Thursday, May 05, 2005
Lots of comment from readers on banning the BNP.
I observe that in the United States and Canada where we have real live (neo) nazis that leaving them to be open has proved very useful. Cockroaches don't thrive in direct sunlight.Pete James writes
They are much easier to observe, infiltrate & generally keep an eye on when they are in the open. They serve to remind people that there are, indeed, morons of this ilk alive and well.
The wannabe nazis get to blow off steam, well photographed by the FBI, RCMP, and despised by almost everyone. Many recover and go on to be embarassed about their youthful indiscretion. ( Happens to various communist cretins too.)
The more hardcore Nazis get caught doing something stupid, or sold out while doing criminal stuff (Making bombs, beating on Asok at the Jiffy Mart, whatever) and the local prosecuters (and Judge Weinstein or Judge Subramanian) throw the book, kitchen sink and anything else they can at them.
They are maintained at the minor nuisance level. Agressive law enforcement of existing law and observant attitude.
What you'd do to any dangerously stupid subculture.
The Rod Liddle piece you quoted was one reason I've been keeping an eye on the BNP site of late. His prediction of when Griffin would be appearing in court was a tad out as to date but even more fortuitous as to timing. The election was called on 5 April and so overwhelmed the news on the 6th. Griffin was re-arrested and presented in court on the 7th making both the evening Radio 4 news and a mention the following morning in bulletins largely concerned with election issues. A cynic would judge this immaculate timing if it wasn't inconceivable that the authorities would use the police & judicial system as a spoiler against a political party that threatens the government's majority in crucial seats.
It was interesting that the commentator on my post should respond by discussing the National Front. [I think he's just using it as a catch-all phrase. Must admit I sometimes do the same. I call CDs "records" too. - NS] As far as I'm aware, the two are entirely separate entities although they do share common antecedents and no doubt, despite the BNP's strong denial, there's a certain degree of cross-fertilization. The BNP however does seem to be trying to develop a complete manifesto with policies on industry, health, schools and the economy whereas it's doubtful that the National Front would recognise an economic policy if it bit it in its collective ankle.
I've never been sure of what the epithet fascist means outside of its Italian context. There are certainly echoes of National Socialism in a lot of BNP ideology but interestingly, if you wanted to go looking for a true child of the Nazi party I don't think you'd have to go much further than New Labour. The sense of ends justifying the means, the contempt for democracy, the casualness with truth and the law were all hallmarks of Hitler and his followers although Blair hasn't yet seen fit to combine his office with that of Chancellor, Perhaps this is less surprising when you remember that the Labour Party, National Socialism and for that matter Marxism all have their roots in 19th century utopian liberalism. (In passing I've always liked Terry Pratchett's observation that a communist is someone who has read Marx and hasn't got the joke. It took me some time but then Das Kapital is hardly a one-liner.)
Personally, I agree with you. I've no objection to being told what to do. Even anarchist groups tend to have leaders. I do object strongly to being told what to think.and by extension being denied the right to share those thoughts with others without fear of legal consequences. If you do not like what I say, as an individual you are welcome to punch me in the eye. I accept the risk. What you should not have is the legal right to silence me.
That is why I believe we need a party like the BNP and wish them well in their campaign. For that matter I would welcome a resurrection of the Communist Party and if an islamic party wants to advocate the delights of sharia.... well as long as they've no objection to the extraction of copious amounts of urine, why not? Within that broad spectrum I feel safe in my conceits. When the centre ground, when what ordinary folk believe and say, are treated as radical extremism I worry for the future.
If you still have the cherrypicker download try Winamp -download free at: http://www.winamp.com/player/ it's foolproof or at least jamesproof.
After visiting at the BNP site it's always a good idea to run a spyware check. They've been extensively targeted by hackers.
...By the way, I do not favour banning the NF, but the question deserved to be put. Free speech famously does not extend to shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre; ultimately the principle could be considered the same.
Even in Germany, I wonder about the notion of an indefinite criminal ban of all things Nazi. Oh, I am sure it is still right for today, but as Germany has once more become a “normal” country, and indeed one that has done so much more to rescue its national reputation, honour and self-respect than Austria (the Führer’s homeland, as so many forget) or Japan, so one fine day Germans should enjoy just exactly the same degree of freedom as the rest of us.
Also it is interesting to observe that there is no similar banning, however more modestly or watered down, of the in some ways equally repellent former Communist regime of East Germany. The Stasi were far more pervasive and effective and in some important ways more criminal than the Gestapo, for instance. It was quite startling the first time I drove in former East Germany as I did a couple of years ago to come into a small rural village along its main street, Leninstrasse, and park in the main square, Karl-Marx-Platz. After all, all the Göringstrasses and Hitlerallees are long gone; but at least Karl-Marx-Stadt has reverted to being Chemniz once more, which is something.
My personal guess is that to some degree, unconscious left bias in the media, etc. has a lot to do with this failure of nerve, or of consistency. After all: “Socialists are fundamentally good, Fascists are fundamentally bad. Communists are really just decent people who couldn’t make the economy work, but Nazis are rightwing racists.”
Well here’s today’s awkward fact: “Nazi” is short for “National SOCIALIST German Workers Party”. That word was not put there just for fun, or to confuse. They meant it.
Happy election day—although I don’t think either Saffron Walden or Suffolk West (where I live) could be considered to be anything close to marginal.
Interesting to note the points of disagreement and agreement in the letters above. While I agree that the National Socialist party did have true socialist elements I must stress that I think the great gulf between any democratic party or politician and totalitarians should always be acknowledged. My admiration of Blair's stand on the Iraq war and my anger at his curtailment of ancient liberties I have discussed in other posts. But as the editor of the Times used to say, "This correspondence is now closed."