SURUÇ bombing, Kurdistan and the Rojava Revolution

Turkish-based anarchist group Anarşi İnisiyatifi (Anarchy Initiative) called on the global anarchist community to hold worldwide demonstrations outside Turkish consulates on July 26, 2015 at 7PM in response to the government of Turkey’s complicity in the Suruç, Massacre. 32 young people were murdered in the suicide bombing committed by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) including 2 anarchist comrades: Alper Sapan from Anarşi İnisiyatifi Eskişehir and Evrim Deniz Erol. The 32 comrades from various socialist, communist and anarchist youth groups were planning to cross the border from Turkey / North Kurdistan into Kobane in Rojava to deliver gifts for the war-affected children of the city and to participate in the reconstruction of war-ravaged Kobane.

“In 20 July 2015, (at least 32) people, some of our anarchist comrades, who went to Suruc for reconstruction of Kobane were killed by an ISIS suicide bomber. Turkish Republic still continues to support ISIS underhand. We will maintain our fight with all our strength to block all their paths.

MESSAGE FROM ALPER: ANARCHIST KILLED IN SURUC BOMB ATTACK

https://thefreeonline.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/alpar-sapan/

Alper Sapan

via: Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)
This is Alper Sapan, one of those people who were going to Kobane to help rebuild but instead met sudden brutal death in this mornings bomb attack. He has written the text below as an objector to conscription:
     ‘Hi, I am Alper Sapan. I am a 19 year-old anarchist. I am against injustice, exploitation and tyranny of the state. I condemn people killing each other, violence and the state. I listen to the inner voice of my conscience for freedom and refuse to serve in the military, (I am) for a  warless, nationless and borderless world where no one could ever be a soldier, no one could ever kill each others. Before militarism kills us, we should kill militarism’.

TURKISH ANARCHISTS on the FIGHT FOR KOBANÊ

from http://crimethinc.com/texts/r/kobane/

In summer 2013, we interviewed the Turkish group Revolutionary Anarchist Action (Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet, or DAF) about the uprising that began in Gezi Park. At the end of summer 2014, we learned that DAF was supporting the fierce resistance that residents of the town of Kobanê in northern Syria were putting up to the incursion of the fundamentalist Islamic State.

During the civil war in Syria that began with the Arab Spring, the Kurdish region of northern Syria, known as Rojava, asserted its autonomy and began carrying out experiments in horizontal organization. Rojava is surrounded on all sides by hostile forces: Assad’s beleaguered Syrian government, which lost control of the region a couple years ago; the Turkish government, known for oppressing its Kurdish minority; other revolutionary Syrian forces, including Islamic fundamentalists and the US-backed coalition known as the Free Syrian Army; the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, a longtime rival of Syrian Kurdish organizations; and, most pressingly, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS—an unrecognized state entity that has gained control of much of Iraq and Syria over the past two years using captured armaments originally brought into the region during the US military occupation.

In the United States, we read corporate media accounts of refugees from Kobanê shouting “Long live America!” from across the Turkish border as US airstrikes aimed at Islamic State militants destroyed their city—a chilling re-legitimization of US military intervention in the Middle East, after the colossal failure of the occupation of Iraq. US Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that Kobanê would inevitably fall to the Islamic State, and maintained that rescuing the city was “not a strategic objective.” Yet in the end, it was not the US military, but the courage of a few ill-equipped autonomous fighters from Rojava that halted the advance of the Islamic State across the Middle East.

With firsthand reports from the region in short supply, there were bitter polemics between English-speaking anarchists about whether todoubt the allegedly libertarian character of the resistance or extendcritical support. In hopes of gaining more insight into the situation, we contacted our comrades of DAF once more. After months of waiting, we are finally able to present these two interviews—one offering general background on the struggle in Kobanê, the other delving into analytical detail about the geopolitical implications.

Interview with a member of DAF on the Slovenian anarchist radio show Črna luknjain early January, 2015

Can you give us an overview of the situation in the border region of Turkey and Syria, describing the militias and other key actors that are operating there?

The people living in the region are mostly Kurds, who have been living there for hundreds of years. This region has never been represented by a state. Because of that, the people of the region have been in struggle for a very long time. The people are very diverse in terms of ethnicity and religion: there are Kurdish people, Arabic people, Yazidi people, and more. One of the major Kurdish people’s organizations in Turkey and Iraq is thePKK, and the PYD in Syria is in the same line with the PKK. As for military organizations, there are the YPJ and YPG, the men’s and women’s organizations.

Against these organizations stand ISIS, the Islamic gangs, in which Al Nusra is involved. These are the radical Islamists. There is also the Free Syrian Army, a coalition of many different groups; they are supported by the capitalist system, but they are not as radical as ISIS. And there is the Turkish state, and Assad’s Syrian state, who are on the attack. In northern Iraq, there is also a Kurdish state, under the KDP of Barzani, which is ideologically the same as the Turkish state, but ethnically a bit different.

What is the role of the PKK in the region, and the meaning of their supposed libertarian turn?

The PKK has a bad reputation in the West because of their past. Twenty years ago, when it was founded, it was a Marxist-Leninist group. But a few years ago, it has changed this completely and denounced these ideas, because the ideas of their leader changed and so did the people. They went towards a more libertarian ideology after reading the works ofMurray Bookchin and on account of some other factors in the region. To understand the situation today, it is also important that in the beginning, the PKK was not so ideological. It did not grow up as an ideological movement, but as a people’s movement. This is another factor explaining how it has developed in this direction.

What do you mean when you say Rojava revolution? What kind of social experiment is it, and why is it relevant for anti-authoritarian social movements around the world?

The Rojava revolution was proclaimed two years ago. Three cantons declared their independence from the state, from Assad’s regime. They didn’t want any kind of involvement with any of the internationally supported capitalist powers. This successfully opened up a third front in the region. It was a moment when the states in the region lost power.

This began as a project of the Kurdish struggle. It involves directly democratic practices like people’s assemblies, and it is focused on ethnic diversity, power to the people, and women’s liberation, which is a big focus of the Kurdish movement in general, not just in Rojava. They formed their own defense units, which are voluntary organizations just made up of the people who are living there.

You are part of the anarchist group DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Turkey. One of your main activities over the last years has been building solidarity and mutual aid with the people in Kurdistan. Tell us about your group and what your involvement is in the Rojava revolution?

DAF advocates a revolutionary perspective; we call ourselves revolutionary anarchists because we want anarchism to be socially understood in our region, because in this region anarchism doesn’t have any tradition or history. Our first aim is to spread the ideals of anarchism into the social fabric of our society, and for us the practice is more important than theory. Or rather, we build our theory on our practice as revolutionary anarchists.

We are against all forms of oppression. We focus on workers’ movements and people’s movements that are oppressed due to ethnicity, we stand in solidarity against women’s oppression, and we are active in all of those movements. In Rojava, we were in touch with participants in the revolution since it started; when the resistance began in Kobanê, we immediately went to the region; our comrades organized solidarity actions on both sides of the border. We still have people there on a rotating basis, and we are still organizing actions. For example, recently, our women’s group organized an action in which they called for conscientious objection in support of the Kobanê resistance.

DAF has organized on the Turkish-Syrian border, in a “human chain” intended to prevent fighters of the Islamic State from passing over the border from the Turkish side to join in fighting against the Kurdish resistance. Tell us about this form of direct action?

The Turkish state has been attacking Kobanê from the west. In their discourse, the Turkish state sounds like they are against ISIS, but in practice it permits material resources, arms, and people to pass through the border, and it has been attacking the villages on the border. These villages are not very separate from Kobanê; it’s the same families and a lot of people from Kobanê pass through there when they are injured or if they want to join the struggle from the Turkish side of the border. So our comrades are staying in the villages and participating in all the actions in the communes, doing logistical support for the refugees and for injured people.

Throughout the armed conflict, the mainstream media said that Kobanê would fall, despite the fact that the resistance on the ground never gave up. Why do you think they reported it that way?

This was a psychological war from the beginning. The media did not want the Kobanê resistance to be heard. The coverage was part of the psychological war, because there was a lot of international support for the resistance. And when it became evident that Kobanê would not fall, they changed tactics: all the international powers tried to give the impression that they were helping with air strikes, and the Kurdish states by sending fighters. This was done right before it was evident that Kobanê would not fall, only in order to give the impression that they are not against this struggle.

It is obvious that the people’s struggle in Kobanê is not in the interest of the prevailing world powers. What do you think the prospects are for the Rojava revolution? What is the situation on the ground now? How can people from other countries support the revolution there?

Lately, other parts of Rojava have been attacked. If you remember months ago when ISIS first attacked the Yazid people, the Yazids were forced to flee from their cities, and they were saved by the YPD fighters. Afterwards, ISIS was repelled. Last week, the Yazid people have formed their own defense units, similar to those in Rojava. So the struggle is growing in the region, with self-defense and the idea of direct democracy gaining more support.

Also, on the Turkish side of the border, the war is getting harsher. The government is using more violence against the Kurdish resistance. Again, last week, the police attacked and murdered a 14-year-old kid. This shows that the struggle will continue in a more violent way. This matter is not just limited to this region; you can see from the recent attacks on the journalists in France that this has to be taken very seriously on the international level, especially by revolutionaries.

This also shows the importance of the Rojava revolution against ISIS and radical Islamism. I think that international support would mean taking more actions locally against the real powers that are supporting ISIS.

Interview with a member of DAF, conducted by CrimethInc. operatives between October and December 2014

How successful do you feel the intervention of the DAF has been in providing solidarity to those in Rojava struggling against the Islamic State? What resources or skills are important for anarchist groups to develop in order to be better prepared for situations like this?

DAF has been in solidarity with the Rojava Revolution since it was declared over two years ago. Our comrades have been there since the first day of the Kobanê resistance, in solidarity, to the best of our ability, with the peoples’ struggle for freedom.

We always knew that Kobanê would not fall and it didn’t fall, contrary to what mainstream media reported a hundred times since the resistance began. One month ago, ISIS controlled 40% of Kobanê, now it’s 20% and they are backing off. [Since this interview was conducted, ISIS has been completely driven out of Kobanê.] Given that ISIS is losing their battles with other forces in the region and getting weaker, we can say that the Kobanê resistance was successful.

The resources and skills would be different for every specific struggle. The level of oppression and violence are different in every region and the skills for resistance are best built on direct experience. However, the skills of organization and the culture of sharing and solidarity are at least as important as any particular skills for resistance. These are almost universal. DAF has built its own experience on the culture of the commune and struggle against oppression as well as a long-term relationship of mutual solidarity with the Kurdish people and other struggles for freedom in Anatolia and Kurdistan.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to give a more detailed answer here on account of security issues and other concerns.

How is the struggle in Kobanê changing the political context in Turkey, both for Erdogan and for social movements for liberation?

The Turkish state has had to take steps backward in relation to the resistance in Kobanê. It has stopped openly supporting ISIS, although it is still supporting ISIS behind the scenes. It had occupying plans in the name of creating a “security region,” which included military intervention to weaken the Kurdish struggle and also attacking Assad’s forces in alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria. These plans have failed.

The solidarity actions carried out by social movements for liberation spread around the world to an extent that was unseen in recent years. This international solidary was an important factor in the success of the Kobanê resistance. Rojava is another example proving that people can make a revolution without a vanguard party or a group of the elite, even where there is no industry. And this can happen in a place like the Middle East, where struggling for freedom means fighting against all kinds of oppression, including patriarchy as well as massacres based on ethnicity and religion.

DAF texts have described the Islamic State as “the violent mob produced by global capitalism” and “the subcontractor of the States that pursue income strategies on the region.” Can you explain precisely what your analysis of the Islamic State is—why it appeared, and whose interests it serves?

It is obvious that the actions of Islamic State benefit the powers (economic and political) that have goals in the region. These could be direct or indirect benefits that strengthen the hand of these powers. For example, a radical Islamist group is useful for Western economic or political powers to make propaganda about defending Western values. Islamic terror is one of the biggest issues that Western countries make propaganda about. Moreover, it is also a political reality that some countries, including the US, have agreements with these fundamentalists. This is the 50-year-running Middle East policy of Western countries.

The Turkish state expressed a negative view of the Islamic State in every speech of its bureaucrats. But we have witnessed real political cooperation of the Turkish state with the Islamic State in relation to the resistance in Kobanê. So in this situation, it appears that they are supporting Islamic State but they are claiming that they are not supporting it.

It seems clear that the Turkish government is hoping for the Islamic State to weaken Kurdish power in the region. But what do you think the Turkish state’s long-term goals are in reference to the Islamic State itself?

The Turkish state has been providing large amounts of arms, supplies, and recruits to ISIS ever since the time when it was part of the globally supported Free Syrian Army. This support continues surreptitiously, since politically the Turkish state had to seem to be against ISIS after the resistance in Kobanê succeeded. Our comrades at the Turkish border with Syria are still reporting suspiciously large transports crossing it.

The Turkish state has strong relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, and their joint long-term goal is to gain more power in the region by eliminating Assad’s authority. ISIS is their ally in this respect also.

Arguably, the Islamic State could never have come to power without the weapons and instability that the United States imported to Iraq. At the same time, it appears that US airstrikes and coordination with fighters in Kobanê have played a significant role in preventing the Islamic State from gaining control of the city. Has this enabled the United States to legitimize itself among those defending Rojava? What challenges does this create there for anarchists who oppose state power?

This false impression is a product of the mainstream media. US airstrikes began very late, after it was evident that Kobanê would not fall, and they were not critical. The bombings also hit the areas in YPG control “by mistake.” And some ammunition landed in the hands of ISIS also “by mistake.”

The success of the Kobanê Resistance can only be attributed to the self-organized power of the people’s armed forces. Because of this strong resistance, as well as extensive international solidarity, the US and its allies had to take steps backward.

The bombings and media coverage are part of the political maneuvers against the revolution that will try to destroy it by including it. However, the Rojava Revolution is part of a long history of Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom. Its insistence on being stateless, its gains in the liberation of women, etc. are not coincidences.

The challenge is to communicate the values created in the Rojava Revolution and the political reality of wartime conditions.

Can you say anything on the relationship between armed struggle and vanguardism? Does armed warfare inevitably compromise anti-authoritarian struggles, or are there ways to engage in warfare that do not inevitably produce hierarchies and specialization? This has been an important conversation in the US after the protests in Ferguson, which involved gunfire from both sides. Some comrades in Thessaloniki were debating this issue with us, arguing that when guns are introduced to social conflict, it is always a step away from anarchy. But perhaps in some cases there is no other option?

When all the people (who are able) are armed, who is the vanguard? The people’s self-defense forces in Rojava include all ages, both men and women (who are already legendary fighters) from all ethnic and religious backgrounds in the region.

The hierarchy created in the armed struggle of the guerrilla does not necessarily mean an exclusive authority in the social structures created by the revolution. This awareness is a part of the Rojava peoples’ struggle for freedom.

Comrades from DAF and the Anarkismo Editors Group have made strong arguments that it is important to act in solidarity with the struggle in Rojava whether or not it is an explicitly “anarchist” struggle. But no society, ethnic group, or struggle is homogenous; each contains internal conflicts and contradictions, and the hardest part of solidarity work is usually figuring out how to take sides (or avoid taking sides). In your efforts to show solidarity with those struggling in Rojava, has DAF encountered tensions between more authoritarian and less authoritarian structures within the defense? How are you engaging with them?

As you have stated, no popular movement is homogenous. The importance of the Rojava Revolution is the revolutionary efforts that are becoming generalized. This is a mutual process in which the people of Rojava are becoming aware about social revolution and at the same time are shaping a social revolution. The YPG and YPJ are self-defense organizations created by the people. The character of both organizations has been criticized in many texts as authoritarian.

Similar discussions took place among comrades in the early 2000s in reference to the Zapatista movement. There were many critiques of the EZLN’s authoritarian character in the Zapatista Revolution. Critiques about the character of the popular movements must take into account the political reality. As DAF, we would frame critiques on the process that are based on our experiences, and which are far from being prejudgments about Kurdish movement. So there is no cooperation with any authoritarian structure, nor will any authoritarian structure play a role in social revolution.

In the United States, some anarchists have sometimes spoken of certain ethnic groups such as the people of Chiapas as if they are “culturally anarchist.” Now some people here are speaking about the Kurdish people the same way. To us, although we do not want to render the struggles of oppressed peoples and colonized peoples invisible, it also seems simplistic and dangerous to confuse ethnic identity with politics. Likewise, our comrades in former Yugoslavia have expressed concerns over struggles that are based in ethnic or religious identity, on account of their experience of the 1990s civil war. How important is ethnic identity in the struggle in Rojava? Do you see this as a potential problem, or not?

The Rojava Revolution is indeed made by peoples with at least four different ethnic and three different religious backgrounds, who are actively taking part equally in both military and social fronts. Also, the people of Rojava insist on being stateless, when there is already a neighboring Kurdish state in place. Kurdish ethnic identity has been subject to the denial and oppression policies of all the states in the region. Raising oppressed identities is strategically important in peoples’ struggle for freedom, but not to the extent that it is a device of discrimination and deception. This balance is of key importance and the Rojava Revolution has already proved itself in this respect.

DAF also finds that the values that the people of Chiapas have created in their struggle for freedom align with anarchism, although “culturally anarchist” would not be a term we would use.

Are there any other regions of the Middle East where social experiments like the one in Rojava are taking place, or where they might emerge? What would it take, internationally, for what is promising in Rojava to spread?

The Rojava Revolution has been developing in a time when many socio-economic crises appeared around the world: Greece, Egypt, Ukraine… During the first period of the Arab Springs, the social opposition supported this “spring wave.” After a while, these waves evolved into clashes between fundamentalists and secular militarist powers. So the revolution in Rojava appeared at a conjuncture when the social opposition had lost their hopes in the Middle East. Its own international character and international solidarity will spread this effort—first in the Middle East, then around the world.

What does the conflict in Kobanê tell us about the kind of struggles ahead in the 21st century? It seems to be an early example of what might happen in “sacrifice zones” in which traditional state forces seal off the area and withdraw, leaving autonomous communities to do battle with new fundamentalist or neo-fascist post-state organizations. Do you see what is happening there as something new, or old? Or both?

As we stated above, this is a part of the process that started with the “spring waves.” It can be understood as a part of this theory of “sacrifice zones.” But this theory gives a great deal of importance to the character of international powers as subjects. We also have to recognize the role of internal political, economic, and social forces. We have to check out the internal capital that has relations with fundamentalists against international capitalist powers.

Moreover, one of the biggest issues to understand the political culture of the Middle East is to recognize its unique character. Religion has a unique effect in the political agenda of the East. Not just for the Rojava Revolution, but across the board, DAF’s perspective on international politics is based in an understanding of relations of domination between social, economic, and political forces which cooperate and clash from time to time according to convenience, all of which are useless for oppressed people.

Further Reading

reclaim what

july18

www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2015/07/18/police-use-capsicum-spray-at-race-rallies.html

http://melbsmc.org/rallies/medics-statement-on-july-18-anti-racistfascist-demonstration/

Medics’ Statement on July 18 anti-racist/fascist Demonstration
July 18, 2015

Today, antifascist protesters converged upon Spring Street in Melbourne near the Parliament of Victoria. They went there to counter racist rallies being held by Reclaim Australia and the fascist United Patriots Front.

As usual Victoria Police was also in attendance, and in the days leading to the protest it had promised a large presence and random weapons checks in response to rumours of fascists bringing weapons and intending violence.

Victoria Police’s goal for the day was to facilitate Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front holding their rallies out the front of Parliament House. In order to achieve this mounted officers and members of the Public Order Response Team (PORT) complemented uniformed officers on the streets, and OC (Pepper) spray was deployed against counter-protesters.

Amongst those affected by the OC Spray was a casualty who began to experience respiratory distress, a not uncommon side-effect of OC spray and other such “less-than-lethal” chemical weapons. In the course of attending to this casualty and decontaminating others who had been affected, members of the Melbourne Street Medic Collective (including one pregnant woman) were attacked by police with OC Spray and kettled in a small space at the top of Little Bourke Street.

Footage of the incident will be reviewed as it becomes available but at this point there seem to be only two explanations for the deployment of chemical weapons against the Street Medics: some witness reports have indicated that Victoria Police officers were spraying the crowd indiscriminately and did not check who they were attacking until after the fact. Others have said that police ignored the shouts of the crowd advising them that someone was receiving medical attention and with the decision to spray all medics this action should be seen as a deliberate attack upon medical personnel and their treatment space.

As one of our medics has since remarked:

“Possibly more than 100 people needed to be treated today as police indiscriminately fired pepper spray into the crowd, including onto an injured man who was struggling to breathe, was losing consciousness, and was awaiting an ambulance. They also sprayed the medics treating him. Someone had a seizure, two were taken to hospital and a few were sent home (by us as medics) due to the after-effects of the pepper spray (namely hypothermia-like symptoms of shaking and an inability to normalise body temperature). It was absolute fucking carnage and it was completely unnecessary and provocative. The racists didn’t cop any of the pepper spray at all as far as I know, and they got a three-line police escort away from the area.”

Victoria Police should rightfully be condemned for the deployment of chemical weapons, the targeting of medical personnel, casualties and medical treatment spaces with such weapons and, most of all, doing this in order to facilitate a public rally of racists and overt fascists and neo-nazis. Any assessment of the actions of antifascist protesters will conclude that they were inherently defensive: against threats of violence and the use of weapons by fascists and nazis as part of the United Patriots Front, and against the violence of racism and systematic oppression on the parts of Reclaim Australia, the United Patriots Front and Victoria Police…

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/20/the-racist-carrot-returns-to-reclaim-australia-and-hes-had-a-gutful

racistcarrot

http://www.kieransreview.com/2015/04/07/thoughts-reclaim-australia/

A few thoughts after the “Reclaim Australia” rally and counter-rally

Photo from Perth counter rally, stolen from @zebparkes, zebedeeparkes.com.

I can’t be arsed putting together anything intelligent on “Reclaim Australia”, but there are a couple of brief comments I wanted to make.

1. Islam is not a race – and you are still a racist!

A message to the “reclaimers”: you are a pack of utter racists. You might think you’re being really clever with the whole “Islam is not a race” line, well it’s time for a sixty-five year old news flash: there is no such thing as biological ‘race’.

The category of ‘race’ is socially constructed; it is the product of a system of domination. ‘Race’ is constructed in order to define the out group. The creation and maintenance of a social system of domination and oppression that targets this outgroup is racism.

It doesn’t really matter if you are building a system of oppression that defines the outgroup by religion rather than skin colour, the essential element of racism is the construction of a system of oppression that targets an entire segment of the working class for villification and discrimination. Religion or skin colour, the dynamic is the same; “Reclaim Australia” is a racist project.

It is worth noting that without a relationship of power and domination, someone using a racial slur is not being racist, merely rude. The indigenous teenager who calls you a white c-nt is not creating or maintaining a hierachy of which you are the victim, she’s just being coarse (and in view of history, understandably so).

Related:Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race”, a presentation by Jeffrey Perry.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of Australians still think biological race exists. The majority now think it is bad to discriminate on the basis of race, but if race really does exist (in the world of “commonsense”) and “religion is not a race”, then the likes of Pauline Hanson and Shermon Burgess can continue claiming they’ve escaped being racists on a technicality.

Islamophobic racism is hardly the exclusive preserve of working class fascists like Shermon Burgess. The real work in constructing Islam as the “other” has been done by the state. The raft of “anti-terror” legislation, public propaganda, and fear mongering rhetoric that has emmanated from the top of the political hierachy has created the space in which fascists like Shermon Burgess are now operating.

See also: First Dog on the Moon, ‘A racist carrot reclaims Australia’, The Guardian.

2. If you equate abusing racists with racism you are a f-cking muppet

In the aftermath of the “Reclaim Australia” rallies it’s been pretty clear that the “I’m not racist but…” crowd aren’t the only ones who haven’t got the faintest idea of what actually constitutes racism. Take this choice quote is from Brad Chilcott, director of Welcome to Australia, in The Guardian yesterday:

Fighting hatred with hatred at Reclaim Australia rallies is a failure of progressive politics

What’s less obvious is what “progressives” were hoping to achieve this Easter by opposing naked hatred and foul abuse with public expressions of the same hatred and abuse.

If the counter demonstrations in Melbourne were nothing more than “public expressions of the same hatred and abuse”1 as “Reclaim Australia”, then racism is little more than foul language and a bad attitude.

To the likes of Chilcott racism is simply a vulgar attitude held in sections of the working class. His is the kind of analysis that assumes public policy in Australia is so racist because the Australian working class is so racist, our political leaders have not created racism, merely pandered to it and failed to “show leadership”. His role as a liberal anti-racist is to promote “diversity, compassion, generosity”2 amongst those unenlightened working class types. When that is your analysis, of course getting in the streets and shouting at racists is as bad as racism itself.

Chilcott is utterly wrong, he confuses the symptoms of racism with racism itself. “Hatred” and “foul abuse” are not racism itself, they are public expressions of racism. The public expression of racism creates, re-creates and reinforces the system of racism, but the system itself is more than this. Racism is a social structure of domination: one part of the working class is segmented off from the whole and subjected to greater oppression; the remainder of the class are co-opted into the process of racist oppression and are bought off with a position of relative privilege.

If you cannot criticise the structure of racism, and the system that creates and re-creates it, how can you attack racism? Obviously you can’t; if you cannot see the problem you cannot be effective in combatting it (except by pure chance). Chilcott is worse than ineffective, in failing to see what racism is he reacts against forces that actually have the potential to combat racism.

3. “Reclaim Australia” is fascist

Let’s call a spade a spade. “Reclaim Australia” is fascist, and I am not saying that simply because it has drawn the participation of an array of far right and overtly neo-Nazi supporters.

Fascism “is as a particular form of mass movement, possessing a core set of ideas, and in which the ideology and movement interact. … [It is] a specific form of reactionary mass movement” which is “racist, nationalist, and militarist”3. “Reclaim Australia” fits the fascist bill on all counts:

  • racist, in it’s demonisation and attacks on muslims and Islam, and its attempts to construct muslims as an other counterposed to “Australia” and “Australians”;
  • nationalist, with it’s overt flag-draped appeals to “Aussie pride”, continual talk of ‘patriotism’, and the casting of its campaign as ‘Islam vs Australia’;
  • militarist, in its continual appeals to the ANZAC myth, valorisation of the ADF, etc. It was telling at Melbourne rally just how many of the assembled bigots claimed they had “fought them” (meaning Muslims) “over there” (meaning in the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afganistan).

The organisers of the “Reclaim Australia” rallies certainly intended them to be the launching point for a far right movement. The anti-Islam conspiracy theories of “Reclaim Australia” are its core set of ideas, and I think we are seeing an interaction between the people gathering around the “Reclaim Australia” banner and these ideas.

Further Reading: Dave Renton, Fascism: Theory and Practice.

4. Racism and fascism have a public space agenda

Public space matters, and a heck of a lot of societal control and power is bound up in who is allowed in public space, how they are legally or societally required to act, dress, and so on. Fascism seeks to dominate public spaces and to drive opponents, targetted groups, and rival politics out of public space.

This is a half developed thought on my part, but a sizeable chunk of the historical experience of racism seems bound up in public space. Segregation for example, whether in Australia or the United States, had a heck of a lot to do with who was allowed where in public, and how they were required to act.

A good deal of a lot of the “Reclaim Australia” rhetoric is also basically about public space. Outlawing “the Burqa or any variant thereof”4 is essentially an attempt to control how people look in public. The conspiratorial rubbish around halal certification boils down to an attempt to determine what can or can’t appear on the packaging of goods sold in public.

Public rallies by racists and fascists are attempts to control or change who feels safe and comfortable in public space. At present (thankfully) it is socially unacceptable (mostly) to make overt statements of outright racism publically; the public expression of racism often results in some form of social sanction. The far right is attempting to reverse this situation. By rallying in public they are seeking to embolden racists, and bring racism directly into public space. The results of this will be reaped in a increased harvest of racist abuse and attacks directed at muslims.

More than anything else, the public space agenda of racism and fascism is the reason racism must be fought directly and in public, not behind closed doors on some farm in the hills.

A vocal and determined counter-rally is both a general rejection of racism, and a direct action to disrupt a specific attempt by racists to build an overtly racist movement in the public sphere.

Final thoughts

Bringing all this crap together… The last time the so-called “Australian Defense League” tried to have a rally in Melbourne thirty people attended. Four years later and with four months of preparation (and a significant rebranding), the far right managed to assemble a few hundred in Melbourne and Sydney, and concerningly large numbers in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth. They are seeking to build a far right movement on a base of anti-Muslim racism, and their rallies are clear attempts to embolden racists, intimidate Muslims, and build a milleu in which the far right can recruit and propagandize. The qualms of liberal anti-racists and social democrats should be dismissed, because when fascists rally on the streets they need to be smashed back into the sewers they rose out of.

And see again… https://newmatilda.com/2015/04/19/why-were-most-anti-reclaim-protestors-white

Communiqué from The Freedom Summit

Communiqué from The Freedom Summit

Communiqué from The Freedom Summit

Freedom Summit held at the Old Bungalow, Alice Springs Mparntwe (Alice Springs)

27 and 28 November 2014

We, the Original Sovereign Peoples and Heads of Nations being assembled at the Old Bungalow, Mparntwe (Alice Springs) declare the Independence of our Nations and Peoples. We also declare that we have and continue to be independent Sovereign Nations under the designation of the United Tribes of our Lands.

Freedom Summit Alice Springs - November 2014

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All sovereign power and authority within the Territories of the United Tribes of our Lands are hereby declared to reside entirely and exclusively in the hereditary Elders and in the Heads of the Tribes. In our collective capacities we declare that we will not permit any legislative authority separate from ourselves to exist on our Lands, nor any function of the colonial governments to be exercised within the said Territories, unless authorised by the appropriate people or persons appointed by us. Our authority originates from the ancient Law/Lore of the Land, also referred to as the continental common law of Australia.

We gathered at The Freedom Summit to respond to the extreme assaults from all levels of government hitting our communities including but not limited to:

  • historic and growing rates of incarceration;
  • continuing stolen generations;
  • a suicide epidemic and;
  • the growing death rate from preventable diseases.

In addition, governments have shamefully announced intentions to close down communities in Western Australia and South Australia. Oombulgurri in WA has already been bulldozed – this is an act of aggression in an open genocidal process, on top of the continuing apartheid and land clearances through the Northern Territory Intervention.

Organisations across the continent are having funding slashed. Heritage laws are being attacked and our culture is being owned by white government Ministers.

A new land grab is happening through mining tenements and operations. This is a direct attack on Land Rights across this country.

There is no grass-roots representation of our people at the national level and the Indigenous Advisory Council is a hand-picked farce and must resign.

At this Freedom Summit grass-roots leaders from across the country have gathered to say enough is enough.

To our people suffering, we say – there is hope.

We have nominated a steering committee to take the struggle forward. We are planning future Freedom Summits to discuss the vision of our true national representation with bigger numbers and to strategise ways forward.

The fight for our rights will rise from the ashes.

We are planning to lead mass action on the streets to defend our rights and enforce our vision of self-determination and continuing sovereignty.

The Freedom Summit authorised delegates are:

Tauto Sansbury
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks
John Christophersen
Jenny Munro
Les Coe
Paul Spearim Jnr
Lex Wotton
Christine Abdulla
Roxley Foley
Maurie Japarta Ryan
Helen Lee
Billy Risk
Vanessa Culbong
Richard Evans
John Singer
Ghillar: Michael Anderson
Lesley Tickner
Janice Harris
Elaine Peckham
Rex Granites Japanangka
Chris Tomlins
Freedom Summit contacts: