A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism
An activists’ history of the collective anti-fascist struggle in Britain
Large-scale confrontations, disruption of meetings, sabotage and street fighting have been part of the practice of anti-fascism from the early twentieth century until the twenty-first. Rarely endorsed by any political party, the use of collective bodily strength remains a strategy of activists working in alliances and coalitions against fascism.
In Physical Resistance famous battles against fascists, from the Olympia arena, Earls Court in 1934 and Cable Street in 1936 to Southall in 1978 and Bradford 2010, are told through the voices of participants. Anarchists, communists and socialists who belonged to a shifting series of anti-fascist organizations relate well-known events alongside many forgotten but significant episodes.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
- Physical Resistance provides a compelling account of the heroism that anti-fascism will often demand.
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- I interviewed Dave Hann several years ago after he had co-authored another book, a more personal memoir of his own experiences squaring up to the thugs of Combat 18 and the BNP in the north west of the 90s. Thoughtful and quietly spoken with his west country accent, he seemed came over as a decent and determined character. This determination clearly made it through to this book. Physical Resistance is a posthumously released work – Dave was suffering from the late stages of cancer as he was finishing the work before his tragic early death at the age of 48 in 2009 (a foreword to the book by his partner Louise recounts this in touching detail.) It should be noted that the last chapter on more recent mobilisations against the English Defence League is easily the weakest, a patchier portrait of a more strange and complex enemy – which proclaims non-racism while practicing its opposite. This is a reflection perhaps of Hann’s fading powers and his detachment from the anti-fascist movement in his final years. Taken as a whole however the book is a fine read, and a magnificent achievement.
Any Cop?: Even for those who would denounce the tactics and antics of Hann’s forbears and descendants, this is a fascinating insight into an untold side of British political and social history. ~ Ben Granger, BookMunch: http://bookmunch.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/evocative-social-history-physical-resistance-by-dave-hann/
- Combining scholarship with the knowledge that can only come from political experience this is a moving memorial to the late author and those who have fought fascism in Britain for almost a hundred years. Detailed accounts, eye witness testimony and a non-sectarian approach make this an engaging and fascinating account that should be read by activists and historians of all kinds. ~ Dr Hilda Kean, Author of London Stories, 2004 and editor of People and their Pasts, 2009. Former Dean, Ruskin College, Oxford
- This is real history from below. Dave Hann was an activist, and his own experience shone through as he talked to, and wrote about, the men and women who were at the sharp end of the struggle against fascism in Britain. A vital book. ~ Dr Brian Hanley, Co-author, The Lost Revolution, Penguin, 2009
- Physical Resistance moves across and between the usual organisational and Party lines to provide a comprehensive account of anti-Fascism that is given life through a wealth of activists’ own words. This gives Physical Resistance a real importance. It cuts through the usual divisive fragmented histories from within the movement.It brings together the literature from within specific elements of the struggle into a less partisan over-arching story through the strength of human experiences. What I particularly appreciated about Physical Resistance was the way in which Hann has used the personal accounts and activist memories. Rather than just providing their experience as evidence, Hann’s interviewees are allowed to demonstrate their own analysis of the relationship between ideas and context. ~ Dr Lucy Robinson, University of Sussex