Far-right agitator Shermon Burgess and his assorted fascist friends have announced their intention to rally at Richmond Town Hall this Sunday. The stated target of this rally is “the left”, in the person of Yarra City Councillor and Socialist Party member Steve Jolly.
The rally in Richmond is intended to build for the far-rights’ planned rally at Flagstaff Gardens on July 18; a rally which is ultimately intended to reverse the failure of the far-right Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne on April 4. It is a reversal that Burgess and friends blame on the “traitors” known as “the left”.
Richmond Town Hall will be empty on Sunday, council staff have been told to stay home, and Steve Jolly is hosting a public forum on responding to the Reclaim Australia types in Carlton.
United Patriots Front?
For those that missed the hilarity on Facebook, the Reclaim Australia grouping recently performed the splits. Shermon Burgess fell out with other Reclaim Australia types in a dispute that seems to have centered on whether “patriots” were doing enough to push Burgess’ ‘Reclaim Australia’ branded clothing. As a result, Burgess and friends are now calling themselves the United Patriots Front.
According to their Facebook page;
The United Patriots Front is a nation wide movement, opposing the spread of Left Wing treason and spread of Islamism.
In practice UPF is a small handful of fascist activists organized online grouped around Shermon Burgess. Slackbastard has a rundown on who these clowns are, but in brief the key players are:
- Shermon Burgess, reputed Cronulla rioter and former Australian Defense League member, I have previously described Burgess at more length here;
- Neil Erikson, former Nationalist Alternative, currently calling himself Nationalist Republican Guard online, also described here;
- Blair Cottrell, neo-Nazi responsible for so-called National Democratic Party of Australia.
How to respond?
The so-called United Patriots Front represents the far-right of the far-right Reclaim Australia milleu; they are the most clearly fascist elements operating in Australia today. It is difficult to know what mobilizing force they retain, but at present point 145 people have clicked “attending” on the UPF Facebook event for the Richmond protest and 3,744 people have ‘liked’ their Facebook page.
When reflecting on April 4 I wrote that “fascism has a public space agenda”:
Public rallies by racists and fascists are attempts to control or change who feels safe and comfortable in public space. At present (thankfully) it is socially unacceptable (mostly) to make overt statements of outright racism publicly; the public expression of racism often results in some form of social sanction. The far right is attempting to reverse this situation. By rallying in public they are seeking to embolden racists, and bring racism directly into public space. The results of this will be reaped in a increased harvest of racist abuse and attacks directed at Muslims.
It is interesting to note how after holding successful rallies in most Australian cities, the far right activists behind Reclaim Australia have obsessed over the fact they were disrupted and opposed in Melbourne. I wonder if history has anything to do with it.
Fascism in Melbourne has been effectively subterranean since the failure of two rallies called by the ADL in 2011. The same far-right elements that were defeated in 2011 are trying to end their subterranean exile and establish a public movement. When they stick their heads up in public, they need to be opposed, disrupted, and sent packing. For this reason I’ll be joining others from the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism at Richmond Town Hall on Sunday.
I intend to participate in this and further counter-demonstrations, however it is important to note that counter-demonstrating is neither a complete nor sufficient strategy. The UK network Anti-Fascist Action wrote in 1995:
the working class is the natural constituency of socialism, not fascism. Racism and socialism are incompatible. One only exists at the expense of the other. The success of the Far-Right is due to the fact that the Left are not seen as a credible option
While the initial aim must be to root out the organised racists/fascists the motive force behind the attacks – and throw down a challenge to those that provide them with facilities, the long-term solution must be to create communities of resistance. By creating some space, perhaps in time a real working class alternative to the lying bullshit that now passes for politics in this country can emerge. The entire Left has failed the working class, black and white alike, though many prefer to believe that the working class has failed the Left.
The leaflet is called Filling the Vacuum and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone who is serious about opposing attempts by the far-right to organize in Australia.
With that in mind, it is also important that the public forum that Steve Jolly and others have called is supported.
Some Useful Resources
Know Your Nazi!, a spotters guide. List names and photos of people worth avoiding/looking out for.
A quick guide to staying safe and being effective: All out against Reclaim Australia, a guide prepared by Anarchist Affinity for the last ‘Reclaim Australia’ counter rally.
Activist Rights Handbook, Fitzroy Legal Service, essential reading for anyone engaged in public protest in Victoria.
Melbourne Street Medics Collective, tons of useful information for staying safe at a public protest.