At the SWP party council on June 2nd, a few of the speakers talked about the weakness of antifascism in France, evidenced by the relative freedom that the Front Nationale have to march around and by the huge right-wing protests against the recent same-sex marriage victory. This serves as an answer to the argument against the stupid idea that if we don’t counter-protest, the EDL etc. will expose themselves as ridiculous. I was in Paris the past weekend and on Sunday, a huge antifascist and anti-capitalist rally marched against the FN and Revolutionary Nationalist Youth, and in memory of the murder of left-wing activist Clement Meric. This should leave anti-racists around the world feeling more optimistic about the role of France while bearing in mind the work they have ahead. The anti-immigrant FN typically achieves 10% or higher in elections and polling. They are not considered extreme by most: after being treated respectfully but moderate parties, their views are merely viewed as a part of valuable discourse. Anti-fascism in France is further complicated by the excessive presence of armed police and military at peaceful protests, and use of police brutality. Among the protesters was the Front de Gauche with their various groups, the Communist Student Union, Venezuela supporters, LGBT campaigners, and some anarchists and syndicalists with their ambiguous flags. It was great to hear L’Internationale sung in full in its original language, but the lack of trade union banners seemed odd.
Based on a talk that I gave to the Kent Socialist Workers Party group. To many people these ideas will be obvious, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of the obvious. References are at the bottom.
There are three main tasks that face a revolutionary socialist party. The first is the SWP’s role, or any socialist party’s role, as an antifascist opposition; second is the importance of education on socialism: this topic is the majority of this article; third is the importance of internationalism and of relating individual struggles, as explained by Duncan Hallas.
At the recent Party Council of the SWP (June 2nd), Weyman Bennett (UAF) made a point about the role of socialists in fighting the far right. Recent experience has shown that social-democracy (that is, introducing socialist politics through reformist methods) in Europe, for example in Sweden, Denmark, and arguably the area controlled by our own Green Party, has shown no opposition to austerity. Many problems and kinds of unrest caused by capitalism make the rise of fascism all the easier. Trotsky in his last article (August 1940), Bonapartism, Fascism, and War gives many examples of these problems but there are three that are most relatable to our current situation: “the gravest crisis of capitalist society; growing confusion and indifference; the growth of hostility to the proletariat”.
I could give specific examples, but they are fairly self-explanatory. The polling strength of the racist Swedish Democrats is the result of scapegoating inequality and other social ills on immigrants. It is quite clear that if the periodical and inevitable crises of capitalism can lead to the popularity of fascist and right-wing populist ideas, a dedicated anti-capitalist party will also be the most effective antifascist party. Left-reformists themselves have a lot to answer for in the rise of the far right. The Labour party has taken a typically conservative stance on immigration, while Ed Milliband expresses his respect for UKIP. All this serves to normalise anti-immigrant hatred.