***These Positions and Perspectives are currently in development so check back later for updates***
Capitalist society is divided into three classes: the working class, the middle class and the upper class. The working class are at the bottom with the middle and upper class above ruling over the working class.
The working class are the workers, both blue collar (building workers, maintenance workers, manufacturing workers, etc), often white collar (clerks, receptionists, call centre workers, etc) and those who are neither blue collar nor white collar (retail workers, food service workers, sex workers; some self-employed, the unemployed and retired working class, nurses, care workers, etc).
The middle class are the police, the Crown prosecutors, bosses in the workplace (minus the owners); the bulk of the Members of Parliament (MPs), some civil servants, securities traders and brokers, etc.
The upper class are the monarchy, some Members of Parliament (MPs), owners of industry, the Lords, the aristocracy, upper sections of the clergy, etc.
The upper class are the ultimate rulers, the owners of state and production. The middle class are the middle managers who manage daily affairs on behalf of the upper class. Then there is the working class, those of us who are ruled over by the middle and upper classes (the ruling classes).
As class politics are the fundamental basis of socialism then it stands to reason that ALL socialist organisations, groups, coalitions and campaigns, including anti-fascist ones, must comprise mostly, if not absolutely entirely, of working class people. If and when a socialist movement occurs, it must be comprised of and led by working class people.
Sectarianism is usually expressed in this country and Ireland as anti-Catholic and anti-protestant prejudice. In this country and in Ireland, the vast majority of the time, it manifests itself as anti-Irish and more specifically, anti-Catholic bigotry. We fully oppose sectarianism whether in this context or any other.
It is just as divisive to the working class as racism, fascism, etc. Groups such as the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys pose the same threat to working class unity as groups such as the likes of the United Kingdom Independence Party, Britain First and the English Defence League do. They all spew the same bile as each other.
The Populist Right
The populist right is a result of left-wing failure to engage with the working class and take positions on matters which we feel are important to us as a class.
Whether these issues make us uncomfortable or not, they need to be addressed and concerns need to be taken on board.
The Left has abandoned the working class in favour of building a base among the middle class and consequently has moved away from class politics. This has left a vacuum which has been filled by the populist right such as the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), English Defence League (EDL); Britain First (BF) and PEGIDA.
We stand resolutely against the populist right in whichever way it manifests itself. We believe in employing a number of tactics to achieve this end but will be determined on a case by case basis. An example of this is that we aim to tackle UKIP politically as a physical response is not yet warranted. This is in contrast to the English Defence League, which requires both physical and political opposition.
We do not believe that the populist right are fascists in the here and now (despite the similarities). However the end result of a populist right victory will produce conditions and an end result which are either too similar for comfort.
Fascism is a set of social, economic and political ideas designed as a movement of force against the working class and working class organisations, which are fascism’s principle enemy.
Fascism began as an opposing force to socialism and to put down attempts by the working class to improve our lot. It has not lost this principle, it continues up to the present day.
Fascism can wear many masks such as the nazism of National Action, Blood and Honour and the National Front. This is as well as the clerical fascism of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Daesh (ISIS) and Anjem Choudary through to the Kahanism of groups such as Lehava, Jewish Defence League and the Jewish Task Force. Whatever mask fascism chooses to wear the end result is always the same: the social, economic and political strengthening of the middle and upper classes against the working class.
Fascism always rears its head in times of economic and social crisis but often the Left will present fascism as a reaction to some impending or already existing left wing triumph. We do not believe that this is the case. We believe that fascism signifies the health of progressive politics; that it comes about when the Left is failing rather than when it triumphs.
Many people, mainly liberals and the public in general, see fascism as simply an act of authoritarianism. Anti-fascists will often get accused of being “fascists”, “the real fascists” or “no better than fascists” for preventing fascists and the populist-Right from spreading their bile regardless of whether this is done politically or physically. Such an accusation actually helps the fascists, not so much as being a hindrance to anti-fascists fighting fascism, but more in the sense that it blurs the image of what fascism really is; it turns it merely into any old authoritarian tendency. Fascism is more than that. It is, as we have explained earlier, a set of political, social and economic ideals which have authoritarianism and violence as parts of it. However it is not authoritarianism and violence personified. Such things actually predate fascism, fascism did not invent those things.
Many people also see fascism simply as racism or racism as fascism but we do not believe this to be the case. Racism is not exclusive to fascists and sometimes fascism does not include racism. Racism is not a principle of fascism, it is a tool which it sometimes uses in order to further its own ends. This end is to divide the working class and it will employ any tool it can use: such as xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, jingoism, etc. Again, to present fascism as simply an embodiment of racism blurs the image and idea of what fascism actually is and so this can only aid the fascists.
Whilst the majority of fascism’s foot soldiers are working class (here lies the bulk of the problem), the aspirations and objectives as well as the leadership of fascism are thoroughly middle and upper class. Take one of the most common historical examples in the NSDAP (German Nazi Party). The Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers), which were the NSDAP‘s street fighters, were overwhelmingly working class. However those who funded Hitler were upper class and the message which they presented appealed mostly to a middle class audience. This resulted in Adolf Hitler attracting mostly middle class votes in the elections which propelled him to power. Funded by the upper class, voted in by the middle class whilst trampling on the working class, this is the mantra of fascism (although fascists often do not come into power by way of elections).
Physical force is a varied and necessary set of tactics within the anti-fascist arsenal. Physical force tactics can range from street fighting and picketing to blockades and occupying fascist and populist-right meeting and redirection points.
Whilst physical force tactics are not for everyone, which is fine, they are however extremely useful methods of fighting fascists which we should be ready to use any time feasible and necessary.
Having said that, it would be tactical ineptitude for anti-fascists to put all of their eggs in the physical force basket. Physical force anti-fascism should be a compliment or an auxiliary measure to the political work needed in defeating fascism and the populist-right.
We have been left with a hardcore of out and out fascists and we are simply mopping up the left overs but the real challenge is the political work, the battle of ideas i.e. filling the vacuum.
With physical force we can open, maintain and sustain the space needed to promote our ideas and implement our plans. Also with physical force we can defend our activities and initiatives as well as impeding the physical movement of fascists. It can also work to prevent and counter physical attack on our communities.
Physical force is limited though and the rest is to be done politically.
Anti-fascism is inherently political and so there is no such thing as non-political anti-fascism. Fascism is a movement of force and reaction against the organised working class and working class communities. Anti-fascism is the tool we use to counter that threat. Anti-fascism is not an end in itself.
Anti-fascism is there to defend gains that we make and initiatives that we set up. This is in addition to anti-fascism holding the purpose of defending working class communities themselves, and the people who form those communities, against fascist attack and ideas. It is also there to open any space for a genuine working class alternative to grow. However a viable and genuine working class alternative is needed first before moves are made to open space. This is due to the fact that such an alternative seems to be found nowhere, including the left-of-centre.
We believe that the best way for the community to defend itself is to organise locally, within working class communities on issues which local people feel affect them.
We must challenge the status quo i.e. the conditions which enable fascists and the populist-Right to gain a foot hold in our communities.
Such people gaining a foot hold enables them to present themselves as some sort of legitimate voice who will listen to local concerns, albeit with a racial dimension. This is bad for all.
Where physical self-defence is concerned, we believe in organising alongside the community for the physical self-defence of our local areas as and when necessary. We will also stand alongside besieged minorities for the purpose of organising and engaging in a physical response to racist, homophobic and xenophobic attacks.
Anti-racism, an ideal originally conceived to deracialise what are in reality economic and social issues, has failed. This is because it has been co-opted and turned into a tool which in fact racialises economic and social issues. This has been done by a variety of means including multiculturalism (something which we take a position on all on its own), identity politics, neoliberalism, etc.
For anti-fascists, it is not enough to simply be anti-racist as there is more about fascism than the racism aspect. In fact, certain types of fascism such as Francoist or Mussolinite fascism do not include racism as a principle or include it as a lesser or side issue.
Anti-racism as it was originally conceived (not what it became and currently exists as) is still as important and needed as ever. It should be a matter of priority to get anti-racism back to its original class based foundations.
We view violence as often a necessity rather than a desire. In an ideal world we would like to see an anti-fascism without violence but we are not living in an ideal world.
The reality is that when dealing with an inherently violent range of ideologies we will inevitably engage with violent means, reactive or preemptive.
Anti-fascism is always self-defence. It is self-defence because fascism is a physical and a political attack on working class organisations and communities. Anti-fascism is the self-defence remedy to that. As we engage more and more in political activity, the prospect of violent reaction from fascists becomes greater. We either hide from this very real prospect and face physical attack or get used to it and organise against it.
Most people often have the misconception that multiethnicity is multiculturalism. Multiethnicity is the natural cultural and ethnic mix within some working class communities whereas multiculturalism is a top-down political ideology conceived by liberal politicians. Multiethnicity is the antithesis to mutliculturalism.
Mutliculturalism has the effect of segregation by the back door. Where once working class communities were classed as and viewed as a single community containing peoples of differing ethnicities, with the advent of multiculturalism we became divided and viewed as separate communities. This is tantamount to segregation by the back door.
Mutliculturalism often provides fascists and the populist-Right with ammunition.
Take a hypothetical scenario where an underfunded community centre becomes sidelined and left to rot. This could be a place where all members of the working class community would mix regardless of ethnicity. Then a local council will create and fund, for example, a Bengali community centre, an Afro-Caribbean community centre or whatever else. The original community centre closes and then people go their different ways into their respective ethnicity based community centres. This has the effect of sectioning off the working class community along racial and ethnic lines (much like the right does!). This creates segregation by the back door. It also creates ammunition for the fascists and the populist-Right where there were none previously. Granted that the scenario above is hypothetical but it is a description of how multiculturalism works, as well as the resulting effects from it.
Multiethnicity we have no issue with whatsoever. We do unapologetically oppose multiculturalism in favour of a united working class, divided neither by liberalism or the fascists and the populist/ultra-Right.
In short, multiethnicity is a natural occurrence in some working class communities whereas multiculturalism is a political ideology.
Articles which go into more depth on this issue can be found here:
Filling the vacuum
As a part of any sensible anti-fascist strategy, a political strategy is needed and this means filling the vacuum.
Whilst we view a physical response to fascism as an often appropriate one, it is nothing without a political response. This means offering an alternative to the fascists, the populist-Right and the status quo. It is the status quo which provides fertile ground for fascist and other right wing ideas in the first place.
This involves hard work in working class communities and workplaces, coupled with political and social honesty about the situations which we encounter as a class and the conditions we face as a result.
Unfortunately today a lot of ‘anti-fascists’ and ‘anti-fascist’ groups and campaigns fail to recognise this either by ignoring it or outright denying its importance. Such people, groups and campaigns always end up fighting for and preserving the status quo by offering no alternative to its obvious failure.
To this end, we as an organisation request from our members that in addition to being involved with Red Antifa, they also are (or look to become) involved in the wider class struggle. This can mean workplace and/or community organisation or, if they are working class students, campus organisation (which even then does not restrict them exclusively to a campus setting).
It is simply not enough to say that fascism and the populist right is bad and why it is bad. If we are going to clear space then it is our responsibility to offer a viable alternative in the community and workplace.
If we fail to do this, a listening ear will always be found in the right wing.
As a secular organisation we fight fascism and the rest of the far-right in spite of religion not in defence or opposition to it.
It is often argued that anti-fascists favour certain religious groups namely Catholics (in the case of Ireland), Muslims, Jews or whoever else the right have decided they do not like this week. This is not the case. When we stand with people who may happen to be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, etc it is not because we favour Islam, Judaism, Catholicism and so on. It is because we are standing beside fellow working class people under attack. For instance if we stand against an anti-mosque protest it is because we are mobilising to defend other members of the working class community which are being targeted for attack and vilification, not in defence of Islam or the mosque itself. Using a mosque to attack that part of the community is just one excuse for fascists and the populist-Right to attack that part of the community. If it were not one excuse it would be another and another and another.
Whatever the excuse we need to stand by the community with a secular outlook, in spite of religion.
Militant anti-fascism is the opposite to liberal anti-fascism (Unite Against Fascism, Searchlight, Hope Not Hate; Stand Up To Racism, etc) in both outlook and practice (and often constituency too).
Militant anti-fascism employs both a physical and political response. Where a political response is employed, a militant analysis is always given.
To be a militant anti-fascist one normally engages in physical force anti-fascism on some level but that is not always the case. Someone can be a militant anti-fascist by simply adopting a militant outlook/analysis whilst refusing to condemn those involved in physical force anti-fascism.
Whilst we understand the world is not a black and white place and conspiracies do happen (for example, the collusion between the state security services and Loyalist paramilitaries in the Six Counties), we find the wider ‘Truther’ Movement to be somewhat problematic.
The central plank of their thinking appears to be that governments are essentially malevolent bodies that seek to hide things from the general populace for their own ends – and all else flows from that. Whilst we agree that the establishment uses the state apparatus to serve its own interests, conspiracy theories simply do not go far enough in explaining why this happens and therefore what can be done to remedy the situation.
Furthermore a lot of conspiracy theories lead straight back to the door of fascist schools of thought, either overtly or in a more clandestine manner. ‘Jewish control’ of the planet and Holocaust denial are both staples of the ‘Truther’ Movement diet, the former leading to, and the latter a product of, Hitler’s governance of 1930s Germany. This sitting comfortably with Conspiracy Theorists sits somewhat uncomfortably with us.
Then there is the purely fantastical stuff such as the Royal Family being lizards. Although patently ridiculous, Conspiracy Theorists are perfectly happy in believing in made up stuff, the more fanciful the better, and labelling anyone that does not agree with their crackpot ideas as ‘sheeple‘ or ‘shills‘. An interesting question this raises is that if their enemies are so powerful as to even be able to defy the known laws of physics, how can they even begin to counter such a foe? Evidently merely ‘waking people up’ will not be enough.
For anything approaching evidence that these theories are nothing but a load of hokum we need look no further than those making very lucrative careers off the back of the ‘Truther’ Movement such as David Icke and Alex Jones. If they are the bearers of this incontrovertible truth that the powers that be want to remain suppressed, then how come they both remain completely untroubled by the attentions of the security services and those that they’re supposedly exposing?
If anything they are providing a useful service for the powers that be which diverts attention away from what actually is going on and dragging potential dissidents down the rabbit hole of science fiction’s take on the world around us. Conspiracy theories provide a useful conduit for state’s spreading of disinformation with a captive gullible audience waiting to lap it up and perpetuate the hoax.
The reason why we as an anti-fascist organisation feel we need to take a position against the ‘Truther’ Movement is for the aforementioned reason that a lot of their theories cloak or repeat age old racist tropes and they often view global power structures in terms of race rather than social class. This leads to distract attention away from the real issues at hand regarding the global economy, serving the same purpose as organised fascism does in times of financial crisis.
We are neither pro nor anti-immigration. This does not mean that we are undecided or on the fence when it comes to this issue, we simply see no merit in either argument. Principally though we recognise that fascism has always existed, continues to exist and will always exist in spite of immigration (unless of course fascism is defeated).
There are vested interests on both sides of the argument, pro and anti alike both of which hardly ever, if at all, take into consideration the needs and wishes of working class communities. This has unfortunately led many working class people to find a listening ear in the fascists and the populist-Right.
This said we will counter lies and falsehoods where lies and falsehoods exist but we will also promote the truth and reality where truth and reality exists. This is the standpoint from which we address and tackle this issue.
We do not see immigration as this automatically noble and progressive thing. Liberals and most of the left see immigration as some kind of solution to economic and social problems. More often than not this liberal view is taken to the contrary of any factors proving otherwise.
This issue is not a simple one and can not be dealt with by hammering out simple slogans such as “refugees welcome” and “migrants not to blame”. Are migrants to blame for the mess that we are in? In the majority absolutely not, but some are such as those Gulf State and Russian oligarch billionaires flocking to London (this is in addition to our own home grown ruling class of course).
Are refugees and asylum seekers welcome? In areas which are fully funded and able to adequately accommodate both locals and refugees/asylum seekers, yes they are.
For this community engagement is needed with locals. Also needed is greater funding for those areas which will take in refugees and asylum seekers. This should be in addition to initiatives aimed at integrating refugees and asylum seekers into the local area. Either that or housing refugees and asylum seekers in areas already prepared and adequately funded to take them in. (More about our particular position on refugees and asylum seekers can be found here: Fear and Loathing On the Estate)
As for anti-fascists on this issue, unfortunately a lot of anti-fascist groups these days (although not all) have become little more than single-issue immigration advocacy groups. They often spend more time arguing the case FOR immigration than actually looking at the issue objectively, fighting fascism itself and finding a serious, viable solution.
For them, more immigration into already underfunded working class areas serves as a solution to, rather than something which can compound, any existing problems with regards to local resources, etc.
To present such a rosy picture of haphazard and foolhardy immigration policy as many on the left do, ignores the reality on the ground in a lot of areas. Such adherence to liberal dogma is a recipe for disaster and a boon to fascist and populist-Right propaganda. In other words, it is a gift horse for those on the right looking to exploit this issue for their own ends. This is far from ideal for all concerned, except of course the Right and liberal fantasists. However it is the reality and it is reality that we must face and deal with if we are to find a workable solution to this issue. Then and only then we can offset the fascists and the populist-Right on this issue.
‘Free Movement of Labour’
The Left often unconditionally support ‘free movement of labour’ without considering the impact this has as a function of capitalism on working class communities and the labour market. Take the European Union’s ‘free movement of labour’ as a case in point. A large section of the Left, including the ‘radical’ Left, foolishly see ‘free movement of labour’ in the present capitalist sense as being the same as they would see ‘free movement’ in some ideal post-capitalist sense. This ignores entirely what the European Union is about and their intentions and motivations behind the ‘free movement of labour’.
Often ‘free movement of labour’ means migrant workers working for far less than their own labour is actually worth (through no fault of their own, they do not set the wage). ‘Free movement of labour’ does not have the interests of migrant workers as a principle.
The way ‘free movement of labour’ actually works out for migrant workers means that for example, a Polish factory worker’s labour (no different to the labour of anyone else) is often worth less in wages than that of a worker from England, Scotland, Wales or elsewhere. If anything, this is racism and xenophobia. In fact it is racism and xenophobia created and facilitated by neoliberalism (in this case, the European Union) and lapped up by liberals. They believe that they can get away with setting people’s worth in economic terms, we do not!
This is a very reactionary and divisive outcome which works well only for business owners and bosses generally. It pits migrant and non-migrant workers against one another in wage disputes and job competition. This is one of the intended effects of ‘free movement of labour’ according to the principles of neoliberal capitalism.
Will we stand with migrant workers when they are being attacked at work and in the community? Of course we will because after all, they are fellow working class people. What we will not do is get behind capitalist, neoliberal concepts such as the ‘free movement of labour’ and globalisation. Such concepts end up dividing workers against each other anyway.
So the end result of ‘free movement of labour’ is a divided working class with each worker blaming the other for the ills of the workplace and wider society. This is whilst bosses sit back with glee and watch the show, whilst they are raking the profits in (and getting away with it because we are divided against one another).
Capitalism treats working class people as commodities and tools. Neoliberalism is a brand of capitalism which goes one step further and treats workers, and with that our labour, as mere cheap goods to be traded on the international market. It is one aspect of the globalisation modus operandi.
The right wing create and manage neoliberalism and the ‘free movement of labour’. Then you have a lot of the Left, foolishly (and often naively) cheering this on and deluding themselves into thinking that it is progressive in nature. It is not progressive.
Non-migrant workers must work towards integrating migrant workers into an effective and combative workplace organising structure (a union, a rank and file initiative, etc). This is in addition to campaigning for industry rates of pay for migrant workers where it is needed. A migrant worker’s labour is worth the same as the labour of non-migrant workers, in principle. Neoliberalism, in the form of the ‘free movement of labour’ (e.g. the European Union), does not recognise this. Some anti-fascists need to get used to that fact and stop cheerleading it.