Battle of Waterloo: 25th Anniversary

This month 25 years ago (12th September 1992) Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) and their supporters engaged in one of the most significant anti-fascist street battles post-World War Two.

Blood and Honour, the neo-Nazi music cash cow promoting talentless ‘musicians’, announced an international gig with bands such as Skrewdriver, Dirlewanger and No Remorse on the bill. This was intended to bring Blood and Honour out into the open and above ground. Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) were immediately onto this and in just one week, organised a response which was to knock the Nazis back underground.

On the 12th September 1992, with the AFA assembly point as Waterloo British Rail station, hundreds of anti-fascists mobilised with the intention of taking the Blood and Honour redirection point. What ensued was not only the taking of the Nazi redirection point, but fierce running street battles which saw the Nazis eating the pavement in and around Waterloo station.

This was an embarrassing defeat for Blood and Honour and their supporters. Whilst the gig went ahead (albeit with a severely reduced audience), the real victory was in the long term objective having been completed i.e. preventing Blood and Honour from operating above ground and in the open. The effects of this event are still being felt today, with Blood and Honour in the United Kingdom still being unable to operate openly. This was by no means an isolated event but part of a strong campaign against Blood and Honour alongside actions such as the 1989 humiliation of Blood and Honour at Hyde Park and the Carnaby Street campaign against shops selling Blood and Honour and other fascist merchandise.

Instead of building on these successes, since 2001 the majority of successive generations of anti-fascists (mostly of the ‘antifa scene’ type) have seen and caused anti-fascism to fall into retreat. If we are to remedy this situation we need to look back at events like those mentioned in this article, learn from them and adapt. But most importantly the road which Anti-Fascist Action laid for us needs to be traveled upon. By this we mean that physically we need to be realistic and sensible but more significantly, we need to work within our communities and work towards Filling the Vacuum.

The physical work which AFA engaged in was not violence for violence sake but part of a wider and long term strategy. That strategy was opening the space for working class organisations to fill the vacuum. As it stands this space is largely still open but is rapidly being filled by the Right, not just here but across the globe. As working class anti-fascists we need to seize upon this moment in earnest. Get physical where and when we need to get physical but the principal objective remains the political work in our communities. A lot of anti-fascists these days tend to engage in ‘physical activity’ (for want of a better term) without any vision of a wider or more solid long term strategy.

Reversing this trend is the greatest justice we can pay to the hard work laid down by those Anti-Fascist Action and Independent Working Class Association members and supporters. If we fully commit to this strategy then the Battle of Waterloo will not be a thing of the past, but a prelude to the future.