What Is Fascism?
Broadly speaking fascism is a far-right political ideology, based upon authoritarianism and supremacy of the nation and the state.
Whilst definitions of fascism differ, common traits include total subservience to the nation and state, authoritarianism, opposition to workers movements, liberalism and socialism, and often the implementation of racial separatism or supremacy.
As this history has shown us, fascism is a violent ideology that takes advantage of divisions created by capitalism. A unifying theme throughout history is the use of violence against political opponents, and the use of fascist forces by the status quo and ruling classes in the time of social struggle and upheaval.
Fascism is often used as a synonym for racism. Racism is a tool frequently employed by fascist movements, but it is important to be aware that fascists can be non-racist and indeed most racists are not fascists.
Who Are The Fascists?
There are many fascist groups operating in Britain, but only a few have a presence in the three counties.
In the recent past the biggest threat has come from the British National Party, who have done their utmost to hide their fascist politics beneath a thin veneer of respectability. After some moderate political success and growth into areas previously untouched by fascists, they have recently had somewhat of a slump. A failure to achieve a major breakthrough into the mainstream and significant internal splits have taken their toll on the party, leaving the BNP in a much weaker state than a few years ago. However, to simply expect them to disappear in an instant is naive and we continue to keep an eye firmly on them.
There has also been a return to ‘street politics’ by some far-right and nationalist organisations, with groups such as the English Defence League emerging onto the scene. Whilst they claim to be a campaigning group intending to tackle ‘Islamic Extremism,’ they had done a poor job of hiding strong racist undertones running through their ranks. Recently they have also targeted trade unionists, left-wing activists and anti-fascist events. Whilst not an explicitly ‘Nazi’ or fascist organisation, we believe their violence and reactionary politics need to be challenged.
The more overtly neo-Nazi and traditional fascist groups such as the National Front and British Peoples’ Party continue to toddle on. The former have again gone through a period of reorganisation, having some success in picking up disillusioned BNP members. Generally groups like these, as well as boneheads in groups such as Blood & Honour and the ‘Racial Volunteer Force,’ are very much lacking in both intelligence and numbers. Whilst these outfits do not pose much of a significant political threat, the more disparate and extreme on the far-right are known for their erratic behaviour. Reason enough to keep them on the radar.
Fascism is not something that only comes in the form of white nationalist and neo-Nazi organisations. We believe that hard-line religious extremism is just as reactionary and divisive. Whilst there is no presence of such groups in our area, we also oppose those such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK.
Whilst our major target is fascism and fascist organisations, we must be aware that bigotry in all forms (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) needs to be fought, whether it comes from the mouths of fascists or from elsewhere.
How to Tackle Fascism?
3 Counties Anti-Fascist Alliance is committed to tackling fascism and the far-right from two angles. First: ideologically. We intend to actively expose fascist organisations such as the BNP for what they really are; racist, lying politicians with no solutions for the British working class. We intend to counter the fear and lies spread by such groups and fight a ‘hearts and minds’ struggle with them. This consists of engaging with the communities which far-right groups are targeting, exposing the fascists, and offering our own alternative based on working class solidarity. Countering the policies of the far-right and taking away the basis of their support is a major part of our work.
Secondly, we intend to tackle fascism physically when it is necessary. Throughout history, fascists have used violence against those who oppose them. This is something that can be seen today, with an upsurge in fascist violence against people ranging from ethnic minority groups to trade unionists and left-wing activists. The aim of fascist attacks and street mobilisations is to give the image of ‘controlling the streets.’ As such, both the defence of events by our own movement, and direct action against fascist mobilisations are essential parts of the overall struggle against fascism.
Militant anti-fascism such as this has a long, proud and successful history in this country. The Battle of Cable Street in 1936 saw East Enders block a march and take part in running battles against Mosley’s Blackshirts. In the same year the Spanish Civil War began, and thousands of British people left these shores to fight against fascism, over 500 of them never to return. In World War 2 the country fought against Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. On returning from the war, Jewish ex-Servicemen and women formed the country’s first militant anti-fascist organisation, the 43 Group, which battled with fascist groups and drove them out of their areas. In the late 1970s, the ‘Squads’ formed to defend left-wing activities from groups such as the National Front and British Movement. Between the early 1980s and mid 1990s, Anti-Fascist Action fought fascism head on, and is widely credited with driving the BNP and NF from the streets. It is from this past that we take inspiration.
The Wider Struggle
We believe that anti-fascism is firmly rooted in the wider class and social struggle. Ultimately, as long as capitalism exists, fascism will continue to exist and pray on exploitation and division. The first stage of real lasting social improvement begins with the end of global capitalism and the authoritarian state, and their replacement with an alternative that puts working class people in control of our own lives.
To achieve a lasting and meaningful impact on fascism, more needs to be done than just ideological and physical opposition in the present. We need to create a long-term, viable working class alternative to both the current mainstream parties and the fascists. Self-organisation and presenting workable solutions to the problems faced by communities are absolutely vital to the struggle.
Whilst it may be outside the remit of 3 Counties Anti-Fascist Alliance to initiate such activities, we wholeheartedly encourage and support people who involve themselves in anti-capitalist struggles and grassroots community work.
Voting and The State
Voting is something that allows the State to pretend we live in a democracy, and it is a tactic used by fascist parties such as the British National Party to promote themselves and their policies. Whilst far-right and fascist groups may be in a position to throw bricks through the windows of a few Asian households, it is Labour and the Conservatives that have been slashing jobs and services in working class areas, locking up refugees and bombing foreign civilians for decades. Therefore it is ridiculous to suggest that voting helps to stop fascism, and we do not agree with ‘Voting to keep the BNP out.’ In practice, this means urging for people to vote for the mainstream political parties and their policies that have turned many white working class people to the fascists in the first place. This is the case whether we are being told to vote for the old Statist parties such as Labour or Conservative or opportunist fronts, such as Respect, which has helped to promote bigotry (sexism and homophobia) in order to further the agenda of its leadership. The problems that allow racism and fascism to flourish will not be solved simply by voting for parties that mask their fascism slightly more cleverly than the BNP, nor for some middle class tourist standing on a left-wing ticket.
Security & Recruitment
Some of our work may put us in conflict with the authorities, and of course the fascists themselves. As a result, involvement in the group requires a certain level of commitment and security consciousness. Whilst we do not seek mass-recruitment or hold regular open meetings, we are always on the lookout for potential new members. If you are interested in getting involved with us, or if you think you could assist us in our work, please get in touch.