While I argued back then that the EDL was politically a new type of politics, that they are loyalist and should be opposed politicaly, and physically only if people attempted to attack muslim areas, the vast majority of anachists (and the Trot left) and particularly on IndyUK, have argued that
1) the EDL are simply fascists
and thus pushed two tactics that
2) the EDL then must be physically opposed and driven from the streets.
3) to attack and ridicule them on the internet, a campaign typified by one Indymedia based individual (Mista Journalist/Lozza/Trolldestroya/Harpic/Robesphere/Demmy God/Troll Deflator /Dangermoose etc etc ) which seeks to destroy the EDL (having decided they are Nazis) by identifying the significant neo-fascist involvement in it, and noting their violence and attacks on the police.
So is the analysis correct and are the tactics working?" These are very very simple questions that must be asked and analysed and answered if we are to progress. .
Imho the analysis is incorrect and the tactics are not working. But first who am I comment. Ok, I first got involved with anti-racist and antifascist politics in 1978 when i joined my local "..... Against Racism" and then the ANL (and SWP), which i stayed with till the early 1980s. When ANL was wound down and I moved to London I was on the periphery of AFA,i.e. I attended actions/demos but was not involved in the hits. However as I got more involved in working class and anarchist politics and studied both the history of anti-fascism and the working class it became evident to me that anti-fascism is not an anarchist politics but the politics of the middle class that seeks to defend (as does loyalism ironically) the status quo. And when AFA declared that Anti-fascism in this era could no longer work I agreed 100%. Does this mean fascism should not be opposed? No of course not but it is how. I am also a shop steward for over 20 years and am heavily involved in local radical politics and to a lesser extent @ politics
So 1) is the analysis correct? No it is not. Fascism is the state/capitalism using race or reaction to divide the working class so it can not unite and resist or overthrow it. While in effect the EDL is divisive, on paper and on camera, unlike fascist groups, the EDL continuously argues it is multi-ethnic and anti-racist and anti-fascist and indeed of its top activists there are mixed race and jewish. And in December EDL activists after being taunted over race attacked and beat up nazis in Whitehall, London.
Yes the EDL has fascists involved, but mostly on the periphery, but if you study their forums, as I do, you will see a very strong rejection of fascism as 'anti-british' and a rejection of 'racism' as 'anti british'. It is clear to me as someone who has studied groups like this for over 30 years that the EDL are not 'fascist' but 'loyalist'. That means they want to defend 'britain' and 'britishness'. And here lies the problem. While 'britain' is on many ways progressive ( EDL continuously counterpose and defend liberal british values re women and gays and race against conservative fundamentalist islamist attitudes) it is also playing a role in the world that EDL supporters simply do not acknowledge. So the EDL ends up being a defender of not only progressive social attitudes but more importantly a state and all that goes along with that, a defence of privilage, of class division, and of invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. They while not fascist are then still extremely dangerous and divisive.
And then so how are the liberal anarchist tactics outlined above working?
2) Attempts to oppose the EDL physically have been a total failure. Indeed if it were not for the police on several occasions the Anti-s would have been quite simply mullahed.
and 3) The info/disinfo/ridicule tactic probably does work to an extent and it is useful to an extent that the links are publicised but sadly the links have been regularly exaggerated and confused which has led the mass of anarchists to make 2+2=5 and then react wrongly. See above.
So clearly we are at an impasse. Neither tactic is working. So can and should the EDL be opposed? Yes and yes. But loyalism as is the EDL ( and it is the same for fascism), can only be opposed from inside the working class and any attempts to oppose it from the outside contribute to it's growth.
But first we have to properly understand what we are dealing with. And that is a movement that has come out of a working class army background in fury at what they saw as insult to their comrades, and has drawn to it 1) thousends of angry and disempowered young men, who btw have every right to be angry as they have been disempowered by capital. They are drawn to EDL as it is offers a simple outlet for that anger against an 'enemy within' and one critically that the state will allow. If a similar angry violent street movement had been developed against e.g. the bankers it would of course have been attacked by the state. These youth while racist in a casual way (deal with it @s, thats life outside your ghetto) are not fascists BUT if we stay in our ghettos and regard all these kids AS fascists it is more likely they will become so. And 2) ?? who is behind EDL; EDL undoubtedly is playing a role in the so called 'war on terror' and i doubt very much whether they are at the very least not being given tacit support by Suits at one level or other particularly if you note their army connections
We have an historic opportunity. Capitalism is at it's most doubted for 50 years and the state is despised by most people. And the authoritarian left are at an historic low point in their acceptance in the working class. If we are to stop reaction we must have the respect of and the ear of those who are drawn to it. None of us takes a blind bit if notice of people who we neither respect nor even know especially if they are shouting at us, saying they want to attack us!
Libertarians and anarchists have a simple choice. Remain on the outside of the working class (and end up a victim of reaction from the surging EDL or BNP) or become part of the class and create a progressive working class movement that will draw youth away form reaction like the EDL and maybe even a movement that can one day overthrow the state and capitalism. It is in our hands.