gebhk wrote: ↑
04 Mar 2021 12:20
I would suggest a more useful approach might be to look at the various components over time and see if there are similarities today. For example do we have the equivalent of the storm-troopers? We probably do in the flag-waving tattooed fraternity, regularly ordering five beers with little real interest in or understanding of the politics or ideology of the 'party' and much more interest in pursuing their hobby of spreading mayhem. Membership gives them a sense of belonging and self-worth which society at large would not give them and would, therefore, otherwise be lacking from their lives. With a leavening of brighter (sometimes even very bright) individuals who get a kick out of controlling the yobs without the need for the hard work involved in becoming a democratic politician. Indeed, for some at least, it's an end in itself and they have little belief in the party 'faith'. Sound familiar?
This, I would suggest, is where the majority of it is these days.
This reminds me of the National Front (NF) in the 1970s and somewhat in the 1980s. I spoke to many supporters and members of the NF who quite frankly couldn't even define 'British' to me but insisted they wanted 'Britain to be British'. Nevertheless, some of them were more educated and made what some people would consider some valid points.
If you compare John Tyndall and Nick Griffin then the comparison becomes apparent. Then you have the likes of Richard Edmond who is an admirer of the Nazis, a Holocaust denier and is quite open about being racist.
I even remember before the NF when the British Movement (BM) had some presence on the streets.
Most of the people you mention who just enjoy causing a bit of aggro and getting drink just jump from party to party as long as it has a visible street presence. The British National Party (BNP) consisted mainly of the old NF lot.
This type of presence isn't exclusive to the right. The left is the exact same. Anecdotally I've found that many on the left just seem to vote that way because they parents or grandparents or friends did. I remember anarchists, communists and socialists causing trouble during my further education years.
The same kind of mentality of belonging to some sort of group or organisation can be found amongst football hooligans. The people just want to get away from every day life and work and go to pubs and like to cause a bit of trouble. Those are not excuses, it is just the way it is really.
However some movements have progressed beyond the 'stormtrooper stage' and have shaped up or are shaping up to strive for political power. Clearly any comparisons have to be made on a case-by-case basis - these parties start, split up and rejoin more frequently than I've had hot dinners. Here too one can see many similarities. For one thing, the 'manifesto' for the public at large is usually an altogether different beast to what the party might profess internally. In much the same way, the NSDAP's 25-point Program was, by the standards of the day relatively innocuous on the surface. Indeed, if you swap the EU for the Treaty of Versailes, if Tony Benn and Enoch Powell got married (and perhaps took speed) they would probably have come up with something not a million miles from the 25-point Program. While internally there is a seething pool of hatred, entitlement, blame and frustrated self-importance.
I don't think so. Neither Tony Benn nor Enoch Powell viewed things from a racial point of view. Although they were friends, they were politically the complete opposite. The former thought that someone couldn't be a Labour member without regarding Karl Marx's Capital the same way as a Christian regards The Bible. The latter was often accused of being racist after his infamous Rivers of Blood speech but that was because people either didn't bother to read the speech and distinguish between what Powell himself said and what he quoted or the people accusing him regarded anyone to the right of socialism to be 'right-wing' or 'racist'. In fact, Powell in the early 1940s refused to enter a club because the people who worked there wouldn't allow the Indian General (later Field Marshal) K. M. Cariappa to enter the club. Powell in 1959 gave a speech about the Hola Massacre and spoke out against other MPs who regarded the eleven people who were killed as sub-humans and regarded such thoughts as awful - Denis Healey regarded it as the "greatest parliamentary speech" he had ever heard. Powell learnt Urdu and used to visit Indian restaurants and spoke to the people who worked there in Urdu. Powell never discriminated against people based on their background (in the early 1960s he said: "I have and always will set my face like flint against making any difference between one citizen of this country and another on grounds of his origins."). He even said that there would have been more of a problem if people of the same race e.g. Germans entered the country in such large numbers as Pakistanis, Indians, West Indians, etc, were entering the country in the 1960s. After his infamous speech he stated the following:
What I would take racialist to mean is a person who believes in the inherent inferiority of one race of mankind to another, and who acts and speaks in that belief. So the answer to your question of whether I am a racialist is 'No' – unless perhaps, in reverse. I regard many of the peoples in India as being superior in many respects – intellectually for example, and in other respects – to Europeans. Perhaps that is over-reacting.
And, when David Frost asked him if he were a racialist or not, he replied:
It depends on how you define the word "racialist". If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another, then the answer is emphatically "No".
Hardly the words of a racist!
Powell's arguments in his infamous speech weren't even against what the Tories were arguing for in the 1960s. Powell simply scared Ted Heath with the latter quaking in his boots.
After his Rivers of Blood speech he was accused of being a 'Nazi' and replied:
All I will say is that for myself, in 1939 I voluntarily returned from Australia to this country, to serve as a private soldier against Germany and Nazism. I am the same man today.
When he gave a speech in Cardiff he responded to the student hecklers and said:
I hope those who shouted 'Fascist' and 'Nazi' are aware that before they were born I was fighting against Fascism and Nazism.
Those people you referred to earlier as not having a clue about politics were the exact same people who attended NF rallies with placards stating 'Enoch was/is right' or 'Enoch Powell was/is right' without ever even reading his infamous speech and actually looking at what views he held.
Powell was against nuclear weapons. Powell was one of the first Tories to vote to legalise homosexuality. Powell was against the death penalty. Etc, etc.
I was quite surprised to read that over half of the people in the audience during a BBC broadcast voted that Powell was not a racist.
If you really want to find out about Enoch Powell who was such a complex man then read Robert Shepherd's Enoch Powell: A Biography
and Simon Heffer's Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell
. The latter is more sympathetic to Powell.
I would argue that Powell is one of the most misunderstood politicians. His achievements are often ignored and people just focus on his infamous speech. Powell was an intellectual genius who was able to run rings around those people who dared to debate him. He was able to read at the age of three and was known as "the Professor" because he used to tell visitors to his home descriptions of stuffed birds his grandfather had shot. He was a classic scholar and became a full professor of Ancient Greek at the age of 25 (this bugged him because he was one year later than Friedrich Nietzsche whom he greatly admired). He entered WW2 as the youngest professor of the Commonwealth and was only one of two people to rise from a private to brigadier.
I do believe that what Powell later said about his infamous speech has merit:
My prospect is that, politicians of all parties will say "Well Enoch Powell is right, we don't say that in public but we know it in private, Enoch Powell is right and it will no doubt develop as he says. But it's better for us to do nothing now, and let it happen perhaps after our time, than to seize the many poisonous nettles which we would have to seize if we were at this stage going to attempt to avert the outcome." So let it go on until a third of Central London, a third of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, are coloured, until the Civil War comes, let it go on. We won't be blamed, we'll either have gone or we'll slip out from under somehow.
Why do I say that? Well because politicians on both the left and the right are very populist orientated these days and they pretend to listen to what the people want. Time and time again immigration has come up as one of the major concerns of the people living in the UK. Both Labour and Conservative promise to control immigration but it's just empty words.
The only thing those two people had in common was opposition to the EU (then the EEC). They were very good friends away from politics though. They were both very decent and honest politicians which is something very rarely found these days.
Finally what about the common man (or woman) in the street? Again, here there are worrying similarities. I think the point about the uniting factor among the German Nazi voters of the 1920s - 30's being frustration with 'the system' is right on the money. I can't help thinking that, without getting into a debate on the issues themselves, the reason for some recent election and referendum results were more about sticking two fingers up at the 'establishment, than they were about the relevant issues with little or no comprehension of or care for the consequences. In much the same way, I doubt very much that the German voters of the 1920s/30s were voting for the Holocaust any more than they were voting for a catastrophic WW2 which too could be considered predictable from a careful analysis of the party faith and its 'bible'. They were just voting against the system and for the carefully crafted mirage of a better future. I can see much evidence of this in the world today too, worryingly.
Many of the people who voted for Brexit voted for a change. The reason why Nigel Farage and other populists were able to reach out to so many people is because people were and still are sick and tired of the way the country is run. People work hours and hours every week and struggle to make ends meet and there are some people who don't have to do any physical work and earn hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. Inequality has increased drastically since the 1980s. The divide between the North and the South is greater than ever.
But, just like Farage was able to reach out to many voters, especially those sitting on the fence, left-wing populists also do the same when promising this and that for free and promising to tax the rich more and so forth. Those people who don't earn that much or don't even work at all it sounds lovely to their ears, but to those people earning a decent salary I think the last thing they want to do is be taxed even more. The crux of the dilemma is to try and find a balance.
I don't believe there are that many decent politicians out there these days. At least back in the day you knew what you were getting if you voted for Labour or Conservative, that has not been the case since Labour's victory in 1997.