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(en) Anti-Fascism Talk, Derry (Ireland)

From Al <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Fri, 27 Aug 2004 11:48:47 +0200 (CEST)


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The talk below was delivered by Jason Brannigan, a member
of the the Fascists Out Campaign (FOC) and the anarchist
group, Organise! in Derry on Saturday August 14th 2004
As far as presenting a response to Dave’s book that’s
sort of been sprung on the panel a bit. We have heard
an inspiring account of how anti-fascists smashed the
BNP in Rochdale and the Fascists Out Campaign agree
with the need to confront fascism ideologically and
physically. I’m going to give a brief outline of the
Fascists Out Campaign position and strategy on
combating racism and specifically fascism.
The Fascists Out Campaign was formed early in 2004 in
response to a significant rise in racist attacks, the
appearance of fascist graffiti and stickers in the
Belfast area and an widely reported, in the local
media, organising drive by the fascist White
Nationalist Party centred on the north Antrim area.
So far the campaign has attempted to counter fascist
propaganda with our own postering and leafleting of
towns we know fascists have targeted and on the 3rd of
April we physically confronted a group of fascists and
prevented them from distributing leaflets in Portrush
– which they were doing under the guise on an
anti-paedophile campaign. Material was confiscated
from the fascists that was used in later FOC
propaganda in order to expose the real nature of the
WNP.

Racism in our society is not a new phenomena, it did
not simply appear post ‘peace process’, although it
has certainly escalated. Ethnic groups have
experienced institutionalised racism and racist
attacks throughout the ‘troubles’. Travellers have
been and continue to be among the most discriminated
groups in Irish society north and south.

Roseanna from Residents Against Racism has spoken
about the experiences of that group in Dublin and has
already pointed out that much of the worst racism
stems from state racism. Likewise in the north racist
attacks and recent organising attempts by British
fascist groups in working class Loyalist areas are set
against a campaign by so-called respectable
politicians and media to demonise and criminalize
immigrants. The term “illegal immigrant” has joined
other racial slurs, becoming a general term of abuse
for ‘foreigners’ and people from ethnic communities in
the north of Ireland, Britain and the Irish Republic.

At the time the second pregnant woman was targeted by
racists in South Belfast Tony Blair was railing
against the growing numbers of women immigrants coming
to the UK as “maternity tourists” to exploit “our”
strained and under-funded health service. Was this a
coincidence? Hardly. (The same sort of scare story
was used to whip up support for the recent racist
referendum in the republic). This attack provides, as
well as an example of an appalling racist attack, an
example of how government stoke up racism to their
advantage. Diverting peoples attention from the
policies which have resulted in our health service
becoming strained and under funded by blaming illegal
immigrants, “maternity tourists”, anyone but the real
culprits in Government. Poverty, housing shortages
and unemployment have all been blamed on immigrants.

Media misrepresentations and lies, racist government
policy in relation to asylum seekers and immigrants,
growing islamophobia connected with western military
adventures in the middle east combined with the very
real problems facing working class communities provide
a spawning ground for racism and, potentially,
sustenance to organised racists and fascists. FOC
believes that racism and fascism must be confronted
from a working class perspective. We believe in
ideological and political opposition to fascism and
direct action against fascists on the streets whenever
necessary. We urge working class communities to
mobilise against racism and fascism and believe that
the only long-term solution is for people in working
class communities to come together, around common
interests, and to fight alongside each other for
better housing, facilities and the things that are
needed by all of us. It is this type of mobilisation
that can isolate fascist groups and FOC propaganda
attempts to expose the fact that fascism has nothing
to offer any working class people. In fact it
actively works to destroy working class organisation,
trades unions, and foster reaction and division.

We have pointed out that:
“The problems of low pay, cuts in services, lack of
jobs especially for young people, lack of affordable
housing etc., are not caused by immigrants. They are
caused by the current economic system that puts profit
before need and by government policies dictated by the
interests of big business.”

Since we also seek to expose the government and its
policies which provide a seed bed for fascism it
follows that we do not co-operate with the state or
police in opposing racism and fascism – particularly
given that in Northern Ireland the police are not
welcomed in any working class areas.

Groups and campaigns attempting to deal with racism
and fascism which are devoid of a class analysis, or
in which the campaign is so broad based that those
elements that profess to have a class analysis mute it
end up relying on calls for “education” and state
intervention. Calls for state intervention by
necessity have to intellectually somersault the
realities of institutionalised and state promoted
racism. They also perpetuate the dangerous myth that
there are people up there who know better than us how
to deal with these issues, increasing our
powerlessness and undermining our ability for
independent and effective action around these issues.
Calls for “education” may sound alright but these are
often satisfied in an ineffective and piecemeal
fashion, particularly when compared to government and
media onslaughts about “floods of immigrants” and
such. More worrying is the implication that racism is
simply the result of a brutish ignorance and a lack of
education and good (that is middle-class) upbringing.
This is often tied up in a “liberal” middle-class
distain for and bias against working–class people. It
also propagates the notion that middle-class people
are above racism.

We do not deny that racists and fascists are often
working-class but the racism of the state is often
much more devastating and provides acceptable terms of
reference which promotes racism while giving
sustenance to racists and far-right organisations. In
the context of a rise in racism and the far right
across Europe we must be aware that these problems are
not just local problems, they are inextricably linked
to the growth of fortress Europe and the pursuit of
what is called neo-liberalism. Cut-backs,
privatisations, attacks on the standards of living of
working class people across Europe have prompted many
governments to blame foreigners and immigrants for the
problems and hardships that their implementation of
these policies have caused. Incidentally the same
neo-liberal policies, which have done much to
devastate our communities, were implemented without
opposition the last time any of our politicians held
power in the Stormont Assembly.

We need to expose and attack the institutions that are
legitimising racism in our society; we need to take on
racist bullies, homophobes and fascists carrying out
attacks on people from ethnic minorities. To do this
we need to build independent working class resistance
that will physically and ideologically confront
fascism and oppose the system that promotes racist
scapegoating and the criminalisation of immigration.


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