Fascism is the anti-dote to Communism.
- United Kingdom
- Hope not Hate
- Unite Against Fascism
- 43 Group
- 62 Group
- Anti-Fascist Action
- Red Action
- Anti-Racist Alliance
- United Black Youth League
- ILP Contingent
Anti-fascist movements emerged first in Italy during the rise of Benito Mussolini, but they soon spread to other European countries and then globally. In the early period, Communist, socialist and Christian workers and intellectuals were involved. Until 1928, the period of the United front, there was significant collaboration between the Communists and non-Communist anti-fascists.
The rise of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF) in the 1930s was challenged by the Communist Party of Great Britain, socialists in the Labour Party and Independent Labour Party, Irish Catholic dockmen and working class Jews in London's East End. A high point in the struggle was the Battle of Cable Street, when thousands of eastenders and others turned out to stop the BUF from marching.
Initially, the national Communist Party leadership wanted a mass demonstration at Hyde Park in solidarity with Republican Spain, instead of a mobilization against the BUF, but local party activists argued against this. Activists rallied support with the slogan They shall not pass, adopted from Republican Spain. There were debates within the anti-fascist movement over tactics. While many East End ex-servicemen participated in violence against fascists, Communist Party leader Phil Piratin denounced these tactics and instead called for large demonstrations.
Strategy of tension
A strategy of tension is a policy wherein violent struggle is encouraged rather than suppressed. The purpose is to create a general feeling of insecurity in the population and make people seek security in a strong government. The strategy of tension is most closely identified with the Years of Lead in Italy from 1968 to 1982, wherein both far-left Marxist and far-right neo-fascist extra-parliamentary groups, and state intelligence agencies performed bombings, kidnappings, arsons, and murders.
From 1968–1982, Italy suffered numerous terrorist attacks by both the left and the right, which were often followed by government round-ups and mass arrests. An allegation, especially made by adherents of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), was that the government trumped up and intentionally allowed the attacks of communist radicals as an excuse to arrest other communists, and allowed the attacks of far-right paramilitary organizations as an extrajudicial way to silence enemies.
Various parliamentary committees were held to investigate these crimes as well as prosecute them in the 1990s. A 1995 report from the Left Democrats (a merger of former center-left parties and the PCI) to a subcommittee of the Italian Parliament stated that a "strategy of tension" had been supported by the United States to "stop the PCI, and to a certain degree also the PSI, from reaching executive power in the country".
Searchlight is a British magazine, founded in 1975 by Gerry Gable, to publish exposés about racism, antisemitism and fascism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The magazine is published and edited by Gerry Gable. An archive of historical materials associated with the magazine, The Searchlight Archive, is housed at the University of Northampton. The current Searchlight magazine was preceded by a newspaper of the same name, which was founded in 1964 by left-wing Labour Party Members of Parliament Reg Freeson and Joan Lestor with Gerry Gable as "research director".
Gerry Gable's first public media appearance was when he was prosecuted for breaking into the flat of right-wing historian David Irving in 1963. His defence counsel Ivan Lawrence (now chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee) said in mitigation 'they intended to hand over any documents or books they found to the Special Branch'. In 1991, Mr Gable was charged with and later acquitted of organising an attack on a group of "fascists" who were holding a private meeting in Kensinglon Library. He invaded the meeting with a group of thugs from the violent, proIRA Red Action group. Although Gable was eventually acquitted of organising the attack he failed to explain where he and his thuggish friends obtained their forged tickets for the meeting. In May 1977, when employed by London Weekend Television, he wrote a notorious (and he hoped confidential) document that has passed into infamy as the 'Gable Memorandum'. In it, he outlined his spying on radical journalists in a celebrated press freedom case, which involved among others Philip Agee. He concluded with the memorable phrase 'I have given the names I have acquired to be checked out by British / French security services. It is now a time of waiting for feed-back and also further checks here.'.
In 1984, editor Gerry Gable was commissioned by the BBC to provide research materials for a Panorama programme, "Maggie's Militant Tendency". The episode was to focus on a claim of right-wing extremism in the Conservative Party. Gable asserted that his research drew upon the information previously published in Searchlight. In response to the claims by Gable that two Conservative Party figures, Neil Hamilton and Gerald Howarth, were secret extremist Nazi supporters, actions for libel were brought against the BBC and Gable. The programme had alleged (not admitted as evidence in court) that Hamilton gave a Nazi salute in Berlin while 'messing around' on a Parliamentary visit in August 1983. The Guardian reported that "Writing for the Sunday Times after the collapse of the case, he admitted he did give a little salute with two fingers to his nose to give the impression of a toothbrush moustache. "Somebody on the trip clearly did not share our sense of humour," he wrote." The BBC capitulated on 21 October, and paid the pair's legal costs. Hamilton and Howarth were awarded £20,000 each, and in the next edition of Panorama, on 27 October, the BBC made an unreserved apology to both. The case against Gable was dropped.
In April 1986, under pressure because of an ongoing libel action by some Tory MPs against the BBC for a Searchlight sourced story on 'fascist infiltration' into the Tory party, Gable panicked. He printed a fictitious tale in that month's issue (p2-3) implying that a Tory MP involved in the libel action and others were planning to kidnap and murder him. In fact, they were only investigating him, and the 'harassment' described is far less than has been undertaken by Searchlight against anti-fascists. Knowing the story was a fabrication to gain sympathy, Searchlight were careful not to name the MP supposedly concerned. They passed the story to Private Eye, who were rash enough to print the name (2/5/86) The MP concerneed and a business associate successfully sued Private Eye winning substantial 'undisclosed damages'. What is germane here isn't so much the lies, but how the 'plot news' was received. In the original Private Eye piece, Gable admitted discussing the matter with Special Branch. A more recent account by Gable associate Gary Murray with 'Mr Gable's kind permission' outlined that after hearing others were investigating him, 'Gable's next step was to speak with a friend in Special Branch who decided to arrange armed bodyguards to watch over him.'. when the police enquiries were concluded a report was given to Mrs Thatcher at a meeting in Downing Street and to Lord Bridge then Chairman of the Security Commission.
Forewarned Against Fascism published between 1978 and 1981 by Dave Roberts and Daphne Liddle, the latter even today a photographer for the Searchlight 'team'. From issue 5 (November 1978) they began publishing 'hit-lists' of fascists, giving hundreds upon hundreds of names / addresses / work-places. At the same time Roberts and Liddle were calling upon the state to increase its surveillance and powers of the very organisations whose members were intended to be the targets of attack and thus public disorder. The magazine has hostile relations with some other anti-fascist groups in Britain. The magazine group was originally part of the steering committee of Unite Against Fascism and resigned their position after differences over tactics. Publisher Gerry Gable is known to have links with MI5. His leaked 1977 London Weekend Television memo stated that he had "given names I have acquired to be checked out by British/French security services". A 1987 profile referred to Gable's "wide range of contacts, including people in the secret services". Searchlight relies for its material on those involved in the far-right. This includes a range of infiltrators, defectors and casual informers. The most infamous known defectors were Ray Hill, Sonia Hochfelder, and Matthew Collins, now of the Hope not Hate campaign. Raymond Hill was a former deputy leader of the British Movement and a founder member of the British National Party. Hill also secretly worked for Searchlight in feeding information about the groups' activities.
The daughter of a Jewish father and a Gentile mother, Sonia Hochfelder led a rather strange political career for someone of her heritage before becoming a dedicated “anti-fascist” (in the mid-1970's Hochfelder was in a tiny but militant Maoist group, the self-styled 'Communist Party of England-Marxist Leninist' (hereafter CPE-ML). As well as being a fairly important member of the National Front, she contributed articles to League Review, the theoretical journal of the League of Saint George. Hochfelder, is today married to the editor of Searchlight, Gerry Gable, and was a co-founder in 1992 (later Executive Director) of the 'Searchlight Educational Trust'. At the insistence of the British National Party, Searchlight and the associated Searchlight Educational Trust were investigated by the British Charity Commission of England and Wales as a result of a complaint that claimed that the Educational Trust had been engaging in political activity incompatible with its charitable status. The Commission's report stated that, in its opinion, the Searchlight Educational Trust had gone beyond the Commission's guidelines on political activities, and found there was a need for a greater distinction between the public activities of Searchlight Magazine and the educational trust.
Ray Hill revealed himself to be a "mole" in 1984 in a documentary for Channel 4 which focused on the links between the British far right and international terrorism, as well as plots to launch bomb attacks in London, said to have been planned by the National Socialist Action Party. Column 88 and the League of St. George were also heavily implicated in Hill's claims. Hill's grassing was claimed to have began in 1980 with anonymous calls to the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight. The mystery caller would offer juicy information about the activities of the far right in Leicester. On one occasion he provided the complete membership of the British Democratic Party, an offshoot of the National Front. Other than the British far-right, Hill's revelations also included claims about terrorist involvement of their French counterparts and Fédération d'action nationale et européenne leader Mark Fredriksen. Hill's revelations sent shockwaves through right wing politics and encouraged a culture of suspicion. Indeed, soon afterwards when Joe Pearce approached Tyndall about bringing the Young National Front en bloc to the BNP, Tyndall rejected his overtures for fear that Pearce might also be a "mole".
Hill became a regular columnist for Searchlight from then on, and in 1988 published a book about his experiences, The Other Face of Terror, with the journalist Andrew Bell. Called as a witness before the European Parliament's Commission on Racism and Xenophobia, Hill's evidence included the claim that within the neo-Nazi underground a system of "brown aid" existed for fugitives and those defined by the movement as political prisoners. He contended that he personally had been involved in "safehousing" several far right Italian fugitives during his political involvement. In an obituary, Searchlight Magazine described their former colleague Hill as "that giant of the anti-fascist movement".
Most of Searchlights material, however, comes from informers, who do so because of feuds with their fellow right-wingers and not from any conviction of Searchlight's cause. In 2013 it was revealed that BNP member Duncan Robertson had been a Searchlight informer, in particular of the New Right group. An Edinburgh-born Scot (albeit a Rangers supporter), Robertson was chronically unhappy but intelligent, an unfortunate combination. Accepted for a place at Cambridge University in his youth, Robertson never went, due to a severe accident. Perpetually unlucky in love, it has been rumoured that Robertson approached the Community Security Trust (intelligence arm of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and very close to the police, hereafter CST) circa 2004 and was then passed over to Searchlight, and (alleged) Special Branch. The CST has a intelligence interest in monitoring anti-semitism, holocaust denial and the far right generally. Speculation asserts that CST are (hypothetically) are doing this in such a way as to allow the police to unaccountably run proxy agents using third parties--in which category come Searchlight/Hope Not Hate, then this should be an issue of great public concern. It is understood Robertson suffered from both psychiatric problems (depression) and alcohol difficulties, hence the question: did pressure from handlers tip this unhappy man over the edge?
Searchlight was, consequently, divided into three main bodies: Searchlight magazine, the monthly anti-fascist and anti-racist magazine; Searchlight Information Services (SIS), a research and investigatory body which briefs governments, politicians, journalists, and the police; and, finally, Searchlight Educational Trust (SET), a charity devoted to challenging and defeating the extremism, racism and fascism. SIS and SET later joined the Hope not Hate campaign, and are no longer associated with Searchlight magazine.
Searhlight Magazine is registered with Companies House at the same address as Hope Not Hate. Both Gery and Sonia Gable have registered their address as 49 Herent Drive, Clayhall, Ilford, Essex, IG5 0HE. Gerry Gable was appointed a director of Hope not Hate on 27th July 2011, he resigned on the 25th September 2012.
Hope not Hate
Hope not Hate (stylised as HOPE not hate) is an advocacy group based in the United Kingdom which campaigns against racism and fascism. The group was founded in 2004 by Nick Lowles, a former editor of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight (from which it split in late 2011). It is backed by various politicians and celebrities, and it has also been backed by several trade unions.
Lowles got involved with the anti-fascist movement as a student volunteer at Sheffield University. Before he became editor, he was an freelance investigative journalist, working in television, including on BBC Panorama, World in Action, Channel Four Dispatches and MacIntyre Undercover. Between 1999 and 2011 Lowles was co-editor, and then editor, of Searchlight magazine.
The Deputy Director is Jemma Levene, who previously worked as Head of Campaigns at Jewish cultural education (Critical Race Theory) charity SEED, and at the Orthodox Union in New York. The Political Organiser is Liron Woodcock-Velleman, Policy Officer for the Jewish Labour Movement. The organisation now consists of Hope not Hate Educational Ltd (a charitable wing) and Hope not Hate Ltd (focused on campaigning and investigative work). From 2010 to 2015, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth worked as Deputy Director; since then, she has been a director.
In 2011 Matthew Collins, a former National Front and British National Party member and part of the group's investigative team, published Hate: My Life in the British Far Right (ISBN 978-1-84954-327-9). In June 2014 Collins and Hope not Hate published original research into what they termed a far-right, Christian fundamentalist organisation, Britain First. Hope not Hate has received endorsement and national publicity from the Daily Mirror newspaper, and revolves around an annual two week bus tour in the run-up to local elections.
Hope not Hate is registered with Companies House as a private limited company situated at Suite 1, 7th Floor, 50 Broadway, London, England, SW1H 0BL (a few yards away from the Fabian Society), previous address was Suite 1, 3rd Floor, 11-12 st. James's Square London SW1Y 4LB. Persons with significant control are: Anupreet Singh Amole (Solicitor), Ruth Lauren Anderson (Campaigner), Peter Jonathan Jacobs, Gurinder Singh Josan, Anthony James Painter (Policy Director), Anna Catherine Turley and Simon Anthony Tuttle (Investment Director).
A study into the claims made by left-wing group ‘Hope Not Hate‘ has found the organisation exaggerated “hate speech” claims by over 3000 per cent following the murder of Jo Cox MP. The Economist magazine investigated the claim by the group — led by left-wing political operative Nick Lowles — that 50,000 tweets were sent “celebrating” the murder of the MP or praising her killer. The investigation concluded:
The Economist also highlighted how “Britain’s largest newspapers leapt to publish the shocking findings” of Hope Not Hate’s flawed report:
The authors of the report also refused to share their data with the Economist for the purpose of an investigation, claiming they had encountered death threats.
Hope Not Hate also “misled” the British press, public, as well as politicians by claiming a “key theme” at the time was the calling of Thomas Mair — Jo Cox’s killer — a “hero”. But the Economist found: “In fact, many tweets containing the word “hero” were referring either to Ms Cox herself or to a pensioner who was injured while intervening to save her”. The Economist then measured a random sample of Brexit-related tweets in an attempt to find widespread “xenophobia” and has since declared: “Of these, we judged less than 1% to be xenophobic or worse”.
Hope not Hate were identified in a research paper on far-left extremist violence alongside Antifa and other violent groups by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) for their “infiltration and research” of political opponents. The research paper lists the group, which has previously received funds from left-wing billionaire George Soros, as a facilitator of information for far-left extremists alongside the Swedish Expo Foundation, also funded by Soros, which objected to being included in the report. The FOI report states that the far-left scene often requests information on right-wing opponents:
The report specifically lists an operation involving former Expo writer, now Hope not Hate researcher, Patrik Hermansson, who infiltrated the alt-right and far-right circles in the UK and the U.S. in 2017. The report is not the first time Hope not Hate have been linked to radical far-left extremists as head researcher Dr. Joe Mulhall has tweeted out to Antifa accounts on a number of occasions. In one tweet he asked the account “Antifascist Network” their “thoughts” on a mini-documentary he had made for Hope not Hate in Northern Iraq in 2014.
The Antifascist Network twitter account has also tweeted out support for Antifa extremists fighting alongside Kurdish militias in Northern Syria. Antifa has long claimed their members fight with the YPG forces, though the Antifascist Network account, and other Antifa-linked accounts, have tweeted out pictures featuring symbols of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a proscribed terrorist group in the UK. Hope not Hate, in addition to receiving funds from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, received funding from the UK government as well. A senior director of the group, Ms. Ruth Smeeth, is a sitting Labour MP for Stoke-On-Trent North.
Unite Against Fascism
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) was formed in Great Britain in late 2003 in response to electoral successes by the BNP. Its main elements were the Anti-Nazi League and the National Assembly Against Racism, with the support of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and leading British unions such as the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) (now Unite) and UNISON. Among the union leaders backing UAF were Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers Union, Andy Gilchrist and Mick Shaw of the Fire Brigades Union, Mark Serwotka of the PCS public service workers' union, and Christine Blower and Kevin Courtney of the NUT. Founding signatories included David Cameron, later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
In 2005, the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight disaffiliated from UAF after an argument over tactics to defeat the BNP. At UAF's 2007 national conference, speakers ranged from cabinet minister Peter Hain to Edie Friedman of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality and Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), as well as figures from the major UK trade unions. In November 2007, UAF organised a rally of over 1,000 people when BNP leader Nick Griffin and Holocaust denier David Irving spoke at the Oxford Union. On 9 June 2009, UAF demonstrated against a BNP press conference given by Griffin and Andrew Brons outside the Palace of Westminster following their election as MEPs.
UAF has worked closely with Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR), described by UAF/SWP's Weyman Bennett as "the cultural wing of our movement". The LMHR campaign aims to bring people together and promote unity through the power of music. LMHR was born in the tradition of the Rock Against Racism (RAR) movement of the late 1970s. LMHR is a broad based campaign made up of antiracism campaigners, musicians, music industry professionals and educators. It has local groups in towns and cities around Britain. Its current spokespeople include Atlantic Records VP Paul Samuels, and in the past have included its convener and national organiser Martin Smith and Zak Cochrane.
The journalist Andrew Gilligan has claimed that the UAF's reluctance to tackle Islamism is because several of its own members are supporters of such extremism. The UAF's vice-chairman, Azad Ali, is also community affairs co-ordinator of the Islamic Forum of Europe, which Gilligan describes as "a Muslim supremacist group dedicated to changing 'the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed from ignorance to Islam'". Nigel Copsey, Professor of Modern History at Teesside University, wrote that Ali's association with IFE made UAF "[run] the risk of turning a blind eye to Islamist extremism". Ali was suspended as a civil servant in the Treasury after he wrote approvingly on his blog of an Islamic militant who said that as a Muslim he is religiously obliged to kill British soldiers in Iraq, in 2009.
The 43 Group was an English anti-fascist group set up by Jewish ex-servicemen after the Second World War. They did this when, upon returning to London, they encountered British fascist organisations such as Jeffrey Hamm's British League of Ex-Servicemen and later Oswald Mosley's new fascist party, the Union Movement. Group members broke up far-right meetings, infiltrated fascist groups, and attacked the fascists in street fighting. Their newspaper, On Guard, was published from 1947 to 1949. The name "43 Group" came from the number of people in the room of Maccabi House (a Jewish sports centre in Hampstead, London) during the group's founding meeting in April 1946.
The 17-year-old Vidal Sassoon joined the group and later joined the Israeli Defence Forces to fight in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Sassoon later founded a multinational hair styling business. The initial membership was around 300 people. The group grew to include many hundreds of men and women, not all Jewish. The group published On Guard, from July 1947 to December 1949, an anti-fascist paper which often published intelligence gathered by Group spies. As well as covering the activities of Oswald Mosley and the British fascists, On Guard reported on the activities of fascists all around the world, in countries including the USA and South Africa.
The 43 Group was viewed by established Jewish organisations, such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as a competitor. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also worried that the 43 Group's activities could damage the Jewish community's reputation, especially in light of the terrorist acts and guerrilla warfare carried out by militant Zionist groups such as the Irgun in British Mandate Palestine. Although Mosley's Union Movement remained active throughout the 1950s, it was not until 1962, when the unrelated 62 Group was formed in the 43 Group's image, that British fascists again encountered any significant privately organised street-level resistance. The 43 group was an inspiration to other militant anti-fascist groups such as the 62 Group and Anti-Fascist Action.
The 62 Group, originally the 62 Committee, was a militant broad-based coalition of anti-fascists in London, headed by Harry Bidney. Based on the earlier 43 Group, it was formed in 1962 largely in response to the resurgence of fascism in Britain at the time, and particularly Colin Jordan's National Socialist Movement (NSM). It used violence against the remnants of Oswald Mosley's Union Movement, the original British National Party, and the emerging National Front, as well as the NSM. The group was financed in part by the Jewish Aid Committee of Britain (JACOB).
A predecessor to the Group from which it drew its early membership was the Yellow Star Movement. Though the YSM was decentralised, its supporters had experienced a split concerning whether the organisation should engage in violence. The more militant faction of the YSM were among the founders of the 62 Group. Formal membership was only open to those who were Jewish, but the Group worked with people from other anti-fascist organisations and immigrant communities.
The Group was led by Harry Bidney, a Soho night club manager, and managed day-to-day by Paul Nathan. Another significant member was Gerry Gable, an intelligence officer for the 62 Group, who later founded the magazine Searchlight. In 1975, the 62 Group dissolved. Some former members of the Group formed the Community Security Trust.
Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) was a militant anti-fascist organisation, founded in the UK in 1985 by a wide range of anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations. It was active in fighting far-right organisations, particularly the National Front and British National Party. Among its more notable mobilisations were violent confrontations such as the "Battle of Waterloo" at London Waterloo station in 1992 and non-violent events such as the Unity Carnivals of the early 1990s. AFA was launched in London in 1985 at a large public meeting representing a wide range of anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations and individuals, including Red Action, Searchlight, the Newham Monitoring Project, and the Jewish Socialist Group.
Jeremy Corbyn was either national secretary or honorary president of this first incarnation of AFA in 1985. However, according to historian Nigel Copsey, "this original AFA unravelled due to internal tensions between militant anti-fascists and more moderate anti-racists. Although many Trotskyist groups, independent socialists, anarchists and members of the Labour Party were active in AFA in the 1980s, after its relaunch in 1989 the main members were from various anarchist groups and Red Action, a group founded by disillusioned militant anti-fascist ex-SWP members who had criticised perceived populist or popular front politics of the ANL.
In 1992 there were 21 branches of AFA listed in Fighting Talk, in locations including Birmingham, Brighton, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, Exeter, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and Norwich.
Red Action was a British leftist political group formed in 1981. It became known for violently confronting groups such as the British National Party on the streets, and for being the main organisational force behind Anti-Fascist Action. In 1995, The Independent estimated that it had between 20 and 30 branches with 10–15 activists in each, and the paper stated that the group "enthusiastically espouses the use of violence"; it also set out links between Red Action and the Irish republican movement, and stated that members operated primarily in large cities such as London, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.
The group was formed by activists who had been expelled from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for their involvement in alleged "squadism" (violent actions against far right racist groups). The expelled activists regrouped around a paper named Red Action. After several years, the group became more interested in the electoral process, and it joined the Red Front electoral alliance in 1987 and the Socialist Alliance in England and Wales in 1999. Red Action members then left this organisation, along with the Socialist Party, citing the domination of the SWP over the organisation. Some Red Action members went on to found the Independent Working Class Association.
Labour Party ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn's links to a pro-IRA group were examined by police in the 1980s and early 1990s. Mr Corbyn spoke at at least three Red Action meetings between 1985 and 1992 and the group sometimes met at his then-constituency office. A senior police officer from the period revealed there was serious concern at the time that Mr Corbyn's links, including hosting IRA and Sinn Fein figures at the House of Commons, had allowed the IRA to become familiar with the layout and security of the building. Mr Corbyn is listed as the keynote speaker at Red Action's 'national meeting' on February 23, 1985.
Red Action's journal, says it provided security for Mr Corbyn and others in their work with the Troops Out Movement and Labour Committee on Ireland, which sympathised with republicanism. In mid-1992 Red Action co-ordinated a speaking tour with Mr Corbyn to protest against the treatment of republican prisoners. At the same time, Hayes and Taylor were plotting a bombing campaign that would include attacks on Harrods, Canary Wharf and Tottenham Court Road. Red Action stated in the journal that "both as an organisation and as individuals we support the activities of the Provisional IRA and the INLA unconditionally and uncritically", and saying IRA killings "were justified in the fight for freedom".
The 1993 Harrods bombing occurred on 28 January 1993 when a bomb exploded near the Harrods department store in London, England. At 9:14, two telephoned warnings were issued, saying that two bombs had been planted: one outside and one inside Harrods. Police cordoned off the area and began a search. However, some bystanders ignored the police cordon. At about 9:40, a package containing 1 lb (450 g) of Semtex exploded in a litter bin at the front of the store. It injured four people and damaged the shopfront. The cost of damage and lost sales was estimated at £1 million. The IRA Army Council said it had not authorised the attack and expressed regret for the civilian casualties.
Red Action leader, Patrick Hayes, a 41-year-old computer programmer of Irish descent, resident of Stoke Newington, north London was accused of conspiracy to cause explosions, of causing an explosion at Harrods and another on the 9.05 Victoria to Ramsgate commuter train, and with possessing Semtex and ammonium nitrate explosives. He was accused of conspiracy to cause explosions at Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road and at Woodside Park Tube station car park. He also face charges of possessing two pistols and two assault rifles. Hayes with his accomplice, 51 year-old Jan Taylor, were convicted for their involvement in an IRA bombing campaign in England; both were sentenced to 30 years in jail.
The Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) was a British anti-racist organisation formed in November 1991. It was formed mainly by black activists in the Labour Party. The ARA was formed by Marc Wadsworth [Finnish mother emigrated to England to work as an au pair for a Jewish dentist], previously active in Labour Party Black Sections. The ARA was supported by more than 800 organisations including many national black and Jewish organisations. It also had the support of more than 90 MPs and MEPs from across the political spectrum as well as thousands of individuals. In 2008 Wadsworth's reporting triggered the resignation of Mayor of London Boris Johnson's spokesman.
It won the support of powerful trade unions such as the Transport and General Workers' Union. Its formation was endorsed by the Jewish Socialist Group, the Indian Workers' Association, and the Black Liaison Group. The ARA managed to achieve a broad-based coalition of support from across the left, trade unions, and anti-racist organisations, although the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight denounced elements in the ARA leadership [Lee Jasper, its vice-chair] for having links with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. [Searchlight campaigned against American Black Separatist Louis Farrakhan, who was referred to as a "worm" in the Searchlight magazine].
Wadsworth helped to secure Black Sections (caucuses) within the Labour Party, first tabled in 1983, to further the cause of greater African, Caribbean and Asian political representation. All four of Britain's first minority African, Caribbean and Asian members of parliament of modern times were members. Heintroducing Lawrence's parents to South African Nobel Peace Prize winners Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The ARA succeeded in getting human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman to draft a bill to make racial harassment and racial violence specific criminal offences, which proposals became law years later. Wadsworth lost his position as ARA leader in 1994, following disputes with Socialist Action and Ken Livingstone. He resigned from the Labour Party in 2003 in protest against the Iraq War.
United Black Youth League
The United Black Youth League (UBYL) was an English militant anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-racist self-defense organisation from Bradford, West Yorkshire, primarily made up of South Asian and West Indian-descended young people. It was founded in 1981 as a splinter group of the Asian Youth Movement, later that year twelve of its members, referred to as the Bradford Twelve by media outlets, were "charged following allegations that they had manufactured explosives in anticipation of a large scale attack by fascist groups", being acquitted in June 1982 when the court decided they had acted in self-defence. A variety of journalists and scholars described the case as the "trial of the decade".
Members of UBYL were influenced by the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the members believed socialism to be the way to avoid this discrimination. In particular, members of the group were all also members of political parties espousing the socialist strain of Trotskyist, namely the International Socialists, Workers Revolutionary Party and Militant Tendency. The members also opposed ethnocracy of all kinds, with many of its Bengali members focusing on anti-Bengali nationalism and many of its Jewish members focusing on anti-Zionism. Although many members were religious, they promoted governmental secularity. Members were encouraged to join trade unions.
The British Independent Labour Party sent a small contingent to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The contingent fought alongside the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and included Fabian Socialist George Orwell (pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, author of 1984), who subsequently wrote about his experiences in his personal account Homage to Catalonia. The main body of the ILP contingent consisting of about 25 men departed from England on 1 January 1937, under the leadership of Bob Edwards, later a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party.
Action Directe was a French far-left militant group who acted since the anti-Franco struggle and the autonomous movement and violent attacks in France between 1979 and 1987. Members of Action directe considered themselves libertarian communists who had formed an "urban guerrilla organization". The French government banned the group. During its existence, AD's members murdered 12 people, and wounded a further 26. It associated at various times with the Red Brigades (Italy), Red Army Faction (West Germany), Prima Linea (Italy), Armed Nuclei for Popular Autonomy (France), Communist Combatant Cells, Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions, Irish National Liberation Army et cetera.
In December 1981 an Action Directe member Lahouari Benchellal, called "Farid", was arrested for forging traveler's cheques, which were an important income source for the organization, in Helsinki, Finland. He hung himself while in the custody of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service in January 1982. Action Directe did not believe Benchellal killed himself, and they named a direct action group after him. There is an ongoing campaign by some sections of the French far-left that the Action Directe members still imprisoned, who consider themselves political prisoners, should be paroled. In December 2007, Jean-Marc Rouillan was allowed a state of "semi-liberty", able to leave prison for extended periods. In September 2008, a Parisian court called for the revoking of this status after he declared in an interview with L'Express that "I remain convinced that armed struggle is necessary at certain moments of the revolutionary process".
Red Army Faction
The Red Army Faction also known as the Baader–Meinhof Group or Baader–Meinhof Gang was a West German far-left militant group founded in 1970. The RAF described itself as a communist and anti-imperialist urban guerrilla group. It was engaged in armed resistance against what it considered a fascist state. Members of the RAF generally used the Marxist–Leninist term faction when they wrote in English. Early leadership included Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, and Horst Mahler. The West German government considered the RAF a terrorist organisation.
The RAF engaged in a series of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies, and shoot-outs with police over the course of three decades. Its activities peaked in late 1977, which led to a national crisis that became known as the "German Autumn". The RAF has been held responsible for 34 deaths, including industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer, the Dresdner Bank head Jürgen Ponto, federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback, police officers, American servicemen stationed in Germany, as well as many secondary targets, such as chauffeurs and bodyguards, with many others injured throughout its almost thirty years of activity; 26 RAF members or supporters were killed.
Although better-known, the RAF conducted fewer attacks than the Revolutionary Cells, which is held responsible for 296 bomb attacks, arson and other attacks between 1973 and 1995. The group was motivated by leftist political concerns and the perceived failure of their parents' generation to confront Germany's Nazi past, and received support from Stasi and other Eastern Bloc security services. Sometimes, the group is talked about in terms of generations:
- the "first generation", which consisted of Baader, Ensslin, Meinhof and others;
- the "second generation", after the majority of the first generation was arrested in 1972; and
- the "third generation", which existed in the 1980s and 1990s up to 1998, after the first generation died in Stammheim maximum security prison in 1977.
On 20 April 1998, an eight-page typewritten letter in German was faxed to the Reuters news agency, signed "RAF" with the submachine-gun red star, declaring that the group had dissolved. In 1999, after a robbery in Duisburg, evidence pointing to Ernst-Volker Staub and Daniela Klette was found, causing an official investigation into a re-founding. The usual translation into English is the "Red Army Faction"; however, the founders wanted it to reflect not a splinter group but rather an embryonic militant unit that was embedded, in or part of, a wider communist workers' movement,[c] i.e., a fraction of a whole.
The origins of the group can be traced back to the 1968 student protest movement in West Germany. Industrialised nations in the late 1960s experienced social upheavals related to the maturing of the "baby boomers", the Cold War, and the end of colonialism. Newly-found youth identity and issues such as racism, women's liberation, and anti-imperialism were at the forefront of left-wing politics. Many young people were alienated from their parents and the institutions of the state. The historical legacy of Nazism drove a wedge between the generations and increased suspicion of authoritarian structures in society (some analysts see the same occurring in post-fascism Italy, giving rise to "Brigate Rosse").
In West Germany there was anger among leftist youth at the post-war denazification in West Germany and East Germany, a process which these leftists perceived as a failure or as ineffective, as former (actual and supposed) Nazis held positions in government and the economy. The Communist Party of Germany had been outlawed since 1956. Elected and appointed government positions down to the local level were often occupied by ex-Nazis. Konrad Adenauer, the first Federal Republic chancellor (in office 1949–1963), had even appointed former Nazi sympathiser Hans Globke as Director of the Federal Chancellery of West Germany (in office 1953–1963).
The radicals regarded the conservative media as biased – at the time conservatives such as Axel Springer, who was implacably opposed to student radicalism, owned and controlled the conservative media including all of the most influential mass-circulation tabloid newspapers. The emergence of the Grand Coalition between the two main parties, the SPD and CDU, with former Nazi Party member Kurt Georg Kiesinger as chancellor, occurred in 1966. This horrified many on the left and was viewed as a monolithic, political marriage of convenience with pro-NATO, pro-capitalist collusion on the part of the social democratic SPD. With about 90% of the Bundestag controlled by the coalition, an Extra-Parliamentary Opposition (APO) was formed with the intent of generating protest and political activity outside of government. In 1972 a law was passed – the Radikalenerlass – that banned radicals or those with a "questionable" political persuasion from public sector jobs.
Some radicals used the supposed association of large parts of society with Nazism as an argument against any peaceful approaches:
The radicalised were, like many in the New Left, influenced by:
- Sociological developments, together with the background of counter-cultural movements.
- Post-war writings on class society and empire as well as contemporary Marxist critiques from many revolutionaries such as Frantz Fanon, Ho Chi Minh, and Che Guevara, as well as early Autonomism.
- Philosophers associated with the Frankfurt school (Jürgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse, and Oskar Negt in particular) and associated Marxist philosophers.
RAF founder Ulrike Meinhof had a long history in the Communist Party. Holger Meins had studied film and was a veteran of the Berlin revolt; his short feature How To Produce A Molotov Cocktail was seen by huge audiences. Jan Carl Raspe lived at the Kommune 2; Horst Mahler was an established lawyer but also at the center of the anti-Springer revolt from the beginning. From their own personal experiences and assessments of the socio-economic situation they soon became more specifically influenced by Leninism and Maoism, calling themselves "Marxist–Leninist" though they effectively added to or updated this ideological tradition. A contemporaneous critique of the Red Army Faction's view of the state, published in a pirate edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, ascribed to it "state-fetishism" – an ideologically obsessive misreading of bourgeois dynamics and the nature and role of the state in post-WWII societies, including West Germany.
It is claimed that property destruction during the Watts riots in the United States in 1965 influenced the practical and ideological approach of the RAF founders, as well as some of those in Situationist circles. According to one former RAF member, in meetings with KGB in Dresden the group was also met by Vladimir Putin, then KGB resident in East Germany. In these meetings RAF members would discuss weapons that were needed for their activities, and pass a "shopping list" to the KGB. The writings of Antonio Gramsci and Herbert Marcuse were drawn upon. Gramsci wrote on power, cultural, and ideological conflicts in society and institutions – real-time class struggles playing out in rapidly developing industrial nation states through interlinked areas of political behavior.
Marcuse wrote on coercion and hegemony in that cultural indoctrination and ideological manipulation through the means of communication ("repressive tolerance") dispensed with the need for complete brute force in modern 'liberal democracies'. His One-Dimensional Man was addressed to the restive students of the sixties. Marcuse argued that only marginal groups of students and poor alienated workers could effectively resist the system. Both Gramsci and Marcuse came to the conclusion that analyzing the ideological underpinnings and the 'superstructure' of society was vitally important to understanding class control (and acquiescence). This Gramscian and Marcusian contribution could perhaps be seen as an extension of Marx's work, as he did not cover this area in detail.
The Red Army Faction was formed with the intention of complementing the plethora of revolutionary and radical groups across West Germany and Europe, as a more class conscious and determined force compared with some of its contemporaries. The members and supporters were already associated with the 'Revolutionary Cells' and 2 June Movement as well as radical currents and phenomena such as the Socialist Patients' Collective, Kommune 1, and the Situationists. Many members of the RAF operated through a single contact or only knew others by their codenames. Actions were carried out by active units called 'commandos', with trained members being supplied by a quartermaster in order to carry out their mission. For more long-term or core cadre members, isolated cell-like organization was absent or took on a more flexible form.