What’s right, and what’s wrong

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Well, my wrist is well and truly slapped. Cap’n Jako’s parting shot in this post to the silent Paintbrushers is scathing indeed. In my defence, I do have a real job in my non-internet existence.

It’s now three weeks since two regions of the UK voted to have Fascists represent them in the European Parliament, and I wanted to reflect on the attitudes displayed towards the BNP by many on the centre right.

It’s common to come across comments on right-wing blogs like these:

I am totally fed up of the description of the BNP as a right wing party. They are not, they are extreme LEFT WING SOCIALISTS.

The BNP are (despite what the media says) a hard left party

According to most right-wingers, including Melanie Phillips and Tim Montgomerie, the BNP are a left-wing party.

…get rid of other far-left parties, such as the BNP (read their economic policy, they are far left)

…and here’s Iain Dale, Donal Blaney, and Dizzy Thinks all on the same topic.

This is not only peculiar, it’s ignorant and completely ahistorical.

It’s ignorant because it’s all predicated on the notion that “left wing” equates to “statist”, and “right wing” equates to the opposite, and are almost exclusively defined on economic grounds.

This may be a useful heuristic in some limited circumstances, but says who? Just because sites like Political Compass give you a left-right score on your “economic” beliefs and a libertarian-authoritarian score on your “social” beliefs, doesn’t mean that it’s speaking ex cathedra.

The BNP’s economic policy does support a number of positions shared by some on the political left, and is characterized by an opposition to Free Trade – but isn’t the important thing here why they believe in this?

They believe in restricting economic freedom not because they wish to protect workers from capitalists, but because they want to protect white Britons from “threats” from other countries and from immigrants.

This conflicts directly with the vital class solidarity and internationalist values which are sines qua non of socialists everywhere.

This is to say little about the fact that, until fairly recently, it was Conservatives who opposed Free Trade and believed in a Tariff, and it was liberals and left-wingers who opposed them.

Also – and more fundamentally – who really cares what the BNP’s bloody economic policy is? It’s not as if people vote for them to sort out the economic crisis. People vote for them because they perceive a problem with the way that immigration and race relations policy are being handled.

The BNP see the important divisions in society as being primarily racial – socialists don’t. Socialists think that the key divisions in society are concerned with wealth, ownership, power and opportunity distribution. Socialists don’t draw distinctions between those in need: Fascists say that people of one race are deserving of help, and that those of others aren’t. The BNP are Fascists.

They shall not pass

They shall not pass

The second reason is a complete ignorance of history. The BNP are the direct inheritors of a Fascist tradition in the UK dating back to Mosley’s blackshirts, via the National Front. The BNP’s founder, John Tyndall, was an ardent Hitler admirer and Nazi uniform fetishist.

The intellectual antecendents of the BNP are the 20th century practitioners of Fascism – Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. In each instance, it was the political left who opposed them; both the democratic and Communist left managed to form united fronts against Fascism.

In the UK, at Cable Street in the East End – where some of my Paintbrush comrades recently undertook a walking tour sneakily arranged for a weekend when I was away – Communists and Socialists repelled Fascists under the unified call “they shall not pass”.

It was also the right – including many Conservatives – who espoused anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the 20th Century.

Compare any 1970s Monday Club pamphlet with a modern BNP leaflet, and you’ll be hard pressed to find the difference: they even had a Repatriation Committee, devoted to policy on sending non-white immigrants back to their countries of ethnic origin.

It was interesting also to review the race issue on the BBC’s recent rerun of the 1979 election night coverage – a theme throughout the night was the collapse in support for the National Front, with the strong impression being given by the Beeb’s commentators that Thatcher had made deliberate efforts to dog-whistle anti-immigration messages at voters who would otherwise have gone to the NF.

In fairness to the Tories, recent leaders have made genuine efforts to purge these elements from their Parliamentary and voluntary party (and rightly so). Monday Club membership is now banned, for example, and has been since 2001.

But the Tories cannot just leave their past behind so easily and replace the political goalposts. If Fascism is what its says on the tin, it belongs firmly on the extreme right.

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3 Responses to “What’s right, and what’s wrong”

  1. captainjako Says:

    Absolutely stonking post. Good to have you back. I will now moderate my efforts to force vegetarianism upon you all.

    “In my defence, I do have a real job in my non-internet existence.”

    I take that a personal attack aimed at my unemployability and the fact that I primarily exist on the internet.

  2. manofkent86 Says:

    Excellent work as ever old boy! Most informative to a poor law-student, deprived of info on the left-right distinction.

  3. Conservative la-la land: the top seven fictions swollowed by the right « Frank Owen’s Paintbrush Says:

    […] = Lefties. This one is guaranteed to get me going. I’m not going to rehash all of what I’ve said before, but it’s a laughably simplistic abomination of political history and political philosophy to […]

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