No platform and ‘community defense’ (Don Hamerquist)

blackblocThere is a clear need for some critical thinking about the current approaches to these issues. Perhaps I am suffering from the excessive caution of old age – I wouldn’t mind being shown that was the case – but I’m afraid that our side is heading for some rough times – politically and otherwise.

We have always been on the ‘left’ side of these issues, taking positions and actions that even led some critics to call us the ‘macho assholeists’. We attempted to maintain and develop a strategic and tactical justification for militance and confrontation that could take advantage of opportunities to counter the ideological and practical influence of philosophical pacifism in left movements and break existing struggles out of the chokehold of capitalist legality, developing the capabilities of an organized cadre of
revolutionaries. Part of this, although only a part, involved some antifascist activity on a street level.

This often assumed a ‘no platform’ character that attempted to physically disrupt various fascist and racist organizing initiatives – or force them to rely on the state for protection. These actions provided a lot of opportunities to learn how to work efficiently against both the state and organized right wingers. They also presented risks and costs (particularly legal costs) that tended to grow more serious as both the state and the ‘fascists’ took advantage of the parallel learning opportunities.

As it became evident that the various fascists weren’t all intellectually challenged cowards and opportunists that probably supported the system they claimed to oppose and didn’t actually believe their own radical political proclamations, it also became evident that ‘our’ side would frequently be at
a disadvantage in a fight with the fascists and could lose as well as win these quasi-military confrontations – particularly if the fascists enjoyed some covert assistance from the state. It is important to learn how and when to retreat – avoiding fights – along with learning how to fight.

This gets to questions of ‘defense’ and of violence. In my opinion, there are major political reasons to focus our use of violence on situations when the issues of defense – ‘defense’ of comrades, neighborhoods, organizing projects, cultural spaces, oppressed communities – are genuine and not
constructed. It is likely to be counterproductive when such tactics are used in situations where there is no immediate issue of defense – particularly when this substitutes for exposure of the broader political and ideological aspects of neo-fascism and the development of effective arguments to reach
its potential base.

I’m reluctant to question any whacking of fascists, but it’s best to always think about how it relates to developing an organized capacity to wage more difficult and more significant battles down the road.


Don HamerquistDon HamerquistDon Hamerquist

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