Friday, 17 May 2013

Glenn Beck Ruins my Childhood One Film at a Time

I'm a subscriber to the youtube channel of Right Wing Watch (RWW) an American pressure group that publishes interviews, speeches and sound bites from America's extreme right, so its mostly religious fundamentalists and incredibly partisan Republican careerists. As an aside while much of the content the group uploads is funny its actually quite surprising and just a little scary just how prominent some of the regular characters are. You could make a similar channel with much the same content in Britain and I suspect most nations, however I like to think (feel free to call me naive) that in Britain all the features would be small name big ego's attached to a tiny political party with a membership of three and an internet radio show listened to by no one.

Sadly RWW often has state and federal Congressmen and Congresswomen and even a few former Presidential Candidates. Fortunately those candidates only played well with a few parts of the Republican party base but its worrying to know that the most powerful military state in the world could of been won by a man who thinks God is directly telling him what to do, or that the world is about to end, and that's a good thing.

Unsurprisingly arguably RWW's most common "guest" is the globally infamous Glenn Beck. Yes that's right America, the world knows your secret shame that you let clear mental patients dance around on television.  I first encountered Mr Beck wacthing Charlie Brooker's Newswipe and my was I in for a treat. Incidentally the same program also introduced me to Bill "We'll do it live" O'Reilly and I honestly thought he was the worst of the bunch. That thought lasted about ten seconds, guess who popped up next?

At around 6:30

You know who else liked to gesture while making speeches? That's right Hitler!

This has been going on for years, but now Beckie seems to be making it personal by taking films from my childhood putting them on his vast chalkboard conspiracy.

First we have him comparing himself to Back to the Future III

Now I know most consider III to be the worst one, but I still like it, or at least I used to like it. Now I'm afraid that if I watch it again my mind will be focussed of acquiring Gold and irrelevant quotations by the Founding Fathers. Oh and for me this is the final piece of evidence in the Glenn Beck is an actor/con artist, the way he says he believes III happened so casually means he's either completely insane (in which case he should of had a very public meltdown) or just playing a part.

But it gets worse, next up we have Beck's rip off... I mean "homage" to the Untouchables.  And probably the strangest video I've seen outside of an art film.

Yes I saw Untouchables as a child what of it?though I do find it amusing how even he's aware of how much he prattles on about the "Founding Fathers" in fact he obsesses over absentee fathers more then any child of divorce I ever met. But I have to wonder what's next? Please, please, please don't let it be Blade Runner (yes I saw that as a child too) or Ghost Busters.... Well maybe the sequel.

You know who else loved Foxes? Thats right, Hitler!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Anti Fascist Action (AFA)

When we think of Fascism the image that usually comes to mind a bunch of thugs in matching shirts pushing around an elderly Rabbi. That or a bunch of middle aged wasters hanging around WWII re-enactments.

Sadly both stereotypes the historical artefact or the dregs of society are in danger of becoming obsolete. In Europe racial populist parties whose members and leaders have a lengthy history of rubbing shoulders with explicit Neo-Nazi's have managed to get a boost in poll numbers by focusing on Immigrants and since 2001 Muslims. Now we add Austerity to the mix and the appeal to national brotherhood has become more appealing to some of those left idle by the economic stagnation.

In Greece as I'm sure you're aware the overtly Fascist Golden Dawn is currently the third largest party and becoming more active. But its not just a Greek problem, throughout the whole of Europe there are worrying pockets of Fascists and not quite fascist movements bubbling up to the surface.

Italy has a long history of large coalitions of far right groups gaining influence in many electoral coalitions. Such as the Italian Social Movement the successors to Mussolini's Fascist party. ISM merged into the National Alliance which was then merged with a number of other parties including Berlusconi's Forza Italia into the "People for Freedom Party". To put that in British terms, imagine the BNP and the other Far Right splinters merge into a new Nationalist Front, and then merges with the Conservative Party giving some of its members access to state institutions and a say in national policy.

For example take this golden boy, he is Manfredi Alemanno the son of the Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno a current member of the People for Freedom and former member of the Italian Social Movement. Now not only has this coalition let a lot of Fascists in through the back door but it appears the Alemanno's haven't renounced their past and are still up to dirty tricks.

The story goes back to 2009. It’s June 2nd, the day on which Italy celebrates the anniversary of the 1946 referendum that brought an end to the monarchy and the beginning of the Republic. Manfredi Alemanno, who is then 14 years old, goes to a party with some friends in a posh area of Rome. Once there, they start singing fascist songs and doing the fascist salute. This is not surprising: Manfredi Alemanno, who was later photographed on a holiday in Greece in 2012 in the same pose, comes from an all-fascist family (more on this below).
One of the teenagers who had organised the party confronted them and told them to leave. At this stage the situation quickly escalates: one of Manfredi’s friends threatens the organisers and declares his membership of Blocco Studentesco – Casapound‘s youth wing (of which, by the way, Manfredi Alemanno became representative in his college in 2011). The same guy then starts making calls to dozens of people. Their girlfriends are told to get away because “something is about to happen”. Within a few minutes a group of 4 or 5 young men enter the scene – nobody sees how they get in, but they are probably let in by their friends – who then start beating up, even using a motorbike helmet, the teenager who had stopped the fascist singing.
And calling from Deutschland we have worrying news of a plethora Neo-Nazi splinters flaring up from Wessen to Ost. The most well known of these is probably the National Democratic Party of Germany (NDP) which in addition to being around since the 60's (in West Germany) has managed to gain a few seats in regional parliaments, and has survived several banning attempts.

But its not all doom and gloom, Fascist groups have had surges in support before, and were often put into severe decline. In Britain the height of openly Fascist support was in 1977 with the National Front, but by the 80's the NF had fractured and overall the Far Right started losing members and support. You saw less and less paper sellers and fewer marches and rallies, which where the main activites for the British Far right from Moseley's crew upto the early nineties. It wasn't until the "Defence League's" got started that Far Right Nazi Fetishists started to come back onto the streets
 and we can all see how well that turned out.

Today the NF numbers at best 200 and most of those are paper/keyboard members. And in France a similar phenomenon occurred, Fascistic groups to the right of the Front Nacionale (FN) were a common sight on the streets of Paris. In fact racist attacks of black and Asian citizens got so bad in some areas that it became impossible for "foreign looking" people to take certain trains through several Metro stations.

But again much like in Britain that changed, street by street France's far right gangs disappeared with only the FN which had a very rocky relationship with them is still around causing trouble. So what happened in Britain and France, did the skin heads just get bored and go home? Not quite, they went home all right but not because they wanted to. In both nations a large and diverse coalition of groups clubbed together to then club (often literally) the Fascists in the streets.

In Britain the group was called Anti Fascist Action (AFA) and it was a coalition of Red Action a Communist group formed from a split with the Socialist Workers Party (whom ran the Anti Nazi League) and are now known as the "Independent Working Class Association" and have some local council representation. The Anarchist Direct Action Movement (DAM) and to a lesser degree Workers Power, Class War and a few other groups, as well as a large group of independents i.e. people who didn't belong to any other group.

AFA was originally set up in 1985 as a broad front anti-fascist organisation. The main fascist organisation at this time, following the demise of the National Front after Thatcher took power in 1979, was the British National Party (BNP), a more extreme split from the NF. Militant physical force anti-fascism has a long tradition in Britain - going back to the 1930's, the 'Battle of Cable Street' and the 43 Group in London's East End, and it was in this tradition that AFA was formed.
Fighting Talk

Writing these words I am acutely aware of my small contribution to the history of anti-fascism. I’m sure I have forgotten many incidents, but even so this little booklet of anti-fascist activity must look very slim compared to the volumes certain people I know could fill with their experiences. Nevertheless, I think it can be useful for the ‘small fish’ such as myself to chronicle these events, warts and all, in case nobody does it and then the history would be lost, or distorted by right-wingers or liberals.
By crushing the fascists at an early stage I think it is reasonable to assume that Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) has prevented numerous racist attacks and even saved lives. For if the fascists were given the chance to freely march, sell their papers, and appear as a respectable political force they would just grow and grow. Fascists’ number one aim while they are growing is to appear to be respectable and rational, but, to quote Matty Blagg ‘fascism does not start with gas chambers, but it ends with them’.
Now some Liberals have been hard at work downplaying the importance of the AFA, and obviously AFA members have an interest in presenting themselves and their actions in the best light possible. But I find it rather telling that while the AFA were around the Far Right including the BNP eventually dropped street mobilisations all together to focus on contesting local councils. And it wasn't until after the AFA wound up its operations in 2001 that we started seeing Far Right clowns making a nuisance of themselves on the high street.

An immediate focus for the new organisation was the annual NF Remembrance Day parade. The NF at the time were the main fascist party and Remembrance Day was the highlight in the fascist calendar. An estimated 2,000 fascists took part in 1986 and in successive years AFA led similar numbers of anti-fascists into the area. This focus led the BNP to withdraw entirely from the event, complaining that the area was ‘full of reds’. And by 1990 the NF itself had been whittled down to 200.
By now, BNP activities were being confronted by AFA the length and breadth of the country. In Scotland where, prior to 1990, the BNP had been allowed a free run, the AFA launch saw the tables turned figuratively and literally. On one notable occasion, BNP leader John Tyndall was forced to escape an AFA siege through a sewer. This was swiftly followed by a series of devastating setbacks for the BNP both in Manchester and the satellite towns surrounding it. A method of operation soon taken up by the AFA Midlands region. By 1994 the BNP were now losing ‘the battle for control of the streets’ not just in London but nationally. A fact they publicly acknowledged in April that year when announcing that there would be “no more marches, meetings, punch-ups”. It was a decisive moment.
Since 1985 AFA has diligently and successfully repulsed a whole series of initiatives by the far-right. Demonstrating in that process not only how, but as importantly why, fascism must be ruthlessly confronted at the earliest possible stage. An obvious result being that despite having one of the highest race attack rates in Europe (a figure that has quadrupled in a decade) the British far-right, unlike their political counterparts in mainland Europe (the far-right recently topping the poll in Austria) have thus far been firmly confined to the margins. That said, it is a situation the BNP, by standing in all regions and distributing over 10 million recruitment leaflets for the European elections in June, are clearly determined to change. As they openly admit if AFA can be outflanked: ‘if AFA can be stopped, that is all we need to win’.
And in France a similar mobilisation took place to oppose and eventually stop and reverse the growth of jack booted thugs in the streets harassing elderly immigrants.

 ANTIFA Chasseurs de skins

Documentary about the rise of neo-nazi skinhead culture in 1980s Paris and how they were countered by a militant, multicultural underground movement. Contains interviews with participants recounting the subcultures and the street fights which made up their lives at the time.

In conclusion, the growth of extreme right wing movements shouldn't be taken lightly, but it also shouldn't be the cause of despair. History has shown clearly that it is possible and quite likely to break them up.

"Only one thing could have stopped our movement, if our adversaries had understood its principle and from the first day has smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement" Adolph Hitler

Anti Fascist Archive
Bash the Fash
A Brief History of Anti Fascist Action

Fighting Talk
ANTIFA Chasseurs de skins

Thursday, 2 May 2013

May Day 2013

Forgive the lateness but I had to gather the materials. May 1st is of course May Day, or to give it its proper name International Labour Day, around the world the day is used by many groups within or attached to the Labour Movement to celebrate victories, and regroup and continue to fight to reverse defeats. We do this because we want to build a better world for all of us.

Unsurprisingly many events held on this Day are often attacked and undermined by governments and companies. In fact in some countries like America (where it was founded) the day itself was under attack with the "official" Labor Day being moved to September in an attempt to break its links with the Haymarket meeting and its Martyrs.

Fortunately as you can see they haven't succeeded, a group assembled at the statue to the Haymarket Martyrs in Haymarket Square in Chicago on May Day.

The main group are RAD (Radicals Against Discrimination)
And elsewhere in America there were demonstrations, though mainly by the Labour Movements "Radical Reds" as the mainstream unions back the official day in September. In particular the Industrial Workers of the World

Viva Las Vegas!
In New York

Protests and demonstrations took place across the country and the world today for International Workers Day. In Bangladesh, thousands filled the streets of Dhaka to demand labor protections after last week's deadly garment factory building collapse which killed more than 400 people. Garment workers also rallied in Cambodia's Phnom Penh. Tens of thousands of workers in Jakarta, Indonesia demanded better wages and conditions, including transgender activists who held signs calling for labor and LGBT rights. In a moment, we'll go to Seattle, Washington, then hear a report from Istanbul, but first we go to New York, where activists are calling attention to rights for immigrants. We're joined by Mariano Muñoz-Elías. He's one of the organizers of the Immigrant Worker Tour and one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street's Immigrant Worker Justice Group. Earlier today, he joined us from Bryant Park where actions were getting under way.

In Seattle

 Protesters in Seattle are also marking May Day today with several marches and an anti-capitalist rally this evening. One of the closely watched issues in Seattle is how authorities respond to the actions. Last year on May Day, the mayor authorized an emergency proclamation after clashes erupted during the protests. An independent review of the police response found a lack of proper training and direction and police use of plainclothes officers to infiltrate protesters. It also came to light that the FBI had tracked and tailed activists from Portland who came to Seattle for the rally, according to statements from FBI agents filed at the US District Court in Seattle. For more on today's events we're joined by reporter Mark Taylor-Canfield in Seattle.
Elsewhere around the globe there were large mobilisations on May Day. In Bangladesh anger over the recent tragedy ensured a big push for workers rights, unionisation and a commitment to tougher safety regulation.

 And in Jakarta in addition to usual Labour groups May Day was noted for the active participation of LGBT groups campaigning for rights and recognition.

And in Istanbul workers were not happy with the governments attempts to shut down the day and deny access to Taksim square the main site for Labour events ever since 1977 when a number of protesters were gunned down there by unknown gunmen


 In Turkey, officials banned an annual May Day gathering in downtown Istanbul. But labor unions and workers defied the order, and were met by riot police who fired tear gas and used water cannons in an attempt to disperse thousands of demonstrators. FSRN's Jacob Resneck reports.
And due the governing AK parties Islamic Conservatism women's groups have more active resisting laws and practices that are restrictive of women's liberties. As such a number of feminist groups were in attendance on the march to Taksim square. And female activists(not necessarily part of those feminist groups) were in the thick of the fighting with the riot police.

And in neighbouring Greece there was a mass march through Athens and a 24 hour General Strike.

In Britain our official May Day is the first Monday in May which this year will be the 6th so most of the big Trade Union demonstrations will be then. Sadly in Britain the actual day is dominated by the Morris Dancers prancing around a pole in a field. We should really look into changing that.

 Tis always a fine day on the 1st of May
For it is and shall always be International Labour Day
From mechanics to pen pushers
To farmhands and court ushers
We march and sing and cheer
Loud and proud for our time draws near

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