New resource for anti-fascist scholars: Red Action Archive is now online

Red Action, principally known as the left-wing organisation that was behind the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) initiative of the 1980s and 1990s in the UK, have a revamped website that brings together many archival documents of the group and is a virtual treasure trove for scholars and activists interested in the history of anti-fascism and left-wing activism in Britain. Red Action was primarily started by a bunch of activists that were ousted (or resigned) from the Socialist Workers Party over the issue of physical confrontations with the National Front (and its various offshoots) in the early 1980s, after the winding down of the Anti-Nazi League. Beginning in 1982, the organisation began in the mould of the SWP, but over time grew to be more focused on autonomous and de-centralised activism, campaigning heavily on the issues of anti-fascist activities against the British National Party (and later Combat 18) and Irish Republicanism. In 1985, members of Red Action were central in setting up the AFA (but were by no means the only people involved in this campaign), which emphasised that to prevent the presence of fascists in working-class areas, anti-fascists needed to physically ‘control the streets’ . Red Action have been viewed as controversial in many accounts of anti-fascism in the 1980s and 1990s and their emphasis on physical confrontation of fascists (as well as their support for the IRA) divided many on the left. However a number of accounts have suggested that Red Action and the AFA were critical to the defeat of the BNP in the early 1990s (before the BNP’s shift towards electoral politics in the late 1990s) and the collapse of Combat 18.

Thus the new website is very important for those interested in the history of British anti-fascism, particularly as the website has uploaded scans of all issues of the journal Red Action, as well as numerous other internal documents – many of which have never been made public before. Incidentally the journal of the AFA was titled Fighting Talk and downloadable versions of that journal are available on the Anti-Fascist Archive website. The Anti-Fascist Archive also has numerous other primary documents on anti-fascism in the UK, as well as across Europe and North America, along with copies of academic studies of anti-fascism and hours of video footage on anti-fascist activism. The blog section of the Archive lists the new additions to the site, which is regularly updated.

So there you peoples, I suggest trawling through both websites and looking at some of the amazing archival documents to be found. You may even see some articles by myself on the latter!

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