Anti-Fascist March in London
The ‘Democratic Football Lads Alliance’ (DFLA) which is a far right ultranationalist grouping held a march through London on Saturday 13th October. There were two anti-fascist counter demonstrations in response to this. It was not a great success for the far right group. However this should not lead to complacency. There were about 2000 anti-fascists and about 1,500 DFLA marchers so there was only a small majority of anti-fascists. The most obvious problem was that the counter demo was split and no attempt was made for it to become unified at any point. The so-called official demo was organised by ‘Stand Up to Racism’ (SUTR) which is dominated by the Socialist Workers Party and acts as a front for their local groups in most cases. It is where this disgraced group channels most of its political energies. The SUTR aim is on focussing on racism in an abstract, legalist sense. There is no reference to imperialism and the material basis of the reproduction of racist ideology. The main activities on their demos is to give platforms for Labour politicians, trade union and religious leaders. The SUTR demo on 13th October had a stage set up for this purpose. It in no way challenges the system which gives rise to fascism but it does provide support for the imperialist state by encouraging reformist illusions in legal changes to tackle superficial manifestations of racism. This is not to say that all the participants in the SUTR demo share the SWP’s politics. The SUTR organisers made sure that the demo was a platform for reformism and moralising. But there were good examples of anti-fascist groups attending such as Solstar Sports club and the Football Lads Against Fascism.
There was another unofficial demonstration beginning from the BBC Headquarters at Portland Place. It can be assumed that because the SUTR, as with all SWP dominated fronts, is so difficult to work with that the less reformist minded anti-fascists found it necessary to organise a separate march. This march did have the explicit goal of diverting and stopping the DFLA march. This was billed on social media as the ‘Unity Demo’. This demo had serious antifascists organised such as London Antifa, but they were a minority. There was what appeared to be a carnival atmosphere including the handing out of free vegan food. This was hardly appropriate considering how serious the struggle against fascism should be taken. If anything they should have handed out bottles or bricks! The demo was dominated by groups expressing liberalism and identity politics. Some of the marchers appeared more interested in displaying their various identities rather then preparing for a struggle.
Due to the eclectic nature of this demo it is questionable whether many of the participants, with the exception of Antifa, would have been prepared for a major confrontation. Fighting fascism is a very serious business and we should be remember the type of action which was required to beat back Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists at Cable Street, East London in 1936. The Communist International produced a manual in the 1930s which explained to cadres how to get tooled up to defeat the fascists.
However these demonstrations did disrupt the DFLA demo, although there was a heavy police presence in advance between the two demonstrations. We cannot rely on the police to fight fascists. The two counter demonstrations did clash with the DFLA supporters who shouted abuse and threats. However many were old and looked rather unhealthy and did not make physical attacks against the anti-fascists which they had an opportunity to do. The younger members appeared more interested in attacking the police which suggests there was a strong element of football hooliganism as well. In future there needs to be better attempts at unity among those opposing fascism. Also there must be a rejection of reformist platforms for Labour politicians and a serious disciplined approach to opposing far right marches must be adopted and not a carnival of identity politics. There needs to also be longer term strategy which involves going to working class areas and listening to people’s concerns and putting forward revolutionary politics instead of telling them to vote for their exploiters.