The Socialist 29 May 2013 |
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Unite to fight racism!
Working class unity is needed to end austerity
Jobs and Homes Not Racism - Youth Fight For Jobs banner on anti-EDL demonstration in Tower Hamlets, London, photo East London Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
Aghast, millions of people watched the shaky amateur footage of the brutal killing of a young soldier, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, south east London.
Quoted in the Evening Standard, Onay Kasab from Greenwich Socialist Party, summed up the response of socialists: "What happened in Woolwich on Wednesday was a despicable act, whatever the political motivations of the attackers.
"We completely condemn the murder," (see Editorial No to terrorism! No to racism! No to war!). The racist attacks on Muslims in the days that followed must also be condemned just as strongly.
Three petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque in Grimsby, a fried chicken shop was smashed up in east London, and there has been a big increase in reports of racist attacks since the event on 22 May.
These actions, like the killing, are carried out by a tiny number of people and are unrepresentative of the mass of society.
There is no question racist groups have been emboldened by the events. The English Defence League (EDL) and British National Party (BNP) have been attempting to use the situation to gain support.
But only months ago the BNP appeared to be disintegrating and the EDL was forced out of Waltham Forest, east London, by a massive show of opposition by local working class people and youth.
The Socialist Party played a leading role in forging a breakaway protest that forced the EDL, despite police protection, to scarper.
The group was then beset by major infighting and seemed to be on the retreat. But at the time the Socialist Party warned that the conditions of austerity combined with the absence of a strong working class voice of opposition meant that the EDL or another right-wing or far-right group was likely to emerge to exploit the situation.
Love Music Hate Racism 2007, photo Paul Mattsson
Now these organisations are trying to seize the opportunity to spread their racist lies. A few hundred EDL supporters have been mustered from the different splinter groups to unite in anti-Muslim protests in both Newcastle and London. It's reported that, as well as racist chants, they shouted, "we hate Cameron."
The EDL, BNP and their ilk are pernicious racist organisations that feed off the desperate conditions of poverty and hopelessness.
In Breadline Britain, where food banks can't keep up with demand, and volunteers report that the bedroom tax is a contributing factor, there is growing anger and despair.
But their racist lies provide no way of acting on the hatred for the millionaire ministers in the Con-Dem government felt by the millions of people battered by austerity.
In fact their divisive racism can only weaken the one force in society that has the potential to defeat the government's cuts - the organised working class.
A political vacuum exists when all the establishment parties agree that working class people's living standards must be cut to pay for the bankers' crisis. The EDL, BNP and others seek to exploit this.
It is urgent that we build a mass political voice that represents the anti-cuts position of the vast majority of the population.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which the Socialist Party supports, is an important step in this campaign (www.tusc.org.uk).
Socialists argue for a massive, united campaign of working class people that has the power not only to marginalise and smash groupings like the EDL, but to provide hope in a real future to those small layers of people who might be attracted by them.
A 24-hour general strike must be fought for as a powerful show of opposition to all austerity measures.
The call from trade unions, the NUT in Lewisham and Unite, for a counter-protest to the BNP on Saturday 1 June will be an important opportunity to argue these points.
Stop the BNP!
Saturday 1 June, 12 noon
Downing Street, Whitehall, London SW1
Last updated: 31/5/13 at 12:12