Twice this year, the busy street outside Melbourne’s Magistrates Court was an unusual scene. People on their way to work saw Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) holding a speakout among colourful banners and placards and chanting anti-fascist slogans at arriving neo-Nazis. All this was happening amidst a heavy presence of media and police.
Three prominent fascists, Blair Cottrell, Neil Erikson and Chris Shortis, face charges of “serious religious vilification” and property damage related to a violent racist stunt in 2015. Parodying Arabic Muslims, they beheaded a dummy and threw the “bloodied” head against the wall of Bendigo City Council. The United Patriots Front was trying to set down roots in this rural Victorian city, where a battle had been raging over the construction of a mosque.
These Hitlerites intend to use the court as a stage from which to spread their poisonous ideology and build a fascist movement. They present themselves as martyrs for free speech. The State, they say, is using the charges to silence them as part of a conspiracy to suppress “Australian values.” They’ve called on “patriots” to form a “guard of honour” at each court appearance.
This is demagoguery, learned from their Nazi hero. Hitler used nationalism to appeal to struggling volk of the German “master race.” His scapegoating of Jews, socialists and unionists for Germany’s post-war misery divided and critically weakened the working class. The potential for revolt was quashed. Nazism came to power — and ruthlessly crushed workers’ power — because the socialist and trade union movements did not unite to stop it.
This is why we have to confront and expose the neo-Nazis, wherever they show themselves. An anti-fascist united front of today’s scapegoats — Muslims, immigrants, unionists, LGBTIQ people, women, First Nations and people of colour — can stop them. The State will not. Instead, it will use its expanding authority — new police powers, criminalising homelessness, and establishing anti-union courts like the Australian Building and Construction Commission — against us.
CARF is mobilising for the next court appearance on 4 September. Contact Freedom Socialist Party or Radical Women for details.