The PJ Tatler

The Return of the Ideological Street Brawler

Who were the White Supremacists who were attacked at a Tinley Park restaurant in Chicago? The Sun Times reported that in the middle of the lunch on rush Saturday “a waitress screamed a fight had broken out in the dining room.”

Police call the melee at the restaurant a targeted assault by a mob that Winston said wielded metal batons and hammers. Ten diners were hurt in the attack, and three of those were hospitalized …

Tinley Park police had five suspected assailants in custody, and Winston said 18 young men, all wearing hooded jackets and obscuring their faces with scarves and other coverings, stormed into the restaurant.

The Chicago Tribune now says that the targeted group were “white supremacists”.

Mayor Ed Zabrocki said police believe the attackers were from a group called Anti-Racist Action, which on its website described the assault as a strike against a gathering of white supremacists.

The law enforcement source said the victims included several people with ties to a white supremacist group. Zabrocki said that was his understanding, too, but that police were still trying to clarify those links …

Restaurant owner Mike Winston said the group that was attacked had made a reservation, saying they were from an Irish heritage association.

There is some confusion about who exactly was attacked during the incident.  NBC Chicago now reports that “men with bats and hammers stormed into a Tinley Park restaurant and began attacking those gathered for a wedding shower.”

“They came running through and they started hitting people with bats and hammers,” said 22-year-old Lauryn Drozd from Georgia. The event, at the Ashford House Restaurant on 159th Street, was a wedding shower for her brother’s fiancée, she said.

Just who were the assailants?  Wikipedia describes the Anti-Racist Action group as “a decentralized network of anti-fascist and anti-racists in North America. ARA activists organize actions to disrupt neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, and help organize activities against fascist and racist ideologies. ARA groups also oppose sexism, homophobia, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and the pro-life movement. ARA originated from the skinhead and punk subcultures.”

According to Intelwire, some of those attacked may have been “members of the National Socialist Movement, American Third Position … the attackers wore black hoodies, which white nationalists have been reading as an intentional reference to the Trayvon Martin case.”

Street fighting between ideological street gangs was a feature of pre-Nazi Germany. Apart from the Communist and Nazi paramilitary units, there was also an anacho-syndicalist strain whose traditions survive to this day.

While the brawl on Tinley Park may be an isolated incident, repeats of this affray would be a disturbing indicator of a society which extrmist elements consider “up for grabs”. Leon Trotsky, writing in 1934, put it succinctly:

Nothing increases the insolence of the fascists so much as “flabby pacificism” on the part of the workers’ organizations. Nothing so destroys the confidence of the middle classes in the working-class as temporizing, passivity, and the absence of the will to struggle …

But what is this “mass self-defense” without combat organizations, without specialized cadres, without arms? To give over the defense against fascism to unorganized and unprepared masses left to themselves would be to play a role incomparably lower than the role of Pontius Pilate. To deny the role of the militia is to deny the role of the vanguard. Then why a party? Without the support of the masses, the militia is nothing. But without organized combat detachments, the most heroic masses will be smashed bit by bit by the fascist gangs. It is nonsense to counterpose the militia to self-defense. The militia is an organ of self-defense.

As for the White Supremacists, Fox Chicago reports that “they planned to have lunch at the Ashford House restaurant, 7959 W. 159th St, Tinley Park. Their internet postings refer to a ‘5th Annual White Nationalist Economic Summit.’ Not clear is whether they chose this weekend and this suburban Chicago location as some sort of response to the NATO Summit in Chicago.”

What could go wrong with NATO, Occupy, the Anti-Racist Action and National Socialists converging on Chicago?

One of the great ironies of the media’s focus on the “Tea Party threat” is that it ignored the long standing an actual sources ideological violence in favor of demonizing a chimera. Yet the real demons never died. Albert Camus reflected on the apparent end of European extremism in his novel, the Plague.

And indeed, as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux re­membered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.