Workers Vanguard No. 1121
3 November 2017
Defend Anti-Fascist Protesters at Columbia!
The following October 28 leaflet, issued by the New York Spartacist League and Spartacus Youth Club, was distributed to a hundreds-strong protest against right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich at Columbia University on October 30.
On October 10, over 250 students, activists and Harlem residents, including supporters of the Spartacist League and Spartacus Youth Club, came out to protest Tommy Robinson, a British fascist leader. Robinson had been invited by the Columbia University College Republicans (CUCR) to speak via Skype as part of their “Free Speech Month.” Protesters who managed to get inside the event chanted and held up signs. The next day, Executive Vice President of University Life Suzanne Goldberg, claiming that they had violated the Rules of University Conduct, banned at least 18 students from attending future CUCR events and is threatening them with further disciplinary action, including expulsion. We say: Defend the Columbia anti-fascist protesters! No reprisals! No bans!
Emboldened by Trump’s election, fascists are increasingly rearing their heads, including on college campuses across the country. When these vermin make public appearances, their purpose is to organize for deadly violence. This program was written in the blood of Heather Heyer, murdered on the streets of Charlottesville in August. When would-be führer Richard Spencer held a rally at the University of Florida on October 19, three Nazis shot at anti-fascist protesters after the event.
Proposals to have “dialogue” with these vicious scum are suicidal. Fascism is not about “speech;” it’s about racist terror. The fascists are paramilitary shock troops that are held in reserve by the capitalist rulers and unleashed at times of social crisis against any prospect of revolutionary struggle by the working class. Their purpose is nothing less than the destruction of the workers movement, including unions and the left, and racial genocide. In the U.S., the fascists, from the Ku Klux Klan to “alt-right” thugs, especially have black people in their sights; they wave the Confederate flag of slavery and speak with the lynch rope. Across the Atlantic, the English Defence League, which Robinson founded, is known for marching into minority neighborhoods to terrorize the population and commit violence against Muslims and immigrants. Sweeping such scum off the streets is an elementary act of self-defense for black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, trade unionists, leftists and all the fascists’ intended victims.
Unlike Robinson, the CUCR guest speaker on October 30, Mike Cernovich, is not a fascist—he does not organize for race terror on the streets. Rather, he is an all-purpose pig, an anti-black, right-wing provocateur with repugnant views on women and immigrants. Cernovich should be protested, exposed and refuted. But stopping right-wing ideologues like Cernovich, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter from speaking only plays into their trap, handing them the flag of “free speech” to wave like a bloody shirt. To equate such racists with fascists only serves to disarm people in the face of the Nazis and other race-terrorists, who must be crushed in the egg.
In a flyer for the October 10 event, protest organizers, including the Southern Poverty Law Center’s campus chapter and Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, stated: “Our goal is to not only protest this event, but also to pressure the university into cancelling future events (including Michael Cernovich) involving these kinds of hateful and racist views.”
We oppose calls on the campus administration or the capitalist state to ban “hate speech” or the fascists, who must be repulsed through mass protest. Such bans will only serve to strengthen the forces of repression. Campus authorities that are currently cracking down on anti-fascist protest will use “anti-hate” bans to stifle political dissent and silence leftists, anti-racists and minority activists. The campus administration runs Columbia University—a bastion of race and class privilege that drives black and Latino people out of Harlem—in the interest of the capitalist ruling class.
The filth spewed by Cernovich and like-minded provocateurs is fed by the reality of capitalist class rule, which is rooted in the vicious racial oppression of black people, as well as anti-immigrant racism and sexist bigotry. As communists, we understand that oppression stems from material conditions, like poverty, unemployment, dilapidated housing and brutal cop terror. The struggle against racial oppression must be based on a fight to get rid of the capitalist profit system itself.
This perspective is decidedly not that of the reformist International Socialist Organization (ISO). Echoing the liberal lie that fascism is a question of repellant views rather than violent action, the ISO’s campus chapter wrote in an op-ed in the Columbia Spectator (10 October): “We hope that Columbia’s community will show, come October 10, that it categorically rejects such discriminatory and hateful views, ones that should have no place in a society that truly values equality and tolerance.”
Capitalist America is not, has never been and will never be “a society that truly values equality and tolerance.” This is a country built upon the backs of black slaves and the vicious exploitation of the working class. It is a society that is all about inequality and intolerance. To change that requires socialist revolution. But for the ISO, the height of struggle is to build a movement to pressure the capitalist Democratic Party, which, no less than the Republicans, is committed to upholding this system of exploitation and oppression.
The outrage against the fascists needs an organized expression: a disciplined, militant and military mobilization of the social power of the multiracial working class, which lies in its numbers, collective organization and, above all, its ability to choke off profits through strikes and other actions. The working class has the power and objective interest not only to sweep the fascists off the streets but also to overturn the whole capitalist system that spawns these vermin. For labor/black mobilizations to stop the fascists!
We seek to forge a revolutionary workers party that fights for a workers government. Such a party would act as the tribune of the people, championing the fight for black freedom, for full citizenship rights for all immigrants, for women’s rights and for the liberation of all the oppressed. It is by joining the fight to build such a party that radical students, young workers and others will find their place in the struggle to put capitalism and its fascist thugs in the dustbin of history.