Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Are the BNP Nazis?
After the local government elections, I wrote an article assessing the current state of the BNP threat. I was hoping this would contribute to the debate about how the BNP need to be combated, and so I was happy that a couple of weeks ago this was reproduced in the AWL’s paper “Solidarity”.
At the Socialist Unity Network web-site we recently had submitted to us another contribution to the debate, from Andrew McKibben that argues that it is a mistake to describe the BNP as either Nazi or Fascist. As McKibbin describes them, the BNP are “a right-wing populist racist and xenophobic party, of no stable ideological substance beyond that.”
I think that McKibben is correct up to a point. It is certainly possible for people who used to be fascists, like Gianfranco Fini to move into conventional politics. If you actually read the BNP’s publications it is clear that they present themselves as a nationalist and racist party, but not as a Fascist or Nazi party.
However I am not fully convinced by McKibben’s argument, because as I wrote before: “The programme of the BNP could only be achieved by a huge level of repressive state violence. What is more, the BNP could only gain state power by first removing the obstacles that stand in its way – which would mean physically confronting the trade unions, and BME communities. So the objective direction that the BNP follow is fascist, irrespective of the ideological make up of its membership.”
What is more “any sustained organisation requires a cadre of activists that are motivated by an ideology. The current leadership and cadre of the BNP come from fascist backgrounds, and have the criminal records to prove it. This creates a complex difficulty for Griffin. To turn out the existing cadre to work in elections requires sufficient concessions to them that the BNP is not just a racist, but an active race-hate organisation, which is an obstacle to gaining greater respectability. What is more, the party is unable to have a truly candid debate about the need for a shift without revealing the Nazi ideology of many of its supporters, and even exposing them to prosecutions for incitement to racial hatred.”
In this sense there is still a very clear difference between the BNP and right wing populists like UKIP.