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(en) Freedom 6403 8 Feb, 2003 - What we say ...

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 24 Mar 2003 09:47:01 +0100 (CET)


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The British National Party victory in Halifax on 23rd
January has prompted soul-searching amongst Labour
activists. The explanation offered for the fascists' rise,
by liberal media and Labour left alike, is that the BNP
has mopped up the right-wing vote with the assistance
of tabloid scaremongering over refugees, and the
collapse of both the Tory and the UK Independence
parties. But the panic over 'asylum-seekers' hasn't
been generated by the tabloids. That's down to the
Labour government.

New Labour has consistently played the race card
almost from its first day in office. David Blunkett and
his predecessor, Jack Straw, have both targeted
refugees and orchestrated fears about asylum.
Together, Blunkett and Blair kick-started the furore
over refugees being potential terrorists with their
move to intern non-British citizens. All the tabloids
did was follow the piper's tune.

The Labour grassroots fear the BNP because the
fascists fill the vacuum created by the collapse of
Labour as a working class party. Many on the left seem
to believe that Blunkett and Blair will realise the
error of their ways as soon as the case for refugees is
patiently explained. For the Labour leadership,
however, the BNP is a blessing. They're well served by
a party that's turned working class dissent in on itself
and away from them.

At the same time, New Labour's anti-immigration
policy makes perfect sense from the point of view of
the interests the party represents. Borders serve more
than one purpose. As well as controlling who comes in,
they foster national identity. And global capital needs
a nationalist population more than ever. The last thing
it wants is an internationalist working class capable of
co-ordinating its resistance globally.

The BNP is a threat to working class communities. It
must be fought, but not on the terms offered by the
Labour left. We can only defeat the BNP by being
more effective opponents of Labour than they are.
Naomi Klein has spoken of resurgent working class
militancy creating 'economies of solidarity'. We should
employ these methods, using direct action - battles
over rents, repairs, bailiffs, policing, pollution, traffic -
to advance working class interests.

Yet we start from a position of weakness. The
revolutionary left commands little credibility and
unfortunately this includes the anarchist movement.
Sartre said the left-wing press ought to read as if it was
written by war correspondents. But you can't write like
a war correspondent when you've already abandoned
the battle. What use are anarcho-communist and
anarcho-syndicalist politics if we aren't fighting within
working class communities on a daily basis? The
revolutionary left has done little to meet the BNP
challenge in the last decade.

It's not too late to change. The traditions of working
class internationalism and solidarity can be rebuilt.
We have to begin to fight for the re-integration of the
working class through struggle. Shouting "they're
welcome here" doesn't cut it when refugees are being
attacked on the street. We have to be able to defend
them, while at the same time putting forward credible
arguments for their presence as allies within our
communities.

This means showing that, far from privileging
asylum-seekers, New Labour treats them just as badly
as it does the host working class. We have to show that
the poor who come here as refugees are allies of the
poor who live here already. They add to the number of
potential resisters. Fighting fascism is necessary but it
isn't, by itself, enough. We also have an opening, if
we're serious enough to take it.

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