Physical Resistance - - A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism
|Dave Hann - Chief Steward of AFA's Northern Network and a respected anti-fascist worked on the book until his death in September 2009.|
Last Friday (25th January 13) Brighton University was host to an anti-fascist book launch. Written by Dave Hann, who was chief steward of Anti-Fascist Action’s Northern Network, it is the most comprehensive account of British fascism that I’ve read and I’ve read quite a bit!
Unlike the books you get from journalists (for example Martin Walker’s National Front) and academics (for example Richard Thurlow’s Fascism in Britain – A History 1918-85) this has the merit of being written by an activist who could bring his experience to bear when analysing the past struggles against fascism. It is also far more comprehensive than anything else I’ve read,
|It was standing room only at the book launch|
|The old Daily 'hate' Mail - campaigning against 'bogus' Jewish asylum seekers|
I found it interesting to note that in the ’43 group, discussion of Zionism and anti-Zionism was banned. There were Zionists who played a key role, but the group took their political lead from the Communist Party primarily, or its activists. Most British Jews then were not Zionist, although they supported the establishment of the Israeli state, and wanted to defend their right to live in Britain free from fascist terror. The ’62 group was far less political, had little contact with the Communist Party or the Left and was divided between political activists and Zionists. It was when the Zionists, who under Gerry Gable had their links with the State and Special Branch, made off with files that had been seized from a raid on the fascists, contrary to an agreement reached amongst those responsible, that the group split.
I also found myself reflecting on the reality that Jews faced in the East End where they could not go down certain roads or into certain areas like Bethnal Green without running the risk of physical attack. The BUF instigated a reign of terror, backed up to the hilt by the Metropolitan Police (no change there). Today levels of anti-Semitism are minuscule. The place of Jews has been taken by Roma, East European workers, Bengalis and Muslims.
Yet Zionist charlatans like Ronnie Bloom, who has set up a Sussex Friends of Israel group, as a result of the pickets of Sodastream, the Israeli shop in Brighton that sells stolen produce from the stolen land of the Palestinians, declaring that ‘“With the unparalleled level of antisemitism in the town, we feel our organisation will be able to make people understand the truth about Israel.”
|Letter from President of British Brother's League - the first proto-fascist organisation. Founded by Tory MP William Evans Gordon, who was on the best of terms with the Zionist leaders in Britain.|
The account in the book of the formation of anti-fascist committees nationwide and then the Anti-Nazi League and the changing contours of British fascism is second to none.
|The Daily Mail's support for the Blackshirts is well known - what isn't so well known is that the Daily Mirror also supported Moseley and Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere was spreading his poison in this paper too|
Despite their apparent concern over anti-Semitism, Brighton’s Zionist leaders have no truck with anti-fascist mobilisations or demonstrations. Anti-fascism is not for them. Zionism is consistent in this regard! Only a few days ago, the avidly pro-Zionist, Berlusconi, praised Mussolini to the sky, with the except of his 1938 Race laws (forgetting that Mussolini’s Salo Republic also deported about 7,000 Italian Jews and Mussolini himself was always willing to go along with the final solution). Although individual Zionists (used to) take part in anti-fascist activities this was not because of, but despite their Zionism which taught them that anti-Semitism is an inherent and 'natural' part of non-Jewish society.
As BBL President William Stanley Shaw said, in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle of 8.11.1901. ‘The return of the Jews to Palestine is one of the signs of our times.’ In other words, an Evangelical Christian of the type that is making up the bulk of the pro-Apartheid demonstrations outside Sodastream.
The meeting itself had been moved to a larger room to accommodate the numbers, but even so people were crowded around the door as there wasn’t a spare seat in the room. It was a wonderful night and it was a joy to hear from people that I hadn’t met for years and who, like me, have passed on the baton to a younger generation. Relatives of Harry Johnson, Manchester communist and anti-fascist, Betty Davis, granddaughter of Trinidadian International Brigader and Cable Street participant spoke at the meeting and stayed on for the excellent post-launch party.
I finished my own talk by reflecting that nothing we had done in Brighton bettered the wonderful turn out on April 22nd last year, when the EDL’s march was halted by the Police after it had gone less than 1/3 of the way, and forced down the backstreets. I can remember in particular a young woman, who had attended a meeting that I and others had addressed at Sussex University earlier that week, who listened to what I said about the anti-fascist battles of the ‘70s and ‘80s. We met up again on the demonstration and she asked ‘Well did we do as well’ to which I responded ‘Yes, better even than us!’.
This is a book that every serious anti-fascist activist should read. I feel privileged to have been asked to take part, along with others cited in the book, in reading extracts from my interview.