Unite against racism, Islamophobia and fascism

An anti-racist protest opposing the Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne on April 4. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

The campaign against racism and the far right needs a clear understanding of racism and fascism and how to fight these threats.

Racism is not inherent in human beings. It is a product of capitalism. Racist scapegoating is used by the corporate rich because it undermines solidarity among workers, opening the way for conservative policies such as privatisation and cuts to social spending.

Fascism historically has been a mass social movement based on terror and organised violence against working-class institutions and minority groups. It is a form of capitalist rule that has come to power as a last ditch effort by capitalist elites to destroy threats to their system. In wealthy imperialist countries there is currently no need for the ruling classes to resort to fascism. It is a potential threat but one that is currently on the fringes of society.

Germany, due to its fascist history, has a long history of anti-fascist organising. In 2009 there were divisions on how to oppose the annual fascist march in Dresden. There were two different anti-fascist mobilisations, while 7000 Nazis marched undisturbed and protected by the police. It was the biggest far-right gathering in Europe for decades.

Both anti-fascist coalitions acknowledged failure and united around an “action consensus” involving concessions on both sides. This proved effective. United action stopped Nazis from marching in 2010 and 2011 and by 2012, under the threat of another blockade and weakened by infighting, the Nazis called off their rally.

A response to Reclaim Australia should be informed by these points:
· History has shown that racist and fascist groups are aided by “democratic” capitalist government policies. Rising inequality, poverty, exploitation and discrimination lay the basis for the far right to scapegoat Aboriginal people, refugees and Muslims.
· Campaigning against these policies is a crucial component of undermining the ability of right-wing, racist and fascist groups to win an audience for their reactionary politics.
· The anti-racist/anti-Islamophobic campaign needs organising groups and actions to be as broad and inclusive as possible. We should unite in action all those individuals and groups who want to turn back the current racist attacks by both governments and the far right.

It is only by campaigning around immediate and concrete demands that a movement can be built that brings together all those under attack. A focus on general slogans alone will pose less challenge to government attacks that are generating racist and Islamophobic sentiments.

Reclaim Australia has announced their next gathering for July 18. It is unfortunate that in Melbourne two coalitions — No Room for Racism and Campaign Against Racism and Fascism — have formed separately to campaign against the far right threat. These two coalitions should meet and work out the way forward for a united, bigger and broader campaign. Together we can win!

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