Cork shows fascism the door in Rally for Peace

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Cork showed the far right the door on January 4th as about 300 anti-fascists turned up at city hall to face down a  far right rally of about that peaked at about 70.  The anti-fascist rally was called by Cork Rebels for Peace, "a broad spectrum of left political & community activists from across the city and county and we’ve called upon a celebration of diversity, inclusiveness and solidarity.  We have come together to show the far right that Cork city will not succumb to intolerance."

The inital far right presence was tiny, only 7 people,  However the fascists were running a national mobilisation so that number grew as buses arrived from other cities, perhaps reaching 70.  From photographs we've recognised known fascist organisers from Wexford, Kildare and Galway.  The crowd turning out to these protests runs from known fascists, often openly recruiting to their parties to the conspiracy theorists who they prey on for funding.  As journalist Bryan Wall noted some of the latter carried "placards accusing the HSE of killing elderly people with lethal doses of medication in nursing homes."  One National Party live stream wandered from trying to recruit people attending to boasting about the aid Americans were giving to trying to build a fascist movement in Ireland to the anti-semetic 'cultural marxists run everything' conspiracy theory with in this case the claim that cultural marxists had even taken over the catholic church.  Classically fascism has always used conspiracy theories as part of the cement to hold movements together, for example the post WWI 'stab in the back' in Germany, or the concept of judo-bolshivism which the 'cultural marxism' conspiracy theory is adopted from.

While the paranoia comes across as laughable the reality is that those who hold these ideas have been incited to carry out arson attacks, attack peoples houses and physically assualt people on the street.  The fascist movement in Ireland is small but as we've seen elsewhere even small movements can engage in murderous violence and incite individuals to carry out truly horrific attacks like the New Zealand mosque killings where 51 people were murdered.  Fascist movements don't need to be big before they should be taken seriously.

The anti-facist mobilisation in Cork saw a local crowd of about 200 that rapidly grew to 300.  Pretty much all of these were from Cork and its surrounds as unlike the fascists across the street there was no need to run a national mobilisation to build numbers.  Although there have been a few small token counter demonstrations in all cases where anti-fascists have seriously mobilised, even just on a local basis, they have outnumbered the fascists 3 to 1 or 6 to 1.  This visibly demoralises the fascists who in many cases have fooled themselves that their hate filled heads are somehow representative of what most ordinary people really think, the reality as we have seen from their election failures is that only about 1 in 20 go along with their hate, even when they run candidates with national profiles.  But it should be the case they are being outnumbered 20 to 1 and better - people who consider themselves anti-racists need to step up and not leave it to others to face down fascism whereever it appears because if they can organise more of the 5% of haters you may not be able to do so tomorrow.

Photo Kevin Doyle, Kevin said after the protest "The big successes of today’s protest was outnumbering the racists and holding the City Hall. But this fight goes on. "

Addendum: What defines fascism?

There has been some debate about whether these protests are fascist.  The fascists are not stupid, they know if they call an openly fascist protest complete with swastika waving skinheads doing nazi salutes they'd mobilise considerably less than their core membership.  So they have imported the US fascist strategy of calling their rallies 'free speech' protests.  Anyone who researches those attending realises this is ludicrous, the very same groups and individuals opposed the repeal of the blasphemy laws, call for the silencing of LGBT people, the deportation of all migrants, and even the execution of 'traitors' by which they normally mean the left, broadly defined.  If fascists call a 'free beer' party what is important is not the free beer but the fascism.

What makes a fascist protest a fascist protest?  A German expression we've seen a lot recently on social media suggests "If ten people and one nazi sit down for lunch then you have eleven nazis sitting down for lunch". There is a usefulness to that in terms of underlining why fascism is so different that there should be no toleration for it.  But with the far right rallies we have directly monitored you are not talking of a 11 to 1 ratio. Depending on the event its ran from 80-90% fascist to 30%+. We have multiple, if small, groups of organised ideological fascists who are already carrying out acts of physical violence and arson against opponents as well as sustained campaigns of intimidation. We've identified some of those people in the photos from Saturdays far right protest in Cork.

Todays fascists look different than the uniformed seig heliers of the 80s, in part because they once more have the backing of billionaires and hence PR advisors telling them to smarten themsleves up and tuck the open fascism under the carpet, for now.  Today in Ireland they are a blend of youngish misogynist hipsters, often outraged at the empowerment of women through feminism and  quite elderly enraged reactionaries swallowing all sorts of conspiracy theories. That later segment who held a 'let women die' position in the Repeal referendum have been unable to accept that the changes in Ireland that and the Marriage Equality referendum represented have arise because new generations rejected their hard right clerical policies of the past.  

The talking points used by many of these figures (great replacement theory, pseudo nationalism, cultural marxism) are straight out of the Nazi political playbook. Whether these people openly self identify as fascist is beside the point. Using basic intuition it's not hard to understand the ideology behind the rhetoric and conspiracy theories.

They are attempting to foment a far-right political movement by using lies and half truths to appeal to people's fears. They are anti-historical in that they are deliberately dishonest about their political lineage, which far from Irish patriotism is in fact UK and European fascism and US conspiracy theories. This is the same shite the Nazis were up to, and it is extremely irresponsible for people not to take that seriously.

While they try and encourage liberal to allow them to organise by promoting the idea that 'both sides' are extreme its only if one takes modern corporate capitalism and the earth destroying shit show that it is as a reasonable centre ground then sure, the left are also extreme. Otherwise in essentially every respect the anti authoritarian left is the polar opposite of these far right grifters and the gross ideology behind them.

On the question of "who" it is appropriate to label fascist, it's absolutely an important consideration, where nuance is key. While individuals always will have 'hot takes' that may be problematic for lots of reasons, we'd reject the notion that the left in general 'goes around labelling anyone they don't agree with' as fascist. That's nonsense, and is more often than not a defense offered by those on the far-right allowing them to attepmpt to cloak their views and sentiments as mainstream or popular.

Looking at ideological fascism as a cultural phenomenon rather than something which is 'done' by fascists or simply a problem of having too many fascists around, we should understand that the ideology is psychologically based in the notions of hierarchy/authority and sancticy (of state or nation). These are tendencies of thought in all humans, however when monopolised by cynical actors attempting to develop personal and political power, as history shows repeatedly it creates a toxic politics and culture (to be understated), at the expense of other innately human ideas such as egalitarianism and care. Under far right ideologues we end up with a putrid politics of exclusion (and often systemitised murder based on 'purity' of race, religion, belief etc), all while the billionaires make out just fine.

So the question becomes how do we navigate/oppose people seeking to build a political base on the former tendencies of 'purity/sanctity' and authority? One way is to stop them from building that base in communities by disturbing their political meetings.  Yes, we understand that in the abstract this runs counter to the liberal idea of freedom of speech or 'market place of ideas'. But it is derived from an analysis of power and real politik - direct experience of how the far right operate, and what will happen to those in marginalised communities if they grow and prosper.

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