Supporting Street Actions with Labor and Economic Campaigns
via IT'S GOING DOWN
On August 4th, the nazi-right invaded Portland with the intention of killing and maiming all who might oppose them. Unluckily for them, the working-class turned out in much greater numbers. From what I can tell all the way from the east coast, the working-class outnumbered the nazi-right 10:1. It’s hard to go around smashing the heads of minorities when the working-class decides to band together and bash your head. Unfortunately for us, we’re talking about violence here. Between the camp of the nazi-right and the working-class, numbers more or less will be the deciding factor in any direct conflict, but those aren’t the only two camps involved in the struggle. The capitalist State has a monopoly on violence and gets to decide who will win any and all major street fights so long as an alternative does not begin threatening the capitalist State.
Summarizing the lessons from these two important report-backs from Portland leads us to understand the general tactic the State is using with the nazi-right. Where the nazi-right can potentially curb stomp the working-class, police back off. Where the working-class can defend itself from nazi-violence, police will intervene and give the nazi-right permission to march the streets armed. Where this leads is predictable, quoting from one of the report-backs.
“Soon after the bloc dispersed, a friend who was in the area described seeing a large group of Proud Boys, including Tusitala “Tiny” Toese (who was wearing a T-shirt that read “Pinochet did nothing wrong”) attacking a group of POC young adults. My friend said they saw the Proud Boys holding a young black man in a chokehold; when he fought his way free, they began attacking him with metal trash can lids and macing him. They also maced two young brown women and a group of white bystanders who tried to intervene. It is unknown if the other Proud Boys involved in the attacks were local or out-of-towners. Because of the force with which the police attacked us, our goal of preventing fascist violence in Portland yesterday did not succeed.”
What can we do?
To begin with, it seems as though comrades went in to the streets expecting to only be fighting the nazi-right with the police playing the role of referee rather than that of tag-team partner. An understanding of the relationship between the nazi-right and the State is imperative. Portland PD has a history of harboring and protecting nazi sympathizers within their own ranks. The nazi-right in general overlaps so much with the official branches of capitalist violence that the distinctions are hard to see. It is better to conceptualize the police as the heavy infantry as the other report-back correctly observes.
“Pigs on foot were also forced to walk up and down the street in the hot sun in full riot gear; their visible discomfort made the heat that we were suffering more bearable.”
Whereas the nazi-right is equipped more similarly to antifa, as light infantry. Tactics can evolve from this observation.
Beyond simply a look at tactics, however, we need to evaluate the strategic perspective of viewing the conflict as solely existing in the streets the day of any given event.
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 members blew the whistle on DC metro transit’s plans to accommodate the nazi-right rally taking place in DC on the 12th of August, along with a refusal to move the trains that will be holding the nazi-right, leading to the following outcome:
“Metro drops ‘Unite the Right’ train plan after transit union objects: Metro backed off plans to run separate trains for participants in the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” white nationalists rally in the District after ATU 689 exposed them on Friday. Although Local 689 president Jackie Jeter said the transit workers’ union is “proud to provide transit to everyone for the many events we have in D.C. including the March of Life, the Women’s March and Black Lives Matters,” she said that “We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech.”
In a press release on Friday, the union noted that the vast majority of the union’s membership “is people of color, the very people that the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups have killed, harassed and violated. The union has declared that it will not play a role in their special accommodation.” Former U.S. attorney Tim Heaphy, who conducted an independent review of the 2017 Charlottesville protest, agreed. “Law enforcement has this professional obligation to protect speech, regardless of how hateful it is,” he told the Washington Post, “but transit workers don’t sign up for that.””
These workers have discovered their power, not yet in the streets, not yet capable of contending with the monopoly of violence that the State wields, but in their workplaces. The nazi-right have their workplaces as well, from which we should remove them as did members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 6 when they discovered one of their members had attended the Charlottesville rally as a member of the nazi-right.
So in addition to taking to the streets against the nazi-right organized as antifa, why not call for an embargo on the nazi-right? Denial of service to any and all that would support the nazi-right. Deny the out of town nazi-right access to housing by organizing among the hotel and service industry. Deny the nazi-right access to food and water by organizing among the food and grocery industry. Demand a nominal wage-increase as extortion and punishment to the local capitalists who have decided to host the nazi-right in their city. Discover precisely who among the local capitalists has the most obvious and closest ties to the nazi-right and punish them via strikes and other economic disruptions.
None of this is to say that the nazi-right should be ignored in the streets, but this can not be the only place that we confront them, and if it is, we will always lose. We must support our street tactics with economic strategies.