Now that the dust has settled and we have had time to reflect on the demo against the National Front (NF) and their “unity” allies in Dover, we feel the need to respond to some points made on social media about the day’s events promoting fascist actions as “victories”.
Activity on social media plays an important role in the public portrayal of political events and is fundamental to ensuring the reverberations of activity continue to inform and invigorate our movement. When those who moderate blogs and websites publish articles and communiques, they represent, whether they intend to or not, the groups they refer to. Sadly, the greatest victory granted to the fascists at Dover was gained through the unconsidered blogs and loose lips of supposed comrades. Unlike the ideologies and territory that were bitterly fought over on the streets of Dover, a significant consolation was handed to the fascist scum on a silver platter in the form of online words.
On one website, later gleefully picked up by fascist activists, a tumblr blogger writes: ”We can’t kid around or attempt to save face, or obscure the truth for propaganda purposes, AFN (Anti-Fascist Network) were destroyed in Dover today. Six Comrades went to hospital, and if wasn’t for the police it would have been a lot more. We were outnumbered and outgunned by the Fascists, who were up for a fight from moment one, and had the sufficient mix of booze and steroids to be essentially unstoppable”.
The idea that the AFN were “destroyed” in Dover is not only inaccurate, but borders on hysteria. Clearly, the use of the term “destroyed” is not true. The AFN continues to operate; it continues to plan demos and challenge the far-right wherever they go. The “unstoppable” fascist thugs which had the tumblr blogger shaking with fright failed to achieve this supposed annihilation. This false observation, coupled with the inexcusable mention of the number of comrades that were injured in Dover (casualties which were sustained equally on both sides), makes this particular article positively toxic. The dissemination of such material is a godsend to the British far-right not only because it aids in demoralising our own comrades, but because the only imaginable outcome of such information will be its inclusion in fascist propaganda. It is the exact same reason why we publish their wounded after a demo; we should avoid giving them the same ammunition. This kind of language, referring to fascists as “essentially unstoppable” actively glorifies the far-right. It feeds into the exact image they wish to cultivate about themselves. Again, this kind of carelessness serves no other purpose but to help the fascists write long, self-aggrandising Stormfront posts; something we could all do without.
In terms of the events of the day, there is also need for clarification. Summing up the face of anti-fascism in Dover, as some have tried, as a brawl in a car park between groups of white men is simply outrageous. Firstly, to paint everyone who confronted the fascists that day as “just a bunch of white guys”, is lazy and disrespectful to those who do not fit that category. It is also simply untrue. Secondly, what this stance fails to recognise is that the police were overwhelmingly concerned with anti-fascists; their backs turned to the fascists as they hurled projectiles into the crowd. Not only did we have to contend with the NF and a multitude of EDL splinter groups, but also the Dover police. Considering this, we were still able to break through several kettles and hold the line against the NF as they pressed against us. At any time the NF could have rushed past the very thin police line surrounding them, but they didn’t. Instead they threw bricks and bottles while the police had their backs turned, and we still gave them hell. This is far from being destroyed.
It’s easy to divide demos into black and white categories: defeat or victory. The reality is of course that these events are more complex. They have to be analysed carefully and objectively, in a way which broadens and strengthens our future actions. This process happens internally between comrades, within our movement. We do not shout at the top of our lungs our emotional reactions to a demo that didn’t end up a resounding success. We discuss and debrief while aiming to avoid making anti-fascism into entertainment. That, we believe, is the most secure and ultimately constructive thing to do. London Anti-fascists recognise that this has been a sticking point. In future we make a commitment to follow up fully on larger actions by facilitating more open dialogue with everyone who has attended actions we have organised. We should encourage participation and criticism, but in the most effective channels.
We oppose fascism because their organisation and existence is a threat to our revolutionary class-struggle. Fascism is a threat to that project and when we are in solidarity with migrants, minorities, LGBTQs, left radicals etc, it is because our interests and objectives intersect. That’s what solidarity is: standing shoulder to shoulder, united in common struggle. To those who unilaterally project their grievances into the internet, we say this: do not treat anti-fascist events like a tourist, writing a bad TripAdvisor review when dissatisfied with your experience. Any action that challenges the cruel front-line of state and fascism creates a range of eventualities – sometimes it means dodging bricks. They aren’t all going to be like Liverpool, and to expect otherwise would be short-sighted.
Always militant! Always anti-fascist!