‘Remembering the 43 Group’ (Marcus Bennett, Tribune, Nov–Dec 2018)

Remembering the 43 Group
Marcus Bennett
Tribune
November–December 2018

When 24-year-old Morris Beckman returned to his house on Amhurst Road in Hackney, he’d experienced quite a lot. His time fighting fascism abroad had seen him survive two Nazi torpedo attacks on a British Navy ship in the Atlantic. While his relieved mother showered him with affection on his return home, his father’s message was rather starker: ‘The bastards are back,’ he warned.

Indeed, the London that Beckman returned to fell far short of the expectations of himself and millions of other ex-servicemen. Though it may run counter to the popular narrative of the triumph over Hitler, fascism grew rapidly in Britain immediately following the Second World War. Fascist prisoners interned during the war began to reorganise their crippled movement, while a new presence of captured Nazi soldiers being released from prisoner-of-war camps and into British society prompted a far-right renaissance.

Within months of the war’s end, fourteen fascist groups and at least three bookshops operated openly across the city. Newspapers with names like Britain Awake and The Patriot were readily available on street corners. Most alarmingly of all, fascists began staging outdoor rallies in the densely-Jewish East End once again. ‘Openly in the streets you had public meetings shouting out the same antagonism and the same filth as before the war,’ commando veteran Jules Konopinski recalled, ‘and now even worse — they were saying the gas chambers weren’t enough.’ Alarm spread among the Jewish community that anti-Semitism could find a foothold so soon after the defeat of the Nazis.

Emergence

Nowhere was alarm at the situation felt more strongly than in Maccabi House, a Jewish sports club in Hampstead. Morris Beckman recalled that the club had a ‘subdued ambience’ that reflected the ‘weariness and uncertainties’ of the times. Polish-Jewish veterans of the Allied forces with no families or homes to return to were forging friendships in a new city. Several pre-war Maccabi regulars died fighting Hitler. The ones that had survived, once awash with optimism, were now world-weary veterans who mixed uncomfortably with jovial teenagers who hadn’t served.

In those days the true enormity of the Holocaust wasn’t known, and as the full picture began to emerge it had a profound effect on the community. Jewish ex-servicemen in particular carried a ‘sick sense of shame’, Beckman said, that no Allied action had been taken to prevent Nazi operations in the death camps. This consciousness was emerging at the same time as walls in London — whose Jewish community had only escaped the fate of their European neighbours by geographical quirk — were once again being daubed with swastikas.

To many, it felt as if Britain hadn’t learnt a thing. The Truth, a magazine whose editor, Colin Brooks, was a close confidante of Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere, called for Jews to give up their houses to ‘British’ ex-servicemen. In October 1945, thousands signed an ‘anti-alien’ petition in Hampstead which called to expel the area’s large Jewish refugee population.

In February 1946, while driving for a pint in Hampstead Heath, four young Jewish ex-servicemen — the former Hurricane ace Alec Carson, Gerry Flamberg, Len Sherman, and Morris Beckman — witnessed a rally by the British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women, the organisation of Jeffrey Hamm. A familiar face of pre-war fascism, Hamm was interned for his loyalty to Hitler and was now seeking to rebuild Oswald Mosley’s movement. Addressing a sixty-strong meeting, Hamm chose his words carefully, denouncing the ‘aliens in our midst’ who ‘waxed fat in the black market’ while British soldiers died.

Pretending to buy a copy of Britain Awake, Sherman abruptly knocked two fascists unconscious by banging their heads together. Flamberg toppled the makeshift stage and knocked Hamm over. As the crowd scattered, an elderly German Jew stayed to shake their hands. It occurred to all four that they could face serious charges for their actions. ‘Well then,’ Carson said, ‘it’s about time they change the laws.’

Their action was widely supported, and an organising meeting at Maccabi House was arranged to push back the fascist threat. Thirty-eight ex-servicemen and five women turned up. The vast majority were Jewish, but the group also included non-Jewish socialists like Joe Zilliacus, a former Marine and son of left-wing Labour MP Konni Zilliacus. What united them was their conviction that the Jewish community must not be passive in the face of provocations.

Alec Black, a veteran of the D-Day landings, proposed establishing an organisation that could effectively fight fascism and anti-Semitism. He knew this would be a serious endeavour and emphasised that everyone involved would risk serious harm and jail time. Anyone feeling nervous about this activity could leave without any judgement or prejudice against them. No one moved an inch or said a word.

The organisation had two aims: to prevent fascist activities by physical force if necessary, and to pressure Parliament into making racial incitement a criminal offence. Since those present had few motivations beyond completing the tasks at hand, no grandiose names were suggested. It was decided they would be called ‘The 43 Group’, after the number of people in the room. But, by April of that year, the name seemed misplaced; over 300 people had bolstered the Group’s ranks.

Confrontation

After encountering their first post-war instances of physical resistance, London’s fascists dropped their respectable veneer. Rather than hiding behind dog-whistle phrases, the seasoned repertoire of Hitler salutes, ‘Heil Mosley’ chants, and renditions of the Horst Wessel Lied, the Nazi anthem, returned. In the face of constant physical attacks in their communities and workplaces, fascist anger grew increasingly frenzied. A bomb was pushed through the door of Gerry Flamberg’s home, while two 43 Group commandos beat unconscious a young fascist who had stitched razorblades into a flat cap and charged through Stamford Hill slashing people’s faces.

In November 1946, 43 Group militants published a letter in the Jewish Chronicle appealing for further assistance. It inspired a swell in members, but provoked an angry response from Louis Hydelman, who sat on the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Accusing the young commandos of acting ‘counterproductively’, Hydelman ordered the Group to disband. His intervention only highlighted the divide between young Jews committed to tackling the fascist presence and the older communal leadership, who remained legalistic in outlook.

Hydelman’s letter, derided for its patronising tone, fell on deaf ears. The Group’s impressive infrastructure, convinced members they could afford to ignore their critics. Not only could they boast of an active base of 1,000 members, but they had also made influential friends. Left-wing Labour MPs such as D.N. Pritt, John Platt-Mills, and
Woodrow Wyatt were keen supporters, while entertainment giants Jack Solomon and Bud Flanagan regularly donated significant sums to the organisation.

On the streets, confrontations intensified. Tightly-organised 43 Group units would form human ‘wedges’ at rallies, pushing through fascist security to attack the stage, and use ‘supporting parties’ to heckle and break up fascist proceedings. On Sunday, 1 June 1947, these skirmishes came to a head in Ridley Road, a market area of Hackney known for its vibrant Jewish life. The fascists’ decision to demonstrate here was particularly provocative as it had been a favoured site of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.

The 43 Group organised for the ‘Battle for Ridley Road’ with military precision. Commandos were given maps of the surrounding streets with entry and exit points for ambush attacks. But walking up to the platform they were still taken back by the size of the far-right crowd. With police backing too, the fascists hugely outnumbered the 43 Group. But they nonetheless infiltrated the audience in front of the stage and, when fascist leader Alexander Raven Thomson began to speak, started heckling.

‘Going back to the Isle of Man for your holidays?’ one commando shouted. (Thomson had been imprisoned in a detention camp on the Isle of Man during the war.) ‘They should have hanged you with William Joyce!’ said another. Then the wedge struck and ferocious fighting broke out. A description of scenes by Morris Beckman recalls the intensity.

A young fascist about eighteen years of age appeared in front of me and called me a ‘Fucking Jew bastard’, catching my left thigh with a nearly well-aimed kick. I hit his nose square on and it spurted blood … I kicked his backside as hard as I could and he staggered off. A hard blow landed smack on my right ear and completely unbalanced me. For a moment, I was dazed, disorientated. My assailant was about to close and finish me off when Sam grabbed him around the neck and pulled him to the ground. Then Sam jumped on him. The genial, good-humoured Sam said, ‘I’m just breaking the bastard’s ribs so he won’t attend any more meetings.’

Victory

Ridley Road was the high point of a two-year period where the 43 Group had broken up around fifteen fascist meetings a week. The exhaustion of the original core Group members was evident, and younger comrades arrived to replace them. Jules Konopinski, who fled Poland in 1939, lost nine aunties and uncles in the Holocaust. His uncle, an Auschwitz survivor, moved to London to live with him, and was the ‘eyewitness evidence’ of the Holocaust he needed to motivate him in the fight against fascism. Alongside his friend Vidal Sassoon, an apprentice hairdresser whose attitude was that ‘after Auschwitz, there were no more laws,’ he became a militant; both of them armed with scissors, scrunched-up newspapers, and fisticuffs.

With a new layer of youth rejuvenating its ranks, the Group felt a sense of impending victory. Broader political developments were encouraging. Printworkers’ unions began to refuse to print fascist material, while both workers and union officials pressured the government to take action against Mosley. Widespread confrontations during the 1948 May Day rally broke the organisational backbone of the nascent Union Movement, which had amalgamated many fascist groups. 43 Group spies within fascist circles reported that, in drunken moments, Mosley’s ardent followers bitterly bemoaned the unpopularity of their leader, as it began to dawn on them that their days of glory were over.

Exhausted but satisfied that an immediate threat had passed, the 43 Group disbanded in April 1950. Following the war, bomb-marked Britain, Reynolds News noted, was the ‘only country in Europe, outside of Spain or Portugal, where one may preach undiluted fascism with full police protection.’ The 43 Group offered uncompromising resistance to Hitler’s would-be successors in Britain. Hardened by their experiences, they managed to close down the majority of post-war fascist meetings. During his retirement, Vidal Sassoon recalled that the 43 Group symbolised the moment that London’s Jews ‘turned their cheek for the last time.’ Their struggle should be remembered.

See also : Hidden Histories #6: “Fight Fascism Now!” — The 43 Group, Daniel/politicscurator, Medium, May 3, 2018 | Anti-fascist Hackney: The 43 Group – in their own words, the radical history of hackney, April 12, 2018 | hatful of history blog on 43 group | The 43: Story of how UK Jews fought a wave of post-war anti-Semitism to be subject of new TV series, Cahal Milmo, The Independent, October 2, 2015 | The 43 Group, Morris Beckman (1993).

Bonus STRAYA!

A few years after The 43 Group smashed Mosley & Co, on the other side of the worlde the ‘Australian National Socialist Party’ had set up shop in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield. In 1964, ABC’s 4 Corners dedicated an episode to the party and its fuehrer, Arthur Charles Smith. Shortly after the episode screened, the nazi headquarters was raided by police. Even more interesting, in David Harcourt’s classic 1972 text Everyone Wants to be Fuhrer: National Socialism in Australia and New Zealand, it’s claimed that the police raid was to avoid the embarrassing prospect of the site being demolished by angry Jews. As detailed elsewhere in the book, this actually happened a few years later in Melbourne, when an angry mob demolished a similar venue: on Sunday, January 31, 1971 a crowd of anti-fascists (including many Jews, members of the Maoist Worker-Student Alliance and others) descended on the headquarters of the National Socialist Party of Australia and proceeded to smash it. (Below : ‘Nazis arrested in night raid’, The Canberra Times, June 27, 1964; extracts, Everyone Wants To be Fuehrer …)



NB. Ross ‘The Skull’ May features in Harcourt’s book. ‘The Skull’ actually ran as an NSPA candidate against Gough Whitlam for the seat of Werriwa in 1974 (gaining 82 votes/0.1%), as an independent in 1975 (263 votes/0.4%) and in 1977 (1,079/1.6%). A few years ago, he was adopted as a mascot for the short-lived neo-Nazi group ‘Squadron 88’ in Sydney. The group’s leader, ‘Mark McDonald’, has since become the lvl boss of ‘The Lads Society’ in Sydney, and its headquarters in Ashfield is a grim reminder of a previous nazi occupation (albeit one with a happy ending).

Antifa Australia goes for the jugular (while I make some comments) …

On the weekend The Australian published a lengthy article by Chip Le Grand on antifa in Australia.

Below are some comments.

Antifa Australia goes for the jugular
Chip Le Grand
The Australian
December 9, 2017

The first rule of antifa is you do not talk about antifa. Not to a journalist, at any rate. It is less an organisation than a broad objective across the radical left; a determination to block, frustrate and ultimately silence far-right politics. It is fundamentally illiberal and necessarily secretive. For these reasons, it is poorly understood and readily mischaracterised.

Ssshhh …

To the best of my knowledge, there have only been one or two occasions on which anTEEfa in Australia have spoken to journalists. First, ‘Beneath the black mask: inside Australia’s anti-fascist Antifa groups’ (Peter Munro, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2016) contains interviews with three anti-fascists. Secondly, a former anti-fascist, Shayne Hunter, was recently interviewed for a piece in the Murdoch press (‘I established a terror movement in Australia, and I quit’, news.com.au, October 25, 2017). Perhaps the first time the term was used in media reportage in a local context was 2014 (Australia’s Golden Dawn Rally Falls Embarrassingly Flat, Lauren Gillin, VICE, May 7, 2014). See also : Cronulla protests: what is the anti-fascist group Antifa?, Michael McGowan, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 12, 2015 | Explainer: what is antifa, and where did it come from?, Troy Whitford, The Conversation, August 30, 2017.

Beyond that: while it’s true that ant-fascists generally seek to disrupt fascist organising, completely eradicating far-right and fascist politics is hardly an achievable objective. Instead, most seek to simply limit, as much as possible and given the means available, the growth of such political expressions. The liberality of these actions, as well as their public status, is generally determined by their context.

Antifa activists are not mindless thugs. They are well organised and, generally, experienced political and social activists who are prepared to resort to violence — they say reluctantly — to deny the far right any platform from which to promote its ideas. In Melbourne and Sydney this week, they mobilised more than 100 supporters within an hour to shout down a speaking event by the alt-right’s charismatic bomb thrower, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Leaving aside the alleged mindlessness and thuggery (and the claim that Milo is ‘charismatic’), the fact that several hundred people (ie, several hundred more than 100) mobilised in Melbourne in order to protest Milo Yiannopoulos’s performance at Melbourne Pavilion last Monday was. not. simply. the result of a preparedness to act at short notice, but rather active campaigning over months (and years).

[snip] The antifa view of the world is that far-right politics — particularly white supremacy, nationalist chauvinism and the kind of fascism that tore Europe apart in the middle of the 20th century — is again on the rise across Western democracies.

Accurate or otherwise, that’s not a view confined to those actively opposing white supremacy and ultra-nationalism, as a search for relevant materials would demonstrate. To put it another way: there’s a rational basis for concern over a resurgent far-right in Europe, both Western and Eastern. That said, Australia is somewhat peculiar in terms of Western democracies, a theme also explored in the relevant literature. Or as Oswald Mosley claimed in 1933: ‘I always thought it remarkable that Australia, without studying the Fascist political philosophy and methods, so spontaneously developed a form of fascism peculiarly suited to the needs of the British Empire.’ See also : Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association (ACRAWSA).

In the US, this conviction has made bedfellows of anarchists, Marxists, socialists, anti-racists and other militant activists beneath the antifa doona. In Australia, existing left-wing groups such as Socialist Alternative have diverted resources from other campaigns to fight what they describe as the fascist menace. New groups, such as Jews Against Fascism, have formed to fight the far right.

The start of this counterculture war can be traced to the Easter weekend two years ago when a large Reclaim Australia rally took over Melbourne’s Federation Square. Hassan is a 31-year-old bartender and events manager. He is also an active member of Socialist Alternative who contributes regularly to its online publication, Red Flag. “The size and breadth of that mobilisation of the far right shook many of us up,” he says. “Nationally, we decided to prioritise anti-fascist organising.”

The same event prompted Jordana Silverstein, a University of Melbourne academic, to form Jews Against Fascism. “We fundamentally disagree that if you ignore fascists they will go away,” she tells Inquirer. “They don’t. They become emboldened.”

In the US, contemporary antifa activity is generally traced back to the 1980s, when youth subcultures like skinhead and punk were the subject of concerted efforts at infiltration by the radical right, which in turn generated (militant) opposition. Hence it was in the late ’80s that Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) formed in New York and Anti-Racist Action (ARA) was born, the groundwork for the latter being laid by a skinhead crew in Minneapolis called The Baldies. (ARA’s contemporary expression is the Torch network.) A lot has happened between Then and Now, but certainly the Trump era has given added impetus to antifa organising in the US. See also : Inside the Underground Anti-Racist Movement That Brings the Fight to White Supremacists, Wes Enzinna, Mother Jones, May/June 2017.

In Australia, I’d argue that ‘the start of this counterculture war’ was a little earlier than April 4, 2015. Certainly, if anti-fascism is ‘less an organisation than a broad objective across the radical left; a determination to block, frustrate and ultimately silence far-right politics’, then its origins in Australia may be traced back as far as the 1920s and to the Italian migrant anti-fascists (see : Fascism, Anti-Fascism and the Italians in Australia: 1922–1945, Gianfranco Crestiani, Australian National University, 1980). More recently, anti-fascists in Melbourne actively campaigned against Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and National Action in the 1990s. [For (Marxist) analysis, see : How we stopped Pauline Hanson last time, Tess Lee Ack, Marxist Left Review, No.12 (Winter 2016) / Understanding Hansonism (Ben Reid) & When the Australian ruling class embraced fascism (Louise O’Shea), Marxist Left Review, No.13 (Summer 2017).]

Otherwise: SAlt was largely absent on April 4, 2015, this also being the weekend of their annual Marxism conference, and the opposition to Reclaim on that occasion was drawn from other segments of Teh Left in Melbourne.

The antifa armoury includes more than protest chants and punches. Mark Bray, formerly an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, published in Australia by Melbourne University Press. In interviews with anti-fascist activists in Europe and the US, Bray explores antifa tactics including the dark art of doxxing, a form of online sabotage pioneered by computer hackers.

In the antifa context, doxxing means the outing of Nazi sympathisers — the publication of ­information that identifies anonymous far-right bloggers or activists, which in turn puts pressure on employers to sack them. This year a University of Nebraska philosophy student, Cooper Ward, was doxxed and unmasked as the voice on an anti-Semitic podcast, The Daily Shoah. Bray says he was driven off campus and into hiding.

“Despite the media portrayal of a deranged, bloodthirsty antifa … the vast majority of anti-fascist tactics involve no physical violence whatsoever,” Bray writes.

“Anti-fascists conduct research on the far right online, in person and sometimes through infiltration; they dox them, push cultural milieux to disown them, pressure bosses to fire them and demand that venues cancel their shows, conferences and meetings; they organise educational events, reading groups, trainings, athletic tournaments and fundraisers; they write articles, leaflets and newspapers, drop banners, and make videos … But it is also true that some of them punch Nazis in the face and don’t apologise for it.”

Got d0x?

First, yes, ‘d0xxing’ is A Thing … though in Australia it tends not to extend as far as it does elsewhere. Thus, in my own case, while I’ve named a number of local AltRight figures — David Hilton (‘Moses Apostaticus’) is one recent example — I don’t publish full deets, most infos is drawn from open-sources and often relies upon simply drawing upon previous research (or is the result of a tip-off). Thus it’s also been possible to identify a number of the nazis who assembled outside Melbourne Pavilion last week simply by referring to previously published material. Inre Cooper Ward and ‘The Daily Shoah’, Ward was one of several neo-Nazis ‘outed’ at this time, including Mike Peinovich (‘Mike Enoch’). His outing as a neo-Nazi activist resulted, inter alia, in his separation from his (Jewish) wife — but the Shoah must and has gone on. Unmentioned but relevant in this context is that both the sitting MP George Christensen and former Labor leader turned angry old pensioner Mark Latham have appeared as guests on the podcast network TRS (for which ‘The Convict Report’ is the local expression).

[snip] A problem for the Australian antifa, and indeed for anti-fascist groups in Europe and the US, is that few people and organisations they oppose here have much to do with Nazism. Consider the rollcall of hard-right leaders who turned out in Kensington in support of Yian­nopoulos. Neil Erikson, a far-right agitator and leader of a small group known as Patriot Blue, used to be a Nazi but in recent years has publicly disavowed his former beliefs and now says he is a supporter of Israel.

Who you calling a Nazi, Nazi?

First, Erikson has publicly acknowledged the fact that, from his early- to mid- teens through until the end of 2015/beginning of 2016, he considered himself — and was considered by others — a neo-Nazi activist. A former member and/or associate of Blood & Honour and Nationalist Alternative, Erikson, in addition to having a criminal conviction for stalking a rabbi (February 2014), also ran with the short-lived gang ‘Crazy White Boys’, responsible for the attempted murder of Vietnamese student Minh Duong in 2012. Secondly, prior to ‘Patriot Blue’, Erikson had cycled through numerous other brands and Facebook platforms, and no doubt will jump on another bandwagon when it suits him. Finally, given his record, it’s not unreasonable to view Erikson’s posturings — first as a neo-Nazi, now as a ‘supporter of Israel’ — with some degree of skepticism, and to view his performances as being simply (and more accurately) opportunistic exercises by an attention-seeking, racist, meathead.

Blair Cottrell, the hulking former leader of the defunct United Patriots Front, is fascinated by Adolf Hitler as a historical figure but ridicules neo-Nazism as a contemporary political movement.

Or; Pull the other one (it’s got bells on).

Of course, being a semi-rational political actor, Cottrell doesn’t want to be known as a neo-Nazi. Like others, he understands that this is — still — a political kiss-of-death, properly the domain of uniform fetishists. That said, the reasons he may be described as one are rather more extensive than an apparent fascination with Mister Hitler: from celebrating his birthday to expressing a desire for every Australian school child to be issued with a copy of Mein Kampf … annually. Cottrell’s determination to fight the moral and political degeneracy allegedly caused by The Jew — of which ‘Cultural Marxism’, ‘feminism’ and ‘multiculturalism’ are major symptoms — lies at the heart of his political vision. I documented this in early 2015, collecting a series of his online postings on sites like Facebook and YouTube and republishing them as ‘Quotations From Chairman Blair Cottrell’ (July 27, 2015). Elements of this formed the basis of a The Sydney Morning Herald article published in October 2015 (Blair Cottrell, rising anti-Islam movement leader, wanted Hitler in the classroom, Michael Bachelard, Luke McMahon, October 17, 2015). Leaving aside the fact that Cottrell and the UPF lodged with members of Aryan Nations when they held a rally in Perth; that Queensland neo-Nazi Jim Perren, along with fellow neo-Nazi Bradley Trappitt (Combat 18), organised their failed party launch in Toowoomba in early 2016 (Perren described it as a mini-Nuremberg rally minus the swastikas); that in their internal discussions Cottrell recommended reading The Protocols; that the UPF gave birth to Antipodean Resistance and The Lads Society … leaving all that, and much more, aside, it’s also the case that Cottrell was denounced as a ‘Nazi’ by his former UPF colleagues Shermon Burgess and Neil Erikson. Finally, the words of Jean-Paul Sartre are rather apt in this context:

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

To continue:

Avi Yemini, a tough-on-crime activist, is a former Israeli soldier. He recently joined Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives and hopes to stand as a candidate in next year’s Victorian election.

Yemini is not a neo-Nazi, though he wouldn’t be the first Jew to assume such a mantle (cf. Danny Burros and Nathaniel Jacob Sassoon Sykes). Indeed, in May 2013, one Jewish bloke and Republican Party booster, David Cole/Stein, was exposed as a Holocaust denialist; most recently, he’s gone into bat for local ‘transcendental’ fascist Richard Wolstencroft. In any case, Yemini certainly loves associating with neo-Nazis and other fascists, and rarely misses an opportunity to join with them in castigating Bad People (leftists, Muslims, et. al.) for their crimes. On his relationship to the wider Jewish community, this statement by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society is germane.

As for Yiannopoulos, although some of his supporters are Nazi sympathisers — Inquirer was sent a picture of a man giving a Nazi salute as he walked out of his Kensington speaking engagement — there is scant evidence that he is.

When Yiannopoulos was preparing a treatise on the alt-right for the Breitbart website early last year, he sought the input of a white nationalist blogger and self-described Nazi, Andrew Auernheimer, and forwarded it along with contributions from other hard-right figures to his co-author, a Breitbart staff journalist. When the Buzzfeed news site obtained emails exchanged between Auernheimer and Yiannopoulos, it reported them as proof that “Breitbart and Milo smuggled Nazi and white nationalist ideas into the mainstream.” There was no smuggling involved, Nazi or otherwise; Yiannopoulos’s treatise was a rambling cook’s tour of right-wing groups, with Auernheimer quoted as an on-the-record source.

O RLLY.

Actually, the Buzzfeed article — Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream (Joseph Bernstein, October 6, 2017) — does a little more than document the fact that Yiannopoulos sought the input of neo-Nazi weev into one article he — or rather one of his Breitbart lackeys — wrote. Inter alia, the article ‘also reported that Yiannopoulos’s passwords included references to Kristallnacht, the 1938 anti-Semitic German pogrom that historians mark as the beginning of the Holocaust, and the Night of the Long Knives, the murderous 1934 purge of Hitler’s onetime allies by Nazi paramilitaries.’ It also contains footage of Milo singing karaoke while his friends make Nazi salutes. In any case, Roger Mercer, the billionaire hedge-fund manager bankrolling Breitbart and Milo, recently withdrew his support (citing ‘personal reasons’ for doing so).

[snip] The fallout for antifa [from Milo’s cancelled gig at Berkeley] has been mixed. Speaking to Inquirer from New York, Bray says the movement is stronger and better organised than it was a year ago. “The spectacle of Berkeley and the precedent it set emboldened a lot of anti-racists and anti-fascists,’’ he says. “It was a call to arms for the movement.’’

Berkeley also set in train a series of events that last week culminated in FBI director Christopher Wray announcing that antifa activists were the subject of a counter-terrorism investigation. Wray told the US House of Representatives homeland security committee: “While we are not investigating antifa as antifa — that’s an ideology and we don’t investigate ideologies — we are investigating a number of what we would call anarchist-extremist … people who are motivated to commit violent criminal activity on a kind of antifa ideology.’’

(Don’t Talk To The) FBI

On June 15, 1917, President Wilson signed the Espionage Act, which delineated punishments for foreign spies and prohibited organized resistance to WWI. A great deal of repressive federal and state legislation followed, including the Trading with the Enemy and Sedition Acts. The government apparatus for enforcing these laws also expanded, including to the recently formed Bureau of Investigation (a precursor to the FBI). These mechanisms were used against anarchists, the IWW, and other left-wing organizations: on the same day that the Espionage Act took effect, police arrested Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. The leader of the Socialist Party, Eugene Debs, was sentenced to ten years in prison for delivering an antiwar speech in Ohio in June, 1918. The ‘Red Scare’ of 1917–1921 reached a peak with the Palmer Raids of November 1919 and the targeting of the Union of Russian Workers, an anarcho-syndicalist labour union composed of Russian immigrants. On November 8, 700 police raided seventy-three radical centres, arrested more than 500 individuals, and seized tons of literature. Many of those arrested were transported to Ellis Island and deported to Russia on the transport ship, the Buford. Over 3,000 people were deported in 1919, 2,000 in 1920 and over 4,500 in 1921.

Fast-forward to the early 2000s, and the Red Scare has become the Green Scare. In January 2015, one of its primary targets, Eric McDavid, was released from prison after serving almost nine years jail, his conviction the outcome of an FBI entrapment operation. See : Manufacturing Terror: An FBI Informant Seduced Eric McDavid Into a Bomb Plot. Then the Government Lied About It., Trevor Aaronson, Katie Galloway, The Intercept, November 10, 2015. The FBI has also been actively engaged in the infiltration and disruption of other groups, projects and social movements during this period. CrimethInc:

… starting with the entrapment case of Eric McDavid—framed for a single conspiracy charge by an infiltrator who used his attraction to her to manipulate him into discussing illegal actions—the FBI seem to have switched strategies, focusing on younger targets who haven’t actually carried out any actions.

They stepped up this new strategy during the 2008 Republican National Convention, at which FBI informants Brandon Darby and Andrew Darst set up David McKay, Bradley Crowder, and Matthew DePalma on charges of possessing Molotov cocktails in two separate incidents. It’s important to note that the only Molotov cocktails that figured in the RNC protests at any point were the ones used to entrap these young men: the FBI were not responding to a threat, but inventing one.

Over the past month, the FBI have shifted into high gear with this approach. Immediately before May Day, five young men were set up on terrorism charges in Cleveland after an FBI infiltrator apparently guided them into planning to bomb a bridge, in what would have been the only such bombing carried out by anarchists in living memory. During the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago, three young men were arrested and charged with terrorist conspiracy once again involving the only Molotov cocktails within hundreds of miles, set up by at least two FBI informants.

And so on and so forth. To cut a long story short, the fact that the FBI is investigating anTEEfa should surprise no-one. As Ward Churchill has written (“To Disrupt, Discredit and Destroy”: The FBI’s Secret War against the Black Panther Party, [PDF], 1988]):

The FBI’s politically repressive activities did not commence during the 1960s, nor did they end with the formal termination of COINTELPRO in 1971. On the contrary, such operations have been sustained for nearly a century, becoming ever more refined, comprehensive and efficient. This in itself implies a marked degradation of whatever genuinely democratic possibilities once imbued “the American experiment,” an effect amplified significantly by the fact that the Bureau has consistently selected as targets those groups which, whatever their imperfections, have been most clearly committed to the realization of egalitarian ideals. All things considered, to describe the resulting sociopolitical dynamic as “undemocratic” would be to fundamentally understate the case. The FBI is and has always been a frankly anti-democratic institution, as are the social, political and economic elements it was created and maintained to protect.

Naturally, anti-fascists organise not only to defeat fascism, but also to combat repression. The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund is one such project, but there are others, and no doubt there’ll be more as the state — increasingly, in close collaboration with the corporate sector — acts to repress dissent.

See also : What Chip Le Grand gets wrogn about the Australian ‘alt-right’ (September 10, 2017) /// Three Way Fight /// Anti-Fascism Beyond the Headlines: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore Interviews Mark Bray, LA Review of Books, December 11, 2017.

Now that Yiannopoulos’s tour has ended, antifa in Australia will readjust its sights to homegrown targets …

The risk here is that, in the absence of genuine Nazis to punch, antifa will employ its tactics against people who hold legitimate conservative political views.

Bray, who introduces his book as a “unashamedly partisan call to arms”, defends militant anti-fascism as a “reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat”. If that threat in Australia is more perceived [than] real, where does that leave antifa?

Bonus! Aamer

Richard Wolstencroft & MUFF ~versus~ Those Degenerate Gays

[UPDATE (November 21, 2017) : While it’s true that a majority of folks seem a bit pissed at Richard’s stoopid, for the defence, Ian Nicholson of Sydney Short Film School has come out all guns blazing. Go Ian!

UPDATE (November 20, 2017) : Today Richard issued a garbled apology, announced his resignation from the role of Director, and appointed Frank Howson in his stead.]

Local filmmaker, self-described ‘transcendental fascist’ and, more recently, Trump fanboy and partisan of the AltRight,* Richard Wolstencroft, established the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) in 2000 after the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) declined screening his 1999 film Pearls Before Swine; as one critic wrote of the film: I’ve kind of always distrusted Richard Wolstencroft, filmmaker, Melbourne Underground Film Festival director, and tedious bore, partly because of his avowed fascist tendencies. Now that I’ve paid money for and sat through his fucking film, I just want to beat the cunt senseless.

MUFF — for which Richard is Director-For-Life — is no stranger to controversy. In 2003, he attempted to arrange a screening of The Search for the Truth in History, a 1993 propaganda film by Holocaust denialist David Irving. The screening was eventually cancelled, as several hundred people protested outside the venue, including the Australian Jewish Democratic Society’s Sol Salbe [who] said: “I’m here because my entire family was wiped out in the Holocaust.” Previously, in April 2000, a High Court judge branded Irving a racist, an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier and a falsifier of history; the legal saga was recently dramatised in the film Denial (2016).

Still, that storm in a teacup took place 14 years ago — and what’s a few million dead Jews to Melbourne’s film community?

Fast-forward to nao, and it seems that Richard’s big mouth has gotten him and his film festival/vanity project into trouble once again. On this occasion, his commentary** on the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is what done it:

Things only got worse for Richard’s MUFF from this point, with the disgust at his homophobic stoopid leading to several sponsors (both knowing — howler bar — and unknowing — JOY 94.9) withdrawing their support, and one actor — Lachy Hulme — even deciding ‘to officially rescind my MUFF Best Actor award for “Four Jacks” (2001) and terminate any association with his film festival.’

See : Festival director’s “Yes” vote spray ignites backlash, Anders Furze, The Citizen, November 17, 2017 >>> Melbourne Underground Film Fest Director Faces Backlash For Homophobic Post, Maxim Boon, themusic.com.au, November 17, 2017 >>> Melbourne’s Underground Film Festival Director Under Fire Over A Homophobic Facebook Rant, Tom Clift, Junkee, November 18, 2017 >>> Same-sex marriage rant on Facebook lands festival director in trouble, Ben Graham, news.com.au, November 18, 2017.

Still, when all’s said and done, both Richard’s MUFF and the shit that regularly pours from his mouth and keyboard has come into criticism before, to little effect, and while it remains useful to him as a self-promotional tool, it seems likely MUFF will be back again next year, with new(er) sponsors and another crop of yuppie scum to entertain.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

* Wolstencroft began contributing to the ‘Alternative Right’ blog in November 2014; its chief editor is Colin Liddell.
** On ‘decadence’, see : ‘Decadence’ by Alex Trotter (Drunken Boat, No.2, 1994).

antifa notes (july 5, 2015) : #ReclaimAustralia /// #UnitedPatriotsFront /// Neil Erikson ~versus~ Tanya Plibersek

Less than two weeks remain before the fascist rally of July 18 at Parliament House.

Prior to this weekend it was expected that ‘Reclaim Australia’ and the ‘United Patriots Front’ would rally jointly at 1pm as this was the time the UPF had declared as Hammer Time. On Saturday, however, ‘Reclaim Australia Melbourne’ (Bendigo businesswoman Monika Evers and her sidekick Julie Kendall) declared that they would be rallying at 11am. Subsequently, Shermon Burgess (UPF) has denounced Evers as a liar, a thief and ‘scum’. The bigots have been thrown into some turmoil as a result of this disorganisation but while a handful may have decided that they’ve had enough, the majority of the Reclaimers and UPF supporters will, one assumes, soldier on with their batshit antics.

Talking shit is something that’s been going around obviously, as Burgess’s neo-Nazi comrade Neil Erikson (UPF) has debuted another in a seemingly endless train-wreck of videos in which he alleges that Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek has been bankrolling opposition to Reclaim Australia. Further, he alleges that Plibersek has ‘strong ties’ to (accused teacher) Alex Gollan. (Erikson alleges that, rather than go to police to inform them of something-or-other to do with his pol.activism, Gollan went to Plibersek instead.) Erikson also invokes Alison Thorne, a Melbourne socialist who was interviewed by media on May 31 re the UPF rally. He describes her as being ‘pro-pedophile’ (she was ‘behind a movement that said pedophiles were nice people’).

Conclusion?

The communists have taken over our government. We’re in a political war right now. There’s two tribes. There’s the tribes that care about Australia and want it to succeed and then there’s a left-wing tribe who wants to destroy Australia from within. And who’s leading that? Tanya Plibersek. The liar, the criminal, the pedophile appeaser. Now I want a federal inquiry into her and the Labor government. I want to find out how deep this goes. Because if she was funding the counter-rallies, and she’s in support of pedophiles, she should be removed, at least. So patriots keep an eye out, this goes a lot deeper than you think.

Fortunately for the fascist meathead Erikson, Plibersek likely has better things to do than to sue a neo-Nazi for defamation.

In other news, the ‘Australian Defence League’ in Sydney has organised a busload of racists to travel to Melbourne for the July 18 hate rally. The bus has yet to fill but presumably will boast a full contingent before it leaves for Mexico. As it stands, the July 18 rally in Melbourne, whether at 11am (RA) or 1pm (UPF), has garnered the support of every anti-Semitic, fascist, White nationalist and neo-Nazi group in the country. Among others, this includes the neo-fascist/White nationalist Australia First Party, the neo-Nazi Greek Golden Dawn Party and even local supporters of the Croatian Ustasha (Ustaše) are expected to attend and show both their love for Straya and their hatred of Muslims, leftists and Jews (though not necessarily in that order). See also : Melbourne Croatia/Knights ultras still being d*ckheads (February 22, 2015) | Croatian fascism in Australia (January 20, 2010) | Restaurant honours mass murderer, James Campbell, Sunday Herald Sun, April 13, 2008.

In this context, it’s worth noting that the Jew-hating and Muslim-hating mobs that will descend on Parliament House on July 18 will be entering a city which has one of the largest populations per capita of Holocaust survivors in the world. Secondly, that the UPF in Melbourne is led by neo-Nazis: Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson. Naturally, neither like The Jew very much, and while Erikson has a criminal conviction for anti-Semitic naughtiness, Cottrell too has views:

Zionists … I’m sick of hearing that coward word. Get some guts people and just say Jews, they are all Jews or Jewish servants. For thousands of years these Jews have been expelled and chased out of European Nations for the same shit. Napoleon and Hitler were the last to stand against them (please dont reply to this comment with ‘muh holocaust’ bullshit, cause that is a load of crap too) …

Curiously, one of the first Australian groups to have protested the maltreatment of Jews in Nazi Germany was the Australian Aborigines League. In November 1938, William Cooper led a delegation to the German consulate in Melbourne to present a resolution ‘condemning the persecution of Jews and Christians in Germany’ (see : Australia and the Holocaust: A Koori Perspective, Gary Foley, The Koori History Website (1997)). Coincidentally, William Cooper’s name is dropped in the latest (and quite terrific) release from Briggs & Co:

In terms of organising to oppose the July 18 rallies in Melbourne:

• Anti-fascists in Melbourne have organised a benefit gig ★ ROCK AGAINST RACISM! ★ to take place this Thursday (July 9) at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy;
• The Melbourne Street Medics will be present and have asked for volunteers to contact them via their Facebook page before July 11;
• The Campaign Against Racism and Fascism has a Facebook page here and to stay in touch with updated rally details you can join CARF’s phone tree by texting ‘subscribe’ to 0422 726 843;
No Room For Racism has a Facebook page here and for text message updates text ‘no racism’ to 0432 447 036.