Just had a look at this Counterfire thing which was handed to me by a young dude during the Anti-Tommy Robinson demo outside the BBC in Salford the other day. I kind of wish I could quote from it, skewer a few flaky chunks for inspection, but unfortunately I chucked it in the recycling shortly before going onto Facebook and kicking off ineffectually about it. I didn’t know it would be put here. I didn’t even know about “here”, so it’s gone now.
But before that, I read it, mostly. Skim-read some of it. So firstly, it’s written in a kind of double-dissociated Stalinoid dialect (their analysis of the class composition of the Yellow Vests includes the insight that the YV movement contains “artisans”, presumably hand-loom weavers or cobblers: 1848 4 life). This is the sound of thought turning into stone, or of prefab categories running around on rails like little carts: “the neoliberals”, “the workers”, “small shopkeepers”, “the establishment”, all circling reified round and that’s supposed to be *history*. Everything already known: the concepts rotate as foretold. Marxism with no people in it. All law and no spirit. And therefore both false and boring.
But it’s much worse than plain boring, because that back-page article about the Yellow Vests makes no mention *at all* of any right-wing or fascist component to the YV movement. It’s not played down, it’s fully absent. They don’t even debunk the involvement of the right as Centrist propaganda. Recall that this document was pressed into my hand at an anti-fascist rally. This is when I started the skim-reading. I found that this 8-page Counterfire paper doesn’t mention either racism or immigration *at all*. This is despite it containing TWO articles on the Yellow Vests and one on BREXIT. Must have taken quite some doing. Wonder if they wrote it WITH this unavoidable central issue included, and THEN sub-edited it out. Or if they just had to stop typing each time they accidentally mentioned racism, delete it, and then carry on, obscuring the racism as they went?
I can’t avoid forming the question: have Counterfire deliberately set out to write a leaflet that could be handed out to *either side* of an Anti-fascist demo, or is that just a coincidence?
Either way, a decision has been made: “For potential political advantage [sic] we shall throw immigrants and people of colour under the bus”. And what’s more throw them under that bus *whilst they’re actually being shouted at by fascists at an anti-Nazi rally*. And why? I’m sure they have their clever reasons, I’m sure they know the Right Line by heart. They already had the Right Line in advance of course, because they understand the inviolable Iron Laws of History. Perhaps you could ask them what they think they’re doing yourself?
But here’s what I think: Immigrants and people of colour have been thrown under the bus by this leaflet for the sake of a mythic image of Counterfire’s leaders catapulted into power at the crest of a wave of popular violence. They’ll beat the shit out of Macron, just you watch! They’ll machine gun Keir Starmer! “First the Nazis, then us!”: the big edgy fantasy hard-on of the proletariat, wielded by these little impotent bureaucrats who worship power, yet like to imagine themselves custodians of the powerless. Ugh. Take it to therapy and off the streets. We’re trying to stop fascism here. Get your shit correct.
By Stuart Calton