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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Remind me, who are the fascists?

Someone's got their hands on a year old members' list for the British National Party and published it on the internet.

Not just a list of their professions or their locations, but actual names and addresses. Their leader rightly fingered the Labour establishment as seeking to intimidate his members.

This is not the first time that members of this legitimate political party have been targetted by the establishment. I blogged before about how morons interrupted a ballet because the ballerina was a BNP supporter to call her a racist, even though she was dating a Cuban-Chinese dancer at the time.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum, members of Sinn Fein will find these tactics of intimidation to be familiar. Until they were brought into the mainstream (when the British and Irish authorities realised they could no longer be criminalised or ignored) they experienced similar tactics.

Again it is incumbent on me to point out a few things that ought to be obvious:

  • If the establishment considers the BNP to be an illegal organisation, they should seek to ban them. They've banned quasi-political organisations in Northern Ireland in the past.
  • The BNP is not the bootboy skinhead Nazi movement the Guardian would have you believe. It is a small nationalist party that opposes mass immigration. Parties with similar policies and indeed that espouse much more extreme right policies are permitted elsewhere without persecution and garner significant votes in places like France and Austria.
  • I'm not British and I don't support BNP politics in any way. But I fervently believe in freedom of speech, the right to congregate without intimidation, democracy and diversity of opinion.

This ongoing targetting of the BNP reminds me of the moronic position of some alleged anti-fascist far-left movements. They oppose any platform for those they consider fascists, without appreciating the irony that opposing freedom of speech and diversity of opinion is itself a fascist act.

You don't have to agree with the BNP to be appalled at this sort of intimidation, in the media and online. It's a fundamental attack on modern democracy in a country that claims to have invented it.

The BNP oppose further mass immigration into the UK, and the mainstream parties fear this position, as it is one with growing support in Britain, especially in this economic downturn.

The UK is a diverse population, but many consider it to be rash to continue an open-doors policy of immigration and an asylum system that is systematically abused. They're allowed to think this, whether their analysis is right or wrong. Publishing the names of those who feel this way on the internet is an appalling attempt to silence a legitimate opinion.

As an Irish nationalist, I have my own concerns in relation to a situation which has seen the non-Irish population here grow from almost zero to over 10% in less than a decade. I don't think such a policy is sustainable long-term, especially in the current economic climate.

And I don't think it is beneficial for a country still grappling with post-colonial concerns including ongoing occupation by a foreign power in part of its territory to have its indigenous culture further challenged by the scale of immigration we have seen in recent times.

Among the establishment, that's not a popular opinion, because we exist in a globalised economy and freedom of movement is a cornerstone of that system. And in Ireland as in Britain, a plethora of state-funded organisations have sprung up to proselytise to the public that any opposition to mass immigration is akin to overt racist tendencies.

Which is arrant nonsense.

The establishment in Britain and in Ireland need to realise that people see through these lies. They know through their own attitudes and behaviour that they can be concerned about the effects of an open-door immigration policy without espousing disgusting racist opinions.

And they can see by looking at diverse, multicultural societies like Australia or Canada or the US that plenty of countries have points-based, merit-assessed immigration policies and yet are clearly not racist nations, as Israel is or apartheid-era South Africa once was.

I've said it before and it needs saying again now. The more the establishment seeks to demonise these concerns, the more it throws petrol on the bonfire. People are entitled to their opinions, and are entitled to gather in political movements without the establishment seeking to intimidate them out of existence.

Because even if the BNP disbanded tonight, the opinions their members espouse won't go away overnight. They'll still be there tomorrow, only they'll go underground and get more radicalised.

No one believes that democracy in France or Austria is under threat, just because much more extreme nationalist parties get elected to positions of power. But obviously, a growing BNP takes votes from Labour and the Tories, just as Sinn Fein took votes from Fianna Fail.

It is fascist to deny such people their legitimate right to congregate, to deny them their opinion, and to seek to intimidate them out of organising as a political movement.

And such actions really are the threat to modern democracy in Britain and in Ireland.


Peter Slattery said...

A two-party system really isn't democracy anyway. It's bordering on facism to try to silence dissent, no matter where the dissent comes from. And while I personally don't agree with the BNP, they are entitled to their opinion.
Also, with the attempt to change the constitution in Russia to allow Vladimir Putin to serve another term as President, what in the world is going on with democracy and free speech these days?

JC Skinner said...

It's getting eradicated, Peter. Not that Russia ever enjoyed much democracy anyway.
But it's desperately disappointing to see it threatened so fundamentally in this part of the world.

Peter Slattery said...

You'd think as time progressed, we'd evolve as a species. Erradicate debt, hunger, poverty. One vote for every man and woman, and one vote that counted. It's very odd to watch the news and see things getting worse, yet people are either entirely oblivious or unwilling to actually have an opinion. And then those who actually do say something are labelled kooks or extreme.

JC Skinner said...

Peter, even when we do express an opinion, via the accepted method of state-organised voting, it often doesn't count.
Nice II? Lisbon II?

V said...

I agree with you. The BNP still only make up a tiny portion of the vote, no matter how much they talk themselves up, so let them have a voice in so far as there is no platform for them to act like an 'opressed minority'.

Direct action against them gives them the publicity they need. Barret and Coir/Youth defence are still getting millage out of the UCD incident. Let em' have their go cos they ain't hard enough, they are a single issue politically incompetent bunch of tit monks.

To think that democracy (whatever that is) is under threat because some goon puts a bunch of fascists names on the net is a bit of a stretch, the BNP have been at it for years.