MIA: History: ETOL: Document: Education for Socialist Bulletin: The Fight Against Fascism in the USA.
Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line
—Socialist Workers Party [US] Education for Socialist Bulletins—
The Fight Against Fascism in the USA
No Platform for Fascist Scum! SYL Builds Anti-Nazi Demonstration
excerpted from the April 1975 issue of Young Spartacus, January 1976
SAN FRANCISCO—On March 10 some 150 people responded to a clarion call for a mass demonstration to protest the scheduled appearance of Nazi party members on the San Francisco State University Campus. Students as well as workers from the area joined the militant picket line which was organized by the “Ad Hoc Committee to Stop the Fascists,” a united front initiated and energetically built by the Spartacus Youth League. The angry demonstration not only physically confronted the Nazis but succeeded in driving the fascist vermin off campus!
The Nazis (National Socialist White People’s Party) had been invited to present their “point of view” to a debate class, “Advocates and Issues,” conducted by Ted Keller, a left-liberal professor. When SYL members in the class learned of the invitation, the SYL at SF State immediately launched an all-out campaign for a demonstration against the appearance of these racist killers on campus. On February 28 the SYL distributed flyers and leaflets announcing the formation of a united-front “Ad Hoc Committee to Stop the Fascists” (CSF) and calling for a meeting to plan a protest demonstration around the demand, “NO PLATFORM FOR FASCISTS!” The SYL in addition made two presentations to Keller’s class strongly arguing against “free speech” for degenerate, murderous, fascist slime.
How to Deal With Fascists
[...] Unlike right-wing propaganda groups (John Birch Society), conservative bourgeois politicians (George Wallace) or reactionary academic ideologues (William Shockley), fascists like the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan are armed thugs in political garb who are dedicated above all to action: the genocide of racial, ethnic and religious minorities; the totalitarian suppression of bourgeois-democratic rights; and the annihilation of the organized socialist and labor movement. As long as they are still an isolated sect in this country, the Nazis sometimes pretend that they too are interested in “discussing” their “ideas.” But smelling the stench of racist reaction, these scum are more brazen about raising their heads. These maggots have swarmed to racially polarized Boston not to “discuss,” but to foment the savage slaughter of Black schoolchildren. Nazi propaganda for frenzied white racists is a call to action: “Boating, Not Busing. Or should we do some KILLING? Should we cut off, root and branch, the satanic Jews and all their lackeys who are stirring up the n___s against us? … There might be school buses going up in smoke all over the country.”—leaflet of National Socialist White People’s Party (Bay Area). In Los Angeles recently the National Socialist Liberation Front has claimed credit for attacking leftist bookstores. Their “argument”: dynamite. Fascist movements grow not through political campaigning but through terror, murder, and eventually concentration camps and gas chambers. The Nazis win their arguments with blood and prove their points with genocide. They yearn for the day when they can exterminate their opponents and victims. We recognize no democratic rights for Nazis. There is nothing to debate with these racist monsters! Action must be met with action! The Nazis must be stopped!
As the Trotskyist Transitional Program spells out so forcefully, only a united, militant labor-led mobilization can deal decisively with the racist swine:
“The struggle against fascism does not start in the liberal editorial office but in the factory—and ends in the street… . In connection with every strike and street demonstration, it is imperative to propagate the necessity of creating workers’ groups for self-defense. It is necessary to write this slogan into the program of the revolutionary wing of the trade unions… . It is necessary to advance the slogan of a workers militia as the one serious guarantee for the inviolability of workers’ organizations, meetings, and press.”
It is necessary, again in the words of the Transitional Program, “to inflict a series of tactical defeats upon the armed thugs of counterrevolution.” Depending upon the relationship of forces, left organizations or groups of militants in certain situations may correctly decide to take upon themselves the suppression of fascist meetings and demonstrations. But Communists must dissuade anti-fascist militants from adventurist confrontationism which substitutes for the necessary perspective of struggling to mobilize the masses against the fascists.
We warn that no confidence should be placed in the bosses’ cops to restrain or stop the fascist bands. [… ] Reliance upon the cops to restrain or stop the fascist bands is an invitation to murder. These racist killers must be made to fear the consequences of creeping forth and spewing their poison!
United Front Gathers Support
[…] In addition to the Spartacist League/SYL, endorsements were obtained from the Committee for Working Class Studies, Socialist League (Democratic Centralist), Laney College Black Student Union [Oakland], Center for Peace and Social Justice, Service Employees Union Local 411 (the SF State campus workers union), Committee for a Militant UAW/Local 1364, Militant Action Caucus of the CWA, the Militant Caucus/Local 6 and Longshore Militant /Local 10 of the ILWU, as well as individual, recognized labor militants.
The other self-proclaimed “socialist” organizations on campus responded to the principled united-front call of the growing CSF with either sectarian adventurism or ‘cowardly abstentionism. The muddled Stalinites of the Progessive Labor Party (PL) did vigorously campaign in their own name to prevent the fascists from speaking on campus. Opposed to joining in united-front actions with Trotskyists, PL attempted to outmaneuver the CSF with hyper-militant rhetorical one-upmanship. […]
Although the hardened reformists of the Socialist Workers Party/Young Socialist Alliance (SWP/YSA) crow about opposing racism and fighting for civil rights, these cynical ex-Trotskyists are presently interested only in organizing respectable, pacifist conventions and desultory rallies for liberal politicians and bourgeois-legalistic organizations such as the NAACP. In the past the SWP/YSA liquidated into the various petty-bourgeois radical protest movements, declaring that “consistent” studentism, feminism and nationalism equal socialism. Lately, however, the line of the SWP/YSA appears to be that “consistent” Uncle Tom liberalism equals socialism!
Thus, it should come as no surprise that these “socialists” simply ignored the campaign against the Nazis, the most vicious killers of Black people. The problem with the “ostrich position,” comrades of the SWP/YSA, is that when you stick your head in the sand, another part of your anatomy is quite prominent.
The feminists of the Women’s center at SF State refused to endorse the CSF, because a demonstration against the Nazis, whose slogan for women is Kinder, Kuche, Kirche (children, the kitchen, the church), is supposedly a “male” tactic! The Pan Africanists, according to one of their members on campus, said they would let the whites fight it out. Their nationalism prevents the Pan Africanists from following the example of their black brothers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who mobilized and prevented KKK leader David Duke from performing there in January.
CSF Leads Militant Demonstration
The anti-Nazi demonstration called by the CSF drew some 150 students and workers into a well-disciplined picket line in front of the building where the Nazis were scheduled to appear. To their credit, supporters of PL joined the picket line, but the Revolutionary Student Brigade held its “own” tiny rally about 200 yards away. In order to protect its sub-reformist politics from any criticism or competing program, the RSB resorts to such theatrical self-exclusionism.
After the demonstration had been in progress for about 45 minutes and the Nazis still were nowhere in sight, some elements, who had refused to join the united-front steering committee, suddenly announced over a bullhorn that the demonstration should enter the building. This splitting tactic was irresponsible in the extreme, since a large number of people packed into the narrow corridors and small classroom would virtually be unable to physically defend themselves should there be an attack by the Nazis and cops.
The steering committee advised these demonstrators against such an ill-considered tactic, but nonetheless many students entered the building. They crowded into the corridor and packed Keller’s classroom, beginning what was to be a several-hours long debate with Keller and the students in the class awaiting the Nazis. Keller announced that the Nazis would not appear and the class was canceled.
When it was announced sometime later that the Nazis still had not arrived, the large SYL contingent left the area to go directly to the Berkeley campus for an anti-ROTC demonstration scheduled for 2 p.m.
Racist Filth Found
The dwindling crowd inside the building continued the antifascist chanting and arguments with the students who recognized the Nazis’ “right” of free speech. The comings and goings of the press soon attracted their attention, and a rumor that the Nazis were somewhere in the building began to circulate.
Investigation soon revealed that in fact the fascists were in the building, hiding in a nearby office! […]
The remaining group of demonstrators rushed to the room and began to pound on the barricaded door. A squad of campus and local cops were protecting the seven fascists inside. After some time, the door suddenly opened and the Nazis, surrounded by a beefy cordon of pushing cops, made a bee line for their getaway van, waiting nearby with the motor running.
Fortunately, several students were able to land a few blows to the scurrying rodents, and one was even flattened out on the pavement. In the melee one of these thugs clubbed a student with a portable fire extinguisher and then sprayed its chemical contents into his face. Only with the eager aid of a rearguard of club swinging cops were the fascists able to pile into their van and execute their escape.
Administration Prepares for Repression
For the next several days the campus and local press were filled with coverage, photographs and editorials on the demonstration. The SF State administration as well as some faculty and students have raised a hue and cry over the denial of “free speech” to the Nazis by the CSF and others. SF President Romberg has already begun an “investigation” into the demonstration, and the Faculty Academic Senate and Associated Students Judicial Committee have announced that they may hold hearings. Even Professor Keller has issued a 12(!)-page polemical attack on the SYL and PL which is strongly tinged with anti- communism.
The Dean of Student Affairs on March 17 sent letters to every student registered in the “Issues and Advocacy” class, soliciting “a statement which you feel may be helpful to us in our endeavor to prevent the interference of academic freedom.” A formal complaint has already been filed against the SYL and PL with the Judicial Committee. Anti-left petitions are circulating and the Academic Freedom Committee has released a formal statement condemning the action. The administration is clearly preparing to attempt to prosecute and ban the SYL and PL
The SYL issued a leaflet the day following the demonstration which strongly solidarized with the effort to pummel the fascists: “The entire Bay Area workers’ movement should applaud the efforts of the students here at State for teaching the Nazis this well deserved lesson.” We declared that: “The Spartacus Youth League is glad to accept responsibility as the initiators of the Ad Hoc Committee to Stop the Fascists which set up the picket line demonstration”. [. ..]
The SYL has stood firm in the face of threatened repression and has initiated the “March 10 Defense Committee” to fight any reprisals taken against anyone—excluding the Nazis—charged in connection with the antifascist demonstration. Two administrators from the student affairs department attended the first defense meeting and indicated they would not provide the SF State administration with any information that could potentially implicate any student in the demonstration. The SYL has held a forum on campus, has begun circulating a petition demanding no reprisals and has sent letters to scores of Bay Area trade unions appealing for support in the defense campaign. Professor Keller signed the defense petition and told SYL members at he plans to write a statement opposing reprisals. In the coming weeks the SYL will show the anti-fascist film about gruesome Nazi atrocities, “Night and Fog,” as one means to build for a demonstration on campus. NO REPRISALS!