no state bans

From the editorial of this month’s The Commune

As The Commune went to press we heard news of the government banning protests in five east London boroughs for the entire of September. The ban came in response to calls for a ban on the 3rd September Tower Hamlets demo by the racist English Defence League (EDL).

Anti-fascists who called for this ban were playing with fire. Calls on the state to determine what is acceptable political expression are disastrous: socialists are meant to be the state’s worst enemy! Socialist Worker is officially against state bans, but republished a statement welcoming the ban on the EDL march while attacking the general ban. Yet the two measures clearly went hand-in-hand.

Moreover, it is not realistic to try to undercut the EDL’s support by silencing them. Their Islamophobic agitation is abhorrent, but their support base is built on working-class deprivation and the lack of any socially-rooted left to give voice to discontent.

As such the best way to combat racists is not to line up with the ‘legitimate’ establishment (who attack more migrants via police raids and deportations than the EDL could ever hope to) but to build a left engaged in patient, consistent community activism, across ethnic or religious divides. Only this can provide a real basis for working-class organisation, sufficient to marginalise division and scapegoating amongst working-class people.