The BNP is definitely far-right


2:54 am - June 9th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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It looks like various conservative figures are on a mission to convince everyone the BNP is a “far-left” party than actually what it is: a far-right party. Tim Montgomerie of CH has drafted a letter to the BBC to make a formal complaint. Well, I’m going to draft a letter listing all the reasons the BNP is a far-right party and the media should describe it as such.

No doubt some will make points supporting Tim’s positions but can I at least hear a whole range of points supporting the “far-right” tag so I can write something comprehensive?

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


It’s a silly argument. “Far left” and “far right” are like a lot of political terms not very meaningful — essentially they mean whatever the person using them wants them to mean. Terms like this, especially when used in a contentious way, generate more heat than light. I try to avoid such terms and be more precise.

Insofar as the terms mean anything, the meaning of any word is, by definition, what people you speak the language use the wrod to mean. Most UK voters would describe the BNP as “right” or “far right”, therefore the BNP by definition fits those terms.

Sure, but this isn’t about semantics, this is about positioning. The right don’t want to the BNP to be associated with the phrase ‘far-right’ because it (rightly) assumes that their policies and ideas taken to the extreme would result in the BNP’s agenda.

3. journeyman

There has been this discussion many times before.Recent publications like “Liberal Fascism”and United in Hate have done their bit to stir up the orthodox mud at the bottom of the pond to be re-analysed–before settling to the bottom of the pond for another fifty years.
Perhaps the label Communist doesn,t have quiet as many negative associations as Fascist is because “Uncle Joe” killed alot of Nazis
It was certainly in Stalins interest to have Nazism identified with the capitalist west (right-wing ideology gone bonkers) and associated as far away as possible from being just another version of socialist totalitarian statism.
“Uncle Joe”had many admirers among the post war British workers socialist tribe.
Back in 68,one of my friends,who worked as an apprentice brick-layer,was inspired by his father,a Stalin fan,to take part in a union financed trip to Moscow,together with several other members to meet up and have a kind of cultural exchange with their Soviet counter-parts.
At the get together,many of the Russians took advantage of this opportunity to confide discreetly ,and nervously to my friend ,the oppressive nature of the system and their admiration for the West.
It was then that one of them inquired as to the precise political orientation that my friend adhered to–upon which he replied with a cockney accent,a large toothy grin and a voice that echoed across the room,” I,m Stalins boy “.

4. journeyman

Hey comrades,guess what Melanie Phillips has written about over at Spectator.
Its the B.N.P.

5. Praguetory

This isn’t going too well is it, but then again you’ve admitted that this is purely about positioning. I remember the furious reaction when I identified the between John McDonnell and the BNP policies (cue spam linking accusation), but I guess the differences between Labour and the BNP are like squabbles between siblings.

It seems to me that if you tried to fit the BNP onto the “Political Compass” grid it would indeed come into the upper (authoritarian) left (economic) quadrant.

Of course I reckon that anyone who wants any kind of command-like economy ought to be classed as “right” and anyone who wants any kind of a free economy ought to be classed as “left” as they would have been in the UK when the late 19th century liberals led the working classes on the Free Trade ticket.

But in common usage it’s the other way around isn’t it, and since the BNP want to reverse all sorts of privatization and provide protectionism for British workers and so on, then economically I don’t see how you can argue they are not “of the left”.

There is a big difference of course between the “upper left” and the “lower left” on the Political Compass, but left is left. You can’t call them “right-left” but you can call them “authoritarian-left”.

I attended a pre-election meeting of the No2EU effort that was attended by veteran socialists from around Coventry, including former Militant Labour MP Dave Nellist. Even he agreed, along with the rest of the room, that the BNP’s policies were closest to those on the left-wing and was talking directly to the people that the Labour Party should be reaching out to. That was the whole reason the No2EU effort was set up – to give people of the left an alternative to the BNP when they didn’t want to vote Labour. If this doesn’t show you that the BNP are predominately a left-wing party then I don’t know what will.

Furthermore, Nick Griffin said on Iain Dale’s election coverage that the BNP considers itself to be “beyond” descriptors like left and right wing because they have some policies that would be traditionally classed as left or right. So even they describe themselves not as a far-right party. Tim Montgomerie’s suggestion of calling them an ultra-nationalist party is, in my mind, the best way forward.

Come on Sunny! At least tell us what your reasons are!

One weakness in the arguments of some on the right-wing blogosphere is that they seem to think that identifying the BNP as “far right” is somehow a choice being made by the BBC, reflecting its left-liberal bias, when in fact this follows the established practice of political discourse across the democratic west for most of the last century – among politicians of left, right and centre; among academics from various perspectives; among the print media from all sides. That seems to me a perfectly reasonable basis for the BBC following established practice. Conservatives would tend to regard established traditions of discourse as having legitimacy for that reason, that they reflect understood meanings within established communities of knowledge (rather than to reframe these from first principles).

There seems to me to be little of substance in this debating point. It is a bit silly. (Norman Tebbit used to complain at Russian Communist anti-reformers being called ‘conservatives’ – they were both Communists ideologically, and conservatives positionally). I would question the need to counter-pressure the BBC over what is quite a silly campaign.

But why has that been how neo-fascist parties have almost always and everywhere been described?

What is the BNP’s central animating ideology?
* Race as defining nation, and a worldview based on racial hierarchy: a belief in the rights of one group – whites/indigineuous Brits – as having superior claims to others, including those who are also citizens of the same state but not part of the racial group.
* This is articulated as a politics of cultural protection of the traditional and historic nation (in terms of religion, institutions), with the claim that left-wing ideologies (universal human rights vs national rights; anti-racism; multiiculturalism; liberalism) have been adopted by left, centre and right across the mainstream so creating an existential threat to the traditional nation. This is a traditional/authoritarian right position.
* it is socially authoritarian on a wide range of issues – crime, immigration, etc – though these are applications of its central claims about race, nation, history, culture.
* It is also economically protectionist and interventionist – but these are relatively peripheral means to its central animating beliefs and vision.

I think this can properly be described as “far right” as “extreme/authoritarian right” though “ultra-nationalist” “neo-fascist” and other labels are also appropriate.

To call this “far right” does not mean that the right is racist or tends towards racism; nor does it mean that there can not be racism on the left. But a politics defined around racial hierarchy is rooted in a traditional authoritarian view which is one ideological grouping historically identified as on the right.

To regard it as “extreme left” is a debating point, but I think depends on the claim that the BNP is motivated by (say) economic protectionism or the state control of industry; or this is motivated by the belief that “less state” defines the right and “more state” defines the left. This is a position within the right – but it is a partial (and quite recent) description which is ahistorical in what it claims defines

The BNP rejects the animating view of left-wing ideologies (of different types) which is a belief in equality. That founds – in different ways – the politics of the democratic left (eg social democracy, democratic socialism, ethical socialism) and the authoritarian, anti-democratic left (eg Stalinism). It rejects the central tenets of liberalism. So the liberal right and the democratic right will naturally reject the extreme and authoritarian right.

Montgomerie writes that ‘It is also important that the BNP is labelled in a way that does not misrepresent its underlying beliefs and does not inaccurately link them in any way to parties of the centre right”.
– But I don’t see that “far right” associates those parties with the centre-right, any more than labelling Pol Pot as “extreme left” associates him with the centre-left or social democracy.

Doesn’t look like that letter’s making much progress so far

Sunny, why don’t you make a start yourself?

Meanwhile can you perhaps explain how the policies of the “free market” right would, if taken to the extreme, lead to the BNP?

You can certainly see how the anti-free market policies of the left would lead to Stalinism!

Call me a cynic, but it seems that if you cannot think of reasons why the BNP is far right for yourself then there presumably can’t be very many and they aren’t very good ones either.

The typical left right scale is an economical one, and in that the BNP are very much left wing, favouring nationalisations and socialism (the are a National Socialst party). If you go on the libertarian-authoritarian scale I believe they would be extreme right wing, but similarly Labour and the Conservatives are both viewed as right wing there.

http://www.politicalcompass.org/extremeright

Whether they are left or right depends on which scale you use, but if your aim is to say ‘Labour is left, Conservative is right’ then you have to put the BNP further to the left.

12. Rob Knight

The racial component of the BNP’s policy-set is, I suppose, right-wing in that they favour racial homogeneity, which certainly strikes me as an ultra-conservative viewpoint. But their economic policies aren’t really right wing at all – they’re not proposing tax cuts or a free market, they’re proposing protectionism and greater state intervention. I’d always assumed that those were left-wing things.

Anyway, it’s pretty stupid to say “ha, the right want to escape any association with the BNP despite the similarity between the BNP and some right-wing viewpoints” whilst simultaneously doing the same yourself when someone points out that the BNP have some left-wing policies too. You’re trying to have your cake and eat it, and nobody is stupid enough to believe you. By all means, argue that the BNP represent some pretty foul opinions, but there’s no need to try to smear the Tories at the same time. That kind of silly political game is part of the reason we have BNP MEPs now.

Look, it’s really quite simple. You’re on the left and you define ‘the left’ as being a liberal, multi-cultural, open, progressive force that believes in the role of government to better the lives of its citizens through progressive taxation and targeted spending. The BNP do not share all of those views, ergo they can’t be on the left as you define it. If they’re not from our part of the political landscape, they must be from somewhere else, and the only other place we know exists is ‘the right’.

But to your evil twin on the right (Tim Montgomerie?), ‘the right’ is a fairness-oriented, law-abiding, respectful and community-focused force that believes in the role of individuals in improving their own lives and those of their communities, with government being a basically neutral arbiter that enforces the law and little else. Again, he will look at the BNP and see very little in common with himself. They’re not from his part of the political landscape either, so the BNP can’t possibly be right-wing! And if they’re not right-wing, then they can only be left-wing.

Both sides make use of the idea of the ‘far’ left or right, to get around the absurdity of their positions. The honest decent lefty and honest decent righty both know that neither of them are like the BNP, so they have to tell a story about how somewhere, way beyond the ‘normal’ left or right, there is a land of evil trolls and demons. Meanwhile, the BNP will happily watch these silly games and use the opportunity to accuse the decent lefty and the decent righty of having lost touch with what normal people really think. Sadly enough, they’d probably be right.

13. Rob Knight

Another important point is that granting the BNP a position on the left-right spectrum does, in some sense, give them legitimacy. Plenty of decent people in this country are right-wing, however much we disagree with them. Claiming that the BNP are just an extreme version of these people is doing the BNP too much credit.

Most of the time I hear the BNP described as ‘far right’, it’s in a context where ‘far right’ sounds like a cop-out term. ‘Racist’ would be far more suitable. ‘Last night, the leader of the far right BNP addressed a rally…’ would sound a lot more effective and accurate if ‘far right’ was replaced with the more accurate and meaningful term ‘racist’, would it not? Given that, why on earth do we want to insist on keeping the ‘far right’ tag?

14. Shatterface

Balir mudded the waters considerably when he attacked the public sector as ‘the forces of conservatism’.

Generally speaking, words are defined by their use not the dictionary and BNP supporters and opponants alike more frequently refer to the BNP as ‘right wing’. As Rob (14) notes the racial conponant is historically right-wing but since EVERY OTHER policy they have is subordinate to their racist agenda any ‘left-wing’ policy is no more than a Trojan horse.

This is not a party in which White supremacy is ballanced by socialist economics, it’s a White supremacist party willing to throw the working class a few crumbs. They could drop every left-leaning policy and remain recognizabe as the BNP; they could not drop the racism without changing beyond all recognition.

From the top story on the daily review:

“After some discussion, Dominic Grieve, the cerebral shadow Justice minister, intervened. “I don’t worry about the hard left,” he said. “It is the rise of the far right that scares me.” ”

He was, of course, talking about the BNP. So even top Tories refer to the BNP as “the far right”. So why can’t their underlings also accept that? Is it because in their pathetic zeal to ascribe something positive to being right-wing, they don’t want to admit their nationalism, warmongering, emphasis on “traditional values of Christ, kitchen and kinder” all lead towards the BNP’s racism and segregation.

16. Shatterface

Incidentally, look at the writings of any ‘left-wing’ icon from the 18th & 19th Centuries (including Marx) and you’ll find apalling examples of racism, sexism and homophobia: however powerful and distinctly left-wing theories can – and have – been abstracted from their work. Look at the right and you’ll find a continuity between their economics and their prejudices as they are both about legitimating inequalities.

The BNP is far-left – provided you assume that their defining feature is their economic policy.

In the nightmare vision of a BNP with a chance to form a coalition government with either left (and having to abandon their vision of racial homogeneity in the UK and repatriation of ethnic minorities) or right (and having to abandon their economic policies) which do you think they will choose?

I think it is the answer to this question that sheds most light on where the BNP are most appropriately placed.

To call the BNP left-wing confuses tactics with political ideology.

Look at Harriet’s uncle Francis…:)

19. Praguetory

Mark M said “Call me a cynic, but it seems that if you cannot think of reasons why the BNP is far right for yourself then there presumably can’t be very many and they aren’t very good ones either.” but the headline said that the BNP is ‘definitely’ far right. The conclusion is clear, Sunny just needs to scrabble around for the reasons.

I think it’s actually healthy that Conservatives like Montgomerie are keen to distance themselves from the BNP, though less so that they wish to do so by seeking to ‘place’ them on the Left; that smacks of inappropriate political opportunism when we all might be better served combatting the BNP jointly (as candidates did at Manchester Town Hall on Sunday by walking off stage in unison when Griffin went on).

I think one reason the Conservatives are so keen to distance themselves in any way they can is the very real evidence that, while certainly the BNP has gained its biggest holds in ex-Labour territory by exploiting real material deprivation to create false ‘enemies’ out of BME populations, the actual BNP activists (rather than their victims) identify with rightwing values and therefore the Conservative party

However much Conservatives would like it to be, a BNP activist in Blackburn seeking selection as a Conservative candidate (and getting as far as the selection panel) is not a one-off.

Racist, mysoginist, homopobic etc. attitudes are deeply embedded in many local Conservative parties, and the BNP and Conservative grassroots do have much in common. Just google Daniel O’Docherty. Or Patrick Mercer.

Or, more or less at google random, try the comments at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/06/23/what_is_racist_these_days Those are the voices of Conservatism, defending the right to be racist. Tim Montgomerie is correct to be worried about that.

The BNP are both left and right, and neither. They take what they think is popular and fit it to their twisted racist ideas

Their economics are left but socially they are right. But with both areas are underpinned by racist ideas, especially the economics which wouldn’t be able to be achieved with out deporting whole swathes of society.

Left? Right? Who gives a shit?

22. the a&e charge nurse

Sunny – your essay is of theoretical rather than practical interest.

The BNP are little more than a projection of the anxieties of ordinary people.

This mob never have and never will find much support amongst the general population, left or right, who cares?

If you want to worry about the right then I think it would be far more productive to focus your energies on likes of the Danniel Hannan – he (and his ilk) pose far more of a threat than the BNP

23. Richard (the original)

The problem is that the European right is far mroe “statist” than the British Right. Therefore to the British Right the BNP looks left-wing.

@23 I disagree that it is healthy the Conservatives want to distance themselves from the BNP without actually dealing with the many racists, sexists and homophobes in their ranks and in their parliamentary party. Rhetoric is cheap but they would do well to expunge their party of its own hard right elements rather than just say the BNP’s own far right tendencies are not the logical progression of Tory intolerance and paternalism.

25. Richard (the original)

Question – if the BNP dropped their racist policies (voluntary reptriation) would that suddenly make them left-wing?

26. the a&e charge nurse

[28] If the BNP dropped their racists policies then they lose their raison d’etre.

Sunder [10] has already picked up on this point.

Hi Sunny,

The recent poll (on Aaron’s thread) is useful for this. What it shows is that a majority of people think the BNP is right-wing, and that most people who vote BNP describe themselves as right-wing (while only small minorities think they are left wing or are left-wing supporters of the BNP).

Also, it shows that the top issue for BNP voters is immigration (rather than, say, economic policy) and that they hold views about race relations which are most definitely not left wing.

Clever debating points aside, if most people think the BNP is right wing, and most people who vote BNP are right wing, it seems reasonable for the BBC to describe them as right wing.

Sunny – what were you doing up at 2.54am – get some sleep!!

Though if you were hoping to wake to find your letter written for you, bad luck…

I saw an entertaining cartoon recentlly – a guy hunched over a screen, his partner calling out
“for goodness sake come to bed” and he replying
“I can’t – someone is WRONG on the internet”.

That’s all very well Dan, and I remember seeing a graphic once on ConHome showing that the biggest block of people who would vote BNP second were Tories, but polling research from last Thursday I was reading about yesterday clearly showed that it was largely people who were previously Labour inclined who voted BNP:

“This finding emerges from the largest election survey ever conducted
in Britain. Last week YouGov questioned more than 32,000 electors in
order to understand not only the people who voted Labour,
Conservative and Liberal Democrat, but those who backed the Greens,
Ukip and the BNP.

“Our sample included almost 1,000 BNP voters, and much larger numbers
of those who backed the other five parties. As our final prediction
poll was the most accurate of all the pre-election surveys, with an
average error of just one point, we are confident of the results from
this very large sample.

….

“But perhaps the most startling finding came when we tested anecdotal
reports that many BNP voters were old Labour sympathisers who felt
that the party no longer speaks up for them. It turns out to be true.
As many as 59 per cent of BNP voters think that Labour “used to care
about the concerns of people like me but doesn’t nowadays”.”

Oh boy, this again. As people above have comprehensively demonstrated, the BNP does not fit comfortably onto a traditional left/right axis. It’s economic policies are, undeniably, left wing, and it takes most of its vote in Labour areas, and probably from Labour voters, yet to describe it as left wing would be unfairly to tarnish Labour and other parties of the centre left.

As for it’s raison d’etre – racial supremacy – this is why it is described as ‘far right’ or ‘extreme right’. This is really by convention rather than for a specific ideological reason. There are racists on right and left. Soviet Russia was inherently extremely racist, for example. Don Paskini says above that their views about race relations are definitely not left wing – well the most restrictive immigration legislation ever passed in the UK was under a left wing Labour Government. Immigration policy does not sit easily within the old left/right axis either.

The old political compass division into left/right economics and liberal/authoritarian social policy is probably the best way to look at the BNP. And then we can see that the BNP are left/authoritarian. When you take on board what Don says, that people aren’t voting BNP because of their support for worker’s collectives, the best way to describe them is as an authoritarian party.

What riles Tim Montgomerie and his ilk is the way that the ‘far right’ formulation is used to smear the Conservatives – as when Gordon Brown said on the Andrew Marr show about Euro-scepticism “The Tories, UKIP and the BNP” as if to group them together.

The argument above seems to be that because everyone calls the BNP right wing, they are by definition right wing. I’m not convinced of the intellectual rigour of that position.

I have been reading Sheri Berman’s The Primacy of Politics recently: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Primacy-Politics-Democracy-Europes-Twentieth/dp/0521521106

She is a social democrat who is willing to acknowledge the at times, startlingly close relationship between socialism, fascism and national socialism, and their structural similarities that have at least traditionally focussed on the nation-state. Obviously, fascism/ national socialism adds in the extra emphasis on race, blood and soil and loses the interest in formal democratic systems. But even the paragon of “nice” post-war socialism in Sweden, had a eugenics programme for quite some time (sterilising people obviously, not killing them).

So one wonders if, now the Soviet propaganda has subsided (for that see: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/histn/histn049.htm ), that people will start to see the parallels between these systems of thought.

However, I think at least in some senses, we are nearly all fascists now. We all seem to be obsessed with the mechanisms of state and we all, implicitly or explicitly, judge its success on the basis of the welfare of the people (we emphasise different aspects of what that welfare consists of). It is actually rather hard to make a political argument that does not, at base, refer to this. Even liberals often treat individual rights as welfare interests that people have, rather than natural rights with their own independent value. Neo-liberals argue for laissez-faire economic policy on the grounds that it is good for people’s welfare, not because of any principle that state cannot or should not be involved in the market.

All these ideologies, all the way from hardcore communism through fascism, then environmentalist all the round to neo-liberalism fit into this particular concept of the state which I believe Foucault discussed as part of his conception of “Governmentality” – that the state is basically a husband of the people. In the end, all this hatred against the BNP might just be the narcissism of small differences. They take what is “in the air” of the modern way of doing politics and take it in one possible, and logical, direction.

Yes the BNP do bang on about nationalisation but they also call for “the raising of the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million” and complain that “personal tax is far too high”.

And they say: “Oriental countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore have managed their economies to combine private enterprise competition with the national good, and these are the models the BNP would emulate.”

But as Sunder says, you have to ask what is the BNP’s central animating ideology? Discussion of its economics is a red herring. They can (and will) shift their economic policies, and adopt populist left and right positions as it suits them, but as [29] says: race is the reason they exist.

Tory Troll’s account of the first GLA meeting involving Richard Barnbrook.

http://torytroll.blogspot.com/2008/05/richard-barnbrook-shunned-at-first-gla.html

Barnbrook voted with the Tories or abstained on every motion except the election of Deputy Chair where he votes with the Greens, against the Conservative black candidate.

The BNP will say anything to get elected, I would argue that in trying to understand where they sit on the spectrum you ought to look at their voting records. The article details the highest ranking elected BNP member’s first day on the GLA.

The BNP are a racist party set up to argue for racial nationalism and purity in the UK. Racism is of the right. Their economic ideology will change depending on whatever gets them the most votes from angry whites in the UK.

I think Sunder and texas pretty much nail this. It’s really a very silly argument: “far right” is far from being an ideal term and I don’t think there’s much mileage in defending it too much, but to describe them as left-wing is nothing more than a “no u” smear. That fascism is left-wing is a classic argument that bores on the right bring out time and time again. I refer them to Michal Kalecki on fascism and capitalism. The argument itself would be more plausible if there was a genuine separation between the crudely FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOM-toting economic right and the social conservatives, but last I checked Dan Hannan and Andrew Rosindell were in the same party, and there was rather an overlap between the membership of the Freedom Association and the Monday Club (God rest its soul). Which party were Enoch Powell and Alan Clark in, again? Was it more the left or the right that supported Franco and Pinochet?

Anyway, I think everyone would be much happier if they were routinely described in the media as “fascist” or preferably “neo-Nazi”, since that is what they are. I think I agree with Montgomerie (God help me) on this point. He doesn’t seem to be calling for them to be described as “far left” himself, and the bit about them holding left-wing policies is just a gratuitous and ignorant troll.

So, in summary (trans: I forgot to make this point clear), I don’t think Sunny should defend the “far-right” tag in a letter to the BBC. I think he should broadly agree with Montgomerie that there are better terms to be used and suggest fascist or “neo-Nazi”. It’s surely something that the left and the decent right (heh) can agree on.

These Tory complaints about the BNP being labelled ‘far-Right’ are so boring and irritating. I think Sunder’s arguments above perfectly summarise why such a description is accurate.

Obviously Tim M and likeminded conservatives don’t like the idea of having to share political ‘space’ with the BNP scum. Like spoiled children they want everything that is wrong with the world to be blamed on the left.

It would be like me complaining as a moderate leftist that Galloway and the SWP and others should be classified as ‘far-right’ for their support for dictatorial regimes. It would be a dodgy argument. I can live with the fact that these people are commonly described as ‘far-left’ even though their socialism has very, very, little to do with my own.

I would perhaps prefer it if instead of the BBC and everyone else categorising the BNP as ‘far-Right’ and expecting that to mean the same thing for all viewers/listeners/readers the BNP was described as a “constitutionally racist organisation led by a Holocaust denier and full of activists with histories of neo-Nazism and convictions for violence”.

Racism is of the right.

Assertion doesn’t make it a fact. Why is racism of the right? You have to do better than just saying ‘BNP are racists; racism is right wing: BNP are right wing’.

Support for the free market is usually considered to be right wing. It is considered right wing to oppose greater government intervention in our lives, and to oppose increased regulation. Can it also be inherently right wing to support greater government intervention and regulation and oppose the free market when it comes to immigration?

I would argue that immigration falls outside the left/right axis and falls into a populist/’liberal’ one (and not in the American sense…). The argument that racism is inherently right wing is little more than an attempt to smear the mainstream right as racists.

Oh, and I agree that they should not be described as being left wing either. They fall outside the right/left paradigm. Which is what Tim Montgomerie is saying.

The BNP is neither far left nor far right. Their economic policy is letf of the centre, their social policy is divisive and authoritarian. They’re a national socilaist policy (as somebody else said they would be more accuractely named as the English National Party, not the BNP). To compare them to either right or left is not very meaningful as right or left tradionally reflects economic policy. Instead they have to be vied as fascist party, which is opposite to a Liberal party.

Tim J @ 41 – I agree, but I’m no so sure that supporting free markets is a necessary condition to be economically right-wing. I was idly wondering about this the other day: is the key distinction between left- and right-wing more properly opposition/support for free markets, or support/opposition for more equal economic outcomes? Uncle Miltie liked to spin the yarn about free-market right-wing producing more equal outcomes even in a world of non-pefect competition, but sadly it ain’t so. Griffin (in his new fresh and sanitised public persona) openly doesn’t believe in equal outcomes but is often in opposition to free markets, so where does that put him on the economic axis? I don’t think anything is clear, other than that the “right-wing” tag obscures more than it reveals.

1. BNP are fiercely anti-immigration. Anti-immigration – to the point of closing all entry points and deporting “non-indigenous peoples” – is and always has been a hallmark of the extreme right.

2. Racial theories of supremacy and hierarchy. Whilst at an economic level, “left” and “right” my blur (Stalinism is economically very similar to state Facism), the extreme left has no historic track record of endorsing racial theories of hierarchical orderings due to genetics. This is, and has always been, the hallmark of the far right.

3. Defence. The BNP wants to make Britain a “fortress state”; this militaristic autarky has historically been the preserve of far right regimes; Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Fascist Spain may have been allies, but they were suspicious allies prizing their own independent military standing. Contrast this with the block military approach of the Soviet Union.

4. Personal defence: The BNP want every home to own a gun. Again this is a hallmark of the right, not the left; militarised extreme right-wing regimes have typically promoted the bearing of arms by individuals, as part of the militaristic autarky practiced by the state. Extreme left wing states attempt to control citizens from an angle which sees their having their own weaponry as a direct challenge to the hegemony of the state (Stalin: “Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?”)

5. The BNP’s own long-standing antipathy of the extreme left. Trawl BNP forums – or be unlucky enough to have BNP supporters find your blog – and you will see that they really, really hate the extreme left (even more than the “liberal elites who are race traitors to the ordinary white male”). Whilst the BNPs economic policies do look a lot like state Stalinism, that’s only because state Stalinims looks like state Fascism, such is the control of the state over the means of production and the curtailment of enterprise freedom. Nonetheless, the BNP’s membership see the extreme left as the ultimate enemy. If you point out that 6 million jews died in the holocaust, BNP party members typically reply “What about Stalin’s gulags!”, as though two wrongs make a right. If the BNP really were “extreme left”, they’d embrace the legacy of Stalin, Mao etc. In reality, one of Griffin’s favourite terms of derisions is “Stalinist”. In that, he is simply continuing the long feud between extreme left and right that has raged since the 1920s; he and his party are the heirs to Hitler and von Ribbentrop and Himmler.

So if right wing can be used to define a political party that is clearly statist and communalist, does that mean that libertarians are left wing?

No. Of course not.

What it means is that we need to move on from an outmoded political lexicon and begin to have rational debate without the intrusion of such obsolete terminology.

The debate on this thread only goes to prove that Sunny is stuck in a time warp.

So is Dan Hannan right wing?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most importantly, I forgot about rejection of equality. Sunder already nailed it though:

“The BNP rejects the animating view of left-wing ideologies (of different types) which is a belief in equality. That founds – in different ways – the politics of the democratic left (eg social democracy, democratic socialism, ethical socialism) and the authoritarian, anti-democratic left (eg Stalinism). It rejects the central tenets of liberalism. So the liberal right and the democratic right will naturally reject the extreme and authoritarian right.”

is the key distinction between left- and right-wing more properly opposition/support for free markets, or support/opposition for more equal economic outcomes?

Can’t it be both? As has been demonstrated again and again, free markets do not produce economic equality. What they do, supporters will argue, is so greatly increase overall prosperity that everyone will benefit, albeit not in equal measure.

ydue @ 44

“Uncle Miltie” as you call him was clearly a lilly livered collaborator. Radical Free Trade was, and in reality remains, the cry of the working class for equity. Of course no system of so-called “free markets” has produced an equitable outcome so far, since they have always been skewed in favour of the plutocrats by the latter’s ability to access and manipulate governments, of all political hues, to protect them from the real effects of truly free markets. We have a non-/less-perfect market because of the state tinkering with it – something it cannot help. It is in the genetic make up of political government.

What a kerfuffle,

Tim Montgomerie admits in his letter that, in their patriotism, the BNP has something in common with the right and he does so before he points out the presence of traditionally leftish policies in the BNP platform but – far from seeking to smear the left by calling labelling the BNP a far left party, he suggests the term ultra-nationalists.

The BNP is, at its core, a racist party. That is what it is there for. In order to fill out a platform it needs some other policies which it will garner from the right or from the left in order to grab support. But those of us who despise the BNP do not despise them for pilfering economic policies from either Labour, the Conservatives or even the Monster Raving Loony Party, we despise them for being racists. I think I can be confident in saying that no-one on this site would vote BNP even if the rest of their platform was resolutely wonderful.

The term far-right has often been applied to fascist groups, along with other superlative forms of terms associated with the right (ultra-conservative, traditionalist etc) but fascist parties have pursued leftish policies too. Protectionism being an obvious example.
It is not true that there is a single left right spectrum with Stalin at one end and Hitler at the other. It therefore makes as little sense to refer to the BNP as far right as it does to call them far left.

The BBC acknowledges the importance of epithets in dealing with other controversial groups and has not always followed common usage where a more accurate one is available.

Tim Montgomerie is not calling for the replacement of one inaccurate label with another – he is asking that the BNP be more closely associated with the aspect of its own character that causes the rest of us so much revulsion. His letter does not represent a smear on the left but an attempt to focus the public’s attention on the specific aspect of the BNP which is unacceptable.

“Can’t it be both? As has been demonstrated again and again, free markets do not produce economic equality. What they do, supporters will argue, is so greatly increase overall prosperity that everyone will benefit, albeit not in equal measure.”

I am not gonna concede that. We live in a more equal society thanks, in great part, to a free market. Material prosperity is substantively more equal given advanced markets. For example, I am more equal to Alan Sugar or Terry Leahy, than I would be if I was a peasant compared to his lord. Why? Besides the fact that we both get judged in similar courts of law, we wear roughly the same clothes (cotton and other light breathable materials) and none of us go hungry for any amount of time without choosing to do so. We can all get to any city in the UK within a day. Ok, I’ll be taking the coach, but substantively we can get the same thing, and all of us will get a seat of some sort. We have remarkably similar lifestyles. I imagine Suger and Leahy spend plenty of time behind a desk on a computer too.

Although formal incomes can become drastically more unequal given markets, overall material prosperity from many perspectives is actually rather more equal than under different systems.

1. BNP are fiercely anti-immigration. Anti-immigration – to the point of closing all entry points and deporting “non-indigenous peoples” – is and always has been a hallmark of the extreme right.

But this is just another ‘racism is right wing; the BNP are racist: the BNP are right wing’ point. How right wing were the Khmer Rouge?

2. Racial theories of supremacy and hierarchy. Whilst at an economic level, “left” and “right” my blur (Stalinism is economically very similar to state Facism), the extreme left has no historic track record of endorsing racial theories of hierarchical orderings due to genetics. This is, and has always been, the hallmark of the far right.

Hmm. The Soviet Union was extremely anti-semitic, and extremely racist towards, say, Africans. Certainly in the 1970s the Russian word for ‘monkey’ was the same as that used for ‘black man’. Plus you have to look at the Russo-centric nature of the Communist party, and the targeted use of immigration so that ‘colonists’ took over the administration of the central Asian ‘stans’.

Or you could look at the eugenics practised in Scandinavia right up until relatively recently. Or Marie Stopes (who was on the left in Britain’s) loony ideas about master races. Bizarre ideas about racial purity are more widespread than you seem to think.

3. Defence. The BNP wants to make Britain a “fortress state”; this militaristic autarky has historically been the preserve of far right regimes; Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Fascist Spain may have been allies, but they were suspicious allies prizing their own independent military standing. Contrast this with the block military approach of the Soviet Union.

Don’t buy this either. Are you seriously arguing that the Warsaw Pact was a relationship of equals? The Eastern bloc was a militarist autarky par excellence. What you are describing is a hallmark of totalitarian states generally, and not a left/right divide.

4. Personal defence: The BNP want every home to own a gun. Again this is a hallmark of the right, not the left; militarised extreme right-wing regimes have typically promoted the bearing of arms by individuals, as part of the militaristic autarky practiced by the state.

Militarised extreme right-wing states like Switzerland or Canada presumably? I actually agree with you up to a point on this (that gun-ownership restrictions tend to be a feature more of the left than the right) but it’s hardly a slam-dunk argument.

5. The BNP’s own long-standing antipathy of the extreme left.

Like Stalin’s antipathy for Trotsky?

Look, the reason this gets difficult is that Fascism has always been described as right wing in its function as an opposite force to Communism, which came first and was an obvious extension (in some areas) of left wing ideals to their logical extremes. Fascism is not an extension of right wing ideas to their logical extremes (unless you believe that state control and militarism are inherently right wing, in the which case we’re leaving politics altogether and talking about something else.

The mainstream right definitely share several policy goals and beliefs with the BNP:

* Restricting immigration more severely
* Abolishing ‘political correctness’
* Abolishing the Human Rights Act
* Restricting access to public services by immigrants more severely
* Shift significant power away from the EU towards the UK
* Belief ‘multiculturalism’ is damaging society

“Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” asked Michael Howard. The BNP sure are.

Paul S @ 45

I’d take issue with this one:

“4. Personal defence: The BNP want every home to own a gun. Again this is a hallmark of the right, not the left; militarised extreme right-wing regimes have typically promoted the bearing of arms by individuals, as part of the militaristic autarky practiced by the state. Extreme left wing states attempt to control citizens from an angle which sees their having their own weaponry as a direct challenge to the hegemony of the state (Stalin: “Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?”)”

The disarming of the individual is a state versus individual issue. The state has and wants to consolidate its monopoly on the use of legitimate force. It doesn’t do a very good job, frankly, at protecting the people it has systematically disarmed. But it a stateless society, guided only by the anarchist principles of non-initiation of aggression and the right of everyone to self-ownership, I have no doubt that the likes of Tony Martin would have suffered the same fate at the hands of a non-state arbitration system (albeit with some other form of reparation than prison perhaps – which is inherently against the idea of self-ownership).

In a private law society you can bet that any insurance company offering someone a discount on their protection services for having the means to defend themselves in extremis would want to be damned sure that the person was sane, knew what they were doing with their weapon and appreciated that if they took precipitous action without being damned sure they were in the right and that such a response was proportionate to the threat they would likely be the one punished for doing so and their insurance company bearing the costs.

Having the right, ability and responsibility to take measures to defend yourself does not necessarily translate into having some kind of Militia. Though from an international peace perspectie, a voluntary militia which can come together as volunteers when required for community defense is a whole lot better than having a permanent state sanctioned killing force waiting to take aggressive actions against other people!

So far as I know, there are hardly any better examples of militaristic autarkies than North Korea and Burma, both ideologically left wing.

Is No2EU a right-wing group then?

We’ll be arguing next that Stalin wasn’t a “real” socialist….because Stalin was nasty, and socialists can’t possibly be nasty…

I doubt whether Montgomerie’s letter will have any effect, and at this rate I doubt whether Sunny’s letter will ever get written!

And here’s a timely post at HP on Marx’s anti-semitism:

“Sir Isaiah Berlin was one of the greatest historians of ideas of the last century. He was unequivocal in his verdict on Marx and the Jewish question:

As for the Jews, in [“On the Jewish Question,” Marx] declared them to be a repellent symptom of the social malaise of the time, an excrescence upon the social body – not a race, or a nation, or even a religion to be saved by conversion to some other faith or way of life, but a collection of parasites, a gang of money-lenders rendered inevitable by the economically self-contradictory and unjust society that had generated them – to be eliminated as a group by the final solution to all social ills – the coming, inescapable, universal, social revolution. The violently anti-Semitic tone… became more and more characteristic of Marx in his later years… and is one of the most neurotic and revolting aspects of his masterful but vulgar personality.[1]”

Was Marx therefore right wing?

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/06/09/karl-marx-radical-antisemitism-ii/

Tim J @ 41 :

“Support for the free market is usually considered to be right wing. It is considered right wing to oppose greater government intervention in our lives, and to oppose increased regulation.”

I’d disagree – Free-marketism and opposition to regulation of business is neither of the left nor the right, it is a purely libertarian position. The traditional “left/right” axis as defined in the British parliamentary sense was that of the Right supporting the continuation of aristocratic or privilege for a select group, and the Left wanting to reform and make distribution of wealth and power more equal across society – those are the ends. The means can be chopped and changed at will.

The BNP’s end is to create (I’m sure they’d see it as “restore”) privilege to a select group, specifically white men. Thus they are of the Right.

The traditional “left/right” axis as defined in the British parliamentary sense was that of the Right supporting the continuation of aristocratic or privilege for a select group, and the Left wanting to reform and make distribution of wealth and power more equal across society – those are the ends.

Well then the Tories aren’t right wing and this whole argument becomes meaningless.

Don’t take the bait. We all know that this is a bogus debate.

Yeah, the BNP are probably economically to the left of Labour, but no-one thinks that economic policy is a unique selling point for the BNP. Their defining feature is that they’re socially hyper-conservative – as in they have a vision of what a good society looks like that’s rooted somewhere in a mythical past.

This is how we know the right-wing campaign’s full of sh*t – in order to keep their political distance, they have to relentlessly focus on aspects of the BNP, and fascism more generally, that are essentially trivial. Check out Harry Phibbs here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/22/conservatives-bnp
“Well yes, there was that Holocaust thing, but let me tell you what the really bad thing was about the Nazis – bank nationalisations.”

No-one actually thinks this. In fact, judging fascism this way has traditionally been the first step towards justifying it (as in “Mussolini made the trains run on time.”)

Tim J @ 51 :

“Well then the Tories aren’t right wing and this whole argument becomes meaningless.”

What? A cabinet full of Old Etonians with a manifesto full of tax cuts for millionaires? No – not right-wing at all…

Jock @ 32 – The Channel Four analysis did claim that because 59% of BNP supporters think that the Labour party used to care about them, that showed that they were all disillusioned old Labour supporters. However, as the actual figures showed that 63% of ALL voters used to think the same (even 46% of Tory voters) their point doesn’t really stack up, unless you think that the British electorate totally is dominated by disillusioned old Labour voters.

The stats did also show that only a minority (between a quarter and a third) of BNP voters think that the Tories used to care about them, if you can read anything in to that – but that 59% would now prefer a Tory govt whereas only 17% would prefer a Labour govt.

Perhaps more importantly, to back up Don’s original point, 51% of BNP voters considered the BNP to be right-wing and only 14% left wing; similar margins considered themselves to be right-wing rather than left-wing; and they also considered the Labour party to be left-wing and the Tories right-wing, though the party they placed closest to themselves after the BNP was UKIP, which they also viewed as right-wing.

So, though there is arguably some evidence that more BNP voters have switched from Labour than from that Tories (though frankly it’s not very clear cut from this poll, despite C4’s spin on it) it’s also pretty clear that if these voters have switched from Labour, it’s not because they view the BNP as a better version of the Labour party, it’s because they have themselves become more right wing in their views.

Whether that makes the BNP a far-right party is a matter for debate, of course – to be consistent you would need to apply the same to other parties, and I don’t know how many LC contributors would put the Labour party far to the left of the Lib Dems, for example. And UKIP voters consider themselves and UKIP itself to be to the left of the Tories…

But, Pete, that is the same argument – that rightwing = racist. We are saying that you can’t take that as read (consider the racist origins of the progressive movement in the United States). Racism is a key and terrible feature of national socialism. The question is whether racism is left, right or neither. Perhaps it started off leftwing (see: http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=16217 ) but then passed to the right. But if that is what happened, then quite a few intellectuals made the same move too.

Nick @ 63

Hitler knowingly misappropriated the term “socialism” for his party in one of the earliest recorded PR moves by the hard-right to get the working classes on-side. Racism is right-wing because it confers an assumption of superiority and privilege baced on racial origin.

Assume I’m a little fuzzy on the “racist origins of the progressive movement in the United States”, though – unless you’re referring to the Dixiecrats. Do elaborate…

I agree with bluepillenation here.

Also that historically Tories have been willing to let extreme-right groups do their dirty work for them and not criticised them as heavily as the left has. A focus on race divides working-class people, and it’s the right who benefit from divisions in the working-class and the corresponding weakening of its power.

If there are now Tories who are happy to attack and organise against the BNP, then great. The Left should welcome them to the cause.

More broadly, a note to Tories: however much it might annoy you that fascists are described as having your ideology but more extremely so, it’s a waste of time trying to change that through campaigns like this. (Just as it’s widely accepted that Stalin was extreme-left, even though plenty of lefties are horrified at that suggestion.) If you want to be disassociated from the extreme-right, campaign and organise against them. It’ll take a while, but people will eventually notice, just as people notice at the moment that it’s mainly lefties who campaign against the BNP.

Racism is right-wing because it confers an assumption of superiority and privilege baced on racial origin.

Sigh. That’s just saying ‘racism is right wing because right-wingers are racist’. This is all getting increasingly pointless.

Anyone claiming the BNP is a far left party is politically illiterate. What the centre right fail to grasp is all this ‘old Labour’ stuff the BNP use is window dressing to their core programme of race hate. They say it because they’re playing the populist card. They’d quite happily push neoliberal policies if they thought there was electoral mileage in it.

It’s also interesting to see the distinct lack of concern the Tories have toward the BNP, beyond the ritual denunciations required by mainstream politics. If a genuine far left party like my organisation, the Socialist Party were pulling in BNP levels of support they would be shitting themselves.

Tim @ 67 :

No it is not saying that. The Tories are all about concentrating power in the hands of the wealthy, preferably from good aristocratic stock. The BNP are all about concentrating power in the hands of themselves on behalf of white men. Both want to keep power in the hands of a few, therefore both are right-wing. You just don’t have an answer for that.

Sorry, Tim J @ *66*.

Yes – Thatcher was so aristocratic!

More broadly, a note to Tories: however much it might annoy you that fascists are described as having your ideology but more extremely so, it’s a waste of time trying to change that through campaigns like this.

It annoys me because it’s so thunderingly unhistorical and unintelligent. Read Roger Griffin on fascism, read any of the sociological studies on fascism. The key tenets of fascism are so utterly divorced from the ideology of the right that it’s ridiculous. The removal of free speech, the one party state, the central administrative role of the military, the government control over business (corporatism): none of these are exaggerations of the right wing position, they are utterly and totally separate.

I’ll go along with Seymour Lipset who described fascism as ‘extremism of the centre’. It is not a right wing ideology in any meaningful definition of terms. Instead, as Orwell pointed out a very long time ago, it has become nothing more than an opprobrious epithet to be hurled at people you don’t like.

cjcjc @ 70 :

She certainly had a soft spot for aristocratic institutions, though what she really loved was vast quantities of private wealth.

It could be argued that she wasn’t a Tory in the traditional sense – and by extension Cameron’s crew are soemthnig of a return to tradition, but her main purpose was to claim the upper-middle and management classes on behalf of the Tories by massaging their egos with promises that they too could be just as wealthy and powerful as the gentry.

No it is not saying that. The Tories are all about concentrating power in the hands of the wealthy, preferably from good aristocratic stock. The BNP are all about concentrating power in the hands of themselves on behalf of white men. Both want to keep power in the hands of a few, therefore both are right-wing. You just don’t have an answer for that.

Well, the best answer to this is that it is, simply, nonsense. This argument has, literally, no merit insofar as it regard the Tories. So I shall dismiss it with a wave of my hand. Bah.

Eh? I think the “management” classes were already claimed.
Her achievement – bolstered by opposition incompetence – was the claiming of large numbers of the skilled working class.

Nick. Look, broadly I’d agree with you, and in a political philosophy class, you’d have an argument. There’s nothing inherently racist about being on the libertarian right.

But most people don’t understand “right-wing” in those terms, they understand it as the mix of free-market ideology and social conservatism that seems to make up right-wing parties in the Anglosphere there days.

Which is just to say that political terminology outside the academy tends to reflect politics outside the academy. See, for example, the word “liberal.”

Tim J @ 71 :

“The key tenets of fascism are so utterly divorced from the ideology of the right that it’s ridiculous. The removal of free speech, the one party state, the central administrative role of the military, the government control over business (corporatism): none of these are exaggerations of the right wing position, they are utterly and totally separate”

I don’t know what you think the “ideology of the right” is, but if you think it’s all about “freedom and free markets” then I’m afraid you’ve been sold a bill of goods there. It’s all about freedom if you’re in the club, but not if you’re on the outside.

Also, you’ve got it arse-backwards. Corporatism was not “government control over business”, it was, if anything, the other way round. Corporations dictated financial and employment policy to the State and the State gave them what they wanted in exchange for the use of their facilities when needed. That was Mussolini’s style anyway. Hitler was a bit different, but he gave IG Farben a slave labour workforce that ensured gargantuan personal profit for the board and the shareholders.

Tim J @ 73 :

“This argument has, literally, no merit insofar as it regard the Tories.”

Oh no?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Tory_Party

Preservation and retention on behalf of the King and the aristocracy was the whole point of the origins of the party! This expanded over time as the influence of the aristocracy waned over the centuries, but the Conservatives’ primary aim is to comfort the wealthy at the expense of theless well-off, no matter how much “compassionate” PR-laden language Cameron decides to couch it in.

cjcjc @ 74 :

“Her achievement – bolstered by opposition incompetence – was the claiming of large numbers of the skilled working class.”

Yeah – it was the swindle of the century.

What’s the point of this silly debate? Let’s just call them racist and leave it at that. To call them left or right wing is to lend them an ideological coherence that their pea-sized brains wouldn’t be able to cope with.

The removal of free speech, the one party state, the central administrative role of the military, the government control over business (corporatism): none of these are exaggerations of the right wing position, they are utterly and totally separate.

No, those *are* classic right-wing positions. Historically, right-wing politicians supported absolute rule by the monarch and aristocracy; that is what the term means. Left-wing politicians supported the rule of law, free trade and democracy.

In the 200+ years since the terms were coined, obviously there have been many shifts in the political landscape. But it’s only relatively recently that mainstream right-wing parties have rebranded themselves champions of economic liberalism, and only *very* recently (and mostly through the medium of lying) as champions of social freedom.

If libertarians actually believed in what they claimed, instead of just wanting to pay less tax while keeping everything else the same, they’d be proud to identify with the Left and join us in decrying the BNP as an evil bunch of right-wing bastards.

Tim Montogmerie’s attempt to completely invert the common lexicon of politics and history in this way, is nothing less than political correctness gone mad.

@Gregg – Marvelous.

@80, @81, agree wholeheartedly. Top.

77. So you’re looking at the 18th century origins of a party that has since gone through perhaps a dozen complete ideological overhauls and using it as evidence that the Tory party today seeks to increase the power of the aristocracy. Bah.

Corporatism was not “government control over business”, it was, if anything, the other way round

The definitition of corporatism is that the state takes control over businesses. Not merely business in fact, but the progressive takeover, by the state, of every non-state actor. Corporatism is the idea that the state should not merely run everything, but is everything.

No, those *are* classic right-wing positions. Historically, right-wing politicians supported absolute rule by the monarch and aristocracy; that is what the term means. Left-wing politicians supported the rule of law, free trade and democracy.

And since the BNP are in favour of Republicanism and the removal of the monarchy they are, on this analysis, not right wing. This is fatuous. You’d get better political analysis on CBeebies.

Tim J @ 83:

Fascist corporatism and Tory corporatism are different things, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tory_corporatism

I find them both fairly abhorrent.

@84:
Since when are the BNP republicans? Last I checked, they entirely supported the British crown, with a few inclinations to restore the Stewart succession (in common with their other old-style Tory policies).

You know, I’m starting to come round to the view that perhaps we should drop the “far-right” tag, and simply call the BNP “Tories”.

BNP = Extreme Tories?

@84 :

“And since the BNP are in favour of Republicanism and the removal of the monarchy they are, on this analysis, not right wing.”

No, you’re splitting hairs deliberately. The modern definition of “right-wing” is the reservation of power in the hands of a few. The only difference between the Tories and the BNP, aside from the lengths which they are willing to go to to achieve their ends, is the definition of the few that will hold power, which in the case of the Tories is defined by wealth and social standing, and by racial origin in the case of the BNP.

By their deeds ye shall know them – once he got into power how much attention did Mussolini pay to his Socialist rhetoric? He smarmed to the King as fast as he could. Or Hitler? Did Hitler expropriate Krupp? AFAIK, far from it.

In th 1933 general election with whom did the Nazis ally themselves? The Communists? The Socialists? I don’t think so.

Did Mussolini support the Republicans in Spain? Did Hitler? No.

Their main selling pitch was – we will keep out the Communists.

That’s not Left.

88. Shatterface

Bluepillnation’s correct about Corporatism being about Corporations running the State: that’s the pattern repeated in Chille, Argentina, Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism, and the Far East: all of which have been characterised by a vicious anti-trade unionism and receiving an overwhelming support from right-wing parties in the UK and elsewhere.

Simple really.

The BNP membership regularly refers to itself as rightwing – just read the forums.

They consider “the left” their mortal enemy.

What a waste of everyone’s time.

Also, Tim Montgomerie is a few choccies short of a full-box. I wouldn’t give the God-botherer the time of day.

I wonder if this desire to remove the far-right tag from the BNP isn’t just about political opportunism today, but also expresses a deep-seated guilt on the part of Conservatives given their history as the party of appeasement in the 1930s, an attempt to live-down their support for Mussolini and Hitler as natural allies against the Soviets.

Aaron, the trouble is, I’m not sure they know the difference between left and right.

I regularly see comments calling Murdoch a socialist and ‘commie’.

I recommend reading the BNP white paper on family law that’s available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/15109757/BNP-White-Paper-on-Family-Law

I think it’s significant that it discriminates against women. I feel it positions people into specific gender roles in a way that is identifiable as a tactic of the right rather than the extreme left while claiming to do the opposite. For instance there is definite discrimination against low income single mothers in a way that would enforce marriages where men had a controlling stake in familial relationships. That isn’t something that is common to far left social policy and nor is the abandonment of ideas of welfare state, you would expect those to be more rather than less touted in a paper like this. That’s why the definition of the BNP as a left wing party is inaccurate- it doesn’t fit historical patterns.

Sim-O,

Yeah, they’re that far to the RIGHT, they consider Murdoch a commie.

Also, I never said that fascists weren’t stupid ill-informed idiots, either.

stupid ill-informed idiots,

Indeed, further evidence of their right-wingery.

#94 – Gregg, it’s a good point that the right has never apologised for its appeasement of fascism in the 30s. Instead it’s sought to misrepresent their past by making Churchill a standard-bearer for the Tories, ignoring the fact that the left campaigned against appeasement before Churchill did, and that Churchill would never have come to power without the left.

Perhaps if they want to change the labels people use to describe fascists, they could first get the parts of their movement who supported fascism to apologise for their role. I await the front-page Mail “We’re Sorry” headline.

97. stalinwasatory

Stalin was of the far-right – it’s unfair that right-wing commentators continually try to smear the left-wing by saying he was a far left politician.

Ok – he was a communist and shares an economic outlook that is broadly similar to socialists and those on the left.

But that is not important.

What’s important was his view on modern art e.g. impressionism, cubism. He believed it was all rubbish and only understood by a cultural elite, and instead believed that only traditional art styles should be tolerated.

This is exactly the same view about modern art held by many of those on the right-wing of British politics.

How much more evidence do you need.

“The modern definition of “right-wing” is the reservation of power in the hands of a few.”

No, that’s a very old 19th Century definition of ‘right-wing’ and if you insist on using it, then any 20th century socialist or social-democratic government can be considered ‘right-wing’ since they are inevitably more authoritarian on economic issues (the 19th century ‘left’ was above all against protectionism, regulation and patronage favoured by ancien regimes everywhere) .

In my opinion, your obsolete definition confuses socialism with populism. How many dozens of countries have suffered under small left-wing nomenklaturas? Our political class is becoming increasingly similar to the nomenklatura of East Germany. Both centre-right/centre-left parties are almost identical and agree on all major issues (as did all the parties in the GDR) and they confiscate money from the taxpayer in order pay for their comfortable lives away from the country that they have created. This ruling class cannot be simply labeled ‘right-wing’ however because on many issues (such as crime and immigration) it ignores and represses the more ‘right-wing’ sentiments of the population at large.

@ 99 :

You’re being silly. :)

Stalin was interested in power for power’s sake – it just so happened to be an ideologically left wing-oriented party that he used to achive it.

@101

“In my opinion, your obsolete definition confuses socialism with populism. How many dozens of countries have suffered under small left-wing nomenklaturas?”

And how many (I’m thinking Central and South America here) have suffered under small right-wing versions of the same?

“Both centre-right/centre-left parties are almost identical and agree on all major issues (as did all the parties in the GDR)”

With all due respect, that is utter bollocks. The differences in their view of the role that should be played by public services alone makes that statement completely false.

“and they confiscate money from the taxpayer in order pay for their comfortable lives away from the country that they have created.”

Some do, some don’t – it’ll always be the way in politics. The fact is that taxpayer money has been spent on useful things too – I suppose you’d like to be personally responsible for your own rubbish collection and keeping the segment of road outside yoru house consistently well-kept and re-tarmaced. Besides, private firms get to “confiscate from the taxpayer” under nominally “low-tax” conservative governments too – just look at the military boondoggles that mushroomed under Bush The Younger’s stewardship.

We’re quite a long way from the original subject though.

Aw come on, the main reason these people try and label the BNP ‘left wing’ is because they’re scrabbling around for a reason – any reason – to dislike them.

And because the BNP are an uncomfortable reminder of the political origins from whence the modern Tory Party came. It’s hard to appear to be a “compassionate conservative” when you’re technically on the same side as a bunch of foaming, hateful, fascist morons.

@ 101:
Our political class is becoming increasingly similar to the nomenklatura of East Germany.

:Facepalm:

And since the BNP are in favour of Republicanism and the removal of the monarchy they are, on this analysis, not right wing. This is fatuous. You’d get better political analysis on CBeebies.

a) no they aren’t.
b) fuck you.

Sorry, evidently CBeebies was pitching it too high, Newsround can be surprisingly insightful. At least by comparison.

Certain BNP members have campaigned against the monarchy in the past. But their current populist manifesto is all about Making Britain Great, Gawd Bless Her Maj… indeed, that’s why Griffin tried to go to the garden party & corresponding kerfuffle.

And I refer you again to point b @107

High minded political debate aside, it’s not referred to at all in their manifesto I believe. And the leader of the party has recently campaigned against it. But hey, you just go back to the abuse. You’re better at it than the argument, that’s for sure.

@110 No, the manifesto explicitly supports the monarchy, as did Griffin in his “OK, I won’t go to the garden party” speech. Griffin hasn’t made any public anti-royalist commentary for years, if ever.

I know that around election time there was a major Tory effort to dredge up examples of BNP scumbags’ anti-monarchism to smear them in the eyes of bigots-who-like-the-Queen (ie potential Tory voters), but that doesn’t mean it’s true. And if you’re going to tell lies to further your argument, then of course I’m going to give you abuse.

@110:
When has Nick Griffin campaigned against the monarchy?

Was it before or after he said:
“[T]he intellectual elite in Parliament are trying [...] to take out the pomp and the circumstance of the British tradition. [They are trying] to use us and the British National Party to further their ends, particularly by potentially embarrasing the Queen and the institution of the monarchy. [...] Because we have no wish to embarrass the Queen and allow the liberal-left to do more damage to our institutions, I have withdrawn from the idea of going myself.”

Is Sunny still in bed?

Don’t think that letter’s getting written now somehow.

Though I see Unity has written a 1000000 word essay instead!

@113:

I think we can give Sunny more than twelve hours to get around to doing it. After all, Tim Montogmerie has been working on his for years.

112. the a&e charge nurse

What worries me about spending any length of time investigating the political aspirations of the BNP is the risk of Pete Townsend, or Chris Langham type accusations when both claimed their interest in paedophilia was for, aherm, ‘research’ reasons.

I’m frightened to visit the BNP site in case my name ends up on ze list!!!

AFAIK the possession of indecent (ie any) images of Nazis isn’t illegal, so you’re safe for the time being.

Just because someone asked above, racial ideology among progressives: http://www.princeton.edu/~tleonard/papers/Womenswork.pdf

Incidentally, the whole debate illustrates the difficulty that liberals on the left or right have. We aren’t really that welcome in either of the big parties, in the US or in the UK.

115. warty bliggens

” i once heard the survivors
of a colony of ants
that had been partially
obliterated by a cow’s foot
seriously debating
the intention of the gods
towards their civilisation “

116. ni droite , ni gauche

Perhaps, when -or if – Sunny completes his dissertation on the proposition that the BNP is Right, he might address the equally perplexing issue of whether the North and South Poles should be considered to be in the Eastern or Western Hemispheres.

117. frolix22

Connected to this discussion: on the BBC Breakfast News this morning in the discussion regarding the BNP, Kate Silverton referred to them as the “far right, or, as some would have it, far left” party. It was rather incongruous but I hope this is not the start of a trend.

It would not be controversial to say that socialism is an economy under which the state fully owns the means of production (with rough appeals to protectionism in some cases), which means it can be appropriated with ideas that stem from either left or right. The sense of the word socialism that I would use to describe myself includes the economic theory above, along with social policies on gender equality, democracy, human rights etc etc. This places me to the left.

The reason the BNP can adopt a similar looking economical outlook to a leftist, and be far-right, is because it appropriates this with social policies such as foreign person repatriation, gender inequality (they haven’t mentioned it too much – to my knowledge – but the FN in France – close allies – will pay women to stay at home and not be employed), homophobia, antisemitism and/or holocaust denial.

Any attempt to define the BNP as far left, is to suddenly forget that the party is not the sum of its economic policies, which just happens to have parallels with some leftist measures.

119. Shatterface

Socialism is where the WORKERS own the means of production, which does not equate to the State owning the means of production. If the STATE owns the means of production that’s State Capitalism.

The issue is exploitation: exploiting of the working class by the state is no different from exploitation by any other group.

shatterface; you and I both know that when the state is written in a definition, it assumes that the state is a close representative of the “WORKERS”, as a public institution, at the beck and call of its electors. And this, consequently, is how I used the word state.

Although I’d like to discuss how the state exploits the workers (I bloody love that conversation – it occupied 2 and 4-fifths of my time at uni) the topic of conversation here is how to define the BNP on the political compass.

121. Shatterface

I don’t want to derail the discussion either but I think its important to recognize that the State is not synonymous with the working class and that there are no historical examples in which it was.

Griffin may claim to be “above” right and left politics, but his favoured epithets for his opponents are still “Red”, “far left”, “Marxist”, etc. (usually addressed at centrists), which kind of suggests he thinks of himself as on the right.

I also recall seeing a poll recently which suggested that more than three times as many BNP supporters identified the party as right wing than said it was left wing, though I can’t remember where.

“Political Compass” did indeed plot the BNP to the economic centre-left (and off the scale authoritarian, of course). Labour, meanwhile, was in the authoritarian-right quadrant.

Nick Griffin described those that threw eggs at him yesterday as ‘far left thugs’, so I think that clears up the fact that they are far right nazi scum really!

Sure, but this isn’t about semantics, this is about positioning. The right don’t want to the BNP to be associated with the phrase ‘far-right’ because it (rightly) assumes that their policies and ideas taken to the extreme would result in the BNP’s agenda.
———————————————————————–

bullshit. for it to rightly assume their policies taken to the extreme would result in the bnp’s agenda, the right wing parties would have to support nationaisation, republicanism, protectionism, and censor the media. none of those are remotely right wing. in fact, taken to the extreme, a right wing party would do the exact opposite, although the left don’t like that, and as such, without researching policies, try to damage the right by labelling a far left organisation far-right……………………..why the hell do you think alot of bnp voters formerly voted labour? would a supporter of a left-wing party really turn far-right over night?

@48 Yes, I am aware of that argument – hence “even in a world of non-pefect (sic – whoops) competition”. I don’t doubt the theory, I just doubt the practicality of remaking the world to resemble it.

@127:
“the right wing parties would have to support nationaisation, republicanism, protectionism, and censor the media. none of those are remotely right wing.”

Hadn’t we already discussed that the BNP’s policies were *not* republican? As for the other things I don’t think the BNP mean “nationalisation” in the old-fashioned Labour sense, they mean Strasserism, which means keeping the profits private, but among their cabal rather than a free-for-all-(wealthy folk). Protectionism? One of the most protectionist nations in the world is the US, and they’re pretty conservative politically. And as for the media, well the Tory press regualrly self-censor in favour of the Tory position without any direct interventinon from the party or the government (when the Tories are in power).

Vulgar libertarianism has a lot to answer for for getting your head so mixed up over these issues. Free markets, let alone freedom itself, are not exclusively right-wing concepts.


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