Thursday, November 11, 2010
As Saturday's creative and diverse response to the National Socialist Movement's pathetic racist rally draws closer, I thought I'd do a short "inside baseball" post for anarchists and anti-authoritarians covering some of my thoughts on what is to come as well as to suggest some video for review from past anti-fascist formations in England.
Above I have posted above the first part of a five part documentary about the group Anti-Fascist Action, which in England in the 80's and 90's fought back Nazi attempts to take over the punk scene and stood up in defense of themselves, foreigners and people of color. The video does a really good job showing the various ways they challenged the boneheads, talking about what worked and what didn't, as well as showing how the fascists tried to exert their influence and build their power.
There are some problems with anti-fascism as a political orientation, however, that deserve pointing out. This is not to say that fascists should not be opposed! They should be. The important thing to look out for is to prevent the formation of common or popular fronts. Authoritarian leftists often try to use the cover of anti-fascism to try to neutralize libertarian organizing and to impose their own sad Stalinoid politics on movements, seeking to consolidate and centralize them and, in the end, to destroy their revolutionary or insurrectionary potential.
In a sense, even though it's a bit of a sequel, it's might be helpful to look at Saturday's event as a one off. That is, relations between people and groups that go beyond already existing affinity at the action should be thought of as autonomous relations that are not permanent or binding but exist temporarily at the event. These relations can be informative and supportive, and they can build trust. But while people may have similar short-term goals, this should not be mistaken for long-term unity. True, we want unity against the NSM in that everyone there on Saturday stands against them, but we must watch those who would seek to coalesce the forces of resistance under their banner or to seek to thrust their face in front of the media's cameras.
Generally those kinds of demands come from authoritarians who want unity on their own narrow terms, and under their firm control. Think of the RCP, always there with the "leadership we need" when we don't need it! We have faith in the creativity and self-activity of people, not in self-appointed leaders. So, we must maintain our autonomy. Liberals and leftists and anarchists (and even right libertarians and constitutionalists if last year is any indicator) may come together for this action, and there is every reason to believe that we will complement each others' tactics like we did before, but this does not mean we give up our own politics or longer term goals. We make progress when we understand and respect each others' differences as well as our similarities, not when we form permanent alliances, become superficially more like each other or sublimate our politics to those of others.
And, as for tactics, I think we should be prepared to defend the idea of a diversity of tactics. This is not to say that we advocate or demand any particular response to the NSM, just that we should reject the tendency of some people, activists and leftists in particular but not limited to them, to generalize and impose onto others their own personal choices in terms of how best to oppose the fascists. Let's face it, the liberal activist generally has a very limited experience with the tools in the resistance toolbox, so there's no reason why they ought to be telling anyone what to do. Tactics are by nature situational, so there is no sense permitting ideology to ossify resistance into certain pre-determined ideological forms.
So be vigilant for the activist! Also, be prepared for the fact that no matter what anarchists do or do not do, or what individual anarchists do or do not do, we will likely be denounced by everyone with authority or seeking authority. That's just par for the course. And didn't many of them embarrassingly denounce us before the Inglourious Basterds Bloc last year? I sure haven't forgotten. Look for them this time. As those who refuse to be governed, we anarchists and anti-authoritarians are always frowned upon by those who seek to govern, whether they be activists, media, police or government. These people are not our audience, so don't worry about them.
See ya on Saturday! Fuck the NSM!