Never have so many column inches and so much bandwidth been expended on a soundbite level chat show. I'm talking about, of course, this week's media coverage of the appearance of the leader of Britain's largest Far Right Party on BBC's Question Time
. But the key questions seem to have escaped most of the commentators (with the possible exception of the Guardian's Gary Younge
who seems to have a glimmer of the dynamic that is behind all this). These are the usual questions - what forces are intentionally or otherwise chiefly responsible for the recent rise of the odious right, and (hopefully assuming the prevention of a New British Reich)"Cui Bono?".
I think there is a case to be made that BNP in their current incarnation are actually the creation of the establishment - in particular the right-wing propaganda arm of the mass media. Griffin and pals were happily marginalised for much of the 80s and 90s. Their spectacular growth has come in the wake of two things - the so called war on terror and the cranking up of a concerted mass media hate campaign targetted at two or three main targets - Islam and Muslims in general, migrants from the New European entrants and the "undeserving poor". These campaigns all serve and are motivated by the interests of the ruling class in Britain. Griffin has been able to gear his "New Right" master plan (cribbed from Le Pen) to the narrative written and mass-propagandised by the British ruling class for their own ends. It is no surprise that he has moved from a friend of Gadaffi and anti-semitic elements of the Islamic world to a "hammerer of Islam", from European new right rhetoric to Little Englanderism and from Chestertonian ruralist elitism to embracing "the honest white working class" of places like Barnsley. These moves parasitize the zeitgeist created by ruling class mass propaganda.
1. The demonisation of Muslims is necessary to create support for the resource wars on behalf of Western Capital, led by the US Military industrial complex. This also works to aid recruitment of cannon fodder for the imperial wars and eases through the raft of security state measures that would have been desired by the ruling class (even if 9-11 had never occurred) in the face of the coming desperate, brutal, even semi-apocalyptic resource conflicts and environmental destruction that is the culmination and possible finale of capitalist accumulation. Even most radical Greens have not grasped the sheer scale and nature of what is likely to be coming.
2. The constant attacks on New European migrants are classic divide and rule designed to make union organisation more difficult, to attack those elements of the EU which the British ruling class find useful to scapegoat to distract attention from the aims they hold in common
with other parts of the European ruling class and to obliquely label the British working class as lazy and greedy - see 3 below.
3. As ever, in an economic crisis the ruling class have very basic objectives, reduce the cost of labour, divide opposition to reducing the cost of labour and take back as much as possible of state property into private hands to recoup lost profits and expand the zone of operation of private capital which recession has shrunk (something which requires the attacks on TU organisation that the attacks on scapegoats one and two are being utilised for). To reduce the cost of labour the "reserve army of the unemployed" must be both increased and battered into a servile state through attacks on welfare. If these are to come about the unemployed and sick must be isolated and alienated from the rest of their class - hence constant "scrounger" stories in the tabloids to break up the diet of "millions of migrants
" and "all muslims are potential terrorists" type front pages. Claimants are presented as largely criminal and fraudulent (see hype of recent transparently self interested figures released by the firms contracted to "test" those previously on Incapacity). This association with criminality is indispensible for any really serious scapegoating (and an element of it as old as the hills) and so is deployed against all three groups we are talking about.
It is no surprise that the concentrations of BNP membership
shown by the recently leaked lists are not predominantly in ethnically mixed areas - they are largely in white dominated, even what some might uncharitably term "white ghetto" areas. It is not coincidental that these are the areas most isolated from the reality of life in much of modern Britain and Europe, and where the main source of information for the alienated elements recruited by the fascists is not the TV news, broadsheets or contact with a varied group of people, but tabloid hate stories constantly reinforced by social circulation in a limited parochial group. This is the depressing case for example in Ashfield, or Amber Valley.
What we see at the moment is the capitalist class (in the shape of Tories, the right wing media and other elements of the establishment like military figures and New Labour Ministers) attempting to do a bit of "house cleaning" by belatedly attacking - constantly this week - the BNP, by-product of their own strategies. This could tell us various things - 1. that the limits of growth of the far right are set by the ruling class - to a certain level they are useful, beyond that they become threatening as loose cannons that could provoke resistance to the whole shooting match. 2. That the establishment right would now like to claim back the territory ceded to the far right - in coded language they talk about the mainstream needing to address "the issues" that motivate BNP support - whilst claiming to be centrist they move the whole political spectrum further rightwards as "defence" against the "threat" of fascism that they created. Job done.
If this is the picture, then those of us on the green left, those of us who seek workers' unity and those of us who defend the social gains of the last Century have a hard fight ahead. If the ruling class has miscalculated, as it did in pandering to far right demagogues
in several countries in the 1920s and 30s, the situation may be even more serious.....
Labels: British Politics, Fascism, Polemic, Racism, Reactionaries, Television, Theory