[Marxism] ‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 18 14:32:31 MDT 2017
On 8/18/17 3:35 PM, Greg McDonald wrote:
1) Antifa's 'predecessors' are more significant than Chomsky thinks
"And in North America they were the Teamsters who formed a defense guard
against the Silver Shirts in the 1930s..."
This is a complete crock of shit. Here is what the Trotskyists did. It
had nothing in common with the kids in masks throwing bags of urine at
the fascists in Charlottesville.
The United States in the 1930s became a battleground between industrial
workers and the capitalist class over whether workers would be able to
form industrial unions. There had been craft unions for decades, but
only industrial unions could fight for all of the workers in a given
plant or industry. This fight had powerful revolutionary implications
since the captains of heavy industry required a poorly paid, docile
work-force in order to maximize profits in the shattered capitalist
economy. There were demonstrations, sit-down strikes and even gun-fights
led by the Communist Party and other left groups to establish this basic
Within this political context, fascist groups began to emerge. They drew
their inspiration from Mussolini’s fascists or Hitler’s brown-shirts. In
a time of severe social crisis, groups of petty-bourgeois and lumpen
elements begin to coalesce around demagogic leaders. They employ
“radical” sounding rhetoric but in practice seek out working- class
organizations to intimidate and destroy. One such fascist group was the
Silver Shirts of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In chapter eleven of “Teamster Politics”, SWP leader Farrell Dobbs
recounts “How the Silver Shirts Lost Their Shrine in Minneapolis”. It is
the story of how Local 544 of the Teamsters union, led by Trotskyists,
defended itself successfully from a fascist expedition into the city.
Elements of the Twin Cities ruling-class, alarmed over the growth of
industrial unionism in the city, called in Silver Shirt organizer Roy
Zachary. Zachary hosted two closed door meetings on July 29 and August 2
of 1938. Teamster “moles” discovered that Zachary intended to launch a
vigilante attack against Local 544 headquarters. They also discovered
that Zachary planned to work with one F.L. Taylor to set up an
“Associated Council of Independent Unions”, a union-busting operation.
Taylor had ties to a vigilante outfit called the “Minnesota Minute Men”.
Local 544 took serious measures to defend itself. It formed a union
defense guard in August 1938 open to any active union member. Many of
the people who joined had military experience, including Ray Rainbolt
the elected commander of the guard. Rank-and-filers were former
sharpshooters, machine gunners and tank operators in the US Army. The
guard also included one former German officer with WWI experience. While
the guard itself did not purchase arms except for target practice,
nearly every member had hunting rifles at home that they could use in
the circumstance of a Silver Shirt attack.
Events reached a climax when Silver Shirt leader William Dudley Pelley
came to speak at a rally in the wealthy section of Minneapolis.
Ray Rainbolt organized a large contingent of defense guard members to
pay a visit to Calhoun Hall where Pelley was to make his appearance. The
powerful sight of disciplined but determined unionists persuaded the
audience to go home and Pelley to cancel his speech.
This was the type of conflict taking place in 1938. A capitalist class
bent on taming workers; fascist groups with a documented violent,
anti-labor record; industrial workers in motion: these were the primary
actors in that period. It was characteristic of the type of class
conflict that characterized the entire 1930s. It is useful to keep this
in mind when we speak about McCarthyism.
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