Central Bankers ‘Are’ The Crisis

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Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

If there’s one myth – and there are many – that we should invalidate in the cross-over world of politics and economics, it‘s that central banks have saved us from a financial crisis. It’s a carefully construed myth, but it’s as false as can be. Our central banks have caused our financial crises, not saved us from them.

It really should -but doesn’t- make us cringe uncontrollably to see Bank of England governor-for-hire Mark Carney announce -straightfaced- that:

“A decade after the start of the global financial crisis, G20 reforms are building a safer, simpler and fairer financial system. “We have fixed the issues that caused the last crisis. They were fundamental and deep-seated, which is why it was such a major job.”

Or, for that matter, to see Fed chief Janet Yellen declare that there won’t be another financial crisis in her lifetime, while she’s busy-bee busy building that next crisis as we speak. These people are now saying increasingly crazy things, and that should make us pause.

Central banks don’t serve people, or even societies, as that same myth claims. They serve banks. Even if central bankers themselves believe that this is one and the same thing, that doesn’t make it true. And if they don’t understand this, they should never be let anywhere near the positions they hold.

You can pin the moment central banks went awry at any point in time you like. The Bank of England’s foundation in 1694, the Federal Reserve’s in 1913, the ECB much more recently. What’s crucial in the timing is where and when the best interests of the banks split off from those of their societies. Because that is when central banks will stop serving those societies. We are at such a -turning?!- point right now. And it’s been coming for some time, ‘slowly’ working its way towards an inevitable abyss.

Over the past few years the Automatic Earth has argues repeatedly, along several different avenues, that American society was at its richest between the late 1960s and early 1980s. Yet another illustration of this came only yesterday in a Lance Roberts graph:

Anyone see a recovery in there? Lance uses 1981 as a ‘cut-off’ date, but the GDP growth rate as represented by the dotted line doesn’t really begin to go ‘bad’ until 1986 or so. At the tail end of the late 1960s to early 1980s period, as the American economy was inexorably getting poorer, Alan Greenspan took over as Federal Reserve governor in 1987. A narrative was carefully crafted by and for the media with Greenspan as an ‘oracle’ or even a ‘rock star’, but in reality he has been instrumental in saddling the economy with what will turn out to be insurmountable problems.

Greenspan was a major driving force behind the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which was finally established through the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act of 1999. This was an open political act by the Federal Reserve governor, something that everyone should have then protested, and still should now, but didn’t and doesn’t. Central bankers should be kept far removed from politics, anywhere and everywhere, because they represent a small segment of society, banks, not society as a whole.

Because of the ‘oracle’ narrative, Greenspan was instead praised for saving the world. But all that Greenspan and his accomplices, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, actually did in getting rid of the 1933 Glass-Steagall act separation between investment- and consumer banking was to open the floodgates of debt, and even more importantly, leveraged debt. All part of the ‘financial innovations’ Greenspan famously lauded for saving and growing economies. It was all just more debt on top of more debt.

Greenspan et al ‘simply’ did what central bankers do: they represent the best interests of banks. And the world’s central bankers have never looked back. That most people still find it hard to believe that America -and the west- has been getting poorer for the past 30-40 years, goes to show how effective the narratives have been. The world looks richer instead of poorer, after all. That this is exclusively because of rising debt numbers wherever you look is not part of the narratives. Indeed, ruling economic models and theories ignore the role played by both banks and credit in an economy, almost entirely.

Alan Greenspan left as Fed head in 2006, after having wreaked his havoc on America for almost two decades, right before the financial crisis that took off in 2007-2008 became apparent to the world at large. The crisis was largely his doing, but he has escaped just about all the blame for it. Good PR.

With Ben Bernanke, an alleged academic genius on the Great Depression, as Greenspan’s replacement, the Fed just kept going and turned it up a notch. It was no longer possible in the financial world to pretend that banks and people had the same interests, so the former were bailed out at the expense of the latter. The illusionary narrative for the public, however, remained intact. What do people know about finance, anyway? Just make sure the S&P goes up. Easy as pie.

The narrative has switched to Bernanke, and Yellen after him, as well as Mario Draghi at the ECB and Haruhiko Kuroda at the Bank of Japan, saving the world from doom. But once again, they are the ones who are creating the crisis, not the ones saving us from it. They are saving the banks, and saddling the people with the costs.

In the past decade, these central bankers have purchased $20-$50 trillion in bonds, securities and stocks.

The only intention, and indeed the only result, is to keep banks from falling over, increase their profits, and maintain the illusion that economies are recovering and growing.

They can only achieve this by creating bubbles wherever they can. Apart from the QE programs under which they bought all those ‘assets’, they used -and still do- another tool: lowering interest rates to the point where borrowing money becomes so cheap everyone can do it, and then do it some more. It has worked miracles in blowing stock market valuations out of all realistic proportions, and in doing the same for housing markets in locations all over the globe.

The role of China’s central bank in this is interesting too, but it is such an open and obvious political tool that it really deserves its own discussion and narrative. Basically, Beijing did what it saw Washington do and thought: why hold back?

Fast forward to today and we see that we’ve landed in a whole new, and next, phase of the story. The world’s central banks are all stuck in their own – self-created – bubbles and narratives. They all talk about how they solved all the issues, and how they will now return to normal, but the sad truth is they can’t and they know it.

The Fed stopped purchasing assets through its QE program a while back, but it could only do that because Frankfurt and Japan took over. And now they, too, talk about quitting QE. Slowly, yada yada, because of control, yada yada, but they know they must. They also know they can’t. Because the entire recovery narrative is a mirage, a fata morgana, a sleight of hand.

And that means we have arrived at a point that is new and very dangerous for the entire global economy and all of its people.

That is, the world’s central bankers now have an incentive to create the next crisis. This is because they know this crisis is inevitable, and they know their masters and protégés, the banks, risk suffering immensely or even going under. ‘Tapering’, or whatever you might call the -slow- end to QE and the -slow- hiking of interest rates, will prick and blow up bubbles one by one, and often in violent fashion.

When housing bubbles burst, economies lose the primary ingredient for maintaining -let alone increasing- their money supply: banks creating money out of thin hot air. Since the money supply is one of the key components of inflation, along with velocity of money, there will be fantastic outbursts of debt deflation. You’ve never seen -let alone imagined- anything like it.

The worst part of it is not government debt, though that, when financed with bond sales, is not not an instrument to infinity and beyond either. But the big hit to economies will be private debt. Where in many bubble areas, and they’re too numerous too mention, eager potential buyers today fret over affordable housing supply, it’ll all turn on a dime and owners won’t be able to sell without being suffocated by crippling losses.

Pension funds, which have already suffered perhaps more than any other parties because of low interest ZIRP and NIRP policies, have switched en masse to riskier assets like stocks. Well, another whammy, and a bigger one, is waiting just outside the door. Pensions will be so last century.

That another crisis is waiting to happen, and that politics and media have made sure that just about no-one at all is aware of it, is one thing. We already knew this, a few of us. That the world’s main central bankers have an active incentive to bring about the crisis, if only by sitting on their hands long enough, is new. But they do.

Yellen, Draghi and Kuroda may opt to leave before pulling the trigger, or be fired soon enough. But whoever is in the governor seats will realize that unleashing a crisis sooner rather than later is the only option left not to be blamed for it. Let the house of dominoes crumble now, and they can say “nobody could have seen this coming”, while at the same time saving what they can for the banks and bankers they serve. That option will not be on the table for much longer.

We should have never given them, let alone their member/master banks, the power to conjure up trillions out of nothing, and use that power as a political tool. But it is too late now.

Zero Hedge

Arsenal (London) thrash Benfica (Lisbon) 5-2 in friendly

Emirates Cup friendly

Theo Walcott scored twice in the first half before Olivier Giroud, Alex Iwobi and a Lisandro López own goal sealed an emphatic pre-season victory

So after an end-to-end first half with two Theo Walcott goals, but shoddy defending allowing Benfica to go in at 2-2, Arsenal moved through the gears in the second half to record an impressive pre-season result.

Lisandro Lopez’s unfortunate own goal put Arsenal back in front, with fine strikes from Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi adding gloss. Arsène Wenger will be feeling better about the Sánchez situation after that attacking display.

Arsenal take on Sevilla tomorrow ………….

Syrian War Update – Threats and solutions for 2017 (May 5, 2017): strategic review

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DAMASCUS, SYRIA  – The liberation of Aleppo city from Jihadist-Islamist militant forces in December 2016 was a great victory which freed up considerable reserves of Syrian Army troops, shifted the balance of power in Aleppo province decisively in favour of the pro-government coalition and served to boost morale within the ranks of the Syrian Army and its allies. However, the post-Aleppo euphoria led some of the most optimistic pro-government observers to believe the war would be over by the end of 2017. The brilliant campaigning of the Tiger Forces in the east Aleppo countryside and the rapid recapture of Palmyra by 5th Corps fuelled this speculation. In late-December 2016, OZ Analysis had predicted that the final drive against ISIS would not commence until the Spring of 2018.

This was based on calculations that, one, the Syrian Army was still not powerful enough to commit to a large scale advance against both the Jihadist-Islamist coalition in Idlib and ISIS in eastern Syria at the same time, which is in fact still the case, and two, that the pro-government coalition would choose to liquidate the Idlib bastion before advancing east towards the Euphrates, this being an incorrect assessment. Though the first four months of 2017 has shown that pro-government forces hold the strategic initiative against militant groups operating in the country, recent advances against ISIS by US-backed factions in both the northern and southern Syria parts have now changed the strategic dynamics of the war which many very well reverse this current trend. Here in lies the threats for 2017.

The US-backed Free Syrian Army grouping in the southern Syrian desert, having recovered from its devastating defeat in the Summer of 2016, is now making preliminary advances in the direction of the al-Bukamal in order to place themselves in a position to storm the strategic town. Al-Bukamal is the last border-crossing between Iraq and Syria which remains under ISIS control. Control of the town will help the US to continue to deny ground-based communications between Syrian and Iraqi forces, which are de facto allies (much to the displease of Washington). Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – backed up by heavy US firepower and considerable a number frontline special forces units, possibly up to 2,000 troops, are now closing in on the city of Raqqah.

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The capture of the city of Raqqah would represent a major PR victory for the United States on the one hand, but also – more strategically – entice the bulk of ISIS forces to relocate themselves further south. That both of these are taking place simultaneously can leave no doubt that the US-led strategy for 2017 will be to force ISIS towards the centre of the country and onto the shoulders of pro-government forces who will in turn be forced to bear the burden of a great terrorist exodus. Should this outcome be achieved without the Syrian Army being able to lift the siege of Deir Ezzor and instead become bogged down in fighting a concentrated ISIS presence in central Syria, whilst US-backed forces continue to snatch territory in the eastern parts of the country, then the pro-government will lose the strategic initiative in 2018, a year which may very well prove to be the last year for decisive action to be made.

Thus, the solution to this potential threat can be found in a re-prioritising of strategic objectives for pro-government forces in 2017. To avoid the aforementioned scenario and in order to maintain the strategic initiative well into 2018, pro-government forces will have to commit considerable military resources to a dedicated offensive against ISIS in central Syria, and more specifically, to lifting the siege of Deir Ezzor. However, for reasons of strategic soundness, such an objective remains untenable until the ISIS bastion in east Hama is liquidated. The ejection of ISIS from east Hama will also secure the flanks of pro-government forces for additional offensives towards the center of Syria further north, but nonetheless, Deir Ezzor should be the priority.

If the pro-government alliance can reduce the east Hama bastion and reach Deir Ezzor by the end of 2017, then the defeat of ISIS in other parts of the country throughout the rest of the year by US-backed forces might very entice the terrorist group to withdraw the bulk of its mobile forces from Syria, rather than flee towards the central areas of Syria which would theoretically no longer be under ISIS control.

*O Z Analysis should be credited with this insightful report

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US Troops Start Joint Military Exercise

Macedonia and United States troops have started two weeks of joint military manoeuvers in central Macedonia as part of the Balkan country’s drive to join NATO.

About 300 U.S. soldiers with 120 military vehicles and tanks arrived on Friday from neighboring Bulgaria to participate in the “Dragoon Guardian 17” exercise that will run until August 10.

They will be joined by some 100 Macedonian soldiers.

Macedonia’s defense ministry says the main goal of the exercise is to strengthen military cooperation with the U.S. and to show that the Macedonian army is compatible with NATO standards.

Macedonia wants to join NATO but was blocked in 2008 by neighboring Greece, a member of the alliance, due to a long-running dispute over Macedonia’s official name.

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‘Stop Immediately’: China Reiterates Protest to US THAAD System in South Korea

China reaffirms its strong objections to US plans on deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, as it may threaten China’s national security, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Friday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In July 2016, the United States and South Korea announced their intention to deploy a THAAD system 300 kilometers (some 185 miles) away from Seoul as a deterrence measure against a possible missile attack from North Korea.

“China’s position on the THAAD issue is clear and consistent and is subject to no change. We strongly urge relevant countries to immediately stop and revoke the deployment of the THAAD system,” Lu said at a regular press conference as quoted by the ministry.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency
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Lu added that Beijing is worried that the missile defense system’s radars may affect China’s military installations, impairing the country’s defense capabilities.THAAD is designed for high-altitude extra-atmospheric interception of short and medium-range missiles and can, if needed, be used against North Korean ballistic missiles.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system

Moscow and Beijing have repeatedly voiced concern over the THAAD deployment in South Korea.

According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, the range of THAAD does not exceed 200 kilometers (around 120 miles). The US-South Korea agreement stipulates that Seoul provides a total of 690,000 square meters (170.5 acres) of land for the system in two stages, while Washington pays for the installation and maintenance of it.

Dr Helen Caldicott reveals the extent of the damage by the Fukushima explosion and meltdown and its effects on marine life and humans

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Fuk~yu~shima a giant message to mankind and marine life  from the evil Illuminati

by way of comparison,the Chernobyl nuclear incident…..

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-AAA

15 Years Later, Physics Journal Concludes: All 3 WTC Towers Collapsed Due To Controlled Demolition

By Jay Syrmopoulos

Over the past 15 years many highly respected academics and experts have come forward to challenge the official narrative on the collapse of the WTC towers forwarded by the U.S. government. The official government position holds that the collapse of all three towers was due to intense heat inside of the buildings.

But a new forensic investigation into the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers on 9/11, published in Europhysics News – a highly respected European physics magazine – claims that “the evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that all three buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition.”

While many in the mainstream have attempted to label anyone questioning the official narrative as a “tin foil hat” conspiracy theorist, many highly respected experts have come forward to lampoon the idea that the buildings collapsed due to the intense heat and fires following two terrorist-directed plane crashes.

“Given the far-reaching implications, it is morally imperative that this hypothesis be the subject of a truly scientific and impartial investigation by responsible authorities,” the four physicists conclude in the damning report.

The new study is the work of Steven Jones, former full professor of physics at Brigham Young University, Robert Korol, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, Anthony Szamboti, a mechanical design engineer with over 25 years of structural design experience in the aerospace and communications industries and Ted Walter, the director of strategy and development for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a nonprofit organization that today represents more than 2,500 architects and engineers.

The comprehensive study in Europhysics News directly challenges the official narrative and lends to a growing body of evidence that seriously questions the veracity of the government narrative.

In 2002, the National Institute of Standards and Technology remarked that the case was exceptionally bizarre. There were no other known cases of total structural collapses in high-rise buildings caused by fires and so it is deeply unusual that it should have happened three times in the space of one day, noted NIST.

Official investigations have never been able to thoroughly and coherently explain how this might have happened and various teams tasked with examining the collapse have raised difficult questions about the veracity of the government’s story.

Perhaps most damning of all, the experts claimed that after a thorough forensic analysis of video footage of the building’s collapse, it revealed signs of a controlled implosion. Additionally, Jones has co-authored a number of papers documenting evidence of unreacted nano-thermitic material in the WTC dust.

The authors of the study note that the buildings fell with such speed and symmetry that they there was no other feasible explanation for the sudden collapse at free-fall speeds – directly refuting studies that attempted to debunk the idea that the building fell without resistance. These respected experts’ new forensic analysis only adds to the growing movement of people calling for a new and impartial investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Revealing the scope and breadth of public disbelief in the official government narrative surrounding the events of 9/11, even presidential candidate Jill Stein has recently called for a new investigation.

Jay Syrmopoulos writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.

Now Yemeni naval forces target Emirati vessel

Yemeni naval forces, backed by fighters from Popular Committees, have reportedly targeted an Emirati military vessel in a missile attack off the coast of the country’s southwestern province of Ta’izz.

A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the frigate was targeted with a guided missile in waters near the port city of Mukha, situated 346 kilometers south of the capital Sana’a, on Saturday afternoon.

Chairman of Yemen Naval Academy, Mohammed Ali al-Ghaderi, said the vessel was apparently transferring munitions from the Eritrean port city of Assab to Yemen.

The development came less than a week after Yemeni forces and their allies destroyed a gunboat of the Saudi-led coalition off the coast of Yemen’s western province of Hudaydah.

An unnamed military source asserted that the Saudi vessel was carrying out radar jamming and deception against the Yemeni army when it was targeted with a missile on July 24.

On January 30, Yemeni army forces, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, fired a guided missile at al-Madinah warship in waters near the city of Hudaydah.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is assisting Riyadh in its war on Yemen, later confirmed the incident but claimed only five people had lost lives in the attack.

Yet, footage of the raid, provided by Yemeni forces, showed the enormity of the explosion and subsequent fire on the deck of the Saudi vessel.

On January 21, the Yemeni Coast Guard warned enemies’ battleships against using the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, to bomb civilian targets, emphasizing that such a practice poses grave threats to international maritime navigation in the area.

In October 2016, Yemeni forces and fighters from the Popular Committees destroyed an Emirati HSV-2 Swift hybrid catamaran off the shores of Mukha.

Yemeni army forces had destroyed a Saudi warship in a missile attack in the southwestern coast of Yemen, in the Bab el-Mandeb, on October 10, 2015.

The development came only days after Yemeni forces managed to destroy another Saudi vessel in the area, with reports saying that the sunken ship had repeatedly fired rockets on residential areas in Ta’izz Province.

Also……

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Yemeni naval forces, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, have targeted and torched a Saudi military vessel in a missile attack off the coast of the country’s western province of Hudaydah, military says.

Yemen’s official Saba news agency, citing an unnamed military source in the Navy, reported that the destruction of the Saudi-led coalition’s gunboat occurred on Monday, when Yemeni forces hit the intruding vessel with a missile.

The military official further asserted that the Saudi vessel was carrying out radar jamming and deception against Yemeni army when it was targeted.

On January 30, Yemeni army forces fired a guided missile at Saudi Arabia’s al-Madinah battleship in waters near the city of Hudaydah, and on June 25, another Saudi war boat was hit and destroyed by Yemeni forces on Yemen off the coast of Mukha port city in Ta’izz Province.

On January 21, the Yemeni coast guard warned enemies’ battleships against using the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, to bomb civilian targets, emphasizing that such a practice poses grave threats to international maritime navigation in the area.

According to Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, during the past two years, the Yemeni army has managed to destroy 11 Saudi ships and battleships and sink over 10 gunboats and frigates of the Arab kingdom in the strategic Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Since the beginning of the Saudi war on Yemen on March 2015, which was carried out in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, Saudi warplanes have pounded the nation day and night, killing over 12,000 people, including many women and children, and displacing over three million others.

The Yemen war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories. The humanitarian situation in Yemen has also dramatically deteriorated amid a Saudi blockade, which has put the impoverished country on the brink of widespread famine.

The Riyadh regime has, however, failed to reach its goals despite suffering great expense.

 

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Violence erupts in Hackney at protest over young black man’s death during Metropolitan Police arrest

Protesters blocked the road in east London’s Dalston district, attacking riot police with fireworks and Molotov cocktails, and setting makeshift barricades on fire in protest over the death of Rashan Charles following a police chase.

A group of youths in hoodies gathered around the shop where 20-year-old Charles was apprehended before being pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterwards.

 

Demonstrators attempted to block Kingsland Road in the London Borough of Hackney, erecting barricades from trash, cones, and dustbins. As riot police arrived at the scene to disperse the crowd, they were targeted with fireworks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails.

At one point, a truck rammed through a barricade, dragging a dustbin with a protester on top. The truck did not stop moving even as one of the protesters climbed on the roof of the vehicle and several others were hanging on the door.

It is unclear how many people turned up, with witnesses on social media reporting that there were no more than several dozen protesters. An owner of a local restaurant, Ferhat Dirik, told the Independent that he saw about 60 “youths of mixed ethnicity, wearing hoods and balaclavas” scuffling with police.

READ MORE: Young black man dies during police chase, investigation launched (VIDEO)

The protest drew mixed reactions on social media, with some people expressing support for the police and denouncing the protesters for standing up for Charles, who died under unclear circumstances. Although the official cause of death is still under investigation, there is speculation that Charles might have swallowed a lethal dose of narcotics during his arrest.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is leading the investigation into his death, stated earlier that it had obtained evidence “which indicates an object was removed from his throat at the scene.”

In a statement circulated by the Metropolitan Police on Thursday, the family said they are “determined to get answers to how and why this fatality occurred.”

READ MORE: Excessive force? London police point assault rifles at men in traffic stop (VIDEO)

“We will achieve this by acting within the law, and ensure there is individual and organizations accountability,” they said.

The officers who handled the arrest insist they used force against the man in order to protect him from harming himself.

RT

The British people´s battle against the National Front

Following a National Front march in Wood Green in April 1977, local anti-racist/anti-fascist groups affiliated to one ‘All London Anti-Racist Anti-Fascist Co-ordinating Committee’. There were 23 affiliate groups, including Women Against Racism and Fascism (WARF). ARAFCC published a newspaper, CARF, which began as a section in the Anti-Fascist magazine Searchlight.

THE ‘BATTLE OF LEWISHAM’ AND THE ANTI-FASCIST CHALLENGE TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY

On 13 August, 1977, the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ occurred on the streets on south-east London – a confrontation between anti-fascist protestors, the police and (some) members of the National Front, who attempted to march through the borough. In many of the accounts of anti-fascism in Britain in the 1970s, this episode has been characterised as the point where the Socialist Workers Party became the leading group in the anti-fascist movement and overtook the traditional role of the Communist Party. The following post is based on a short extract from my forthcoming book on the CPGB and the politics of race between the 1940s and the 1980s.

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By 1976-77, the Communist Party was at a crossroads over its anti-fascist strategy as the National Front (NF) moved to campaigning in the streets. At this time, the CPGB’s National Student Committee had removed ‘no platform’ as a slogan and acknowledged that the ‘real debate on racialism had been lost in this controversy over “No Platform”’.[i] In the immediate steps to combat the NF, the CPGB called for ‘a ban on all racist activity and strengthen the Race Relations Act against incitement to race hatred’ and to ‘develop the broadest united campaign of all anti-racist forces to resist racist activities’.[ii] However the CPGB’s Political Committee believed that there was still no ‘basis for forming some new, national anti-racialist organisation’ and the Party ‘should not try to form at this stage a national organisation… which presents the danger of being a grouping of Left wing organisations and another area of disruptive activity for ultra-Lefts’.[iii] By the end of 1976, it looked as if the Socialist Workers Party and the Asian Youth Movements were to provide the two forms of political organisation that would confront the National Front on the streets in the late 1970s, although as Anandi Ramamurthy has pointed out the white left and the AYMs disagreed over the centrality of the struggle against racism and the strategies to be pursued.[iv]

The CPGB had traditionally been the dominant anti-fascist force, but by the mid-1970s, they had been overtaken by the IS/SWP. By 1976, the economic crisis had stalled the IS/SWP’s efforts to revolutionise the union’s rank-and-file and ‘in an attempt to bolster its flagging industrial perspective, but without losing its foothold in the union camp’, the SWP launched the Right to Work campaign.[v] The IS/SWP’s concerns were now focused on the Right to Work and combating the NF, announcing that ‘the twin themes of fighting racialism and fighting for the right to work now dominate our immediate perspective’.[vi] This emphasis signalled a significant shift for the SWP, ‘away from established union and political structures and towards the young working class’.[vii] In relation to defining itself as an alternative to the CPGB, Ian Birchall explained that part of this was an appeal to the Communist Party’s heritage, which reflected two things, ‘the hunger marches… and anti-fascist activity, especially Cable Street’ and in the 1970s, the SWP ‘were the ones who were emulating the “golden age” of the CP’.[viii]

In his history of the IS/SWP, Birchall recognised the SWP’s strategy against the National Front was twofold. Firstly they emphasised that ‘racism and fascism were a product of a system of crisis’ and anti-racism ‘had to be combined with a critique of the system as a whole’.[ix] On the other hand, the NF’s marches were part of a fascist attempt to control the streets and build a mass organisation, so ‘organised fascism had to be confronted physically’.[x] The SWP criticised the CPGB for ‘[m]erely shouting ‘One race – the human race’ as those attracted to the NF were ‘fed up with rhetoric from politicians, they are impressed by action’.[xi] To prevent the building of a fascist mass movement required a strategy of ‘uncompromising opposition to any form of publicity, meeting or demonstration’ for the NF, which meant physically confronting the NF in the streets.[xii] The SWP were wary of police protection for fascist marches, but declared that ‘if five or ten thousand people assembled with the clear purpose of physically stopping a nazi march – then the police would probably not allow them to march’.[xiii] As the SWP stepped up their anti-fascist strategy of confronting the NF in the streets, they warned, ‘physical action will become the litmus test for distinguishing those who are seriously attempting to build a revolutionary alternative from those who are merely careerists and hacks’.[xiv] By August 1977, this ‘litmus test’ had come with the major street battle of the 1970s between the NF and the anti-fascist left, the ‘Battle of Lewisham’.

The ‘Battle of Lewisham’ on August 13, 1977, when anti-fascist demonstrators clashed with the National Front and the police in the London borough of Lewisham was a turning point for both the CPGB and the SWP in the anti-fascist movement. Attempting to exploit the recent arrest of a number of young blacks, the NF called for an ‘anti-muggers’ march, to assemble near New Cross station in Lewisham.[xv] In response to this announcement, the anti-fascist movement in Lewisham called for a ban from Home Secretary Merlyn Rees and Metropolitan Police Commissioner David McNee. The Lewisham council appealed to Rees to ban the march under the 1936 Public Order Act, while McNee ‘suggested a three month ban on all marches’.[xvi] However the Morning Star stated that under the Act, Rees could have ordered a ‘one-off’ ban, claiming that the three month period proposed by McNee was a ‘red herring’ and it was only police practice to ban all marches.[xvii] However Commissioner McNee stated that ‘he was turning down calls to ban the NF march because to do so would be to give in to “mob rule”’.[xviii]

The All Lewisham Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (ALCARAF) was formed in January 1977, a broad-based alliance, including in its own words ‘conservatives and socialists, church people and trade unionists, blacks and whites’.[xix] Nigel Copsey has noted that at a national level, the CPGB ‘had done little to counter the National Front’, but its members ‘were often key figures in local anti-fascist committees’,[xx] which was the case with ALCARAF. With the refusal to ban the NF march, the Lewisham CPGB branch announced that ‘ALCARAF should encourage all Borough organisations…to support a counter-demonstration… calling for a peaceful, democratic, multiracial society based on social harmony’, as well as, ‘to reject fascism and end unemployment’.[xxi] ALCARAF and the CPGB urged a ‘powerful but peaceful demonstration’, which was scheduled to take place at a different time, away from the location of the NF’s march at Clifton Rise.[xxii] The SWP, on the other hand, announced its own demonstration at Clifton Rise, where the NF were meeting, with the notion of confronting the NF on the streets. The SWP recognised the ALCARAF march, but declared that ‘it will provide no substitute for confronting the fascists directly’.[xxiii] The Morning Star announced that, ‘it almost goes without saying that the Socialist Workers Party has prepared itself for the definitive game of cowboys and indians’.[xxiv]

On the day of the demonstration, around 4,000 people attended the ALCARAF march..[xxv] In the flyer handed out to marchers, the CPGB called for marchers not to attend the SWP demonstration, appealing for them to resist ‘violent confrontation with the National Front or the police’ and remain ‘united and disciplined’, asserting that organisations, such as the SWP, ‘who insist on the ritual enactment of vanguardist violence only damage the hard, patient work that has been put in over the years in the area by anti-racists and anti-fascists’.[xxvi] The SWP distributed its own leaflet amongst the ALCARAF march to join the demonstration at Clifton Rise. SWP District Secretary Ted Parker described the event in Dave Renton’s history of the Anti-Nazi League:

We knew one pivotal thing was to get as many people as possible from the first march up to Clifton Rise… The fascinating thing was that people wanted to march to Clifton Rise, but they just wouldn’t line up behind a Socialist Workers Party banner… Eventually, we found some members of some other groups like the IMG with a banner for some united campaign against racism and fascism. People agree to group behind that. It taught me a lesson for later – many people would support a united campaign, they didn’t all want just to line up behind the SWP.[xxvii]

Around 3,000-5,000 demonstrators congregated at this point, compared with 500-600 NF marches and ‘as police made snatch raids into the crowd…counter-demonstrators retaliated with bottles, bricks, and soft drink cans’.[xxviii] Fighting also broke out between police and counter-demonstrators on Lewisham High Street at the end of the NF march. By the end of the day, 110 people had been injured, including 56 policemen and 210 people detained, with 204 charged with offences.[xxix]

The following week’s Socialist Worker’s headline declared ‘We Stopped The Nazis…And We’ll Do It Again!’[xxx] Thousands of people – ‘black people and trade unionists, old and young, 14-year-olds and veterans of Cable Street, Rastafarians and Millwall supporters, Labour Party members and revolutionary socialists’ – had come out to demonstrate against the National Front. The NF, ‘cowering behind massive police lines’, were ‘forced to abandon their march before it was half completed’.[xxxi] The SWP saw the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ as a major victory, when the ‘Nazi Front got the hammering of their lives’.[xxxii] Central London Organiser of the SWP, Jerry Fitzpatrick described Lewisham as ‘our Cable Street…it was our generation’s attempt to stop fascism. It was rugged, scrappy. It got bad publicity. But it was a real success. The NF had been stopped, and their ability to march through black areas had been completely smashed’.[xxxiii] The black SWP paper, Flame called Lewisham ‘the day that the Black youth gave the police a beating’ and declared, ‘For the black community it was a day of victory’.[xxxiv] The Socialist Worker reported that the ‘angriest anti-fascists were not those who had travelled many miles to take on the Nazis, but the local people, the blacks especially’.[xxxv] The paper quoted the father of one of the Lewisham 21 as saying, ‘I don’t agree with everything the Socialist Workers’ Party says but they were the only organisation to stand up for the rights of black people here’.[xxxvi]

For the Communist Party, the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ demonstrated the need for widespread political pressure to ensure that the Public Order Act and the Race Relations Act were used effectively to ban provocative racist marches and in the case of this ban not being implemented, the need for a broad-based counter-demonstration, rather than street fighting. The Party was outraged at Police Commissioner McNee’s refusal to ban the NF march and asserted that instead of police mobilising ‘to carve a way for a few thousand supporters of the National Front’, the NF’s marches ‘must be stopped by police’.[xxxvii] If this did not occur, then ‘political, mass struggle… will be found to finish with the National Front and its like’ and ‘not the staging of ritual confrontations and street fights between the police and handfuls of protestors’.[xxxviii] The CPGB condemned the ‘crass adventurism’ of the SWP to assemble where the NF were marching.[xxxix] While Dave Cook acknowledged the ‘courage and determination’ of those who took part in the protest at Clifton Rise, the ensuring clashes ‘gave the capitalist press the chance to present that day as being a violent struggle between two sets of “extremists”’.[xl] What was needed for a successful anti-racist campaign was a broad-based movement including the labour and progressive movements, as well as the black communities, which had the potential to be isolated by the violent clashes of the SWP. As Dave Cook wrote, ‘The problem about street fighting is that only street-fighters are likely to apply, and it is this which can make it difficult to achieve the mobilisation of the labour movement’.[xli] Some members within the CPGB, particularly those involved in the militant anti-fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, defended the confrontational tactics against the NF, but this was more likely to be support for the local black community in Lewisham, than for their Trotskyist rivals. Tony Gilbert, one of the CPGB’s leading anti-racist activists and a former International Brigades volunteer, ‘commented on the courage of the young blacks’ after Lewisham at a National Race Relations Committee (NRRC) meeting, but stated that the main lesson of Lewisham was that ‘the presence of the Party must always be visible on any anti-fascist demo’.[xlii]

For the CPGB, the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ signalled the end of a ‘primarily defensive phase’ against the NF, where ‘mobilisation reflected the intentions of the fascists’.[xliii] The need was not the ‘occasional dramatic “confrontation”’ with the NF, but a ‘detailed, systematic, painstaking’ campaign to ‘promote propaganda and education… to show the benefits of living in a peaceful multiracial society’.[xliv] For the SWP, Lewisham showed that it was clear that ‘many people outside the SWP were keen to oppose the National Front but wanted little to do with the SWP itself’.[xlv] As David Widgery wrote in Beating Time:

The black community, who had successfully defended their patch, had had a glimpse of a white anti-racist feeling which was much bigger and more militant than the liberal community-relations tea parties might suggest. A lot of ordinary people thought it was a Good Thing that the Little Hitlers had taken a bit of stick. Every racialist was made smaller.[xlvi]

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[i] National Student Committee, ‘National Student Conference’, 17 February 1977, in CPGB archives, CP/CENT/PC/14/06, LHASC.

[ii] Morning Star, 12 July 1976.

 

The National Front (NF)

The National Front was founded in 1967 as an amalgamation of The League of Empire Loyalists and the British National Party. In the late 1970s, the NF was gaining in popularity. In July 1976, The NF and the National Party gained 44% of votes in a Parliamentary By-election in Deptford.

The Metropolitan Police

The Metropolitan Police were responsible for policing and determined the routes taken by the marches.

Appeals were made to the Metropolitan Police to ban the NF march, but the Police Commissioner assured the public that, ‘adequate measures can be taken to preserve the peace’. 2500 police officers were deployed on Saturday 13th August 1977; 270 were injured, 57 received hospital treatment and 7 police coaches were damaged. 214 people were arrested, of which 202 people were charged. Critics of the policing of the demonstration included a Southwark Canon who claimed, ‘violence broke out only when the police tied to push their way through demonstrators’ (The Times, 15 August 1977)

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