Workers Vanguard No. 1143
2 November 2018
For Labor/Black Mobilizations to Stop the Fascists!
Fascist Proud Boys Rampage in NYC
It was an unmistakable call to murder leftists. On October 12, the fascist Proud Boys descended on New York’s Upper East Side to re-enact the 1960 assassination of Japanese Socialist Party leader Inejiro Asanuma by Otoya Yamaguchi, a member of a far-right militarist organization. Asanuma, a well-known supporter of the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party, was speaking from a podium when Yamaguchi rushed the stage and stabbed him with a samurai sword.
After playing the assassin in the re-enactment held inside the Metropolitan Republican Club, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes went outside waving his katana and his gang of thugs attacked antifa demonstrators on the street. Cops stood by approvingly as anti-fascist protesters were slammed to the pavement, beaten and kicked amid barks of “faggot.” The cops then arrested three leftists at the request of the fascists. Drop all charges against the anti-fascist protesters!
The following day in Portland, Oregon, the Proud Boys teamed up with Patriot Prayer for a “flash march for law and order.” Their target was activists gathering for a memorial for Patrick Kimmons, a black man killed by the Portland police in September. Clearly, they were out for blood. One fascist wore a shirt reading, “I hunt Antifa cowards.” As they waved American flags, the fascists attacked the crowd with clubs, pepper spray and other weapons while the cops watched.
Although the Trump administration is not fascist, the fascists have been emboldened by the official racism and bigotry emanating from the White House. Trump’s recent declaration, “I’m a nationalist,” was making a play for them on the eve of the midterms. The fascists feed off the economic misery created by the capitalist system, which is based on brutal exploitation and racial oppression, whether administered by Republicans or by Democrats.
Today, fascist scum like the Proud Boys are targeting the left, especially antifa. Their ultimate purpose is the destruction of the workers movement, including labor unions, and racial genocide. The fascists are the paramilitary shock troops of the capitalist class, but with labor struggle at an all-time low, America’s rulers currently have no need to unleash them against the proletariat and oppressed. But they are held in reserve, to be let loose in times of social crisis, especially against convulsive struggles by the working class.
Every time neo-Nazis successfully mobilize, they win new recruits and encourage Hitlerite killers like the one who gunned down eleven Jewish people in a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27 (see article above). The roots of American fascism go back to the defeat of the Confederacy by the Union Army in the Civil War, after which the KKK and other race-terrorists arose to bloodily suppress the newly freed slaves. The fascists long to reverse the verdict of that war, as McInnes underscored to his followers: “This is the Civil War. If you’re dressed as a Confederate soldier and a Yankee comes up to you, don’t listen to what he has to say. Choke him.” Their goal is an all-white America where black people, Jews, Latinos and other minorities simply do not exist.
After the Proud Boys rampaged in New York, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo announced that state police forces will investigate the incident, and five Proud Boys members have been arrested. Don’t buy the lie that the capitalist state and its cops, who are the main perpetrators of violence against black people and the oppressed, are going to protect you from the fascists. The cops and fascists have always worked hand in hand, from the murder of activists during the civil rights movement and the 1979 Greensboro massacre of five anti-Klan leftists to Charlottesville last year, when a fascist plowed his car into a crowd of protesters and killed Heather Heyer.
After the race-terrorists mobilized in Charlottesville, the Democrats and their media mouthpieces howled their moral indignation at Trump’s condemnation of “both sides,” but then did the same thing by denouncing antifa “violence.” This month, after the attack by the Proud Boys in NYC, the right-wing rag New York Post (16 October) dismissed it as “no threat” while railing against “Antifa goons” for “threats of actual violence.” Just days earlier, the prestigious Washington Post (14 October) reported that “antifascists may have provoked the violence” in Portland. Joining the chorus against antifa, the reformist International Socialist Organization (ISO) intoned: “A strategy focused on physical confrontation gives the reactionaries exactly what they want” (socialistworker.org, 26 October).
In fact, the fascist killers must be stopped when they mobilize. It is the fascists—not black people, Jews and other minorities—who should feel the sting of fear. While antifa activists are defiant and heroic, their program is merely the streetfighting face of liberalism and moral suasion. The fascist menace cannot be eliminated through isolated actions that do nothing to advance the political consciousness of the working class. A serious fight to eradicate fascism must be based on a revolutionary proletarian perspective to overthrow the capitalist system that breeds it.
Standing at the head of all the intended victims of fascist terror, labor has the power to drive these racist killers off the streets. That many working people and anti-fascist activists today cannot even conceive of such union mobilizations is squarely the responsibility of the union tops. They have shackled the social power of the working class to the interests of the capitalist exploiters, particularly through the Democratic Party, lying down as the bosses have waged a one-sided class war that has decimated the unions.
The potential for mobilizing labor/black power to crush the fascists was shown in a small but real way in New York City in October 1999. The Partisan Defense Committee initiated a united-front action to stop the KKK. Thousands, backed by the city’s powerful integrated union movement, mobilized on the streets. Fearing any possible display of labor/black power, Democratic officials preached “tolerance” and “peace,” even sharing their sound permit with the Klan. They were joined by the ISO, which built a diversionary rally organized by the Democrats and shared the platform with a Latino police association.
The aim of our action, like our other mobilizations against the KKK and Nazis in the 1980s and ’90s, was not only to stop the fascists. We also sought to imbue the working class with the consciousness of its social power as well as to draw political lessons on the nature of the capitalist state and the Democratic Party. These actions showed the possibility of mobilizing the proletariat in defense of itself and all the oppressed.
The proletariat has the numbers, power and organization not only to spike fascist provocations but to sweep away capitalist rule. What is lacking is the kind of leadership necessary to fight. We need a workers party that fights for a workers government to rip the means of production from the capitalist exploiters and institute a planned socialist economy that operates for the benefit of working people. We need a workers America that will hammer the last nail in the coffin of the fascist vermin.