[Left. the now defunct AFA (now Anti Nazi Action?). Nice macho logo - '... and he's black' (Alan Partridge). The Black Exotic doing what the White Oppressor can never do. Right: some sexy 'anti-fascist' violence in Dresden. Good violence.]
Beating the Fascists: The untold story of Anti-Fascist Action, by Sean Birchall (Freedom Press), reviewed by Ben Aylott
Beating the Fascists is a highly readable and uncompromising account of two decades of militant anti-fascism with important lessons for today. Beginning with the background to the formation of the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) [a SWP-run group, just like UAF] in the late 1970s and the expulsion of the ‘squaddist’ street-fighters from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1981 [just like Mussolini’s squadristi], Birchall takes us on a tour of the following 20 years of Anti Fascist Action (AFA).
The book is a real page-turner, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. The description of the often brutal treatment of the fascists at the hands of the militants is graphic to the point of absurdity at times. But Birchall also has some serious points to make. [This all leads to the obvious conclusion that anti-fascists are often, or always, actually (red) fascists. They are the exact mirror image of the ‘fascists’ – who are often not fascists anyway. The only differences are irrelevant pieces of ideology. But even these ideological differences cannot be relied on in these days of rabid far-left anti-Semitism and the joint tours of the far right and far left to poor Palestine.
You can also say that ‘anti-fascists’, or red fascists, only fight fascists because they are the only people who will fight them. Thus the fascists and the red fascists use each other to prove their own (political) machismo.]
There is a sense of setting the record straight: principally in Birchall’s argument that AFA, and the militant anti-fascism it espoused, had the most devastating impact on fascism in mainland Britain in the period and that it directly contributed to the BNP’s eventual retreat, in the mid 1990s, from the Mosleyite dogma of the necessity of controlling the streets. [Yet red fascists, such as the SWP, have the same dogma of ‘the necessity of controlling the streets’ – Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, eh?] Indeed, Birchall claims a continuity between AFA and the 43 Group of Jewish ex-servicemen, who confronted Mosley’s attempts at a fascist resurgence in the immediate post-war period.
The publication of this book has inevitably been controversial, not least because of its critical account of ‘constitutional’ anti-fascist organisations, in particular the SWP. [You cannot be anti-fascist without the SWP’s permission. More importantly, the SWP believes that you cannot really be anti-fascist without also being a Trot or a red fascist. Otherwise you ‘don’t understand the Marxist theory’ that's behind anti-fascism.] Its recurring criticism of the British left in general is that it is largely to blame for the alienation of working-class voters who are getting behind the BNP, an argument that has taken on renewed relevance in the debate about the significance and role of the English Defence League. [Yes. It’s quite simple. The SWP will never get much support from a class which, deep down, it despises. After all, what has been the essence of the Marxist relation to the British working class over the last 60 years or so? That Marxists, or the SWP, want to fundamentally change what and who the working class are. Firstly by making them revolutionaries; and then by all the things which follow on from this (such as reading the Guardian and Socialist Worker exclusively, becoming lecturers and social workers, stopping going to pubs and starting going to demos, etc.). Becoming RoboTrots, in other words.
The Fabians, of course, always hated the working class and didn’t really hide their snobby attitude. Hence their strong desire, in the 1910s and 1920s, to implement eugenics programmes that would have made the later Nazis blush. This was a eugenics programme aimed not at a race or an ethnic group, but at a class – the British working class!
Since the SWP has put all its sad faith in Muslims to bring about their Revolution, perhaps it will attempt to revive the Fabian policy of the eugenic destruction of the ‘obscenely white’ working class. Then again, wasn’t this why the Labour Party allowed mass immigration without the consent of the working class?]