Australasian Spartacist No. 232
Fascist Killers Strike in Charlottesville, U.S.
For Labour/Black Mobilisations to Stop the Fascists!
The following 17 August statement is reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1116 (25 August), newspaper of the Spartacist League/U.S.
Waving the Confederate flag of slavery and brandishing the swastika of Hitler’s Nazis, fascist stormtroopers armed with assault rifles, clubs and brass knuckles descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. They came looking for blood and they got it. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who had come out to protest these racist terrorists, was murdered by a Nazi-lover who drove his car at high speed into a group of anti-fascists. Nineteen of the many others who were hit were hospitalized, some with critical injuries. A black hip-hop artist, Deandre Harris, had his skull cracked open by a club-wielding gang of fascist thugs. The night before, a torchlight parade of hundreds of white-supremacists chanting, “You will not replace us,” “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan “blood and soil” marched onto the University of Virginia campus and surrounded and pummeled a small group of young protesters who were chanting “black lives matter.”
The fascists are the shock troops for racist genocide—the creation of an all-white America where black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and other minorities do not exist. This program was written in the blood of Charlottesville. Would-be führer Richard Spencer boasts of scoring a “moral victory in terms of a show of force.” Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party—whose thugs stabbed, slashed and clubbed anti-fascist protesters in Sacramento last June—brags: “We achieved all of our objectives.” Emboldened, racist terror gangs are mobilizing for their next provocations in cities across the country from Boston to the Bay Area.
The guns that the fascists were carrying in Charlottesville are aimed at every black person, Latino, union militant, leftist and anyone else they see as an enemy of their drive for a “racially pure” America. Since Trump’s election, there has been an increase in racist murders, attacks and provocations. The ultimate aim of the fascists is to destroy the workers movement, including the unions and the left. It was no accident that a noose appeared twice on the Oakland docks this May, a calculated and deadly threat against the majority black longshore workforce. When the ILWU longshore workers walked off the job to protest the lynch rope, they gave a small taste of the power that must be mobilized to crush the fascists.
The outrage against the fascists needs an organized expression: a disciplined, militant and military mobilization of the social power of the multiracial working class. It is this power that is feared and hated by the bosses, their kept labor lieutenants in the trade-union bureaucracy and capitalist politicians of all colors and genders. The working class has the power and objective interest not only to stop the fascists but also to overturn the whole capitalist system that spawns these vermin. This is why the bosses keep the fascist killers in reserve, to be unleashed when the capitalist social order is threatened by an insurgent proletariat.
Republican and Democratic politicians alike are now trying to lull any outrage over Charlottesville with cynical condemnations of white supremacy and racial hatred. Beware the crocodile tears of your exploiters and oppressors! Their entire capitalist system is based on racial oppression, the increasingly brutal exploitation of labor, joblessness, poverty and starvation, and the mass murder of millions around the globe.
The bourgeois media, which has railed against antifa “extremists” who have tried to stop the fascists, now pontificates against Trump’s grotesque apologias for these racist killers. That Trump is a raving racist who has coddled and encouraged the fascists is hardly news. But what about the other representatives of American imperialist rule who are now denouncing the fascists? Former Democratic Party president Bill Clinton weighed in early with a tweet decrying the “hatred, violence and white supremacy” in Charlottesville. This from the man who rode into the Oval Office making a point of going to witness the execution of a brain-damaged black man and when in power probably did more to destroy the lives of the black working people and poor than any president since World War II. The politicians’ oceans of hypocrisy are in the service of obscuring the inherently racist nature of capitalist America.
Virginia’s Democratic Party governor, Terry McAuliffe, took to the pulpit of a black church in Charlottesville to tell the fascists to “go home” proclaiming, “You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.” Actually, Virginia was the birthplace of American slavery and the seat of the Confederacy. It took a bloody Civil War, with 200,000 black troops, guns in hand, to smash the chains of black chattel slavery. But the promise of black freedom was soon betrayed by the Northern bourgeoisie, which allied with the Southern propertied classes against the aspirations of the black freedmen. No less than the Klan terrorists that arose to suppress the newly freed slaves, the fascist gangs today seek to reverse the verdict of the Civil War.
Barack Obama, under whose reign joblessness, poverty and rampant cop terror against black people flourished, now obscenely preaches that the fascist killers “can be taught to love.” This idiotic, and ultimately suicidal, notion finds expression among black preachers and liberals, from the NAACP to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which argues that “every act of hatred should be met with an act of love and unity.” Joining this chorus of “love and unity” are the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), several of whose supporters were injured in Charlottesville.
In early June, the ISO and DSA called a “Portland Stands United Against Hate” rally in response to a fascist mobilization that came on the heels of the murder of two men who had intervened to stop a racist assault on two young women—one black, one Muslim—by a white-supremacist. While gun-toting militia thugs mobilized to defend the fascists and cheered police attacks on antifa activists with chants of “blue lives matter,” those at the ISO/DSA rally were singing, “We are gentle, angry people.” A “Bay Area Rally Against Hate” is now being called several blocks away from an August 27 fascist rally in downtown Berkeley. Advertised as a celebration of non-violence and solidarity against the white-supremacists who “try to intimidate us and incite violence,” it is promoted as an opportunity “to speak to each other about the world we want.”
No amount of singing and hand-holding in the name of non-violence is going to stop the violently racist fascist terrorists. Such actions reinforce the lie that racist terror is anathema to “American values,” serving to channel outrage against the fascist murderers into support for the “kinder, gentler” Democrats. The Democratic Party mayor of Berkeley is promising to investigate “all legal means” to shut down the fascists’ rally. Across the Bay in San Francisco, Democratic Party mayor Ed Lee and Congressional Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein are demanding that the federal government ban a rally by Patriot Prayer, the same outfit that organized the fascist provocation in June in Portland.
Don’t buy into the delusion that the capitalist state is going to protect you against the fascists! Its cops are the central perpetrators of violence against black people and the oppressed in this society. State bans on the fascists can and will be used against the left and any perceived opponent of the capitalist state, its cops, courts, prisons and military. And beware those treacherous liberals like the ACLU who go to bat for the fascists’ right to rally for genocide in the name of “free speech.” Fascism is not about speech; it is about racist terror! Every “free speech” victory the fascists score in the courts only whets their appetite for greater violence.
Nor will confrontations by small groups of anti-fascist militants stop the fascist gangs. While the antifas have demonstrated real courage and determination in action, their politics are simply the streetfighting face of liberalism and moral suasion. Incredibly, many are now saying that Charlottesville was a victory! The anarchist It’s Going Down website boasts that “anarchists and anti-fascists were in Charlottesville to shut down a nazi rally, and they did.” In fact, the Nazis successfully rallied Friday night, laying the groundwork for Saturday’s carnage, including the murder of Heather Heyer. That day, the fascists’ rally was shut down only after McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, sending in the National Guard and ordering the cops who had allowed the fascists to get away with their murderous assaults on protesters to close down the “Unite the Right” rally site. This did nothing to stem the fascists’ violence and bloodshed.
What is needed is to mobilize the class hatred of the multiracial working class. Standing at the head of all the intended victims of fascist terror, labor has the power to drive these racist thugs and killers off the streets. The idea that the union movement would flex its muscle in its own defense much less in defense of the growing ranks of the dispossessed doubtless strikes many as a utopian pipe dream. Responsibility for this can be laid squarely at the doorstep of the trade-union misleaders, who for decades have allowed the unions to be hacked to pieces while turning a blind eye to the mounting attacks against black people, immigrants, the poor and oppressed.
The labor bureaucrats’ accommodation to the rulers’ onslaught flows from their allegiance to American capitalism and to its political parties, particularly the “lesser evil” Democrats. The only “action” taken by the AFL-CIO leadership in response to Charlottesville was for its president, Richard Trumka, to resign his seat at the table with many of the wealthiest CEOs of U.S. capitalism on Trump’s manufacturing council! It is its own statement of the cravenness of the labor bureaucrats that Trumka was shamed into making this meaningless gesture by the resignation of several CEOs before him.
But there are union battalions that could have been mobilized in Charlottesville, from workers in the Norfolk shipyards to longshoremen in Southern ports. Their social power lies in the fact that their labor is essential to the functioning and profitability of American capitalism. The majority black membership of these unions in turn could have provided a critical link to mobilizing the black masses behind the power of labor in struggle against the fascists.
As we wrote in “‘Alt-Right’ Fascists: Shock Troops for Racist Genocide” (WV No. 1115, 28 July) in the lead-up to Charlottesville:
“Labor can and must be organized to smash the fascists. The potential for such action was shown in a small but real way by the labor/black mobilizations initiated by the Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee to stop Klan and Nazi provocations in several cities in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Through flexing their muscle in massive, multiracial mobilizations against the fascists, the workers will come to recognize their power as a class. What must be done is to build a revolutionary workers party that will wield that power to finally fulfill the promise of black freedom and emancipate all the exploited and oppressed. It will take nothing less than a third, socialist American Revolution to break the chains of racist capitalist rule and bury the fascist gangs for good. For labor/black action to stop the fascists!”