Following Monday’s government ban on National Action, the neo-Nazi former youth wing of the BNP, anti-fascists are warning that the measure won’t make a dent in the rise of far-right activity — but opens the door to similar measures against all political dissent.
National Action, which worked under the slogan “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” infamously celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016 by fascist Thomas McNair and attempted to set up whites-only zones in Liverpool and Newbury, along with regular intimidation and incitement.
In a statement, the Anti-Fascist Network said:
A Far Right group being banned by the State can feel like a relief to many affected communities. Being on the receiving end of Nazi hate leaves a lot of people feeling like a ban on Nazi activity, even if only in gesture, can’t be in and of itself a bad thing.
What we need to discuss though, is the inherent racism of the State itself, and its very specific agenda. This is a State profiting from a horrifically racist colonial past, one which detains black and brown bodies in detention centres, allows and enforces institutions to actively hurt and kill people of colour (see the numbers of Black and Asian deaths in police custody, the use of Joint Enterprise Law etc).
The State has constantly put huge pressure and funding into crushing anti-fascist movements over the years, from undercover officers to illegal mass arrests. The intentionally broad terrorism laws and strategies like Prevent, often used of course in an explicitly racist way, have been used by the government against anti-fracking groups we’ve learned only today [see below]. What will it be used for next?
What use will a State ban be when Nazism, racism and fascism continue to exist, be normalised and try to take over our towns? The State is only validating National Action, it will never address or break down the core reason they exist, because they serve it. We can’t rely on the State to combat fascism or provide a political alternative worth fighting for. For that we must take responsibility.
The statement follows on from recent complaints to the government by anti-fracking campaigners that they remain on Prevent’s terror watchlists even after promises to remove them had been made. Frack Free Ryedale organisers, who are trying to stop Third Energy from drilling earthquake-linked gas fracking wells just a quarter of a mile from local homes, were named alongside groups such as Isis and the PKK as part of the controversial anti-radicalisation strategy. Frack Free Ryedale campaigner and local Lib Dem councillor Di Keal said:
“We are calling on the government and police to take immediate action to remove all references to anti-fracking campaigners from their own and partner organisation Prevent policies, including questionnaires and training materials. In addition the police need to contact all those people who have undergone Prevent training to inform them that peaceful anti-fracking campaigners are no longer the subject of special monitoring. Instead, they should be showcased as a model example of peaceful democratic campaigners.”
For more on the problems of the Prevent strategy and how to combat it, try the NUS Black Students Handbook [PDF]
For more from the Anti-Fascist Network, check out antifascistnetwork.org