Would Brendan Cox really know more about extremists than Nigel Farage?

Gob-smackingly, Nigel Farage said the following on LBC this morning about Brendan Cox, a man whose wife was assassinated by white supremacist terrorist not six months ago:

Yes, well of course he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like Hope Not Hate who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means. And I’m sorry Mr Cox, but it is time people started to take responsibility for what’s happened.

And so, once again, it is time to rehearse the litany of extremists that Nigel hangs with. Nigel, when he can be bothered to turn up, is co-president of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament. Included in this group, which is small enough that we must presume that he knows these people personally, are:

  • the Swedish Democrats, who were founded as a white supremacist party;
  • the Polish KORWiN party, founded by and named after Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who thinks that the distinction between consensual sex and rape is “very subtle,” that Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated,” that the public “should not see the disabled on television,” and who has described immigrants as “human garbage”; and
  • Beatrix von Storch who once suggested that trespassing refugees (including women and children) be gunned down.

Prior to the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group, Nigel was co-president of its predecessor, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, alongside Francesco Speroni of Italy’s Northern League, a man who once said about Anders Brevik—the white supremacist who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011—that his “ideas are in defence of western civilization.”

Yes, indeed, Nigel. It is time to start to take responsibility for things that have happened. You hang out with, work with, and support white supremacist extremists who actively advocate violence and murder. You are a pestilent fascist, who the British press (or the relatively sane sections thereof) have long failed the British people by presenting as an amusing and blokish “man of the people.”

Take some responsibility yourself, Nigel. Shut the fuck up, fuck off over the pond, and go back to crawling up the arse of that other extremist fraud. He’s supported by the KKK, you know. You should find yourself totally at home.

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Nigel Farage enjoying a cosy moment on a sofa alongside a man who thinks that Anders Breivik had ideas in defence of western civilization.

 

The Daily Mail and the fascist social project

“Fascism” and “fascist” are interesting words. They derive from a specific movement, yet have developed a wider usage beyond simply that of pejorative use: that is, there is something that is fascism that is not simply adherence to the Italian movement that originated the name. Contrast this with “Nazi” which seems more fossilized: the term refers either to the actual proponents of National Socialism, or is generally used as a pejorative for the racist far-right. When we do encounter a contemporary individual who espouses the Nazi ideology we tend, as is happening now with Thomas Mair, to label them “neo-Nazis.”

But fascism has developed a meaning beyond its origin reference, and that meaning is very important in today’s world, because there are real fascists on the rise. Because of this, I think we need to stop using “fascist” as a simple pejorative for people on the right who we consider beyond the pale, and start using it precisely and clearly. And in that vein, I want to say: the Daily Mail is a fascist newspaper.

Wikipedia starts its entry defining fascism as “a form of authoritarian nationalism.” I want to suggest that this is not exactly correct: that though authoritarianism is a natural and willing bedpartner of fascism, it is not an intrinsic part of it. I propose that fascism, it its modern sense, should be seen a social project: it is a means, not an ends. It is an obvious tool of those who desire to lead in an authoritarian manner, but it is used by other individuals and organizations to achieve other ends.

To me, fascism consists of three major components: the demonization of a marginalized section of society as responsible for societal ills, the inculcation of fear and hatred in the populace directed at that group, and the promotion of unreason in public discourse.

The fascist seeks a pliant populace—though not necessarily, as I have indicated, to rule over. In order to do so, they require to divert attention from the institutions and individuals who a reasoned mind would consider the source of social ills. Kicking down—demonization—is the strategy they promote. Instead of looking upwards to those in power for the origins of their problems, the populace are encouraged to look downwards to an already marginalized group; a simple bait-and-switch manoeuvre. But this is, of course, not a particularly reasonable position to hold, by definition the marginalized group are highly unlikely to have the power to adversely affect people’s lives. So the populace must be encouraged to put aside their reason, and the strategy the fascist chooses for this is fear: fearful people’s amygdalas get in the way of their reason. There is then a twin-pronged approach: the demonized group are made into something to fear, which encourages unreason; that unreason then allows the fascist to increase their claims about that group, thus encouraging more fear. If I were a proper sociologist, I would probably now draw a triangle of double-headed arrows, with the words “fear,” “unreason,” and “demonization” at each apex, and believe that in doing so I had proven my point beyond question. Being a poor sociologist, I leave you diagramless, and will happily acknowledge that this is merely a suggested definition.

The point here is, we see this everywhere at the moment, and it is not necessarily accompanied by authoritarianism. Nigel Farage is, of course, a fascist: and that the media have spent the last fifteen years treating him as a harmless amusement rather than calling him out on this is a great part of his success. Yet he, clearly, is too lazy to be interested in actual power. He wanted one thing, which he got, and then ran from the consequences, at least until another fascist took him up and stroked his ego.

But the point I want to make here is that, without doubt, the Daily Mail is a fascist newspaper. That is, it is not just an organ of fascists, it is in itself fascist. It trades in demonization, fear, and unreason: not just in its social reporting. It is something of a joke how obsessed it is with cancer and identifying Things That Cause It. Experts, not just in the political sphere, are treated with disdain and hatred—except, of course, when they produce research than may be misrepresented to enhance their fear agenda. Immigrants, single mothers, immigrants, and more immigrants are repeatedly blamed for all social ills. But Paul Dacre, fascist though he may be, does not seek personal authoritarian power and one sees no evidence that he would embrace such a leader; though he is an enthusiastic proponent of the social project that such leaders adore. The ends Paul Dacre, and his boss Viscount Rothermere, seek with their fascism are more mundane: to sell newspapers and make money. They might well decry a truly authoritarian leader, but they are part—no, major players—in the social project that is modern fascism, and which will enable those individuals who do seek absolute power.

I was first going to write this post in response to the Enemies of the People headline; but I was massively over-worked learning a language which, no doubt, would have the Mail foaming at the mouth with fury. But the course is coming to an end soon, and I was reminded of my desire to say something about the Mail by a piece published yesterday. Following the conclusion of the trial of a far-right obsessive, collector of Nazi memorabilia, reader of extremist books, white supremecist who shouted “Britain First” as he murdered an MP, and who gave his name in the trail as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” and who (by the by) was a Daily Mail reader, the paper in question chose to report the trial like this (no link, I will not give them the benefit of even a few advertising-enhancing clicks):

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By placing the blame for a white supremacist ultra-nationalist terrorist murder, against all reason, at the door of the very group that that vile individual hated, and in passing suggesting that other members of the populace should fear that group, the Daily Mail have, in one headline, perfectly encapsulated their fascist project.

A vision granted me, by the grace of God, from the not-too-distant future

A desolate wasteland with, amidst the smouldering ruins and starving wretches, a beautifully laid table, replete with the finest of dishes, at which Prime Minister Gove, Home Secretary Johnson, and Lord Farage sit stuffing their faces. “We’re in charge!” they cry in delight, wiping their greasy fingers with ten pound notes, now so much cheaper than napkins. “We’re independent!” they chortle as they chow down on—what is this? why yes!—roasted and skewered working people, done to a turn. So much easier to procure than expensive imported meats. Just regrettable that the meat tends to be stringy and underfed.

One of the dishes squirms and moves—it’s still alive! A tortured face turns to Michael. “But sir,” it protests, “this isn’t what you promised, it’s not what you promised at all. You promised utopia, and this is awful.”

“No, no,” replies Michael. “We said it might be wonderful. And you know, from where I’m sitting, it’s rather nice. And you can’t complain. You did vote for this.”

“The truth is,” blusters Boris, affably, charmingly old-boyishly, “we rather spun you a line. No, no. In fact, we blatantly lied to you. We were entirely interested in our own advancement, and knew that if disaster came about”—a rumble in the distance signifies the collapse of the smoking ruins of Threadneedle Street—“we’d be just dandy and you’d all bear the brunt. What on earth made you think that we’d look after you? I used to burn fifty pound notes under tramps’ noses, you know. Admittedly everyone burns fifty pound notes just for warmth now, what with energy costing a grand a unit. But I never, ever, ever gave anything remotely resembling a flying fuck for those of you who weren’t … well, who weren’t me, to be frank. I’m telling you all this because I’m so very affable and roguish that I know you’ll just let me off the hook.”

The face twists briefly into an understanding smile, until it is finally exterminated by a skewer thrust from Lord Nigel.

“Take it away,” he demands of the cowed waiting staff. “Looked a little over-cooked, if you get my meaning. A bit too dark for my liking. Only white meat in my Britain, thank you very much.”

If you are a decent person then your only option tomorrow is to vote IN

Listen:

It no longer matters what your economic views are, whether you have (justified) left-wing concerns about monetarist policies being written into the EU, whether you worry about the purported undemocratic nature of the institution (whilst living in a country with a wholly unelected upper house and a head of state who got her job by virtue of who her daddy was), whether you worry about sovereignty (which lies entirely in the hands of multi-national corporations, bankers, and a few super-rich individuals anyway), or anything else.

The last two weeks have seen the most toxic, vile incitement to racism, xenophobia, and islamophobia it has ever been my misfortune to witness in this country. No other real arguments for Brexit have been put forward, and one cannot claim that it is just the unofficial campaign headed up by Nigel Farage: Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have equally engaged in demonization and racism. What else could be read from their scaremongering about an apparent imminent accession to the EU of Turkey, epitomized in their challenge to Cameron to guarantee to veto Turkish membership of the EU. What is this other than an indication that Turks will never be fit to be considered “one of us”? This is deliberate playing to the lowest common denominator, the basest of prejudices, and the worst of human nature; in Johnson’s case it is also stunningly hypocritical.

Everyone knows—surely—that Johnson’s volte face from being a pro-Europe, pro-Turkey expansionist to a nudge-nudge-wink-winking dog-whistle xenophobe is solely motivated by his personal ambition. That he is willing to shove his dick in the cesspit of racist sentiment to get there far outstrips his soon-to-be-predecessor’s favoured location for that organ. Could you really vote for that? Whatever reasons you have for doubting the EU, are you going to empower a man whose personal desire to run the country is so great that he cares not if the very country he ends up running be a bankrupt viper’s nest of racists and xenophobes?

Or would you rather vote for Nigel Farage, who has no illusions of running the country, and therefore is free to go Full Smethwick?breaking point

Racism and xenophobia are not the exclusive preserve of the Out campaign in our politics, this is true. David Cameron, though now bemoaning the stoking of intolerance by the Brexit camp, was more than happy to endorse Zac Goldsmith’s explicitly racist campaign for London Mayor, and indeed played his own part—under parliamentary privilege—in that vicious affair.

A vote for In will not purge this country of the racial politics in which it is festering.

But, without a shadow of a doubt, a vote for Out will endorse it. Whatever discussions we could have had about Europe and the UK’s role within it have been hijacked by a naked racist and a utterly self-interested opportunist monomaniac.

A win for Out will be, first and foremost, a win for racism and xenophobia. If you are in any way a decent member of society then—whatever justified concerns you may or may not have about the EU—this time you must vote, and you must vote In.

 

 

Just who are the unacceptable extremists, Douglas Carswell?

Douglas Carswell, UKIP MP for Clacton, has got into a spot of bother. Yesterday he tweeted a picture of a pro-Remain advert in the Daily Mail taken out by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, with the comment “Quite something that the extremist Jobbik party in Hungary wants us to Remain. You want political union w/ them?”

Jobbik are, indeed, extremist and openly anti-semitic. And Viktor Orbán is a pretty nasty piece of work himself. But a member of Jobbik he is not: he leads the slightly-less-openly-extreme Fidesz party. But, this epic fact-checking fail aside, I’m fascinated by this, because whilst Carswell would seem to imply that we wouldn’t want to be hanging with extremists, UKIP appear have no issues with political alignment with quite a range of people who might rather easily be considered to fit that description. In the European Parliament their MEPs sit in the European Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group; indeed Nigel Farage himself is co-president of the group. This group includes:

  • Beatrix von Storch, MEP for the hard right Alternative for Germany and who, amongst other views, has suggested that trespassing refugees (including women and children) be gunned down;
  • Robert Iwaszkiewicz, MEP for the Polish KNP party which is so far to the right that Marine Le Pen ruled out aligning the French National Front with them and, at the time of the group’s formation, was led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke who thinks that the distinction between consensual sex and rape is “very subtle,” that Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated,” that the public “should not see the disabled on television,” and who has described immigrants as “human garbage”;
  • the Swedish Democrats, who were founded as a white supremacist group, though they have apparently “learned from their mistakes”; and
  • the Lithuanian Order and Justice party, whose leader Rolandas Paksas was impeached for his links to Russian organized crime.

The EFDD is a reincarnation of the former Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, of which UKIP was a member and Farage was also co-president. In this case, he happily co-chaired it with one Franceso Speroni of Italy’s Northern League, whose considered opinion is that “Anders Breivik’s ideas are in defence of western civilisation.”

But one need not even look outside UKIP to find such nastiness. I posted before about the range of charming, delightful views that can be found from within its very membership: to this list we can add their (thankfully unsucessful) parliamentary candidate Przemek Skwirczynski, who takes smiling selfies with Korwin-Mikke. And Nigel himself, of course, is “proud” to have taken a third of former BNP voters.

One wonders what Douglas Carswell’s definition of extremist is, that includes Jobbik but presumably excludes the assorted vicious racists, criminals, homophobes, and sexists whom his party happily embraces. Perhaps—and I’m going out on a limb here—it’s whether or not they support Brexit?