Archive in Focus: Syd Shelton, Rock Against Racism

Fantastic video featuring an interview with Syd Shelton, the official photographer of Rock Against Racism. The video features a slide show of some of Syd Shelton’s most powerful works of political photography.

Syd Shelton tells why it was important to engage with the white working class community to prevent a further rise in support for the far right.

He also discusses the photography and how Temporary Hoarding moved away from Cartier Bresson-esque photography which dominated the left and used staged photographs.

He recollects his experiences at the Battle of Lewisham: the riot shields, a group of girls capturing a Union Jack from the NF honour guard and how this day helped form the ideas which would lead to Rock Against Racism.

Finally, he discusses the setting up of the first Rock Against Racism Carnival and the, sometimes taut, relationship with the Socialist Workers’ Party.

Give it a watch!

(source: http://vimeo.com/37939497)

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One Man’s Revolution: A Review

One Man’s Revolution by Dan Todd: a Review

The Archive is grateful for being informed about this short autobiography via the Anti-Fascist Archive’s email (antifascistarchive@gmail.com). If you have any stories or information please don’t hesitate to email and let the Archive know.

Whilst One Man’s Revolution has an image of Red Action’s dark ‘Voice of Reason’ t-shirt the memoire largely covers Todd’s life prior to joining Anti-Fascist Action in 1992 and Red Action in 1994. Obviously, it’s this period the Archive is most interested in. However, Todd writes a fluent and interesting account of his political development and his personal life, giving an insight into a Red Action member. One criticism of the writing is that the chronology can sometimes be hard to follow. From the interviews I conducted for my thesis, Todd has a lot in common with their responses. Including, believing the Socialist Workers’ Party to be neither revolutionary nor working class.

In the fourth chapter Todd reaches the AFA and Red Action stage of his political life. Todd is modest in his role in AFA prior to joining in Red Action but once joining Red Action he was thrown into a full-time role despite wanted to be a part-time activist due to family restrictions. Red Action had no time but full-time. In Red Action and AFA he found a political role, unlike the SWP, he found Red Action to be both revolutionary and working class. Todd gives constant justification to violence throughout the book and Red Action’s promotion of violence sat well with Todd. Red Action’s social make up also made Todd feel more socially comfortable.

Todd does recount some interesting details of joining Red Action and physical contact with fascists. Regarding his recruitment, Todd joined the south London Red Action branch and names an organiser as Tubby. Tubby has an interesting story; Todd derides Tubby for lacking the precision and discipline trade mark of Red Action. He also questions his actions during preparations for a hit on Matthew Collins, later revealed as a Searchlight agent, and during the Little Driver action. Repeated failures in discipline and disorganisation led Todd and two other Red Action members to report Tubby and their suspicions of him being an infiltrator to the leadership. Tubby was given the benefit of the doubt and asked to leave Red Action and turn over any materials to Todd; which only led to further proof of Tubby holding back on intelligence. It is quite clear Todd believes Tubby to have been an infiltrator, perhaps a state infiltrator. Following Tubby’s departure Todd with help from the Greenwich Action Committee Against Racist Activity kick life into the South London AFA branch.

Whilst Red Action’s activity against fascism is features heavily its support of militant Irish republicanism does not. Todd mentions the criticism Red Action received for “links” with the INLA and a Red Action meeting with Sinn Féin member Francie Molloy, now a MP. But it seems he largely had little to do with the Republican side of Red Action, including the Saoirse campaign.

Todd remains loyal to the Red Action withdrawal from the streets and the Independent Working Class Association. He saw the continuing violence against tiny sects as futile and repeatedly criticises a character named Mickey, who he met when Mickey was filming Ratcatcher, for surrounding himself with anarchists who wanted to continue a physical only strategy against the dwindling elements of fascists who pursued the same strategy.

One Man’s Revolution is well worth a read for scholars of militant anti-fascism. It provides a glimpse into the causes of one man to join Red Action and AFA and also provides a short history of AFA and Red Action in south London. The writing style is enjoyable although the chronology can be at times confusing and it is light on any analysis of Red Action’s and AFA’s activity.

One Man’s Revolution is available for Kindle on amazon.co.uk

The Leninist – ANL Mark II: How to beat fascism

The back copies of The Leninist, the journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain and later the CPGB Provisional Central Committee, have been uploaded. Visit this site to view issue 1 through 116.

Issue 114 details the relaunch of the Anti-Nazi League by the Socialist Workers’ Party. The Leninist supports the new ANL over Anti-Fascist Action because they suspect it will be able to field more numbers. It does commend AFA for its work and calls for a continuation of the physical confrontation of fascists.

Download the whole newspaper here. 

Academic Works and Articles

This will be a list of academic studies which will be of interest to those wanting to study militant anti-fascism.

If you have written an essay which is of good quality or contains original research please email: antifascistarchive@gmail.com.

Essays not written by academics

On the Principles of Political Violence and the Case of Anti-Fascist Action (The Archivist, 2012)

“Taking It Back, Making It Strong!”: The Boundary Establishment And Maintenance Practices Of A Montréal Anti-Racist Skinhead Gang

The National Front and British National Party on Merseyside. A Geography of Political Extremism

Blackshirts in Red Scotland: an analysis of fascism and its opponents in inter-war Scotland

Articles on Anti-Fascism
1920-1945

Communists and the Inter-War Anti-Fascist Struggle in the United States and Britain (Copsey, 2011)

Anti-Fascist Activity in Manchester’s Jewish Community (Gewirtz)

1946 – 1959

“Class Before Race”: British Communism and the Place of Empire in Postwar Race Relations (Smith, 2008)

1960 – 1979

Conflicting Narratives of Black Youth Rebellion in Modern Britain (Smith)

A Bulwark Diminished: The Communist Party, the SWP and anti-fascism in the 1970s. (Smith)

Bridging the Gap: The British Communist Party and the limits of the state in tackling racism (Smith)

Are the Kids United? The Communist Party of Great Britain, Rock Against Racism and the Politics of Youth Culture (Smith)

1968 – Too Little and Too Late? The Communist Party and Race Relations in the Late 1960s (Smith, 2008)

When the Party Comes Down: The CPGB and Youth Culture, 1976-1991 (Smith)

Witness Seminar: Anti-Fascism in 1970s Huddersfield (2006)

1980 – date

Anti-Fascist Action: Radical Resistance or Rent-a-Mob? (Hayes and Alyward, 2000)

Marching Altogether? Football fans taking a stand against racism (Thomas, 2010)

When the Whites When Marching In: Racism and Resistance in English Football (Greenfield and Osborn, 1996)

Glasgow Celtic Fans, Political Culture and the Tiocfaidh Ar La Fanzine: Some Comments and a Content Analysis (Hayes, 2006)

The Limits of National Memory: Anti-Fascism, The Holocaust and the Fosse Ardeatine Memorial in 1990s Italy (Clifford, 2008)

Neo-Nazism, Holocaust Denial and UK Law (Cohn-Sherbok, 2010)

Choosing Social Justice over Hate Two Stories of Community Success in the Pacific Northwest (Stewart, 2010)

The Politics and Culture of FC St. Pauli: from leftism, through antiestablishment, to commercialization (Petra Daniel & Christos Kassimeris, 2013)

‘The birthplace of Italian communism’: political identity and action amongst livorno fans (Doidge, 2013)

Contesting the ‘authentic’ community: Far-right spatial strategy and everyday responses in an era of crisis (Ince, 2011)

Articles on Fascism
1920-1945

The Swastika and the Shamrock: British Fascism and the Irish Question, 1918-1940 (Douglas, 1997)

Opposition to the New Party: an incipient anti-fascism or a defence against ‘Mosleyitis’? (Copsey, 2009)

“Apostles of Fascism,” “Communist Clergy,” and the UAW: Political Ideology and Working-Class Religion in Detroit, 1919–1945 (Pehl, 2012)

1946-1959
1960-1979

Ulster Unionists in America, 1972-1985 (Wilson, 2007)

Shot By Both Sides: Punk, Politics and the End of ‘Consensus’ (Worley, 2012)

1980 – date

Patterns of Racism: Interviews with National Front Members (Billig, 1978)

Extreme music for extreme people? Norwegian black metal and transcendent violence (Phillipov, 2011)

Voice of our blood: National Socialist discourses in black metal (Olson, 2011)

Continental Divide: Immigration and the New European Right (Rosenthal, 2011) 

Visions of Hate: Explaining Neo-Nazi Violence in the Russian Federation (Arnold, 2010)

Anti-Zionism and the Italian Extreme Right (Chiarini, 2008)

Right-Extremism in Germany: Recruitment of New Members (Braunthal, 2008)

At the Roots of the New Right-Wing Extremism in Portugal: The National Action Movement, 1985-1991 (Marchi, 2010)

Australian Fascism? A Revisionist Analysis of the Ideology of the New Guard (Cunningham, 2012)

Colin Jordan’s ‘Merrie England’ and ‘Universal Nazism’ (Jackson, 2011)

The EDL: Britain’s New Far Right Social Movement (Jackson, 2011)

Negotiating White Power Activist Stigma (Simi, 2009)

The Nationalist Party of America: Right-Wing Activism and Billy Roper’s White Revolution (Dentice, 2011)

Computer-Mediated False Consensus: Radical Online Groups, Social Networks and News Media (Wojcieszak, 2011)

Kevin Gately

RIP Kevin Gatley, died on the 15th of June, 1974; opposing racism and fascism.

Kevin Gately, a second year student of mathematics at the University of Warwick, was killed by the police in Red Lion Square, London, during an anti-National Front demonstration on 15 June 1974

Gatley, who was born in England of Irish parents, was the first person to be killed on a public political demonstration in Great Britain in 55 years.

The University of Warwick has an article on Kevin and here is a BBC article.