed to read them yet to decide whether to rescue them. It’s made the last couple of comments look odd, so apologies. The last thing I want is to return to the same tedious arguments about Zionism that I think most people here are sick of and find off-putting.

On the EDL and Zionism, enormous amounts of actual evidence completely supports what WS says and no evidence at all suggests anything to the contrary. Some EDL people are hypocritical and skin-deep in their support for Israel. Others are genuine and sincere. The majority of the rank and file probably couldn't give a toss. A tiny number, the probably no more than half a dozen real Jewish members of the “Jewish Division”, are actually Zionists, and they seem to now have a slightly ambivalent relationship with the EDL. All mainstream Zionist organisations in Britain have totally, publicly and sincerely disavowed the EDL. Some niggles remain about the ZF, which I don’t think is that mainstream. Some Zionist bloggers, almost all outside the UK, have expressed qualified (or, I think only in the case of Israeli based “Brian of London”, unqualified) support for the EDL. And there are also connections between Zionism and counter-Jihad which put EDL two or three degrees of separation from mainstream Zionists. This means Zionists (and any decent leftists close to the counter-jihad movement) need to be very self-aware and self-critical on this issue. But that’s about all.

One additional point, which I’ve probably made before. Being “pro-Israel” is not the same as being Zionist. “Pro-Israel” can mean lots of things in lots of contexts, and only some of them overlap with being Zionist. Supporting Israel as a bulkhead of Western liberal democracy in the Middle East, as acting in the realpolitikal interests of the UK and the US, as a site for the in-gathering of the Jews for the preparation for the End Times, as an irritant against Islam, as a force against Iran, out of sectarian logic that links Israel to Ulster Loyalism and Palestine to Republicanism, or because you are a Tottenham or Ajax fan – none of these are “Zionism”. Nor is being pro-Israel in the sense of I-believe-in-Israel’s-right-to-exist. It is an interesting feature of anti-Zionist logic that it makes the Z-word into a demonic force with a life and agency of its own. Just as Islamists can’t even utter the word “Israel” but only “the Zionist entity”, anti-Zionists don’t recognise any support for Israel as anything other than “Zionism”. This happens with no other nationalism. (I’d even question if the support for Zionism proper from those who want Jews excluded from the volk should be called Zionism, any more than David Duke the KKK should be considered Garveyites because they supported the Back to Africa movement.

bob said...

On violence. It is a principle of the state, and state-oriented thinking, that the state has the monopoly on legitimate forms of violence. I don't accept that way of thinking. I believe, for example, in the right to self-defence, and generalise that right pretty far. This is a basic philosophical orientation, I suppose, which isn’t going to be resolved over specific instances relating to the EDL. A further question is how much people with my orientation (“militant anti-fascists”) can or should work with anti-fascists of the other orientation (“liberal anti-fascists”). WS believes we can’t; I believe we can.

On the bus issue, I’ve read lots of differing accounts of this, including on EDL forums, and think it is much further from clear-cut than the HP liberals and EDL apologists would have it. Whether it was out of the driver’s stupidity or passengers’ recklessness, parking up near a mosque with anti-Muslim placards in all the windows on a day when your organisation has created seriously heightened tensions in an area is very much an act of provocation, and “Angel Jo” is not some innocent victim just because she happens to be a woman, but a violent, racist thug who incites physical violence against Muslims (not just Islamists; her Facebook page is sprinkled with comments about Pakis) and promotes a campaign of terror and provocation.

The important point, though, is that being a “victim” of state bans and being the “victim” of the wrath of Muslim citizens are totally different things. If your glamour comes from physical presence on the street and daring to say what the liberal establishment can’t, then state bans feeds that glamour, while direct action on the streets is an embarrassment.

By the way, and this might muddy the waters, I’d have had no problem with London citizens kicking the shit out of MAC when they burn a US flag and shout slogans during a 9/11 minute of silence attended by families.

modernity said...

Bob,

Forgive me, but I thought you were (from your statement at though cowards flinch) showing your metal and not tolerating Skidmarx's and Elf's nonsense any more.

Is that the case?

Please let me know either way, as I don't mind discussing these complex issues with those I might disagree with (WS, etc), but Skidmarx and Elf's twaddle simply ruins threads (which is I assume their purpose) and makes civil exchanges here very difficult.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Flesh

So it seems that force against anti-fascism is only bad when the state's agents - aka police - do it.

I wouldn't say it's "bad" per se; if the police start on the EDL, I'm not going to wring my hands about it. It's more that I recognise that the police have their own agenda, which isn't necessarily going to align with anti-fascism. So leaving anti-fascism to them, or relying on state leaves you a hostage to fortune. (What's going to be worth watching is whether the ban on demonstration in the area is extended to cover the upcoming arms fair).

Which explains why the worry about the ban on the march strengthening the EDL's victim narrative doesn't extend to similar concern about attacks on the EDL bus as it tried to leave Tower Hamlets - even though the seams of victimhood there are richer.

Different kind of victim narrative. My main worry about the former is that it allows the EDL to present themselves as "anti-establishment" and recruit on that basis.

The same could be said of your (I assume) support for the ban though, surely? Why is force against the EDL only acceptable if you're part of the state apparatus?

@ Bob

A further question is how much people with my orientation (“militant anti-fascists”) can or should work with anti-fascists of the other orientation (“liberal anti-fascists”). WS believes we can’t; I believe we can.

I wouldn't say never, I'm just very cautious. I'm not prepared to be a footsoldier for the Labour Party, nor do I want to return to any concept of us being some kind of unofficial police force for the left. The latter policy was abandoned for good reason.

In some cases, I'm just not sure it's even feasible though. With HnH, leaving aside the old 'internal' stuff, I think we're coming at this from such different perspectives that I'm not sure there's any commonality to play off, other than both being against the EDL. (Speaking of HnH, Malatesta has a very good review of the Collins book up, if you've not yet seen it).

On 'Angel Jo', I'm broadly in agreement with Malatesta that, if you go into an area looking for trouble, you shouldn't be overly surprised if you find it. She's also been shown to be working with Redwatch now as well. It should also be noted that the entire coach were later arrested for "public order offenses", which at least implies they hadn't stopped to eat their sandwiches.

By the way, and this might muddy the waters, I’d have had no problem with London citizens kicking the shit out of MAC when they burn a US flag and shout slogans during a 9/11 minute of silence attended by families.

Me neither. The only difference there is tactical. While the EDL are trying the old far right march and grow/control the streets tack, MAC seem to be more interested in media friendly provocations. As such, I'm not convinced that physical confrontation is as effective against the latter. So I don't think it's worth people running the risk of getting themselves nicked over.

Waterloo Sunset said...

I know Mod will disagree strongly with this, but I actually think there are times on these threads where Skid makes a valuable contribution, in terms of actually discussing antifascist strategy and tactics. (I don't think it's a bad thing to have somebody who can give the 'orthodox' UAF view).

Flesh said...

EDL Tommy: We are basically at risk from violent so-called anti-fascists. We can't even exercise our right to demonstrate without risking our lives. It's the Muslims and anti-fascists who make policing our marches so expensive. And the injustice is that all we are trying to do is protect this country from...

Antifascist Betty: You shouldn't keep such bad company. Anyway we don't hit just anybody. Only the people who deserve it.

EDL Tommy: How do you figure out who deserves it?

Antifascist Betty: It's at our discretion.

EDL Tommy: Would you beat me up?

Antifascist Betty: I might.

Antifascist Phil: it would also be OK to hit anybody celebrating 9/11. But not if you're in the EDL - strictly anti-fascists only.

EDL Tommy: I'm an anti-fascist.

Antifascist Phil: No you aren't.

EDL Tommy: Yes I am.

Antifascist Phil: No you aren't.

And so on.

modernity said...

" I actually think there are times on these threads where Skid makes a valuable contribution, in terms of actually discussing antifascist strategy and tactics."

Forgive me WS, how can someone with a history of pushing, obfuscating anti-Jewish racism (Skidmarx) be part of the solution?

Or is Skidmarx simply given latitude because he's one of the chaps (an Oxbridge educated one-time SWPer)?

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Flesh

EDL: Whose streets? Our streets?
Non violent Ned: Well, unless the police say otherwise, ok.

As Bob says, I think this comes down to a philosophical difference. Whereas, for me, violence is very much subordinate to anti-fascism, for you, anti-fascism is subordinate to non-violence.

In other words, it's a tactical argument versus a moral one. So, if I was convinced that anti-fascism was best served by non-violence, then anti-fascism would win out. Whereas, if you had a choice between letting the EDL grow and abandoning non-violence, I think it's fair to say you'd choose the former.

@ Mod

Because I disagree that Skid has a history of pushing anti Jewish racism. He's made a dodgy link, but isn't the only one who has made that mistake. (Anti German Translation springs to mind, and you don't seem to call for him to be be banned from commentating). Apart from the links issue, what other evidence are you basing that claim on? I'm obviously happy to evaluate anything you have.

(The idea I'm more likely to give someone leeway because they went to Oxbridge is really not the case. If anything, the opposite is true. Equally though, I get the impression this is as much a case of personal animosity from you, as it is political).

Waterloo Sunset said...

o/t

Bob, are we losing comments again? This issue really is a strong argument in favour of you migrating to Wordpress...

modernity said...

"He's made a dodgy link, but isn't the only one who has made that mistake"

No WS, get your facts right.

He pushed THREE links,

Said sorry for ONE of them.

Bob has spend AGES discussing the nature of antisemitism with Skidmarx.

Nothing got through.

Bob explained how certain things were clearly antisemitic.

Skidmarx never acknowledged that they were.

etc etc

So you have to conclude that either he's very foolish or that Skidmarx has a certain blindness when it comes to Jews.

If you feel it appropriate to discuss anti-fascist tactics with someone who can't spot antisemitism when is 2 inches from his nose that is your choice, but it shows poor judgment.

How can you discuss antiracism with someone who doesn't know what it is?

How can you discuss antiracism with someone who doesn't see any racism in Churchill's "Seven Jewish children"?

How can you discuss antiracism with Skidmarx when he leaps out of the box to apologise or defend anti-Jewish racism?

Further, I can't imagine if Skidmarx were a tattooed skinhead that he would be given such latitude?

Just to be perfectly clear and you would do well to remember this, I am not interested in personal animosity I *am* interested in determining who has a chip on his/her shoulder against Jews.

Now there are various ways of doing this, you can monitor people's comments and see how they stand out, for their venom, lack of empathy and fixations.

Or you can look at the litmus test or two, then see how they compare.

And when you do that with the likes of John Wight, Skidmarx, etc what comes out is not nice.

I appreciate that this is not an area where people tend to analyse, spotting neo-Strasserites in the making is not something I would recommend, but they are a feature of the political landscape, as we can see from that rather stupid SWP are the joined the BNP, and the occasional crossover why that might be an issue.

So WS, it depends, if you don't particularly object to someone having hangups about Jews then you can argue, discuss anti-fascism until the cows come home, but it won't be a particularly meaningful discussion.

One final question, do you still believe in no platform, or does it depend on the chappie concerned.

Waterloo Sunset said...

No WS, get your facts right.

He pushed THREE links,

Said sorry for ONE of them.


So we're talking specifically about linking, not antisemitic comments?

So you have to conclude that either he's very foolish or that Skidmarx has a certain blindness when it comes to Jews.

Having a "certain blindness" is a very different allegation than suggesting someone is an antisemite though.

How can you discuss antiracism with someone who doesn't see any racism in Churchill's "Seven Jewish children"?

How can you discuss antiracism with Skidmarx when he leaps out of the box to apologise or defend anti-Jewish racism?


We're talking about discussions of anti-fascism, not anti-racism. And it's my general view that, in the situations you describe, it's best to challenge/criticise those views, as opposed to simply refusing to discuss them.

Further, I can't imagine if Skidmarx were a tattooed skinhead that he would be given such latitude?

I have no issue with either skinheads or people with tattoos. (I have some of the latter myself and friends in the first category). If you mean would he be given such latitude if he was a BNP member, no. Whatever my (many) criticisms of them, I don't follow the Harryite line that the SWP are the moral or political equivalent of the far right.

So WS, it depends, if you don't particularly object to someone having hangups about Jews then you can argue, discuss anti-fascism until the cows come home, but it won't be a particularly meaningful discussion.

Again, suggesting someone has a "blindness" on this issue is not the same as saying they actively have a hang-up. As I said, I'm happy to consider the latter, on the basis of the evidence.

How far do you extend this analysis? Do you believe that Carl Raincoat and Jim Denham are complicit in antisemitism because they haven't taken your suggested course of action?

One final question, do you still believe in no platform, or does it depend on the chappie concerned.

Two points on this. Firstly, traditional no platform is no longer feasible. The Internet has seen to that. There is no way of no platforming Stormfront or Redwatch. (There aren't enough hackers in the world). Nor do we have the influence to stop Tommy Robinson going on Newsnight. So, when we look at implementing it, realistically, we're talking about stuff that happens on the street, not online.

Secondly, I specifically believe in it for fascists and proto-fascists, not in a more general sense. I wouldn't call for Mikey Ezra to be banned from commenting here, despite the fact I think he underplays American involvement in Chile. I haven't even argued that people involved with the Propagandist should be barred, I've simply been very hostile in my criticism of them. And, if someone was arguing that immigrants contributed to unemployment, I'd say that should be (strongly) argued against, not deleted.

I don't see someone deciding they don't want certain people or views aired on their blog as part of no platform though. Obviously, you implement that very heavily, which I think is absolutely your right. But I also think it's Bob's right to make that decision for himself. I don't believe you, I or any other commentator should have the right of "veto" over who Bob does or doesn't allow to comment here. And, if you feel strongly enough to not comment because of that, that's fair enough. You're well within your rights to stop commenting here, at Though Cowards Flinch, at Shiraz Socialist etc. But I don't think that should have a bearing on Bob's actions.

modernity said...

WS,

You haven't address the nub of my arguments in any significant way.

Flesh said...

"if you had a choice between letting the EDL grow and abandoning non-violence, I think it's fair to say you'd choose the former."

No, it is not fair. It depends whether there were any alternatives, and what the side effects of violence were likely to be. But I don't think we should even go there because even discussing it in this way makes it more likely to happen.

What I know about violence is that it ruins lives physically and mentally, attracts martyrs, wannabe hero, recreational cage-fighter types, etc. It is also infectious, as a modus operandi it cannot be contained. It generalises and creates cycles of killing and maiming, attack and reprisal. It becomes an end in itself. It has crossfire. It sows fear beyond its target, and the streets become the domain of the fighters while the rest of us have to stay in our holes like wild animals. It's uncontrollable. Unless we set up authorities to control it. Oh, wait...

Anti-fascist violence, even when there was no other recourse, has its own bad stories. For example, read the chapter on City of the Dead (I think) in Misha Glenny's book on the Balkans. Anti-fascists as a tactic, began to attack fascists from civilian targets. They calculated that their attacks would bring about fascist reprisals on the civilians. It transpired that they did - 100 random Serb civilians for every Nazi killed, in one case. The antifascists hoped the reprisals would accelerate the flocking of those same civilians to their ranks. Human life is cheap when violence is permitted to become a way of life.

Yes, those were polarised times. We are not in those times. I'm not a pacifist, but I can't for the life of me work out why violence should sometimes be discussed here so casually.

Philosophical differences, you say? Those might well recede in importance in the face of real life situations. Or not fit with the circumstances.

Sarah AB said...

I'm not a pacifist either - and my opposition to violence in this kind of case is partly moral but also strategic. I read many comments about how the UAF etc are often the ones responsible for tension, and I don't see how that is remotely helpful. This isn't the French resistance.

bob said...

I see both Skid and Levi as failing to understand certain forms of racism, out of ignorance and/or wilfully. I see them ignoring, minimising, relativising, giving alibis to, apologising for, and contextualising away antisemitism. I see them as stirrers who get pleasure from provoking. I see the comment threads turn tedious when they are around, and that causing people to switch. I see the comment thread focusing in on a narrow field when they are around, and repetitively going over the same things ad nauseum. I see their presence as sometimes hindering important and interesting debates about anti-fascism. All of these might be good ad hoc reasons to delete, spam or pre-moderate their comments.

I am very doubtful, though, about the applicability of the no platform concept to them. Indeed, I'm not sure about the whole no platform thing anymore. Not the principle, but because of the complexity of its application.

I've linked to sites I have regretted to linking. I am willing to bet that any blog I ever look at is no more than two links away from sites I find totally unacceptable. This is almost inevitable on the web.

And I also slightly skeptical about idea of intrinsically racist people. I prefer to ban racist comments than racist commenters - although I'd not want Gilad Atzmon, for example, commenting here, even if it was about jazz.

I agree that many liberals find it easier to recognise racism when it comes packaged in the form of a white working class man with tattoos and short hair than when it comes in the form of an educated person. But my personal tendency is more likely to go the other way.

So, to conclude, I'm getting harder on the anti-Zionist trollery, but I still don't see it as a hard and fast rule.

bob said...

re Flesh: I'm not sure how the Misha Glenny example works here. It sounds like they were stupid, excessive and counter-productive. It'd be like me going to Tower Hamlets and bombing Muslims to get them to join anti-EDL campaigns. I agree, some anti-fascists (maybe me at times) are too casual about violence, glorify it, even revel in it. There is a serious problem with machismo, posturing, idiocy and psychopaths in the anti-fascist movement. (Although all of those exist in the police, in bucketloads.) But that doesn't change the principles at stake. And supporting some anti-fascist violence doesn't mean supporting all anti-fascist violence.

bob said...

Re Sarah: I hate UAF, but I can't see how they can be said to be "responsible for tension". I also think we shouldn't play into their fantasies of leading the anti-fascist vanguard. In lots of the counter-mobilisations, it is local youth who are the bodies on the street; in others it is independent fascists; the UAF only mobilise a small proportion of the turn-out. On 3 September, their role was trivial at best, as far as I can tell, despite their idiotic "It woz UAF wot won it" rhetoric.

modernity said...

Bob,

I wasn't involving you, WS can speak for himself.

WS when he says "We're talking about discussions of anti-fascism, not anti-racism." is trying to divorce the two when they are expressly linked.

Here is my wider problem, there is no theoretical, conceptual or in-depth analysis of hardcore antisemitism amongst the vast majority of the British Left and I include Leninists and anarchists particularly in that bunch.

And because there is no meaningful theoretical grasp of the neo-Nazi ideology, its significance and longevity, it means that some "antifascists" have to resort to intellectually contorting themselves when analysing the EDL or the BNP, and their relationships toward Jews.

It is as if some modern antifacists, like WS, are devoid of history and the capacity to reason.

So if you wouldn't suffer someone pasting in antiblack racism, defending, obfuscating manifestations of it, and pleasantly discuss anti-fascist tactics with them, then why do it with someone who has hangups and demonstrates a softness towards anti-Jewish racism?

Those are the parallels, which can't evidently be intellectually grasp here.

Again, if you wouldn't go easy on an anti-Black racist then why take that approach with someone who panders to anti-Jewish racism?

Well, WS?

Flesh said...

The Glenny example shows how academic the distinction between fascist and antifascist is if you're caught in the middle and the conflict has hardened. Waterloo most fears the EDL successfully preventing themselves off as anti-establishment. I most fear a swelling of support for the EDL because the foolish public fail to appreciate the beautiful intentions of the antifascist streetfighters.

I find chat about sometimes supporting beating people up irresponsibly vague and worry it is just an invitation for post-hoc justification of thuggery when what is needed is specific planning, scenarios, ethics and creativity. Police training aims at this and if like me you acknowledge little fundamental difference between police, EDL and antifascists in their capacity for misjudged violence, and if you tend to see yourself and your loved ones in each group, then you presumably pin your hopes on the body which is striving to impose professional standards on fascism prevention. As Sarah says, this isn't Vichy France. These are our police - they are *us*.

Levi9909 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bob said...

Re Levi: blah blah blah blah

Re Flesh: The Glenny example shows how academic the distinction between fascist and antifascist is if you're caught in the middle and the conflict has hardened.
I'm not sure. It shows that some people who call themselves anti-fascist are incredibly stupid and dangerous, and "civilians" caught in the middle got hurt. Doesn't in any way suggest that this is something we can expect when the conflict hardens in general, unless we think that anti-fascists are generally stupid. Of course, they might be, and many are.

Waterloo most fears the EDL successfully preventing themselves off as anti-establishment. I most fear a swelling of support for the EDL because the foolish public fail to appreciate the beautiful intentions of the antifascist streetfighters.
Who is this foolish public? "The public" is a very big and diverse category that surely includes both WS and Angel Jo. That is, you can't persuade all of the public all of the time but you can persuade some of the public some of the time - so which public do you want to persuade? With the EDL, there are huge numbers of people with xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments of one kind or another, but a basic commitment to law and order. They are never going to be won over to the EDL when it is associated with street violence of any kind, when they see football hooligans and boneheads. They might feel a twinge of sympathy when they see Angel Jo getting kicked, but not enough sympathy to want to join her gang. They will also feel sympathy when the EDL is banned by liberal do-gooders, and given that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon is about a hundred times more articulate than Nick Griffen, they can capitalise on this in a way that the BNP failed to capitalise on their underdog status once they got into the public eye.

Then there are the people who might actually want to join Angel Jo's gang. In their case, I think the ability to swagger on the streets is a key part of the EDL's glamour, and its inability to do so a real turn-off.

I find chat about sometimes supporting beating people up irresponsibly vague and worry it is just an invitation for post-hoc justification of thuggery when what is needed is specific planning, scenarios, ethics and creativity.
I agree. I am not advocating random acts of violence but suggesting that specific planning, scenarios, ethics and creativity might sometimes call for violence.

[continues...]

bob said...

[...continued]

Police training aims at this and if like me you acknowledge little fundamental difference between police, EDL and antifascists in their capacity for misjudged violence, and if you tend to see yourself and your loved ones in each group, then you presumably pin your hopes on the body which is striving to impose professional standards on fascism prevention. As Sarah says, this isn't Vichy France. These are our police - they are *us*.
Very interesting observations. A few not yet fully articulated thoughts.

First, I have friends in the police. I don't see the police as "us" though. I see them as doing a job which sometimes coincides and sometimes conflicts with the interests of "us".

Second, I have friends who might be tempted by the EDL's rhetoric. Traditionally, militant anti-fascism was never about just violence. It was also about understanding the motivations of those who join the far right, and orienting to them, and specifically orienting to white working class people. The glamour of mastery on the streets is part of this. Understanding the resentment, disaffection and dislocation that drives people to the far right - and attempting to fill that vacuum with alternative styles of politics is the other part. The UAF are not part of the tradition of militant anti-fascism because they don't get that at all.

Third, when there was such a thing as a militant anti-fascist movement, we also had training, professional standards, scenario planning, rehearsed strategies, creative solutions. We were accused by liberals and the rest of the left as "squadists" and various other insults for this, but it meant that we did not carry out random violence, did not give licence to thugs, did not endanger communities, did not endanger individual anti-fascists, did not hurt innocent passers by, did not recruit psychopaths. Because UAF is basically a liberal organisation with a thin veneer of militant rhetoric, they can't do any of this either. IFE-type Islamists are probably much more capable of doing it, which is a worry - see http://trialbyjeory.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/edl-a-victory-for-the-ife/

Oh, and I agree with Sarah this is not Vichy France, or Republican Spain, or even Cable St 1936, whatever the SWP thinks, and that kind of hubris is another danger.

Waterloo Sunset said...

I wasn't involving you, WS can speak for himself.

Well, if you're calling for the extension of no platform to Skidmarx, on this blog, it involves Bob.

WS when he says "We're talking about discussions of anti-fascism, not anti-racism." is trying to divorce the two when they are expressly linked.

They're two separate struggles and with different tactics needed. Fascism needs to be analysed on a class basis. By racialising everything, you play into their hands.

Here is my wider problem, there is no theoretical, conceptual or in-depth analysis of hardcore antisemitism amongst the vast majority of the British Left and I include Leninists and anarchists particularly in that bunch.

That hardcore analysis is exactly what we're trying to do here. The fact that I don't agree with you and am asking to present evidence doesn't mean that I'm not taking it seriously. I'm not prepared to take the allegation on your word, precisely because it's a very serious issue.

And because there is no meaningful theoretical grasp of the neo-Nazi ideology, its significance and longevity, it means that some "antifascists" have to resort to intellectually contorting themselves when analysing the EDL or the BNP, and their relationships toward Jews.

That's because Nazi ideology is not currently the dominant influencing factor on the far right, outside a few irrelevant fringe groups like the BPP. Euronationalism (of the Le Pen variety) is the important thing to look at, along with the third positionist 'political soldier' wing of the NF.

It is as if some modern antifacists, like WS, are devoid of history and the capacity to reason.

Big words from somebody who hasn't done any meaningful anti-fascist work since the late 70's.

And your 'analysis' of the EDL consists of "I do not want any of the EDL to support Israel so I shall decide they don't, regardless of the evidence". Whereas mine is based on hard analysis of their propaganda and their individual activists' views and backgrounds.



Again, where are you saying that Skidmarx has made antisemitic comments. Direct quotations. It's a simple enough request, so I'm intrigued by the fact you seem to be evading meeting it. Although not surprised.

Those are the parallels, which can't evidently be intellectually grasp here.

"grasped". If you're going to try and take the intellectual high ground, make sure to get stuff like that right. Aside from that, your middle class arrogance is showing here. (I know you claim to be working class, but as you've been caught out lying before, I don't believe it without evidence).

Again, if you wouldn't go easy on an anti-Black racist then why take that approach with someone who panders to anti-Jewish racism?

Again, suggesting someone has a "blindness" to a particular form of racism is not the same as suggesting they are a racist. And you have not provided any hard evidence for the latter. Despite repeated requests. So this isn't about lack of "analysis", as you aren't giving me any hard facts to analyse. So I'm left with analysing whether I should take your word for something, without proof. And the answer is "no".

To be very clear on this, I do not believe that Skidmarx (or Levi for that matter) are antisemites, though I disagree strongly with their analysis of Israel. And I think that to suggest otherwise is actually to downgrade antisemitism by using the term too broadly. Although I suspect you might not actually care about that, as this is as much about your own overblown sense of self-importance as it is to do with any real commitment to anti-racism.

bob said...

Re WS/Mod: I think these issues are extremely important and worth discussing. Obviously, I'd prefer it if you discussed them without resorting to ad homs based on class/accusations of dishonesty/insults about intellectual abilities/pedantry about spelling mistakes, but I'll live with it for now ;)

I agree with WS that key framework for understanding most of far right today is euronationalism and to lesser extent 3rd positionism, and that "neo-nazi" framing is less useful.

EDL is different fish, and we need to understand what sort, including what is relationship to old sort, what is role of anti- and philosemitism. Which is not to say that there are not some Nazis involved in EDL - I now accept there are. Or that nazis will never again be the problem - if EDL implodes or if Infidels take off, there may be realignments that change things.

This Nazi thing is in fact one of my criticisms of UAF - stuck in a "neo-nazi" timewarp.

bob said...

Re Levi. I'm not smearing anyone just deleting you. If you want to have conversations about this, there are millions of places on the internet where you can have them. I'm tired. i don't see why I should spend my time having conversations I have no interest in, and I can't let your stuff sit in my comment thread unchallenged.

Some points I would probably half concede, though:
BTW, the Zionist Federation are the main zionist organisation in the UK. When you refer to other zionist organisations and their "sincerity" in opposing the EDL, who exactly are you referring to? I won't ask how you know if an organisation is sincere. That would be tedious. I'll just assume you don't know but you want people to trust zionist organisations. It seems like only yesterday you were refusing to accept that zionism has a definition.

ZF is indeed main UK organisation which brands itself as Zionist. However, look at all the (basically Zionist) Israel advocacy/hasbara activism in UK via mainstream Jewish organistions, including top down BICOM/JLC, mass attendance pro-Israel rallies/festivals/Israel@60 type stuff. Is ZF representative of views there? Absolutely not. That's mainstream British Zionism; ZF isn't. (Compare the mass attendence at We Believe in Israel event with tiny attendence at Nakba day counter-demo at Israeli embassy same day.)

As for sincerity, no I can't be judge, but I can get a fairly good idea and tell you what I believe.

If I refused to accept Zionism has a definition, I apologise. Clearly it has a definition, but obviously not everyone agrees on what the definition is, and there may not be a single valid one that trumps all others.

Sarah AB said...

I think I agreed with WS's analysis of Zionism's relationship with the EDL.

I generally agree that Skidmarx seems more blind to antisemitism, or defines antisemitism narrowly. I don't believe I've ever seen a comment by him I felt should be deleted.

Some people keep on invoking this thread whenever skidmarx comments.

http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/nocide-denial-here-we-go-again/

I've read it right through and don't see what's so awful about all this that it needs to be brought up again and again. Christian Davenport seems nothing like, say, David Irving.

Actually this, for me, was the most objectionable thing skidmarx said on that thread.

"I don’t tend to think that one people should be allowed to steal the land of others to establish their divinely-granted lebensraum"

modernity said...

"Well, if you're calling for the extension of no platform to Skidmarx, on this blog, it involves Bob."

WS, do yourself a favour, don't try to read **in** anything to what I write, because when you do, you get it wrong.

I'm arguing a number of issues here, but I’ll stick to two and be brief because otherwise they’ll gets mangled in the reading.

I'm arguing that:

1) for any meaningful discussion to occur there has to be common ground between the participants.

2) you can't hold meaningful discussions on these topics with people who have hangups with certain ethnic groups, and show no desire to change those views.

As for 1, I would have thought that was elementary because otherwise you end up with the typical British Left debate which is a shouting match and completely meaningless.

I would recommend reading many threads on SU blog and see the results, the marginisation of the Left

Further, if there is no common ground for a discussion why have it?

As for 2, historical experience suggests that arguing with people who have serious hangups about Jews is pointless because:

a) they don't respond to logic
b) their emotions not reason govern their views
c) bigots/racists are often insensitive to their own racism and so won't see the point etc

Again, if you wouldn't discuss complex issues with someone who has hangups about blacks, the Irish, etc then why do it if the object of the animus is Jews?

Is it a lesser racism, somehow more acceptable, something more amenable to be swept under the carpet?

Flesh said...

Mod, I think you put that well. The people we are discussing are the clever ones. They make a smell but rarely reveal the turd. They need interpreting, and their own nose needs to be connected with their turd.

Bob, I can't remember this discipline being mentioned before, anywhere I have looked at. All I encounter is breathless tales of stand-offs and tussles and sticking it to the cunts. People with excessive trust in themselves. Is there documentation you can recall? I am interested, if I could, to compare them to the police's. And IFE's if available.

Flesh said...

And hoping Waterloo is still reading.

No, the Campaign Against The Arms Trade protest was not banned. What do you make of this?

I cannot find a picture of Jonathan Hoffman with his arm round Roberta Moore. Standing next to her is not the same. Were you accurate?

Finally, I remembered on your blog you once linked to scans of Fighting Talk. If anything this would contain examples of the discipline and precautions Bob refers to. I started reading it at the time, but I seem to be having a bit of trouble finding the things at Urban75 now. Do you have the zip?

brocklydave said...

Advocating violence against the EDL seems pointless at the moment .

The first main justification for violence are self defence and defence of your community .
Where there are enough police to contain the EDL there is no need for violence.Those defending the communities should do just that protecting Mosques or shops etc .
If the police can,t defend you or your community then you should fight back.It only takes a casual glance at the EDL and see that violence ,is what attracts some members of the EDL to their demonstations anyway .Why give them what they want.

At present disinterested observers see both EDL and the UAF as bad as each other .A plague on all their houses would be a typical reaction.

Far better from a anti Edl media perspective is to see EDL supporters trying to break police lines while anti EDL protestors peacefully demonstrate or protect communities and avoid violence where possible .

Does this mean i,m always against violence on fascists, not at all.

The second justification for violence is when physical opposition reveals the true nature of the far right .
No need to do that with the EDL ,they reveal their violent nature easily.

This situation changes against a political party such as the BNP or NF.
Violence against fascist parties can be justified.
In terms of strategy in defeating fascists its impoirtant to remind voters that these fascist parties are not the same as ordinary democratic parties .
One way to stop people who think they are respectable people from joining parties of the far right is to remind them that the party they are considering joining are anything but respectable.

One of the reasons that Mosley failed in the 30,s was that his marches and rallys attracted violence.The reports of his blackshirts meeting out extreme violence to hecklers at his rallies put off many that might have joined .


"Eatwell effectively summarises the events of the Olympia Meeting. [6] The blackshirts fought back violently, and the media covered the events sensationally and thoroughly, and the British began to see the BUF as being demagogic and violent, two political qualities that were seemingly antithetical to national character."

In short street movements such as the EDL contain many members who welcome violence.


Of course the BNP and the NF contain many people who enjoy conflict and violence .It is just that displays of violence in Britain rarely encourage more people to vote for a party.

If the EDL even turn into a political party then you can always change strategy .

brockly dave said...

Of course it was rather dumb of me to not state what we all know , that the EDL,s srategy is to provoke violence .
By demonstrating in muslim areas and waving Israeli flags ,they hope to provoke a muslim backlash.
It,s mirror image is of course the MAC who try and achieve the same .
Why give those organisations what they want.
AS regard far right political parties at present there is no need for violence except as self defence at present.
The BNP who can,t generate publicity for themselves even running a story against the EDL,s leaders incarceration .
Only when the far right re emerge as a threat should violence be used as a tactic.I,m sorry if that contradicts what i stated late last night.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Mod

Well, yes, but how much common ground does there need to be in discussions of the EDL, beyond all the participants being against the EDL, considering we're talking about their nature and the best way to oppose them?

What I'm disagreeing on is that Skidmarx has a serious hangup about Jews. I think he's bad at recognising antisemitism, but that's not the same thing. (In the same way as, outside a few people on the ultraleft, I didn't see many people suggesting that presenting Peter Mandelson as some kind of hidden dark manipulator was actually really dodgy, whatever you thought of his politics. See also Michael Howard, where a similar process took place). Part of that is what I see as the unique form that antisemitism sometimes takes. It's particularly nebulous because it can slip into political discourse unawares and be none the less virulent for it. That is different than, say, anti-black racism. As such, I think it needs to be pointed out, not that the discussion needs shutting down if people are failing to recognise it.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Flesh

Obviously, I'm glad it wasn't banned. I still think that was a danger though.

You're right on Hoffman and Moore and I unreservedly apologise for misremembering that. I still think the whole situation is very dubious however.

On Fighting Talk, unfortunately, Urban 75 has recently changed its board software hence your difficulty! I have the files all unzipped now. If you can unzip RAR files, find them here- http://www.megaupload.com/?d=WSPPJI8L If not, let me know and we'll try and work out a way to get them to you. You might also be interested in the book Beating the Fascists which is a sort of retrospective history/analysis of AFA, by some members.

modernity said...

WS,

So do you view people with anti-black hangups different from those who seem to have a chip on their shoulder about Jews?

Or should they be treated with equal contempt?

Waterloo Sunset said...

Mod, again, I do not see people who have blindness towards a particular form of racism as being the same as people having hang-ups about a particular people, nor as them actively being racist.

I've repeatedly asked this, but once again, can you give me a specific example of an anti Jewish remark from Skidmarx? If it has happened and I missed it, then enlighten me and we can move forward.

bob said...

Re Flesh: Bob, I can't remember this discipline being mentioned before, anywhere I have looked at. All I encounter is breathless tales of stand-offs and tussles and sticking it to the cunts. People with excessive trust in themselves. Is there documentation you can recall? I am interested, if I could, to compare them to the police's. And IFE's if available.
No documentation in the sense of curricula as it wasn't formal like police, but my personal memories of AFA. Have only just started the AFA official history, Fighting the Fascists, which possibly glorifies the jolly good wheeze side of the violence a bit.

I'm not just thinking of AFA, but also of pre-AFA ANL squads, of pre-ANL period described by Martin Lux in his Anti-Fascist, the 62 Group (not sure where I've read about that) and the 43 Group (as described in Morris Beckman's book and various documentaries), the pre-43 Group moment when there was stuff going on at Ridley Rd, as described I can't remember where (maybe Albert Meltzer's autobiog. Vidal Sassoon was involved in that, as were East End ILP and Trots), and of course the 1930s as described by Joe Jacobs in his wonderful Out of the Ghetto. And then there are the Italian arditti, which the Communists tried to close down, and the Spanish militias, e.g. the Durruti column described in Abel Paz's books. Not that all these moments are historically comparable, just that certain patterns (discipline and creativity in physical force, and parallel track of ideological struggle) recur.

bob said...

Re Dave
It only takes a casual glance at the EDL and see that violence ,is what attracts some members of the EDL to their demonstations anyway .Why give them what they want.
It's not the violence they want; it's winning, and intimidating people weaker than themselves. They're bullies.

bob said...

Sorry, meant Beating the Fascists, as per WS above, not Fighting the Fascists.

Sarah AB said...

WS - how about that lebensraum comment above - seeing as skidmarx often targets Israel, I assume this is a comparison between Zionism and Nazism?

Perhaps one might compare *skidmarx* with Israel - in that both seem subjected to an unusual amount of scrutiny.

modernity said...

"I've repeatedly asked this, but once again, can you give me a specific example of an anti Jewish remark from Skidmarx? If it has happened and I missed it, then enlighten me and we can move forward."

WS, what is there for me to say?

How could I enlighten you?

As you have already stated that you think I am a liar and that it is all a personal grievance.

Nothing I could say would convince you as, clearly as you assume that others are arguing in bad faith.

There's plenty of information if you want to look at it yourself (which I seriously doubt), you could learn to use Google and type in "skidmarx zionist Israel" or "skidmarx alison organs".

Or simply look him up on my blog.

And that's if you have the inclination, again which I seriously doubt, and this is what's troubling me there's a lot of swagger about anti-fascism, but there seems very little thought, understanding or interest in anti-racism.

But it is entirely your choice and we both know what you will do.

I tried to explain it above, but you couldn't grasp it, the litmus test.

A few years back someone considerably smarter than me made the comment to the effect, "Well, we will know if these people are genuinely anti-Zionist or are driven by a loathing of Jews, by their reaction to Churchill's play".

And that I've found to be true, if you have a play which *specifically* targets an ethnicity (yes, its in the title) and portrays them in a continually negative light, then most conscious individuals would suggest that is a racist approach, whoever it was aimed at.

That's what Churchill's "Seven Jewish children" does.

That is the litmus test, and Skidmarx failed it several times.

So WS, I hope you see the conclusion?

If not, please get Bob to explain to you.

Levi9909 said...
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Sarah AB said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum

Levi - I think the average person associates Lebensraum with Nazism - see wiki link above.

I do not quite agree with Modernity's characterisation of 7JC - I more or less agree with his overall assessment but I don't think it continuously portrays Jews in a negative light.

Levi9909 said...
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Flesh said...

Waterloo, I can access Fighting Talk no problem but the bundling format may prove a deterrent for some.

Bob, times like this what is required is a popular laying claim the police as an anti-fascist force. I also find the lack of codification of conduct ominous and it follows from the criminality (in the factual rather than rhetorical sense) of the movement. I think this keeps it cultish and cottage. This is what I understand by 'squad', and WS's 'different philosophy'. Maybe after reading these Fighting Talks things will look different.

Levi, don't flatter yourself - the diversity you and your mates bring is like a bout of food poisoning after a long spell of good health.

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bob said...

Here is Mod on Skid http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/tag/skidmarx/ . Here is Caryl Churchill's nasty play http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/video/2009/apr/25/seven-jewish-children-caryl-churchill. I have no intention of posting a link to Anthony Lerman's whitewashing of it.

I'm going to start deleting any more comments on this topic, including those by my friends.

bob said...

I think I'll leave the real spam, tho, as it seems kind of appropriate.

bob said...

Re Flesh on squadism:
I also find the lack of codification of conduct ominous and it follows from the criminality (in the factual rather than rhetorical sense) of the movement.

I am not sure why that would be ominous. It's true that the criminality of the movement has strong effects, some corrosive, on the politics. But I don't see why codification combats this. "Democratic socialism" is more codified than anything else, and one of the most horrible political methodologies.

Flesh said...

It's not about codification for the sake of it - it's about articulation of something deadly serious and liable to be misunderstood by its enactors and observers.

I didn't realise democratic socialism was so horrible. Isn't that what Shirley Williams is for?

I think I'd better get my coat.

bob said...

Sorry I meant democratic CENTRALISM. Democratic socialism is the least horrible of all political methodologies. Shirley Williams, tho, is social democracy rather than democratic socialism. I'll get mine.

Flesh said...

Oopsy! I was never good with names. Skulking off to Wikipedia right now.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Flesh

Waterloo, I can access Fighting Talk no problem but the bundling format may prove a deterrent for some.

Managed to track down the old U75 post. Individual downloads can be found here.

Maybe after reading these Fighting Talks things will look different.

If you have the time, I'd also suggest getting The 43 Group: Untold Story of Their Fight Against Fascism by Morris Beckman out of the library. (The '62 Group are also relevant, but it's much harder to get much about them- if there's a book about them, I haven't come across it).

That will give you a broader picture of this tradition- the danger of only looking at one group is that they may have idiosyncrasies which aren't reflective of a wider pattern.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Another (online) document you might be interested in is 1985-2001: Anti-Fascist Action which gives a somewhat dissident view from the 'official' line contained in Beating the Fascists.

brocklydave said...

Carol churchills play 7 jewish children has been perforned in the council chambers in lewisham .
Not forgetting Lewisham peoples day and SePSC meetings using council property.
http://www.lewishampeacejusticesolidarity.org.uk/

lewisham stop the war coalition
18 feb 2009

"Thanks to the support of Lewisham's directly-elected Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, who also introduced the event, the town hall staff pitched in to make sure that the event could be moved to the main Council Chamber before the main performances.



As well as the lively musical acts, which were greatly enjoyed by the audience, local members also put on a moving performance of Caryl Churchill's ten-minute play "Seven Jewish Children" with less than a day's preparation."






I can,t see how the mayor can agree to watch a play that targets one religeous group and then later support holocaust memorial day.

modernity said...

Bob,

Agreed, we've done this topic to death, if people can't grasp the issues by now I doubt that they ever will.

Luther Blissett said...

*bump* MUST READ