EPISODES IN BIG FLAME HISTORY: No 14. Racism and Fascism
Posted by archivearchie on September 22, 2009
Big Flame members were active in the struggle against racism and fascism. Two pamphlets set out the perspectives they brought to these struggles. A Close Look at Fascism and Racism from 1978 is a collection of more journalistic pieces, mostly reprinted from the Big Flame newspaper. The Past against Our Future: Fighting Racism and Fascism from 1980 is a more analytic work, which sought to develop the theory that underlay the practice.
Elements in the Big Flame perspective included:
– The focus on fascism with little attention to racism by much of the left was a mistake.
– The term fascism is sometimes used too loosely to describe a variety of movements.
– The ideas behind fascism are often more extreme examples of the “commonplace” and “common sense”.
– Racism is more than prejudiced opinions but a whole process of domination built into the institutions of society.
– Racism within the white working class is more than false consciousness as it has a material basis.
– Because of the divisions within the working class and because real unity can only be based on equality of power, the autonomous organisation of black people should be supported.
– Anti-racism and anti-fascism should not be abandoned in favour of other easier struggles or compartmentalised from those struggles.
– There had been problems with both the network of local anti-racism anti-fascism committees and the Anti Nazi League (ANL) which operated during the 1970s.
As mentioned above, one theme developed in these pamphlets is the need to support the organisational and political autonomy of black people. However, there was not complete agreement within Big Flame on what this position meant. This is discussed in an article from the Discussion Bulletin of January 1984: Black Autonomy and the White Left (Note: This scan of a duplicated document will be difficult to read. I have included it as it is only two pages long).