Fascism the world over is essentially a middle-class ideology based on nationalism, capitalism, obedience and snobbery. British fascists express this ideology by hating whichever minority is convenient at the time. Fascists appear to have no knowledge of what the word ‘scapegoat’ means. They usually harp on about their Christian credentials and so hate Jews, ignoring the fact that Jesus and the disciples were all Jewish. They usually hate immigrants, ignoring the fact that all British people are descended from one immigrant group or another. They usually hate trade unions, ignoring the fact that life without them was “nasty, brutish and short”. They usually hate homosexuals, ignoring the fact that probably ten per cent of their membership are gay. They usually hate Irish Catholics, ignoring the fact that most European fascists sympathetically regard the Irish Catholics as the ‘Nationalist Freedom Fighters’. They usually hate Indians and Africans, ignoring the fact that if all the English who have emigrated to Asia and Africa (and Australia and America) came back there would be about 100 million more people squeezed onto this island. And in modern times they usually hate asylum-seekers ignoring the fact that right-wing policies like theirs caused all the problems in the first place.
To be honest I don’t think you can ever reason with fascists. They believe, in their hearts, in inequality – as we believe, in our hearts, in equality. Maybe it is something we learn on our Daddy’s knee. It is like the foundation of your personality which few people ever change, and no amount of skilful argument will alter. Our job is simply to keep the fascists disorganised and defensive, not hope to convert them. Nevertheless, a few ex-NF have come over to our side, and they tend to become the best type of anti-fascists.
British fascists themselves seem to be a proper hotch-potch of weirdoes, paedophiles, social misfits and egomaniacs. These are the sort of people who (to quote Jeremy Hardy) think being born white is some kind of achievement. They are always struggling to unite their forces, then having splits because there are too many Chiefs and not enough Indians (well you know what I mean!). It is odd that they always go on about being ‘tough with law and order’ because by that criteria half their membership would be in prison.
It must be said that the fascists don’t have a very good record in the courage department. They often like the skinhead haircut, bomber jacket and Doc Martens to look hard, but they rarely ‘walk the walk’. Of course large groups of them like to attack vulnerable targets, but if they expect some opposition they are not so brave. At Hyde Park once three coachloads of them (i.e. 100-150) jumped off their buses and came screaming towards 20 AFA comrades who stood their ground. As the fascists got nearer some started to lag behind, then the leaders slowed to a jog, then a walk, then they just stood at a distance shouting abuse until the police arrived. Wankers.
Nevertheless, the various fascist organisations still manage to attract quite a few lads who like having a ruck. They are very useful to the capitalist system particularly in times of industrial strife (divide and rule). Throughout the world fascist groups are used unofficially by governments and/or employers to attack trade unionists and human rights activists. Look for example at Northern Ireland, Turkey, Guatemala, or even Tottenham 1995 (JJ Foods strike – see Appendix 2). Despite the smallish size of the fascist parties they do have a massive knock-on influence over the policies of the large mainstream political parties all over Europe, whether in power or out. The mainstream parties adopt half of the policies of the fascist parties in order to steal their thunder, and to placate tabloid editors – scruples don’t come into it! In 1979 Thatcher adopted half the policies of the National Front and promptly got elected.
As a teenager, open to new ideas, I once bought a copy of National Front News from a cheerful skinhead outside Borough tube station. I had a good read, and found it interesting that their opposition to American nuclear weapons in Britain coincided with mine. The idea of belonging to something a bit dangerous and controversial is quite attractive to some people. There is the possibility of a bit of action, and people do like to fight for a cause to give their lives some meaning. So it is easy to see how the Far Right could look exciting to rebellious youngsters.
Another appeal of fascism is that it seems to give ‘power’ to the average down-trodden white geezer. This power can be expressed formally in marches through multi-ethnic areas, or informally by gangs of fascists or racists roaming about looking for isolated black or Asian people to attack. They even glory in these cowardly attacks and call them ‘Anti-Mugging Patrols’. Never mind that its ten pissed-up lads against one or two school-kids or pensioners. If they go unchallenged they soon feel that they ‘own’ the local streets, i.e. that it is their manor, and that mentality encourages them into more attacks.
It is the prevention and control of this situation that AFA tackled. Whenever we heard that the fascists were mobilising for a march, public meeting or other event we would also mobilise, often at very short notice, and attempt to give them a pasting. The idea was that they would not feel safe to walk the streets. Iron bars, wooden poles and bricks were sometimes used, but generally just fists and boots. This usually resulted in just cuts and bruises, but more importantly damaged their delusions of grandeur and fragile macho egos.
The fascists have no fear of the larger middle-class socialist groups such as the SWP, RCP, WRP, The Labour Party, etc. I could quote a hundred examples of those organisations’ cowardice and hypocrisy. So I suppose it is ironic that the fascists and the real anti-fascists (i.e. us) are united in our contempt for trendy lefties.