“We must rely on the state to contend with fascists!” liberals will tell you. “To fight bigotry and fascism, we have to give the authorities the legal powers to combat them for us!” they say. So what happens when a state has the legal authority to decide whether a political group has the right to exist in society? Who will the state wield that power against?
If you’re an anarchist or if you live in Lyon then you already know the answer.
The French state reserves for itself the right to ban or “dissolve” any group it deems to be “extremist.” The dissolution laws have been criticized by radical, extremist organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for their incompatibility with French republican values like freedom of association.
Wrong. Last month Groupe Antifasciste Lyon et Environs (GALE) were informed that the state had dissolved them. Their rationale? GALE had been involved in a concert months before where a hiphop artist performed got the crowd to join in chanting “toute le monde detestes les flics!” (“everybody hates the police!”). That was literally all it took for the state to target GALE and ultimately declare them dissolved. This is the first time we have heard of an anti-fascist group being “dissolved” by the state.
If you think being an antifascist is tough where you live, try doing it in the country that’s been called “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Recently, a dozen antifascists in Mozyr, Belarus found out just how tough that is when police raided their homes and arrested them. Two – Kita and Xvedia – remain locked up, while the others were released pending trial, after having their phones seized by the state. Their alleged “crimes?” Advocating against the Ukraine invasion, being against the Belrussian police, sharing links and videos from anarchist groups, and (of course) criticizing Lukashenko’s brutal regime. Now they face up to five years in prison!
Apparently in Fortress Europe, establishing blockades that effectively become death traps that kill tens of thousands of refugees is not a crime, but protesting this atrocity is a crime, which is why ten of the Stop The War On Migrants activists were charged and now have to defend themselves in court after defending the lives of migrants. They need help with their legal costs and the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was able to send some support to them. If you’d like to also help these activists who are now bearing the costs of defending the very lives of migrants, you can also contribute to their legal defence here.
Even though most Greeks came to understand the necessity and urgency of resisting Golden Dawn’s fascist violence, doing so came with consequences, including legal consequences (which was to be expected, given the high level of support for Golden Dawn among Greek police). Recently, friends in West Attica asked for some help paying off the legal fines and costs of ten antifascists who have been on the frontlines of the fight against Golden Dawn. We were happy to provide them with direct support with this, for which our friends there expressed their gratitude, telling us that “the money was a huge relief for our comrades who are financially struggle to cover their legal expenses.”