The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has taken a recent a worrying turn towards providing fascists with a platform for their ideas. They have invited Nick Griffin, leader of the fascist BNP, onto their flagship programme Question Time, where he will be invited, along with representatives of the mainstream political parties, to give his views on current political issues. The programme will be aired on October 22nd. Also, on September 30th an interview was broadcast by the BBC’s Radio 1 newsbeat programme (aimed at teenagers) which purported to talk to two young BNP members, “Joey” and “Mark” On the BBC newsbeat website there was a verbatim reprint of the interview and link to their fascist website should any of the young viewers’ “curiosity” have been aroused. Of course, both men are high up in the BNP hierarchy: Joey (Joseph Barber) runs the BNP’s record label Great White Records and is one of its leading “artists”, recording tracks including Pondlife and Christmas Is A British Thing, Mark Collet is a former chairman of Young BNP and now the BNP’s Publicity Officer. In 2005 Collet, along with Nazi friends John Tyndall and Nick Griffin, was charged with race hate offences. In 2002 Collet was secretly filmed by Channel Four declaring his admiration for Adolf Hitler and Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair ( a protestant paramilitary responsible for up to 40 murders). According to wiki:
On Russell Brand’s 2002 TV show RE:Brand, Mark Collett described homosexuals as “AIDS Monkeys”, “bum bandits” and “faggots”. As seen on the documentary, Young, Nazi and Proud, Collett said that he considered AIDS a “friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it.”
The response so far to the BBC’s outrageous decision to provide a platform for the BNP has been both under-whelming and deeply worrying.
What is Fascism?
Often liberals will simply define fascism as irrationality, extreme racism or anti-Semitism and socialists will slip idly into applying this label to any centre-right grouping regardless. This is most definitely a tragedy for we become disarmed when actually faced with the evils of fascism; unable to differentiate between it and other repugnant anti-human forces, we allow it to grow and spread. This is most definitely the case with the recent rise of the BNP in the UK. If you have been spending your time calling Bush and Blair fascists, then it is highly unlikely you are prepared for the real battles ahead. Similarly, if you believe fascism is merely an odious out-dated ideology which can be defeated by “reasoned argument” then you are opening the doors to the army recruiting sergeants of Nazism. This marks the debate, or lack of debate so far, about the BBC providing a platform for fascists
We believe Leon Trotsky captured the essence of fascism when describing the rise of Mussolini:
At the moment that the “normal” police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium — the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpen-proletariat — all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy.
From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vice of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini — the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role — but it means first of all for the most part that the workers’ organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism….
For Trotsky fascism is not simply a parliamentary movement, or a section of the ruling class but a mobilisation of the masses, led principally by the petty bourgeois but funded by larger capitalists desperate to re-assert discipline over the social order:
The fascist movement in Italy was a spontaneous movement of large masses, with new leaders from the rank and file. It is a plebeian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers. It issued forth from the petty bourgeoisie, the slum proletariat, and even to a certain extent from the proletarian masses; Mussolini, a former socialist, is a “self-made” man arising from this movement.
We quote Trotsky here not because he had special superhuman powers and was always correct but because no better analysis of fascism has ever come forth, indeed Stalinist (for Stalinists in the 1930’s, Teddy Roosevelt was a fascist) and liberal uses of the word fascist are exactly the analyses which have held back successful struggles against this vile creed.
We need to understand that fascists will always organise outside parliament, recruiting amongst the dispossessed and training that army in street battles against key sections of the population, “immigrants”, gays and lesbians etc. By appealing to notions of racial superiority and traditional values they want to subordinate us to their hierarchies, rob us of our ability to organise collectively. This is why, although they tap into anti-capitalist slogans, they despise socialism and its belief in unity and equality.
It is also important to understand that it is particularly at times like these, a recession and rising unemployment, that the fascists see an opportunity for growth. They want to tap into the anger of the dispossessed but rather than provide a systematic attack against the causes of that misery, they want to scapegoat key groups like black people, Asians, Jews, and gays
Now let us look at the leader of the BNP, the man the BBC have invited to appear on its flagship programme Question Time. He is a convicted racist. In 1998 he was was convicted of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred, for which he received a suspended prison sentence. He was also charged in 2005 with inciting racial hatred, but following a retrial was cleared. He has been the leader of the BNP since 1999 and is seen as the driving force behind presenting the party as a respectable parliamentary force.
Griffin is also a close associate of Italian convicted terrorist, Robert Fiore, they set up a language school together and are responsible for developing an organisation called the International Third Position, itself a development of the Political Soldier movement (which incidentally sought money from Gadhafi). What is key to all these movements is the notion of revolutionary nationalism, the subordination of everything to racial superiority. Their inspiration came from the military armies of the Spartans, the Romans, the Crusaders and the Iron Guard of Cornelia Zelea Cordneau (a Romanian fascist).
When Griifin spoke in 1993 of the BNP’s first elected councillor at the Millwall Council by-election, he was not getting confused by the euphoria of victory, when he said:
The electors of Millwall did not back a post modernist rightist party, but what they perceived to be a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan “Defend Rights for Whites” with well-directed boots and fists.
This is not simply an ideology, it is an attempt to build a mass fascist organisation that ramapages around the streets.
Some, however, are seduced by Griifin’s claim for respecatability, he has distanced himself from his holohoax position (Griffin denied the nazi holocaust took place), he has replaced compulsory repatriation with volunatary repatriation for “immigrants” as part of BNP policy and he has condemned the far-right English Defence League (he says it’s a Zionist plot to undermine his party). But this is the same Nick Griffin who led the standing ovation at a BNP meeting for the a gang of white men who, by running down the street attacking Asians and their property, provoked the Oldham riots in 2001.
The way to beat the fascists is firstly to meet them physically in the streets. This is not to glorify violence. As socialists we abhor violence but only through uniting to confront the fascists, can we prevent further and greater violence to come. Indeed, the fascists recruit from those who feel week and powerless and are attracted by the violent images of the fascists excercising “their power” but when black and white, women and men, gay and straight show unity and kick them off the streets, we weaken their hold on potential recruits.
The second is to deny them a public platform. Not only will a public platform give them an air of respectability it will also give them channels to encourage violence. When the gay community was attacked by ex-BNP member David Copleland in 1999: Griffin said:
The TV footage of dozens of ‘gay’ demonstrators flaunting their perversion in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive.
To give this man air time to spread his vile propaganda is unacceptable.
The BBC appear to have made the decision that the BNP’s success in the recent European Elections in the UK (they won 5.5% of the votes cast) entitles them to have their voice heard. Thus its decision to invite Griffin on Question Time and give airtime to “two young” BNP activists.
This absolutely scandulous and, until the BBC changes its mind with this disastrous policy, we call on all TEFL teachers to
1. Boycott the use of BBC material in classes, boycott Teaching English British Council BBC blog and ask your students to boycott BBC Learning
2. Write to (ask your students to write to) BBC Learning via http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/081121_contact_us.shtml explaining your (their) decision
Hope not hate. Unite and fight to defeat the fascists. A defeat for fascism in Britain is a defeat for fascism everywhere.