So, there has been a lot of discussion in the last few days re: violence, antifa, the broader left and the movement against the UPF/RA and other associated far right groups.The arguments seem to fall into a couple of categories.
(There are assumptions and generalisations here which are simply for the point of argument, obviously characterisations of different positions are more nuanced and varied than those expressed below)
Those of the moderate (small l) liberal, progressive persuasion seem to be mostly of the opinion that the far right can only be effectively challenged and defeated if the general public is on board. The implications and assumptions here are,
– public opinion and positive media are the most important tools in challenging the far right
– there must be a broad commitment to non-violence (NV)
– there can be different tactics, but the must be a broad adherence to these positions.
– Actions which run counter this are seen to be counter productive and essentially result in positive outcomes for the far right.
Many of the antifa/anarchist/militant leftist position seem to assert that the far right can only be defeated through strict adherence to a no platform principle and direct confrontation. This involves challenging the far right at every opportunity and at every rally/instance of organisation. This position asserts that
– all forms of confrontation are legitimate
– the far right should be challenged physically as well as ideologically
– media and public opinion come as a secondary consideration
As a result those of the progressive position see the actions of antifa/militant leftists as counterproductive, damaging to the cause and liable to alienate the general public and media whose support is essential to wining the cause
Antifa et al. see the progressive left/moderates as ineffective, blind to the reality of the far-right and that these positions and the strict adherence to NV allow the far right the space/legitimacy to operate publically.
This tension is not easily resolved, so far it has seen both sides engage publically in ugly argument, accusations and name-calling. (I am not innocent of this either)The invective from both sides is entirely un-useful and damaging to the movement in general. It feeds straight into the hands of the far right and plays right into the age old notion that the biggest threat to the left is the left itself.
So how do we resolve it?
Well, when it is played out on the conditions that are outlined above, we cant. There is an ideological divide which can not be mitigated, the difference is political and those on both sides believe absolutely in their position. I personally have sympathies to arguments from both sides. What I can suggest is that the way we negate this difference be played out differently.
Lets do our best not to play out our differences in opinion in a manner that allows the far right to capitalise on our dis-unity. Lets do our best to check ourselves before name calling. Before we post, pause for a minute to think, ‘how does this comment contribute to the greater cause of fighting fascism/racism’. If it doesn’t, and only serves as a defensive reaction, suck it up and don’t post.
Further to this, I would urge everyone to accept that there are different opinions as to the efficacy of certain tactics. Accept that this divide can not be negated. Accept that people are going to act in ways which you personally consider to be counter-productive. I would ask that instead of engaging in a war with those who are opposed to fascists (but are of different tactics and political beliefs) maintain your fight against fascists. Think about ways to further your position without attacking others on the left. Organise. Stand and fight against fascism in the way you think is most appropriate. Do this without the fucking ego and without the need to legitimise your position at the expense of others. But for fucks sake, don’t just be a keyboard warrior… just accept people wont agree and that this difference in tactics is not going to go away. lets take this fight to them in as many ways as possible, get together with like minded folk and Organise!