Shannon Love at Chicago Boyz surveys the British political scene and muses on whether the recent rise of the British National Party tells us anything about how a European society can be infatuated with the Left one year and switch over to fascism in a relatively short period.
Via Instapundit comes a disturbing report that one-fifth of the British electorate would consider voting for the British Nationalist Party (BNP), which is considered by almost everyone left or right to be a genuine fascist party.
How did Britain come to this state?
Simple, the current liberal order has proven itself ineffective in addressing many of the major problems that Britain faces. As I wrote three years ago, liberal orders don’t slowly evolve into authoritarian ones. Instead, they become less and less effective until they suddenly collapse into an authoritarian order. People simply lose faith that the liberal order can function and they throw their support behind an authoritarian order just to survive.
If fascism and Left wing socialism share most of their political DNA then this process is easy to understand. When the vital 5% -- or whatever crucially differentiates them -- flips then one becomes the other. The BNP is not a 'conservative party' in the American mold. It is essentially a racist but economically Left wing organization which accepts a large state role in managing the economy. Where it differs with the Left is for whose benefit the economy should be managed. For the Left the answer is: for the benefit of what it defines to be the historical victim -- Muslims, immigrants from former colonies and people with special sexual needs. For the BNP the answer to the question is: for the benefit of the poor white; the indigene; the people who have lived in the British isles. The Left correctly accuses the BNP of dividing the nation. What it fails to recognize is that the BNP is simply paying them back in their own coin. This exchange of toxic currency has set up a zero sum game. It has cast the Left as the champions of one side and the BNP is happily casting itself as the champions of the other.
Britain faces major problems with a permanent economic underclass, low economic mobility, illegal immigration and a large, vocal and often violent unassimilated Islamic subculture. The native working class in particular feels squeezed by economic competition from low-cost immigrants. More importantly, they have seen themselves relegated in social status to the bottom of the heap. Much as in America, where the once-venerated rural poor are now despised and ignored “rednecks,” lower-income white Britons now see themselves pushed aside and spit on in favor of the left fawning over illegal immigrants and Muslims.
The BNP could scoop up a lot of support if it could slow down illegal immigration. Doing so would give an immediate economic boost to Britain’s native low-skilled workers. Even easier, they could no doubt pick up a lot of support merely by treating low-income white Britons with respect and by putting them at the center of their policy recommendations.
By smearing as racist everyone concerned with illegal immigration and the overboard tolerance for radical Islam, the British left is desensitizing everyone to the legitimate charge when it is directed at the BNP. People think, “Well, I’m concerned about illegal immigration, Islamists, the white poor, etc., and I’m not a racist so maybe the BNP isn’t either.” The overuse of the left’s catch-all denunciation deprives it of meaning and force. People may simply stop listening to the left’s warnings because they’ve so many times labeled people with legitimate concerns as racist. By their own narcissism, self-righteousness and contempt, the left is actively driving people to fascist solutions just as their more radical ideological ancestors did back in the 1920s.
Worse, entire generations of Britons have been conditioned to believe that the state has a moral obligation to care for them cradle-to-grave. It is a short step from there to the belief that the government has a moral obligation to care for native Britons first and foremost before all others. Such a longstanding belief in Germany certainly made National Socialism an easy sell to the German working class and poor.
If the mainstream parties cannot address the real concerns of many Britons, and if they cannot at least pretend to respect and value lower-income white Britons, then Britain may be only one ugly incident away from a political seismic shift. A major native Islamic terrorist attack or an immigrant riot might be all it takes to push Britain over the edge. Other European nations are at risk as well, for the same reasons.
Leaks which showed how Labour intentionally flooded Britain with immigrants in order to gain a permanent political majority and rub multiculturalism in the faces of poor whites has provoked a storm of outrage in the UK. It plays directly into the BNP narrative of invasion abetted by leftist treason. The Telegraph reported that "Labour threw open Britain's borders to mass immigration to help socially engineer a 'truly multicultural' country, a former Government adviser has revealed." But it was manner in which the plan was sugar-coated which rankled the most. It was, if the leaks are to be believed, an ideological conspiracy sold as a plan to bolster the economy. It's almost as if the Left set out to paint itself in the very same colors the BNP wanted it to don.
Writing in the Evening Standard, he revealed the "major shift" in immigration policy came after the publication of a policy paper from the Performance and Innovation Unit, a Downing Street think tank based in the Cabinet Office, in 2001.
He wrote a major speech for Barbara Roche, the then immigration minister, in 2000, which was largely based on drafts of the report.
He said the final published version of the report promoted the labour market case for immigration but unpublished versions contained additional reasons, he said.
He wrote: "Earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.
"I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn't its main purpose – to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date."
The "deliberate policy", from late 2000 until "at least February last year", when the new points based system was introduced, was to open up the UK to mass migration, he said.
What the Left and Fascism share is a belief in the transformative power of the state. Both regard government as the "high ground" of society and not, as some Americans still believe, simply a necessary evil. It is a prize to be seized by main force; the castle to be stormed. In the long run there is little reason to think that Nick Griffin will allow any more freedom than Gordon Brown. What is likely to happen is the substitution of one set of sacred cows for another. When the Left and fascists contend for power, the surveillance cameras are in every case fully employed.
One of the commenters at Chicago Boyz writes, "A friend of mine is a professor of Surgery and Anatomy in London. He has told me he is very concerned about the number of young women converts to Islam who are medical students. These women, like the louts in the Dalrymple books, are not from immigrant families. Why an educated young woman would convert to Islam is a real puzzle. Maybe they are seeking structure but I expect it will come at a high price. The other side of that coin may be the BNP voters." Maybe this infatuation with Islam should not be surprising: if the central role of the state is accepted, then the only question is what the character of that authority will be: Islamic, Communist or Fascist. When you come to it, who cares? It is the same dog with a different collar. And perhaps the young ladies are simply choosing Islam on the basis of fashion. It's as good a reason as any.
How does one get away from the dog?
Perhaps the greatest service that religion once rendered to Western civilization was providing the individual with a real or imagined hotline to God. Whether this was simply a conceit or not let us set aside for the moment. For as long as man imagined himself to be sacred and accountable to the Creator he stood at the center of polity. The state was there to serve him and not the reverse. Today he has lost that central place and is no more or less than a collection of curiously animated chemical substances with a market value of less then fifty dollars which the state has deigned to keep alive until some bureaucratic panel decides it is too expensive to do so. Just as Global Warming can be understood at one level as an attempt to bring nature into the purview of politics, it is impossible to understand the Left's fixation with abortion except as a sacramental affirmation of the state's power over man. The strident insistence on abortion on demand goes way beyond any conceivable need to prevent backroom abortions, or even an affirmation of a woman's right to choose. It is really an absolute display of the power of politics over life. Abortion's principal utility is as a stake driven through the heart of the notion of human sacredness, which once performed, ought to prevent its revival entirely.
Today we are at the point where it may be almost impossible to substitute anything -- traditional culture, race, God, even man himself -- in place of the central role of the state. What the BNP and the Left are fighting over is who gets to control the state. Perhaps the greatest challenge of the 21st century, if one is to accept the notion of the "Death of God" as permanent in the West, is to find a basis to once again put the individual at the center of politics. Can a person, deprived of his sacredness, living under a sky swept of a Creator, assert himself as superior to the monstrously gigantic state?
Voltaire famously wrote that "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." The line actually comes from Voltaire's poem the Three Impostors and anticipates many of the thoughts in this post. He might have been writing about Europe in 2009. The question he raises is this: if philosophers themselves argue that man is no more valuable than an animal, then how much longer before the state starts calculating the cost of bullets?
Insipid writer, you pretend to draw for your readers
The portraits of your 3 impostors;
How is it that, witlessly, you have become the fourth?
Why, poor enemy of the supreme essence,
Do you confuse Mohammed and the Creator,
And the deeds of man with God, his author?…
Criticize the servant, but respect the master.
God should not suffer for the stupidity of the priest:
Let us recognize this God, although he is poorly served.
My lodging is filled with lizards and rats;
But the architect exists, and anyone who denies it
Is touched with madness under the guise of wisdom.
Consult Zoroaster, and Minos, and Solon,
And the martyr Socrates, and the great Cicero:
They all adored a master, a judge, a father.
This sublime system is necessary to man.
It is the sacred tie that binds society,
The first foundation of holy equity,
The bridle to the wicked, the hope of the just.
If the heavens, stripped of his noble imprint,
Could ever cease to attest to his being,
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
Let the wise man announce him and kings fear him.
Kings, if you oppress me, if your eminencies disdain
The tears of the innocent that you cause to flow,
My avenger is in the heavens: learn to tremble.
Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed.
But you, faulty logician, whose sad foolishness
Dares to reassure them in the path of crime,
What fruit do you expect to reap from your fine arguments?
Will your children be more obedient to your voice?
Your friends, at time of need, more useful and reliable?
Your wife more honest? and your new renter,
For not believing in God, will he pay you better?
Alas! let's leave intact human belief in fear and hope.
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