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Editorial Merseyside, the far right and the spread of racist ideas

WHAT can we take away from the disturbing scenes on Merseyside?

The first thing is that its took place not in a political vacuum but in a national context poisoned by the toxic utterances by the current Home Secretary and by her predecessor.

Both for internal party management purposes — and in order to keep its big menu of culture war issues bubbling away to distract the unwary and stimulate what might be called contradictions in the mindset of sections of the British population — the government plays a complex game with sections of the far right.

People who think fascism is a conspiracy of our ruling class get it wrong. It is not that … yet. 

The kinds of racist ideas which provide a fertile ground for the development of full-blooded fascism are present in every class society and are particularly virulent and likely to be aroused when a given society is already primed by centuries of colonial exploitation. 

This can only be carried out a people who have become desensitised to the exploitation of slaves and the oppression that maintaining such systems of exploitation require.

But this current wave of hostility directed at migrant peoples — although it is inserted into an already existing climate of racial tension — is specifically the product of the depredations that 21st century capitalism is visiting on the world.

First-hand accounts by the Care 4 Calais people working directly with the refugees and migrants imprisoned now in their hotel accommodation show that the great bulk of the people living there are from parts of the world where a history of colonial oppression underlies a present-day environmental disaster as climate change destroys the basis of their agriculture and drives them to seek safety and a living elsewhere.

But to these uncountable numbers on the move there are refugees fleeing war and oppression.

Many of these are from the Middle East and we have a whole host of villains to blame for the massive shifts in population that have accompanied the energy wars and territorial conflicts that have scarred the region, not least the Nato states’ wars on the people of Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and, of course, Iraq.

But to this present situation a new factor is the intervention of political forces, some the revived elements of fascist groups so toxic that even the British state found it necessary to ban them.

It appears that unverified — and substantially unverifiable — social media posts alleging approaches to local children swiftly entered the rumour mill and a crowd gathered outside the hotel housing the refugees and migrants.

This itself is the inevitable consequence of the artificially engendered climate of hostility, in which government and media vie for principal responsibility. 

But it is also a product of the kinds of despair and frustration which assail working-class communities already under assault from decades of poverty and the austerity regimes of successive governments.

Interestingly, and a sign of the complex contradictions in working-class communities, the police came under attack and a police vehicle was set on fire.

The situation in this locality requires an urgent intervention of anti-racist and anti-fascist forces. This is a given, but the necessity is for working-class communities to find within their own neighbourhoods the human and political resources that can confront racist ideas that drive a wedge between working people who — for a variety of complex reasons are susceptible to these dangerous ideas — and the organised labour movement.

There are few parts of the labour movement better equipped to take a hand in this situation than our sisters and brothers in the north-west and on Merseyside. They deserve every assistance.


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