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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

So just how ‘anti-fascist’ are the anti-fascists?

I read an article describing confrontations between the fascist EDL and ‘anti-fascist’ protesters in the aftermath of the recent Woolwich atrocity. Ok, Marxist collectivists confronting non-Marxist collectivists, very much a row-within-the-family it seems… “Yah Boo Sucks! Our identity politics are better than your identity politics!”

But I have a question… were these fine anti-fascists also out in force when Islamic fascists were marching in London calling for the imposition of Sharia law?

Just curious, does anyone actually know?

68 comments to So just how ‘anti-fascist’ are the anti-fascists?

  • Mr Ed

    The Berlin Wall was the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier’. That is all that you need to know about the term ‘Anti-Fascist’.

  • Snorri Godhi

    No, Mr. Ed: you also need to know which side the “fascists” were supposed to be.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri, you may have a point. I did see goose-steeping in Berlin, but only on the Eastern side of the crumbling Wall. Not that a Prussian tradition equates to a political viewpoint, but it does rather create an impression of menace and absurdity in one fell swoop.

  • James Strong

    There’s a good joke over on the Sickipedia website, slightly cleaned up here;

    The lefty students at my uni used to think I was a right fascist because I’m racist, homophobic, misogynistic and I advocate the oppression of those who are a different religion to me.
    But now I have a beard and wear sandals, so they don’t mind any more.

  • Paul Marks

    The “anti Fascists” seem blissfully unaware of the Fascist and National Socialist origins of their own anti big business and “Green” language and demands. The “Progressive” education system (and Hollywood) teach them that the “Corporate State” of Mussolini was “business in charge of government” – it was the exact opposite. Just as with German “War Socialism” during the First World War (France was also engaged in total war, but government policy was fundemenally different in Facne in France – thus showing the importance of ideas) and with National Socialism in 1930s Germay, in Fascist Italy of Mussolini it was the STATE that was in charge of business (not the other way round).

    Of course Mussolini was a Marxist heretic (someone who mixed Marxism with other ideas in a way that was not officially approved by the senior priests of the Marxist faith) so discredting him was an important goal for Marxist agitprop – and what better way to discredit Mussolini (and Hitler also) than to pretend they were tools of “the rich” and of “big business”. This campaign of lies continues to this day.

    As does the use by the “anti Fascists” of “Green” and “anti big business” language that was invented by the very Fascists and National Socialists they claim to oppose.

  • Johnnydub

    Whilst no fan of the EDL, its regularly the UAF that kicks off the trouble when the EDL marches; remember their response to the Nick Griffin Question Time appearance. But seeing as David Cameron, which all his exquisite judgement, is a supporter of the UAF, they have a veneer of respectability that that left rent-a mob really shouldn’t have…

  • llamas

    I’m old enough to remember the original Anti-Nazi League, Rock Against Racism, And So Forth. No Platform for Racists or Fascists! Right On!

    As I recall, all of these organizations had a healthy streak of totalitarianism in them – a small coterie of right-on leaders carefully managing a huge following of rather vaguely-motivated young people.

    I do recall one rather-loathsome young man, who stepping-stoned from the Union of my alma-mater into the ANL, and whose predeliction for bedding starry-eyed young followers was well-known – to say the least. His star was dimmed rather after he was Sussed by the rozzers in the Elephant and Castle and, when confronted with his Old Holborn tin filled with not-Old Holborn, rolled over on his companions in a heartbeat. Naturally, he was able to construct a dialectic in which his craven act was actually revolutionary and furthered The Cause to no end.

    Ditching your principles like used dishwater when faced with something that may actually affect your life? Yeah, that still seems to be the hallmark of the ‘anti-fascists’. Scuffling in the streets with some useless handful of powerless dimwits – today, it’s the EDL, in my day, it was the National Front, but the same handful of laughable clowns – sure, they can be relied on for that. Thousands of Islamists in the streets, looting and burning, calling for death for teh gayers and slavery for wimmin – where’s yer ‘anti-fascists’ now, eh?

    llater,

    llamas

  • James Waterton

    Small Dead Animals:

    When the communists show up to protest the Nazis, you’re supposed to pray for an asteroid, not take sides.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Perry,

    How bad would it be if the EDL gets its way? I tried looking at the EDL manifesto.
    http://englishdefenceleague.org/home/about-us/faqs

    Nowhere does it state support for a socialist society. Many of the points they make are eminently sensible ones.

    Unless you imply that there are hidden agendas the EDL has, one that is shared by a majority of its supporters. I guess such ‘hidden agendas’ could be said of any right-wing party. Heck, many of the same charges tossed at the EDL are tossed at UKIP.

    So what makes you so sure UKIP does not have the same hidden agendas as the EDL? I’m sure they share many of the same goals, and most EDL supporters would probably vote for the UKIP instead of the newly founded BFP.

  • How bad would it be if the EDL gets its way? I tried looking at the EDL manifesto.

    That seems rather credulous. Gassing Jews was not in the NSDAP manifesto either.

    This is a party of racial supremacists and having met a few supporters of the EDL, you will find it very hard to convince me otherwise. Their choice of boot-boy iconography speaks volumes about their political ancestry too.

    I am all for opposing Islamic extremists, up to and in excess of throwing bricks at them if need be as I quite frankly opposed to anything-that-is-political which is informed by Islam, what with Islam being a totalitarian ideology. But to update a quip I made some years ago and have been often quoted for, “turning to Fascism for fear of Communism Islamism is like suicide for fear of death”.

    I also know many UKIP members and clearly they are *not* racial supremacists, at least the ones I have met… which is rather a lot. Many are nationalists in a way I am not but the differences are very obvious vis a vis the EDL.

  • bloke in spain

    Having read the post & then taken a cruise around the EDL’s website, I must confess to being totally bemused. Has the writer been spending too much time hanging around the Student Union bar at Essex University? I’m pretty sure I’ve got a fair grasp of fascist political philosophy but their site doesn’t mention any of it. With their references to ties with other European groups with similar aims, they don’t even seem to be particularly nationalist. They’re just not very keen on some aspects of Muslim culture being practiced in the UK.
    So why label them fascists? You don’t have to be fascist to be racist. I’m not sure you have to be racist to be fascist. There’s aspects of the modern Left, , who are most of the way there, who obsess about the slightest hint of racism. Is the word just being used as an insult?

  • but their site doesn’t mention any of it

    No! Really? Well I never! ;)

    With their references to ties with other European groups with similar aims, they don’t even seem to be particularly nationalist.

    Huh? So then the collaboration between German, Hungarian, Italian and Spanish fascists in the 1930’s and 40’s indicates those fellahs were not particularly nationalistic either I assume?

    So why label them fascists?

    Because they are, um, fascists, or at least ‘fascistic’ by any reasonable definition? They are just not Nazis, who were but a subset of fascism…so EDL folks can be, for example, indifferent to or even supportive of Israel (as indeed some are and logically should be, given that Israel has some of the ‘ethnic state’ characteristics they wish Britain to have… and Israel is obviously rather poorly disposed towards radical Islam and thus should indeed be the EDL’s poster child state).

    But if you ever watched a collection of EDL guys wandering down the street (I did yesterday and in retrospect should have taken some pictures), the bovver boot political lineage is hard to miss. They mostly seemed rather less scruffy than the UAF nosepickers opposing them :D

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    It’s a bit of a pity really with the EDL. Right back when they were starting out it looked like they might actually be a decent organisation. Those first few protests they held were remarkable in their dignity and restraint – and in the face of seeming provocation from the police in terms of how they policed the demos and the media in terms of the sorts of reporting they did and leading questions they were asking.

    But it didn’t last. In the first few demos you see working class dads and mums there with their kids, and a surprising amount of Sikhs and Hindus. But very quickly that changed to a sea of skinheads. I guess they found themselves attracting the wrong kinds of people. I think some of the less hardcore skinheads viewed the EDL as a BNP-lite and were attracted to it accordingly. They seem to have overrun the EDL now.

    I guess there is no real way to found an anti-Islam organisation with open membership and for this not to happen. It is certainly possible to be an anti-Islam individual who can be relied on to act responsibly. But I don’t think the same can be said to be true for an anti-Islam organisation.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry: “turning to Fascism for fear of Communism is like suicide for fear of death”

    As a matter of fact, the Finns “turned to fascism” (i.e. took advantage of the nazi regime), and survived.
    At the same time, the Brits and Americans “turned to communism” (i.e. supported Stalin) for fear of fascism, and they survived too.
    It’s all about knowing how to play one side against the other. Kurosawa’s Yojimbo shows this very well … but don’t try this at home.

  • Paul

    It’s a little bit rich to sneer that people only stood up against one type of fascist when you didn’t stand up at all.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri, the Finns did not turn to Fascism, they were co-belligerents with the Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians and Italians against the Soviets 25th Jun 1941 until 1944, when they joined the Allies, having been at war with the UK, Australia and New Zealand (Canada I think) but not the USA. The Finnish rue of law ended with the Allied Control Commission, Soviets with a few Brits tagging along.

    Perry, Salazar was a fascist in my book, but he got through the 1930s and 40s without the nonsense seen ‘east’ of the Guadiana.

    On a point of information, are any Christian denominations ”anti-Islam”?

  • It’s a little bit rich to sneer that people only stood up against one type of fascist when you didn’t stand up at all.

    Actually I have stood up against all manner of fascists, communists, socialist and assorted totalitarian -ists, both in my writing and in rather more direct ways over the years.

  • Mr Ed

    I have long regarded Michael Heseltine as a democrat who is a purely economic fascist, no nationalism and not much chauvinism, apart, perhaps, from a disdain for American helicopter manufacturers. I doubt that he would agree that the policies he seems to advocate, (was it an 80 point plan recently?) would be fascist, but perhaps he would say dirigiste.

    To get too excited about fascism is a sorry state of affairs. The patterns on the snakes differ, but the strength of the venom, and the behaviours are more important distinctions.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    So I guess when the skinheads support UKIP (if they have not already done so) you guys will start abandoning it, or start slagging them off.

    It’s an opportunity to bring them around, not to slag them. There’s already more than a whiff of condescension and elitism wafting from libertarian-centric thinkers, not to mention no small amount of fear in trying oh so hard to avoid the charge of ‘racism’.

    It’s hard to win when you’re alienating potential members of your base, and the other main groups don’t seem particularly enthused about voting for your ideology – I’ll be surprised if there are more than a token amount of muslims voting for UKIP.

    What happens when they constitute say… 15% of the voting electorate? When that happens, you better hope to get every skinhead vote available.

  • The Islamist marchers were Lone Wolves committing Isolated Incidents that have Nothing To Do With Islam, so no need to protest them.

    I don’t like the EDL; can’t really get enthusiastic about people who go around smashing up kebab shops and chanting “Let’s go fookin’ mental!” But someone “respectable” needs to face reality, before London winds up like Stockholm.

  • Sunfish

    What happens when they constitute say… 15% of the voting electorate? When that happens, you better hope to get every skinhead vote available.

    Having met more than my share of skinheads I can safely say that I don’t think the libertarians and minarchists and classical liberals and the Judean People’s Front are missing much here. There were racist collectivist dipshits and anti-racist-but-still-collectivist dipshits.

    The country where skins become 15% of the electorate is about to invade France and Poland. I think I’d rather look at them through an Aimpoint T1 than recruit them.

  • MicroBalrog

    When I met these sort of anti-fascists they were threatening to make soap out of me for being pro-capitalist. No, seriously.

  • Laird

    Well, it seems that Perry and others here who have direct personal experience with members of the EDL consider them to be skinhead collectivists. Since I have no such experience I cannot contradict any of that. However, I can find nothing in their Mission Statement or the Q&A with which I would disagree. Their writings advocate encouraging British Muslims to work to quell the extremist element (a minority, but noisy and dangerous) within their religion. Is it not possible that EDL itself has developed its own extremist element which should be similarly suppressed internally? Can’t their core message be salvaged? And shouldn’t those who agree with that message be working to advance it rather than tarring the entire EDL with the same brush that they use on the skinhead element?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Sunfish, they still vote, don’t they? Perhaps when you’re up against the ‘ones-that-shall-not-be-named’/yoofs, and you find your voices and votes disappearing under an avalanche of ethically enriched constituencies, you’ll find strange bedfellows in desperate times of need. Enemy of my enemy, and all that. And allying with unsavory characters to defeat a greater evil, well, there’s historical precedent for that too.

    Laird, agree completely with you. Even better is if they can try to rehabilitate the skinheads, who themselves may be the products of the counterculture/welfare movement.

  • bloke in spain

    So why label them fascists?

    Because they are, um, fascists, or at least ‘fascistic’ by any reasonable definition?

    What the hell is “fascistic” supposed to mean? Is this the same as trying to get people working towards a common goal “collectivist”? All sounds very adjectivist to me. Fascism is a political & economic philosophy, not a style of dress & a haircut.
    “There’s already more than a whiff of condescension and elitism wafting from libertarian-centric thinkers”
    Quite.
    And more than a little inability to appreciate; if you want to turn libertarian theory into libertarian reality you do actually have to work with real people, not restrict yourself to a wankfest amongst consenting intellectuals. Under the haircuts & above the boots there may be some nascent libertairians open to a bit of guidance. They’re obviously against the status quo. Maybe they’re not too sure of what they should be for. Why let them stray into the hands of the real fascists?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    To be fair to the EDL, my definition of fascism is a state run on the principle of ultra authoritarian corporatism, with Nazism adding in racial supremacy. While the BNP demonstrably warrant both labels, the EDL do not – at least not on the basis of any published material.

    The problem with the EDL is they seem to have become overrun with hooligans. However that does not in and of itself make them fascist. It is an overused and abused word.

  • And allying with unsavory characters to defeat a greater evil, well, there’s historical precedent for that too.

    And sometimes the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy. I am all for ‘turning’ skinheads from being tribalists but you do not do that by supporting them when they are indeed being reactionary tribalists.

  • What the hell is “fascistic” supposed to mean?

    Incoherently fascist.

    Is this the same as trying to get people working towards a common goal “collectivist”?

    Nope. Indeed I have written about that many times. Collective action does not mean collectivist. Collectivist is the idea that imposing the will of some imagined collective over the will of an individual is always justified. Collective action is… collective action. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that!

    Fascism is a political & economic philosophy, not a style of dress & a haircut.

    And a Nazi Swastika arm band and jackboots are just items of clothing too.

    if you want to turn libertarian theory into libertarian reality you do actually have to work with real people, not restrict yourself to a wankfest amongst consenting intellectuals.

    Yeah but pretending our enemies are not our enemies just because we share some enemies?

    Under the haircuts & above the boots there may be some nascent libertairians open to a bit of guidance.

    Maybe. And under the hijab and keffiyeh there may be some nascent libertairians open to a bit of guidance too. But whilst they are wearing them, much as whilst the EDL people are wearing the bovver boots and zip-ups, they are overtly stating their ‘apartness’ in no less uncertain terms than if they were wearing a Swastika arm band. To think that does not matter takes one into “wishful thinking” territory.

  • bloke in spain

    “And a Nazi Swastika arm band and jackboots are just items of clothing too.”
    Oh do us a favour. And every wearer of a Che T-shirt or genuine imitation hammer & sickle two colour enamel badge is a commie, red in tooth & claw. FFS! Are you not familiar with the desire to shock & offend. (Although, have to confess the overuse of the communist symbology has pretty well negated that now.) Don’t suppose the wearers would embrace the rigours of the WaffenSS training regime more than the other lot a farming collective in Novosibirsk.
    This is why your intellectual libertarianism has about as much viability as a chocolate kettle. It doesn’t exist off the page. For it to become reality you have to accept that folks is indeed folks & do peculiar things. Here you’ve got a bunch of people who are angry about something a lot of people who’ve written here, in cultured academic terms, are angry about. Instead of reaching for a dictionary they reach for a powerful symbol to emphasise their anger. Not everyone’s a f*****g academic.

    And don’t try the collective/collectivist switch around. You’ve tried that one on me in the other direction. Collective action always implies imposing the will of the collective over the wishes of the individual. It’s the trade off. Getting part of what you want by accepting stuff you don’t want, but others do. Collective action, without any compulsion is…collective inaction. Why a society of individualists is a lot of people sitting around in their own individual piles of shit scratching their own individual fleas.

  • And your brand of ‘pragmatism’ is why I regard you as a “useful idiot” for the bad guys at best and just plain disingenuous. Your approach improves nothing, it just changes one bunch of authoritarian shits for a different bunch of authoritarian shits, because that is what your boot boys are… authoritarian shits. Yeah, folks is folks and when they look like fascists and act like fascists, odds are they are fascists who are in no way preferable to the current load of cunts or the equally vile people who are self-styled anti-fascists.

    Punk rock was a style statement, not a political one. Crombies and Mods were making style statements not a political one. Lemmy isn’t making any political statements. Most Che T-shirt wearers are making a style statement not a political one. But when you rock up at a demo looking like the National Front redux, it is not a style statement, likewise when you walk down the road chanting DEATH TO THE INFIDEL in middle eastern togs, it is not a style statement. It is a political statement and it is actually the same statement, just from a different tribe.

  • Paul Marks

    Paul (and I will try not to hate you for not being old and bald like me) – the point is not that the “anti Fascists” only stand up to one sort of totalitarians, the point is that the “anti Fascists” ARE TOTALITARIANS THEMSELVES.

    Mrs Thatcher’s father (that Methodist preacher and shopkeeper in Lincolnshire) understood this – and Mr Roberts did not need Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” to reach this understanding, because it was obvious that the Fasicsts and the Marxists were two sides of the same coin.

    My own father understood the same point – which is why he faught against both the Fascists (at the so called “Battle of Cable Street”) and, when he worked it out, against the Young Communist League of which he had once been a member.

    If Mr David Cameron really does not understand that the “Anti Fascists” and “Popular Fronts” are totalitarians themselves then he is even more plain THICK that he is claimed to be. However, I hope he is pretending – and privately undersands that “UAF” and so on are a nasty bunch of “intellectual” thugs.

  • bloke in spain

    Sorry Perry, but I can’t see where you’re getting all your authoritarian shits from. I can see the Muslim culture containing quite a few. What a lot of it seems to be about. I can see the diversity crowd who’ve embraced wholesale immigration & threatened with & even jailed those who’ve raised objections. But I can’t see where your bootboys are authoritarian. They’ve got no bloody authority.
    Sitting cross legged & singing Kum-by-yaa is not an effective response to “Death to the Infidel” chants & actual deaths to infidels. Without a lot of prodding, the people who run your country will quite happily sit around watching teenage girls being groomed, areas be taken over by sharia law, even a bit of terrorism. As long as it doesn’t hit them personally. They will bend before pressure. If all the pressure comes from one side they will bend in one direction.
    But on a wider point. You continually rail against the perfidious State. Do you think it will one day see the wisdom of your intellectual argument & hand you the keys to the kingdom? Because I’ve news for you. It will fight you to the last drop of your childrens’ blood before it releases its hold on power. If you want a libertarian society you will have to take your liberties back by force. A nasty, bloody, messy business. And when the going gets tough the intelligentsia are brandishing sick notes so it’d wouldn’t be a bad idea seeing if you couldn’t make a few friends out of people you call enemies. Because they might have the stomach for the fight.
    Call it pragmatism if you like. Idealism working well for you, is it?

  • And exactly what do you think the EDL and your ‘pragmatism’ in supporting them has achieved then?

  • Laird

    Here’s a cartoon I thought you might enjoy.

  • bloke in spain

    “And exactly what do you think the EDL and your ‘pragmatism’ in supporting them has achieved then?”
    Well, as I’m best part of 1200 miles away, have never met an EDL member (not saying I imagine you have) & regard things UK as a spectator sport, not a lot.
    Question is, of course, what has been your contribution to the UK libertarian revolution? Bugger all by the look of it. Country of my birth continues to creep relentlessly towards being an authoritarian shithole I’m reluctant even to visit. With very little opposition, from what I can see from here. Few blowhards. Nothing substantial. Brits still take the prize for being the most gutless nation on the planet.

  • I am not really trying for a “UK libertarian revolution”, I am just doing what I can by supporting groups pushing back against statism. We win some, we lose some.

    But without ideas, all we are left with is throwing bricks in the wild hope “something” better will result than we have now.

  • bloke in spain

    ” I am just doing what I can by supporting groups pushing back against statism.”
    So why stick the fascist label on the EDL? It’s obvious the Left will stick one on. They’d stick a fascist label on a donkey wasn’t wholeheartedly supporting them. Or useful to their agenda. They’ve been doing it for so long they’ve largely detoxified the brand. The Nazi’s are history. You have to be in your 80s now, to even remember them. They’ve gone mythic. So you can see why nationalist groups are adopting the symbolism. It’s a powerful rejection of multiculturalism & infuriates the liberal Left. It’s an obvious reaction, rather than bow the head & creep quietly away when you’re accused of being it anyway.
    Sorry. This is the real, nasty world of street politics. Hope it doesn’t upset your sensitive stomach.

    And apologies to non gutless Brits in a previous comment. The smaller nations have some. Unlike the English.

    “But without ideas, all we are left with is throwing bricks in the wild hope “something” better will result than we have now.”
    Yeah. Well ideas carry more weight wrapped around a brick.

  • Snorri Godhi

    At the risk of being pedantic, i submit that fascism, being a loaded word, should be defined by its most repellent feature, which is an insane, mass murderous, and ultimately self-destructive drive to territorial expansion.
    Almost all of Mussolini’s victims came about from this drive, which also led to the invasion of Italy and Mussolini’s violent death.
    By this definition, i guess there have been only 4 true fascist regimes in the last couple of centuries: Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, and Saddam.

    The point is that we should avoid using the F-word for movements that do not advocate wars of naked aggression, and focus instead on the specific policies that we disagree with.

  • Laird

    Snorri, I agree with you that “fascism” is a loaded word, and its use should be generally avoided by careful thinkers. But I disagree with you that it “should be defined by its most repellent feature.” The word has a precise meaning, and that is not it. Fascism is state control over, but not de jure ownership of, the means of production. It is socialism with a capitalist veneer. Your attempt to define it otherwise is no better than those who thoughtlessly use it as a catch-all term of opprobrium for any person or system they dislike.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri: The term ‘fascism’ derives from the Latin ‘fasces’, the rods of a Roman Magistrate as a symbol of state power, which is appropriate enough for Italy.

    What of Salazar in Portugal, with his vast empire from Macau, East Timor, Goa, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Angola (plus a few more bits), and his wars to maintain that Empire (but not expansion)? Franco in Spain was, Morocco/Western Sahara and Gibraltar apart, benign externally, and with Gibraltar he had more sense than to try to seize it from the UK.

    I would give Peron’s Argentina, and the 1982 Argentine Junta a dishonourable mention in the annals of fascism, with their planned genocide in the Falklands, and the abandoned Operation Soberania against Chile, where they planned for 30,000 casualties, in a war of aggression over 3 islands in the Beagle Channel. I also remember the Hammer and Sickle banners supporting this ‘anti-Imperialist’ venture.

    The term ‘fascist’ in modern usage has, to me, connotations of anything that the Left disapprove of with particular venom, rather than something that is objectionable in objective terms. In the UK in the 1950s, perhaps later, ‘socialist’ was a clear term of depracation in speaking of the Labour Party.

  • Mr Ed

    Bloke in spain. A friend of my father remembers the Nazis, and she is in her 70s. One memory, a German fighter strafing a street in England where as a child, she were walking, pure barbarism. WW2 is very real to them, and they had no qualms about Bomber Command.

  • bloke in spain

    @Mr Ed
    I’d imagine my relationship to Nazi rememberers is a tad closer than that. Eating with the family in France, the old guy sits at the head of the table was in the Resistance & had compatriots tortured & executed by them. Just maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m a little sensitive to labels being slapped on without consideration of the merit. He certainly doesn’t find anything incongruous in his son being active in local politics in the FN cause. Another organisation often awarded the Nazi label.

    But France is, of course, a different country. The English may not like people walking ” down the road chanting DEATH TO THE INFIDEL in middle eastern togs” but heaven forbid they actively show their disapproval. Let’s reserve that to the EDL & heap scorn on them while they do. Better to rely on the State, the same State that shows utter contempt for their opinions, to be their nanny. Curious, those who would increase the power of the State don’t seem to share the same reluctance. One could almost suspect a conspiracy.

  • bloke in spain

    @laird
    Fascism does indeed have a precise meaning. Which coincides with the aspirations of much of the UK Labour Party.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Laird: going by the link you yourself provided, what you gave is the definition of fascism as an economic system, which is quite a different thing from a complete definition of fascism, for those of us who find economic policy one of the least worrying aspects of fascism.
    If you want a complete definition of fascism, you ought to read Mussolini’s Doctrine of Fascism.

    Mr Ed: i do not count Franco & Salazar as fascists, because they did not have an expansionary foreign policy, and as a consequence both of them died of old age. Incidentally, Franco liberalized the Spanish economy to some extent, not as much as Pinochet perhaps, but it was more than a “capitalist veneer” as Laird put it.
    WRT Argentina: the war of aggression towards the Falklands was obviously self destructive for the Galtieri regime, so you can count Galtieri as a fascist as far as i am concerned. I didn’t know about Peron or Operation Soberania.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I think just as there is no ‘true’ socialist state, no ‘true’ capitalist society etc, there is also no ‘true’ fascist state, just various arrangements and policy preferences that tend closer or further away from the fascist ‘ideal’.

    Which brings us back to the core question – why are the EDL and its supporters considered to be fascists?

    Let’s go through a checklist:

    Do they support state control of production, either directly or through a veneer of private ownership that can be revoked at any time?
    Do they support an expansionary foreign policy of militarism?
    Do they support ethnocentricism, (ultra)-nationalism, and xenophobia?

    I guess one out of three ain’t that bad. The funny thing is you can almost see the last point on the checklist as applying to UKIP too.

    So does that qualify the EDL for the much coveted tag of ‘fascism’?

  • As the EDL is just the arms length brick throwing wing of the BNP (and is anyone really going to argue there is not a significant overlap between these two outfits?) I would say two out of three… whereas it would be zero out of three for UKIP.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The Wobbly Guy’s checklist is a good start, but i feel that 2 more items are needed:

    1. do they want the _effective_ abolition of democracy, while at the same time claiming a mandate from the popular will? (a personality cult is not strictly needed, but would earn a bonus point.)

    2. do they want autarky? this is actually a very important point, because without autarky there is little point in an expansionary foreign policy.

    I still think, however, that an insane expansionary policy is the crucial feature, because it is the one feature that cannot be found in Communist regimes, military dictatorships, or contemporary Western democracies.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri: The declaration that accompanied the formation of the Soviet Union was described by Victor Suvorov (ex Soviet Army) as a declaration of war on the rest of the World. Since its formation, the Soviet Union attacked and occupied in whole or part:

    Ukraine, Mongolia, Manchuria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Romanian Bessarabia, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia (twice), Germany (with cause), Austria (with cause), Hungary (twice, once with cause), Japan, Persia (withdrawing) and Afghanistan plus funding and supporting Cuban forces in Angola.

    That certainly sounds like an ‘insane expansionary policy‘ to me!

    Yet the Tsar of Russia’s forces left Paris once Napoleon was done for (for the time being).

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Perry, I dunno. It’s easy to posit UKIP as being ethnocentric, nationalist, and xenophobic. Just not to the same extent as the EDL or BNP. After all, they do support restricted immigration, which is fundamentally based on nationalism (my country for my people) and xenophobia (fear of the other).

    The only point I think we can discount them from is the charge of being ethnocentric as there is no mention of this in their manifesto (same as the EDL, I might add), and the fact they field minorities for elections. I wonder just how much support they get, however, from non-white populations in the UK. The fact they have to keep distancing themselves from the true bigots

    So I would say maybe 2/3rds of a point, out of a total of 5, including Snorri’s additional two points.

    The saddest thing about my checklist, I realised, is that in the modern world, to stand for nationalism and restricted immigration (Steve Sailer’s citizenism) would be almost automatic grounds for being labelled a nazi or fascist by the state, the media, and academia. Accusations of racism and fascism dog the Republican and TEA party types who dare to oppose the open immigration agenda in the US too.

    State control of production? – Nah, not important. Effective abolition of democracy (e.g. Colombia)? – Who cares?

    Mr Ed – Maybe it’s more accurate to describe the Soviet Union as fascist then? In that case, perhaps the true communist state is Cuba.

  • Maybe it’s more accurate to describe the Soviet Union as fascist then?

    Well a very large number of people have pointed out that one totalitarianism is much like another and that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia had a huge amount of functional overlap, so this is hardly a radical notion. Indeed such reasoning is why I describe clashes between the EDL and UAG as “a row-within-the-family”.

  • Mr Ed

    Wobbly Guy, the Soviet Union was socialist, that is enough of a description for me, and too much for the 100,000,000 or so dead it left behind. It started off with murder aforethought and carried on until it had exhausted itself. Cuba is a socialist hellhole too.

    What disturbs me is that the use of the term ‘fascist’ as if it were the ultimate label of evil. That should belong to the word ‘socialist’ for socialists from Cambodia to Cuba, Mozambique to Moscow, Peking to Prague (defenestration) or Venezuela to Vietnam, Glasgow to GULAG.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Still don’t see the EDL as being that much of a fascist organization, having only 1 point out of 5. The UAF, judging from their online website, don’t even qualify as fascist at all, and seems to be saying all the right things. Nothing about socialism and state control. Just pure anti-BNP and anti-EDL stuff, which calls on using democratic means (well, at least what I can see from their website) to combat it.
    http://uaf.org.uk/about/

    So the organization itself seems decent enough, and is supported by some of the ‘right people’ (e.g. Jewish nazi hunters), but has some very dodgy parties involved (e.g. the socialists), and its ground folks are probably like those of the EDL, perhaps a bit more educated and ‘liberal’. One of the greatest tricks the socialists pulled off in the post-war period is pasting the ‘bad guy’ sticker on fascism and proclaiming their lily-white goodness so loudly and so often that it got virtually ingrained in the minds of the general populace.

    Rather than calling both organizations fascist, I think the most accurate description would be ‘two gangs of emotional young people getting stuck in each other’.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The Heralds of the Red Dawn and Roderick Spode’s Black Shorts are at it again. Bingo Little has fallen for Charlotte Corday Rowbotham and Comrade Butt is not impressed. Bertie Wooster has been pushed by Aunt Dahlia into accompanying her to Marsham Manor so she can persuade Cornelia Fothergill to publish her latest novel in her magazine Milady’s Boudoir. However, she doesn’t tell Bertie that she wants him to steal a painting to accomplish this. Who is the mysterious Eulalie? Can Jeeves save the day?

  • bloke in spain

    @ The Wobbly Guy
    You’re dealing with middle class academics. Nothing can exist unless they can stick their label on it.

  • Frankly anyone who cannot see the fascist link is either being obtuse (possibly intentionally) or has a tactical interest in discouraging people from pointing out the screamingly obvious.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Well now seems like a good time to wheel out the famous Orwell quote on fascism:

    It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
    Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.
    But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

    By my definition, the EDL may well be racial supremacists and authoritarians, but that does not in and of itself make them fascists. You may be using a different meaning from me. As Orwell correctly points out, it is a word with a very vague and disagreed about meaning.

    I will try to give you my definition and we can see if we are talking about the same thing:

    Fascism (n): A political belief set and system of government characterised by a belief in the corporatist view of society: that is that society operates like a human body and that it is for the government (the head) to assign functions to society’s individual members and to eradicate “diseased” elements. The mechanisms by which this vision is enacted are invariably brutal and ultra-authoritarian. Prior to the 1930’s fascist and socialist movements had a great deal of overlap, but largely due to territorial (as opposed to ideological) skirmishes this overlap disappeared and was replaced with enmity. Fascism is frequently associated with Ultra-Nationalism (see Mussolini) and/or racial supremacism (see Nazism).

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Perry, there have been plenty of comments here remarking on how easy it is to apply the fascist tag to anything or anybody we don’t like, and how we have tried to define fascist itself and to apply that definition to the various parties in the discussion.

    The anti-fascist UAF may be socialist and totalitarian, but they aren’t fascists. The EDL may be racist, ultra-nationalist, and xenophobic, but they are’t fascists (not yet anyway). The UKIP may be nationalist and xenophobic, but they aren’t fascists either (again, not yet too). They’re all far removed from the fascist ideal, or in the case of the UAF, proceeding to totalitarianism by another path.

  • Corporatist regulatory statism is actually the key differentiating fascist approach to economics that sets them appart from the classical ‘nationaliser’ socialists (not that fascists did not also nationalise things). Nazi Germany has genuine companies rather than Soviet style Design Bureaus making aircraft and tanks… which is why Michael Heseltine, for example, is often described as an ‘economic fascist’. But I have rarely heard him described as simply an un-hyphenated ‘fascist’ (though I have heard him described as ‘fascistic’) … he lacks the racism element and was not profoundly nationalist.

    The BNP, with its wish to slant things in favour on white British people via protectionism and economic regulations has a fascist rather than socialist approach to economics… add that to the strident nationalism and racism and it make it easy to categorise them simply as “neo-fascist”… i.e. fascists operating within the realities of a modern political and social environment.

    So if one takes the view, as I do, that the overlap between the BNP and EDL in terms of membership means that functionally the EDL is just an arm-length adjunct… kind of outsourced boot boys to avoid the problems that the National Front experienced from doing that ‘in-house’… well… seeing the EDL as fascists is really rather easy at that point.

    But in truth, as I have often said, because I do not see the EDL and UAF as really all that different in practice, the fact you choose to argue over the fascist tag does not really have that much importance to me.

  • Laird

    “Frankly anyone who cannot see the fascist link is either being obtuse (possibly intentionally) or has a tactical interest in discouraging people from pointing out the screamingly obvious.”

    An unfortunately gross overstatement. I don’t think of my self as exceptionally obtuse (certainly not intentionally so) and I have no ulterior motive, but as I said way back when I don’t see anything in the EDL’s Mission Statement or Q&A with which I disagree, or which appears to me to be overtly fascist (or fascistic, for that matter).

    However, I do agree that “corporatist regulatory statism is actually the key differentiating fascist approach to economics”, which is why I maintain that Barack Obama is actually more of a fascist than a Marxist. Not that that makes a whole lot of difference at the intersection of bayonet and free man.

  • Mr Ed

    @Perry, resorting to impugning motives of those you disagree with rather than discussing evidence and making deductions by reason might indicate to a disinterested observer that you have lost the argument.

  • Sorry Ed but there comes a point where the argument is so preposterous that I can only conclude that the other guy speaks with forked tongue. Anyone claiming those boot boys are not just the NF redux are trying to sell you something.

  • Mr Ed

    That is a fair point, one thing that has occurred to me is that people on this thread may be talking at cross-purposes, in that:

    Reference to the EDL may be (a) the ‘bovver boys’ – shaven heads, boots etc. who turn up on marches and for whom ‘disorder’ is an integral part of the experience and who would not have been out of place in their approach in 1920s Italy; (b) the wider organisation and the policies set out on the website etc. which may encompass a broader spectrum of people who do not pursue violence and are not fascists.

    The State is always the problem, the next one is those who seek to hijack it.

  • There’s also the problem of the actual physical locations of the people who comment here, in that some times one has to actually live in a country (UK in this case) to “get” what a certain organization represents in the context of that country, its culture etc. It can be little things that are hard or even impossible to explain, and yet may be obvious to someone who observes them firsthand or even through the prism of the local media and society.

  • Paul Marks

    Facism need have nothing to do with territorial expansion – or with racism come to that.

    Mussolini (and his intellectuals – and there were many of them) defined Fascism as everything for the state, nothing outside the state.

    “But that is totalitarianism” – of course it is, and Mussloni used the word “totalitarianism” as a positive term.

    One does not need to read such works a the Hayek’s “The Road To Serfdom” to know this stuff.

    Mrs T.s father (Alfred Roberts) had not read such books in the 1930s (because they had not been written) – yet Mr Roberts knew all this perfectly well,the Methodist preacher warns about it in his sermons (some of which have survived).

    Totalitarianism (yes he used the word) is ……, the Fascists openly admit they are totalitrians (indeed boast of the fact) therefore……

  • Paul Marks

    Of course, being a follower of John Wesley, Mr Roberts believed that humans were beings (capable of seeing the differnce between good and evil and chosing between them) that seems to be the position that Hayek takes in “The Road To Serfdom” – although in more “intellectual” works he seems to take the the position of the collectivist intellectuals (that humans are not beings – and can not make real choices) but then appears to be astonished that collectivist intellectuals make a judgement from this…..

    Namely – that if human freedom does not “really” exist (if humans are not beings), then human freedom can not be of value (as it does not exist).

    It is reasonable that the vast majority of people who take such a (false) philsophical position are quite correct in the moral and political conclusion they take from it – and Hayek (who clings to human freedom – even though he holds it does not really exist) is the one who is confused.

    Indeed Hayek seems to have something in common with Mussolini – from Sorel (and Sorel gets it from William James) i.e. such and such a thing (in this case human freedom) is a “myth” (it is not really true),but we should act “as if” it was true. Which is just vile crap.

    If Hayek’s vision of what humans are is correct, then humans are not important in moral terms (indeed they are vermin) and the way that Fascist, National Socialist and Marxist intellecutals treat humans becomes unstandable (and not a moral outrage). The problem is that these same Fascist, National Socialist and Marxist intellectuals (and Hayek himself?) seem to put themselves into a different set from ordinary humans – somehow they ARE beings (there sense of “I” is NOT an “illusion”) what happens to THEM is of moral importance….

    Short version.

    If you accept evil philosophical principles do not be astonished if they have evil practical consequences – and do not waste your time trying to take those evil consequences from those evil principles.

    Either REJECT the evil philosophical principles, or just go away.

    The same is true in law.

    Hayek accepts many of the philosophical principles of his teacher (the socialist Legal Positivist Hans Kelson) and then spends the rest of his life trying to avoid those evil legal principles having evil consequences.

    I did not see this myself for many years.

    At first reading I assumed that when Hayek attacks Kelson (and the others) over such things as Natural Law (right and wrong) he was attacking them over princples – only later did I get into my think head that Hayek was not attacking their principles, just the consequences of their principles.

    And, by the way, I KNOW (and have always known) that they are not AUTOMATIC consequences.

    Someone can say “there is no such thing as right and wrong – but I am not going to do wrong”.

    Just as someone can say “humans are not beings – but I am going to treat them as if they were beings”.

    But there is no reaonable reason why someone should say such things.

    It is far more likely (far more reasonable) that if someone believes there is no such thing as right and wrong he will do wrong (because it is fun to rape, murder and so on….).

    Just as if someone does not really believe that humans are beings, just flesh robots that make squeaking noices when one sticks pins into them… he is likely to stick pins into people (who are not “really” people), because they make nice squeaking noises if one sticks pins into them.

    Lastly….

    None of the above has any automatic connection with atheism.

    An atheist can belive that human beings are just that – human BEINGS.

    And an atheists can believe in right and wrong.

    As the old Schoolmen put it.

    “Natural Law is the law of God – but if God did not exist, Natural Law would be exactly the same”.