Cable St & why it is important to remember history
The Battle of Cable St took place 80 years ago on 4th October 1936 and there will be events to mark the anniversary this coming weekend.
Why remember it?
After all the media in particular is full of pieces remembering anniversaries of events and occasions. Not all of what is printed or posted is that historically accurate and a good deal of it is not particularly enlightening. We might call it an anniversary culture.
Of course as an historian I contribute to it myself though I do try and look at events that are less well remembered either because they are genuinely obscure (but hopefully of interest) or because they present awkward questions for the present.
The 80th anniversary of Cable St probably falls into the latter category. You won’t find too many today who will argue that it was wrong for people to go on the streets to stop Mosley’s fascists from trying to hold a provocative march through Jewish areas of the East End. Nor will you find that many who will agree that the police were right to have a mass mobilisation themselves to try (and fail) to force the Mosleyites through the anti-fascist crowd.
Yet while Mosley & Co are long gone these battles have to be re-fought in each generation. People had and have to go on the streets to oppose the National Front, the BNP, and the EDL. Sometimes fascists marches are banned by the authorities (often ineffectually as they still turn up anyway) and there is no shortage of people to be found claiming that those who physically oppose fascists are just as bad as the fascists themselves.
Cable St was a which side are you on event and what happened underlines that taking sides between those who would take us towards barbarism and those who want a better world is important.
Below is a useful piece that historian David Rosenberg wrote on the 75th anniversary of Cable St
80th anniversary event on 9th October