What the Anti-Nazi-League and Rock against Racism teach us about how to defeat the fascists

David Renton - 9 December 2018

The challenge is on the streets, at the ballot box, and through popular culture, as a new history makes clear.

Any readers of the recent “Populism” series in the Guardian might justly have put down their newspaper in a condition of utter disrepair. We were told that 25 percent of Europeans vote for populist parties. To which could be added the success of the far right in the US, India, and now Brazil. Among the many problem with the Guardian’s approach is that it left no space for resistance to the right. The populists have the support of the people, and anyone who disagrees can do no better than vote for the same technocratic and authoritarian neo-liberal politics which enabled the growth of the right.

Here, I want to discuss something different: an anti-fascist movement in recent history which rather than seeing workers as its enemy actively recruited them.

The first main part of 1970s anti-fascism was a musical campaign Rock Against Racism. Launched in 1976 in reaction to an interview with David Bowie in which he called Adolf Hitler the first rock and roll superstar, and a drunken concert in Birmingham at which Eric Clapton announced his support for Enoch Powell, RAR was a collective of musicians, designers and grassroots politicos engaging with the nascent punk scene.... See more

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