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FOLLOWING an anti-racism counter demonstration in London two years ago, I was part of a contingent that was attacked by 30 far-right thugs. Our contingent, largely made up of RMT members and various union reps, were having a quick drink before parting ways and heading home.
The unsuccessful attack (they were left more battered and bruised than us) was one on the militancy of trade unionists: a militancy unbowed by threats of violence and united in anti-racism.
We are the biggest obstacle to far-right growth — and one unwilling to trade in victimhood. We are, however willing to stand and trade blows with the aggressors.
This is done both in the literal physical sense but more importantly in our workplaces and communities where we encounter reactionary and racist views. We are the ones to stand our ground in conversations, debates and arguments with the ability to influence alienated and misdirected anger.
Our goal on the ground should be to educate our colleagues and neighbours, citing class solidarity based on our material interests. We should be pointing out the top-down nature of racism where mainstream media twinned with government policy seek to divide us on the grounds of race, religion and nationality. The same establishment that wields monopoly state power yet wags its finger and blames society’s ills on supposed undesirables. We should be wagging a united middle finger back.
We should also be explaining what fascism is, and not leaving it to liberal elements to wrongly define it as “anything I disagree with” or some reactive hysteria to every incident and comment made: it’s a system designed to smash the organised working class, a tool of the bosses for class collaboration and an ideology built on scapegoats and racial supremacy.
As trade unionists we have to implement strategies putting worker unity and organising against racial discrimination front and centre.
We shouldn’t rely on outsourcing this work to third parties, we should be working to encourage mass participation and education led by trade unionists putting emphasis on recruiting black, Asian and minority-community reps in our industries.
We should be investing in long-term grassroots programmes in music, sports and arts that bring trade unionism back into the heart of communities. This acts to build bridges between peoples and to instill an ethos of respect and joint endeavour between cultures.
The successes of 0161 community gyms in Manchester and the Solstar gym in London are prime models. An organising of communities that bridges perceived barriers for a collective unity.
Lastly the greatest weapon we have is joint organised struggle, a struggle for better pay, conditions and dignity. One that leads to the side of the picket you’re standing on and clarifying who our real enemies are.
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