Stick 'em up motherfucker! An anti-fascist perspective on the movements against global capitalism.

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by Mike Donovan

(The following speech was given by ARA Toronto member Mike Donovan at "From protest to resistance", a hugely successful public forum on the Free Trade Area of The Americas and the radical anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-authoritarian elements organizing against it. Members of The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Food For Chiapas, Colours of Resistance, The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, The Summit of The Americas Welcoming Committee as well as revolutionary anarchist and community organizer Lorenzo Komboa Ervin also spoke at the forum which drew over 300 people. Electronic reproduction is encouraged, print publications please contact ARA Toronto.)

On April 20-22, 2001, thousands of people will converge on Quebec City to oppose the Summit of the Americas, the so-called Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and capitalism in general. Among them will be a strong contingent from Anti-Racist Action (ARA), an international network of direct action, anti-fascist groups in North America. Some will ask what the FTAA, and capitalism have todo with the fight against racism and fascism. Why is ARA organizing against the FTAA?

We are organizing against the FTAA because we are part of the international working class resistance to capitalism (which is the system of the rich stealing the wealth that we create!).We see ourselves as part of the same resistance that has farmers in India setting fire to fields containing Monsanto's genetically modified seeds, the Zapatistas resisting the Mexican army in Chiapas, and demonstrators storming the annual meeting of the Asian development bank in Thailand. Anti-racists are part of the demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle, The International Monetary Fund / World Bank in Washington and Prague, the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue in Cincinnati, the European Union In Nice, and the current fight back against the Conservative Ontario government initiated by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

We are organizing against the FTAA in solidarity with indigenous people of the Americas, both north and South. No one has been as screwed over, exploited, and generally scammed as the indigenous people of the Americas. They've had their land stolen, the treaties they signed were broken before the ink was dry, and they've been pushed onto ever smaller "reservations." (Let's not forget that Canada's reservation system was the blueprint for apartheid in South Africa.) Their land has been raped for commodities, their children were sent to government run residential schools in a effort to destroy their culture, and they have had outright war and genocide inflicted upon them.

The history of indigenous people is also one of incredible and inspiring resistance, however. Indigenous people have fought back, from the Red River rebellion to Pine Ridge, from Kanesatake to Gustafson Lake, from Stoney Point to the Zapatistas in Chiapas, who kick-started the fight-back against the neo-liberal agenda in 1994 when the North American Free Trade Agreement first came into effect. The movements against global capitalism have a lot to learn from indigenous resistance movements, and we damn well better be in solidarity with them and their struggles, too.

We have learned in anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing to ask nothing from the state. The state will not stop nazis; it uses and protects them. The state cannot be depended on to write "social contracts" on labor or the environment into international "agreements" on trade, let alone to enforce such protections. The state's primary purpose in the capitalist system is to subsidize and protect large corporations interests while attacking the working class and indigenous resistance movements opposing those interests. This is exemplified by the massive mobilization of the state's police forces for The Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, which has been called the "largest security operation ever undertaken in Canada". The same thing was seen last June in Windsor for the demonstrations against the Organization of American States which initiated the FTAA process. To put any faith in the state would be putting faith in one of the most powerful forces directly opposing our calls for labour rights, environmental protection, indigenous self-determination, open immigration and an end to capitalism itself.

As anti-racists, we are against economic nationalism. We are not fighting the FTAA in favor of isolationism or tariffs against foreign made goods, which can quickly take on a racist and nationalist politic. Despite the ruling class's claims, we are not "anti-globalists" wanting to return our countries to isolationist, nationalist economies. We want a system of international trade that is based in the local physical, economic and cultural needs of the world's people. We believe the world's working people should be free to immigrate to wherever the bosses are paying the best wage or indeed producing at all. In fact, we are working towards a world where not only are people not economically displaced but one where all workers receive all the wealth that they produce. In short, a world without bosses where we democratically make the decisions that affect our lives.

We are organizing against the FTAA as part of (and for white folks like myself, in solidarity with) people of colour in North America, wo because of the system of white supremacy in Canada and the U.S. have the worst jobs at the worst pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Now, the way I see it as a working class male, with some limited access to middle class privilege, whose family has been categorized as "white" for the past couple of generations (before that we were just a bunch of dirty micks), this primarily benefits the rich. Even white workers see their pay, benefits, and working conditions worsen under white supremacy. After all, why should the boss hire a white worker, or increase pay and benefits and implement better working conditions to white workers, when the boss can just hire people of colour or women that he can pay less and treat worse because they are more oppressed by our white supremacist system?

Think of capitalism as a fancy restaurant. There are the super-rich investors, money speculators and the born rich who just laze about gorging themselves with the food that we make and sipping cocktails that we mix. Then there's the owner of the restaurant who directly profits off of the workers' labour, followed by management, levels of skilled workers and then unskilled workers, and let's not forget the unemployed handing in resumes and hanging out just outside, ready to take the job of anyone who gets out of line.

Because of the system of white supremacy, let's think of white workers falling roughly into the position of skilled workers, say cooks. Now, cooks are better paid and have more status than say dishwashers, who can represent people of colour or women. But when it comes right down to it, cooks are only given a thin slice of the cake that they help make. The vast majority goes to the ultra-rich, then the next big hunk goes to the owner, then management, then the skilled workers, and on down. The dishwashers get the half-eaten scraps and the unemployed outside get nothing. The reason that skilled (white) workers get more, or indeed any, slice of the cake is partly because they have skills that the boss needs in order to make a profit, but it's also a pay-off to keep their own boots on the throats of the less skilled (non-white & women) workers and the unemployed on behalf of the bosses.

Now does this system really benefit skilled (white, male) workers? Yes and no; skilled workers are getting a better deal, a slightly bigger slice of the cake, than unskilled (again, read non-white or women) workers. However, what white workers gain by keeping the system of white supremacy in place is peanuts in comparison to what they could gain if they were part of autonomous, industrial organizing with ALL levels of workers in the restaurant AND the unemployed. Then all workers and poor people could go to the boss, or the rich bastards dining in the front, and in the words of Black Panther Bobby Seale, shout out, "Stick 'em up, motherfucker!"

The class struggle cannot be separated from struggle against racism and the struggle against racism cannot be pushed to the side while taking on global capitalism. We have to be simultaneously fighting capitalism and the racist, sexist, homophobic shit system that helps maintain it.

As anti-fascists we see our role as unique in the anti-corporate globalization movement. While the movement against global capitalism is largely one made up of various progressive and left wing organizations, it also has strong participation by the protectionist right wing, including such people as Pat Buchanan, sections of the radical right, such as the US militia movement, and increasingly, even outright white supremacists, such as Matt Hale, of the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), several of whose members have been convicted of racist murders and shootings.

Let's take the telephone "hate line" message Matt Hale recorded on December 6, 1999. On that message, the first news item was the massive demonstrations that shut down the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle just a few days earlier.

Hale says,

"... the riots were incredibly successful from the point of view of the rioters as well as our Church. They helped shut down the talks of the Jew World Order WTO and helped make a mockery of the Jewish Occupational Government around the world. Bravo!"

Hale, who was in the Seattle area to network with local white supremacists and speak at a memorial rally for racist terrorist Robert J. Mathews, goes on to state,

" I witnessed some of the marches, and while there was certainly a fair amount of non-white trash involved in them, the vast majority were white people of good blood who can be mobilized in the future for something besides their economic livelihood or environment:their continued biological existence. It is from the likes of white people who protested the WTO (and in some cases went to jail for illegal actions) that our World Church of The Creator must look to for converts -- not the stale "right wing" which has failed miserably to put even one dent in the armor of the Jewish monster."

This sort of rhetoric is not without historical precedent. In fact, the original Nazi party, the NSDAP, was called the National Socialist German Workers Party for a reason.

Listen to this quote and tell me if it sounds like something you might hear at a forum against globalization today:

"We are Socialists, are enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, with its injustice in wages, with its immoral evaluation of individuals according to wealth and money instead of responsibility and achievement, and we are determined under all circumstances to abolish this system!"

That quote is from the essay "Thoughts about the tasks of the future" written in 1926 by Gregor Strasser, who was a leading Nazi party official during the 1920's and whose thoughts are widely held in the socialist current within National Socialism to this day.

In fact, one of the left's biggest failures has been refusing to recognize that Fascism isn't simply a marionette of capitalists scrambling to save themselves, but a popular mass movement that has a self-contradicting mix of socialist, capitalist and nationalist politics. This "Third way beyond Capitalism and Communism" as third positionists or Strasserite fascists put it, is rapidly gaining prominence in the fascist right again and presents a real threat politically to the growing movements against global capitalism. It is a threat that we have to take on head first and physically and politically kick out of our movements. Failure to do so has grave consequences for all of us, but especially for oppressed communities.

For example, on September 23, Czech fascists rallied in opposition to the IMF and World Bank in Prague. Fortunately they were met with an anti-fascist demonstration of over 1000 that ended with anti-fascists intercepting the fascists at a train station, bloodying those who didn't run away fast enough. Three days later, on September 26, those same anti-fascists were on the front lines opposing the World Bank and the IMF meeting. No Fascists dared to try and show up to be part of the broader mobilization.

We see our role as anti-fascists in exposing and routing the radical right and any collaborators out of the anti-capitalist movement. But fighting a defensive fight against fascists and white supremacists within the movement against global capitalism is not enough. We are also part of the radical anti-authoritarian tendency within that movement, and it is our role to continue to push the movement away from reformist strategies and symbolic protest to a movement of real resistance.

Anti-Racist Action (Toronto)
P.O. Box 291, Station B
Toronto ON M5T 2T2

Fighting tha fash since '92.

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