Tuesday, 26 October 2010
THE EDL CHALLENGE TO ANTI-RACISTS AND BLACK COMMUNITIES
EDL, Borne out of Empire pride and New Labour
26 Oct 2010
Over the past 13 years the relentless promotion of liberal Western
values and multiculturalism in Britain, mirrored by the absence of an
internationalist and civil rights counterweight, has handed a gift to
the far-right which today it is cashing in.
While the values and multiculturalism promoted by the previous Labour
government were always absent of any substance, the English Defence
League (EDL) is joined across the world, including with the US Tea
Party, the Dutch Party for Freedom and the Swedish Sweden Democrats,
in proclaiming that not only has multiculturalism failed but it is a
threat to those values which it is now beginning to define.
Putting discussions about who controls the EDL aside, it stands out
as being the only movement in England that is galvanising young
working-class white people - and fast.
From its beginnings just last year the EDL now claims almost 40,000
members on its Facebook page and has mobilised hundreds of those in
three cities over the past two months.
Not only is this the generation a product of "failed"
multiculturalism, it is the generation of the "war on terror."
Exacerbated by domestic policies which have increased segregation in
communities along ethnic and religious lines, these young people have
rejected the insistence under 13 years of Labour government that
Britain does have its own cultural identity, one which is made up of
many cultures preserving themselves.
But that discourse been accompanied by a whitewash of why those
cultures exist in their various manifestations in Britain in the
first place and so its only success has been in protecting the
sentiment that Britain's imperialist past is glorious.
The flipside of that being that the glory depends on perpetuating a
dehumanised image of those who resisted that imperialism - those
whose cultures, we are assured, are a vital part of Britain's
As the war on terror took off, Labour's funding of Muslim pressure
groups in the name of "social cohesion" - vital for the credibility
of multicultural identity - was coupled with its dehumanisation of
Muslims at home and abroad to justify the imperialist pillage of
Middle Eastern and Afghan lands and the oppression of their resisting
This created hypocrites out of the Establishment in the eyes of the
white working-class EDL members - the same demographic targeted for
support for the illegal wars and for army recruitment.
After all, for nine years the fear and resentment inducing debate
about an enemy and its drive to Islamify the West has been
In reality working-class people in this country, and indeed across
the world, benefit the least from British capitalism and the
US-headed imperialism which since World War II has sustained it.
But in the face of an education system which does little to help
young people understand social problems in their communities,
working-class black, Asian and people from ethnic minorities have
cultures from across the Third World that have and are resisting
imperialism to readily identify with.
This is on top of cultural currents in Britain that have flourished
out of black and Asian resistance to police and far-right brutality.
These cultures open up a range of references for youngsters to
understand the imperialist system in which they live.
Meanwhile the lack of any effective political alternative
historically to that system in the English belly of empire has left
the system able to dictate the culture of white working-class people.
This has left them with little other than cultural references that
make them aspire to a place within that system and does nothing to
help them understand their social conditions.
So the EDL has filled the void. While the media and politicians tell
us extreme Islam is the biggest threat we face, the EDL uses its
criticisms of Islam and the Koran to provide a false understanding of
those social conditions. But just as importantly, it is also using
these criticisms to shape an identity for its members - one which
gives attention to people who have hitherto been ignored.
It is an identity defined by everything the EDL sees as a
contradiction to Islam. This positioning also enables the EDL to
undermine claims that it is a typical, homophobic, neonazi, macho
So at a rally of approximately 200 members last Sunday in the heart
of London on Kensington High Street, the pink union jack and rainbow
flag in support of gay rights flew high. And speakers made numerous
references in support of women.
Moreover, in spite of leadership claims to be against the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan, overwhelmingly EDL members support the fight of
the troops which they see as part of the fight against the spread of
But most significantly, that rally was specifically called near the
Israeli embassy to show solidarity with the zionist mission for a
pure Jewish state free from Islamic influence.
That solidarity was sealed with the invitation of a "distinguished
guest," activist from the far-right US Tea Party movement and
California Senate candidate Rabbi Nachum Shifren.
Before criticising "Hitlerism," EDL Luton division member Kevin
Carroll said: "Israel has a right to defend itself from any
aggressor, Islamist or otherwise. And if those two things make me a
zionist than so be it, I must be a zionist."
Arab and Asian people across the country are already paying the
greatest price for the EDL emerging as the upholder of radical white
working-class identity and are left with no choice but to physically
And in Harrow, Tower Hamlets and Bradford in particular they have
successfully defended their communities from the physical threat -
albeit with virtually no organisation.
If the EDL would have been similarly embarrassed in Leicester earlier
this month it would have been a potentially fatal setback for them.
Nonetheless the conditions are ripe for working-class young people
from all backgrounds to be galvanised by any movement that
effectively engages with their plight, however shady their
But the anger of those young people will only be focused into
changing those conditions when they are part of a movement which both
deals with the deficiencies of an education system that fails to
harbour understanding of social problems in our communities, and
equips them to deal with those problems.