Excerpts from a review by the Weekly Worker – read the full review here
[The Book] aims, from the outset, to provide a counterweight to the received wisdom that Britain’s political culture, with its traditions of pragmatism and tolerance, is immune to the explosion of far-right populism that blights those excitable continentals
There are three main threads to the narrative – the first is the evolution of fascism and far-right nationalism in the period covered; the second the complex political shifts and intrigues in the anti-fascist movement; and the third the series of often violent clashes between the two sides
Most of the book is, as noted, taken up by accounts of AFA’s – and especially Red Action’s – battles with the National Front, British National Party and sundry other fascist factions…..For the author, it is the pursuit of organised, basically paramilitary operations against fascists that, in the end, forced the latter to abandon its notion of controlling the streets.
Beating the fascists is on the whole pretty sniffy about the amateurism of AFA’s opponents; AFA could face them down, despite very often being outnumbered, by employing tactical nous and the element of surprise. Tyndall, and then Griffin, had to swap the boots for suits, ultimately because they were the ones getting booted. AFA, under the leadership of Red Action, should be commended for taking note of this change in tack by the BNP, and attempting to readjust accordingly
Whatever else may be said about Red Action, it must be pointed out that….it acknowledged that a political response was needed to the far right that took into account mass alienation from mainstream politics. Its response, ultimately, was the Independent Working Class Association. The IWCA attempts, in the last analysis, to replicate the kind of community work taken up by the BNP, in the same kind of places
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