First things first, we are not ones to hero worship anyone and put them on a pedestal. Sure we admire and draw inspiration from certain figures from history, and from other organisations which have paved the way before us. No one is infallible, but some people do deserve respect for the genuine hard graft which they have, and in many cases continue (in various ways), to put in.
Two of those groups which we show a lot of respect, and draw huge inspiration from, are Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action. Today Red Action informally still exists as a network of independent activists doing various things.
It continues to put out sharp and savvy opinion on current issues via its Facebook page (https://en-gb.facebook.com/RedActionAFA/), often about thorny issues which challenges not only right-wing politics, but modern left-wing orthodoxy. The right-wing aside, these are mostly issues which the dilettante, scene orientated Left will not dare address, or will simply not admit the truth to. The Left also thought that Red Action had shut up and gone away, but that was not to be. This is where the bones of contention between such people and Red Action often come from.
When we mention Red Action to a large section of the modern dilettante Left, it will more often than not be met with scorn and disdain. We sometimes argue against the scorn and disdain, but more often than not we shrug it off. The criticisms are as irrelevant as those spouting them. Examples of the vitriol often leveled at Red Action can be found in the comments sections of their posts on Facebook. Like has already been said, the criticisms are largely irrelevances from irrelevant people. It is good entertainment value to watch the sheer hysteria and desperation in the dilettantes’ comments and criticisms. It also proves the points we have been making here.
Moving on, what the dilettantes need to remember is that they think they are teaching their grannies how to suck eggs. One recent astute dilettante observation on Facebook is that Red Action are trying to seem ‘relevant’ (implying that they are somehow irrelevant, despite the obsessive criticisms against them). This is coming from those who preside over the modern ‘radical’ Left. This is a modern Left which, due to sheer complacency and incompetence, has seen the rise of right-wing ideas among the general populace; the demise of working class politics and the rise of a politically, electorally, culturally and physically confident right-wing. The dilettantes would do well to listen to the voice of experience a bit more, they may learn a thing or two and actually become relevant beyond their activist scene bubbles. They will not do this though, because to do this means it will require hard work, dealing with the uncomfortable and, most importantly, bursting that bubble.
So what these scene heads need to remember is that the reason why they face little physical threat (if any at all), is down to the GENUINE HARD WORK that Red Action, Anti-Fascist Action, and their supporters (for example football casuals such as the Celtic Soccer Crew, and others) put in for 20+ years. This is because Anti-Fascist Action and Red Action took out the Right’s hardest hitters and put them out of action, or drove them underground. They were physically driven off the streets, thus paving a way for wider working class political work to take hold, largely free from physical threat. This was done by being both street wise and politically astute. The Left did not, and has still not, seized this opportunity, much to the advantage of a winning Right.
Present generations of anti-fascists (which we begrudgingly class the dilettantes a part of, for argument sake at least) are simply dealing with what has been left over. Anti-Fascist Action/Red Action/Squads/supporters took out the tanks and heavy artillery, whereas we have been left with poorly trained militia. It should be easy, but it is not (for the dilettantes at least). This is because they are only interested in getting kettled, having a push and shove with half-arsed coppers, pushing irrelevant scene politics, and performing pantomime theatrics. That is easy ‘feel good’ activism based on mere token gestures. Class conflict, anti-fascism included, is not ‘feel good’ stuff. The real stuff is often thorny, brutal, harsh, and legally and physically dangerous.
Where new generations of anti-fascists are concerned, there are exceptions to the rule of course. There are those out there who know the score but sadly they are few and far between.
We put a great deal of effort into the anti-fascist work that we do, but that is not the sum total of our political activity. There is a whole class struggle to be part of and fight, anti-fascism is one component of that fight. This is why we operate on an ‘as and when’ basis. When we need to take action against the Right, we take it. When we do not need to, we are engaged in other areas of class struggle because really, that is the crux of it all.
As an organisation, we at Red Antifa have the wise words and guidance of ex-AFA and RA activists, as well as others in their orbit, to help us along the way. We have found this to be completely fresh, relevant and practical advice. You will not hear about most of the things that we do. Most of the dilettantes will not even be able to point our activists out in a crowd, or even know our names. There are reasons for this, and it is because we have been given sound advice on how to operate. Because of this advice on how to operate, when we have carried out actions we have never been at a disadvantage. We are not interested in getting kettled, aimlessly running right into the hands of the police on demos, or diving into situations which we know is suicide for us. We are not interested in public pantomime displays, we are interested in being effective. The political advice and guidance of ex-AFA/RA people, as well as our own lived working class experience (something which a huge chunk of the largely middle class dilettante Left does not have), has been invaluable in engaging with people outside of otherwise activist circles. Believe it or not lefties, this is how ideas grow into movements and become effective.
So show a bit of respect for those who have often battled for longer than most of us in the present generation have been alive. Show a bit of respect for those who have been at the coal face for so long and got the stories, scars and police charges to show for it. Show a bit of respect to those who can and, in at least our case, do guide us with valuable experience, know how, and political judgement. Show a bit of respect for those who know politics better than a bunch of crap ninja wannabes do. Show a bit of respect for those who have stuck their necks out so that we can carry out political work, relatively unhindered by the physical force Right.
Another point to make is that Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action does have relevance and resonance today with a lot of right minded folks. One example being one of our members who went out leafleting with others and ran into some working class Bengali youths. The Bengali youth would not listen to them and dismissed them because they thought that they were peddling the typical “antifa” and Unite Against Fascism stuff. However when a Red Action article was produced (https://redactionarchive.org/2012/02/time-to-dump-multiculturalism.html), the Bengali youth read it, liked its sharp, non patronising, honest, and punchy message. A lasting connection was then made on the back of that. Other articles were later sent to them which they enjoyed reading. Now a lasting connection between that group of Bengali youths and ourselves has been made, on the back of Red Action’s ideas. This is only one of a number of similar examples.
A few of our members once engaged with the dilettante scene, but were rescued from that situation of treading water by the sound direction given to them by Red Action via ourselves and in the case of a couple, directly by Red Action. Those former dilettantes never look back.
Aside from the serious stuff mentioned above, it is always entertaining to see ex-Red Action and ex-Anti-Fascist Action people wind the dilettantes up.
Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action have paved a path for us. Show some respect and follow that path. Otherwise shut up and close the door on your way out!