15 June 2020
A global revolt from below against racism and police violence has transformed world politics during the last three weeks.
This revolt, led by young activists from racially oppressed minorities and rooted in working-class communities, is a direct challenge to the neoliberal order.
Class societies depend upon a mix of coercion and consent – force and fraud – to enable a tiny minority to enrich itself at the expense of everyone else.
Neoliberalism is an especially parasitic and brutal form of capitalism that siphons wealth to the top and impoverishes the mass of working people – above all, racially oppressed minorities forced to the bottom of society.
It therefore relies on a mix of militarised policing to crush dissent (coercion) and racist scapegoat politics to divide working people and persuade a section of them to support the system (consent). Police violence and Brexit racism are two sides of a Tory coin.
Our numbers and momentum – the explosion from below represented by Black Lives Matter – has pushed the enemy onto the back foot. But there is no such thing as a vacuum in politics. If the Left retreats, the Right advances.
The Tories, the police, and the fascists are determined to counter-attack. The aim is to smash the BLM uprising – because it is a threat to the system and therefore to the property and power of the ruling class.
The Tories are trying to drive a wedge into the movement with a barrage of propaganda about ‘a violent minority’, ‘thugs and vandals’, ‘far-left infiltration’, etc. They want to divide, disorient, and demobilise the movement.
They are introducing fast-track kangaroo courts to put protestors arrested for ‘vandalism, criminal damage, or assaulting a police officer’ in prison within 24 hours. They want to intimidate activists into leaving the streets for fear of arrest.
The police sent a snatch squad into the BLM demonstration in Hyde Park on Friday (12 June) to arrest three Climate Change activists accused of ‘offences’ committed last year. The also raided a London squat to intimidate London Antifascist activists ahead of the planned demonstration on Saturday (13 June), seizing laptops and mobile phones.
A fascist threat to the BLM demonstration in Central London on that day caused BLM organisers to call off the demonstration. Several hundred fascists turned up, battling police, threatening small numbers of BLM protestors.
The Right is recovering its balance and lashing out. It will, if it can, drive BLM off the streets.
The decision to call off the demonstration in Central London on Saturday was a mistake – it allowed the fascist to mobilise and ran the risk of demoralising the movement. The fascists and far right turned out a few thousand who clearly felt emboldened and confident – no doubt rising high also on Brexit and the general racist and nationalist tone from the government.
However the far right demo was clearly made up of thugs who wanted clashes with the police – giving the lie to their claim they were there to “defend our monuments”. They specifically turned up to drink and fight the left (‘antifa’) and the police.
By the end of the day – despite the main BLM demo being called off – a couple of thousand people gathered to challenge the fascists, giving some of them a very strong lesson in why turning out on violent racist protests is a bad idea.
But we cannot allow the far right to sabotage our movement just by threatening a demo – at some point we will need to defend our right to protest, even in the face of far right intimidation.
We also cannot allow the police to use a far right mobilisation as justification for new draconian powers to limit protest. It would be an obscenity for the police to be given increased powers when the global demand is to abolish this instrument of state violence.
We note that Labour is proposing to support throwing people in prison for 10 years for defacing war memorials. Post-Corbyn Labour is going back to its traditional role as acting in support for reactionary ‘law and order’ legislation and not challenging the narrative from the government that the main problem in Britain today is graffiti on the Cenotaph – not the far greater problem is systemic and institutional racism.
There must be no retreat. We must not let the enemy disorganise and divide us. We need more mass protests, advance fresh demands, and draw in wider forces.
If our people are getting arrested then we demand their release, if the police or fascists try to scare us off the streets we come back with even bigger numbers and more determination.
There is no security and no victory in retreat. Our strength is in numbers and in the forward momentum of our movement.