Should we vote against the BNP?

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RichardGriffin
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Dec 13 2003 12:48
Should we vote against the BNP?

The BNP are standing candidates in every constituency in the Euro elections as well as for the London Assembly. Against them will be an array of lefty parties - (SA,SLP,Greens, Unity Coalition, IWCA, SP) plus the three mainstream parties. There is a real prospect that the BNP will make progress which will give them a big boost.

Given this should anarchists vote in the Euro and LA elections and if so who for? If not, how should the BNP be effectively tackled given that they are campaigning electorally?

ffaker
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Dec 13 2003 23:28

I think so. Voting tactically. Especially in areas that have a serious danger of being swayed by the BNPs lies.

I will also probably vote for Ken as Mayor. So sue me. tongue

Steve
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Dec 14 2003 00:39

So it's, "vote anything without illusions" is it? :?

ClassWar
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Dec 14 2003 10:10

Voting as a method of defeating fascism does not have a very good record - Germany in the 1930s being the clearest example.

Equally voting New Labour (for example) merely perpetuates the problems that allow the BNP to operate.

Voting simply to "stop the BNP" is basically voting for more of the same.

RichardGriffin
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Dec 14 2003 12:23

I wouldn't advocate voting normally nor would I say tackling racism should only or primarily be done through voting, the point is, however, that the BNP is likely to do ok if the opposition is split. Clearly this shows the fallacy of elections (you don't vote for what you believe in but to stop something worse). The thing is though given that we do not want the BNP is make progress what will I achieve by not voting?

redmist
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Dec 18 2003 20:11

Very sensible post there Richard. I wouldn't vote if the choice was between the mainstream parties but if the BNP is involved in an election then I think all libertarians should vote for the mainstream party most likely to keep them out. Remember the slogan they had in France for the presidential election to get people to vote for Chirac to keep Le Pen out;

'Vote crook not fascist'.

Not voting in circumstances where fascist candidates have the real possibility of winning seems to me political madness.(Voting won't change the system but it can stop fascist arseholes getting into positions of authority-isn't it important to stop this when we can- not only by extra-parliamentary action, but also in circumstances where it can actually have an effect by voting?

ffaker
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Dec 19 2003 12:00
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
If we want a real change we shouldn't be arguing for people to 'vote against the BNP'

I agree, but this isn't about real change. Its about stoping facists rising to power. I don't think anyone here is under the illusion that voting tactically against the BNP will lead to real change, but it might well stop things badly disintergrating.

You're right that voting alone will not stop them and we need direct action movements against facists. But I think voting tacticaly against them is one tool, especially while the anarchist movement here is not yet as strong as it could be.

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JoeMaguire
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Dec 19 2003 17:51

People from my view have missed a component in this argument.

If we understand that the BNP are rising out of a crisis of people being mis-represented by mainstream political parties, then wouldnt voting libs, SA etc only fuel this alienation further?

I would think that we shouldnt really be voting for anyone cos they all in there own way bolster the fascist cause.

red_rag
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Dec 21 2003 19:57

Tommy Ascaso writes:

Anyway, what difference is a BNP MEP going to make? It's a joke, like the rest of the EU... :)

The difference is that if fascists get into a position of power then they always use more extreme measures against their opponents. Witness the fascist Fini who was minister of the interior in Italy during the Genoa protests; he gave the green light to the extreme repression that took place.

Also, more generally, history shows that if fascists get their hands on the bourgeois state apparatus in its entirety then they seek not merely to contain their opponents but crush them absolutely -its Zyklon B not merely tear gas!!!!!!

Fascist MEPs are not a joke!

brizzul
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Dec 22 2003 00:36

I can't believe this argument is taking place on an anti- authoritarian board. If this wasn't posted by an anarchist I would have asked for it to be locked as well as that other reformist post.

Quote:
red_rag wrote:
Tommy Ascaso writes:

Anyway, what difference is a BNP MEP going to make? It's a joke, like the rest of the EU... :)

The difference is that if fascists get into a position of power then they always use more extreme measures against their opponents. Witness the fascist Fini who was minister of the interior in Italy during the Genoa protests; he gave the green light to the extreme repression that took place.

Also, more generally, history shows that if fascists get their hands on the bourgeois state apparatus in its entirety then they seek not merely to contain their opponents but crush them absolutely -its Zyklon B not merely tear gas!!!!!!

Fascist MEPs are not a joke!

It's only the power of the state in the hands of a few (as opposed to the redistribution of power to all) that allows the use of zyklon B or tear gas at all. I don't supposed anyones noticed Northern Ireland in the last 30 years but the fascists are already in.

Summary executions, internment, troops on the streets. That's alright because it's happening in a forgotten part of "Bourgois" UK.

The abstention from voting isn't a "tactical" position it's a refusal to have anything to do with the farce of representation.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Dec 22 2003 18:09

Yeah, nice post Brizzul...

Even in areas where the BNP have a big vote, the non-vote is clearly much bigger. I see myself as one of them, people who've already seen through the electoral joke.

red_rag
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Dec 22 2003 21:40

Some of the people contributing to this discussion have clearly lost the plot when it comes to dealing with the fascist menace. We must use ALL means necessary to defeat the fascists -both direct action on the streets and tactical voting in elections (if a fascist candidate stands). Generally speaking I'm not in favour of advocating that people vote in the electoral farce but when a fascist stands that's different.

To respond to one of the postings that assumed that everyone on this thread is an anarchist; you're wrong. I'm coming from a libertarian Marxist position by the way. And although I'm most certainly not a Trotskyist, I do however think that Trotsky's writings on fascism and how to fight it are well worth reading. It seems to me that far too many people on the libertarian left are prepared to dogmatically defend the principle of urging people not to vote and to hell with the consequences.

I'm afraid Tommy Ascaso that an MP or a MEP does have a certain degree of 'power'. They may not hold a ministerial post etc but the fact that they hold a seat in a parliament means that they often gain respectability amongst certain sections of the populace. The authoritarian personality is alive and kicking and far too many people out there would begin to have respect for these fascist scum if they saw them dressed in suits and speaking in parliamentary chambers etc.

It would be fine to advocate that no one should ever vote in elections in a capitalist society if we were in a situation where a decisive section of the proletariat was autonomously organised and ready to engage in wildcat strikes etc the minute a fascist stands in an election or even gets voted into a local council or parliamentary chamber. But this is the stuff of dreamers and wishful thinkers in the present circumstances. We need to root our strategy to defeat fascism in the particular circumstances we find around us now. Lets not pretend that the anti-capitalist movement and the libertarian left are stronger than they REALLY are at present. That is the road to ruin!

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wheresmyshoes
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Dec 22 2003 22:27
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Having a handful of MEP's is not a position of power. roll eyes

Don't be so stupid as to compare the BNP to the Nazi's, that's such a liberal/Trot argument. Look at their policies, they aren't Nazi's, they aren't even extreme fascists. They're just moderate fash at the moment, and are more of a far-right wing Tory party.

:)

not really Tommy Ascaso when the bnp nearly got into an area of bristol,bedminster there was so much racist crap going on,people were being beaten up and attacked.me and my mates thought fuck it and went and helped out the anl.

the biggest mistake we can make is to assume that the bnp are just a bunch of far right twats who wont get anyway,we need to stop them spreading before more people get dragged into their views.

brizzul
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Dec 23 2003 03:17
wheresmyshoes wrote:

not really Tommy Ascaso when the bnp nearly got into an area of bristol,bedminster there was so much racist crap going on,people were being beaten up and attacked.me and my mates thought fuck it and went and helped out the anl.

the biggest mistake we can make is to assume that the bnp are just a bunch of far right twats who wont get anyway,we need to stop them spreading before more people get dragged into their views.

You call 9% of the vote nearly got in?. The bnp were harassed I can tell you. but what effect that had i don't know. You know the size of bedminster "wheresmyshoes" - 1000 votes got labour in. Do you think those 1000 make a mandate for goverance?. Thats about 3 streets. we are constantly being sweated with a survival mentality. Do what you're told otherwise it could get worse or better still join an swp front group (I'm sorry I didn't mean to insult but it's a sign of serious desperation)

As for the leftie who thinks he can post on our forum. Classicaly for a leftie he has confused libertarian with liberal. To be libertarian is to be autonomous, self managing, collective and direct. Try again.

Bedminster does have racist people in it but show me somewhere that doesn't. If all the anarchists in bedminster had voted what would have happened? I'd like to talk about this further (about the ex-anarchists in the bristolian party, especially) but it's late. I'll try tomorrow.

red_rag
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Dec 23 2003 18:01

So you own this forum do you Brizzil? You cannot stomach it seems any view that departs slightly from your own!! Some libertarian! You seem to be confusing the term anarchist and libertarian. You can be a libertarian and not be an anarchist! I'm a libertarian Marxist - a revolutionary not a liberal!

Now for anyone out there who is serious about exploring why people turn to fascism, I think we need to look not just to the social and economic conditions that give rise to fascism but to psychological factors. The work of the Frankfurt school thinkers is very useful in this respect I think. Fromm's 'The Fear of Freedom' and Reich's 'The Mass Psychology of Fascism' are very interesting explorations of fascism that analyse this phenomenon by taking into account the findings of psychoanalysis.

brizzul
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Dec 23 2003 21:32
red_rag wrote:
So you own this forum do you Brizzil?

I don't own this forum it is for anti-authoritarian discussion by those who are anti-authoritarian. As government is the highest form of authority you can't support government in the name of liberty on this site (in my opinion) without being challenged.

red_rag wrote:

You cannot stomach it seems any view that departs slightly from your own!! Some libertarian! You seem to be confusing the term anarchist and libertarian. You can be a libertarian and not be an anarchist! I'm a libertarian Marxist - a revolutionary not a liberal!

Again you are confusing liberal with libertarian. I can't stomach any views that defend the state as an institution. All libertarians can't stomach it to various degrees. We don't have to stomach it simply because you say so.

Libertarian is another word for anarchist methods. Use of authority is not libertarian. If you are a marxist who uses real libertarian means then good for you I hope those ideas *are* spreading in the left

red_rag wrote:
Now for anyone out there who is serious about exploring why people turn to fascism, I think we need to look not just to the social and economic conditions that give rise to fascism but to psychological factors. The work of the Frankfurt school thinkers is very useful in this respect I think. Fromm's 'The Fear of Freedom' and Reich's 'The Mass Psychology of Fascism' are very interesting explorations of fascism that analyse this phenomenon by taking into account the findings of psychoanalysis.

No Ayn Rand? The Frankfurt school is *liberal* not libertarian. It is freedom for capital and no interference from the state. To be libertarian is to remove the state entirely and abolish capital. Reich was not a libertarian either but a marxist and then a mystical new age demi-god. American small town capitalist liberals only call these things libertarian because the center left has control over the word liberal (state interference for the sake of morality, welfare checks, social workers) and not the classic definition of liberal (reduce state interference of individuals to as little as possible, no income tax, no drug laws, free contract between individuals). That's why people get confused when they look up the definition of libertarian on the internet. European working class notions of liberty are a million miles away from american small property owner definitions.

There are libertarian marxists who I respect like Dave Douglass of the NUM and my mate Gavin. Neither of them will be telling you to vote Labour.

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wheresmyshoes
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Dec 29 2003 18:38
Quote:

you call 9% of the vote nearly got in?. The bnp were harassed I can tell you. but what effect that had i don't know. You know the size of bedminster "wheresmyshoes" - 1000 votes got labour in. Do you think those 1000 make a mandate for goverance?. Thats about 3 streets. we are constantly being sweated with a survival mentality. Do what you're told otherwise it could get worse or better still join an swp front group (I'm sorry I didn't mean to insult but it's a sign of serious desperation

i guess 9% isnt terribly threatening no, but to me if the bnp got more than 50 votes in an area the size of bedminster then to me thats nearly got in,in reality your right it isnt that much but i reckon if we underesistmate(i wish i could spell) the growth possiblity in the bnp then it could get bad.

but as for voting for labour or some such i'm a bit undecided,though voting for labour i would never advocate but i can undrestand why some people might think voting for the socialist alliance or something is a good idea just to keep the nazis out.

[sorry i didnt reply to you sooner i've been busy being ill] wink

red_rag
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Dec 29 2003 19:04

Brizzul writes:

Quote:
Again you are confusing liberal with libertarian. I can't stomach any views that defend the state as an institution. All libertarians can't stomach it to various degrees. We don't have to stomach it simply because you say so.

Libertarian is another word for anarchist methods. Use of authority is not libertarian. If you are a marxist who uses real libertarian means then good for you I hope those ideas *are* spreading in the left

[No Ayn Rand? The Frankfurt school is *liberal* not libertarian. It is freedom for capital and no interference from the state. To be libertarian is to remove the state entirely and abolish capital. Reich was not a libertarian either but a marxist and then a mystical new age demi-god. American small town capitalist liberals only call these things libertarian because the center left has control over the word liberal (state interference for the sake of morality, welfare checks, social workers) and not the classic definition of liberal (reduce state interference of individuals to as little as possible, no income tax, no drug laws, free contract between individuals). That's why people get confused when they look up the definition of libertarian on the internet. European working class notions of liberty are a million miles away from american small property owner definitions.

There are libertarian marxists who I respect like Dave Douglass of the NUM and my mate Gavin. Neither of them will be telling you to vote Labour.

I do not quite understand why you make a reference to Ayn Rand? Is it perhaps because you have misunderstood who the Frankfurt school were? They most certainly were not free marketeers! The Frankfurt School were not liberals but unorthodox Marxists! Could you really describe Marcuse (a member of the Frankfurt school) as a liberal!! Read his essay 'Repressive Tolerance' if you have any doubts. He defends the right of the oppressed to use violence against their oppressors -not something a liberal would defend!

One further point. I do not advocate that people vote labour. I simply think that alongside direct action against the fascists -and I mean direct action not A to B marches!- that tactical voting where a fascist stands in an election can also help prevent these scum from getting their ideas across to people.

captainmission
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Dec 29 2003 19:14
red_rag wrote:
Brizzul writes:

The Frankfurt School were not liberals but unorthodox Marxists! Could you really describe Marcuse (a member of the Frankfurt school) as a liberal!! Read his essay 'Repressive Tolerance' if you have any doubts.

I don't think its that much of a leap to call Marcuse a liberal, ok so he makes lots of radical noises and never follows through with action. Social democrat would fit quite nicely I reckon. Other's of the frankfurt school like habermas- well its hard to call them anything but liberal.

redmist
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Dec 29 2003 19:16
Quote:
No Ayn Rand? The Frankfurt school is *liberal* not libertarian. It is freedom for capital and no interference from the state

Brizzul do you know who the Frankfurt school were? They were a post war group of Marxist philosophers so I don't know what you mean by 'it is freedom for Capital'?

red_rag
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Dec 29 2003 19:24

Captainmission writes:

Quote:
I don't think its that much of a leap to call Marcuse a liberal,

Its a massive leap actually!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So what would you call a real liberal?

captainmission
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Dec 30 2003 00:09
red_rag wrote:
Its a massive leap actually!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So what would you call a real liberal?

Some one who thought the state would legislated itself out of existence?

Quote:
Read his essay 'Repressive Tolerance' if you have any doubts. He defends the right of the oppressed to use violence against their oppressors -not something a liberal would defend!

You'd find pleanty of liberals willing to defend the use of violence against oppression, when that oppression falls outside the boundries of a liberal democracy.

Marcuse was just some dried up leftist, who found momentry fame by jump on the new-left band wagon. If you really want to find anything of interest in the frankfurt school at least try Horkhiemer and Adorno.

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Ed
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Dec 30 2003 01:24

Right, now that you've all flexed your intellectual muscle by showing how many obscure German philosophers you can mention can we get back to the discussion.

I'm still undecided about voting against the BNP. Though it seems logical to say 'vote against the BNP', I don't know if I could tell anyone to vote for someone who's fucked them over solidly in the past. Maybe consistent work in communities and the spreading of class, rather than national or race, consciousness is the only way to go. Maybe only by out-radicalising the BNP, showing that our ideas can work and offering solutions to their problems can we beat them. That said, being realistic, is our movement strong enough to do it? I mean, in the north of England, we're a mess! Apart from a few things in Bradford and a regular bookfair in Manc, there isn't much.

I'm certainly more tempted to go for the out-radicalising, vote nobody option, but i do get a nagging feeling that maybe...I dunno.

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JoeMaguire
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Dec 30 2003 01:44
red_rag wrote:
One further point. I do not advocate that people vote labour. I simply think that alongside direct action against the fascists -and I mean direct action not A to B marches!- that tactical voting where a fascist stands in an election can also help prevent these scum from getting their ideas across to people.

Red, anarchism is a versatile framework in which you can incorporate many fresh ideas, so Im confused on your stanch towards anarchism. I still have an high regard for Marx but I cant stomach political parties, dictatorsip of the proletariat or the state but thats another issue....but really in anarchism there are few hard and fast rules, and voting is one of them.

But the point is logically it follows (IMO) we shouldnt be voting for capitalist parties accept in required circmstances. And quite frankly I cant see how the current status calls for an anti-BNP vote, simply because the failure of the centre parties is fueling the far right. So in a nut shell your asking us to dig our own graves, and this is not to mention how parliament is contray to the direct action ethos we espouse.

If we want to curb the fash threat we should begin by arguing what a sham parliament is and actually getting on with the task of liberating ourselves...

captainmission
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Dec 30 2003 02:34

ok your slightly dimissive attitude of anarchy in northern england aside...

...i'm really not convinved of putting energy into a vote no one campaign, it would be another case of organisations be two-steps behind people- who by and large aren't voting anyway (often with quite well reasoned arguements for doing so). With out community based action backing that up its not going to get far. And here lies are problem since the areas where the BNP are gain ground generally lack a large anarchist/libertarian/people-interested-working-class-self-control population (for instance I only know of a couple of @ist in burnley). So any attempt at community self-organisation is going to make no sizeable impact. So it generally becomes a case shoring up the damage- exposing BNP lies/distortions of truth (depending on the sophisication of their campaign) or failures to deliver anything they promised.

So maybe its a case of trying to build that base in the first place. Some sort of network across these northern town might offer something. I know beanis, oct_lost and others were trying to organise gigs arround lancashire towns with anarchist theme. Not much but a start possibly.

We also can't fall for this media illusion that its just 'feck-less working class people from impoverished areas who don't know any better' who are voting BNP. In Burnley one of the first areas to vote in a bnp concillor was clivinger- a relatively wealthy middle class suburd. Don't think calls for working class community organisation are going to go down well there. Maybe more direct anti-fascist action is need here, but the question is whose going to get the reprisial for that?

as whether we should vote against the BNP? dunno. luckily don't live in a ward where i'll have to make that decision.

Anonymous
Jan 2 2004 23:38

In the Euro elections the BNP will be standing candidates in every region and because the elections are run on proportional representation it is likely that if they get more than 5% they could get seats (same in London).

Given these circumstances it would seem irresponsible not to vote. The fash need to be opposed at all levels including voting.

solitage
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Jan 3 2004 03:50

And who would you suggest voting for in every region Richard?

Anonymous
Jan 3 2004 17:47

As the BNP are putting candidates up in every Euro constituency then yes. As I say I see this as a tactic not an endorsement of elections generally. I also do not see it as the only or primary tactic against them

Steve
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Jan 3 2004 21:48

If you are going to advocate voting you will have to encourage others to vote as well as the number of anarchists would not make a difference. So who would you recommend we all vote for? New Labour? Greens? Liberals? Socialist Alliance? Unity Party? the fucking Tories? It's no better than the SWP.

I can't believe we are actually discussing this. Stopping the BNP from getting a councillor or an MEP is secondary to stopping the rise of fascism generally. By voting an encouraging others to vote we are endorsing and legitimising a system we should be totally against.

It seems some anarchists have been seduced by the IWCA and are starting to endorse limited participation in the capitalist electoral process. Ordinary people are rejecting it and we shouldn’t do anything to alter that process. I won’t be voting for anyone and anyone who is really an anarchist shouldn’t either. Remember “he who fucks nuns will later join the church”.

Anonymous
Jan 4 2004 00:08

So how do we stop the BNP? 18 councillors and growing. Do we think its ok for Nick Griffin to be a MEP?

Of course liberal democracy is a sham. Of course voting as a matter of course would be a mistake. Of course the fash should be opposed using a variety of tactics! The Euro and London elections are different because they come at a time when racism and the BNP are on the rise and are being run under a system (proportional representation) that means it is possible the BNP could make gains. This is (hopefully) an exceptional situation requiring exceptional circumstances.

If we oppose the BNP why shouldn't we do all we can to stop them gaining power including voting. As to who you vote for - I am proposing an anti-BNP vote not a pro anyone else vote so I would say find out who got the last seat in 1999 and vote for them.

If the BNP gets more than 5% of the total vote cast then they are likely to get seats.

solitage
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Jan 4 2004 00:52

I think maybe one way of fighting the fascists is to campaign within the community, spreading some hard hitting propaganda showing up the bnp for the thugs and gangsters they really are. - naming them and their histories. That doesn't necessarily mean endorsing other political candidates. There was a good article in Class War no. 85 about such a campaign in Yorkshire - Mixenden by-election. It started with a meeting of anarchists, socialists, trade unionists and concerned locals. Haven't got the full article to hand, although someone else may have - Paul M?. If not I'll find it later today and type it up. Lots of positive, and some negative lessons to be learnt.