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"I am not a violent person by nature. I do not enjoy the idea of walking up to strangers and punching them, even if they are fascists. It is just something that needs to be done."
October 8, 2008 8:39 AM   Subscribe


 
"Comrade"? Jesus.

Sounds like someone just likes 'im a good fight, and leftist ideology happened to be a convenient justification.
posted by nasreddin at 8:53 AM on October 8, 2008


I don't condone the violence, but this

the hardest part of anti-fascism is getting out of bed

is the stone-cold truth.
posted by WPW at 8:59 AM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


My eye insists on reading that as "Bush the Fash" which is ridiculous I mean come on.
posted by DU at 9:01 AM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because if an open, free society can rely on one thing to defeat fascism, that thing is beating the shit out of people with whom you disagree.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


In the US (at least in my neighborhood) the SHARPies were just as likely to kick the crap out of someone for looking like a pussy or a straightedge as they were to find a Nazi.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2008


I was on that Welling march in 1993. Talk about piss-poor policing - the march was re-routed at the last minute so it didn't go past the nazi bookshop, and when the head of the march (holocaust survivor, people in wheelchairs, that sort of thing) stopped, the cops went mental. Gas canisters, baton charges, the lot. It was totally predictable that the march would stop, and rather than calmly ask them to move on the cops just let go. Bang. Carnage.

One of the stewards (all dressed all in white to make them obvious) had been cracked on the head by a policeman whilst she was stood with her back to the police urging the crowd to stand back and keep calm. Blood pouring from her head, matted red blonde hair, gunge everywhere. I gave her my scarf to wrap it up. There was a B&W photo in the paper the next day of her holding out her hands in a "what happened?" gesture, caption "A steward displays her injured hand". Of course you couldn't see the matted blood in her hair with the B&W photo so it only looked like she had blood on her hands, but I learned a lot about policing and about journalism that day. One of the scariest days of my life.
posted by handee at 10:00 AM on October 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sounds like someone just likes 'im a good fight, and leftist ideology happened to be a convenient justification.

Because if an open, free society can rely on one thing to defeat fascism, that thing is beating the shit out of people with whom you disagree.

This is working class street politics from the UK from the 1980s. A different time and a different place.

The National Front (and others) were running around beating the shit out of people anyway. It was a fascist politics based on open and unchallenged intimidation as a recruiting tool. The fact that they could do so openly was hugely oppressive at the time, particularly when they marched through immigrant communities. For example, I had a friend in a city in Yorkshire, a bus load of NF showed up at the end of his street, and they ran down the street kicking in doors and punching people before running off. Racist attacks were common.

There were a number of left/anarchist groups that used to march under Anti-Fascist Action banners and placards. However many of these demos (some of which I attended) played out with the AFA folks cordoned off behind police and crowd barriers while the NF marched anyway.

Red Action (and others) figured that the NF were basically thugs and cowards, who practiced much of their racism through intimidation and fear. They reasoned that giving them a good kicking when they showed their face on the streets would dissuade many of them from showing up again. So a part of some AFA demos would be small groups of Red Action running around the streets looking for any NF. I ran into some Red Action at one demo (I think it was the Oxford Street one referred to in the text). They expressed their desire to chase some NF, while I expressed my desire to stay safely behind the barriers, and so they cheerfully suggested that if I wanted a no-risk adventure they'd chase and catch one for me, and then hold him down while I jumped up and down on him ;)
posted by carter at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2008 [12 favorites]


Sounds like someone just likes 'im a good fight, and leftist ideology happened to be a convenient justification.

Because if an open, free society can rely on one thing to defeat fascism, that thing is beating the shit out of people with whom you disagree.


Tucholsky still said it best:
You have to treat them sweet and nice, frighten them not-they are so soft! You must with palm leaves go around them, mindful of their specialness! If your dog barks, then pull his leash-: Kiss the Fascists wherever you meet.

If in their meetings they incite, say: "Yes and Amen - with greatest pleasure! Here you have me - smash me to bits!" And should they beat, then praise their effort. For it is, after all, just their business to beat! Kiss the Fascists wherever you meet.

And if they shoot - oh for love of God, do you really value so much this life? That's just a pacifistic-fad! Why not be a sacrifice? Call them: the sweet little lambies, give them bonbons and candies ... And if you should feel right in your gut the Hitler-dagger, cold and deep-: Kiss the Fascists, Kiss the Fascists, Kiss the Fascists, wherever you meet-!
posted by kolophon at 11:55 AM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am not a violent person by nature.

I just like to beat up on people who beat up on people. I feel this urge to talk about pots and kettles for some reason.
posted by MikeMc at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2008



Tucholsky still said it best

Boy, it sure worked out well for him, didn't it?
posted by nasreddin at 12:14 PM on October 8, 2008


Boy, it sure worked out well for him, didn't it?

What a nasty person you are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:38 PM on October 8, 2008


What a nasty person you are.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matt. 26:52)
posted by nasreddin at 1:26 PM on October 8, 2008


I feel this urge to talk about pots and kettles for some reason.

Yeah, I don't know. I think if there were gangs of racist thugs pulling up by the busloads into neighborhoods with the express purpose of physically assaulting people, and the police weren't really doing anything about it, proposing a roundtable discussion at the nearest coffeeshop/bookstore would be the last idea to come to mind.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:29 PM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bu Marisa, defending yourself and your neighborhood makes you just as bad as they are!
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:06 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bu Marisa, defending yourself and your neighborhood makes you just as bad as they are!

This yob isn't doing anything of the kind. He's going to various places specifically to beat people up--to attack, not defend. That's something totally different. Unless you think Nazis shouldn't have the right to free assembly, of course.
posted by nasreddin at 3:13 PM on October 8, 2008


Boy, it sure worked out well for him, didn't it?

What does that mean?

Unless you think Nazis shouldn't have the right to free assembly, of course.

Free assembly? Sure. Open and violent intimidation, which is their MO? No.

In the event that my local equivalent get enough traction to emulate the 80s UK National Front, I will be out on patrol. Because they know where I live, and I don't intend to be passively peering out from behind the curtains hoping they'll go away.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:32 PM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


What does that mean?

That the streetfights with the SA that some people on the German left thought were a great idea did nothing to prevent the Nazis from coming to power. In fact, they only helped the process: it spread the idea that society was lawless and coming apart at the seams, and the Nazis could always blame the Communists for starting the fights, making a credible claim that the Nazis were needed to impose order. And, well, that's what happened.
posted by nasreddin at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2008


Yeah, I don't know. I think if there were gangs of racist thugs pulling up by the busloads into neighborhoods with the express purpose of physically assaulting people, and the police weren't really doing anything about it, proposing a roundtable discussion at the nearest coffeeshop/bookstore would be the last idea to come to mind.

Maybe it's me but a hundred people lying in wait to attack people gathering for a concert doesn't evoke an image of defending terrified immigrant communities. This seems more like Mods versus Rockers redux with ideology replacing fashion. Of course the general idea of Nazis and Trotskyites kicking the shit out each other does have an appeal all it's own.
posted by MikeMc at 4:02 PM on October 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


nasreddin: sez you. If all public opposition to the SA had been non-violent, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference - the Nazis would still have attacked, and claimed they were provoked, and the right wing press would have reported it as such. In the absence of a parallel universe or two to use as a control, we're going to have to differ.

I think the author is quite genuine in his introduction:


By crushing the fascists at an early stage I think it is reasonable to assume that Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) has prevented numerous racist attacks and even saved lives. For if the fascists were given the chance to freely march, sell their papers, and appear as a respectable political force they would just grow and grow. Fascists’ number one aim while they are growing is to appear to be respectable and rational, but, to quote Matty Blagg ‘fascism does not start with gas chambers, but it ends with them’.

One criticism sometimes aimed at anti-fascists is that we are from ‘outside the area’. In a tight-knit place like Brick Lane this is often true. On the other hand, neither do the fascists have very large numbers in any particular area. They bring people in to consolidate their forces, as we do, as the police do. In an ideal world local communities would rise up and expel the fascist menace, etc. etc. But in the meantime we shall have to tackle them. It is a delicate subject though, because various lefty groups have a history of arriving in certain areas, patronising the locals, making the situation worse, then pissing off when the shit hits the fan.

I am not a violent person by nature. I do not enjoy the idea of walking up to strangers and punching them, even if they are fascists. It is just something that needs to be done. I’ve had enough scary moments to realise that I am no braver than the next person.

Nor do I possess the gift of the gab, as some anti-fascists do. I wish I did, because on some occasions that can be more effective against fascism than a good left hook. I really admire those people who stand up to them alone at places like football grounds or in their High Street. These verbal put-downs, often with passers-by looking on, are just as humiliating to a fascist as a kick in the bollocks.

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:13 PM on October 8, 2008


For if the fascists were given the chance to freely march, sell their papers, and appear as a respectable political force they would just grow and grow.

Perhaps it's ironic (help me out irony police) then that the BNP keeps chugging along while groups like RA and AFA have schismed themselves into oblivion.
posted by MikeMc at 4:25 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's me but a hundred people lying in wait to attack people gathering for a concert doesn't evoke an image of defending terrified immigrant communities.

The whole point is to shatter the image of strength and show them to be cowardly and weak. Should they ignore large gatherings of fascists simply because the gatherings in question are formatted as concerts?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:54 PM on October 8, 2008


I mean, do you think that the fascists, who have been going down streets, kicking in doors, and assaulting people, are going to peaceably show up, watch the bands, and peaceably disperse? If you read that story you linked to, the author notes that the rail service had let blacks and asians have the day off- clearly there was an expectation of confrontation and violence. That cannot be tolerated in a civil society, and when the government refuses to act, condemning citizens for so doing is indefensible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:07 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you read that story you linked to, the author notes that the rail service had let blacks and asians have the day off- clearly there was an expectation of confrontation and violence.

I don't recall reading about any violence initiated by the would be concert goers. I do recall the anecdote about the two skinheads "who had been enjoying a quiet cup of tea" when they were beaten to the point that they had to be removed from the station by ambulance. Defending yourself or innocent people from unprovoked attack is one thing, preemptively beating the shit out two guys, skinheads or no, enjoying a quiet cup of tea in a buffet is something else entirely.


He was unconscious I think, but in the heat of the moment I went and booted him in the head as hard as I could anyway. In fact I was a bit worried afterwards in case I’d killed him.

Not a violent person by nature. Yeah, right.
posted by MikeMc at 6:15 PM on October 8, 2008


AFA - Heroes or Villains? [old OCR scan up on Geoshitties] "The purpose of this pamphlet is to illustrate the fact that the use of physical force against fascism has always been an effective and necessary tactic."
The far right in the UK abandoned "street politics" mostly because they were losing the fight, and in this AFA was a great success. Most of the core militants then moved on to other initiatives (Red Action were prime movers in the IWCA for example) as the tactic was seen to have served its purpose. It is worth remembering that the far right in the UK could provide refuge for figures like Nick Griffin's big mate Roberto Fiore, involved in the bombing of Bologna railway station that killed 85. There was more at stake in discouraging their violence than just a bit of street fisticuffs.
The shift to community politics, "cultural" arguments rather than too-naked racism and becoming more "respectable," partly a result of the above, means the BNP has to be challenged in different ways, and efforts like the IWCA are part of that.
posted by Abiezer at 6:30 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Should they ignore large gatherings of fascists simply because the gatherings in question are formatted as concerts?

That's another thing, they didn't go to the concert and confront a mass of facists, they attacked them as they filtered into a pre-arranged meeting area in small groups. The least they could have done was storm the concert en masse and turned it into some sort of epic British working class Ragnarök or something (which is very easy for me to say 15 years later and 2,000 miles away). To me all of this just reeks of gang violence cloaked in politics (on both sides). I'm sure there were a percentage of "true believers" on both sides but I'm guessing the bulk of the combatants were violent, disaffected youth looking for someone to pound on.
posted by MikeMc at 6:40 PM on October 8, 2008


The least they could have done was storm the concert en masse and turned it into some sort of epic British working class Ragnarök or something

Yes, that would have accomplished much more than cornering them a few at a time and battering them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:09 PM on October 8, 2008


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