United Against Fascists?

Last Sunday 11th April members of Whitechapel Anarchist Group and it’s associates were asked down to Barking to help assist the RMT’s “Stop The BNP” meeting with stewarding. The original venue was intended to be the Broadway Theatre but despite this being pulled by the management at the last minute, the event went ahead outside with speakers including locals, Bob Crow, RMT members and UAF (Unite Against Fascism).

Having arrived at Barking and adorning our RMT vests we helped the RMT stewards hand out flyers and offer assistance for locals wishing to attend. With the arrival of General Secretary Bob Crow the congregating crowd headed down to Broadway Theatre to begin the rally while our stewarding group remained at the station for late arrivals. Within minutes it was reported that BNP supporters had been spotted amongst the crowd, therefore we left the station to assist the other stewards with diffusing any situations that may occur.

The rally had a strong turn out with many locals congregating to hear the speeches, best of which was a life long Barking resident talking about the importance of neighbours uniting to stop the spread of the BNP’s vile divisive racism. Once we had arrived it was quickly worked out that the two “Nazi’s” who had been pointed out were in fact members of WAG! And to add insult to injury one of them was Martin Lux author of “Anti-Fascist” – an autobiography about battling the National Front during the seventies! Despite this slight hiccup the rally passed off with no problems and was a successful, informative and enjoyable event.

Barking’s finest Weatherspoons pub hosted the post-rally refreshments where our eclectic anarchist mob and members of the UAF drank to our success at a job well done, but it was around this time that the second hiccup of the evening would occur. A member of WAG who was writing up a report on the day was accussed by a UAF member of being sexist, the reason being that he had used the term ‘girl’. In the context – ‘what is that girl’s name?’. According to the UAF member they believed that any female over the age of 2 years old is a ‘woman’. Despite the ideological differences we all left the pub with a few chants of ‘Whitechapel’s Red And Black Army’ along the high street entering Barking tube to head home to the old east end.

The debate continued on the train journey but soon exploded in emotion when Martin Lux was told that “because you are white and working class you should expect that people will think you are racist” by the UAF speaker. Following verbal jibes resulted in a UAF member stepping up with a “Come on then” to a WAG member who responded with an “Alright”, but despite one or two hot headed members of WAG, the situation was stopped by WAG and Anarchists because the UAF member had no police lines to protect them and would have ended up in a serious sticky situation seeing as they were outnumbered by about ten to one. Calm returned to the train carriage and the UAF members sheepishly sat in silence before exiting at the next stop.

The accusation made by the UAF that because you are white and working class you should expect that people will think you are racists is a gross insult to us as class struggle anarchists and dedicated militant anti-fascists. This logic would also mean that if you are Asian or muslim you should expect that everyone thinks you are a terrorist or if you are a black male you should expect that everyone thinks you are drug dealer. We believe this is what is known as racism. And it says a lot that this is the attitude of a member of the UAF speaking down in Barking! They are probably recruiting more voters for the BNP if this is what they say to the white working class!

21 responses to “United Against Fascists?

  1. Two of us who rode down from Norfolk to support the RMT event were also questioned by some woman on our political credentials…

    “Are you members of the RMT?”

    No.

    “Are you members of the BNP?”

    No.

    “Why are you here then?!”

    Much to our amusement!

  2. “Any female over the age of 2 years old is a ‘woman’ “… sounds a bit creepy if you ask me…
    Out of curiosity, was the UAF member saying that to Martin a member of the white middle class?
    They always seem to know what is best to protect us poor darkies, do those white middle class people.

  3. Sounds like a pretty dumb thing to say if that is what the UAF supporter said. But UAF is a very broad organisation so you can’t take the words of one person as representative of the whole organisation.

  4. Hackney Brigade

    To all too many white middle class people working class people – of whatever hue – are ‘poor darkies’

  5. The women in question who made the comment is half Iranian. She did admit that the EDL weren’t fascists but said that the site of them was intimidating.

    Personally I think that the UAF is politically a disgrace to antifascism, and I don’t take that lightly in saying that. When people talk about antifascism it has different meanings, it involves a large political spectrum from the social democratic parties, to socialists, trade unionists, nationalists, as well as anarchists.

    The UAF as an organisation have actively undermined resistance to fascism by people not within their control. Here’s a short list of major boobies they have managed to achieve:

    Manchester EDL demo
    – their stewards handing over a member of the Anarchist Federation to the police after scuffles broke out

    Manchester EDL demo
    Ex-immigration Labour Minister Tony McNulty, responsible for the imprisonment and deportaion of innocent children, women and men spoke on the UAF “antifascist” platform

    Leeds EDL demo
    The leader of the council, strike breaker and anti-worker careerist scumbag allowed to speak on the UAF “antifascist” platform

    BNP red, white & blue
    UAF stewards photographed helping police push back a crowd of antifascists attempting to break through police lines

    The UAF ARE A PROBLEM, they attract genuine people who want to dedicate time to stopping the growth of the far-right. Most of their supporters do not know about most whats been going on. I think we should do our best in communicating with them, but first anarchists in London need a viable alternative to UAF that is not specifically anarchists but promotes the idea of antifascism as being the politics of working class militancy.

  6. @Hackney Brigade
    I get where you’re coming from, but actually if you’re white they have a different term for you – “chav”. That is the equivalent of an ethnic slur delivered by white middle and upper class people [and those in the working class who “aspire” to middle or upper class status] to white working class people, and it’s time it started being challenged as such.
    If you mean that all people in the working class are treated the same, I would have to disagree. If you’re white you still have white skin privilege no matter how poor you are. Middle and upper class Black people (let alone working class Black people) are still more likely to be stopped and searched by the police (white cops, black cops or brown cops) than you are.
    Acknowledging that is nothing to do with “guilt” and I have no desire for anyone to feel “guilty”, it’s just acknowledging reality. Just like I am privileged as a lighter-skinned heterosexual male. I am not in the least bit “guilty” about that, but I do acknowledge it as part of a thing called REALITY.
    (Not trying to jump down your throat Hackney Brigade… you didn’t bring anything up about guilt and whatnot… but have a look at the discussion over on Ian Bone’s blog to get an idea why I brought it up).
    @A and others
    To me the fact that the person making that statement (I am assuming u mean the one about being suspicious of Martin Wright based on his looks, not the ridiculous one about 2 year olds being “women”) was a woman of colour [hate that “p.c.” phrase but for lack of a better one it’ll have to do] puts a slightly different spin on things. In that case I don’t feel she was necessarily wrong for saying that “people of colour” have a right to be suspicious of white people until these suspicions are shown to be incorrect; for many of us that’s an automatic self-defensive reflex that has been RIGHTLY passed on to us from previous generations until now. Like Malcolm said, not all snakes are poisonous but that doesn’t mean I’ma go picking up snakes to see which ones are poisonous and which ain’t. Where she was ENTIRELY wrong was to bring the issue of “looking working class” into it. Leaving aside the issue of what the fuck “looking working class” might mean (cloth cap? Dr. Martens? Dropping youe aitches?), in my experience working class white people (in Britain) are on the whole a lot LESS racist than middle and upper class ones, and the ones who are racist, at least they’ll say it straight to your face so you know where you stand, whereas middle and upper class racists are more likely to smile to your face and stab you in the back.

  7. @Rasta – agree, have been told numerous times by fellow work colleagues who grew up in S.London in the 1980’s who are non-white about gut reactions they have if they see large groups of white men with skinheads.

    We all have prejudices, no ones perfect. Its everyones job to challenge them.

  8. No doubt.
    Best wishes to all the WAGs for upcoming events. I’ll have to try to look you folks up next time I pass through Whitechapel.

  9. Just to say that it annoying how no matter how old as a woman people (not just men) will still refer to you as a girl. Obviously there is a fine line between when someone changes from being a girl (child) to being a woman, and not all female bodied people over the age of 2 are women, but i am 31 and the mother of girls but people still refer to me as a girl sometimes. I call women girls myself too sometimes, although really do try not to, but its just an unconscious action. As feminists we call it the infatilisation of women, and it is endemic to our culture. Men are seldom refered to as boys.
    Just to be clear i am in no way calling the member of wag who said this a sexist, i know that wag are not sexist. But it it is symptomatic of the sexist society we live in. Calling someone sexist everytime something like happens is not productive, however the conversation still needs to take place.
    xox

  10. A is spot on. It doesn’t matter where one comes from (ideologically speaking), there will be prejudices somewhere. But it’s a shame that some groups (do all?) consider themselves more self-righteous than others and here am specifying the UAF.

    Challenging others on their prejudices can be fine, as long as it’s not a challenge based on prejudice. Challenges are great when don’t in a dignified manner.
    But, best of all, is to challenge oneself – and honestly.

    Groups such as UAF that disallow speech that doesn’t agree with their agenda could, arguably, be considered fascistic in their actions. I would say, further, that direct vilification (which I drone on about ad-nauseum) could be considered the same as it is being entirely dismissive without referencing any salient points of discussion.

    I’ve considered the treatment of racial issues by groups similar to UAF to be utterly patronising and done for self-gratifying purposes.

    Very interesting comments here, by the way.

    As an aside, is the WAG the same group that operate in the bookshop down that little alleyway near (I think – bit rusty) Whitechapel Library. I used to pop in there when I lived in Mile End. Nice people.

  11. Whitechapel Anarchist

    EDL Anarchist, surprised to see you on here, you normally just stick to Ian bones blog
    “Challenging others on their prejudices can be fine, as long as it’s not a challenge based on prejudice” is spot on, “I’ve considered the treatment of racial issues by groups similar to UAF to be utterly patronising and done for self-gratifying purposes” though I think your right when you say their patronising I don’t think that even the UAFs leaders (the SWP) can find asking working class communities to vote Tory to keep out the BNP very gratifying.
    Some of us work in that bookshop but most of us don’t

    And anarchafem, thanks for your comment, of course WAG tries its best to not be sexist and when one of us slips up we should be picked up on it, but that shouldn’t be followed with anti working class slurs.

    • @WA – I guess you’ve seen the thread. I’ll let Ian’s initial post and what follows speak for itself and you can make your own mind up.
      I didn’t know the UAF were advocating Tory as an alternative to BNP. As support for UAF comes from MPs from all the main 3, then I can assume that UAF don’t really care where their ‘tactical votes’ go.

  12. EDL anarchist has his very own thread on Ian Bone’s blog, so folks can have a look at that and make up their own minds as to whether he’s a confused person worth talking to, or not. I’ve made my mind up… but then again I tend to be suspicious of white people in general, let alone members of the EDL.
    @anarchafem – not to discount your point in the least – it’s definitely a fair one – but it so happens that both here in Cymru where I am now, and back home in Guyana where I grew up, men are indeed very commonly referred to as “boys/baiz”.
    People should always bear in mind the intention behind “politically incorrect” language as well as the language itself. For example, I don’t think it’s ever acceptable for white people to use the words “nigger” and/or “nigga”, however it’s spelled or pronounced. But I can recognise the difference between a neo nazi thug calling me a “nigger” [activate fight or flight response] and a young, ignorant white 50 cent fan saying “what up my nigga!” [evaluate if s/he is taking the piss or not, and either deliver smackdown [verbal if it’s a female speaking] or calmly explain why I won’t tolerate white people saying that word around me, depending on the circumstances].

    • @Rasta – what makes you think I’m white? Why do you “tend to be suspicious of white people in general” ?
      Do you have a problem with particular people because of their attitude or because of their race?

  13. @EDL Anarchist. I’ve been following your comments over on Ian Bones blog, I’m a member of WAG and am intrigued by your stance as an anarchist being involved in the EDL.

    First up I have to say that personally I’ve never fallen into the trap of dismissing the EDL as Nazi’s. Same with the BNP. I think this naive attitude, as displayed by the Left (UAF/SWP) does little to move forward any progressive conversation and retreats into polarised corners. The BNP are fascist in my opinion. And the EDL are more in the trajectory of Loyalism. Neither of which are National Socialists i.e. Nazi’s. What’s always made me laugh is UAF turning up with “BNP are a Nazi Party” placards at EDL demo’s even though the two are not mutually joined at the hip. Though saying this I’m sure supporters of the BNP have turned up / taken part in EDL stuff in the same way that White Supremacists have involved, or tried to, involve themselves in the activities of the BNP and EDL.
    I completley accept the fact that the EDL is made up of a mixed bag of people, some of whom I would completely despise, and some of whom I’m sure I’d get on with fine. Like the same way half my family votes BNP, doesn’t stop me from talking and engaging, and I don’t dismiss them as “nazis” because I understand why they vote BNP i.e. pissed off that no one represents the working class. As the blog above suggests I think the UAF plays right into the hands of the BNP with scaremongering, hysteria and dis-info. Therefore I hate the Left – SWP, UAF – they are predominantly middle class students without a fucking clue unwittingly following a rigid authoritarian leadership. And if it is true that the EDL battered C18/Blood&Honour then hats off because that’s more militant antifascism than the UAF have ever done!!

    But I do have a few issues with the EDL that maybe you could clarify for me?

    Being an anarchist I am against all forms of religion and agree that the stand against Sharia Law is important BUT do you not think the EDL have gone about this completely the wrong way? Nutters like Choudrey, Abu Hamza etc have been booted out of their mosques by Muslims, likewise the expose of the IFE in the East London Mosque was done by Muslims, it’s these people who use the place and it’s these people who kick out the nutters. If the EDL is really concerned with stopping Islamic fanatacism should it not do more to work with Muslims? Shouldn’t there be a Muslim Defence League division as it’s these people who can tell us who the mentalists are. And it’s these people who have a history of ejecting these nutters. But instead of working with these people, building ties and moving things forward, the EDL have in fact done everything to isolate and alienate these people and have probably pushed them more into the arms of the fanatical clerics. For example wouldn’t it have been better if those involved in the EDL had helped organise a Muslims against Islam4UK march? That would have taken the wind out of Choudrey, but instead a load of blokes in balaclava’s just generates fear, especially in minority groups (which muslims are) and fear is exactly what religious clerics (of all persuassions) and politicans feed off to control us as a mass population. Therefore the EDL have played into the hands of the Islamic nutters and the State – as an anarchist I am sure you are against both of these things.

    My problem with the EDL is that it is riddled with contradictions, the video where the Swastika is burned, the main guy says he won’t show his face because he fears retribution from Al-Muhajiroun in Luton, BUT the EDL insist they want muslims to tackle these clerics/individuals in there communities. Wheres the sense of solidarity? You ask muslims to stand up against these people in their own communities, so they aren’t allowed to hide or cover up from these people but are expected to speak up against them, yet the brave souls of the EDL aren’t willing to show their own faces!!

    I don’t doubt your opposition to Sharia Law, religious fundamentalism, homophobia etc. And I’m sure you’re proud of your upbringing, I’m proud to be born in this country and love the radical traditions (Levellers, Luddites, King Mob, Captain Swing etc etc) that have led us to the liberties we have. But do you not think that the EDL is going in the wrong direction? It wants muslims to clean up their own house but shows very little in working towards this and instead has helped isolate that small community and thus having the opposite effect.

    And why oh why oh why has no attention been put on the politicans and bankers who have created this situation? They use immigration to keep us divided – notice how they never criticise rich immigrants buying up half the city, football clubs etc – but they force immigrants into the poorest areas where resources are limited so we fight over crumbs amongst ourselves. Why don’t they put immigrants in Hampstead? And political multi-cultralism as an ideology, not in the sense that the working class is multi-ethnic which it always has been and always will be, but the political programme that has forced people of different cultures to remain ghettoised from their neighbours has created this situation.

    I don’t see the EDL offering any real answers to these problems, instead they are adding to the problems and keeping us all distracted from the real enemy.

    Would love to hear more from you EDL Anarchist and maybe one day we could meet for a proper chat?

    • One thing to add – and perhaps you could bring this up with “EDL Anarchist” if you ever do have a chat with him, as I personally have no intention of having any such chat – if, as “EDL Anarchist” claims, the Swansea so-called “Welsh Defence League” march was “hijacked” or “taken over” or whatever term he used (on Ian’s blog), by the sieg heiling neo nazis… where were the efforts of the organisers to take it back from them? I’m pretty sure that if someone were to yell out “Kill the Jews” at a pro-Palestine rally, at least some of the fellow marchers would call them on that. I saw no effort from any EDL/so-called “WDL” member to stop the nazis from sieg heiling etc.
      Also it’s just a tad bit disingenuous to suggest that all you want is “dialogue” or “debate” when you are walking around with massive pit bulls blatantly trying to intimidate people, taking people’s photos without their permission, etc.
      “EDL Anarchist” does a good job of sounding “reasonable” but in my opinion it’s just that, a “good job.”
      Of course, I could be wrong; he could be a genuinely confused individual who thinks he’s an anarchist and maybe one day might actually might be an anarchist, so kudos to Eric Blair and co. if you actually do make a “conversion”.
      A very well-argued post by the way, Eric Blair. I completely overstand and respect why you are spending so much time talking to the likes of “EDL @”, and of course to your own family, and I hope that you can respect and overstand the reasons why I personally am not going to spend my time doing so. I’ll talk to my people, you talk to yours.

      • EDL Anarchist

        @Rasta – you have an awful lot to say to someone you don’t want to chat with.
        More of this “I dont wish to share a platform with someone I call a racist”, huh? You’re as bad as Speccy Smith and Fatboy Bennett from “U-Are-Fascists”.
        “I’ll talk to my people, you talk to yours.” This is why you will continue to remain in your stagnant, ideological isolation. Enjoy!

    • @Eric, thanks for the post. Excellent points that I wish to discuss (with a fair amount of agreement) properly. But am on the way out.
      Just want to let you know I’ve read the post and am not ignoring it. Lame, I know.

    • @Eric

      The mixed bag thing is spot on. Expecting to like and dislike particular members because of this also follows. Past experience, however, has told me not to judge people on their ideologies, but on how they are as people. I find that I love some people I totally disagree with, and dislike some that I fully agree with, just because of how they are as people. Naturally, those with obvious prejudices are not included.

      The C18/EDL thing happened on Halloween night after a joint demo with members of BMSD – which, for those who don’t know them, isn’t a dyslexic sado-masochistic group, but the British Muslims for a Secular Democracy. I’ve been looking for news snippets that I’ve seen but can’t find them again.This irks me as I am wary of stories without a reference.

      EDL supporters have attempted on numerous occasions (particularly last year) to engage both secular muslims and ex-muslims. All were polite but didn’t wish to cooperate, some stating that it was an internal affair. When I wrote to Shirira Khatun concerning the abuse she suffered for wearing what she wanted as opposed to what the Islamic community (read, the men) wanted, I just got a simple ‘Thank you’. Nice, but again, it seems to be internal.
      EDL & BMSD had the successful event on Halloween last year protesting against Islam4UK who didn’t show and, apparently, they all got on really well. However, EDL being against Islamification found themselves in opposition to BMSD for the Harrow protest against the building of another mosque (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/21/sioe-harrow-mosque-protest).
      No other cooperation has occurred since.

      I’m not sure what to make of BMSD, their heart is in the right place to protest against Islam4UK, etc., but seems as if they want to go it alone – as if it is their (muslims) problem. But it isn’t it affects us all.

      So I agree that some muslims themselves have done a good job in dealing with the extremists. But I could go further and wish to tackle Islam as a belief system, itself, and growing Islamification that Ian mentions in the opening to the referred thread on his blog.

      Religion itself is anathema to anarchists for obvious reasons, so it is healthy to challenge all religion. But not all religions are equal in their teachings nor in their level of confrontation. I would suggest that Buddhism has been more peaceful than Catholicism, although on Ian’s blog, Rasta mentions that ~20,000 suffered in Buddhist killings. I can’t comment, because I have no reference to the event nor why it occurred.
      But I would suggest that, as well as being against it for authoritarian reasons, Islam is quite a wicked (no, not that type of wicked😉 ) faith. It’s treatment of women as 2nd class citizens (while dress code isn’t exactly liberating is it nothing compared to this: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23818856-uks-muslim-tv-wives-must-not-refuse-sex-with-spouse.do and abroad: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/bangladesh/7073191/Rape-victim-receives-101-lashes-for-becoming-pregnant.html
      ), it’s murderous hatred of homosexuals (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/may/07/muslims-britain-france-germany-homosexuality), and it phobia of us kaffirs (even Galloway gets it).

      Remember that Islam is an ideology that people follow. I cut muslims as people slack in the same way that I cut catholics slack (when they don’t follow contraceptive rules, for example), so obviously not all follow the hard line. But whereas Catholic (and Christian?) influence is in decline, it has been mentioned that there will be something there to fill the void (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2042169/Bishop-Michael-Nazir-Ali-Radical-Islam-is-filling-void-left-by-collapse-of-Christianity-in-UK.html). It concerns me that this is the case as I really consider this as going from bad to worse.

      What I don’t understand is that, if you agree with me that Islam is a wicked religion, why it gets cut so much slack? Why are our politicians always apologising for ‘faux-pas’ against things as demeaning as the veil, for example? Why can extremists not be called such any more? (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2759618/Ministers-told-Dont-call-Islamic-extremists-Islamic-extremists.html – ok, ok it’s The Sun, bugger off🙂 but this has also happened in the US, recently) Why should Islam get it’s own banking system and economic exchange (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE62G2I620100318?rpc=60)? Why should a blind passenger get kicked off a bus because some psychotic woman who believes in a psychotic faith tells her (and her children) to be scared of dogs (especially black ones – is Mohammed a racist, too? http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2051804_blind_passenger_hounded_off_bus_because_of_his_dog). Why are police told to go easy on extremists? (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/113182/Take-it-easy-on-Muslim-extremists-police-told)

      It seems that Islam is getting an easy ride from both the rulers and the ruled. What are anarchists (bloc- of individual-) doing about this? Do they see it as a problem? Are they scared of being called racist?

      I couldn’t give two craps about what colour you are, but if one subscribes to such an extreme ideology, I’m going to be in the very least suspicious.

      Ok, that turned into jabber. We do condemn the bankers and the politicians. I also agree with you with the class issue. It’s ok for the ruling classes to increase immigration as long as said immigrants don’t live in those classes’ communities. This, amongst other fall-out, causes understandable resentment and increased votes for parties like the BNP.

      Even if the EDL aren’t offering answers, then the questions are being raised. Communication has been sought with other groups, but they don’t want to know – maybe the UAF/SWP slander of racism/nazism has worked to that effect?

      As I’ve mentioned one Ian’s thread, I am but one single supporter with little influence, but hopefully I’ve laid out where I’m coming from. This, for me, is still an single issue and other issues I still feel are of relevance.

      There’s been a very enlightening thread over at the EDL forum concerning anarchism and it’s [support for the/lack of] opposition to Islam involving myself one of our LGBT Division coordinators and a couple of you whom I think either read, or contribute to, these blogs. (If you were to pop in, Eric, say something about this in ‘the cage’ forum and I’ll look out for ya and point you to that thread).

      I want to say thanks as it’s definitely a positive discourse.

      If I’m in the area (rare) I’d honestly love to have a proper chat, if at least to tune my thinking and to test the integrity of my arguments. As I mentioned earlier, it’s good to challenge oneself!

  14. Girl:
    late 13c. gyrle “child” (of either sex). Old English ‘gyrele’, from Proto Germanic ‘gurwilon’. Dim. of ‘gurwjoz’ (represented by Low Germanic ‘gære’ “boy or girl”), from Proto Indo-European ‘ghwrgh’.
    The specific meaning of girl as a “female child” is from 14c. Applied to “any young unmarried woman” since 1520s.

    Like a lot of words the meaning and usage has changed over time, and will change in the future. Which is expected with so many of the words in our English language coming from ‘foreigners’, whether they be Danes, Vikings, Saxons, Normans, Romans, French, Germans or more recent visitors.
    Any EDL linguists out there care for a ‘dialogue’?

    • Obviously there is a point to that Noam. I can only assume the references to ‘foreigners’ and the tour of Europe are to indicate the multicultural essence of our country?

      Maybe you would like to continue and finish your point.

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