On the 28 February 2015 the far right group PEGIDA will be holding their first demonstration in the UK in Newcastle’s city centre.
This group who started off by holding weekly demonstrations in Dresden, Germany against the “Islamisation of Europe and the West” began in October 2014 and whilst they had a slow start in building support PEGIDA were able to bring 25,000 people onto the streets of that city on the 12 January this year.
They are openly anti-immigrant with a specific emphasis on opposing Islam. They have attempted to portray themselves as concerned citizens and protectors of European culture at the same time as their leaders have been photographed dressing as Nazis and KKK members and making comments about immigrants being “animals”, “scumbags” and “trash”.
As their demonstrations have grown so too has opposition to this group as its far right nature and the threat that it poses to working people have become evident to wider and wider layers of people. With the rise of PEGIDA we have also see a subsequent rise in counter-demonstrations including on 10 January where a minute silence was held in front of Dresden’s Frauenkirche to mourn the death of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and to openly affirm their antipathy to such forces as PEGIDA who would opportunistically use these events in an attempt to divide our communities. This event brought 35,000 people onto the streets and was followed by PEGIDA’s biggest demonstration to date of 25,000 people mentioned earlier.
Origin on Islamic Fundamentalism
Although Islamophobia has been part of the mainstream media and political discourse in the west for over a decade we are in a very different situation now than when we were at the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s.
At that time the language of a “clash of cultures and civilisation” was used in the west to inflate a boogeyman, a threat to western values which could take the place of the former eastern block countries and the USSR since their fall in the early 90s. It was a means by which to divert the political consciousness of working people away from the growing inequality in society and to frighten people into submission. This allowed for the further curtailment of democratic rights in many countries in the west all in the name of the “war on terror”.
What has consistently been failed to be mentioned during such propaganda is that Islamic fundamentalism itself, which we are all supposed to be frightened of, did not fall from the sky but rather had a very material basis built up over a prolonged period of time through support from western imperialism.
The Pakistani Revolution of 1968-69 and the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan in the late 70s along with a number of progressive, left wing movements across the Middle East and North Africa in the 60s and 70s were an open threat to the dominance of the US, France and the UK in this part of the world. To counter such movements the US in particular started to heavily fund groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Middle East and Afghanistan as a reactionary counter-weight to growing anti-imperialist movements.
Whilst this base of support for the imperialists in North Africa and the Middle east was no longer needed after the events following the fall of the Berlin wall they continued to provide helpful propaganda for the west leading into the new millennium.
As this Frankenstein’s monster, born and developed through western intervention, got out of control it began to attack its once former master prompting direct military intervention. The recent wars in the Middle East have sewn such chaos and destruction that even further fertile ground has been laid for the flourishing of these groups which we see taking its most finished form in the growth of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
This is the real base of Islamic fundamentalism and it is as much a part of the fabric of capitalism as the far right and fascist movements in Europe which oppose it.
An Organic Crisis of Capitalism
At the present stage the organic crisis of capitalism is creating a profound polarisation amongst the populations of all countries.
The progressive side of this polarisation can be seen in the election victory of SYRIZA in Greece, the rise of PODEMOS in Spain and mass movements of workers and youth in one country after another who are fighting back against the effects of austerity.
On the other hand the rise of reactionary pro-fascist movements in Ukraine and with Golden Dawn in Greece along with a growth in electoral support of far right groups like the Front National in France and UKIP in Britain demonstrate an attempt by the ruling class to cut off the burgeoning turmoil in society from taking the road of class struggle.
This has further led to anti-immigrant rhetoric and the language of the “clash of cultures” to be used by politicians, whipping up extreme hatred in a more focussed way. As people are looking for a solution to the problems they face, problems of unemployment, low wages, cuts to schools and healthcare and other attacks on the working class a divide and rule tactic is being used. Without a viable mass left wing alternative this is expressing itself through turns to the left and to the right amongst wide layers of people fuelling the growth of far-right groups
Whilst the growth of far-right and fascist groups has a fragile quality at the current time due to the weakness of its potential social base it is still absolutely necessary for working people to oppose them and for revolutionary Marxists to take up the social questions explaining that the only solution to them lies in the socialist transformation of society as a whole.
Demo and Counter-Demo in Newcastle
Since the events surrounding the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France on 7 January 2015 PEGIDA have announced themselves as being a European wide movement and we have seen demonstrations and groups popping up in Norway, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and other European countries including the UK declaring themselves as part of PEGIDA.
This is the backdrop behind which they have announced their demonstration in Newcastle and in which an opposition counter-demonstration is currently being planned by Newcastle Unites, an umbrella group of various left wing organisations and faith and community groups.
The counter-demonstration will be assembling at 10am at the Gallowgate End entrance to Chinatown in Newcastle’s city centre and will be leaving at 10.30am for a rally at 11am to coincide with PEGIDA’s planned static rally taking place at Bigg Market.
Newcastle Marxist Society stands side by side with other groups in their fight against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of oppression used to divide the working class and we will do our duty in building this counter demonstration against PEGIDA. We also call on others, be they individuals or members of local groups, to do the same.
In so doing though we must also state emphatically that simply opposing such forces in and of themselves, whilst necessary, is not enough. We must also understand the origins of such groups, their social base and the means by which we fight them in order to stop them once and for all. It is for this reason that we’ve written this statement.
Socialism is the only Solution
The existence of Islamic fundamentalism and the rise of the far-right and fascist groups in the modern period are both symptoms of the decaying nature of the capitalist system. The only way to challenge both is to challenge the foundation upon which they are nourished by fighting to destroy the capitalist system at its roots and to replace it with something fundamentally different.
The only solution to the social ills which we face, unemployment, poverty, oppression and attacks on the working class in the form of governmental austerity and cuts to their, wages, terms and conditions in the workplace, is to fight for a fundamental change to take place in society. We need a revolutionary socialist transformation which would take the wealth and productive forces out of the hands of the tiny few families of rich individuals who run the world and to place them under the democratic control of the mass of the working class in the UK, Europe and the world.
In doing this we would unite all people across religions, nationalities, gender, sexuality and those who have disabilities in a show of solidarity which would lay the basis for a genuinely democratically planned economy providing everyone with the freedom they need for their own self development.
We encourage everyone to join us on the counter-demonstration against PEGIDA and to join Newcastle Marxist Society in our struggle for the socialist transformation of society.
by Newcastle Marxist Society