The last few days have sometimes felt a bit like the end of the world, or at the very least, the beginning of a new era. Trump’s ascendancy seems to have sparked a new wave of repression and resistance, and the far-right across both the US and Europe is on the march.
Short answer: no.
A few days ago, Brighton and Hove News published this article. It’s an interview with Matthew Cook, one of the organisers of this year’s Kemp Town Carnival. In it, Mr Cook argues we should ignore the planned fascist march in Brighton, and leave it to the Police to deal with, whilst we all party it up at the carnival.
Since “just ignore them” is a fairly common message we get sent, we thought we’d look in a little bit of depth at why this is such a bad idea.
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners, called for by New York City Antifa. Their callout states:
Antifascists fight against those who—in the government or in the streets—dream of imposing their fascist and other Far Right nationalist nightmares on the rest of us. Throughout the world, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and racist bigotries are on the rise. Antifas are on the frontline in confronting these reactionary politics, and we will not forget our comrades imprisoned in the course of this struggle.
The AFN is one of the groups supporting this callout, alongside antifascists from as far afield as Finland, Sweden, Australia and the US (full list of supporting groups below).
As part of the Antifascist Network, Brighton Antifascists have enhusiastically taken up the call for solidarity actions.
… Go out in the midday sun.
Today self-publicist Eddie Stampton’s attempt to intimidate the Jewish community of Golder’s Green degenerated into an at-times painfully hilarious farce. Around two dozen hardcore neo-nazis (half of them Polish immigrants) where marched into a pen, inside a cage, inside another pen, opposite Downing Street, to attempt to “de-jewify” Britain.
In what looked depressingly like an episode of American History X-Factor, each of the boneheads took a turn on the mic, trying to wow an increasingly hostile antifascist crowd with renditions of such classics as “It was the Jews what done it” and “You’re all agents of ZOG”. Particularly of note was White Supremacist Piers Mellor’s rousing chorus of “Hordes from the East”, delivered with all the rhetorical flair of depressed Dalek. A special shout-out should go to Kevin Layzell, but we think it would be unfair to make him cry twice in one day.
Farce became pantomime when the batteries in Eddie’s microphone ran flat, rendering the rest of the speeches inaudible. Ever heard of Duracell Eddie? Or are they a Zionist plot?
Finally reduced to taunting the assembled antifascists with a pork pie, the fascists were marched off under heavy manners into Westminster tube. A Nuremburg rally. it was not, which begs why he mainstream media found it all so interesting. In the end, it was more Benny Hill than Leni Riefenstahl.
Yesterday was the EDL’s national demonstration in Oxford. After bottling it in Brighton, they were relying on having a good day to retain some credibility. Unfortunately for them, that’s not exactly what happened.
This weekend has been very busy for antifascists around the country, with many demonstrations and some interesting (and worrying!) developments.
First off, SS wannabes National Action staged a “White Man March” in Newcastle. North East Antifascists, alongside London Antifascists and many other autonomous groups, confronted them and made sure they had a real shit time. Chants such as “Hitler was right!”, plus burning an LGBT and Israeli flag, got 9 of them (ie half of their demo) nicked for racial hatred. It ended with around 20 idiots standing protected by dozens of police, sieg heiling to an empty street. Well done guys, that was a major victory for the white race /sarcasm.
Anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the growth of the far-right in Europe over the last year can’t help but have noticed “Pegida” (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamification of Europe), a German group who have been marching every week for several months, drawing many thousand supporters in their home city of Dresden.
Attempts to take the Pegida format beyond Dresden have been somewhat underwhelming. Low numbers and large antifascist counter-protests have dogged their demonstrations in cities like Cologne, Hannover and Berlin. With the creation of Pegida groups outside of Germany, this pattern of failure has only continued, with their attempt at marching in Malmö, Sweden, hilariously outnumbered.
On Saturday, around 30 fascists from several groups including New Dawn (an English Golden Dawn supporters group), NOP England (the ex-pats division of a notorious Polish neo-nazi group) and a few others held a demo in front of the Greek Embassy in London, supposedly in support of jailed members of GD.
Of course, Antifascists were out in force to oppose them, with a demo called by Antifascist Action for Greece (AAfG) and UAF, alongside London Antifascists, London Black Revs, Dywizjon 161, Brighton Antifascists and other autonomous groups.
At the very start, around 25 militant antifascists mobbed up and surrounded Holland Park tube, where the fascists were supposed to gather. After some scuffling with police, the antifascists moved slightly further up the road, only to advance again as soon as the rag-tag group of fascists appeared. Despite a lot of macho posturing, the fascists were content to hide behind, then be led away by, the small amount of police present. Antifascists quickly moved round to the embassy itself, and blocked the road, leading to a stand off with some riot police, who moved vans into place between the two demos. The fascists attempted to hold their rally, but no-one could hear a word they were saying over the heckles and jeers of antifascists. By this point the Golden Dawn lovers where considerably outnumbered by a rowdy crowd of around 70 antifascists. As soon as their speeches finished, they slunk off, tails between their legs. Victory to the antifascists!
Honourable mention also goes to Lyon, which was a scene of a massive, militant antifascist demonstration this weekend, protesting against the far-right Front National conference being held in the traditionally left-wing city.
Yesterday saw the EDL drag their limp corpse through Luton again, despite it being as plain as the nose on your face that everybody hates them, and nobody wants them there.
Whilst the local Asian community defended their area and made it amply clear the EDL would not enter Bury Park district, the UAF, North London antifascists and the AFN (including a large contingent from Brighton) assembled and held a rally. Whilst this was on-going, several groups of autonomous antifascists slipped through the police cordon and found their way to the EDL pen, getting out a banner and giving them some abuse.
Meanwhile, the EDL, who had barely managed to pull 300 people for a national demonstration in their hometown, where largely confined to the outskirts of town by the Police, were they chanted to empty streets and a small audience of hostile locals.
This is the end of the EDL “marching season”, and it’s certainly ended with a whimper, not a bang. Hardly a triumphant return, more of a soggy walk, the EDL had a shit time, leaving the question hanging in the air: how many of them will return for the next marching season? Brighton antifascists will be there to find out.