In a recent interview Brighton based artist Nick Cave had a rant about what he describes as ‘woke culture’. It is presently very fashionable for rich men over the age of fifty to sneer at right-on millennials. So to see him jumping on the band wagon came as little surprise and was greeted with a mixture of mild disagreement and indifference. However Cave went on to say this:
“Antifa and the Far Right, for example, with their routine street fights, role-playing and dress-ups are participants in a weirdly erotic, violent and mutually self-sustaining marriage, propped up entirely by the blind, inflexible convictions of each other’s belief systems. It is good for nothing, except inflaming their own self-righteousness.
Some of us, for example, are of the generation that believed that free speech was a clear-cut and uncontested virtue, yet within a generation this concept is seen by many as a dog-whistle to the Far Right, and is rapidly being consigned to the Left’s ever-expanding ideological junk pile.”
While we expect this kind of garbage from reactionary old losers like Morrissey, Cave by comparison has always come across as an educated individual who understood his subjects before opening his mouth. So these comments come as a bit of a shock.
Firstly even an extremely basic knowledge of the ANTIFA tactic will tell you that it is primarily a rearguard action. Anti fascists are only ever seen on the streets as a response to far right activity. Most of those involved with both local and national ANTIFA groups come from a very broad range of political backgrounds that unite under a common purpose of stopping the growth of the of the far right. People do not risk arrest, imprisonment and injury through choice. Anti fascism is not a hobby. Most of those whom attend are primarily involved in other campaigning activity be it social, political or environmental and would much rather be committing their time and energy to those movements. Unfortunately history tells us that when fascism and nazism is left unchecked it expands at a rapid rate with the ultimate goal of killing all free speech in its entirety.
Had Mr Cave bothered to venture out of his front door during the highly successful mobilisations against the fascist EDL/March for England a few years ago he would have witnessed a broad cross section of his local community engaged in largely peaceful and ultimately successful resistance against a bunch of bullying racist thugs. Those counter protests were a benchmark of inclusive local organisation that rid the town of an extremely nasty annual event which attracted some of the most brazen Nazis in the UK. There was no “role playing” or “dress ups” some activists choose to cover their faces out of concern for their safety and the safety of their families. Unlike ANTIFA and similar groups the far right have a long and proven track record of attacking their opponents in their homes and threatening their associates and work places.
Secondly the last person to suggest that ANTIFA and fascists were in a “mutually self-sustaining marriage” or as equal to each other was Donald Trump after the murder of anti fascist Heather Heyer during violent protests by the far right in Charlottesville. To equate people who send letter bombs and shoot up synagogues with those who are known for using their fists and chucking rocks would be laughable were it not coming from people with such large audiences.
In other news Cave has announced yet another gig in Tel Aviv in defiance of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign that seeks to peacefully stop the state of Israel from violating the human rights of the Palestinians. It is not like he needs the money. His reply to an open letter by Roger Waters and others the last time he did this was yet another mixture of arrogant and clueless. Is he really on a mission to undermine the vast amounts of respect and goodwill that his art has generated over so many years?
by Guy Smallman