Downcast racists left London with their tails tucked firmly between their legs last weekend following a poorly supported march through the capital that came under a barrage of abuse from anti-fascists all along the way. The ‘football lads’ had bragged that tens of thousands would join them to march from the West End to a rally outside Downing Street – but on the day barely a thousand degenerates turned up, easily outnumbered by several thousand anti-fascists who responded to the call to defend our streets.
Supporters of the RMT rail union and other militant unions together with the long-established Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism movements opposed them in a number of counter-protests, including a robust response from the newly-formed ‘Football Lads Against Fascism’ (FLAF) that is building a progressive alternative to the recent far-right revival amongst football fans in Britain.
In a message to the anti-fascist campaigners, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, who helped to organise the event, said: “Congratulations on today’s demonstration standing up against racism and far-right extremism.
“We’re in solidarity with all those around the world standing up to oppose racism and to support the diversity of our communities. We’re proud to walk in the traditions of anti-racism campaigners and activists. Your fight is our fight.”
The racists and fascists are on the march again, and communists must be in the forefront of the resistance. There is no substitute for blocking their path with massive numbers, even if the police do not like this.
So it goes without saying that on the streets and facing the fascists there must be maximum unity between anti-fascists of all political shades. We must remember that the biggest and most successful anti-fascist alliance of all time was led by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, and that they managed to work together despite having very little else in common, until the threat of Nazism was smashed. If they can work with each other then we can also work with everyone on the left and anyone else ready to stand up to racism and fascism.
As communists, working with other anti-fascists of all kinds also gives opportunities for friendly dialogue as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism, and it in no way implies our support for the political views on other matters of the people we are standing next to. Those are matters for peaceful argument during the lulls in fighting the fascists. This is the only way to achieve the mass turn-outs necessary to stop the fascists. And it happens naturally on the streets. Anti-fascists of all shades will defend one another regardless where there is a threat of attack by fascists or by police.
The traditional tactics of the mainstream anti-racist movements and the more robust tactics of those up for confronting the fascists on their own terms are both needed, and should be co-ordinated for maximum effect.
Communists are great ones for meetings, conferences, debates and committees – theoretical work that is usually done sitting down. This is all essential work but it is only half the struggle. If all those great resolutions and clarifications of the line are just left hanging we might as well not bother. We must stand up, get out and about, and be at the forefront of implementation – on the streets, in the workplaces, in the communities, on the housing estates, putting our line into practice and communicating directly with workers, and raising levels of political awareness and class consciousness.
We must ensure that the hardship and suffering caused by the austerity regime and attacks on working-class living standards turn into anger and not into despair and resignation. To do that we need some successes in struggle, we need to set at first modest, achievable goals to build morale and awareness. Defeating fascist and racist activity is a crucial starting point.