This is a reply to two posts already published on this blog. The first is another guest post, by Ian Beck, called “If you’re not pissed off you’re not paying attention“. The second is one of Scrapper Duncan’s regular posts, published the day after the first, called “No-one is accusing SchNews of political sophistication“. This guest post is published exactly as it was submitted, without alteration or amendment, except for the title – because no title was supplied. Read on…
We’ve travelled a long way in this debate…now our refusal to issue a condemnation of a small protest group in Worthing for their leaflet, which satirically combined a swastika with the Sussex Police logo, has become either emblematic of or is just plain responsible for the collapse of the British left.
We are accused by Ian Beck of ‘giving the green light’ to groups to use the swastika. Thanks for crediting us with this level of influence but we are not an industry regulator or any kind of anarcho ombudsman so it’s hard to see how this can be the case.
SchNEWS is unequivocally anti-fascist. Not only by way of opinion but in fact and on the streets. To suggest that we endorse fascism and Nazism, don’t take it seriously or (as Ian suggests would be happy hanging around in Nazi costume with a Tory M.P is stupid and offensive.
We are equally worried by the rise of the Golden Dawn party in Greece, their collusion with the Greek police, the electoral gains of Marine Le Pen and Casa Pound in Italy. The new counter-jihad right in the U.K is not looking as healthy as it did eighteen months ago, but the fact that the EDL can put even 700 on the streets is alarming. They were putting nearly 3000 out last year but the resistance has slowly been building. One of the reasons the EDL is faltering is they have felt the need to declare war on the whole of the left – we have been part of that resistance.
To read SchNEWS on anti-fascism go here and here.
You (Scrapper) seem to have grouped us under your umbrella..perhaps as slightly wayward and uneducated fellow travellers on your project of ‘the Left’. We’re not in disagreement as such, we simply lack your ‘analytical sophistication’ and so our views are ‘polarised’. The fact that we might be coming at things from a completely different but equally reasoned perspective doesn’t seem to have occurred to you.
According to your psycho-analysis of ‘the Left’ we have suffered from ‘low self-esteem’ since the union busting 80s. Even the greybeards in the SchNEWS collective were still in school at this point. The movement we were born out of had it’s hey-day in the 90s – the anti-roads, reclaim the streets, summit hopping, euro-rioting crowd. Since then we’ve had the huge protests against the Iraq war and are now sniffing the beginnings of a major shift as the population starts to reject austerity.
We don’t aim to ‘recruit people’. We are not a vanguardist party, we’re a newsletter. We aim to inspire people to go out and see things for themselves, take action for themselves. ‘Information for action’ has always been our motto. Politics and political engagement is not a gentlemen’s fencing club, (or even dare I say it a court-room) where points are awarded on achieving the perfect angle and timing of thrust. Sometimes to get the message across it’s necessary to paint in broad brush strokes. (and even mix metaphors).
To take perhaps the most significant recent mobilisation of ‘the Left’ in Brighton – the effort to stop the March for England. Was time spent posting detailed rigorous analyses of the politics of the MfE and their links to the EDL? Working out whether the EDL fit within a historical definition of fascism acceptable to ‘people who regard life’s little details to be important’.Or was it more profitably spent communicating via stalls, leafleting and social media in small sound-bites? (which by their very nature contain inaccuracies).
You say yourself ..”Our problem is not the strength of our arguments, it is how we forge the practical bonds which create solidarity in our communities.”. We totally agree but the problem rather than a lack of analysis has been over analysis – the traditional left often resembles a theological college debating exactly how many workers can dance on the head of a pin. This is why Occupy, despite its many flaws has been a breath of fresh air. I’m not sure how valid the statistical analysis behind the 99 vs 1% slogan is – but as a meme it’s a corker.
To communicate effectively we must communicate in shorthand. That shorthand is by its very nature going to lack a degree of sophistication. The right doesn’t care about this and we witness their success in getting memes like ‘benefit scrounger’ , ‘illegal immigrant’ and ‘bleeding heart liberal’ out into the public consciousness. Unfortunately this is the terrain in which we have to fight. SchNEWS has deliberately adopted a tabloid style to communicate with Joe Public, perhaps the reason that ‘no-one could accuse us of political sophistication’.
We must always be willing to engage with criticism (and we think the words expended on this debate count as engagement but we feel your attempt to force us to condemn a small protest group was ‘fundamentalist’ and lacked the solidarity you seem so keen on.
See you on the (crudely built) barricades.