Stand Up To Racism/Unite Against Fascism (which I will treat as interchangeable from this point) already has a less than stellar reputation among anti-fascists, and their behaviour on the mobilisation against Tommy Robinson on the 9th of December has done nothing to challenge that reputation. As a participant in that mobilisation, my ground level experience of events is obviously incomplete and even before that day I had no love for the Socialist Worker Party, which Stand Up To Racism is widely agreed to be a front organisation for, but what I did see was a stab in the back of the broader anti-fascist movement involved in the mobilisation.
But before the events of the day, some background…
In our continuing attempt to monitor the draconian and repressive laws afflicting our comrades in Spain, we are glad to recently have received this piece of news translated from this webpage.
“The National Court signed the release order after eighteen days decreeing his imprisonment in Soto del Real. Judge Juan Pablo Gonzalez, after analysing the documentation prepared by the Mossos, ordered the release on bail to the tune of 8,000 euros Enrique Costoya, neighbor Santos, labour lawyer of the CNT and anarchist activist, jailed since October 30 .
He spent three weeks in the prison of Soto del Real, after the riot police and the General Information Office stormed his home the morning of October 28, as part of the second phase of Operation Pandora. They confiscated books, posters and supplies . It is expected he is to leave the prison early in the afternoon. Since Procés Embat Elissa Group and San Andres de Palomar have posted tweets where they gave a ‘welcome’.”
A short insight to how ludicrous and repressive the laws are in Spain facing protest can be gleamed from a New York Times piece in April of this year.
If there is something which should be at the core of anarchist politics and organising, its internationalism. We’re opposed to global capitalism and narrow chauvinism and this goes all the way back to the founding of the Anarchist International at St. Imier and further. Following the global pangs brought about by the ruling classes neo-liberal offensive with the banking crisis, we have seen new collectives and battlefronts formed in struggle not only in the Middle East, but further afield in South America. Which hold important prospects for the struggle for free communism.
Areas either new to anarchism, or where libertarian ideas have possibly thawed for one factor or another have come to fruition. When the Anarchist Federation heard that a collective had formed in Central American and the Caribbean (FACC) we jumped at the opportunity to build up relations and form contact with them. Especially since our international – the IAF is branching out into new territories beyond the narrow confines of Europe.
Cuba, which is something of an epicentre for this new group, holds a number of prestigious positions in particular; it is a place where anarchism has had a illustrious history; it is nominally still an ‘existing socialist society’ and contains all the contradictions and difficulties one can imagine in terms of organising there and disorientating leftists, furthermore it is going to be subject to rapid change with the opening up of markets to America, under the auspices of thawing US-Cuba relations for tourism.
What is interesting to note is that the comrades not only understand the transition, but have managed to traverse the historical contradictions imposed by their “socialist” society to develop very sharp political insights in otherwise unenviable circumstances as well develop their own regional support network.
In terms of the logistics, the AF organised for a five point national tour pretty much the length and breadth of the UK (with an additional date added later due to popularity) with the tour beginning with the London Anarchist Bookfair. Many of the dates we are glad to convey were packed out with interesting questions and discussions being had. The London bookfair meeting in particular proved so popular people were being turned away because of the room’s capacity!
In terms of the opportunity it offered to the comrades from the FACC, it was an immense opportunity. The FACC in general, operating in a very political restrictive environment, and are very dependent on international solidarity. While at the same time one of the key focuses of the Cuban contingent has been to try and secure a base of operations in a popular neighbourhood in Havana – which we are wishful and supportive of. Please visit and support here.
Sometimes our International does tremendous work secretly squirreling away supporting various initiatives with resources and solidarity, this was a nice opportunity to showcase something of that work’s fruition. Although the venture was nominally challenging in terms of resources for our modest organisation, the tour allowed the FACC comrade to build-up extensive and wider contacts, as well as bring internationalism to the fore by documenting their comrades’ insightful and inspiring experience of organising in their region whether it was LGBT work, responding to regressive labour reforms, discussing the legacy of racism, supporting their comrades’ response to jingoism/chauvism or organising a libertarian themed library and book-fair.
A video and recordings of the tour are available here.
Our heartfelt thanks should be expressed for all individuals and collectives that made this venture possible.
The Clatpon Ultras have carved out something of a spectacle in East London at the Old Spotted Dog football ground, whilst managing to espouse progressive class politics and having fun at the same time. Clapton FC it should be noted has had something of an illustrious social history (see Walter Tull and clubs history) but the team is a historical non-league club. Their gates are hitting a considerable following after having something of a cult status, and they’re now regularly getting mainstream press attention, which is not bad considering they’re in the 9th tier of English football.
But with the unprecendented ‘success’ has come attention from the far-right and a fair few criticisms from the left of them being poseurs….
One AF comrade had chance to pick the brain of an anonymous Ultra.
Q. Whats the story behind Clapton Ultras? Where did it all start from?
Well it kind of come from two angles really. It was when some of us got together who have a love for football, football fans culture across the world, lefty politics and drinking. It stemmed obviously from attending matches and bringing your friends. Then went on to some tongue in cheeks stickers, online posters and flags. From there we began to get a lot of support from the non league community, an already established Clapton supporters group called Friends of Clapton and a lot of people that wanted to support our anti fascist stance.
Q. Is it all about football first and foremost?
In a word ‘yes’. Everything that we do comes from that. I think any our good work in community like foodbanks, anti raids rights info sharing, community football tournaments would be illegitimate if we weren’t football first and foremost.
Q. The games have been billed as ‘Football for all’. What does this mean in practice?
Good question. For me, it’s about inclusiveness and to encourage people from our community to come along. Particularly those that not gone to football because they don’t feel that’s it a welcoming experience. It’s also a generational thing, parents may have had bad experiences (ie. Racism, sexism etc) with football fans so discourage their children to attend games. We push that so we can challenge how football culture is and demonstrate how it can be. I cant stress enough, this is a personal perspective and I don’t speak for CU on this, but I think problems are occurring with this stance because we find that people come along for the “Clapton experience”. In its self is fine, but when that becomes the dominate culture in the Scaffold then we become a joke, largely because these people don’t really sing and don’t really give a shit if we win or lose. Of course there is an element of irony, we are a team in a league above park teams, but we love the club and really want the local guys on the pitch to do well. This is what I want to be the reason for a vocal support, not for some shitty Instagram posts.
Q. What are your thoughts on anti-fascist ultras organising at bigger mainstream clubs?
Yeah in England I am only sure of Villa and Middlesbrough being visible anti facsist. The problem is that it brings a lot of attention from fash groups and you need to be able to stand your ground (I’m not saying that in that dodgy Green Street accent). I completely get why people wouldn’t want that trouble when you just wanna watch a game. A lot of the grief from somewhere like West Ham wouldn’t actually come not from fash but from “keep politics out of football” types (of course this is typically white men). When smaller clubs ask for advice, we make sure they are aware of the very real threat from fash if they have an antifa stance. Now that is not to discourage them but to ensure they are informed about potential consequences (and we don’t want fash to get a victory over unsuspecting well intended fans).
Q. The supporters have garnered controversy on both the left and right. Why?
I can only speak from a personal perspective (we don’t really have spokes people), but essentially I think it’s because we don’t do neutrality. Generally to be neutral is to side with the oppressors. We take sides and we stand firm with those we support.
We are visibly opposed to fascism, and it tends to piss off the racists. That is very simplistic but that is essentially it. I think the right feel they have football, and matches their macho image of themselves. People who embrace hooligan and casual culture in England tends to see themselves as apolitical but there are many fash sympathisers amongst them who have targeted us and built us up as some kind of ‘firm’ (which isn’t true, as anyone who has been to a game will tell you). But thankfully with the support of the community and local anti fascist groups, we have managed the threats and attacks ok.
Q. Is there anything else to add?
One of the nicest things I read about Clapton Ultras was this guy talking about how the Scaffold was chaotic but strangely self governed. Lots of alcohol flying about, pyro going off with lots of singing and dancing. When opposition fans went on to the pitch, no one battered an eyelid, they went back to their friends more or less straight away without much fuss. There are no police or stewards. Add in to the mix the opposition to sexism, racism and homophobia, then it’s a pretty fun day for all.
The Spanish state has been continuing repression against anarchists for some time, initially in the form of Operation Pandora then Operation Piñata. So fearful is the Spanish state of a generalised militancy by the working class, that it has sought to gag libertarian militants involved in wide ranging work and activities with ludicrous anti-terror laws in a bid to avoid mass opposition to austerity as is happening in Greece.
As our comrades in the FAI have indicated in the growing face of the repression faced by anarchists “The intent seems clear: the State is a terrorist organisation that is sustained through violence.”
In response to this a demonstration was called against the Spanish embassy on the evening of Saturday 14th November. A good sizable turnout saw members of Essex Zapatista Solidarity Group, Collectivo Anti-Capitalista Londres, the Anarchist Federation and Solidarity Federation turn out to express opposition to the continuing repression against our Spanish comrades.
[What follows is a personal report on the national mobilisation against the White Man March]
The day started off brightly, in both terms of the weather and of moral. Various anti-fascist groups from around the country began the day by meeting up at St Luke’s church in Liverpool. They were also joined by members and supporters of the UAF, Trade Unions, Love Activists and other groups.
The meeting point was an old church that had been bombed out during the war by the Nazis, a rather apt meeting point then considering the history of the church. The irony should not be lost when hundreds of people meet up at a church, a church previously bombed by pilots of the Luftwaffe, subscribers of hate and of Hitler’s ideology, to set off on a march opposing some of the same ideas that people had then, as unfortunately, a very small group of people do now – support.
By the time the march set off, it is fair to say there were at least 300 to 400 in attendance.
The aim of the day was to stop the march at any cost, the White Man March, a march which had been organised by a group called National Action (NA). It was rumoured that up to 150 nasty, small minded and openly racist members of NA would turn up in Liverpool and would march through the streets waving their fascist flags and shouting racial slurs.
Now 150 may not sound a lot in comparison to the 460,000 residents of Liverpool, but would you want 150 openly racist, fascist and Hitler adoring moronic members of a far right group traipsing unchallenged through your town?
Amidst a sea of banners and red flags, chants were shouted a plenty. It was great to see so many locals of Liverpool either clapping in support and or joining the march itself as we walked from St Luke’s through the town and up to Liverpool Lime Street station. Intelligence received was that some of the fascists were in the Wetherspoons pub, The North Western by the station. Soon a sea of anti-fascists were lined up outside, although they were unable to gain access due to the Police blocking all entrances and ‘protecting’ the fascists whilst they were in the pub.
More intelligence came through that a group of fascists were in the station itself. This indeed was true; a group of fascists were surrounded for their own protection by the police were outside the stations left luggage shop (now the subject of much derision). They were soon surrounded by a very large crowd of anti-fascists trying to push their way through to get at the fascists. Various objects such as water bottles, eggs and bananas were hurled in their direction, many of these objects hitting their desired targets!
The fascists proceeded to retreat inside the shop; it was at this point that the shutters came down on the left luggage shop, thereby trapping/protecting the fascists inside. After a period of time, the fascists were then bundled out of a side entrance of the station while under heavy police protection in to police vans and taken away from the scene for their own safety. Also in the station was one of the leaders/speakers of the NA, who not only got his notebook taken from him, but also was confronted by various anti-fascists until the police intervened.
Outside of all of this, another leader of the NA was also being confronted; he had milk thrown all over him for his troubles. He was then bundled into the back of a police van and driven away for his own protection. While all this was going on, a group of 5/6 fascists, one who believed to be activists involved in National Front (NF) were crossing the road near the train station, seemingly trying to get to the safety of the Wetherspoons pub, The North Western.
They were confronted by a group of ant-fascists who soon surrounded the group, this essentially stopping them from going anywhere. The police seeing this quickly intervened, not before an exchange of pleasantries took place. The police then proceeded to walk the group up the street and to the police vans parked at the back of the station. The swell of anti-fascists soon got quite big and had surrounded both the police and the fascists as they walked up the street. There was lots of pushing and shoving and insults aimed at the fascists, with this culminating in lots of exchanges. These measures only stopped once more when police arrived on foot and on horseback. The police then proceeded to bundle the fascists in to a police wagon and then drive off. This then left only a handful of fascists in The North Western, who again were also surrounded and protected by the police as they were escorted out of the pub, again in to police wagons and driven off for their own safety.
The police tried to start a rumour that the NA had indeed cancelled their march and that we should perhaps start to leave the area, instead the anti-fascists made their way down to Pier Head, the site of the NA’s march starting point. A huge convoy of anti-fascists made their way down to Pier Head singing songs, shouting chants and waving their flags. It was a great sight to see.
There was easily a 1000 or so on the march as once again the anti-fascists took to the streets of Liverpool and marched their way through the city. During the march whilst taking the time to talk to some Liverpudlians, there was talk of how quite a few had never been to anything like this before i.e. an anti-fascist march. They spoke of how proud they felt that Liverpool had shown the door to the fascists and had made it clear that any form of fascism and or racism definitely had no place whatsoever in their great city.
Once the march had reached Pier Head, a great cheer went up. The fascists were nowhere to be seen, instead all that stood was a huge mass of people cheering and waving flags and congratulating each other on the success of how the fascists were well and truly smashed and booted out of Liverpool as fast as they came. The march culminated with flags being flown, smoke bombs being let off and a rousing rendition of “we are the reds” with hundreds of anti-fascists joining in and jumping up and down.
For further reports see the Anti-fascist Network.
The terrible tragedy that befell the Turkish town of Suruc following an ISIS inspired suicide bomber on Monday 20 July has had undoubtedly massive repercussions. Social media is awash with accusations against the ruling party, there have been major disturbances in Turkey and already retaliations have begun.
The gathering at Suruc was called to look at the possible reconstruction of Kobane, which lies approximately 15 km south on the other side of the Syrian border. Kobane until recently had an ISIS presence. The meeting was called by the Marxist-Leninist Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) the youth wing of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP). Just prior to the bombings they had declared that “The children of Gezi [the park riots of a few years prior] are gathered in Suruc’s Amara Cultural Center to go to Kobani.” Little did they anticipate what was to follow.
What we also know is that of the 300 present there was an international contingent including a member from Black Rose/IWW who were there to offer solidarity and they have put together a well circulated statement. Of the 32 who have now been declared dead, two have also been connected to Turkeys – Anarchist Initiative (Anarşist Komünist Inisiyatif/AKI) who have thrown themselves into a spate of solidarity actions.
We should all be deeply moved by their loss. If ever ISIS wanted a fitting summary to its heartless carnage it was in attacking a youth mobilisation hoping to bring a little relief after such misery to region.
The Kurdish and Turkish community of London wasted no time in mobilising its grief against the tragedy. The response the next day resulted in an inspirational display of thousands amongst which we numbered amongst a small contingent of anarchists and anti-fascists offering our sombre reflection on the terrible recent events. Vigils were held and rumour had it the police had the audacity to pester people about burning an ISIS flag. Nothing better to do, eh?
There are further attempts to co-ordinate actions around the weekend. Saturday and possibly Sunday.
Some commented numbers were slightly down on the year previous when the RMT threw their weight behind the Mayday march after Bob Crows death. On the way to the rallying point people would have come across an SWP banner emblazoned with “Hands off Tower Hamlets”. They’re consistent, if nothing else, we should give them that.
Starting off at Clerkenwell Green, you were overwhelmed by the 57 varieties of Stalinism both overseas and domestic. When one looks overseas, you have serious militancy being shown on Mayday; there is a worry that the British equivalent is being turned into a historical re-enactment society being led by the bureaucratic trade union wing of the labour movement.
There were smatterings of union banners and housing campaigns, but alongside that you had ample banners with Stalin and even on one occasion Soviet-era style military formation marching with flags. Agh, working class regimentation, just what we need! But anarchists weren’t about to be undone with the pointless A to B marches and a half empty Trafalgar Square.
At 4pm there was an initiation to briefly occupy Tower Bridge to highlight the lack of social housing and the continuing gentrification/social cleansing of London. Recent reports suggest fifty thousand have been pushed out of London because of the increased cost of living.
A large contingent of activists were able to take the bridge stopping peak-time traffic accompanied by flares and then impromptu like snake around to London Bridge with a large police escort before scattering to the four winds at the other end of London Bridge.
After a brief restbite from the occupation of the bridge, the Mayday evenings, happenings, were put together by Class War under the auspices of their widely touted ‘Fuck Parade’. In Germany, apparently ‘Fuck Parade’ is a counter-cultural festival with anti-gentrification flushes to allow city dwellers to express a sense of community in places where they’re being squeezed out. Starting off near Aldgate East a large crowd of several hundred revellers started off with a make-shift sound system before spilling out into the road. There was concern that the police would confiscate the sound-system, but they must have thought better than taking on the crowd.
From Aldgate East the crowd took the long almost sporadic journey to Soho Square, avoiding the various ambushes of the entourage of police who followed them, taking in the capitals sights while avoiding mass arrests. The police were of course on hand to protect various assets from protests along the way including Southwark Council offices and oddly a pub full of what, I assume, were bankers.
The entourage encountered a lot of questions on its way around. A major criticism is that more could have been done to explain to all and sundry with either literature or banners what the full purpose of the march was, but sufficient people showed an interest and conversations were had. And some people did join us on route.
After a trek and half the make shift sound system and followers ended up a convergence hub just off Soho Square, put together by the Squatters Homeless Autonomous (SHA) crew to highlight the 74,000 empty properties in London. No doubt the powers that be will prioritise their removal, above any of the progressive demands being put forward on social housing.
All in all the day was a militant display for Mayday. With a bit of forward thinking we can rescue the whole sordid affair from the dustbin of history where some would happy it was confined.
Remember the dead, fight for the living!