The End of Extremism?

Daniel Davies, no stranger to internet flamewars, explains why blogs are likely to spell the death of both far-left and far-right politics in the UK:

Blogs are rather like sodium pentathol or Stella Artois in their effect on social inhibitions, so when you add them to a scene which is largely composed of people with poor impulse control at the best of times, then you are basically lighting the blue touch paper…

To watch the SWP/Respect bust-up, Socialist Unity is the place to go; the BNP is self-destructing in blogland over here.

Oxford Voices

Mike: “These privileged and stupid people have shown their contempt for the whole of the rest of society, with the sole exception of those few fascists who want to destroy it. They may be assured that the whole of the rest of society has nothing but contempt for them.”

Antonia: “It’s not even as if Irving and Griffin get to expound their vile views and be challenged: they have been invited to speak instead on freedom of speech. And even if they were to, is it not breathtakingly arrogant that Oxford undergraduates believe that in a five minute debating speech they could somehow defeat either, when it took a Cambridge Professor of Modern History weeks on the stand to rebut Irving’s assertions?”

loneraven: “Maybe I’ve as little chance of getting attacked on the street tomorrow as I do any day. But here I am, thinking about it. Here I am, going to sleep at night thinking, there are far-right groups in Oxford tomorrow, oh dear. And why should I have to think that? Why? See above where I’m a human being, where I deserve to feel safe every second of the time in my home city, where white people don’t have to worry about visual indicators and I do. How dare the Union blithely invite RACISTS into my city, so safe in their straight white male privilege that they don’t have to think about the consequences of what they’re doing? I am not straight, white or male, and I have no uncomplicated identity, no simplicity or belonging – but I am an Oxford student. No one is allowed to contest the basis upon which I’m here, at this place and at this time. How dare they take the one thing that I have all of my own, my home, and compromise that?”

Thoughts on an Impending Riot (or not, as the case may be)

I wish people would stop referring to the Oxford Union as providing, for example [dead link], “a prestigious public platform.” It’s neither public (being a private members’ club) nor prestigious (being run for as long as I can remember by a bunch of contemptuous contemptible attention-seeking clowns).

Rivers of Blood: Links Round-Up

Oliver Kamm makes the correct point that Paul Foot’s book on The Rise of Enoch Powell is really very good indeed; Mary Beard provides a classicist’s perspective on his notorious speech; and Simon has a very interesting discusison of West Midlands Toryism.

UPDATE [4.45pm]: So, here‘s Hastilow’s article; here‘s the transcript of the “rivers of blood” speech, and there’s some blog-discussion by Tories here, here, here [ConservativeHome] and here [Iain Dale]. Also Michael White and Sunder Katwala on CiF.

Ashley Mote MEP

As exceptionally long-term Stoa-readers will remember, I don’t really recognise Oxford as a part of the “South East”, but as far as elections to the European Parliament are concerned, we’re part of the “South East”, and although I do my best not to pay attention to who my MEPs are and what they’re up to, I couldn’t avoid noticing today that I’m now represented in the European Parliament by a rancid lunatic.

Ashley Mote — elected on the swivel-eyed loons ticket, but even UKIP doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore — has just signed up for the Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty grouping, which looks — at first and second glance, which is all I’ve given it so far — to be a bunch of fascists, Holocaust deniers and assorted rancid scum.

So he’ll sit in the Parliament alongside Alessandra Mussolini, a chap from the Austrian Freedom Party, two Le Pens, some Bulgarian kiddy hack, another Italian fascist (who claims his views on the Holocaust have been ‘misunderstood’, diddums), and various Romanian nationalists and Flemish separatists.

The Bodleian’s got one of his books: I’ll have a look at it soon.



My friend Dave Renton has posted the text of a talk he’s given recently on the problems of defining fascism over on his increasingly-sort-of-blog-like website. It’s an interesting piece: Dave published a short book on theories of fascism a few years ago (which I reviewed here), and in this talk he takes a long look back at the argument he made in that book, as well as commenting on two excellent, more recent books on fascism, Michael Mann’s Fascists and Robert Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism.

All of which reminds me that I think I got half-way through both Mann and Paxton, and then stopped, and I must return to both before too long. I was enjoying both of them enormously (insofar as one enjoys books about fascism).

How Extraordinary

I’m reading Robert Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism:

The term national socialism seems to have been invented by the French nationalist author Maurice Barrès, who described the aristocratic adventurer the Marquis de Morès in 1896 as the “first national socialist”. Morès, after failing as a cattle rancher in North Dakota, returned to Paris in the early 1890s and organized a band of anti-Semitic toughs who attacked Jewish shops and offices. As a cattleman, Morès found his recruits among slaughterhouse workers in Paris, to whom he appealed with a mixture of anticapitalism and anti-Semitic nationalism. His squads wore the cowboy garb and ten-gallon hats that the marquis had discovered in the American West, which thus predate black and brown shirts (by a modest stretch of the imagination) as the first fascist uniform…”

Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, p.48.