A lot of people, including me, have been pointing out that Nigel Farage’s new “Brexit Party” has some very strange members.
Claire Fox, a former leading light of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and two other RCP graduates, have been put on the Brexit Party slates for the EU Parliament elections. (for more on this see John Rogan’s excellent exposes here).
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) has apparently endorsed his new party (although I’m not sure if they really exist anymore?).
This all seems slightly odd, and most of us who remember the far-left from the 1970s and 80s (because in my case I was part of it) have concentrated on exposing their extremist positions.
Most obvious of which was the RCPs and Claire Fox’s effective endorsement of the Warrington bombing by Irish Republicans in March 1993 that killed two children.
For many, the initial reaction was to point out the obscenity of putting up as a candidate for a North West MEP seat, that includes Warrington, someone – Fox – who justified the bombing.
But what if we are looking down the wrong end of the telescope? What if Farage’s reaching out to some weird so-called socialist sects is actually a sign of something much more sinister going on?
Let’s take a little detour into history. Most people who think about Germany in the period from 1933 to 1945 remember it as being run by the despicable Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. What they don’t so often remember is the proper name of Hitler’s party: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Or that its flag was RED (with a swastika symbol stolen form Buddhism).
Why did the Party that set out to smash German working class organizations – the trade unions, the Social Democratic Party and the Communists – adopt the words “socialist” and “workers” in their name?
The answer is rather simple. They knew there was widespread discontent with the system that had led Germany to abject defeat in WWI, that brought about the 1929 Great Crash and mass unemployment. They sought to harness this populist anger and redirect it. Instead of ‘capitalism’ as the enemy they focussed on ‘finance capital’ and blamed the Jews as the alleged controllers of the finance system. They linked the “Bolshevik” communists to a world-wide conspiracy of Jews to rule the world.
In short, they successfully fused “nationalism” and “socialism” into a single ideology that both explained the world and mobilised their shock troops to oppose it.
It’s perhaps also worth remembering that Britain’s last big fascist excursion – Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s – was led by a former socialist.
There is one further important point. Hitler discovered – after several bad experiences with various extreme right groups in the 1920s – a simple device – the Führerprinzip, or Fuhrer principle. This ideology sees a hierarchy of leaders with absolute power over those below them and accountable only to those above them. The supreme leader, in Hilter’s case THE Fuhrer, wielded absolute power as the living embodiment of the German people.
So what do we have in Nigel Farage’s new ‘Brexit Party’?
Firstly, we see the beginnings, perhaps, of a new form of ‘national socialism’ by fusing the nationalism of the Brexiters with the ‘socialism’ of some odd characters formerly from the far-left. The xenophobia Farage has mostly adopted is a general anti-immigration stance. But lately it has been noticeable that some classic anti-Semitic tropes have crept into his rhetoric (especially when speaking to far-right groups in the USA).
Secondly, the Brexit party has definitely been set up as a one-man dictatorship. Farage has learnt from his travails with UKIP so his new ‘Party’ is the wholly owned property of Nigel Farage. It’s a limited company and he is in control. It has no ‘members’, who might demand a say, just registered (and paying) ‘supporters’.
So, is this a new fascist party in the UK? Not quite, yet. Some of the jigsaw pieces are not yet in place.
We wait to see what policies it comes up with. Apart from Brexit, it is not saying anything, apparently, until AFTER the EU elections are out of the way. It will be important to see if the new Brexit Party starts to adopt seemingly ‘socialist’ policies that appeal to working class voters beyond just Brexit (but exclude ‘others’)?
The Brexit Party is certainly a ‘Faragist’ party in which Nigel is in charge. Which is certainly not a good omen if history is any guide.
It is worrying that so many seem to be content to sign up to this new form of Party in which the Leader reigns supreme? (And of which the Brexit Party isn’t the only example in the UK at the moment...).🔷
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(This piece was originally published on the blog of Professor Colin Talbot. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)