This is a call out from Plan C Manchester to oppose the March for England in Blackpool on April 25th.
On April 25th, the first Saturday after St George’s Day, the March for England (MfE) will attempt to march again. For several years MfE has been a gathering point for the far right but now it’s been chased out of Brighton by large and well-organised antifascist mobilisations, its organisers – who have a history of involvement with fascist and ultra-nationalist groups – are trying to bring it to Blackpool.
The MfE is only one of a series of street movements (the EDL, Germany’s Pegida) and parties (UKIP, Holland’s Freedom Party, or Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland) expressing some kind of populist nationalism: the idea that if the nation liberated itself from accumulating threats, we could return to the good old days of a Britain of “long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers” (Quote: John Major). It is revealing that amid the “new normality” of austerity and the crisis of political representation, the demand to “rebuild [the] old world on the ruins of the new” seems to many to be the most radical demand possible.
The threats nationalist populists point to include: corrupt politicians, ‘Eurocrats’ and greedy bankers (with all the potential for anti-Semitism that this contains), the “loss of cultural cohesion” through “uncontrolled” migration, multiculturalism and political correctness (gone mad), and increasingly, Islamist extremism (usually meaning Muslims – or just foreigners – in general). A world of jobs for life, steadily rising yet affordable house prices and casual chauvinism can be ours again if only we wrestle the nation back from corrupt politicians and into the (white, indigenous, male) people’s hands once again.
But the nation can’t save us. Its harmonious community is a mythical one which, in reality, justifies the domination of capital and the state and the persecution of those that do not conform to the demands of the ‘national community’*: migrants, the “workshy” (i.e. the poor), women, gender and sexual minorities and people of colour.
The MfE is not an overtly Nazi or fascist demonstration (though some of it’s organisers are) but it is symptomatic of the current state of ultra-right politics. Nazi paraphernalia and white power slogans no longer resonate with the traditional audience for ultra-right politics, the real political threat from the right today comes in the form of a populism which demands the protection of the nation from its economic, cultural and political enemies. This is why we are mobilising with groups across the North to oppose the March for England and to stop them finding a home in Blackpool. With the collapse of Unite Against Fascism (a once prominent front group for the Socialist Workers Party) it is more important than ever that the libertarian left plays a prominent part in organising against public expressions of ultra-nationalism. We want “Oppose the MfE” to be as open and inclusive as possible and are organising transport from Manchester to help get as many people there as possible. We encourage our network of supporters to get in touch and come with us or mobilise their own crews for the day.
While we need to be on the streets opposing reactionaries, the radical left’s long-term strategy has to be the development of coherent and credible narratives which lead beyond both the current crisis and the barbaric responses to it so far. We agree that “nostalgia is natural terrain for the right, for whom the world is ever decaying from its former glory. The left is strongest when it stakes a claim to the future.” We need to organise for a future beyond both the misery of the “new normal” of austerity and its reactionary “alternatives”, beyond the state, nation and capital.
We wouldn’t presume to have the political answers ready-made but we want to see a society where the link between work and income is dismantled and society is organised in a humane way to ensure the good life for all, where feminist and anti-racist desires are made realities, all without exhausting the planet upon which we and all other life depend. To borrow a phrase from our German comrades in Strassen aus Zucker (Streets of Sugar), we want “communism, for lack of a better name”.
But how do we get there? We will need to reach more immediate goals to serve as staging points for the journey ahead. The demands we have published so far as part of our “Demanding the Future” campaign show just some of the directions we could move in. The challenge for the radical left remains to analyse our current political situation, collectively articulate demands that resonate and to build the counter-power needed to turn these demands into reality.
The Nation can’t Save us, Demand the Future! Oppose the March for England: April 25th, Blackpool.
Plan C Manchester
*We are planning on writing a longer text about nationalism and the crisis in the next few months.