Arguments tying opposition to fascism with opposition to Brexit makes out half the country as Tommy Robinson supporters. This is idiotic in the extreme, argues Kevin Ovenden
Well, if it wasn't clear before - it is now.
Much of this article today by Michael Chessum from Another Europe is Possible is an attack on the left leadership of the Labour Party. That is people who have been supporting mobilisations to stop Robinson, the EDL, the DFLA and the far right for years.
It does not make a case - which needs to be made at every opportunity - for united mobilisation actually to stop fascist marches and to throw a cordon sanitaire around them in public life.
One reason why that argument needs to be won is that a considerable body of liberal opinion does not agree - including the Guardian.
It lumps together fascism with Leave - a stupid and dangerous thing to do - and it talks of mobilising only "Remainers". Most people on the left want to unite the labour movement and working class. This AEIP operation wants to continue to divide it - in just the way that its paymasters in the second referendum campaign want to: weakening left-led Labour.
All this and operatic claims about standing "aside from history" in a paper that refused to report the large, diverse and united anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstration 10 days ago.
It makes clear it is not part of the anti-fascist demonstration, but "alongside it", separate.
Be clear - this is an effort, on the Blairite dime, to divide the emerging anti-fascist and anti-racist movement in Britain and pose a liberal, passive alternative instead. One where political leadership lies with Vince Cable and Alastair Campbell.
The words Muslim and Islamophobia appear nowhere in the piece.
There are some left friends who have supported the AEIP and second referendum campaigns. Fair enough - we disagree.
But they face a choice now, posed by this transparently anti-left intervention out of the Blair-Campbell stable.
Do you want a broad, unified and militant mobilisation on 9 December, with large turnouts from Britain's BAME minorities - especially Muslims - drawing in working people whatever their views on Brexit, isolating Tommy Robinson's attempt to be the voice of Leave, and in such numbers and determination that it stops the fascists?
Or do you want to hand Robinson a political victory by crowning him the leader of Leave and boosting a separate rally that has speakers lined up to spend the day attacking the socialist leadership of the Labour Party - content just to wave EU flags and not confront the fascists politically, in contesting public space and taking those arguments deep into the working class?
A movement that will contest the football terraces or one that writes off millions of working people as proto-fascist?
I've seen some suicidal sectarianism down the years. But in acting as cat's paw for the Blairite attempts to destabilise Corbyn, and in directly seeking to split a developing anti-fascist movement that is coming together, AEIP takes the biscuit.
Over the summer many echoed John McDonnell's call to build a modern-day Anti Nazi League on the scale of the successful struggle in the 1970s. He repeated that at the Stand Up to Racism conference, praising all the efforts so far and endorsing the universal sentiment to build upon them more deeply and widely, in the greatest spirit of unity.
A good step forward was taken on the national demonstration on 17 November.
The anti-fascist counter-protest on 9 December is a chance to take a further step forward. Or it could be thrown back by liberal sectarian antics.
One of the critical mistakes of the left in the early 1930s was not to recognise the specific danger of fascism and to refer to social democratic leaders as "social fascists".
Something similar is happening here, but from the liberals, not the radical left.
It says Brexit equals fascism and today's Labour leaders are "social Brexiters".
We are witnessing Third Period Liberalism.
The anti-racist left and fighting labour movement should reject it.
Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.
More articles from this author
- Greece elections: the right is back in government
- Students protest in Albania: internationalist alternatives in the Balkans
- What Frank Field's resignation tells us about the Labour right's slow coup
- The Greek fires: a catastrophe fuelled by austerity
- Is Corbyn's Brexit policy really 'full Trump'?
- So called 'moderates' are the enablers of the far right
- As Gaza rebels, how can Palestine be free? With Kevin Ovenden - video