Since they are all overgrown tantrum-tossing two-year-olds, the proper childish response to "FASCIST!" is, "I know YOU are, but what am I ???"
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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

09/09/2017, 16:13:03

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theguardian.com

'No Fascist USA!': how hardcore punk fuels the Antifa movement





“No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!”

When Green Day chanted the repurposed lyrics from Texan punk trailblazers MDC’s 1981 song Born to Die during the 2016 American Music Awards,
it gave the burgeoning anti-Trump, anti-fascist movement the slogan it
needed – and it would soon appear on placards, T-shirts and be chanted
by protesters in their thousands in months to come.

It was a tiny
piece of punk history writ large on American cultural life – but it
only gave the merest hint of US hardcore punk’s influence on the current
political landscape.

As political commentators struggle to nail down the exact nature of Antifa’s masked legions, they’ve overlooked one thing: Antifa has been critically influenced by hardcore punk for nearly four decades.

From
on the collectivist principles of anarchist punk bands such as Crass
and Conflict, the political outrage of groups such as the Dead Kennedys,
MDC and Discharge, Antifa draws on decades of protest, self-protection
and informal networks under the auspices of a musical movement.

Mark Bray, author of The Antifa Handbook,
says that “in many cases, the North American modern Antifa movement
grew up as a way to defend the punk scene from the neo-Nazi skinhead
movement, and the founders of the original Anti-Racist Action network in
North America were anti-racist skinheads. The fascist/anti-fascist
struggle was essentially a fight for control of the punk scene [during
the 1980s], and that was true across of much of north America and in
parts of Europe in this era.”

“There’s a huge overlap between radical left politics and
the punk scene, and there’s a stereotype about dirty anarchists and
punks, which is an oversimplification but grounded in a certain amount
of truth.”

Drawing influence from anti-fascist groups in 1930s
Germany, the UK-based Anti-Fascist Action formed in the late 70s in
reaction the growing popularity of rightwing political parties such as
the National Front and the British Movement. They would shut down
extreme-right meetings at every opportunity, whether it be a march or a
gathering in a room above a pub. Inspired by this, anti-racist skinheads
in Minneapolis formed Anti-Racist Action, which soon gained traction in
punk scenes across the US. Meanwhile, in New York, a movement called Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice sprung up.

The
term “Antifa” was adopted by German antifascists in the 80s,
accompanied by the twin-flag logo, which then spread around Europe, and
finally pitched up in the US after being adopted by an anarchist
collective in Portland, Oregon.









Singer Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere during a 2009 concert in Berlin. Composite: Jakubaszek/Getty Images

For Thomas Barnett, singer with popular hardcore punk band Strike Anywhere,
his punk ethics and the direct-action philosophy of Antifa go hand in
hand, and, with Trump’s presidency emboldening the extreme right, the
stakes couldn’t be higher: “This isn’t just a raft of right-wing ideas –
this is actual hate and violence, and the destruction of entire
sections of humanity. Of course, I don’t believe in the false
equivalence [between Antifa and the alt-right]. I think anti-fascists’
pre-emptive street violence against Nazis is righteous and important.”

Many
adopt direct-action tactics, whether it be the recent Antifa protests
across the US, the black-block tactics employed during the WTO and G7
protests around the world, or even the decision made by Brace Belden to leave California to join the YPG, the far-left Kurdish guerrilla group battling Isis.

“Punk
itself wasn’t a direct influence on my joining a guerrilla group, of
course, but punk did help to cement my radical politics. Being in a
community with a certain degree of consciousness and solidarity between
people helped immensely in that regard,” says Belden.

Bands,
record labels, zine writers and venues around the world have co-operated
to create a network that exists entirely outside of the mainstream,
providing an off-grid template for Antifa activists to draw from. In
America, there is Appalachian Terror Unit, a young band with heavy Antifa leanings from the Trump heartland of West Virginia. In Oakland, Antifa-related punk/oi! band Hard Left have taken part in benefit shows for protesters involved in the events at Charlottesville. In Texas, Antifa are organizing community relief efforts for victims of the Houston floods.

“There’s
definitely an overlap between the leaderless politics and the DIY ethos
and the notion that ‘if there’s a problem in our punk scene, we’re not
going to be able to count on the mainstream to necessarily give a
shit,’” explains Bray.

Strike Anywhere singer Barnett says: “It’s also about
community self-defence. The punk experience is like the flow of water.
You can put up dams, you can run it underground – it will still get
through. It also carries on the folk tradition that was speaking truth
to power before there was even electric power.”

If there was ever
a person unafraid to speak truth to power, it would be Jello Biafra,
former singer of the Dead Kennedys and the man responsible for their
1981 call-to-arms Nazi Punks Fuck Off. So it might come as a surprise that he is withering in his criticism of Antifa’s actions in recent months.

“I’m
not down with confronting [the extreme right’s] provocations of
violence with actual violence. I mean, self-defence is one thing, but
going to a Trumpist rally with the express purpose of beating up
fascists – what does that accomplish? Who’s the fascist now? It plays
right into their hands,” he says.

“More than ever, we have to keep
our heads right now. And I am all about freedom of speech, but I think
protesting these people non-violently is the way to go, because it lets
the targets of the fascist speakers know they’re not alone and lets the
fascists who show up know that there’s an awful lot of people who are
not down with them, and a chorus of raised middle fingers is better than
showing up with some kind of a weapon. Escalating the violence is not
the way to go.”

With his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, he has updated his 1981 song and called it Nazi Trumps Fuck Off, but it comes with a caveat: Trump is the target, not his supporters.

“I
usually talk about the song on stage for a while before we play it,
pointing out that almost everybody in the audience, especially if we’re
playing in Texas or Southern California, know people in their family,
close friends, at school or work, whatever, who think that Trump is
really cool. And I point out that the last thing we should do is to
dismiss these people as rednecks or stupid or ‘I’m not going being your
friend anymore, fuck you’ – that’s not going to persuade anybody of
anything and it helps Trump divide the country. My point is that you
don’t do that, you sit down and talk to somebody, not blog in an echo
chamber. It might be stomach-churning, but you might plant a seed, and
if someone wakes up three weeks, three months, three years later and
thinks, ‘Wow, that person that called me on my bigotry was right.’ All
this racist, anti-immigrant fascism isn’t getting us anywhere. I don’t
want any part of it anymore.”

Author and punk historian Jon
Savage, a champion of the Dead Kennedys during his stint as a music
journalist in the 70s, isn’t so sure: “It’s very idealistic and very
laudable, but it’s like arguing with Brexiters over here (in the UK).
You’re not going to get any change out of that. There is a proportion of
people who can discuss things in a rational way, but here you’re
talking about core beliefs and wishes and feelings, and these are
irrational, and they are even less rational when they are tested against
reality.”

For Savage, Antifa’s direct action tactics are as
legitimate a tool as Biafra’s more measured approach: “If you don’t
protest the way things are, then nothing is going to change. You’re
reacting to fascism and entropy. You need a variety of approaches, and
in politics I wouldn’t discount any approach. It’s probably useful to
have sensible people because they can say, ‘Well, look what happens when
you don’t listen to me and see what the nutters are going to do.’









Klaus Fluoride and Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys
perform at The People’s Temple in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
Composite: Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

For Barnett, even the current terminology is under debate.
“Calling it ‘Antifa’ is like calling it this weird exotic cult, instead
of calling it ‘everyday life’. Every aspect of media coverage of it is
insidious, turning public opinion against us, making us a violent
spectacle that’s both something terrible and un-American, when this is
the fucking Boston Tea Party,” he says. “If people want to talk about
how the heritage of American culture and our patriotic destiny fits in
[to anti-fascism] – it’s basic math to me, and to many, many others.”

Biafra
and Strike Anywhere’s Thomas Barnett at least find some accord on the
rebranding of the right, however. “You know what they called the
alt-right two years ago? Neo-fucking-Nazis!” says Biafra. “Now it’s
alt-right, like alt-country or alternative pop music.”

Barnett
concurs: “They don’t get to be alt-right. They just get to be
digital-age Nazis, or white supremacists or terrorists. And that’s what
[the media] are doing to anti-fascist action.”

Regardless, Barnett
says the antifascist movement isn’t taking anything for granted. “These
rallies, whatever the next one is, whatever form it takes, are
Trojan-horse events to invite and welcome white terrorist groups, and
are just platforms for them to go into communities to hurt and
intimidate people. And that’s what anti-fascist action has always known,
and that’s what the punks have always known.”

Or, in the bald terms of someone who put his teenage years in a punk band called Warkrime
behind him to go and fight in an actual war, former YPG militia member
Belden says: “When I was younger my friends and I used to beat the shit
out Nazis that would roll out to punk shows [in California]. And guess
what? They’d leave and never come back. Violence works.”










LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE



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