UAF national officer Martin Smith argues that the English Defence League ‘now acts like a classic fascist organisation’, in a recent newspaper article.
His analysis of the EDL comes as part of a wider review of where their 2011 election drubbing has left the fascist British National Party and what prime minister David Cameron’s attacks on multiculturalism mean for antiracists and antifascists. The article was published in the Socialist Worker newspaper
Nobody should make the mistake of writing off the threat of fascism after the elections, Martin argues.
The economic crisis and the legitimisation of racism by mainstream politicians and the media means that there is fertile ground for fascist and right wing populist parties.
And over the last two years we have seen the EDL develop as a relatively new and growing racist threat. It has organised a number of large and provocative racist demonstrations whose main targets are Muslims.
Its core support comes from violent football “firms” who are united by a deep-seated Islamophobia—anti-Muslim racism. There are a large number of fascists and other assorted right wing thugs leading it.
When it was first launched, I argued that the EDL was a proto-fascist group. This is no longer the case. It now acts like a classic fascist organisation.
It looks and behaves like a paramilitary group. Its members parade around the streets wearing black hoodies and divisional insignia.
They have rampaged through black and Asian areas, attacking mosques and homes.
What started out as a movement against Muslims has morphed into an organisation that attacks trade union demonstrations, anti-racist meetings and socialist gatherings. Threats were even issued against last year’s student demonstrations.
Fascist groups aim to destroy every aspect of democracy, especially working class organisation.
The rise of the EDL presents the anti-fascist movement with new and difficult challenges. First of all, it is vital that we defend multiculturalism from Cameron’s attacks and make a principled stand against Islamophobia.
Secondly, every fight against the cuts should be encouraged and supported. The wreckage of the economic crisis creates the perfect conditions for fascist and racist parties to grow.
We also have to continue with our work in local communities, trade unions, colleges and on the football terraces against the BNP and EDL.
The EDL is trying to create a street movement designed to terrorise minority communities and attack socialist and trade union organisations. We cannot ignore it.
When the racists take to the streets we must organise the biggest possible counter-protest.
The recent elections were a big blow to the fascists but many more blows will be needed.
You can read the full article here.
Pic by Kelvin Williams