Friday, September 15, 2006




In a recent blog (dated, September 4, 2006) this writer mentioned that one of the Klan groups in this country held a demonstration at the Gettysburg National Cemetery over the Labor Day, 2006 weekend around a list of demands that included bringing the troops home from Iraq in order to patrol the U.S. borders. Symbols mean a lot in politics and the notion that Klansmen were permitted to demonstrate at a key symbol in the fight to end slavery and preserve the union raised my temperature more than a little. As I said then Gettysburg has been hallowed ground for generations of militants fought and paid for in great struggle and much blood BY Northern troops.

At that time I posed the question of what, if any, opposition to the demonstration leftists had put together to run these hooded fools out of town. In response, I was raked over the coals for calling for an organized fight by labor to nip these elements in the bud. Why? Apparently some people believe that running the fools out of town would have violated the Klan’s free speech rights. Something is desperately misunderstood here about both the nature of free speech and the nature of the Klan/fascist menace.

First, let us be clear, militant leftists defend every democratic right as best we can. I have often argued in this space that to a great extend militant leftists are the only active defenders of such rights- on the streets, where it counts. That said, the parameters of such rights, as all democratic rights, do not trump the needs of the class struggle. In short, militant leftist have no interest in defending or extending the rights of fascists and Klansmen to fill the air with their gibberish. Now that may offend some American Civil Liberties Union-types but any self-respecting militant leftist knows that such a position is right is his or her ‘gut’.

Moreover, let us take stock of what we are dealing with here. With the arrival of the Bush Administration we have heard from the left, especially the less politically sophisticated elements, the word fascist, etc. bandied about as a descriptive term for that crowd. Wrong. Yes, the Bush crowd is an extreme right-wing parliamentary cabal and surely harbors more than a few crypto-fascists in its entourage. However, they operate mainly within the norms of bourgeois democracy. Fascism (and here the Klan represents a home-grown variety of that trend) is based on the extra-parliamentary mobilization of the destroyed and decaying middle class. That seemingly subtle distinction is clear in the United States at this time. Militant leftists, if appropriate, can debate the right-wing parliamentary elements. You fight, to the best of your abilities and resources, the para-military forces as they surface in the streets. Supporting democratic rights for fascists/Klansmen, much less getting on the same debating platform with them, is not only foolhardy but sows dangerous illusions about the nature of their threat. There is nothing to debate.

In the final analysis we will be fighting the Klan-types on the streets and the issue will no be rights of free expression (except, maybe, in defense of ours) but the survival of our organizations. A short glance at history is to the point. One of the great tragedies of the Western labor movement was the defeat and destruction of the German labor movement in the wake of Hitler’s Nazi Party’s rise to power in 1933. That destruction was brought on by the fatally erroneous policies of both the German Social Democratic and its ostrich-like ‘see no evil' policy and that of the Communists parties and its “Third Period” isolationist policy. Thus, neither party fully saw the danger in time and compounded that error when they did see it and yet still refused to call for a united front of all labor organizations to confront and destroy Hitler and his storm troopers. We know the result. And it was not necessary.

Moreover, Hitler’s organization at one time (in the mid-1920’s) was small and unimportant like today’s Klan/Nazi threat. But that does not mean that under certain circumstances that could not change. By 1930 Hitler had 100,000 trained and disciplined storm troopers who were fighting the labor organizations in the streets and in the working class districts. And that, dear readers, is exactly the point of my argument. NO FREE SPEECH FOR FASCISTS/KLANMEN! ORGANIZE LABOR TO CLEAR THE STREETS OF THIS RABBLE WHEN THEY SURFACE! NIP THE KLAN/NAZIS IN THE BUD!

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