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.
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.
Phew, what a night!
Last night, Brighton Antifascists had a very successful benefit gig in the Cowley Club, Brighton’s premier radical social center. Negative Measures and Teef from Brighton and Damaged Head and Harda Tider all the way from Sweden played for an audience of easily 100 enthusiastic punks.
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.
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.