From Stockholm to Dover, resurgent fascism must be resisted

From Stockholm to Dover, resurgent fascism must be resisted
Comment: The rise in far-right activism is violent and threatening, and must be defeated, writes Hilary Aked.
4 min read
04 Feb, 2016
The far-right has been emboldened by the political rhetoric and discriminatory anti-migrant legislation [AFP]

On Friday night in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, hundreds of masked fascists connected to the neo-Nazi Swedish Resistance Movement reportedly rampaged through the shopping precinct of the city's main train station.

They attacked anyone they suspected might be a migrant - which in effect meant any person of colour they could find, including children.

Despicably, the group sought to exploit the death of Alexandra Mazher, a social worker who died after being stabbed following a fight at a shelter - where she was working to support refugees.

Then on Saturday, neo-fascist groups in the UK converged on Dover, a port town on Britain's south coast that has been a key UK entry point for migrants arriving from Calais, and the site of four previous anti-immigration marches in the past two years.

Led by "The East Kent English Patriots" and a resurgent National Front, other far-right groups including National Action, Combat 18, the South East Alliance, North West Infidels came along to bolster numbers.

Yet the white supremacists were still outnumbered by anti-fascists who arrived from across the country to support Kent Anti-Racism Network and Dover Stand Up to Racism.

The far-right has been emboldened by the political rhetoric of the mainstream

Worryingly, there was a second fascist gathering in the UK that day. The virulently Islamophobic Britain First also held a march in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Though it attracted a pitiful level of support - some estimates said just 80 people attended, despite the group's huge online following - those who oppose fascism cannot afford to be complacent.

The far-right has been emboldened by the political rhetoric of the mainstream and discriminatory anti-migrant legislation such as that passed in Denmark last week

That such laws have given fascists courage was clear from the attacks they made on left-wing protesters - which included the daubing of a swastika on the side of a coach, allegedly in blood - at a service state in Maidstone en route to the Dover demonstration.

One coach driver was reportedly injured, and when a number of militant anti-fascists fought back, several people ended up in hospital after the hard-right used sticks, bricks and even hammers, according to some media outlets.

The relation of all this to the mainstream is what should alarm us most. Police used so-called "kettling" techniques against the anti-fascists, while declaring their aim was to facilitate the fascists' right to demonstrate.

The mainstream media was full of clichés about "clashes" between opposing sides, events "turning violent" and fighting "erupting" - with only very few outlets taking the time to consider the inherently violent nature of fascist ideology towards the vast majority of people and the danger of its resurgence in Europe.

For, as London Anti-Fascists said, the mobilisations were a microcosm of a wider struggle "between those who wish to see the murderous divisions of nations, borders, and class further entrenched and fortified with razor wire and racist rhetoric" and "those who fight for freedom of movement and solidarity among the exploited, oppressed and excluded of the world".

They were killed by the border regime and the callousness of fortress Europe

While anti-fascists chanted "no pasaran" and held banners saying "refugees welcome" and "never again" - particularly poignant in the week during which the world marked Holocaust Memorial Day - the far-right were giving speeches calling migrants and refugees "third-world scum" and making Nazi salutes to the sky.

A few days earlier, an estimated 40 people drowned off the west coast of Turkey, when the boat they were in - trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Greece - sank.

Among them were several children and a pregnant woman.

They were killed by the border regime and the callousness of fortress Europe, which shuts its doors to people fleeing the horror of poverty and war.

This system relies on racism. It may not be as explicit as the National Front's slogan (known as the Fourteen Words), which reads: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

But the mainstream racism and xenophobia that saturates the words of presidents and prime ministers across Europe when speaking about migration to the continent come from the same source.

Some of the fascists at Dover were said to be wearing t-shirts bearing the image of Enoch Powell, a British Conservative party politician who came up with the notorious anti-immigration diatribe known as "the rivers of blood speech".

As Ambalavaner Sivanandan, a veteran UK-based black political thinker famously said: "What Enoch Powell says today, the Tories say tomorrow, and Labour legislates on the day after."

The determination of Europe's governments to staunch the flow of desperate people entering the EU is proving this grimly accurate. The need to resist resurgent fascism in Europe - on the streets, at the ballot box and in our communities - and articulate and build visions of an equal, anti-racist and borderless world society oriented to human needs, has never been more urgent. 

Hilary Aked is an analyst and researcher whose PhD studies focus on the influence of the Israel lobby in the United Kingdom. Follow her on Twitter: @Hilary_Aked

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.