Combating racism and fascism means combating capitalism

Combating racism and fascism means combating capitalism

Article on racism, the far-right and the recession, emphasising that the battle against racism and the far-right, is also a battle against the social and economic conditions that are its root cause.

The flight of the vast majority of the 116 Roma from Belfast in June following sustained and co-ordinated racist attacks emphasises the need for effective action against racists in our society. The recent return of 12 of the Roma men in the first week of August with families to follow does not take away from this. While the attackers are unlikely to have been members of any of the British far right organisations seeking to recruit in working class protestant areas of Northern Ireland these actions will be seen as a boost to the fascists and give encouragement to racists.
Reactions to the events have been varied but some have chosen to view the attacks through the prism of sectarianism. While there is undoubtedly widespread and genuine opposition to racism in West Belfast the mural painted on the International Wall on the Falls Road in response to the attacks betrays a smug complacency that is at heart as sectarian as those it condemns for carrying out racist and sectarian attacks.
There is a danger of being blind to the levels of racism right across the sectarian divide, particularly when it comes to anti-Traveller racism. Travellers still find it impossible to get appointments at hair dressers, are barred from pubs and shops and are subject to almost constant racist abuse. That these things, along with last years attacks on Lithuanians, also happen in West Belfast needs to be acknowledged and challenged. The recently published Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey for 2008 found that Travellers faced more prejudice than migrant workers with 51% of those questioned saying they would have a problem with a Traveller living beside them. This is an increase of 10% since the last survey.
While much is made of links between Loyalist paramilitaries and the British far right, many who claim to be opposed to fascism in principle have been silent about reports that Italian fascists took part, alongside nationalists, in recent riots in Ardoyne.
The notion that it is the ‘Prods’ who are racist and sectarian may serve some sort of Republican self-image of its imagined community but it does nothing to challenge or confront bigotry. It is people from within working class protestant communities who are key to taking on and challenging the racists and fascists within those communities and who are carrying out attacks and spreading hate.

Increasing Intolerance: A Shift to the Right?

There is a fear that the current recession is driving large sections of society further to the right. Problems created by slum landlords, cut backs in social housing stock, and seemingly unending announcements of job losses leave migrant workers more vulnerable to scapegoating. Unemployment is rising so rapidly that dole offices have been forced to move from fortnightly to monthly signing, while this may be good news for those of us who are unemployed and sick of the petty harassment that is associated with signing on it is a worrying development. Across the UK unemployment has jumped to a staggering (and under estimated!) 2.38 million - the highest level since 1995. Unemployment in Northern Ireland had increased to 6.1% this May from 4.6% the year before. There was a 159% increase in confirmed redundancies over the previous year. While the Northern Ireland unemployment rate is lower than the average for the rest of the UK it does not take into consideration the staggering 28.6% figure for the number of working age adults who are economically inactive.
The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2008 also found that homophobia and racism are on the increase in Northern Ireland. Anti-gay prejudice has almost doubled in three years, from 14% of people surveyed admitting they would have a problem with a gay, lesbian or bisexual person to 23% in the 2008 poll.
The labour movement in the UK appears to be infected with reactionary nationalist ideas about ‘British Jobs for British Workers’, taking the lead from the media and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
It should come as no great shock that there will be those who want to deflect from the misery that capital has caused to so many by stirring up bigotry and hatred. The far right could undoubtedly benefit from the current recession and seek to promote its anti-working class agenda by scapegoating ‘easy’ targets.
The BNP have now got two MEPs and are actively trying to build a base in Northern Ireland and have opened a call centre in East Belfast. “B N P” was heard among the chants directed at those who were involved in the recent defence of the Roma in South Belfast.
Governments have also been busy strengthening repressive legislation and clamping down on dissent. The UK government are still trying to force ID cards on us, and have entered into worse than dubious extradition arrangements with the US while Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, has warned that the UK has become a surveillance society. Locally the PSNI are piloting the wearing, as a matter of course, of video cameras by the police while public displays of dissent were publically clamped down upon by the police at the G20 demonstrations earlier this year.
In the south the state has moved to clamp down on workers trying to protect themselves from the worst blows of the recession and has engaged in heavy-handed raids on workers occupying the Thomas Cook outlet in Dublin. Anti-Shell activists have also been jailed.

The Alternative?

Of course the conditions described above are the very same conditions that give rise to resistance that is aimed straight at the cause of the social problems we are currently experiencing as a result of capitalism and the state. This issue of the Leveller is full of inspiring examples of workers fighting back and winning! Working class self organisation and solidarity are what are called for in the struggle against racism and fascism and in the struggle against capital and state.

Part of the series of articles on anti-racism and anti-fascism in issue 2 of Organise's [i]The Leveller. [/i]

Posted By

Deezer
Sep 25 2009 18:39

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Steven.
Oct 2 2009 11:48

Sub editing: fixed tags, intro, source info and capitalisation of title as per style guide (i.e. capital first letter and proper nouns only)

Choccy
Oct 2 2009 22:41

Sorry but that is not source info in a reference sense - it's part of the introduction, I don't know why you moved it - this was part of a series of articles on anti-racism and anti-fascism from that issue and as such this was highlighted in the intro for a reason.

Steven.
Oct 3 2009 18:59

Because what you put in the intro usually ends up as the description text in Google searches.

Google only displays about 144 characters of this text, so to get as many Google referrals as possible (the main way people see our articles) you need to try to get across in these 144 characters the key point your article is making.

So someone looking for information about the attacks on the Roma for example might just see something like "part of a series of articles in The Leveller..." and this won't mean anything to them. So they will be less likely to choose this article over another one where they can see more clearly what information is going to be.

Also, more generally people browsing online don't spend much time reading content. So it is vitally important to get across the key facts and points you want to make as quickly as possible.

The source of an article is not the key information you want to get across.

On libcom, the intros also function as teasers in various blocks around the site to direct people to articles, so again the pertinent information needs to be in there as prominently as possible.

In order to keep the site tidy we may have to cap the number of characters displayed in these boxes at some point in the future.

For an example of how to use teasers properly, check the BBC website. Everything there is formatted brilliantly, succinct headlines and brief teasers, all the same length, explaining exactly what you'll be reading about:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Choccy
Oct 3 2009 19:59

Thanks for telling me about the BBC News website, I'd never heard of it roll eyes

I agree that the intro is important - but I think the people that wrote the article are probably in a better position to tell you what point we intended to put across - thanks for inferring your own pedantry into it though - I think your point about Google is fairly irrelevant. There is nothing in that intro that couldn't be gathered from the actual TITLE of the article - to be honest it looks like you're just bored at the minute mate. The stuff about proper nouns and capitalisation you were right to edit though.

In this case, the fact that the article was part of a series in the latest issue of the Leveller is precisely a point we wanted to get across in the obnline version - to direct people to other articles in what we'd effectively intended to be a 'special issue' on racism and anti-fascism - and that article in particular was a much more general article rather than explicitly about the Roma - other articles in the issue focused on the Leveller - a point originally highlighted in the now unnecessarily edited intro. If it stops you throwing a little pedant shitfit we can move the fact that it's part of a series to the end of the intro, but I maintain it should remain part.

But again, cheers for telling editors of The Leveller the point they want to make wink

Yorkie Bar
Oct 3 2009 20:34

I hear if you quibble with Steven.'s editing decisions, he comes round to yours and beats you with a stick.

~J.

Choccy
Oct 3 2009 23:23

he lives round the corner from me actually
no, really smile

Joseph Kay
Oct 4 2009 09:37

aye, and he'll set his chickens on you...

Choccy wrote:
I agree that the intro is important - but I think the people that wrote the article are probably in a better position to tell you what point we intended to put across

tbh mate this is standard subbing stuff - you're the editors of the leveller and do a good job, but libcom's a different medium and requires different subbing. I've written for loads of stuff and changes like this are par for the course. i take your point that being part of a series is important, perhaps that could go as the first text in the body of the article?

Steven's not being completely facetious (for once! wink ) with the BBC link - there is a reason one of the most visited websites in the world subs things that way rather than saying 'the writers know best'; stuff like what gets picked up in google is important as something like 95%+ of our hits come from google referals.

Choccy
Oct 4 2009 11:27

I generally have never quibbled any edit on the 7 pages of Organise articles so it's daft to make out I'm on the 'writers know best' tip, I'm genuinely not.
And ion this case there is nothing in the edited intro that isn't said in the title so I'm not sure it will enhance the goggle hits at all.
But whatever, I'll let the libnazis have their cake wink

Steven.
Oct 4 2009 15:52

Choccy, really don't think this has to be a big deal, it still says clearly any article for anyone that reads it that this article is part of a series of articles about racism in the leveller.

I didn't mean to patronise you with the BBC link, but I do think it's worth having a proper look at from the point of view of seeing the ideal style of online journalism.

All their headlines and intros are all exactly the same length, they get across information brilliantly, clearly and succinctly, and it is well laid out. You can see why it is the world's most popular online news source.

Obviously, none of us are professionals, and we are in much more of a niche field, so we'll never be that fancy. But it's worth learning from and emulating people who do things well.

Saying the Google thing doesn't matter, sorry I really disagree with this. Search engine optimisation is the most important part of running a website nowadays - and as by far the most popular search engine, how your site looks in Google is your primary concern.

By devoting a lot of effort to this, we do manage to do pretty well in Google, which results in us getting the vast majority of our traffic from there - i.e. from general members of the public. So we want to continue and improve this. Because there is only a point to putting articles online if people are going to read them, and we want to help you get as many readers as possible.

We don't do this just to be difficult, but from trying to learn from what works, and not mimic the failures of most of the "radical" media.

Anyway, don't just take my word for it. Ask weeler what he thinks.

Choccy
Oct 4 2009 16:02

I don't think you understand what I'm saying - I have no problem with the policy, I think it was misplaced in this instance, and your edit did nothing to enhance the intro beyond what was contained in the title - I've never quibbled an edit in 5yrs posting here and 2yrs posting articles.
And it's not important and again, like I said in the last post I'll not contest it further.