38: Socialists in Congress; David Renton on Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League

This week we talk to British socialist David Renton about the history of Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League. RaR and the ANL were a cultural and protest movement against the rise of the National Front in Britain in the 1970’s. Renton contends that these movements played a decisive role in preventing the rise of fascism in Britain, while similar movements took root in France.

David Renton is a British historian and activist, a member of the socialist group RS21 and author of the book, Never Again: Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976-1982 (http://bit.ly/RentonANL). We talk to him about the importance of the contestation for culture, particularly around punk music, and the role that RaR played in that. He describes some of the key turning points of anti-fascist mobilization and the creation of the ANL. We discuss what lessons we can draw for the movement against a resurgent right today.

In our opener, we talk about socialists Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they prepare to take office. We discuss the ways in which they are challenging politics as usual, raising expectations and opening up possibilities, while also exploring the constraints imposed by the Democratic Party and how socialists can take advantage of this moment.

Links for our interview

*You can buy David’s book here (http://bit.ly/RentonANL)

*David also blogs at his website lives;running where he frequently discusses politics and especially the new movements against the right in Britain (http://bit.ly/LivesRunning)

*In this piece re-published at Socialist Worker, David makes the case for a militant movement that directly confronts the fascists and examines different trajectories within the movement in Britain

*Today’s episode is being released on December 10 as part of a contribution to the call for a day of action against fascism and racism (http://bit.ly/Dec10Action)

Links for our intro

*You can listen to our assessment of AOC’s election victory in episode 17 of this podcast (http://bit.ly/BOREp17)

*You can read analysis of the November elections at Socialist Worker by Todd Chretien (http://bit.ly/ChretienElections), Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (http://bit.ly/KeeangaElections), Alan Maass (http://bit.ly/MaassElections) and the editorial staff (http://bit.ly/EditorialElections)

*In episode 34 (http://bit.ly/LanceSelfa), we interviewed Lance Selfa about the midterm elections. Lance is the author of The Democrats: A Critical History, which is available from Haymarket Books (http://bit.ly/LanceHaymarket).

Music for this episode

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)

Gang Of Four, “Why Theory?”

Sham 69, “If The Kids Are United”

The Specials, “Ghost Town”

Steel Pulse, “Jah Pickney (R.A.R.)”

The Selecter, “On My Radio”

Elvis Costello, “Less Than Zero”