London Nail Bombs: against fascism and democracy

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The nail bombs planted in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho were vicious attacks aimed at terrorising the population. Such atrocities are typical of the vile ways that the servants of capitalism use in attempts to intimidate people and make them live in fear.

In denouncing this terrorist brutality we reject entirely any claim to sympathy from all those mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie who have rushed to deliver their condemnations as utter hypocrisy. Jack Straw said of the Soho bomb that "this is a terrible outrage committed by people with no humanity". William Hague said it was "appalling and barbaric". After the Brick Lane bomb John Tyndall of the extreme-right British National Party said that those responsible should be hanged.

What hypocrisy! Not just from Tyndall, but from all the other voices of the bourgeoisie. They pretend they care about what happens to people on the streets of London as British aircraft continue bombing raids on Iraq and Yugoslavia. We entirely reject any claims from the bourgeoisie that it has 'sympathy' with the victims of the atrocities - whether in London, Belgrade or Baghdad. We remind the working class in Britain particularly that the British bourgeoisie, with a long history as "people with no humanity", has been at the forefront of the development and sale of armaments, particularly in the fields of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

The British bourgeoisie also has a long history of using fascism to justify its actions. During the Second World War the 'fight against fascism' and the 'defence of democracy' were used in the mobilisation in the Allied countries against the Axis powewers. Today, with the bombing of Iraq and Yugoslavia, Saddam and Milosevic are portrayed as dictatorial, anti-democratic figures who pursue the same sort of policies as Hitler with their persecution of, respectively, the Kurds and the Kosovan Albanians.

On the 'home front' the propaganda against the nail bombers doesn't only focus on their disgusting weapons, it depicts them as enemies of democracy. In the immediate aftermath of the Soho bombing the Labour Left, in particular, used their antifascist credentials in the defence of the capitalist state. Paul Boateng denounced those who were intent on attacking democracy and insisted that no one could be allowed to overthrow the democratic capitalist state. Ken Livingstone called for the beefing up of the state and the reorientation of the security services. They all made it quite clear that anyone who challenged bourgeois democracy - not just fascists - would be subject to the full force of the capitalist state.

Who benefits from the bombs?

In WR 222 we wrote about the use of the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and how the bourgeoisie would use its report to strengthen the police and other parts of the state's apparatus of repression. It is useful to recall the very first of the inquiry's 70 recommendations which expressed the need of the bourgeoisie "to increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities".

In the aftermath of the first two nail bombs there was a widespread increase in overt policing. The complaints of liberals and 'community leaders' against the police were that they have not done enough, that they didn't do anything to prevent the Brick Lane bomb after warnings were received, that they have done more following Jill Dando's murder than they ever did when Stephen Lawrence was killed. When asked to adopt a higher profile the police don't need to be asked twice. But the strengthening of the state doesn't only mean increasing the number of police in the street. It has also meant drawing attention to the more than a million CCTV cameras watching public spaces in Britain. In addition, the police, their various liaison committees and their allies among 'community leaders' have appealed for people to be "eyes and ears" for the police.

So, the repressive powers of the capitalist state have gained the most from the nail bomb campaign. What then of the various fascist groups that have been blamed or claimed responsibility for the bombs, such as Combat 18 and its split-off the White Wolves? Combat 18 - a splinter from the BNP - was lead for some time by a Special Branch informer. From the first claims concerning the Brixton bomb there has been much coverage concerning the infiltratation of fascist groups by security services, Special Branch, Searchlight magazine etc. The press talk of 'infiltration', but the example of Northern Ireland show what that amounts to in practice. Various trials of loyalist 'infiltrators' have shown that the security services' agents are not passive observers but actually call the shots. The most dramatic example of the work of British government agents was the co-ordination in 1974 of the loyalist bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan which brought the worst carnage in the last 30 years in Ireland. This ensured the strengthening of repressive powers in the Irish Republic.

In Britain we do not need to delve too deep into the murky world of the fascist right to see that the degree of state infiltration probably means a high degree of state control of nazi groups. Today nail bombs have been used to intimidate and frighten the population and to strengthen the democratic state. The apparatus of the state is being prepared, above all, for future repression against the working class, its struggles and revolutionary minorities. The terrorism of the fascists and the repressive powers of the democratic state are two complimentary weapons of decadent capitalism. Bo 1/5/99