Friday, 5 July 2013

Thoughts on the English Defense League

The English Defense League, despite the efforts of its leadership to convince us otherwise, has been unable to shake off its image as a racist and violent organisation.  Tommy Robinson et al. have been keen to present the EDL as defenders of democratic values in opposition to against Islamic extremism, a 'voice of the voiceless' and spontaneous expression of working class patriotic dissent.  To an extent this is true.  The EDL has even shown off its few non-white and LGBT members to 'prove' it is not a racist or bigoted movement.  The vast majority of its members, however, are white working class and poor.  In this the EDL is exceptional as the only vast movement of, mostly younger, white working class people willing to protest against government policy and the establishment.  So is the EDL radical?  No.  Taking legitimate disaffection as its source, the EDL --much in the mold of earlier fascist movements-- channels all anger and blame towards a single scapegoat: Islam.  If they criticise the government it is because of its policies on Islam, multi-culturalism rather than the neoliberal economic structure that underlies such social policy.  The problem of the EDL members is that their patriotism and alienation from their own society often finds its expression in and is fueled by a fiery and petty chauvinistic bigotry, which is all too apparent from their protests.  These events are usually attended by small town working class whites bussed into cities or particularly sensitive areas to shout "go home" to non-white people born and raised in these towns and cities, which are their homes.  Despite the claim of 'peaceful protest' fights ensue and alcohol, which is a way of dealing with harsh reality, serves also as a catalyst for hatred.  This unfortunately becomes just another stick to beat the working class with; i.e., "They're all racist chavs so they don't deserve anything anyway." etc.  Finally, despite all appearance of being grassroots movement it has been shown to have some very wealthy backers, not to mention hardline neo-nazi members.  These same idiots who complain of muslims burning poppies British troops yet insult veterans  of WWII by throwing out nazi salutes.

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