Fascists relegated to the sidelines by the struggle against the cuts
The students are revolting. There have now been three days of action which have grabbed headlines and captured imaginations, with students up and down the country standing up to the attacks on education being waged by the present government. And a wave of sit-ins and occupations has given their struggle a radical edge.
What we are witnessing is mass anger, channelled into a wave of direct action that more moderate left-wingers, and the opportunists of the Labour Party, have all-but lost control of. At the same time, the government and the media is failing utterly in its attempts to drag peoples’ attention away from reality.
Amongst the many positives of this is that it is only speeding up the BNP’s decline into obscurity and irrelevance.
Whilst people across the country are organising movements to challenge the cuts, the BNP is trying to pin AIDS on immigration, and announcing Christmas socials. As unprecedented cutbacks in welfare for the poorest and most vulnerable are unveiled, the party wants to know if people will be arrested for burning bibles. And whilst students are occupying their university lecture halls, Liverpool BNP are copy-and-pasting Wikipedia articles about patron saints. Nick Griffin’s Twitter account reveals a man utterly out of touch with the strife of his own party, let alone with what’s going on in Britain.
Fascism thrives at times when it can play on fear and hatred stoked by the media. When it can twist real issues towards race and immigration, and lead working class anger up a nationalist blind alley. Now, with that anger erupting of its own accord, and people rising up spectacularly against the government and the real attacks on our class, it finds itself pushed to the sidelines.
It is for the same reason that the National Front faced its demise with the Thatcher era. She stole their thunder on immigration, her policies mobilised people against what was really going on instead of ethnic boogeymen, and the frenzied violence of a far-right party in its death-throes was seen off by militant anti-fascists.
Today, the government’s class war is being waged with greater vigour than before, and the BNP – torn apart by factional splits, electoral humiliation, and sheer incompetence – was just waiting to fall. But the pattern is very similar.
Unfortunately, the EDL – being relatively new on the fascist block – is not suffering the same fate. Not being a political party, it can’t face a decline in electoral fortune. Not being a social movement, it remains isolated from any potential lack of grassroots support. Rather, it thrives because all it does is call demonstrations – they don’t achieve anything, but they offer an outlet for neo-Nazis, football hooligans, loyalists, and others just looking for a ruck or whose worldview is entirely informed by the tabloid media.
Thus, they will continue to get people turning up to their demos, and buying their merchandise. But as long as this is the limit of their dreams, they are not building any base of support or moving towards anything but periodic bouts of street violence. The main job of anti-fascists in this scenario is to keep them contained, and to stand in solidarity with and physically defend the communities they attack.
The decline of the far-right doesn’t mean we should simply ignore it. Though less prominent and far-reaching, the threat fascism poses – physical and ideological – remains, and as long as it exists there needs to be a movement ready to oppose it on these grounds.
Nonetheless, we should take the ongoing decline and marginalisation of the far-right as a positive development. Especially in the context of greater militancy and radicalism in response to the present government’s attacks.