I was recently asked why anarchists that take physical action against fascists were not just as bad as those they targeted. To illustrate my answer I’m going to I’m going to “scrub off the serial numbers” and describe three groups of political thought; in doing so I hope to demonstrate the need for a policy of “no platform” for fascists. I’m sure everyone here will know which group is which by the end, especially with the photos at the end of each blurb…
These are people who are willing to use violence, intimidation and oppressive behaviours to assert control and to press their politics forward. They usually target those on the margins of society and play upon ideas of racism, anti-semitism, islamophobia, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, anti-leftist rhetoric and the such. Group A will often plea that their political ideology is just like any other and is willing to abuse naive and misplaced notions of free speech to propagate their hate. However even on casual inspection of the theory and practice it can be clearly demonstrated that they are advocates (and if not current then the future purpitraitors) of violent and oppressive acts. As @ariel_silvera pointed out while playing Sonic: “There is no such thing as Group A organising peacefully”.
These are people who will use peaceful methods to put across their politics except in relation to Group A. Having understood the methods those in Group A will use, those in Group B realise that there is very little space for reason and that Group A must be prevented from having any public platform or place to organise from. Group B do not want this enforcement to come from an external body such as hired thugs or the state’s police force, but want to see communities make the concious decision to tackle Group A themselves. The state will often vilify Group B as they undermine the idea that the state holds a monopoly on violence and the legitimacy of speech. Arguments that the action Group B is willing to take makes them just as bad as Group A are ridiculous as the political ideologies of the two groups can be clearly demonstrated as being different.
This group states that everyone should be heard out in the “marketplace of ideas” and everyone should be given the opportunity to organise in the community, rejecting the ideas of providing no platform to certain ideologies. They will often give misplaced opinions about “freedom of speech”, “fairness” and “balance” while saying that the best way to tackle Group A is to allow them to be seen and heard for what they are. Members of Group C often don’t live in the same communities where Group A organises or don’t belong to the group currently targeted by Group A’s hate. If Group A became a threat then many in Group C will be able to keep their head down or even actively collaborate with A (perhaps with “regret”, perhaps not). As their behaviour pushes the political discourse closer and closer to the goals that Group A are aiming for, ultimately Group C can be seen as being problematic*.
* NB: I have some huge disagreements with the politics of Mao Tse-tung and parts of Combat Liberalism, but I’ll keep them for another day.