How should we resist the BNP.

70 posts / 0 new
Last post
ronald
Offline
Joined: 15-04-09
Apr 15 2009 16:59
How should we resist the BNP.

I live in an area where the BNP have become increasingly active. They have been posting leaflets through letterboxes and setting up a stall in the town centre (usually manned by about 4 people).

I have been thinking about the best way to counter them. Is it right to physically prevent them from carrying out their activities? Is so, what does this mean? How, for example, do you stop them leafleting? As i understand it is lawful for them to do so. What can you do about their town centre stalls?

I always think that you need a positive alternative message in order to persuade people not to go with the BNP. People don't generally warm to blanket negative denouncements or the screaming of "Nazi" at BNP activists. The reality on the ground is that these BNP stalls are manned by people who really look quite harmless, they are not generally young thugs. It is really quite pointless in telling people a couple of pensioners with a 'respectable' looking middle aged man are Nazi thugs responsible for racist attacks.

flaneur's picture
flaneur
Offline
Joined: 25-02-09
Apr 16 2009 09:46

If you feel yourself able to confront them physically, in any of their activities, I would say do so. Given, as you've said, their respectable image these days, they are unlikely to want to be kicking off in public.

The alternative message, albeit slightly negative if you're fond of the BNP, is that they cannot offer workers anything differing to what we've currently got. Infact, it would be far worse.

I think in many cases, people turn to fascism, wanting a radical anti-state perspective. This is where anarchism should be.

ronald
Offline
Joined: 15-04-09
Apr 16 2009 10:09

Physical confrontation? Do you think there should be any boundaries to this approach? I am struggling to understand whether it is right to actually physically assault them (apart from in self defence). Of course what any anti-facist is comfortable with doing is their individual choice but would you, for instance, be OK with steaming into the BNP people while they are distributing their leaflets. Even if you do assault them, how far do you go, would it be OK to actually murder them if you were sure you would get away with it.

back2front's picture
back2front
Offline
Joined: 15-03-09
Apr 16 2009 12:02

The BNP are certainly gaining in momentum given the political vaccum caused by the revelation that Neo-Labour are no different than the Tories (shock). Historically fascism has been kept at bay through physical force - Hitler, Mosely, Tyndall et etc and I see no reason why this shouldn't continue to be the case.

There is a supreme irony that free speech allows the very philosophy that seeks an end to free speech!

if they are setting up stalls and leafletting as you suggest and you are wary of physical confronation then do a counter leaflet campaign and protest beside their stalls. Ultimately though they must be driven off the streets by all and any means necessary and not permitted the slightest foothold. No really.

back2front's picture
back2front
Offline
Joined: 15-03-09
Apr 16 2009 12:11

Speculations as to how far someone should go in relation to physical confrontation are a distraction as such considerations are relative. Insofar as anarchists accept that fascism is a poison then they must be prepared to do what is necessary. The British Nazi Party membership list is still online at wikileaks for anyone who wishes to write letters of complaint.

Skips
Offline
Joined: 10-03-09
Apr 16 2009 18:39

smash them on the streets.

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Apr 16 2009 19:46

While I'm not someone who thinks that the BNP should go completely unopposed, I think that people shouldn't invest more time and energy into countering them than its worth. I don't pretend to know a huge deal about what they're like on the ground where people are, but I have concerns about the amount of energy some people (some that I know) invest into anti-fascism.

I mean theres all kinds of questions around resisting the BNP that put me off wasting too much time on them .

They're mostly an irrelevence - they're not going to get into power any time soon. They're mostly a bogeyman for the left to recruit off the back of. The Labour Party are doing things that they could only dream about, building immigration prisons, sending state thugs into asylum seekers' houses in dawn raids, killing over a million people in imperialist wars, etc. The difference is that Labour actually do these things, wheras the BNP can only fantasise about it.

I'm not convinced that causation is that clear when it comes to the relationship between BNP presence and the level of racial attacks either. BNP support could be functioning as a barometer of the level of racism in an area, rather than causing it, for instance. If the case has been made for them being the cause of racial violence, and I've missed, then I'm open to persuasion - I'm certainly aware of cases where there's been a link between them having a social base and violence, like in Welling back in the day. But I'm not sure this is the case these days, given how much they've transformed their tactics.

The BNP split the working class, for sure, but I think that they're far less influential in doing this that the Daily Express or the Daily Mail is. And a lot of the time what they're saying publicly is pretty much the same as the kind of crankery you get from the likes of Richard Littlejohn. Plus all theres all kinds of forces which split the working class on national lines, including 'left' ones like the unions and socialist parties.

I don't think this great racist threat the left often talks about is that plausible - the few studies I've seen have shown the level of racism in society overall declining steadily in recent years, which makes sense. Even the BNP have to pander to this to get anywhere, opportunistically presenting themselves as being anti-racists, etc. Thats not to say nationalism can't function without racism; proper fascist politics, not the watered-down stuff the BNP peddle, has.

Like I said, I'm open to persuasion about this stuff, and haven't done much research or anything. There's plenty of anarchists who disagree with me - a lot in my own organisation. And saying all this we need to be able to defend ourselves, as we always suffer when the far right can throw its weight around (you could say the same about the Bolshevik left too though I suppose). Anti-fascism can have its uses, mostly in making anarchists do some of the donkey work they should be doing anyway. But then again a comrade pointed out to me recently that there's problems with this too - the BNP offer people something, however illusory, for very little, a vote every few years. We offer people support and advice for self-organisation, and unsurprisingly in times of low struggle we're small minorities.

JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
Offline
Joined: 26-09-03
Apr 16 2009 21:52

While I think Django hits it the nail on the head by pointing out that its the democratic racists who are the real threat and how they legitimise the BNP's policies, the point remains that a confident and resurgent BNP is something we have to keep a check on. I dont think there out and out facist, but they contain people who clearly aren't that distant from the neo-nazi movement.

As far as I am aware race attacks do increase when they come to power in an area, but the the real bitterness is that when their elected they then have a spokesperson who essentially manages to foist the race question on virtually every aspect of social policy. Yes there inept and not the bogeyman the left makes out, but the landscape is vastly more fucked up because they have passed through it and that kind of bullshit in some segregated England northern towns could take years to overturn.

Anti-BNP protesting can make them look radical, and sometimes panders to the worst kind of "vote labour" bollocks. Id say challenge them with numbers where you can, physically where you are able to but always remember its a fighting and united working class who are going to see them off.

ronald
Offline
Joined: 15-04-09
Apr 16 2009 22:19

I don't actually believe that the BNP think they will get to power in via the ballot box in the normal course of events. I believe the BNP think that their real chance lay in some great social upheaval (mass social unrest, war, political collapse of the establishment). In this way their strategy is somewhat similar to the left. Of course the left believe in revolution while the extreme right would seek to profit from counter revolution. If you look at Hitlers coming to power, he only managed it because big business saw him as the last refuge and alternative to communism and therefore backed him at the last moment.

I suppose that the BNP really needs a very powerful and 'scary' left in order for it to have a chance of taking power.

Interesting subject I think

grassroots
Offline
Joined: 3-04-09
Apr 16 2009 22:25

The BNP can easily become a serious threat. How long did it take the Nazi party to go from obscurity to power? 5 years? Im not saying its going to but it shouldnt be outlawed as a long term possibility in this political climate.

I live in Somerset and although the BNP hasnt got a strong foothold here yet, but a lot of workers (particularly those in factory environments, perhaps with some proximity to Polish migrants) sympathise with them. From my experience though it doesnt take much to convince them otherwise.

"Ronald" are you in a group or branch in your area of anything? Do you have people whod be willing to help you against the BNP? Id say a good idea is to try and build links with local groups you can count on support form (Trade unionists, Peace Groups, even Anarchist groups if your lucky to have/be in one where you are) And try and talk to them about it. Trades Councils and that may be detrimental to the cause of Anarchism, but you can find some really great people in them and who (from my experience) will be happy to work against the BNP

Id advise against "attacking" them ( especialy in the open) partly because your own safey (and if you are isolated its probably not the smartest thing to do) also you run the risk of them using it as propaganda against you and every anarchist/leftist in the community and damaging your cause in the long run, and the general population of the area is more likely to veiw you as a problem and not the BNP.
On the other hand maybe you have local ANTI-FA who know the in and outs of militancy(it just sounded to me like you were isolated ,hence posting here) but (Im probably gonna get slaughtered for saying this) Education is a far more effective weapon especially in smaller communities.

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Apr 17 2009 00:00

I think the best way to fight the BNP is to show how similar they are to the establishment parties, to attack their electoralism, giving examples of how their pathetic councillors have fared in the places they got elected. What fuels support for the BNP isn't racism (people aren't racist in the way many were in the 30s) but resentment at how shit life is for many and alienation from the political system, .
Physically attacking BNP members at their stalls as an individual would be totally counterproductive, it would just make you look like a violent nutter.

back2front's picture
back2front
Offline
Joined: 15-03-09
Apr 17 2009 07:40

Django is right, we shouldn't be disproportionate with this but it is important to keep things in check. As Ronald points out the sharp rise of Hitler and Nazism remains an example of far right potential in a political vaccuum and I would be cautious in dimissing the potential threat. I imagine the same arguements were made in Hitler's day too.

It is true that their potential has increased in recent years taking seats and they are now reckoned the 5th biggest party in the UK (56 councillors as of 2008 according to the BBC). It is speculated they could make inroads into the European parliament in the next Euro elections. On the face of it then their threat is confined to certain areas. They are totally disorganised in Northern Ireland for example as BNP policy conflicts with Loyalist ideals (the BNP call for a united Ireland and a new arrangement of the Union) but In parts of London or West Yorkshire they are making considerable inroads.

Current policy includes a seemingly strong environmental policy with Green ideas pushed to the front as they are aware young people are very concerned about this and with 30-40% of voters (largely younger people) not voting the potential is obvious. However they are extraordinarily good at shooting themselves in the foot and their racism is soon apparent.

Recognising and understanding the potential threat of the far right is important especially if you live in certain areas and countering them should be proportionate to their actual threat.

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Apr 17 2009 09:26

The problem is that we're not living in Germany in the 1930s (or Spain, or Italy in the 1920s, or whatever). We live in very different times, and the actual need that the ruling class had for fascism isn't there now; they don't need to destroy the workers movement, cause there isn't one, and they don't need to fuse capital and the state in the manner represented by classical fascism.

Thats not to say that the rise of fascism is completely mechanistic - the ruling class wouldn't have been able to turn to fascism in an attempt to solve its problems if it wasn't already there as a political option. And the ruling class isn't homogeneous - sections of it have resisted fascism for their own reasons, as in Spain. But it comes to power for specific reasons, and I think to see things otherwise gives democracy more credit than its worth.

But say that need was there, and there was a need for 'fascism' in order to do all the things above, it seems more likely to come out of the current political establishment, seeing how happy they are to construct a surveillance state that outstrips China in its reach in a time of relative social peace.

I do see October_Lost's point about them racialising the agenda where they get into power though, and that being something we need to keep an eye on. Actually this has been something the French National Front have done, who are a far more significant political force than the BNP are, 8 times the size or something like that. I'd like to know about the affect the FN have had on French society, as they have the same euronationalist model as the BNP but have been much more succesful.

back2front's picture
back2front
Offline
Joined: 15-03-09
Apr 17 2009 10:39
weeler wrote:
I would be very wary of 3 relatively new posters discussing smashing and even murdering members of the bnp. It looks quite bad.

As a relatively new poster here I assume this is aimed at me Weeler? I don't advocate the things you suggest but I accept that in certain conditions all means should be considered. I should also point out that methodology should be proportionate to actual threat as mentioned in my last post.

back2front's picture
back2front
Offline
Joined: 15-03-09
Apr 17 2009 10:52
Django wrote:
The problem is that we're not living in Germany in the 1930s (or Spain, or Italy in the 1920s, or whatever). We live in very different times, and the actual need that the ruling class had for fascism isn't there now; they don't need to destroy the workers movement, cause there isn't one, and they don't need to fuse capital and the state in the manner represented by classical fascism.

Thats not to say that the rise of fascism is completely mechanistic - the ruling class wouldn't have been able to turn to fascism in an attempt to solve its problems if it wasn't already there as a political option. And the ruling class isn't homogeneous - sections of it have resisted fascism for their own reasons, as in Spain. But it comes to power for specific reasons, and I think to see things otherwise gives democracy more credit than its worth.

But say that need was there, and there was a need for 'fascism' in order to do all the things above, it seems more likely to come out of the current political establishment, seeing how happy they are to construct a surveillance state that outstrips China in its reach in a time of relative social peace.

I do see October_Lost's point about them racialising the agenda where they get into power though, and that being something we need to keep an eye on. Actually this has been something the French National Front have done, who are a far more significant political force than the BNP are, 8 times the size or something like that. I'd like to know about the affect the FN have had on French society, as they have the same euronationalist model as the BNP but have been much more succesful.

No we don't live in those times but they remain powerful historical examples of what can happen. The ruling elites still have uses for fascism, at least low level fascism, e.g. maintaining division among workers. Note recently Neo-Labours anti-BNP statements in which they attempt to use potential threat/bogeyman politics in order to maintain their own corporate agenda. Your observation on the current regime is accurate and the BNP problem is a particular threat only in certain areas. The original post asks for advice on what to do in that instance.

However it is true that where the BNP have taken seats the race issue is stamped onto every aspect of their agenda. Their gameplan seems to follow Jorg Haider's theories in Austria rather than the FN in France. As far as I know the FN are in decline due to internal splits but they still respresent a much more significant threat the BNP do at a national level (they came second in 2002 remember). I think they are the 4th largest party in France. It's something I'll have to look into more when I get a chance.

While we shouldn't give them undue attention, which might be counterproductive, we do need to stay focused.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Apr 17 2009 12:10

I think Django's been very much on point here. Fascism isn't restricted to a political party which is termed thus. Much of the BNP's manifesto as it stands is far from fascism, while many New Labour's policies are very much within the traditional realm of the far right. Even Griffin claimed that they'd been stealing his ideas!

back2front wrote:
No we don't live in those times but they remain powerful historical examples of what can happen. The ruling elites still have uses for fascism, at least low level fascism, e.g. maintaining division among workers. Note recently Neo-Labours anti-BNP statements in which they attempt to use potential threat/bogeyman politics in order to maintain their own corporate agenda. Your observation on the current regime is accurate and the BNP problem is a particular threat only in certain areas. The original post asks for advice on what to do in that instance.

And specialised anti-fascism tends to merely be the radical wing thereof. I don't any qualms with militant anti-fascism on principle, but in practice there seems to be a few issues with Antifa and a couple of people close to it that I've spoken to also seem to believe this. It shouldn't be a hooligan firm (which is how it looks to an outsider) and ultimately, streetfighting and scuffles is a high risk, labour-intensive strategy which yields minimal results. I understood its militancy to only be one-third of the Antifa strategy, yet whispers tell me that unfortunately it has developed an overwhelming orientation towards violence (perhaps satisfying the personal vendettas developed by longterm activists and also guarunteeing macho kudos from all) is substitutionism.

How about getting busy in BNP-infiltrated areas in solidarity with migrants and minorities targeted by fascists? In London, there's a march of Latin American migrants on May 4th calling for an amnesty, with one group going as far as to that an amnesty won't suffice. LCAP has also picked up cases where there are probable elements of racism. This is potentially productive activity, yet it's maybe not as self-sacrifical, messianic or enjoyable (!) as fist-dusting. wink

back2front's picture
back2front
Offline
Joined: 15-03-09
Apr 17 2009 13:57

I merely asked the question weeler... as for censorship of posts I'd be very much against it. But we seem to be in agreement that proportionate response is the best mode of action.

Alan I too would be wary of the anti-fa/vigilante approach which tends to promote the iron-bar-round-the-head-ask-questions-later method which is always counter-productive. Like you I agree militant anti-fascism may be very necessary in certain times and places but as a totality of strategy it is severely lacking.

Fletcher
Offline
Joined: 27-03-08
Apr 17 2009 14:36

The means used to oppose organised fascists should be in proportion to the size and threat the group present. While the BNP deny being a fascist party their history and membership suggests they are. Should they be allowed to grow further they would no doubt be encouraged to be more openly fascist. As such it is important to oppose them where ever possible by whichever means is best suited to the task. If that means kicking seven shades of shit out of them and scaring them off the streets then fair enough. However it doesn't have to mean that and at times other actions might be more effective such as leafleting areas that they are active in, outing the fascist pasts of their members etc.

An earlier poster mentioned that labour are bringing in policies as racist as the BNP would. However it must be remembered that the reason we oppose the BNP from a "no platform" stance isn't because they are racist, it is because they are organised fascists who would attempt to deny others freedom to organise. While racism is ugy and stupid it is not grounds to deny free speech in the same way that fascism is.

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Apr 17 2009 15:21
Back2Front wrote:
Their gameplan seems to follow Jorg Haider's theories in Austria rather than the FN in France.

Well, just like Haider, there's longstanding rumours that Griffin isn't quite the red-blooded heterosexual his politics should lead him to be ...

Skips
Offline
Joined: 10-03-09
Apr 17 2009 16:11
weeler wrote:
I would be very wary of 3 relatively new posters discussing smashing and even murdering members of the bnp. It looks quite bad.

Bloody hell weeler you are so cliquey. Go write an article or something.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Apr 17 2009 18:36

On this thread I'd agree with most of what Django has said - I've said similar things unrelated threads in the past. But this, I'm not sure:

Django wrote:

I do see October_Lost's point about them racialising the agenda where they get into power though, and that being something we need to keep an eye on.

I'm not sure if they do you effectively racialise the agenda where they get into power.

Firstly, for them to get into power in the first place in an area you would think that issues would have to be pretty racialised for a lot of people. Secondly, I'm not sure that getting council positions would help the much in terms of setting the political agenda. Whoever hears anything from their local councillors? Most people don't even know who any of their councillors are, or what parties they are in. I certainly haven't got a clue! They certainly don't have any influence even remotely close to any of the massive institutions which do present a lot of issues in racial terms - namely the (mostly tabloid) media.

Just think for a moment about the number of words people take in every day from media sources, and compare that with how much people get from local councils (using myself as a very unrepresentative example, I read large parts of one or two newspapers every day, read news websites most days, read a magazine every week or so , see TV shows every day... and in 6-7 years of living in Hackney I've never read anything from the local council apart from a free paper once I picked up in a waiting room.)

I'd be interested to see any data around this. As far as I was aware, once the BNP got councillors in an area, they didn't seem to consolidate them much, often because people saw how useless the councillors were - or else councillors quit the BNP when they realised what a bunch of Nazi weirdos the leaders were.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Apr 17 2009 19:43
Liam_Derry wrote:
An earlier poster mentioned that labour are bringing in policies as racist as the BNP would. However it must be remembered that the reason we oppose the BNP from a "no platform" stance isn't because they are racist, it is because they are organised fascists who would attempt to deny others freedom to organise. While racism is ugy and stupid it is not grounds to deny free speech in the same way that fascism is.

Er...what? The government doesn't deny the workers' movements freedom to organise?

ronald
Offline
Joined: 15-04-09
Apr 17 2009 21:14

Alan, I think you have mistaken what has been said. The point about the BNP is that they are likely to ban trade unions and impose draconian measures preventing workers organising. This was what Hitler did with 3 months of coming to power in Germany.

However, the BNP do deny that they intend to do this - do you believe them?

Skips
Offline
Joined: 10-03-09
Apr 17 2009 21:17
ronald wrote:
.
However, the BNP do deny that they intend to do this - do you believe them?

You talking about their crappy fascist union solidarity. Its jsut a front. Like you I don't believe them for one moment.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Apr 17 2009 21:25
ronald wrote:
Alan, I think you have mistaken what has been said. The point about the BNP is that they are likely to ban trade unions and impose draconian measures preventing workers organising. This was what Hitler did with 3 months of coming to power in Germany.

Right...but Thatcher banned secondary picketing and crippled conventional, mainstream union organising. Any upsurge in class struggle is likely to be confronted via hugely draconian anti-terror legislation (which it turns out is being used by councils to spy on people's bins!). You don't think that Thatcher would have banned unions in the early 80s if she could have gotten away with it?

If you ask me, the space and ability we're given to organise is more down to our strength and unity as a class than the supposed political affiliations of the ruling class faction in power.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Apr 17 2009 23:21
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
ronald wrote:
Alan, I think you have mistaken what has been said. The point about the BNP is that they are likely to ban trade unions and impose draconian measures preventing workers organising. This was what Hitler did with 3 months of coming to power in Germany.

Right...but Thatcher banned secondary picketing and crippled conventional, mainstream union organising. Any upsurge in class struggle is likely to be confronted via hugely draconian anti-terror legislation (which it turns out is being used by councils to spy on people's bins!). You don't think that Thatcher would have banned unions in the early 80s if she could have gotten away with it?

If you ask me, the space and ability we're given to organise is more down to our strength and unity as a class than the supposed political affiliations of the ruling class faction in power.

In some ways this discussion is putting the cart before the horse. Ronald yes German Nazis crushed independent workers organisation. This is because it was necessary to do so in order to save capital in Germany.

In the UK today there is no threat to capital from a revolutionary workers movement. Consequently the ruling class does not need the BNP to crush the working class. So the BNP won't get anywhere near power.

Alan, on your comments, rather than cripple the unions what a lot of Thatcher's "anti-union" laws actually did was prevent workers taking any action *outside* union control. Before that time, around 95% of strikes were unofficial, wildcat strikes. Now almost all action takes place with full control of the unions - and is mostly unsuccessful.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Apr 18 2009 00:52

EDIT that's not what I meant but nevermind, back on topic...

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Apr 17 2009 23:39

Alan, most unofficial action today is probably something to do with lay union reps (like shop stewards, convenors, etc). Lay union reps of course are also workers in the place affected. Union officials will often be very opposed to the action.

In terms of unofficial action before all these laws, I believe it pretty much means action that was not sanctioned by union officials, and didn't have a ballot (i.e. there was a vote to strike in a mass meeting, or else workers were just picketed out by people who walked out).

slothjabber
Offline
Joined: 1-08-06
Apr 18 2009 11:15

I'd argue with the idea that the Nazis crushed the organised workers' movement. I think the SPD and the KPD (and the ComIntern of course) had already done a pretty good job of that between them - with a lot of help from the Freikorps and other blatantly counter-revolutionary forces. By 1933, the German workers' movement was in a shambles, and the working class throughout the world was in retreat.

I also think that ronald is wrong about German big business backing the Nazis 'at the last minute'; I think that had been going on for several years.

But; that's just some questions on whether we can really equate the BNP with the Nazis.

I think pointing out that the BNP don't really offer an alternative to the main parties is a good suggestion. The continuity between Labour's policies and the BNP's should put some people off at least (and it might even make some Labour suppoters think twice about supporting Labour in the future).

knightrose
Offline
Joined: 8-11-03
Apr 18 2009 11:26

thanks slothjabber - that's exactly what I'd have said. jazz hands sort of thing.

ronald
Offline
Joined: 15-04-09
Apr 19 2009 18:11

I read today on Google news that the nurses union are proposing a ban on BNP members joining their profession. The police already have a ban on BNP members being in, or working for the police - this was introduced by ACPO about 5 years ago.

I think it is time for ALL public services to implement such a ban. By this i mean doctors, nurses, civil servants, local government employees, the military, teachers - in fact ALL things that are funded from the public purse.

I would even go further than this. I would not allow BNP members to recieve public services. This means no NHS treatment, no entitlement to social security, no entitlement to public housing etc etc. The only exception I would make is for the children of people in the BNP - after all its hardly their fault.

I think its time we stepped up to the plate and got serious about issue.