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July 20, 2005

Anti-capitalist

The Nazi party was not alone in the vicious anti-semitism of its propaganda. Take this Spanish Civil War poster representing a "capitalist" being tossed like a bale of hay on the point of a bayonet.

This poster, commissioned by the radical anarchist militia unit Columna de Hierro (Iron Column), makes no reference to either war or fascism, but addresses itself directly to the overthrow of capitalism, the Anarchists' ultimate aim.

It is worth remembering this sort of imagery in observing the anti-semitism of some contemporary "progressives". It may seem a loud minority of street protesters have no interest in advancing democracy in, for example, Iraq and little interest in opposing fascism whether it flies a Ba'athist or Al Qaeda banner. This is an accurate impression. They believe the greater long term threat to their notion of liberty is not the fascists but the United States and the economic and political system of which it is the exemplar. There is a sense in which this is an accurate risk assessment because, while I believe we are likely to lose a city or two, Al Qaeda and its fellow travellers are going to be squashed flat while the power of American Elvis will continue to catch the imaginations of countless millions now labouring in darkness.

For some on the left, human rights in systems of representative democracy are undermined by the influence of capitalist and elite interests. I think it is as difficult to seriously dispute this claim (think of what the Gomery Commission has had to work through) as it is to credit the fact that in the seventy years since the Spanish Civil War the anarchists have yet to suggest an alternative.

Many people have suggested the war in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror, as if toppling a state sponsor of terror could be a distraction from fighting terrorism or removing a dictator who paid a bounty to the families of suicide bombers could be a distraction from fighting suicide bombers. I understand the "we can't walk and chew gum at the same time" argument, however, so I do not wish to rehearse it here. The fact that 1500 officers of the Metropolitan Police were hand-holding post-adolescent puppet-heads and bottle-throwers at Gleneagles instead of patrolling the streets of London this last July 7 is another matter, one that has been universally overlooked by those who press the argument against distractions. I do not know that one of those officers would have spotted the bombers as they arrived at King's Cross or noticed anything odd about the shifty looking fellow wondering why his bomb took an extra 80 minutes to detonate. But G8 protestors and Bono fanciers certainly qualify as a distraction from protecting the public. All too often this sort of self-indulgent, purposeless acting-out and trendy, mass-culture hooliganism trumped up as protest, alongside a vile, long-standing choice of anti-semitic imagery to express a grudge against the wealthy, means too many anarchists are objectively providing colourful street cover for fascist interests. It is time to rethink the protests.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 20, 2005 07:31 AM

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