What unfolded in Charlottesville makes a whole history of anti-fascist punk music as relevant as ever.
Oi Polloi is an anarcho-punk band from Edinburgh, Scotland, which formed in 1981. Their album, “In Defense Of Our Earth” (1990) featured “Nazi Scum,” which urged resistance against Nazis, especially those who come to rally in any local town.
A riff underlines the music, which intensifies until around forty seconds into the song when Deek Allen shouts, “Standing outside the primary school gates / With their leaflets stirring up race hate / Creeping round in the dead of night / Setting innocent people’s houses alight.”
Anti-fascists are celebrated in the song for coming from “all around” to clear the “scum completely off the streets.” The Nazis tried to gather in Hyde Park. “Anti-fascists again made their mark.”
“We must clear the streets of Nazi scum / Make them safe again for everyone,” Allen roars. The refrain of the song is “Nazi scum – your time will come.”
As recounted in Ian Glasper’s “The Day The Country Died: Anarcho-Punk 1980-1984,” Oi Polloi had several “run-ins with Nazis in several countries. Typically, this led to the “fash,” or fascists, “getting a kicking thanks to locals.”
“When we played in Tallinn in Estonia, it was a very close thing,” Allen recalls. “We were lucky to get out of it in one piece. We were touring with these Finnish bands at the time and had been put on the bill with them and a bunch of Estonian bands, who we didn’t know anything about. Well, we watched some of the bands, including a local punk band who were good and some local rock and roll band, and then went out to our bus to cook up some food. When we came back the Finns told us, ‘You’re not gonna believe this! They just had some fucking Nazi skinhead band play, with songs like ‘Niggers Back To The Jungle’! And, sure enough, when we looked around, we could see that a whole bunch of dodgy-looking bonehead fuckers had come in.”
“It was a pretty fucked up situation, ‘cos we were totally outnumbered in a strenge country, but we decided to go on and speak out about how fucked up fascism and racism are, and so, between every song we gave it all the standard stuff about how they would be the first to go if the fash ever got into power, how the real enemy wasn’t ‘the Jews controlling the government,’ as some of these idiots had been claiming, but the rich etc. etc.”
“Well, anyway, after a few numbers, these two boneheads came up to me and said, ‘You say you are against Nazis?’ And I said, ‘Yeah,’ and explained why, to which they responded, ‘Well, we are Nazis!” At which point, I lost patience and just said, ‘Well, you better fuck off then!”
Allen adds, “They hit me in the face, I hit them back with the mike stand, and it all kicked off, with us having to try to fight our way out of the venue with absolutely no help from any of the local audience, who seemed to think that this was all part of the entertainment.”
“In fact, the only folk who lifted a finger to help us were the two ethnic Russian bar owners, these two Josef Stalin look-a-likes in their fifties who produced these lumps of wood from behind the bar and laid into the Nazi fuckers. As none of us are ‘hard men,’ we were really lucky to get out of there.”