The world would be much better off if certain leftists dared to stick their necks out and give full-throated resistance against imperialist aggression without prefacing it with umpteen excuses, extrications and disavowals designed to keep them in at least some of the good graces of ‘polite society’.
83 years ago, in the Battle of Cable Street, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts were bravely driven out of the East End by the united resistance of tens of thousands of Jews, trade unionists, and communists.
Mosley, who had hoped October 4 would be a day of reckoning that would win him the East End and get him closer to power, arrived with approximately 3,000 fascists, guarded by 6,000 police.
At the time, Stepney was the heart of Jewish London, with approximately 60,000 Jews living in the area, many of them having fled pogroms in Eastern Europe throughout the previous few decades. They built new lives despite the impact of the Great Depression. Mosley’s British Union of Fascists tried to capitalise on these same insufferable conditions for the working class, using Jews and communists as scapegoats. The march was to consolidate the support he’d started gaining in surrounding areas like Bethnal Green.
As the government refused to act, the Communist Party and other antifascist organisations joined thousands of Jews, Irish dockworkers, and trade unionists in driving the fascists from the East End. One of them, Max Levitas, died last year at age 103.
We will forever celebrate this example of antifascist unity, and remember the bravery of the people of the East End who succeeded in kicking the Blackshirts out of their neighbourhood. In the end, the fascists did not pass. As conditions for the working class worsen, we need to be vigilant and crush fascism wherever it tries to rear its head. We may well see another Cable Street, and, just like 83 years ago, they shall not pass.
More historical material on this topic, including Communist leaflets from the day of the battle, is available at https://cablestreet.uk