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Combat 18 and the State: Part Two

Part One can be found here

The Murder Trial

Perhaps the most serious violent incident in C18’s history was this internal murder.

In 1997, Combat 18 split into two factions, partially because of the allegations that Charlie Sargent was a state informer, along with disputes over control of the lucrative Nazi music cash cow. These factions were headed up by Sargent and Browning.

An agreement was reached between the two factions that Browning would inherit the membership list, in exchange for returning Sargent’s plastering tools and an additional thousand pounds. However, animosity between Sargent and Browning was so high that neither wanted to risk meeting the other face to face. So a go between was arranged, one Chris Castle.

However, rather than the exchange Castle expected, he walked straight into an ambush (while Browning waited in the car). He was met at the door by Sargent and Sargent’s close associate ex Skrewdriver guitarist Martin Cross, who plunged a nine-inch (22 cm) blade into Castle’s back. Browning took Castle to hospital in a taxi, but doctors were unable to save him and he died shortly after arrival.

The court case led to life sentences for Cross (still in jail) and Sargent (who had a brief period on license before being returned to jail for breaking license conditions by meeting up with former C18 associates).

So far, so straightforward. Nazi on Nazi violence due to personal and political disputes. However, considering the fact Sargent was an informer and the state had C18 as a whole under close surveillance, several questions remain unanswered.

Did the state know what Sargent and Cross were planning? At the very least, surely they knew this meeting was taking place. In that case, why were police not waiting in case it turned violent?

This seems to have been the step over the line for Sargent, where his previous seeming immunity from serious prosecution no longer held. That’s not an overstatement; the only previous convictions Sargent had were for possession of a gun and two drug offences. (I would hypothesise that it may have been one of these convictions that lead to his original recruitment in exchange for leniency). Why did someone who is known to have carried out violent attacks (albeit on soft targets) have so few convictions?

Why was Sargent so confident as to boast to a journalist that when the British Movement split

about 30 of us left and that’s when we got involved in robberies and all that,” says Charlie matter-of- factly. The aim was to put away money for “projects” to do with the Right, but he is vague about specifics. He was just 20 at the time.

Since then he has been imprisoned four times, including for possession of guns and drugs. They tell me that “some things went down this summer which were worth five to 10 [years]”

While we should remember that Sargent is a notorious bullshitter, it still suggest a strong confidence that he feels that he is legally untouchable for him to boast openly that he’s recently committed serious crimes. Did this lead to him assuming that even murder would be overlooked because of his state protection?

Why specifically was Sargent released on license? Nothing about his public statements suggest a change of heart.

Browning’s faction is described in an Independent article (Nick Ryan, 1st February 1998) as:

This second, even more extreme faction – led by Charlie Sargent’s former right-hand man (who cannot be named for legal reasons) – is now in the ascendancy, and has seized the Combat 18 name. In its magazine Strikeforce, it proclaims itself to be “revolutionary” and promises an international terrorist campaign, a threat that Special Branch is taking seriously.

The notable point here is why was Browning protected from being named? Surely that’s not standard practise in a case like this? And that seems to have been withdrawn quickly. Exactly when was this legal ban on naming Browning removed and why?

I suspect (no more) that what we may have been seeing here is a clash between two rival state factions.

For that matter, what did Browning do next? There’s very few details I can find. An anonymous Indymedia post claiming he was involved in producing Nazi music still and an Evening Standard article (anonymous, 12th April 2012) suggested he was arrested for an attack on Bloody Sunday marches. If, as the latter claims, Browning “cannot move without drawing police attention” why were no charges brought over the already covered violent content of Strikeforce?

Harold Covington Revisited

There is a strange lack of detail on exactly what Covington did while living in London. We knew he was involved in forming C18, but little else. This is especially notable, because Covington was a prominent American Nazi and an incorrigible self publicist.

There are several possibilities I can think of here.

The rumours of Covington being a FBI asset. As I said, I don’t think we currently have the evidence to state this. But if it was true, the question is whether he was a shared asset and if not whether MI5 knew of his status. It seems somewhat unbelievable that MI5 weren’t aware of the rumours flying round the far right at the time, considering I knew about them.

Covington is just what he seems, a comitted Nazi activist. This doesn’t get MI5 off the hook however. How did a man with Covington’s record get into the UK in the first place? Was he under surveillance? If not, why was he considered not to be a threat? If he was, what was known? Are we expected to believe that he was just allowed to move here for several years and left alone?

Considering the known criminal activities of C18, Covington’s presence seems a puzzle as yet unsolved.

Copeland and the London 1999 Nail Bombings

(Note: This does not take into account recent revelations from “Arthur”, although it does mention him in relation to comments made previously to the recent documentary).

Between 17 and 30 April 1999, a bombing campaign took place in London. Homemade nailbombs were detonated in Brixton, in Brick Lane, Spitalfields and The Admiral Duncan, a gay pub in Soho. As the choice of targets makes clear, this was a far right operation. Tragically, three people died and another 140 were injured.

Despite Combat 18 claiming responsibility, police were quick to deny that the bomber, David Copeland, had any links to far right groups. In my view, this denial was suspiciously quick.

According to David Venness, Assistant Police Commissioner:

The man is not a member of any of the groups which have made claims of responsibility for the bombings. Nor did he make any of the claims using their names. It is understood that he was working alone for his own motives.

This is so disingenuous as to be close to an outright lie. Firstly, Copeland was an ex member of the BNP. having joined in 1997 and then leaving because they weren’t extreme enough. Even more critically, not only had he joined the National Socialist Movement he was a Regional Organiser in the group (in Hampshire)!

The NSM are worth examining in more detail. They were a split off from Combat 18, set up by the Sargents and their supporters in 1997.

So, what we are expected to believe is that the police and security services both infiltrated C18 and damaged their operational capability, they were entirely unaware of a split off group, despite the involvement of Charlie Sargent, a man where the evidence for his asset status is overwhelming. Not only that, but they had no idea who Copeland was, despite him having an organisational role in what was always a tiny group. This stretches credulity to say the least.

Things get even murkier when we look at Searchlight’s claim that they had an informant in the BNP (codename Arthur) who knew exactly who Copeland was and passed the information onto the police.

Searchlight can reveal that is was we who identified Copeland’s name, which we passed to the police through a third party. However, it seems that London Special Branch sat on the information before informing the investigation team. Although Copeland could not have been arrested sooner, the information, which included his connection to the BNP, would have made him a far more important suspect.

Several issues spring instantly to mind.

Why couldn’t he have been arrested sooner? We’re talking about a two week period for the bombing campaign. When exactly were Special Branch told about Copeland and did they place him under surveillance straight away? If not, why not? If they did, how did he manage to carry out a two week bombing campaign regardless?

And while Special Branch seem the major culprits here, that doesn’t get MI5 off the hook. They had two conduits for information about Copeland. Assets in the NSM and Searchlight. What did they do with this information?

The final complicating factor in an already complicated situation is the report in the Independent (18th April 2000) that

After the attack it emerged that the Metropolitan Police had warned that an extreme right-wing bomber was targeting minority groups and that gay haunts could be at risk. The Jewish community at Golders Green was also placed on alert.

The Admiral Duncan is believed to have received a specific warning of the dangers.

This is even more notable when combined with the Observer report (2nd July 2000) that

Sources within MI5 were said to have warned members of the gay community that they believed the bomber was targeting a gay venue three days before the Admiral Duncan explosion, but that this was not considered to be the most likely target by the Met’s anti-terrorist squad.

While this does not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that MI5 knew who Copeland was, it suggests strongly that they had some hard evidence not explained by the “lone wolf” theory.

But the most damning of all if true is this from the Guardian (1st July 2000)

There have been several persistent rumours the police had Copeland under surveillance before the Soho blast and lost him. Scotland Yard last night dismissed this as “absolutely untrue”.

Other speculation has suggested there was friction between MI5 and Scotland Yard, and that the two clashed over risk assessment. This too has been strongly denied.

And denial would be expected in both cases, although the lack of a named spokesperson for Scotland Yard is notable.

At the very least, this means there are now two sources for friction between the police and MI5 over risk assessment and does suggest that got in the way of the investigation. But if the rumours are true (and the Guardian seems reluctant to name where they’re from so we can decide on their veracity ourselves) this is even more critical.

To summarise, we have a Nazi bombing campaign, carried out by a man who held a position in a group that should have been known to MI5. Specific warnings were given out by MI5 before the third bomb. Copeland had been identified by Searchlight at the very least. There are “persistent rumours” that Copeland was under surveillance and the police lost him.

We should not let our rightful revulsion at Copeland’s crimes and sympathy for his victims obfuscate the fact that several state agencies should be facing serious questions, as yet unanswered.

Conclusion or why does any of this matter?

There are two possible arguments against the writing of an article like this.

The first goes something like this.

“Why should we care if the state are infiltrating far right groups? Surely they should be protecting us from Nazis?”

This, I’m afraid, is naive beyond belief. Considering that C18 were given seeming carte blanche to carry out attacks on soft targets, including a letter bomb campaign, whatever the state were doing with them was not about protecting people in general, let alone antifascists.

The other stronger argument is

“This was some time ago. Why should we focus on this rather than current far right threats?”

And the answer is simple, at least to me. We have no evidence that the state’s approach to the far right is any different. Indeed, the recent Spycops bill de facto legalises some of the state’s assets in C18’s crimes. If we do not learn from the past, we run the risk of history repeating itself.

Addendum

I am greatly indebted to those who came before me, especially the researchers and writers of AFA/Fighting Talk. Without their hard work, these posts would never have happened, although naturally any mistakes or bad analysis are still my own.

That said, this kind of post takes lots of work (almost 5000 words for both parts) and so I’ve decided to accept donations.

I absolutely do not want anyone to donate if it would leave them short, but if you have a bit of spare cash and fancy leaving me a tip I’ve set up a Buy Me a Coffee account. Thanks!

Combat 18 and the State: Part One

Introduction

The aim of this short article is to try and shed a bit more light on the question of Combat 18 and the involvement of the state. Any topic like this is, by necessity, going to require a significant amount of speculation. (MI5 are hardly forthcoming about their activities after all). But I’ve tried to keep that speculation sober and careful. Still though, any article like this should be treated with caution, regardless of who’s writing it.

Combat 18

It’s assumed that most people reading this have an understanding of who Combat 18 are. But in brief, they’re a (now largely defunct in my view) group of supposed Nazi hard men. Originally a BNP stewarding group founded in 1992, to protect the BNP from attacks from their antifascist opponents, they were quickly proscribed by the BNP leader John Tyndall in 1993. This followed C18 attacking senior members of the BNP Tony Lecomber and Eddie Butler earlier in the year.

The group’s name is a reference to the initials of Adolf Hitler, AH.

This article only looks at the original British group; I am not qualified to talk about their Canadian, German etc. affiliates. Although I briefly touch on the latter when relevant.

Combat 18: Myth versus Reality

The media portrayal of Combat 18 is well known. A group of Nazi paramilitaries, unstoppable and terrifying. We still see that today in the rather breathless Wikipedia entry on the group.

Combat 18 members have been suspected of being involved in the deaths of numerous immigrants, non-whites, a German politician and other C18 members.

The weasel words “suspected” do a lot of heavy lifting here. The involvement in C18 members in murdering each other is confirmed and I shall return to that later. The murder of the German politician Walter Lübcke is also definite, although this is 2019 so far later than the period we’re looking at. And there seems to be some confusion around exactly how involved the murderer Stephan Ernst was in Combat 18. He is said to have “links”, which could mean anything from active membership to C18 literature. But he is also said to have links with the AFD and NPD. For now, I would assume that Ernst was an individual actor who was part of the German far right mileiu in general, although I reserve the right to modify that if more information comes to light.

Interestingly, one reason it is hard to check these claims is that the BBC article linked to in the Wiki article does not mention them at all.

The view of militant anti fascists on the ground at the time is rather different. While willing to attack some soft targets like SWP paper sellers or elderly immigrants (and the nastiness of these attacks should not be dismissed), Combat 18 were not seen as particuarly terrifying by Anti Fascist Action. In fact, they were quickly christened Combat 16 (Combat Arthur Fowler) because of the gap between the rhetoric and the reality.

In the words of AFA’s house organ Fighting Talk (issue 16, March 1997)

Notwithstanding the fact that the C18 group came into existence as a direct result of an AFA offensive against the BNP in the early 1990s, it is recognised in militant anti-fascist circles that they are essentially a propaganda group who have done very little. Instead they choose to rely for their public notoriety on the media. Their celebrity is not as a result of them being “talented self-propagandists”. The reality is that the media are spoon fed all the ‘sexy’ stories by the same organisation, who on the back of the hysteria generated (still) hope to goad/ manipulate the security services and courts into proscribing the group.

It is a simple statement of fact that when Combat 18 came up against Anti Fascist Action or major Anti Fascist Action component Red Action C18 invariably got the worse of the clashes. When faced with a competent physical opposition, they simply didn’t live up to the hype.

The Combat 18 letterbomb campaign of the 1996 New Year should be understood in this context. In my view, it was a sign of frustration and impotence from C18, not the sign of a Nazi group with high morale. Still, this particular incident is relevant and I shall return to it.

Combat 18 and the State

This is what I will be focusing on for the body of the article. There were and are consistent allegations that Combat 18 had state links from all sides of the political spectrum.

I shall look at some of these allegations, but it’s worth remembering some terminology issues.

This is obviously especially pertinent in this time of the Spycops inquiry but that framework only gives us a small amount of the full picture.

The inquiry itself seems to be omitting things you’d expect to be there. We are expected to believe that the Troops Out Movement was of interest to the state (which it obviously was) but only Mark Jenner was deployed to take an active interest in Red Action. This despite Red Action’s overt support for the IRA, including one of its members being convicted of bombing Harrods on behalf of the IRA! This is obviously entirely unbelievable.

It’s also worth remembering that the inquiry only covers police officers. Informants, paid or otherwise, are not covered. And that is the meat of a lot of the allegations about Combat 18.

Finally and importantly, it doesn’t even begin to look at what MI5 were up to in the same period. It would have largely been MI5 at the time; although it is possible that MI6 had an interest in Combat 18’s links with Northern Ireland loyalists and other international dimensions.

Fascist Allegations Against Combat 18

The far right were accusing Combat 18 of having state links from very early on. In 1995 an anonymous far right pamphlet attacking Combat 18 was put out. In it was a very interesting question about main C18 men the Sargent Brothers:

whether Charlie and Steve Sargent are MI5 agents or just poisonous shit-stirrers and completely fucking stupid can be argued about

Nick Griffin of the BNP also made similar allegations. Specifically in his trial for inciting racial hatred in 1998 (where he was found guilty) he contrasted the action against him with the lack of meaningful action against Combat 18 for articles of a much more violent nature. While it goes without saying that Griffin is our enemy, this would still seem to be a very strong point.

Anti Fascist Allegations Against Combat 18

Anti Fascist Action also raised the possibility of MI5 links (Fighting Talk, March 1997)

It is possible that C18 was set up by British Intelligence as a ‘honey trap’ -to attract and identify the potentially most violent fascists and monitor their links with similar Nazi ‘terror’ groups around the world. It is also true that since the end of the Cold War MI5 are keen to identify ‘terrorist’ threats to maintain -and expand- their influence

By 2001 their view had firmed up somewhat (Fighting Talk, May 2001) stating:

It is likely that C18, from its inception, was a honey trap for extremist elements active in the fascist movement and that the State had assets at leadership level in the organisation, Steve Sargent in particular. The security services would have built a profile of the organisation, including any split offs like the NSM, and an assessment of their potential for employing political violence in Britain.

C18 were not kept on a tight leash. Action was taken with regards to racist material produced by the organisation, possibly as a result of heavy lobbying. However, C18 were allowed to publish extremist material including hit lists and bomb making instructions without any sanction being applied by the State. Was this part of the honey trap?

Press Allegations Against Combat 18

Somewhat unusually for this kind of issue, allegations of Special Branch (although not MI5!) involvement in Combat 18 has made it into the mainstream press.

An early example was in the World in Action documentary “The Terror Squad” (April 1993). While the details given are thin, drawing entirely on the word of a serving anonymous police officer, the documentary explicitly claims that Charlie Sargent is a police informer.

An Observer article by Henry Macdonald (5th April 1998) goes into far more detail with its allegations. It suggests that Sargent was not only an informer, but one that got paid for his work and that there was a deliberate policy to leave their crimes unpunished. It goes onto suggest that the reason for this was to gather intelligence for Special Branch on the Ulster Defence Association.

Searchlight Allegations Against Combat 18

Serious caution is urged here. While nominally an anti fascist magazine, Searchlight are known to have state links of their own, including their publisher Gerry Gable directly providing information on leftists to the security services. See Lobster 24 for evidence, including the full text of the infamous “Gable memorandum”. However, the other side of this is that in can be assumed that Searchlight are “in the know” about MI5 attitudes, so this is very notable:

The reasons for MI5 wanting to establish a “honey trap” on the far right are understandable and possibly justifiable at the time Combat 18 were created. Stella Rimington had just taken over as Director of MI5. With the job came the responsibility for watching Ulster Loyalist paramilitaries, in mainland Britain, whom Special Branch had neglected in recent years. It was in these years that sections of the Loyalist UDA and UVF, and their respective killer squads, had started to cooperate with fascists in Britain. Clearly MI5 needed to know the extent of such joint operations. So Combat 18 came into existence.

(Searchlight, April 1995)

This needs careful handling to take Searchlight’s agenda into account. Seasoned state watchers will notice the implicit criticism of Special Branch, playing into the traditional rivalry between them and MI5. I would surmise that there is at least an element of truth here, in that it outlines a definite MI5 interest in C18 and their reasons and justifications why. What I think is less trustworthy is the lack of any real criticism of MI5 strategy here, or examination of what they were willing to let MI5 get away with.

A look at some leading Combat 18 players

As you can see, the allegations of state involvement in Combat 18 have been numerous and come from many different, even opposing quarters. To try and look at the plausibility of these allegations, I’m going to look more closely at three major figures in Combat 18. The aforementioned Charlie Sargent, Sargent’s rival for Combat 18’s leadership Wilf Browning and the American Nazi Harold Covington, who was heavily involved in the setting up of Combat 18.

Charlie Sargent

Many of the allegations here have already been aired, but there’s one important jigsaw piece to add.

In reference to the court case, the Combat 18 Bulletin #44 (produced by the Browning faction) has this interesting detail to add.

Detective Inspector Tony Parr told the jury that Sargent’s court statement amounted to 200 pages! We only have access to his first 16 page statement and his second 7 page statement. Parr then went on to say that only 60 of the 200 pages were relevant to this case and the rest were about ‘other matters’. The Fat Grass! What’s in them?

We should of course remember that Browning has motivation to discredit Sargent, considering the power struggle for control of C18. But it’s still a rather damning question.

Wilf Browning

However, Wilf Browning has similar questions surrounding him. The first is a simple case of the “dog that didn’t bark”. Browning was the man behind the C18 magazine Strikeforce and it’s a remarkable document for all the wrong reasons. Browning openly praises and advocates bombing campaigns and even prints bomb making instructions! And yet I cannot find any evidence of even a cautionary slap on the wrist from the police, let alone the conspiracy and terrorism charges this surely invites. Why was Browning seemingly immune to criminal charges for this?

This would be big on its own, but Anti Fascist Action provide evidence that Browning was providing information to Searchlight Magazine at the very least. According to AFA (Fighting Talk 22, October 1999):

In Drowning Browning, a document produced by the Sargent camp, a Machiavellian plot unfolds, a story of double-cross and double double-cross. The story goes that Browning made contact with Searchlight to feed them disinformation, in a sanctioned operation. However it seems he may have been working to his own agenda, using his contact with Gerry Gable to undermine Charlie’s gaffership and enhance his own political profile.

Detail is given with regard to Browning’s code names, money changing hands, meetings with Gerry Gable etc. As we all know, the Devil mixes lies with truth and to separate the two out when reading through this material would be an impossible task. However one detail in the story rang a few bells in AFA’s collective memory. We are told that the venue for meetings between Wilf and Gerry was a hotel behind Euston Station. This provides some credibility for the story. Once upon a long time ago, AFA personnel would meet with Searchlight in order to exchange information. The venue; a quiet little hotel behind Euston Station. Needless to say, those arrangements have not been in place for some time.

This is circumstantial evidence, but it’s strong circumstantial evidence. I will not even pretend to be unbiased (as an ex member of AFA), but probably points towards them telling the truth here. It’s a simple matter of logic. Browning has strong motivation to avoid his dealings with Gable coming to light. Gable has motivation to keep it quiet as well, even if simply to avoid damaging Searchlight’s operational capacity. I cannot think of any reason why AFA would lie about this.

Harold Covington

One of the more notorious figures in the American Nazi movement, the now happily deceased Covington was involved in the early setting up of C18, while he was living in the UK. Covington should certainly be of interest to the state at least. In 1979, five anti fascist demonstrators were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party in what became known as the Greensboro Massacre. While Covington was not personally involved in the massacre his group were in attendance on his orders and he defended the actions of the killers.

Notably, there was a widespread belief on the American fascist right that Covington was a FBI informant, although solid details are difficult to come by. Further evidence there is welcome.

Conclusion the First

With the evidence we have available, I think we are safe to say that Combat 18 were infiltrated by the state at the highest levels. Special Branch involvement seems definite, MI5 involvement seems to be very probable. The only thing I’m not convinced of is that this was anything as official as a “honeytrap” from the start, although it may quickly have developed into one.

The evidence for Sargent being an informer, probably paid, seems overwhelming. Browning seems almost as likely; the evidence from AFA is crucial and brings up the question who else Browning was talking to. On Covington, I don’t think we currently have the evidence to know that he was working with the state. Even if he wasn’t that hardly gets MI5 or Special Branch off the hook as I will outline.

It also seems to be certain that the Guardian article by Stuart Millar (April 27, 1999) that suggests that “the group’s leadership are so closely monitored that there is little they can do without it coming to the attention of the authorities” is accurate.

This of course raises an important question and one the second part of the article focuses on. If this is the case (and it seems to be), what exactly did MI5 and/or Special Branch know about what C18 were getting up to. And best, it seems that they turned a blind eye, at worst that they actively encouraged it. With that in mind, I shall now move onto some of the more notable interests in C18’s history in Part 2.

The Stand Up to Racism Vigil Against Antisemitism Controversy – Some thoughts

This post is about the controversy surrounding the SUTR demostration against antisemitic graffiti in Hampstead and Belsize Park.  See the JC article for a rundown.

Thoughts.

  1.  There are many, many reasons I dislike the SWP.  I’m happy to expound on them at length for anyone who wants.  That’s not the focus of this article though. The purpose here is to tease out some wider lessons for the (non SWP controlled) anti fascist movement, in particular its militant wing.
  2. It’s equally the case that the Jewish Chronicle (and Lee Harpin specifically) have recently taken a serious hit to their credibility. It’s also the case that they have promoted and apologised for Islamophobes.  That’s also not especially relevant here. Especially as I haven’t seen any arguing with the facts outlined in the JC article, just the interpretation of them.
  3. Weyman Bennett’s reported comments that

    “Anyone who is opposed to antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism is welcome to attend Stand Up To Racism events whether they are Zionist and non Zionist.”

    suggest that SUTR are trying to take an agnostic position on Zionism & Israel.  I’d actually agree that this is the correct position to take.  It was the position of Anti Fascist Action (definitely) and the 43 Group.  And there is no need for a British antifascist organisation to take a position here. In fact, doing so is counterproductive and pointless.

    However, it’s not possible to take a neutral position if you’re allowing attendees, especially those in an organisational position, to openly take sides.  It just makes you look dishonest.

  4. Which raises an obvious question.  What kind of fucking tosser thinks it’s a clever idea to wear a BDS badge to a demonstration against antisemitic grafitti?  I don’t actually think that BDS is de facto antisemitic.  I also don’t think that a “there is no God” badge is Islamophobic.  But I’d still take issue with any idiot wearing one to a demonstration against Islamophobic graffiti. Context matters.  And this is an obvious example of something where somebody decided their pet issue mattered more than the easily foreseeable offense that was caused to some attendees.  And the overheard reference to “Zionist journalists” removes even that benefit of the doubt.
  5. This is especially damning as Simic was apparently an organiser and (if not current) a previous member of the SWP.  Considering how heavily centrist the SWP are and how quick to enforce the party line on their members it’s unquestionably the case they could have stamped on this. They chose not to.
  6. This incident also shows why, leaving moral considerations aside for one moment, the front organisation strategy is bankrupt.  It simply leads to non members of the controlling organisation feeling cheated when they realise that the organisation is controlled by a specific party.
  7. It also shows a flaw in the modern concept of “solidarity”. In this case, it’s clear the solidarity on offer was conditional and unwelcome by many members of the Jewish community in the form it took.  It was forced solidarity rather than taking the approach of talking to the community and asking what practical support was needed.
  8. In fact, I’d suggest that a more militant approach of “mutual alliances” is more productive.

    Traditionally, that’s been the approach of militants.  We have our own agenda and strategy, based round militant antifascism.  And, if we have enough common ground, we’ll work with you on that basis. Nobody needs to agree on everything else or subordinate their personal/organisational integrity to anyone else.

    I’m not pretending that approach doesn’t have its own problems. In particular (and I’ve done this myself) some militants have a tendency to fall into Millwall style “nobody likes us we don’t care” swaggering.

    But it’s honest and cards are on the table.  Ironically (because this runs counter to our reputation) I’d go as far as to say this is clearly the less sectarian of the approaches.  No substitutionism.  Just agreement that we have enough common goals that we should work together at this time.

  9. The reportage that

    Also present at Monday’s event was a paper seller from the Revolutionary Communist Group, which has repeatedly called for “no concession to Zionism” which they have called “racism through and through”.

    feels like something of a red herring, particularly without any evidence of the RCG fraternising with other demonstrators.  The RCG turn up to other people’s demos without being invited. They aren’t involved in the organisation of SUTR and there’s no love lost between them and the SWP.

    There’s a possible discussion to be had here about unwelcome people turning up on demonstrations and how to deal with it. But if we’re going to have that discussion seriously we need to revisit issues like the presence of Roberta Moore on the Ahava demostration and who she was photographed marching alongside.  And other similar issues.  Which, I suspect, many people happy to condemn the RCG presence here and other platform sharing they (legitimately) dislike won’t be willing to actually address.

    For any progress to take place on this particular controversial issue I suspect it would need to take place in a small group willing to take a hardline on this across the board. At the moment, it’s selective.  “Their dodgy attendees are proof of their malignity.  People I consider allies being photographed with dodgy people is irrelevant guilt by association” isn’t going to cut it.  General principles, applicable across the spectrum regardless of the accused’s position on Israel or anything else, are necessary.

Why fighting against antisemitism should be at the core of any left wing/anti fascist movement

Because it’s the right thing to do.

This, alone, should be enough.  If, as is often claimed, anti fascism and anti racism are at the very core of the emancipatory project (and it certainly should be), we can not pick and choose which minorities are ‘worthy’ of our support.

Because it’s a mandatory component of the class struggle.

A class politics that excludes any section of the class is no class politics at all.  We would rightly criticise any claim to class politics that excludes working class LGBT people or treats the working class as a solely white bloc.  And exactly the same principle applies to class politics that excludes working class Jews.

Because “less racist than the Tories” is not a defense

I would hope I am less racist than the “Hostile Enviroment” implementers.  This is not a baseline that any serious leftist should be working from.  It’s like saying you’re less homophobic than the DUP.  One would hope that’s the case, but it’s missing the point entirely.

Because Anti-Racism needs to be unconditional (mostly)

I am indebted to Keith Kahn-Harris who has done so much work to develop this argument:

The only way out of this impasse is to recast anti-racist solidarity so that it is completely decoupled from political solidarity. Anti-racism must become unconditional, absolute, and not requiring reciprocity. Anti-racism must be explicitly understood as fighting for the right of minorities to pursue their own political agendas, even if they are abhorrent to you.

I will say that Kahn-Harris goes further on this then I do. There are some individuals and group where I think that all you can say is that you shouldn’t use antisemitism against them, but where they’re still beyond the pale. (This is similar to the argument that you shouldn’t be sexist against female Tories, while still recognising them as a categorical enemy).

I do not in fact in any way recognise the right of Roberta Moore and the EDL Jewish Divison (now largely defunct) to pursue their own political agenda, nor do I have any interest in showing solidarity with them. The same would apply to Kahanists in general.

Equally, the same would apply to any Jew who attended the Katie Hopkins meeting. I think it’s fair to say that if you are explicitly allying yourself with the far right that outweighs any other considerations.  In the same way that anti fascists saw no need to get involved (apart from some sniggering) when Combat 18 were attacking the BNP, anti fascists do not need to get involved in any internal tensions of the far right.

(To be fair, I’m not actually sure Kahn-Harris would disagree with those exceptions; I don’t think he’s talking about these kind of fringe outliers).

The last exception is potentially more contentious.  I disagree on reciprocity. If people attack militant anti fascism, they should not expect militant antifascists to lift a finger to help defend them.  Bluntly, resources are limited.  And if you call antifa “thugs” and “terrorists” you can do your own fucking security.

However, the general principle remains. Specifically, it is in no way acceptable to expect any Jew on the left to repudidate the very concept of Israel or to interrogate them about their views before anti fascist solidarity is extended. This isn’t done with any other minority group.  No other group is expected to disown the very concept of a specific nationstate.  In the same way we don’t require Muslims to give us their views on homosexuality before we defend them against racist attacks, this is utterly unacceptable.

Apart from anything else, if you require Jews to repudiate the existence of Israel before they can be involved in anything left wing or antifascist what you’re de facto doing is excluding the vast majority of Jews from our movements.  That is, for reasons that should be obvious, not a good thing.  Personally, I think the idea of an antifascist group that would have excluded at least half the members of the 43 Group is a farce.

Antisemitism is called “the socialism of fools” for a reason

This quote is often misused, both by the right (who use it to falsely claim that Marxists and even all socialists are antisemites) and the left (who use it to mean people utterly separate from the left).

Neither is true.

The reason it’s the “socialism of fools” is that conspiracism and more specifically antisemitism have some structural similiarities to socialist theory.  What they do is they replace the structural critique with conspiracy theories and the ruling class with “rich Jews”.

This is not to say that the two are synonymous or that one naturally leads to another.

But what nominally left versions of antisemitism do is misappropriate socialist theory parasitically and strip them of their socialist content, to replace it with racism.

The best parallel is the National “Anarchists”, who misuse and steal traditional anarchist theory (and, unfortunately, also some virulent antisemitism from historical anarchist theorists) and misuse them to fascist ends.

So for socialism to prosper its necessary to destroy antisemitism entirely.

“Left” antisemites aren’t misguided socialists. They’re scabs.

Further Reading

That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Antisemitic by Steve Cohen

The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Antisemitism part of all our Movements by April Rosenblum

The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party by Mary Davis and Phil Katz

 

An Unholy Alliance: Who’s Behind the “Antifa are Terrorists” meme

This is back in the news again, most recently with comments by Ted Cruz.   So it’s worth examining this claim in more detail, in particular where the slogan orginates.  Before I get into that though, some context.

Antifa are not a group

It’s a tactic, at most a network. I know of two exceptions to that. There’s Antifa UK, who have been defunct for a decade and the small British antifacist group Red Antifa. Perhaps I’ve missed a group or two, but the point stands. Outside specific references to those groups anyone who talks about Antifa as some kind of organised group is either completely ignorant of the subject or they’re being deliberately misleading.

Are Antifa Terrorist?

I’m no maligned pacifist, so I’m happy to tackle this subject straight on.

What makes it complicated is the fact that “terrorism” has no universally recognised definition.

If we go with the Britannica definition that it’s “the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective” it’s hard to see how Antifa could possibly qualify. Not only do they have a specific enemy (rather than the general populace) there’s no evidence they see producing a climate of fear as a tactical goal. As we’ll see, claims that Antifa has attacked people “randomly” are counter to the evidence.

If we take the term to mean “willing to use violence for political ends” then they probably do.  As does every government in existence, the Boston Tea Party, Nelson Mandela, the French Resistance and George Orwell.  And in my experience very few of the people using this definition are actually willing to apply it consistently.

Some try to get round some of the problems by clarifying that it’s non state actors only.  But that doesn’t remove any of the non governmental groups from the list of examples.  On top of that a definition of terrorism that boils down to “anyone who doesn’t believe the state should have an exclusive monopoly on political violence” is workable, but leads to obvious radical conclusions about the nature of the state not generally found among its proponents.

Really the most workable definition would seem to be that of Bruce Hoffman (no radical, Hoffman has worked for the CIA and currently teaches at the International Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel).  He says:

On one point, at least, everyone agrees: terrorism is a pejorative term. It is a word with intrinsically negative connotations that is generally applied to one’s enemies and opponents, or to those with whom one disagrees and would otherwise prefer to ignore. ‘What is called terrorism,’ Brian Jenkins has written, ‘thus seems to depend on one’s point of view. Use of the term implies a moral judgment; and if one party can successfully attach the label terrorist to its opponent, then it has indirectly persuaded others to adopt its moral viewpoint.’ Hence the decision to call someone or label some organization terrorist becomes almost unavoidably subjective, depending largely on whether one sympathizes with or opposes the person/group/cause concerned. If one identifies with the victim of the violence, for example, then the act is terrorism. If, however, one identifies with the perpetrator, the violent act is regarded in a more sympathetic, if not positive (or, at the worst, an ambivalent) light; and it is not terrorism.”

(Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, 2010)

That then, is likely the key to understanding this.

If someone is ideologically antagonistic towards targets of militant antifascism they are highly unlikely to describe antifa tactics as terrorist, even if they are strongly opposed to the tactics used.

Ted Cruz.png

(Ted Cruz with the far right conspiracy theorists the Oath Keepers)

Targets of Antifa

Because of that, it’s necessary to briefly look at some targets of Antifa tactics.  Partly because critics of Antifa will frequently obfuscate whose those targets actually were. Obviously there’s not space to go into this in great details so I’ll concentrate on a couple of the more controversial incidents.

John Blum

The narrative:  Blum was merely an innocent elderly man, attacked randomly by Antifa thugs when he was trying to stop them beating up other demonstrators.

The reality: Blum had charged forward into a fight and had started swinging his baton before he was hit on the head.

Andy Ngo

The narrative: A gay Asian journalist, attacked by Antifa because he was filming the protest.

The reality: Ngo is an alt right activist with a proven history of doxxing anti fascist activists. As journalist and filmmaker Oz Katerji (normally no fan of the radical left) points out:

Two examples, but telling ones.  The more you look into these supposed incidents of Antifa randomly attacking innocent civilians minding their own business the more flimsy they always seem to be.

None of this means that people might genuinely be against these tactics of course. But anyone who describes the likes of Blum and Ngo as victims while deliberately evading what those individuals were actually up to is deliberately lying to you to try and manipulate the narrative.

“Despite Ngo’s far right beliefs I don’t think political violence is acceptable” is a political argument.

“Ngo was just a journalist doing his job” is fascist apologia.

So who is really behind the “Antifa is terrorist” narrative?

The Traditional Far Right

Unsurprisingly fascists are very keen to push this narrative. Often falsely.

The Proud Boys claimed that they were defending themselves from masked attackers.  A video that came out later showed the truth was very different.  This is a rhetorical trick, nothing more.  By claiming that it’s Antifa who are the aggressors it allows the Proud Boys to try and get away with attacks, normally on soft targets.

And the even further right Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer is very clear that the only reason the fascists haven’t moved even further in this direction is that they’re waiting for Trump to give them permission.

As well as showing that the “Antifa are terrorists” narrative is being heavily pushed by the fascists, this also shows the woeful naivety of those who believe the fascists aren’t planning violence.  You don’t have to agree with militant tactics, but in the current situation it’s fair to ask for your specific countersuggestion rather than the pearl clutching and genteel moralism we normally see.

The Assadists

The last was obvious. This bit seems to have gone less noticed from what I can tell.  The Assadists also hate Antifa.  Perhaps the most notable of these accounts is the notorious propagandist and Douma denier PartisanGirl.

It seems that unlike many of Antifa’s critics she more than recognises the work that people from that movement have done fighting for the Kurds and she’s outraged about it.

And her fellow Assadists back her on this strongly, on nationalist grounds.  https://twitter.com/tehn0mad/status/1151466026967736320

And while her reasons for hating Antifa may be somewhat different than traditional fascists they recognise a fellow traveller as her work with David Duke shows.

While PartisanGirl may be one of the most blatant Assadists around, she’s hardly the only one. Vanessa Beely is almost as dodgy, despite appearances at Beautiful Days festival and her touting by the usual suspects like George Galloway and Chris Williamson show.

Unfortunately the Beely example shows that this regurgitation of fascist propaganda isn’t just confined to self proclaimed centrists, comfortable though it might be for us on the left to believe otherwise.

Russia

I’m almost reluctant to mention this, consider that Russiagate has become the conspiracy theory it’s ok for centrists to like.

But in this case the evidence is pretty overwhelming. Not only is Partisangirl known to push a Russian line, it is categorically and provably the case that after Berkeley the narrative was primarily shaped by Russia linked accounts on social media.  And that narrative was shaped to being hostile to Antifa tactics and individuals.  (This seems to have been when “Antifa are terrorists” first became prominent outside of traditional far right circles)

There is a definite irony here; many of the liberals most prone to accusing anyone who says anything mean about Clinton or nice about Sanders of being “Russian bots” seem utterly disinterested in this far more evidence heavy skewing.

The question is why Russian interests are quite so anti Antifa.  I’m not geopolitical expert and this opinion is prone to revision if further facts come out, but I suspect a) that Russia believe a right wing President is in their interests and recognise that Antifa are a major issue for that and b) the Syrian issue.

Conclusion

To be clear, I am not saying anyone with criticism of Antifa style tactics has links to any of the following interesting parties.  That would obviously be farcial.  The Anti Defamation League have made sharp criticisms of Antifa while recognising that “it is important to reject attempts to claim equivalence between the antifa and the white supremacist groups they oppose“.  The Southern Poverty Law Center also reject antifa tactics while rejecting attempts to paint them as the real issue with right wing violence.  Even Nancy Pelosi is capable of rejecting the equivalence argument.

It will come as no suprise to regular readers of this blog that I reject all of those liberal arguments as tactically incompetent and historically illiterate. But they are still made genuinely in good faith and are a matter of political disagreement.

I am saying that anyone who uses the “antifa are terrorists” argument falls into one of the following categories.

1) Fascists, Assadists and Russian misinformation campaigns.

2) Those who aren’t technically the latter but have consciously chosen to ally with them for tactical reasons.

3) People repeating the claims of people fromthe first category without being aware of their origin.

While category 3 is arguably the least to blame they still need to watch. At the very least, they’ve shown a cavalier disregard for where they’re getting their information from. But it’s also the case that they’ve shown themselves to be ideologically susceptible to far right propaganda.  When that intellectual kinship exists it’s not beyond the realms of possibility they’ll find themselves more formally linking up with the far right in the future.

 

 

The Canary in the coalmine

The Canary describe themselves as delivering

campaigning journalism that informs and empowers people to change their world

And in terms of profile at least, they’ve been growing in strength since ther launch in 2015. According to editor in chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza the site was attracting 3.5 million unique users monthly back in 2016. (Free and Fearless, Hacked Off, 2016).

So while there’s much that can be said about them, their relative success can’t be denied.

But what are The Canary really about? Are they the progressive campaigning journalists they present themselves as. I examine some of the issues in this post.

As well as my own research, this post wouldn’t have been possible without research carried out by Richard Seymour (video follows) and posters on Urban75. Any mistakes and analysis are naturally my own.

Why focus on Kerry-Anne Mendoza

It’s a fair question; she is after all part of a wider team. The reason is simple. Not only is Mendoza the editor in chief, she’s also one of the founders (the story here is inconsistent as we are about to see) and the public face of The Canary. So it seems valid to take her as representative of the company as a whole.

The Business Model of The Canary


This is where things get interesting. The Canary is run as a limited company. According to their website,

Canary Media Limited is owned entirely by its leadership team, comprising of: 4 directors (Kerry-anne Mendoza – Editor-in-Chief, Drew Rose – Managing Director, Nancy Mendoza – Director of Comms and Membership, Bex Sumner – Standards Editor), 4 Editors (John Ranson, Emily Apple, Ed Sykes, Tracy Keeling) and Andrew Streets, our Head of Advertising.

The official line is that

Kerry-anne Mendoza, our Editor-in-Chief, teamed up with a group of extraordinary people to form The Canary in October 2015.

.
That isn’t, however, what was being claimed in 2016.

The Canary has been formed by Kerry-Anne Mendoza and Anthony ‘Roja’ Buck, both highly experienced in their fields.

(From “Writer (Science and Technology) Role Description”, The Canary, 2016)

So already we have a disconnect between what The Canary claim now and how they described themselves in the past. A minor point? Possibly. But it goes to demonstrate how much of the Canary’s public statements are about marketing and nothing else.

Anthony ‘Roja’ Buck is an interesting figure as well. His background seems to have been in business and technology (in particular Just Eat) and he resigned as Director on the 28th June 2016.


Tellingly, his existence seems to have been scrubbed from The Canary entirely. And vice versa; he doesn’t mention it on his Linkedin profile. Suspicion here is that having a tech entrepreneur involved in the founding of The Canary doesn’t fit the brand.

Journalism Model of the Canary

The Canary pay their writers on a per click basis, split 50/50 with the website.

This alone explains why The Canary is so inclined to clickbait headlines and lowest denominator articles. Unlike most media outlets which pay per article, it’s very model is based round journalists getting the highest possible audience for each article, regardless of quality. This is not a good way to do factual reporting (and also leads to half the articles on the website being just repurposed mainstream news stories with an editorial spin. I see no evidence of The Canary having done serious investigative journalism).

Rather than the daring progressive model they claim this is, it’s actually just a slightly better version of the issues you get with something like The Huffington Post. The Canary owners get to define what reasonable fees are when they take them from their writers. Any increase in advertising, affiliate links etc. are entirely at the discretion of the leadership team. Which goes some way to explaining why only five of the site’s writers earn enough to make a full time living. (Five of the Canary’s writers make enough money to work for the site full-time.). Considering that the leadership team also write for the site in many cases, I think we can hazard a guess which writers are putting food on the table.

Politics of the Canary

The Canary is sometimes seen (by its dimmer detractors as well as its supporters) as a “far left” site. There’s nothing socialist about The Canary. They never transcend a vague kind of left liberalism, with an analysis that could be found easily in the New Statesman or Guardian opinion sections. Don’t take my word for it, here’s Mendoza explaining The Canary’s political position:

We don’t have any affiliations with political parties, we don’t have any affiliations with political organisations, and we’re not actually ostensibly left-wing,” she added, calling the site’s editorial stance “a counterpoint to conservative media” and “broadly liberal”.

(From Buzzfeed)

While we can argue about what socialism would look like, I’m confident in saying that market driven liberalism isn’t it.

Mendoza’s Background

Previous to her founding of the Canary, Mendoza was a banker and management consultant earning over 100,000 a year. While some might consider mentioning this “class baiting”, I think it’s valid considering Mendoza’s posturing as anti establishment. It also means that the anti austerity stuff (genuine as far as it goes in my view; the issues with The Canary lie elsewhere) comes from a place of intellectual exercise, not personal experience.

She claims to have been radicalised by Occupy which is believable. (And explains a lot about The Canary. As anyone involved in that movement can tell you it had big issues with conspiracism).

The Canary and Conspiracism


The Canary has always had been more then willing to embrace conspiracy theories ranging from the Syrian Chemical Attack to claims Laura Kuenssberg was a speaker at the Conservative Party conference.


This isn’t surprising. While she may have tried to play it down since The Canary hit the mainstream Mendoza has always been a conspiracy theorist as her now deleted blog shows.

She has promoted the old far right favourite of a secret padeophile network and openly promoted the conspiracy film Zeitgeist.

So it’s not surprising that The Canary have had issues with antisemitism, whether promoting a play written by an antisemite or putting unabashed antisemites on their writing staff.

Mendoza and Icke

The antisemitism and conspiracism aren’t a shock, considering that Mendoza has links to notorious antisemite David Icke. (There’s not room to go into Icke in detail here, but you can find a summary here).

She seems to have had brief involvement in Icke’s “The People’s Voice” television channel, although she fell out with him. This seems to have been about money, not any of the many reasons anyone who isn’t a racist would fall out with David Icke.

This can’t have been an ideological dispute, considering that she was happy to appear on The Richie Allen show. Allen is an Icke protege who has also hosted neo nazis like Mark Collett, Alison Chabloz and David Duke.


It’s not a show any anti racist would even consider being on.

Conclusion

As I have demonstrated, The Canary is not a project that should be supported in any way. From its business model to its conspiracism it’s a barrier to meaningful left growth, not a path to it.

It should also be recognised that this isn’t the first time we’ve had this issue with alternative media. The previously useful resource Indymedia degenerated into racism and conspiracy theories, in large part due to Atzmon supporter and police informant Roy Bard/Freethepeeps. For any left media project larger than a few close comrades serious discussion on how to stop this happening needs to take place.

Unlike many more centrist critics of The Canary I’m of the view that the mainstream media has provided the climate for a site like The Canary to grow. There’s much to criticise from the left about Corbyn (I will be returning to this subject) but the media has decided to go with obvious conspiraloon stuff like the Czech Spy story and the hilariously stupidCorbyn was best friends with the explicitly anti Labour Red Action” stuff. Until that’s recognised as an issue sites like The Canary will always find fruitful ground.

So rather than going for the stance that we should just abandon left media altogether, I’d suggest a) consuming the best stuff on top of the more mainstream outlets and b) being more discerning with what you read, repeat and share on social media.

For an example of the right kind of left media I highly recommend looking at the work of Kate Belgrave, who lets benefit claimants tell their stories in their own words. That’s real left campaigning journalism. And that’s what we could have if we get rid of the opportunists and the cranks.  (Note: I don’t know Kate Belgrave and have never talked to her, so she neither endorses nor even knows about this post. So send threats to me instead, k).

 

Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.

Alexander Baron & Gilad Atzmon- A Mutual Admiration Society is the sort of polemic that makes even Gerry Gable sound plausible, or sane, because it consists of one long stream of innuendo and insults after another. Indeed, when I pointed this out to Troy Southgate, he responded that it made Gable seem like Snow White.

Whether anybody remembers us or not. (I’m not sure most of the semi regular commentators on here are even still blogging. Apart from our dearly beloved homophobic plagarist Alexander Baron who never shuts the fuck up. I assume anyway.  I’m not going to read his fucking site again).

Expect a posting schedule of maybe weekly. Two max.

Specific interests of the blog include anti fascism, anti semitism (Icke, Atzmon, Williamson etc), the Corbyn phenomenen, video games and my music taste which is objectively better than yours.

Expect the first of many new posts tomorrow, a look at The Canary.

And now for a musical interlude.

Alexander Baron & Gilad Atzmon- A Mutual Admiration Society

It seems Atzmon is getting even bolder in his open anti-semitism.  In a blog post dated the 27th December (http://www.gilad  .co.uk/writings/alexander-baron-gilad-atzmon-wipes-israel-off-the-map.html) he links to a supportive article from the homophobic plagiarist Alexander Baron.

Baron is one of the lesser known figures on the far right, so a bit of background.  He’s openly antisemitic and a holocaust denier as this quote from his website shows (http://www.  infotextmanuscripts.org/ITMA.html) shows:

I have published on the Holocaust and Holocaust Revisionism – what is known pejoratively and inaccurately as Holocaust Denial. I have published a book length exposé of Zionist agent and sexual deviant David Irving.

He uses the traditional antisemite tactic of blaming Jews for antisemitism.  He describes the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” as:

Organized Jewry’s Deadliest Weapon

Baron isn’t just a lone crank, he has operational links with the Evolian think-tank “New Right”, set up by the veteren far-right activist and founder of “National Anarchism”, Troy Southgate.  Southgate acts as secretary of the group, which has Jonathan Bowden (who used to be in the Monday Club, the Revolutionary Conservative Caucus, the Freedom Party and the BNP) as its chairman.  So, much like Southgate, this is someone with a long history of neo-fascist activism.  Another person involved with the New Right is the veteran fascist and Holocaust denier Lady Michelle Renouf.  Baron thanks her in his writing up of the 2010 conference so he obviously knows her relatively well.  Baron himself spoke at the 2005 launch of the group and the 2010 and 2011 conferences.

Considering this is all easily available on Baron’s website (which is where the article Atzmon links to is from), there is no way Atzmon won’t have seen at least some of it.

So why might Atzmon be attracted to Baron and by extension the New Right?

I’d say it’s an ideological convergence.  Despite the claims from some quarters, while Atzmon is undoubtedly on the far right, his particular allegiance isn’t to Neonazi interpretations of fascism. (The fact some are pushing this merely illustrates the lack of serious anti-fascist analysis around at the moment.  Nobody with even a basic understanding of far-right ideology would be arguing this). His is more a kind of ‘post-modern’, cultural take on far right themes.  So he’s going to be attracted to the likes of Baron who present themselves as “beyond left and right”.  And the founding statement of the New Right could come straight from Atzmon himself:

We are opposed to liberalism, democracy and egalitarianism and fight to restore the eternal tsunami that have become submerged beneath the corrosive tsunami of the modern world.

(For a more in-depth analysis of this specific strand of neofascism, see Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction) by Graham D. Macklin).

Some conclusions.

While it might have been previous possible to claim that, while a racist, Atzmon wasn’t a fascist, that is definitely no longer the case.  Atzmon is now openly linking to the organised far right, which makes him one of them.  As such, no platform is the correct position to take, whatever that may entail.

And those like Roy Bard/FreeThePeeps (who was behind the Indymedia coup) and Lauren Booth who are still defending Atzmon have to be treated as fascists themselves at this point.  Even if they don’t actively follow far right ideologies, they are now overtly collaborating with fascists.  At this point, it doesn’t make any difference whether this is deliberate or is the product of stupidity and wilful ignorance.  While not quite at the same level yet, Mikey Ezra of Harry’s Place also needs watching carefully.  While he may see getting his books signed by fascists as some kind of jolly public school jape, I beg to differ.

You are either anti-fascist or you are pro-fascist.  There is no middle ground and none will be accepted.

More Atzmon

As some will no doubt have already heard, racist fuckhead, Gilad Atzmon, is to play the Raise Your Banners festival in Bradford, Friday 25 November.

Obviously, this is unacceptable from a (militant) anti-fascist perspective.

There have been two main defences of this.  The first is from the Arts Council, who are funding the festival.  They claim that Azmon is attending the festival:

as a musician and not in his capacity as a political writer

Even if we leave aside the question of whether its acceptable to host far right racists in a purely musical capacity (the old bastards among us will recall Steps being given a ‘formal warning’ for what were actually far milder comments than Atzmon has made), the very nature of RYB means this isn’t the case.

Raise Your Banners 2011 is proud to present its festival of political song in Bradford once more. It is sixteen years since Sheffield Socialist Choir organised the first Raise Your Banners in celebration of the great Wobblie union organiser and songster Joe Hill. Raise your Banners unites political choirs with soloists and bands to celebrate committed and campaigning music that constantly renews the vision of equality for all the world’s peoples. Raise Your Banners is music to celebrate ordinary people joining together to struggle for something they want, whether it is local childcare or opposition to the ravages of global capitalism. We seek the best artists who will celebrate popular struggles in their music and song, and aim for all to have a rollicking good time.

As is clear from their own description, RYB does not separate music and politics in the way the Arts Council suggests.  Atzmon is there as a political figure- the remit of the festival means he couldn’t be anything else.

The other attempted defence is from RYB secretary, Sam Jackson, in response to complaints from the Jewish Socialist Group & festival supporters:

we have discussed the matter with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and are satisfied that PSC have no boycott of Gilad Atzmon or events that he is involved in

That’s a bizarre statement by any stretch of the imagination.  Firstly, surely the fact the JSG have raised concerns about Atzmon’s antisemitism is, by itself, a major issue.  Regardless of the stance of the PSC.  Apart from anything else, this isn’t actually within the PSC’s remit, so of course they don’t have a strong position on Atzmon specifically.  This isn’t about Palestine/Israel at all.  It’s an anti-fascist issue first and foremost.

So, what do we do about this?

The obvious point is that no genuine anti-fascist should be attending the festival this year, whether as a member of the audience or a musician.  If anybody has contact with anyone planning to do so, it’s certainly worth discussing the problem with doing so with them.

Do any of my readers have contacts at the 1 in 12 Centre? They’re currently listed as participants in the festival.  And they really should be withdrawing, as a centre that has a history of supporting anti fascist activity.

Apart from that, there’s the gig itself.

Is anyone either planning to demonstrate or interested in doing so?  I’m up for it on the date, but there’s obviously no point in me trying to do so if we can’t get a vaguely decent turnout.

Disruption is probably out, although I’m open to persuasion on that point.  I am fucking bored of the idea that it’s somehow more acceptable to host Atzmon gigs simply because jazz appeals to a more genteel well-heeled audience than the likes of Skrewdriver.  But I doubt we’ll have the logistical ability to do so at this short notice.

If a demo isn’t possible at this time, this really does illustrate why we need to kick up anti-fascist networking.  With both this issue and the EDL, the need for a militant voice is stronger than ever.  And we’re currently lacking badly in that area.

If anyone wants to contact me privately to discuss possible activity you can catch me on abiezerDELETETHISBIT.coppe@gmail.com

Two Hats

Lunatic far right anti-semite (and Harry’s Place drinking buddy) Gilad Atzmon is being all whiny.  (Link left intact, mostly for the lulz.  Let’s see if the brave rebel Atzmon runs to the old bill).

Apparently, opposition to his badly written antisemitic drivel can be explained by this:

At that stage, it appeared to be a campaign that was run by hundreds of Zionist enthusiasts – but if one scratches the surface, it was actually an orchestrated move of barely more than five Jewish bloggers, who have managed to mobilise another twenty or so book burners or shall we call them ‘wandering  sockpuppets’ that habitually attack in different areas of the net and the press, co-coordinating to harass, bully and intimidate, with the same dull, repetitive, accusations, ‘arguments’ and smears.

“Harass?”  “Bully”  “Intimidate”?

Man, Atzmon is thin-skinned.  Some people entirely unrelated to me might suggest that someone should give the little shit something to cry about.  An added bonus might be, to some people, that it would cause the whiny fucking liberals to run around panicking about the fact that someone is actually taking “opposition” to Atzmon seriously, showing up their inactivity.  But that is no reason to do so.  Obey the law, respect your parents and go to church.

The other star in this post is the very spooky Bob Lambert.

Couple of interesting observations on this.  Firstly, Daud Abdullah is, at best, naive to the point of idiocy.  At worst, his quickness to jump to the defence of a Special Branch spy raises questions about his own agenda.

This is just beyond satire:

The “exposure” of the former special branch officer Bob Lambert comes at a convenient time: it can serve as a distraction from the scandals that have engulfed the neocon tendency in the government. Lambert has been a staunch critic of the government’s Islamophobic rhetoric and exclusivist policies. This, to a large extent, explains the excitement that has greeted disclosure of information about Lambert’s past career among certain people.

Wait, what?  London Greenpeace (who are who exposed him) are actually following a neocon agenda on behalf of the Conservative Party?  Yeah, that’s a lot more believable than the idea that a proven police spy was following a state agenda.  I’m also interested to know if this was ever revealed by Daud Abdullah before it became common knowledge:

Those of us who worked with him during the difficult decade after 11 September 2001 always knew he came from a police background, and specifically the special branch unit.

And who specifically “knew he came from a police background, and specifically the special branch unit”.  Let’s have some names.  And an explanation of why they never saw fit to mention it including, I strongly suspect, their erstwhile comrades.

And what precisely is this supposed “smear”?  That Bob Lambert was a pig spy who infiltrated the libertarian left?  That’s a factual statement.  Daud may think that’s all fine and dandy, obviously.

The other interesting question is Lambert’s relation with Islamism.  Did he work with Islamist groups as part of a spook agenda or did his own authoritarian background attract him to Islamism?  Either raises some fascinating questions.  It does seem, on first glance, that SB (if not necessarily 5/6) don’t consider Islamism as much of a threat to the state  as direct action enviromentalists.  Both Islamists and certain people/groups on the far left really need to ask themselves why that might be the case…