Category Archives: International

Antifa Worldwide: A Brief History of International Antifascism

 

By Alexander Reid Ross

 

Fascism, as we know it today, came amid the sweeping nationalism accompanying World War I. Numerous leftists shifting from left to right ported their watchwords of solidarity and insurrection over to militant formations designed to destroy the left and seize power. They were not unopposed in this mobilization of a left and right so-called “revolution.” This is the story of the revolutionaries, renegades, and warriors who broke with the powerful movement toward totalitarianism and continue to struggle as partisans for freedom and equality.

Fascism did not emerge on its own as a full cloth ideology. It developed from a complex history of anti-Semitism, ultranationalism, reactionary Catholicism, and the conditions of economic exploitation of industrial workers and peasants. At the turn of the 20th Century, the Dreyfus Affair marked the flash point for violent confrontations between left and right as ultranationalist anti-Semites framed a Jewish army captain for conspiring with the hated Prussians. The right relied on leagues and sporting clubs through which they could practice for physical confrontation while developing the mannerisms and affectations that would attempt to refine an otherwise blunt and stupid politics. Long at odds over the question of anti-Semitism, the left organized through associations, syndicates, and humanitarian organizations to support Dreyfus, organizing an important consensus that would affect future political positions.

In Germany, a financial crisis led to pogroms against Jews. Pogroms throughout Eastern Europe also led to the strengthening of Jewish workers’ defense organizations like the Jewish Bund. Tough men of the Jewish working class, the Bund stewarded marches for dignity and better wages, organized self-defense trainings, and developed autonomous aid networks within Jewish sectors. While Vladimir Lenin criticized the Bund for representing stop-gap politics, the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party went about building combat groups that would resist the counter-revolutionary forces of the Black Hundreds.[1] The anarchists of Russia went a similar direction, including Voline of the St. Petersburg Soviet, Uncle Vanya who helped organize workers’ insurrections from Samara to Ukraine.

But Fascism emerged through the breakdown in the Dreyfusard consensus, the alliance of ultranationalists and leftists around the notion of destroying liberal parliamentarianism, and in doing so managed to bypass the strongest left-wing resistance in the early stages. Instead, through the aesthetics of futurism, the charismatic leadership of Mussolini, and the syncretic positions of national syndicalism, Fascists presented themselves as marking the radical edge that could finally penetrate the armor of moderate politics. Recognizing the danger, anarchists like Errico Malatesta called for a broad antifascist front that discarded political differences in favor of resisting the vicious hierarchies and empty rhetoric of Fascists. Marxists, under the leadership of Antonio Gramsci, would brook no compromise with the anarchist-supported Arditi del Popolo (Army of the People), hoping instead for a mass insurrection of armed workers. With the resistance internally fragmented and the left under assault by an increasing alliance between the Fascists and the state, Mussolini entered government supported by a mass movement and the Fascist blackshirts continued to assassinate and apprehend leaders like Malatesta and Gramsci.

In Germany, the left stood similarly fractured. World War I ended through a massive revolution that started in a Naval mutiny and resulted in the abdication of the Kaiser, as well as a Bavarian insurrection that deposed the local government and established a “Soviet” led by anarchists and communists. Having voted to enter the war, the Social Democrats rose to power through popular left-wing sentiment and compromises with the far right—in particular, the Freikorps, a paramilitary force of army veterans who the Social Democrats would deploy to brutally crush a Communist uprising in Berlin led by Rosa Luxemberg and Karl Liebknecht and the Bavarian Soviet, as well as a renewed uprising in the industrial Ruhr Valley led by a militant force calling itself the Red Army of the Ruhr. It was only after the defeat of these three significant left-wing revolutionary uprisings that Hitler would rise in a beerhall in Munich and pretend to lead a “national revolution” of Freikorps and other paramilitary rightist factions under Nazi guidance.

The left scrambled to the defensive to set Hitler back on his heels, setting up its own combat groups (Kampfbunds) and attacking Nazi meetings and events. Even the Social Democrats, observing the fearsome rise of the brutal Stormtroopers, set up the militant Reichsbanner, but the leadership had already granted significant powers to the Freikorps and the SA simply heightened the tensions. By the early 1930s, the German Communist Party had adopted a defeatist attitude, marking the Social Democrats as “social fascists” and supporting Nazi strikes and parliamentary efforts like a significant “no confidence” vote in the Reichstagg. Those who risked life and limb in the streets fighting Nazis were placed in vulnerable positions by their own leadership. When Hitler took power, the aspirations of the Communist Party’s “First Hitler, then us!” strategy proved totally foolish, as the Nazis immediately demobilized the Kampfbunds, including Antifaschistische Aktion, and sent the left to concentration camps.

In France and the UK, resistance to fascism also manifested in street battles and strategic competitions over urban space. Famously, the UK antifascists repeatedly broke up the meetings of the pugilistic cad, Oswald Mosley, refusing to yield London’s working class East End to fascist influence by halting a march in an event that came to be known as the Battle of Cable Street. Meanwhile, French fascists asserted that they had created fascism by destroying the Dreyfusard consensus, and paramilitary formations emerged across the far right enlisting, paradoxically, the support of anti-Jewish North African Arabs in exchange for money and services. While members of the French radical left “drifted” toward fascism vis-a-vis the “neo-socialism” of Marcel Dèat and the populism of former Communist Party central committee member, “le Grande Jacques” Doriot, others confronted fascists, blockaded meeting venues, and launched antifascist boycotts. Unlike in Germany and Italy, the French and English left was able to prevent voluntary capitulation to fascism—perhaps in part as a result of the rejection of the defeatist line that “bourgeois socialists” and “radical liberals” and even moderate conservatives should be considered as bad as, if not worse than, fascism.

Perhaps nowhere was fascism more heavily contested, however, than in Spain where fascism had a significant following. In 1930, a military coup by Miguel Primo de Rivera adopted fascism “spiritually,” but generally reproduced the old 19th Century authoritarian conservatism and bare-knuckles corporatism. While General Miguel fell from grace, however, his son José Antonio Primo de Rivera, also known simply as José Antonio, rose to prominence and supported a purer form of fascist dictatorship led by the militant forces of a fascist Falange that would defeat leftism in the streets. Leftists, of course, rose to the challenge and fought tooth and nail against the fascism of Spanish aristocrats that situated itself within the working class through an alliance with the Committees of the National Syndicalist Offensive under the leadership of Ramiro Ledesma Ramos. Street fighting between the left and the Falange-National Syndicalist alliance grew extremely intense, with assassinations and beatings spilling over onto left-wing sympathizers and liberals. Following the election of the left-wing Popular Front, leftist police assassinated a leader of the reactionary Catholic conservatives named Calvo Sotelo, sparking an outcry that led, in no small part, to the invasion of Spain by the colonial military forces of Francisco Franco. Although the Popular Front incarcerated José Antonio, the Falange formed a significant, loyal, and ferocious section of Franco’s army, which met with the valiant opposition of anarchist militias hoping not only to defend the Republic but to further the revolutionary interests of self-determination, land, and liberty. Under the anarchist leader, Buenaventura Durruti, the Iron Column marched against Franco’s invading force along with a quasi-Trotskyist forces of POUM, the liberal fighters under Largo Caballero and the Stalinist-backed Communist Party. However, supplied by corporate powers across the Atlantic and tacitly enabled through Allied neutrality and appeasement, the armies of Franco beat down the antifascist resistance with Hitler and Mussolini’s overt assistance.

When Hitler’s tanks rolled into France the next year, it found relatively little resistance. Partisan forces emerged from Italy to Greece and across the Eastern Front. These partisans worked to sabotage fascist communications and supply lines, assassinate officials, and develop antifascist networks, workers’ associations, and societies to propagandize against their respective repressive regimes. After Mussolini and Hitler invaded Greece in 1941, leftists brokered a tenuous truce with ultranationalist “Hellenic Patriots” who supported parafascist dictator Ioannis Metaxas. Fighting persisted in Ukraine and the Balkans, as well, where Nazi-allied forces committed some of the worst atrocities of the war. When the US invaded Italy and occupied Rome in 1943, the partisans of the North engaged in fierce behind-the-lines struggle against the likes of the Black Prince Borghese who remained faithful to Mussolini’s government-in-exile, the Republic of Salò. Russia marshaled and lost tens of millions of people in the explicitly antifascist war to defeat the Reich and the ideology it represented, while the fascist-friendly Allen Dulles set up the architecture for a post-war insurgency inclusive of fascist “stay-behinds” fighting against Soviet influence in Europe.

 

The tenuous peace between partisans unravelled after the War and the collapse of the Reich, at which point the British supported the Hellenic forces’ military struggle against the Communist partisans with whom they had fought only months prior. Similarly, in Italy, the US’s Office of Strategic Services, later eclipsed by the CIA, recruited Fascist agents to oppose the left-wing Popular Front in the 1946 elections, continuing over the next decades to support links between Fascist networks within the government and clandestine terrorist groups targeting public infrastructure in a “Strategy of Tension” designed to pull the population toward the security state. These fascist groups like Black Prince Borghese’s Fronte Nazionale, which included the Nuovo Ordine and Avanguardia Nazionale, were schooled by the CIA-supported Greek military dictatorship that took power in 1967, and attempted on at least one occasion the similar overthrow of Italy’s Christian Democratic Party, were opposed in the streets by a mass movement of left-wing workers, students, and women in the tradition of antifascist partisans.

In France, Franco-sympathizer Pierre Poujade extended the street fights of the 1930s into the 1950s with his radical right populist party of the Union de Défense des Commerçants et Artisans, which was heavily contested by the left. The far-right paramilitary group Organisation Armée Secrète emerged out of the far-right hatred of the post-War Fourth Republic and resistance to decolonization in Algeria to plague the left and set the violent standard for fascist militants organized through groupuscules like Occident and the Groupe Union Défense. These organizations met opposition in Algeria by the militants of the Front de Libération National and in France by militant ultras. A former Poujadist named Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had purportedly lost the use of one eye in a particularly brutal street fight before rising to lead the new National Front in 1972. Some three years later, a bomb blast ripped through Le Pen’s Paris apartment, followed just two years later by a car bomb that killed Le Pen’s close ally, “national revolutionary” François Duprat.

In Italy, the assassinations, fights, and bombings between left and right grew so intense that the period between 1969 and the late 1970s became known as the Years of Lead. The “Hot Summer” of 1969, in which a wave of factory strikes and occupations spread to the general population, sparking the Autonomia movement, was followed by an explosion in Milan’s Piazza Fontana set by fascists to frame the left. Police rounded up anarchists and leftists by the hundreds, including a railroad worker named Giuseppe Pinelli who died in police custody, producing a massive outcry throughout Italy. As fascists persisted in attempting to infiltrate left-wing groups and co-opt the leadership of Autonomia, ongoing clashes and bomb blasts rocked Italy, which spilled into other countries as Italian fascists laying low abroad helped to spread their strategies and tactics elsewhere.

In Germany, opposition to fascism was similarly complicated by post-war “stay-behind” networks. Like Italy, the post-war order in Germany maintained tacit bonds between state entities like the Bundesnachrechtendienst and non-state fascist groupuscules. However, fascist groups like the Sozialistische Reichsparty faced a ban, making overt organizing difficult. At the same time, veterans organizations became breeding grounds for Holocaust denial and Nazi propaganda, and anti-immigrant sentiment was not unusual. During the 1980s, a strong horizontalist resistance movement grew in opposition to nuclear weapons, environmental destruction, and economic exploitation called the Autonomen movement, which targeted and was targeted by fascists seeking to generate mass resistance to immigration, refugees, and multicultural society. Partly in response to the Autonomen movement and the government’s ban on certain fascist parties, “national revolutionaries” developed the strategy of “Freie Kameradschaften”—small groups of 3 to 5 people committed to engaging in political violence against the homeless, disabled people, migrants, non-whites and non-straight people. Through the Freie Kameradschaften, fascists began to appropriate the strategies of the Autonomen movement, including donning black clothing and black masks to maintain anonymity. Yet they met with violent resistance from the leftist Autonomen movement, which produced a new wave of horizontalist Antifaschistische Aktion groups.

As with the Italian terrorists who fled through Franco’s Spain to promote fascism elsewhere in the world, Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie had escaped to areas of Latin America and worked to foster a new international movement. Throughout Latin America, and most notoriously in Argentina where the fascist-organized Alianza Anticommunista Argentina fought a “Dirty War” against left-wing Peronists known as Montoneros, fascists helped train and create anti-left paramilitary groups that instigated the conditions for Civil War and military coup. These forces found militant opposition in the form of national liberation armies like the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional in El Salvador who engaged in a long-term revolutionary war against paramilitaries who committed such heinous acts as assassinating the Archbishop Romero during mass and raping then murdering a group of Catholic nuns. At the same time, fascist networks oriented through Salazar’s Portugal strove to maintain colonialism in African countries like Guinea-Bissau, where anti-colonial forces under Amílcar Cabral fought them.

Such far-right and colonial networks developed and/or supported by fascists found happy allies within the US government, including the fairly extensive intelligence networks created by fascist propagandist Willis Carto, Roy Cohn and Lyndon Larouche. Intimately tied to the former’s large base of supporters was a rising fascist militant named David Duke, who mass marketed a new generation of Ku Klux Klan violence as “white civil rights.” Having fallen off after its height in the 1920s, the Klan received a boost of support from the White Citizens Councils and the populist politician George Wallace in the 1960s; however, Wallace’s events faced violent resistance from community groups, and FBI support for integration hindered the Invisible Empire’s growth. The resurgent Klan found powerful opposition in the form of civil society groups and new anti-racist formations.

 

As the Southern Poverty Law Center came into effect, working within the courts and peaceful social organizations to promote diversity against hate, left-wing radicals developed more militant strategies for opposing the rise of fascism. Targeting racism through militant class struggle, the Workers’ Viewpoint Organization attempted to organize an inter-racial textile workers’ union to oppose the Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina. However, the Klan fought back, uniting with area fascists for a 1979 ambush against an anti-Klan rally that left five dead and five wounded. Other left-wing groups like the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee emerged with the desire to expose fascism within the US and to defeat racism through militant class struggle, and met with varying levels of success in the Midwest amid the rise of fascist skinheads.

As well as Latin American military dictatorships, Italian fascists also influenced the English far-right, bringing the “political soldier” concept to a group of fascists that decided to splinter front the National Front and organize skinheads as the frontline shock troops of a new fascist movement. These fascist skinheads mobilized through a network of Oi! punk bands and publications, spreading throughout North America and meeting an increasingly organized resistance by the mid-1980s. Anti-racist skinheads organized into Anti-Racist Action, Red and Anarchist Skinheads, and local manifestations of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, among other groups, to confront fascists attempting to create a violent mass movement against non-straight, non-white people in society. As fascist skinheads were beaten out of urban areas by anti-racists, fascist strategy moved toward the militia and Patriot movement during the 1990s, which provided a new kind of “leaderless resistance” based in rural areas where the left had a less formidable presence.

These small bands of violent fascists often identified with the fascist skinhead movement also appeared in France under the Parti Nationaliste Française et Européen and Troisième Voie through the related paramilitary formation, the Jeunneses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires, who at times stewarded marches of Le Pen’s Front National. With Le Pen increasingly pressuring the centrist parties at the polls, the French Socialist Party created the popular S.O.S. Racisme group, which promoted multiculturalism through large events and public gatherings. In the streets, the foot soldiers of the “national revolution” found more violent opposition from gangs like the Black Dragons and Duckie Boys. Similarly, in the UK, the large Rock Against Racism movement gave way to the Anti-Nazi League, which cultivated a mass movement against the National Front and British National Party. More confrontational and revolutionary left-wing groups also emerged like Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action, which like Anti-Racist Action joined the militant horizontal strategies and tactics of Antifaschistische Aktion. By the late 2000s, these groups and groups like them were increasingly referred to as “Antifa.”

The appropriation of Autonomen movement strategy and tactics came to a head amid the 2008 recession, when “Autonomist Nationalists” began to form black blocs from the Czech Republic to Germany and the Netherlands. The black blocs were repeated by supporters of the “CounterJihad” movement appearing in Germany as PEGIDA and in England as the English Defense League, among other places. Meanwhile, those groups have seen a rising wave of opposition, including a humiliating running battle between fascists and antifascists in Brighton that left the “March for England” in tatters. This and other events showed that groups with names like National Action and National Resistance that have emerged from Sweden to Ukraine, linking up for spontaneous street demonstrations and acts of mob violence, are virtually impossible to oppose without organized community defense.

In the US, the CounterJihad groups associated with the militia movement galvanized the anti-mosque movement of 2014, appearing outside of places of worship or community centers often with black masks armed with assault rifles and other weapons. These formations are increasingly opposed by likewise-armed community defense groups and antifas who seek to protect non-white communities from attacks and intimidation. More recently, the alt-right has emerged in league with Donald Trump, taking much of its inspiration from the “intellectual” fascist milieu that emerged during the Years of Lead to link left and right and reproduce the conditions that led to the destruction of the Dreyfusard consensus. Where the alt-right has moved into the physical space of real life, it has been dogged by antifa opposition—as in the recent protests against Milo Yiannopolos at the University of California–Berkeley.

 

Fascism has never arisen without opposition through community consensus. Instead, antifascists have worked to root out fascist infiltration and “entryism” that seeks to pass as the merger of left and right, while also militantly opposing fascist marches and meetings. Where fascism obtained power, it did so through the largely through the betrayal of the organized left by its leadership, along with state collaboration with the fascists amid significant, often violent, fighting amongst left-wing groups. If, in Italy and Germany, antifascists had decided to join with powerful liberals and even conservatives to defend their communities against Blackshirts, if the Communists of Germany had not succumbed to the temptation of labelling social democrats the equivalent of fascists while completely alienating everyone outside of a particularly small section of the industrial working class, perhaps fascism might never have emerged—perhaps it would have only been a detail in the history of Italy in the 1910s. It is wise, then, to heed the warnings of history and to maintain a form of militant antifascist action based in tactical alliances and the spirit of friendship rather than vulgar self-interest and political bravado. Where fascism is proud, we must be humble. Where fascism is divisive, we must unite. Where fascism is weak, we must strike.

 

[1] The shock troops of the merciless anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine, the Black Hundreds are widely seen today as some of the earliest formations of what would become the fascist movement, and it was none other than the famous writer Fyodor Dostoevsky who, with a co-author, would set out the platform of the “conservative revolution” followed by the later melding of the German “Patriotic movement” and Marxian theorists known as the National Bolshevik wing of the Nazi Party.

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Alexander Reid Ross teaches geography at Portland State University. He is the author of Against the Fascist Creep and the editor of Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab. His articles have appeared at sites like ThinkProgress, The Ecologist and the Cambridge University Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security. Project Censored recognized his work for Media Democracy in Action in Censored2016.

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Antifascists disrupt National Front gathering in Marseille

A report back from an anti-fascist organizer who confronted France’s fascist Front National in France on November 5th.
The police had blocked the surrounding streets with anti-riot barriers, restricting access to the square, but we eventually make it through one by one, occupying part of the square and deploying our banners (“Ravier fuck off”, “Migrants welcome, fascists out”, “Welcome to our fellow humans”).

We chuck a few eggs at the National Front supporters, who are gathered on the other side of the square behind a line of riot police, and disrupt their speeches with chants of “Tout le monde déteste les fachos“, “Refugiés Welcome, Fachos Go Home“, “Massilia Antifascista“, “Siamo tutti antifascisti“, “Pas de quartier pour le fachos…“, “On a pas peur de toi, sale faf, rentre chez toi, sale faf” and other merry rhymes.

Eventually the pitiful and disappointed Frontists conclude their event with an attempt to play the national anthem, which is drowned out by choruses of “fuck off”s. As they finally leave under police protection, about 400 of us set off on a spontaneous unauthorised demo, determined to shout out loud our solidarity with migrants and our opposition to borders, to the National Front, and to xenophobia. Graffiti appears on walls, a few banks and insurance companies are redecorated. The bystanders we meet along the way are generally quite pleasantly surprised.

At the port, we head on towards the National Front headquarters, but when we pass in front of the tribunal a series of police vans reappear, apparently trying to block our route. We all run forward to try and get past them before they can cut us off, so the vans accelerate, nearly running some people over, but then to our great delight one of them rear-ends another. Annoyed, the police shoot tear-gas at us, forcing everyone back. After a few minutes hesitation, the antifascist demo changes route and heads back towards the town centre, chased by tear-gas, stun grenades and baton charges, before dispersing. One person was arrested, then released a few hours later. There have been reports of an injured person, who may have been spotted leaving in an ambulance, but this can’t be confirmed yet.

All in all, an energetic and combative demo which highly disrupted our local fascists’ plans. Despite the gassing and the chasing, our day was a success. And despite all the protection they had, the far right didn’t have a good time. To the proud Ravier, we say : next time, come without your bodyguards. Then we’ll see what the “silent majority” which your party claims to represent thinks of you.

Source : adapted from https://mars-infos.org/quand-ravier-et-sa-clique-font-1813 (not a 100% translation)

Mainstreaming Racial Nationalism: Brexit, Meta-Politics, and the Consequences of Left-Right Alliances

“No borders, no nations! Stop deportations”

 

The crowd of over two thousand protesters chanted as they marched through East London, an area that is notable for its history of multicultural inhabitants.  The crowd donned Anti-Fascist Action flags, many with faces covered for fear of further police repression.  The voices echoed a complexity to the “Brexit” vote that those outside of the European Union (and even those inside of the EU) attempt to grasp with what this decision means and symbolizes.

This week, a majority of 51.9% of voting United Kingdom residents voted to leave the European Union, a project that they have been a part of for over forty years.  This is the first country in the EU to do this, a zone that was intended to both reconcile political tensions and to smooth over neo-liberal capitalist expansion.  This is the first vote since the 1970s, and, at the time, the vote was not even close.  Today, the force to leave toppled over the edge and is forcing a push away from the united continental project.  Even after a Britain First affiliate and advocate of Brexit killed a pro-immigrant British MP, the vote still passed through with a slim majority.

While it has been largely acknowledged that the Brexit campaign was a xenophobic and racist push from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Britain First, there has also been a reasonable Lexit (left exit) side to the campaign.  Internationally, left circles have been debating the merits of this position, debating the role of a left contingent inside of a hard right campaign.  Groups in the United States like the International Socialist Organization have showed a certain admiration for the Lexit contingent, while most mainstream progressives are standing back in horror.

The primary impulse for many on the radical left is to look at the vote as a series of component parts that have meaning, while the politics themselves will largely play out as business as usual.

 

Britain First
Britain First

Donald Brexit

A comparison to the Donald Trump campaign stateside is useful, especially as it has often been used by the British left to put the recent events in England in context.  When comparing the realities of the political choices of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump it quickly reminds us just how little a vote allows for real decision making as it retains ruling class power no matter the distinction.  Though there are great differences between the candidates, they are minor when it comes to large-scale social systems, and do nothing to challenge systemic inequality.  You will never be able to vote the rich out of their wealth

But what does the Donald Trump candidacy really represent?

It has mobilized a revolutionary wing of the far-right to begin crossing over into the racialist undercurrent of the right-wing segment of the white working class, creating a populist-right block that is as frightening as it is large.  This has shifted the politics in the country to the right on social issues and race, and has created an open space to transform “dog whistle” racist politics into blunt racial nationalism.  The possible Trump presidency and the right-populist community, only reinforced ideologically by the Alt Right, could act reciprocally, as Trump’s call for banning Muslim immigration has mobilized their Islamophobia, which will then further push Trump to live up to his promise

This effect is largely meta-political: it effects the underlying values, philosophies, and impulses that drive political decisions.  For those of us on the anti-fascist left, this both mutates the working class and creates a violent reactionary force of Stormtroopers against any left revolution.  This is the most destructive turn a society can take, the barbarism promised as the endgame of global capitalism.

 

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP
Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

Meta-Proxy Politics

When it comes to Brexit, this is the largest victory in decades for the far-right, who are growing across all sectors in the country.  Given a state of economic turmoil since the global financial crisis, as well as coming after decades of neo-liberal austerity, the white working class of Britain have been pressed to the point of rupture.  That angst is painted racially as the right has played on tensions from the “refugee crisis,” attempting to shift the blame from the rich to the immigrants.  The targeting of immigrants, especially Islamic immigrants, has been the signature of the far-right since the earliest rumblings of the National Front in the 1970s up through the brief rise of the British National Party.  Now that the English Defense League(EDL) and PDGIDA have tried to expand Islamophobia beyond the narrow neo-Nazi crowd, they have been able to sow a deep fear of immigrants in a public that normally would not have been touched by the British nationalist movements.  Likewise, the growth of the Alt Right and movements like National Action have brought in a younger generation of educated neo-fascists who are hoping to use the social turmoil to capture a working class who may have had their discontent channeled into the radical left.

This has come together like a neutron star with the Brexit vote, a crossover issue that has given their rhetoric a place in the general public.  They were given access to the minds of the people and were able to push through an exit vote not just on the issues of economic “free trade,” but on British identity.

It is less important what the vote was, and more central about why it was.  The exit of Britain from the EU was due to a massive campaign with racial undertones, even if the left-wing of that vote came for economic reasons.  For immigrants living in the UK, especially those of color, are speaking out en masse right now about the fear they are experiencing, and that racial attacks and harassment have gone through the roof.  Right now the streets of London are a scary place for all but a white British base, exactly what Britain First was hoping for.  No matter what the ideal economic effects of the vote were for socialists and progressive in Britain who supported the exit, it is having the effect of tossing a massive victory to the far right and allowing the racist undercurrent to bubble to the surface.

The real question here is if there will be any substantive gains for working people in Britain from the vote that would outweigh the social wave of the far-right that they are going to see from this victory.  Organizations like Britain First, UKIP, the EDL, BNP, PEGIDA, and others are only going to grow at this point, gaining power not in the ballot box, but in the streets.  They will further co-opt the righteous anger of the working class, turning it back on itself and dividing ranks further.

In a world where proxies work as a side-channel for larger meta-political goals, Brexit acts as a shift to the right even if the politics do not divert greatly from standard neo-liberal expansion or if they are even to fit into the larger goals of the anti-globalization movement.

This left-right alliance owes, to a large part, to the vagueness that has permeated from the anti-globalization movement since the 1990s.  While Americans often associate it with the hard left/post-left turn of things like the Battle for Seattle.  The war against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were, in essence, the battle against the all-encompassing power of Late Capitalism, where the issues of “globalization” were the issues of unregulated capitalism feeding off of the Global South.

This is the kind of campaign that UKIP ran for Brexit, using images of refugees to trigger a racist response in England.
This is the kind of campaign that UKIP ran for Brexit, using images of refugees to trigger a racist response in England.

Lexit?

This is where the terminology of “imperialism” fails to recognize what was/is actually taking place in global capitalism, where the term lends itself to traditional empires that ravaged the world through colonialism up to the earliest days of capitalism.  Today, it is multinational corporations and institutions of market exploitation that run the world, not monolithic super states.  When the UK’s economy dominates the world, that is capitalism running the state, rather than imperialism of the traditional aristocracy(though that aristocracy certainly graduated to the capitalist class when the politics shifted).  The use of imperialism rhetorically on the radical left is more of an attempt to maintain continuity to political ideology of the past rather than an accurate description of most nation’s behavior, but one thing is true: whether it is traditional imperialism and colonialism or the unrestrained carnivorous passions of corporations, the Global South always loses.

The anti-globalization movement was a mass action against that, one that united artists and the black bloc and unions and immigrant rights organizations, and which saw the solution to these global problems both as the repudiation of capitalism and the use of localization for economics, food production, and community.  This created strange ideological bedfellows as the far-right also saw a certain opportunity in the logic of “going local,” of bioregionalism, and of keeping out of foreign wars.  This was old nationalism repackaged in hippie aesthetics and food politics, and they could oppose “globalism” since it also imported cosmopolitan multiculturalism.  In a way, this helped to further develop the far-right’s Third Positionist anti-capitalism, since modern capitalism cared not for their “traditional” life and instead looked to commodity and reproduce.

The problem is that, philosophically and meta-politically, the anarchist core of the anti-globalization movement and the eco-friendly fascists crowding their fringes were the core opposite of one another.  To help draw this distinction, terms like “para-globalization” began to be used, drawing on anarchist communist notions of “internationalism.”  This was meant to say, clearly, that it was not so much globalization that we opposed, but “this globalization.”  The globalization of capital.  Instead, we support the international struggle of the working class against capital, even if we support decentralized federalism as a more responsive and successful way of organizing society.  This rhetorical battle was never primary, however, and a lack of clear politics, both implicit and explicit, allowed the far-right to bloom inside of spaces thought to have radical left hegemony.

In anti-globalization, the issue of “globalization” was always a proxy for capitalism and the racial, sexual, and national oppression that comes along with its expansion into the Third World.  For the far-right, globalization was a proxy for the “destruction” of nations, race, gender, and sexual boundaries.  If they both see a victory, then it can strengthen the far-right as it mobilizes the radical left.  In many ways, many of the more fringe elements in places like AdBusters and in eco-anarchist circles reveled in this murky ideological waters, and flirted with the far-right, not because they were sympathetic to them, but because they needed a broad coalition.  This “linking up” with the far-right has never bloomed anything of value, and instead has always been the hallmark of a revolutionary fascist movement that attempts to draw elements of the far-left’s politics into a value set of the far-right.  This means that fascist often oppose capitalism, and sometimes even the state, for reasons that they are not sufficient in propping up nationalism and inequality.  They want a society more rooted in inequality, where a market does not just produce inequality as a side-effect, but that the inequality perfectly reflects their ideas about race and gender and are reinforced through whatever system of social coercion they see fit.

When Brexit is looked at as a proxy, the reality is that for the right it was a vote on immigration.  UKIP ran billboard ads with large pictures of streams of refugees, dog-whistling that they are the “brown hordes invading Britain.”  The vote was painted as one about immigration from the start, even when UKIP made promises that this exit will save the country money that they could then put into the National Healthcare Service (a promise they have already backed away from).  In this way it draws on the isolationism of the Old Right, where they are saying that we can better take care of ourselves by forgetting everyone else.  The Alt Right in the U.S. has also jumped on board to sing their praises, with the Daily Shoah, Fash the Nation, the Traditionalist Youth Network, the Daily Stormer, American Renaissance, and Counter-Currents all claiming a major victory for nationalism.  The only real dissent came from Richard Spencer of the Radix Journal, who, while also reveling in the “success” of Brexit, thinks that it could further “divide white people.”

While Lexit may have sided with the removal from the EU for different reasons, they still have created a right-left alliance that has emboldened the far-right through their proxy politics.  Since the vote does little to change the actual politics of the country, yet does a lot to fuel the far-right, what does Lexit actually hope to gain out of this?  At the same time, while the EU was still an infrastructure for global capital to exploit workers, how did the exit do anything to challenge that dynamic?  What it certainly did was guarantee a large number of workers being laid off, foreign employees being deported, and pensions to be sacked, all of which for no tangible gains.

The left of Britain, beyond the few Lexit supporters, were largely united on staying.  Neo-liberalism does not depend on the EU; it depends on capitalism as a system.  Labor was almost universally aligned, with unions seeing an economic downturn that could effect membership.  This turned out true as the markets opened the day after the UK’s vote, with over $5 billion in wealth disappearing and Britain dropping from the 5th largest economy to the 6th.  Many laughed for ages about this on social media, especially the fact that the British ruling class is taking a dramatic hit financially.  The problem is that this hits pensions and investments of working class families around the country, and will be felt economically through the lowest sectors of the population.  This is not an isolated financial problem, nor is the coming recession, and the shudders could mean massive austerity both inside and outside of the country.

The discourse about imperialism has returned in this discussion, especially the idea of “breaking up the empires.”  There is a certain logic to this, but it is also important to look at the dominated nations inside of the United Kingdom.  Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay, despite Donald Trump’s embarrassing statements upon landing in Scotland to promote his bourgeois golf club.

This exit vote presents further problems for Northern Ireland as it will be even more difficult to transfer between the Northern province and the main country of Ireland.  Currently, EU member nations are easy to travel between.  This is actually part of the strange inter-European xenophobia at play in the Brexit decision, where Polish immigrants are specifically seeing a backlash against them and may have a difficult time staying in the UK in its post-EU form.  For the Irish, this further blocks up the nation.  On the one hand, this is re-igniting the possibility of Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK to become sovereign nations.  At the same time, this Brexit vote does not do much to mobilize that leaving since it essentially puts their identity within Britain only rather than the EU at large.

The question now is if this decision will collapse markets in such a way that working people will take another hit, and if revolutionary movements will actually gain anything from the crushing recession.  The answer is likely no since inside or outside the EU, the class positions remain largely the same.  The only difference is that remaining would have seen economic stability last slightly longer.  For working families in the UK who are barely surviving as it is, this could be the last push towards poverty.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Protesters hold up signs and flags as they demonstrate against the EU referendum result outside the Houses of Parliament on June 28, 2016 in London, England. Up to 50,000 people were expected before the event was cancelled due to safety concerns. In the early evening a crowd still convereged on the square to vent their anti-Brexit feelings, before the protest moved to the Houses of Parliament. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 28: Protesters hold up signs and flags as they demonstrate against the EU referendum result outside the Houses of Parliament on June 28, 2016 in London, England. Up to 50,000 people were expected before the event was cancelled due to safety concerns. In the early evening a crowd still convereged on the square to vent their anti-Brexit feelings, before the protest moved to the Houses of Parliament. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Against Corporate Nationalism, In and Out of the EU

Instead of focusing on the politics of Brexit, it may be worth looking at exactly how this decision reflects the social climate of the country, how the far-right is going to mobilize, and what the left’s actual goals are inside of the larger EU situation.  This often comes off as a “fuck both sides” argument, which, given the nature of the corporate EU on one side and the reactionary nationalists on the other, makes sense. Christopher Hayes of MSNBC posted a position that sums up our feelings perfectly:

I don’t want a future in which politics is primarily a battle between cosmopolitan finance capitalism and ethno-nationalist backlash.

It is impossible to ignore the violence and racism that has permeated the country in the wake.  Thousands of people have reported harassment, chants of “we voted for you to leave,” and threats on people of color and immigrants around the country.  Violence has increased so quickly that people are hiding indoors, frightened that their family is going to be murdered by white racialists patrolling immigrant neighborhoods with guns.   Right now, the UK is a scary place to be in.

The battle after Brexit will not be to bring the UK back into the EU, event though a reversal referendum may come through and Scotland will fight tooth and nail to remain.  The fight will be to confront the racism that was once subdermal and has now been brought to the surface, given a pass by the semi-respectability of UKIP and the populism behind Brexit.  As their economy continues to fall, and working people get a financial attack that was unwarranted and unnecessary, the discontent could further feed the Britain First movement.  Those on the radical left cannot stand for this, and instead should develop a strong movement that takes that righteous anger and channels it back where it belongs: in the direction of a financial elite who will do whatever it takes to make the non-rich lose.  Crisis is the perpetual state of capitalism, and it is time for the reality of social inequality to obliterate the victim-blaming racial narratives that have divided working people for centuries.

As Expose is Released, Michael Schmidt Continues to Deny

The long awaited article from Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stephens has had its first volume released, and later chapters will come out every couple days for the next couple of weeks to give it time to simmer with those who have a stake in its contents.  This volume outlined a little bit about Michael Schmidt’s background, then mostly looking at a 2008 internal document he shared with the South African platformist organization Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front.  The article itself goes into the deeply problematic elements of the paper that essentially says that people of color will never take the lead in revolutionary movements.  Instead, white anarchists are essentially the vanguard that will lead these communities who can only serve at a lower level.

The racist implications of this paper are clear, even if people have disagreements about what Schmidt’s intent was.  Schmidt himself has chosen not to remain silent about this part of the article as he has taken to social media to speak out in anger.

So it took my former publishers in the US a whole 18 days to come up with a single 2008 internal discussion document in which I ask difficult – and no doubt politically incorrect – questions as to why the ZACF had failed to (at that stage; they have now) attract significant black membership, as their “proof” that for decades I’ve been an undercover white supremacist. I’d say I was devastated if I hadn’t regained my sense of humour about all this buffoonery.

In fact the document was given to them by those who started this whispering campaign against me, so they probably had it 18 days ago; why wait so long? Because they are clutching at straws!

What he is mentioning at the end is that the statement came from AK Press a couple of weeks ago, yet the article itself was not ready at that time.  Many expressed frustration that the evidence was not made immediately.

The next volume of the series on Schmidt will be released on Wednesday, October 14th.

Nationalists Show Connections to Yakuza Organized Crime in Japan [VIDEO]

In continuing to bring you interesting news, documentaries, and reports from the front lines of anti-fascist struggle we have been sharing a series of short documentaries from Vice Magazine on the rise of the far-right internationally. Much of this has focused on European fascist movements like Pegida, UKIP, and Golden Dawn, but this is not just a Euro-centric problem. An imperial neo-fascism has been brewing in Japan for years based much on the legacy of their monarchial past, and from their current place in the Asian world. Today, many are noting that the nationalists in Japan have connections to traditional organized crime in the country, known as the Yakuza.

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People and Organizations Speak Out on Michael Schmidt Accusations

As we collectively wait for the longer article discussing the recent allegations that well known anarchist author Michael Schmidt has also been working as an active white nationalist, the dialogue all around the board has become confusing.  Schmidt’s book Black Flame has been important in “red and black” anarchist circles, and he has certainly been known and trusted by many inside of organizing circles.  The revelation that he could very well be joining the South African reactionary front is frightening, and people are reeling.

The global Anarkismo network, which ties together various “platformist” and “especifist” anarchist organizations released a statement on the issue, though it should be said that this does not necessarily reflect the opinion of all of the organizations or individuals involved with the project.

The international Anarkismo Network, which brings together class struggle anarchist organisations from more than a dozen countries in both the global South and North, and has relations with far more from across the globe, has noted with great surprise and concern the recent accusations by AK Press that Michael Schmidt is a fascist working undercover to infiltrate the anarchist movement [1].

Michael Schmidt has been a regular and long-standing contributor to Anarkismo.net and, in the past, has sat on its editorial and delegates groups. If these accusations are proven to be true Anarkismo will take immediate and appropriate action to ban him from posting on the website, as well as to guard against any possible future infiltration.

Before we can make any pronouncements on the matter, however, we need to carefully examine both the AK Press evidence, the article by Alexander Reid Ross, as well as Michael Schmidt’s response to the evidence and article. As a network Anarkismo has not taken sides, and will not accuse the accuser or the accused before there is more information and all the evidence has been presented. Both sides will have to explain themselves thoroughly first and be available for answering any serious questions about the information.

However, we must be clear that we feel the way in which AK Press has dealt with the matter is irresponsible and prejudicial, judging and condemning Michael Schmidt without presenting any evidence, and without allowing him the right to defend himself, or to respond to the article before making the public announcement of 25 September 2015.

Both sides must be given a fair chance to have their say.

The Anarkismo Network therefore demands that the alleged “incontrovertible evidence” be released by AK Press with immediate effect, and not to refer us to the journalist: since AK Press itself has endorsed the position, it must take responsibility for the proof.

We furthermore demand that AK Press unconditionally and explicitly state, also with immediate effect, that its allegations refer to Michael Schmidt alone, and not to any publishers, co-authors, editors, left organisations or currents with which Michael Schmidt may have been associated.

We urge AK Press to publish Michael Schmidt’s official responses on its newswires and sites, as we believe that he has the right to defend himself.

Schmidt has been active in the Anarkismo project, publishing quite a bit of original work there over the years and interacting with many of the member organizations.

The Institute for Anarchist Theory and History took a somewhat stronger stance in support of Schmidt, mainly citing the lack of evidence presented along with the accusations.

The Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH) – a multinational research project currently based in the Global South (Brazil and South Africa) – heard the shocking AK Press accusation (Sept. 25th, 2015) that Michael Schmidt, one of our members, is supposedly an “undercover fascist”. AK Press states that they have “received and compiled” what they “consider to be incontrovertible evidence that Michael Schmidt is a white nationalist trying to infiltrate the anarchist movement”.

This statement was made without presenting any supporting evidence. It is only stated that a person called Alexander Reid Ross “will soon be publishing an article that presents all the details in a more comprehensive manner.”

The allegations came as enormous and terrible surprise. We would like in this statement to point out some of the measures we have already taken to deal with this matter, and to note some concerns regarding the manner in which the matter is being handled by AK Press.

Michael Schmidt is, at this moment, on a leave of absence from the IATH to allow him, and the IATH, to deal adequately with the matter. He will be on leave to prepare his defense, and will remain so until the IATH Council has taken a final position.

We will only make our final statement on the matter after carefully analyzing the AK Press evidence (not presented yet) and Michael Schmidt’s responses.

We cannot proceed further without criticizing the way in which AK Press has acted. AK Press has already tried, condemned and sentenced Michael Schmidt (in a “juridical” sense). They alone received and compiled the evidence, interpreted it, reached judgment and sentenced Michael Schmidt by cancelling his upcoming book, and by putting out of print two previous books in which he was involved.

All this was done without presenting evidence to the public, and without allowing him the right to defend himself.[2] We think that these measures – which are guaranteed in the most basic of the “democratic” states that we so regularly criticize – must surely be guaranteed in any model of libertarian “justice.”

The result should have been foreseen. Hundreds of people have shared AK Press Facebook’s sentencing, and individuals and organizations have reproduced it. Michael Schmidt has been publicly condemned, with no evidence presented, and no opportunity to defend himself.

We are not here, to defend one side, or the other. We believe that we will only be able to do so once all the evidence has been presented by AK Press and by Michael Schmidt in his responses.

But we would like to appeal to people in the “libertarian milieu” to proceed in the same way, taking into account the basic ethics that we believe anyone, who claims to be an anarchist, should uphold.

To minimize the damage, we insist that AK Press immediately make public the evidence it used so that we, and others, can analyze the case and take a definite, well informed and evidence-based position.

Likewise, the Anarchist Federation out of the UK was less confident in Schmidt, and reminds people that this situation with Schmidt should be a ‘wake up call’ about infiltration and ultra-right ideas.  But this only lasted a moment, as they actually pulled the article they originally posted and replaced it with the line:

This article has been removed at this time on the back of internal discussions within the AF and communications with the ZACF. We should have an updated version of this article available shortly.

What this really says is that people are hesitant to roundly remove Schmidt from their community until they have hard proof, which is a reasonable position to take.

Schmidt uses several different Facebook accounts, with various different names ranging from his taken name(Michael Schmidt), to other aliases.  On one of these he has posted responses to the AK Press accusations, as well as going deeper into how the issue was raised and how it was handled in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front.  On these Facebook threads, members of the Third Positionist National Revolution chimed in, which was alarming since they were clearly friends with Schmidt.

This seemed especially noteworthy after a fake page was created for AK Press that posted a long message saying that they retracted the accusations against Schmidt and have begun to see the “revolutionary potential” of National Anarchism.  This is untrue, Schmidt’s books are remaining out of print at AK Press and there is no reason to believe that they will ever support decentralist fascist movements like National Anarchism.

Schmidt, in his large response to the accusations, said he thought that he was being interviewed by Alexander Reid Ross, who exposed this news, because he was listed as a source on Wikipedia about National Anarchism.  The quote, which he was surprised was used as a source for this encyclopedia page, was taken from an article he did for Anarkismo.  This line does sound somewhat sympathetic towards National Anarchism, but at the very least is uninformed about the way that National Anarchism actually plays into the ideological legacy of third positionist fascism.

Misdiagnosed by most anarchists as fascist, “national anarchism” fuses radical decentralism, anti-hegemonic anti-statism (and often anti-capitalism), with a strong self-determinist thrust that stresses cultural-ethnic homogeneity with a traditional past justifying a radical future; this is hardly “fascism” or a rebranding of “fascism,” for what is fascism without the state, hierarchy and class, authoritarianism, and the führer-principle?

We know that there is a Stormfront account run by Michael Schmidt, though he stated that this was used for research for his position as a reporter.  The account, which is called Karelianblue, has a great number of extremely racist posts, going far beyond what appears to be reasonable research.  There are also posts about the National Anarchist organization that he is accused of starting called Black Battlefront.

Black Battlefront is a racially-aware, anti-racist revolutionary cadre network of White African politico-social soldiers defending our unique culture, under the anarchist black flag! We are pan-secessionist militants who staunchly oppose Boer Genocide and we work for the establishment of White African base area communities in South Africa and Namibia (in particular, but also elsewhere in Africa) where we can live out our cultural prerogatives unmolested by the Black majority. We take our inspiration from militants and cultural warriors of the calibre of Nestor Makhno, Kai Murros, Jim Goad and Troy Southgate. Interested people can apply to join our facebook group and if we believe you are genuine, we’ll sign you up.

Now, the group mentioned was stated to be a fake by Schmidt used to get him closer to members of National Anarchist movements, but the double-sided politics displayed here looks more like an honest attempt to form this group than a total artifice.

These various connections should not be used as a hard evidence of Schmidt’s connection to the larger “alt fascist” movement, but they are creating a general confusion about what is true and showing that there is certainly an organized right-wing contingent that is holding a stake in Schmidt’s place in the anarchist movement.  Schmidt has been using social media since the accusations came forward to constantly post articles and photos about anti-fascist traditions and issues that are relevant to a multiracial South Africa.

One notable absence from this discourse is Lucien van Der Walt, Schmidt’s co-author of Black Flame.  He very well may just be staying out of the discussion until more clear evidence is made available, which may be a smart position to take.  Many have thrown out accusations that he knew about Schmidt’s alleged association with the far-right, but this is really just hearsay at this point.

Any evidence about Schmidt’s connections to the far right has yet to be released, so for those who are unsure of what to do in this situation will have to wait a bit longer until the large expose is released.  Right now there are forums everywhere that are becoming heated arguments taking sides on the issue.  We prefer to say that it remains to be seen, though we respect the people making the accusations as well as Schmidt’s right to respond to them.

Antifa Confronts Organized Islamophobic Street Militias in Vienna [VIDEO]

We are continuing to bring you Vice Magazine’s anti-fascist videos under the “Hate in Europe” series, which looks at the different fascist movements in Europe and their anti-fascist response.  A lot of neo-fascist parties and organizations throughout Europe are basing their growth on the targeting of Muslim immigration into generally “white” countries.

In Austria, the anti-Islamic group Pegida(Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West) is going after Muslim neighborhoods, demanding that they leave “their” country.  Pegida began in Germany, but is now prevalent in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, and other Western European countries.  This is part of a larger movement, which is taken up by the Austrian Freedom Party, UKIP, the National Democratic Party, the European Defense League, and a whole number of other above ground movements calling for a hault on Muslim immigration into Europe.  As is happening in a lot of places, such as with the Ultras in Rome, Pegida takes the form of soccer hooliganism, where the social bonds that keep it organized were developed in sports arenas.

The anti-fascist protesters that formed noted that Pegida began by protesting foreigners and refugees, and act that clearly undermines their claims that they are just against the conservative and anti-democratic strains of Islam.  They were using the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in 2014 to whip up a racist and Islamophobic fervor.

Polish Nationalists Clash with Anti-Fascists at Music Day Festival [VIDEO]

Continuing to share Vice Magazine’s documentary coverage of European fascist/anti-fascist clashes, we are sharing their video on the violence that occurred at the Music Day festival in London.  The party Zjednoczeni Emigranci Londyn (Emigrants United London), which is a Polish ultra-nationalist organization, began attacking the crowd at Music Day because of their multiracial nature.  Though they only had a small handful of participants(20 or so neo-fascists), this is a part of the new trend towards racist street action where the rhetoric is specifically targeted at non-white European immigrants.

Anti-Fascists Unite Against the Right in Sweden [VIDEO]

Continuing with our mission to collect and share incredible stories on the conflict between fascist and anti-fascist organizing world wide, we have been sharing the various short documentaries that Vice has been producing about the growth of the far-right around the world.  Here, they are looking at the rise of Swedish nationalism, and the incredibly militant anti-fascist groups that have formed to combat them.  The Revolutionary Front is using all means at their disposal to force racists out into the open, which has been important as immigrants and Muslims become the new main focus for organized reactionaries.