Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Antifa

Trump-Biden Debate: In Defence of Antifa.

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Stand With Antifa Against Trump and the Far-Right!

It was only a few years ago that American leftists made it clear to us in Europe that ‘antifa’ was an important movement in the US, given the development of a US far-right in the wake of the triumph of Donald Trump’s national populism.

To tell the truth I was impressed not just by their politics but their culture: that pro antifas really knew in depth about stuff like football hooligans, that some of them they drank real cider and ale  in Portland pubs, and they has serious knowledge and awareness of our own fight against the far-right in Europe.

Then there is this lot:

Most of us are very far from being in favour of rioting, or see, in the way groups like the French group Lundi Matin do, some kind of serious “insurrection” in the streets emerging from the radical fringes of the Black Lives Matter protests (. La politique de l’Identité, l’intersectionnalité et le discours du privilège social constituent la dimension la plus sophistiquée du dispositif policier » contre l’insurrection américaine.).

But ‘antifa’ as its name says, is against the far-right, and the other side’s fringe, the friends of our home grown gammon and the supporters of the Brexit ‘anglosphere’. 

This is still sticking in the craw:

Followed by:

I’d suggest anybody who want to know about antifa reads this article by highly regarded activist and researcher Spencer Sunshine;

“Debunking the 3 Biggest Myths about Antifa” (end of June. 2020)

The “antifa”—or antifascist—movement has captivated the American public’s attention as of late, especially in the wake of the deadly far-right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, and clashes in Berkeley, California on August 28. But many myths about the movement have been circulated in media reports and op-eds, creating something of a moral panic about the fight against fascism. Below are three of the most pernicious myths about antifa and evidence as to why they are dangerously wrong.

MYTH # 1—Violence is at the Core of Antifa

MYTH #2—The Violence is Equal on “Both Sides”

MYTH #3 — Antifa is a Gift to the Far Right

The article should be read in full (there’s lots more on the site).

It’s evident that public resistance works when confronting far-right groups, and antifa are not the left-wing terrorists despite how they have been portrayed. And so perhaps we should ask ourselves: why are so many mainstream media sources using dishonest methods to create a folk panic about antifa, and who benefits as a result?

There’s resources in Lib-Com, including this important piece: 

“Outside agitators”, “ANTIFA”, conspiracy theories and disinformation

Read Shiraz today as well:

Donald Trump is a Fascist

Thomas Carolan

The President of the USA is a fascist who is trying to steal the 2020 Presidential election. You can soften that down to saying Trump is an “authoritarian”, or a delusional psychotic would-be king of the USA, but fascist is better: a fascist is what Trump is in his opinions and in his actions where he is free to act as he likes.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2020 at 12:16 pm

American SWP (no relation to UK SWP) Denounce “Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class.”

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Page 7: “Antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class.”

This Blog does not often comment on US politics. The earthquakes that have been happening recently have been covered from the left too well elsewhere.

There is excellent information available daily through Marx Mail, and Louis Proyect and people like Spencer Sunshine. Spencer is excellent on antifa and their fight against the US far-right.

It does not take long to imagine why there has been little comment here: conditions are dramatic and you need to be familiar with what is very different culture,  and political landscape, to write anything useful.

But this article in the very latest Militant (the original, not the UK version of years past), a Trotskyist publication which dates back to the 1930s, is too extraordinary to pass without comment.

Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class

In recent weeks there has been an escalation in deadly street violence  led by antifa and leaders of Black Lives Matter, as well as by some rightist vigilantes – from Portland, Oregon, to Kenosha, Wisconsin. The looting, intimidation, arson, street fighting, and shootings pose a deadly threat to the working class.

All summer, groups of antifa have carried out provocative nightly actions in Portland, including attacking police, setting fires and breaking windows. These actions are dangerous for working people looking for ways to resist bosses’ efforts to push the capitalist crisis onto our shoulders. They deal blows to fights by unionists, against cop brutality and for Black rights.

This is unforgivable:

As they glorify violence, the embittered middle-class forces of antifa rail against “the elite,” elevate small group action above political struggle and remain deeply alienated from the working class. They have much in common with fascist groups they claim to oppose. Others have traveled this road previously, like Italian Socialist Party leader Benito Mussolini who went on to lead fascist forces to power in 1922.

There is more in the same vein,

The violence and thuggery practiced by antifa and Black Lives Matter is the opposite of the broad, inclusive mobilizations that were organized in late May, largely by young people in thousands of towns large and small across the country in response to police brutality.

By focusing on “Actions seeking to silence, “shame” and intimidate people are on a political course toward anti-working-class thuggery” – actions few would hesitate to condemn – as if anybody is in favour of thugs –  the SWP misses the dynamic in which this is happening.

It is not hard to agree with US comrades who immediately see this part of the sentence, that in the US the “deadly street violence (is)  led by antifa and leaders of Black Lives Matter, “

In other words, they are a major cause of “violence and thuggery”.

To boot, they are not just opposed to broad demonstrations, they  have “much in common” with  Mussolini’s  squadristi.

How has it come to this?  

The American Socialist Workers Party  (SWP) is  the oldest continuous organisation in the world which comes from the Trotskyist tradition. Formally created in 1937 its origins go back to the Communist League of America (CLA) created in 29128 by opponents of Stalin who had been expelled from the US Communist Party.

Many British people on the radical left have an affection for the early years of the party whose most famous leader was  James.P.Cannon.

When you read about Trotskyism in the 1930s and 1940s, from the strike waves during the Roosevelt years, to the New York Intellectuals,  you will find many references to the SWP. One dissident faction, the. Shachtmanites, which broke from them at the start of the 1940s, even gets a mention in the Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis

This Blog comes from a different strand of the radical anti-Stalinist left, largely European. The tradition that supported workers’ self-management represented by Michel Pablo (Rapitis), was originally Trotskyist, and at frequent loggerheads with the US SWP. For some, our ideas are shaped by non-Trotskyist democratic Marxist traditions which have had roots  in such currents the London Bureau of left-socialist parties, later called the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre, the body that was behind the ILP and George Orwell’s support for the POUM during the Spanish Civil War or the 1960s New Left of  Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Low Countries.

In broader terms our  activities, our socialist, social democratic, and labour parties, and radical new leftist groups which have had an electoral presence, have an imprint that makes it hard for us to relate to a political environment where ‘left’ frequently means liberal, and the Democratic Party has marginalised anything less moderate than (in European terms) social democrats like Bernie Sanders.

Some people in the UK have had more direct contract with the SWP. Within the 1970s British left, in the International Marxist Group, the supporters of the US party ‘The Tendency’ were a vocal presence during the 1970s and continued there until the mid-1980s.  They stood for very different politics to TC, above all through its hostility to the Portuguese radical left following the 1974  ‘Carnation Revolution’. For some the activities and over-vocal presence  of this group, described even then as ‘cultish’ did not create much affection for their parent body.

The tiny fragment that remains of this group, the Communist League, is pro-Brexit and has a variety of other obnoxious positions (cosying up to Castro’s successors for a start). They are part of what is the SWP’s ‘international’, the Pathfinder tendency Careful observers sometimes spot them at demos with their characteristic hand-made placards covered with felt-tip slogans, a practice mimicked by the Spartacists. They sell Pathfinder books and copies of the US Militant.

Here is a rare photo of their ‘candidate’ for the London Mayor in 2016  (he did not run in the end) Roger Silberman, who was once quite prominent in the IMG.

Galloway Faces Strong Left Challenge as Communist League Silberman Stands for London Mayor. | Tendance Coatesy

Their US parent has moved away from Trotskyism, summed up  Jack Barnes Their Trotsky and Ours (2002) and move to turn themselves into an ally of the Cuban Communist Party. After years of purges, shrunk down to a small cult, with more than enough money to keep going and attempt to run a 2020 candidate for President, Alyson Kennedy.

In case you think that description is a bit shop-worn, this is how Louis Proyect describes their present form,

In this photograph, dated March 15, 2020, you will see a group of mostly senior citizens defying the call for social distancing. Who could they be? Rightwing Christian evangelists? Libertarians standing up for liberty?

Instead, you are looking at members of the Socialist Workers Party at a memorial meeting for one of their members who died last month. The Militant newspaper reported that more than sixty people were in attendance. That’s probably about half the membership, and 1,900 less than when I was a member back in the 1970s. What happened to all these people, including me? Most either drifted away or became victims of a purge in the early 1980s when they fought to preserve the party’s Trotskyist heritage. Over the past decade, the dropout rate accelerated mostly as a result of the party adopting increasingly peculiar positions. Of the remaining 100 or so, their activism mostly consists of going door to door like Jehovah’s Witnesses peddling the books and newspapers of what most would view as a cult.

The SWP and Social Distancing: a Study in Abnormal Political Psychology

This is the SWP’s present perspective,

It is in the course of these fights and broader struggles in the years ahead working people will learn how to defend ourselves in disciplined ways from assaults by the bosses and cops who protect their rule. And we will see more clearly the middle-class character and dangerous anti-working-class course of antifa and the Black Lives Matter leadership.

As we do so we’ll gain confidence in our own forces and have the opportunity to build a movement capable of bringing an end to capitalist rule and replacing it with our own government.

Some suggest that they have just got older and more conservative with the years….

******

Some links: USA: On the Formation of the Jack Barnes Cult in the SWP Gus Horowitz.

USA – SWP: Long March to Oblivion David Finkel.

More than a cultist. Andrew Coates reviews Memoirs of a Critical Communist. Towards a History of the Fourth International, by Livio Maitan.

Extract:

 The American Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the UK SWP), the oldest Trotskyist party in the world, and an influence on the celebrated list of 1930s New York Intellectuals, under the impact of Jack Barnes today subordinates its politics to the Cuban state. Maitan charges them with their leader’s ‘authoritarian behaviour’ and purging their group by accusations of ‘disloyalty’. He does not explore allegations of ‘cultism’ and ‘Trotskyist missionaries’ common to those who have had contact with them in Europe.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Trump to Designate ‘Antifa’ a “Terrorist Organisation”. What *is* Antifa?

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Radical Left Rejects Trumps Wild Claims.

 

There are claims that the “radical left” is behind the unrest in the USA.

This has been the headline grabbing announcement.

The claims have got stronger as the day dawns.

They’ve already got around the world.

The New York Times reports just now,

Amid a rush to assign blame for violence and vandalism, accusations that extremists or outside agitators were behind the destruction ricocheted online and on the airwaves.

But,

“..few of those pointing the finger at extremists presented much detailed evidence to support the accusations, and some officials conceded the lack of solid information.”

The NYT continues in this sceptical vein.

The point is best made here:

 

Spencer Sunshine is a highly respected activist and writer on the far right, with direct experience in the United States of confronting the alt-right, in its various radical forms.

Last year he wrote, after an earlier manufactured panic, the following article,

Antifa Panic

The United States is having its third wave of “Antifa panic” in as many years. Donald Trump’s 27 July tweet called for Antifa—short for antifascist activists—to be declared “a major Organization of Terror”.

Antifa is not an organisation at all, but a decentralised, leaderless movement that opposes fascism and the far-right. Although most of its work is legal and non-violent, the movement is best known for occasional street fights with extremists.

Recently in the US, Antifa has become a bogeyman among conservatives, like 1950s anti-Communism.

Numerous conspiracy theories have moved into the conservative mainstream and today Trump repeats propaganda that, until recently, could be only heard among neo-Nazis.

Spencer Sunshine
 

Spencer made this point, which is about as farseeing as you could possibly get:

These conspiracy theories include claims that Antifa was going to start a civil war; caused a train derailmentdesecrate graves, and inspired a mass shooter.

Antifa panic points out the European origins of the movement, outlines the development of the far-right, from the French nouvelle droite, identitarianism, and the way the groups were inspired by the German militant activists began by forming “crews” (as in the English expression) to fight Nazis at punk rock gigs in the 1980s.

In this millennium.

The new wave of Antifa was catalysed by a 20 January 2017 protest at Trump’s inaugural rally in Washington, DC.

Here, the traditional left-wing inauguration protest included a black bloc—a normal occurrence, comparable to European May Day rallies. But the black bloc was branded as “Antifa.”

Nearby, Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer was punched on camera, and the video went viral.

During this time, the Alt-Right turned from an internet phenomenon to a force capable of large street mobilisations. A series of clashes between far-right and radical left protestors kicked off around the country.

This continued through August 2017, when a fascist-led rally in Charlottesville, Virginia ended with a car attack on an Antifa march.

Antifa’s reputation has bounced up and down in the press. Praise after the inauguration protest was followed by disparagement, and post-Charlottesville adoration was followed by condemnation.

The current wave is the third round of mainstream attacks on Antifa.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the piece is the distinction between antifa and the Black Bloc.

This is important and illustrates the deliberate confusion between the two manufactured by Trump and his allies.

Yesterday this Blog posted on the strategies of the groups inspired by Lundi Matin, and their celebration of the violent “casseurs” during Gilets Jaunes marches. We suggested that some ‘autonomists may see in US violent protests, even pillaging, parallel revolutionary efforts.

It is equally the case that French anti-fascists, many of whom were amongst the first to point to the dubious tolerance by the Gilets Jaunes of far rightists and the equally tolerant stand of some of the present day followers of L’insurrection qui vient and conspiracy-mongering red-browners , make the same distinction.

Anifa is about being against the far right, not indulging in violent dreams of creating autonomous spaces that prefigure a revolution. 

Antifa, this US video points out, is not the Black Bloc.

The NYT also brings up the issue of far-right involvement,

 

Members of hate groups or far-right organizations filmed themselves, sometimes heavily armed or waving extremist symbols, at demonstrations in at least 20 cities in recent days, from Boston to Buffalo to Richmond, Va., to Dallas to Salem, Ore.

A common nickname for their anticipated second Civil War is the “boogaloo,” which sometimes gets mutated into the “Big Igloo” or the “Big Luau,” prompting its adherents to wear Hawaiian shirts. Many of them use Facebook to organize despite the company’s May 1 announcement that it would remove such content.

This Blog is no specialist on the US far right, but this does seem to resemble some of the lurid scenarios of their European counterparts. Guillaume Faye in particular his “, Why we Fight – manifesto of the European resistance (2011) and the (posthumous), Guerre civile raciale (2019) Faye was prone to predict wars between a variety of forces leading the great replacement’ and the indigenous Europeans. This “catastrophism” rather than the detail of Fayes prediction, seems to chime with the present alt-right mood.

Above all its the idea of creating “ethnospheres”, “groups of territories ruled by peoples who are ethnically related” that may be taking hold in these quarters. Faye is said to have had a real influence on the US far right (Key Thinkers of the Radical RightBehind the New Threat to Liberal Democracy. Edited by Mark Sedgwick. Oxford 2019).

The Red Brown Spiked site has already welcomed protests against lby the far-right Spanish Vox party:

Spain is in revolt against the lockdown

Over a million fines have been handed out against lockdown rule-breakers. This dissent is welcome.

 On 23 May, tens of thousands of people, in over 50 towns and city centres across Spain, took to their cars to protest at the PSOE / Unidas Podemos government’s handling of the corona crisis. Madrid, Barcelona, Cadiz, Cordoba, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Pamplona, Sevilla, Valladolid, Valencia, Zaragoza and others, which have been ghostly quiet for weeks, came momentarily back to life. The caravana protest was called by Vox, the right-wing populist party.

It will be interesting to see how UK red-brown supporters react to the US unrest, something about which Spiked is uncharacteristically quiet.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2020 at 10:33 am