Anti Fascism,  UK Politics

A change of direction in the fight against the far-right

This is a cross post by Edmund Standing

As regular readers will be aware, about 6 months ago I decided to give up on anti-fascist blogging, in large part due to getting tired of swimming in the sewers of the far-right. At the time, I wasn’t really able to give it up as I received a number of phone calls from journalists calling on my services and the whole process carried on as a result. However, now I really feel I’ve achieved all I intend to in terms of blogging about the internet creeps of the BNP. It’s not as though there haven’t been rewarding experiences, such as receiving messages from people who were planning on voting BNP and had changed their minds having read my material, or helping journalists with their stories on the BNP, but I’ve really had enough.

There is only one real answer to the rise of the BNP as an electoral force: the mainstream parties need to research why they’re losing voters to extremism and then address the concerns that have led to this happening.

Two campaigns doing particularly useful work on exposing what the BNP are really up to and why a vote for the BNP is a wasted vote are Nothing British about the BNP and Hope Not Hate, both of which I highly recommend. Nothing British have recently produced some excellent analyses of the reality of BNP policies, which they have exposed as being amateurish and unworkable. Hope Not Hate, meanwhile, do fantastic work at the grass roots level, organising resistance to the BNP in local communities.

Exposing the BNP’s true extremism is important, but I’m not convinced that the amateur blog format is a particularly effective way of doing this, despite the positive responses I have had to my work, because in reality the average BNP voter is unlikely to read political blogs or be bothered to check references and make the effort to understand the intricacies of post-war fascist discourse, symbolism, etc. They are, for the most part, simply pissed off people, the majority of whom are not BNP devotees but rather protest voters.

Looking at a Facebook group ‘I vote bnp 2010’, a lot of the members are young and frankly pretty stupid. They’re not Nazis, they’re for the most part young people who embrace vague ideas of patriotism and think the BNP is ‘standing up for them’. They neither know nor care what Nick Griffin thinks about the Holocaust, or what Lee Barnes thinks about Zionism. I doubt they could even write 100 coherent words on either topic.

The majority of people who bother with the ‘blogosphere’ and read and write about the BNP are either anti-fascists or BNP fruitcakes. Blogging isn’t going to reach the BNP’s core vote. By blogging about the BNP, I have come across the views of many hardcore BNP ‘true believers‘; in the vast majority of cases these people appear to be total losers, and many undoubtedly suffer from mental health disorders to varying degrees. It’s been an educational experience in terms of coming to the scary realisation of how many unhinged people there are out there hiding away in bedsits and parents’ spare rooms, but it’s also been pretty sad. If it weren’t for the fact these people are racist bastards you could almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

BNP bloggers generally full into three categories: the painfully thick, the boring, and the batshit crazy. Obviously, in some cases they manage to be all three at the same time.

The thick (of whom there are, unsurprisingly, many) favour scare stories from the Express, copy and paste jobs from the BNP website, and ‘commentary’ written in a mangled, semi-literate version of English.

The boring drone on and on like pub bores. BNP deputy leader Simon Darby takes this ‘style’ of blogging into previously unchartered territory of tedium.

The crazy favour paranoid conspiracy rants, open racism and bigotry, links to neo-Nazi material, references to Odin and other pagan nonsense, and nearly always have some kind of ‘issue’ with Jews.

What these bloggers all have in common is that most normal people couldn’t care less about the rubbish they write. They’re only worth exposing insofar as they show that the BNP is essentially a party of oddballs and nutters. Oh yes, and some of the time they do make for great comedy. But unless the kind of people who vote BNP are reading in any great number, this won’t make a huge difference.

There is still much important work to be done on the anti-fascist front, and this certainly won’t be the end of my work in this area. It’s just a case of giving the blogging a rest and concentrating on larger, more high profile projects. Look out for one of those coming soon. I’ll say no more on that for now.

In the meantime, if you want to keep up with the latest ramblings of the BNP Legal Director and the other loons, you’ll just have to read them for yourselves. Here’s a tip: Mr Barnes is currently embarking on an epic project in which he intends to produce a ‘series of articles building on the work of Elsa-Brita Titchenell in her book The Masks of Odin’. Amongst Barnes’s exciting discoveries in this field are ‘a theory based on the myths of Thor that acted as the foundation of a new theory for the basis of lighting [sic]’.

I’d love to see him explain that one to the people who voted for the BNP in the European elections…