Reprinted from the Telegraph
‘I am a Socialist,’ Hitler told Otto Strasser in 1930, ‘and a very different kind of Socialist from your rich friend, Count Reventlow’.
No one at the time would have regarded it as a controversial statement. The Nazis could hardly have been more open in their socialism, describing themselves with the same terminology as our own SWP: National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
Almost everyone in those days accepted that fascism had emerged from the revolutionary Left. Its militants marched on May Day under red flags. Its leaders stood for collectivism, state control of industry, high tariffs, workers’ councils. Around Europe, fascists were convinced that, as Hitler told an enthusiastic Mussolini in 1934, ‘capitalism has run its course’.
One of the most stunning achievements of the modern Left is to have created a cultural climate where simply to recite these facts is jarring. History is reinterpreted, and it is taken as axiomatic that fascism must have been Right-wing, the logic seemingly being that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists were nasty. You expect this level of analysis from Twitter mobs; you shouldn’t expect it from mainstream commentators.
When did you last hear a reference to the BNP on the BBC without the epithet ‘far Right’? The terminology is deliberately tendentious. It doesn’t make anyone think any less of the BNP; but it does make them think less of the mainstream Right, because it implies that the BNP manifesto is somehow a more intense form of conservatism.
To maintain this belief, however, depends on closing your eyes to most of what the BNP stands for.
As the New Statesman puts it:
A brief skim through BNP manifesto literature brings to light proposals for the following: large increases in state pensions; more money for the NHS; improved worker protection; state ownership of key industries. Under Griffin, the modern-day far right has positioned itself to the left of Labour.
Indeed. The party’s ethno-nationalism is simply one more form of protectionism. As it dislikes the free movement of goods, so it dislikes the free movement of people. No wonder the BNP recently took to marketing itself as ‘the Labour Party your parents voted for’.
Am I saying that the BNP is simply another form of Labour Party? No. That would be to repeat the error of the Twitter mob, only the other way around. There are obviously huge differences between what Nick Griffin stands for and what Ed Miliband stands for. Yes, the BNP has some policies in common with Labour, just as it has some policies in common with the Greens, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. Coincidence of policy does not establish consanguinity of doctrine.
I just hope that Lefties who have read this far will have a sense of how conservatives feel when fascism is declared to be simply a point further along the spectrum from them. Whenever anyone points to the socialist roots of fascism, there are howls of outrage. Yet the people howling the loudest are often the first to claim some ideological link between fascism and conservatism. Perhaps both sides should give it a rest.