Racism and the Far Right

Rock Against Racism (RAR) was a political and cultural movement that originated in 1976 in Britain. A reactionary movement in nature, RAR waged a political war against the neo-Nazi National Front that gained increasingly significant political support. RAR were cultural activists that utilised carnivals, gigs and clubs as a nuanced political platform. They aimed to unite all races through the power of music and discourage racism.

The National Front formed in 1967 was a political party in Britain that was strongly opposed to immigration, improved race relations and multiculturalism which had 20,000 members by the mid 1970s. Enoch Powells ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968 further encouraged racist feeling.

The RAR movement founded by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and Pete Bruno amongst others. According to Huddle the stimulus that led to the RAR was musician Eric Clapton’s atrocious statement that England had “become overcrowded” and that they should vote for Powell to stop Britain becoming “a black colony”. He also professed to the audience that we must “get the foreigners out, get the dogs out, get the coons out”. He shouted the National Front slogan “Keep Britain White”. This was a crucial turning point that produced a powerful political wave of anti-racist campaigners that waged a war against the discrimination that was deep-seated into British culture.

RAR rose alongside punk within Britain and the anger punk evoked RAR included within their performances to emphasis the wrongs of racist sentiment. The London based group sent out assistance to fans such as band contacts and posters in order to allow them to set up multiple RAR gigs to spread the message. A year later, with increased popularity and awareness, RAR was combined their efforts with the Anti Nazi League to produce a mass movement that staged a powerful march and carnival in Victoria Park, London.

RAR endowed a powerful legacy : worldwide they inspired the production of anti-racist music enthusiasts to produced concerts, festivals and rallies in support of multi-culturalism to limit and restrict any re-enchroachment of racist fascist hatred.

Based on Goodyer, Ian. Crisis Music: The Cultural Politics of Rock Against Racism. Manchester University Press, 2009. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155j54w.

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