Friday, July 01, 2011

What is Fascism, Anyway?

All the recent brouhaha over the accusations of “neo-fascism” aimed at the English Defence League have prompted Henrik Ræder Clausen to write an excellent explanation of what “fascism” really means. By looking carefully at what the EDL stands for (and does), he demonstrates the distinct absence of anything resembling fascism within the EDL.

Below are some excerpts from his post at Europe News:

Fascists or National Socialists in the English Defence League?

For people dealing seriously with the threat of Islamism in the West, two of the most common slurs are those of being either “Fascist”, “Nazi” (National Socialist) or “Extreme right-wing”. The English Defence League, probably the broadest based and most influential anti-Islamism movement in Europe today, certainly had their share of those, on top of extensive government harassment

Now, if one pauses for a moment, these frequently repeated slurs are quite puzzling. Before we examine each of them, let us take a clip from the EDL Mission Statement:

Promoting Democracy And The Rule Of Law By Opposing Sharia

The European Court of Human Rights has declared that “sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy”. Despite this, there are still those who are more than willing to accommodate sharia norms, and who believe that sharia can operate in partnership with our existing traditions and customs. In reality, sharia cannot operate fully as anything other than a complete alternative to our existing legal, political, and social systems. It is a revolution that this country does not want, and one that it must resist. Sharia is most definitely a threat to our democracy.

That’s a pretty clear pro-democracy statement, and one may wonder how one could sanely oppose a purpose like this? One obviously interested party is the Islamists, whose intention to implement Islamic law anywhere possible would be seriously impaired by opposition. Another is those who do not understand the real intention of Islam in its fundamental form, to submit as much of the world as possible to Islamic rule. That would include people who are so joyfully naïve that they cannot imagine such sinister intentions to be possible.

Another clip from the EDL Mission Statement reads:

The EDL is therefore keen to draw its support from people of all races, all faiths, all political persuasions, and all lifestyle choices. Under its umbrella, all people in England, whatever their background, or origin, can stand united in a desire to stop the imposition of the rules of Islam on non-believers.

That would address slurs of ‘racism’ and other stuff. Note the “all political persuasions” bit — the EDL is not a political party with an agenda of “Big Government” or “Small Government”. What matters is countering religious — specifically Islamic — intimidation. Most Westerners would find the notion of forcing Sharia law upon anyone in the West that by default they’d be fine with any move to oppose it. Still the EDL is subject to much slander, explicit or implicit, as in this Guardian article.

And further:

Working In Solidarity With Others Around The World

The EDL is keen to join with others who share our values, wherever they are in the world, and from whatever cultural background they derive.

This is an internationalist outlook, not a British supremacist one. Any concern that the EDL might secretly the return of the glory days of the British Empire should be put to rest by this.

Now, talk can be cheap, missions statements deceptive, and it could turn out that these sane-sounding intentions are really a cover for something sinister. This is where you have investigative journalists examining things undercover, like Sigurd Ericson did with the English Defence League. In his report published at EuropeNews, he gave them a clean bill of health with regards to racism, fascism and violence-prone. Talking to both leadership and the rank-and-file of the EDL, he found that it consists of straight English citizens concerned with the threat of Sharia in Britain, and working in line with the EDL Mission Statement to counter it.

In any case, it is good to know the substance of what the EDL is being accused of promoting…

See the full post at Europe News for Henrik’s detailed explanation of what fascism and national socialism mean.

20 comments:

Hesperado said...

I know this Pakistani ex-Muslim who has been living in London for years (to my ears, he sounds thoroughly English, with an upper class accent one would associate with barristers and Oxonian dons). He's quite intelligent (though most of his intelligence is devoted to science and logic) and he has an appropriately scathing disdain for his natal Islam (though he also has a Hitchensish disdain for Christianity and all other religions).

Anyway, he's convinced that the EDL is mostly populated and administered by bigots and that they are only pretending to be "respectable". It's the usual narrative we've heard many times about the BNP: "A friend of my cousin overheard some of them talking in the local pub, and they were saying the worst things about blacks, Jews, Hindus, etc." Occasionally, my acquaintance will, if pressed, try to come up with something slightly more seemingly substantial to substantiate his emotional aversion to the EDL; but it doesn't measure up -- surely not so as to comport to the standards which he himself, with his scientific and logical mind, expects of others when they try to prove their claims.

Nevertheless, he's rather convinced. And I fear quite a few people are and that for all the official bending over backwards of the EDL leadership anxiously to show people they are liberal, tolerant and welcome diversity -- as cited by Henrik Clausen -- it won't sway the perceptions of many people. Part of the problem is that the rank-and-file of the EDL do look and comport themselves like what people stereotype as the English equivalent of the American "redneck". This, and the occasional slip of the tongue here and there has possibly made possible the soil for the growth of rumors (often given further boosts by Muslim and "anti-Fascist" Leftist provocateurs).

The other part of the problem, of course, is the mainstream dominance of PC MC, which continues to equate too much concern about Islam with bigotry and racism. This reflects an enormous and complicated muscle spasm in the current Weltanschauung of the West, and it's not going to go away with a few Tylenols and a couple of massage treatments. It will take years (if not decades) of rehabilitative therapy. One grim silver lining: Muslims won't be able to control themselves in the coming decades, and will hasten the healing process; albeit, alas, horribly.

Zenster said...

Hesperado: Nevertheless, he's rather convinced. And I fear quite a few people are and that for all the official bending over backwards of the EDL leadership anxiously to show people they are liberal, tolerant and welcome diversity -- as cited by Henrik Clausen -- it won't sway the perceptions of many people.

It is for this exact reason that Pamela Geller's "Chicken Little" routine was so damaging and irresponsible. I find it difficult in the extreme to believe that she was unaware of the potential consequences awaiting her actions.

As a long time participant in the Counterjihad, Geller knows damn well just how fragile this situation is. Still, I am obliged to wonder if people like Geller and Spencer are capable of bringing their heads down out of the clouds of celebrity long enough to fully appreciate just how tenuous the situation is over in Europe.

Protected, as they are, by America's more robust Free Speech laws, it is quite possible that they refuse to recognize the harm such unfounded accusations can cause. Especially in a country like Britain where the government sits ready and waiting to pounce upon the least shred of actionable or even probable cause.

Given Geller's apology-which-is-not-an-apology, I find it highly unlikely that she will go to any great lengths towards repairing the immense harm that she has done.

She had best stick to polishing that halo of hers with redoubled vigor because it has dimmed substantially over the past few days.

Zenster said...

Hesperado: One grim silver lining: Muslims won't be able to control themselves in the coming decades, and will hasten the healing process; albeit, alas, horribly.

As I have been noting in the last few weeks, the almost total absence of any admonishing voices coming from Islam's more prominent clerics and scholars bespeaks a monumental hubris that only encourages Muslims to continue poking with their pointed little sticks at the nuclear-armed Western dragon.

When the Beast Within finally awakens, woe betide this world's Muslim population. That awakening will most likely result from a terrorist attack of such unimaginably heinous dimensions that all concept of Western restraint will vaporize like morning dew in the Sahara.

I had once thought the Beslan atrocity to be that event but, clearly, I was terribly, terribly wrong.

Pierre_Picaud said...

The truth about the prevalence of this word, "Fascism" is quite surprising.

It originates from Stalin's feeling of betrayal following Hitler's invasion of Poland. He was so affronted at being crossed by a fellow Socialist (i.e. National Socialist, that is Nazi) that he instructed his propagandists never to use Nazi again because it contained, and was, "socialism". Thus Fascist became the favoured term.

Britain's National Socialists are the BNP and no one decent, including the EDL, want anything to do with it.

The membership of the EDL is certainlt rough around the edges. But it is dominated 90 per cent plus, by the respectable (i.e. not benefit scrounging) working class. It's startling too how many former and current servicemen there are in it now too: and members of HM Forces tend to take a particularly dim view of extremist politics of any stripe.

This whole affair seems to be the result of the behaviour and one extremely spiteful young female, and one credulous should-know-better self-important older female.

They should feel themselves thoroughly ashamed at their behaviour; and the enormous potential damaged it has ripped open in our movement. And herein lies the great transgression. The counter-jihad is a family: united we stand, divided we fall.

This is not the way things should be done. And is indicative of the kind of pettiness that comes out when people consider themsleves more imprtant than the movement. I'm done with Atlas, Geller is now a liability.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Hesperado, I would suspect that your friend is typical of the intellectual left in the UK. They seem to display a visceral hatred of the working class.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

The U.K. has been national socialist through Thatcher, Blair, Brown and Cameron think progressive politics and/or muscular liberalism.

Inverted race hate manifests itself in the hatered for the indigenous sub-working class a hatered that is enforced by the credit and tax mercenaries of the asspirational working class the wannabe middle class.

The EDL from the outside at this time is not viewed as an enemy of the political elite but a possible competitor, for that reason alone Cameron will seek to destroy the EDL.

In a political sense across the board accusations of antisemitism is false flag politicking in the context of U.K. counter-jihad movements - it only serves as a reinforcement of the multikulti psyche.

He that byteth hys nose of, shameth hys face.

Hesperado said...

Zenster,

"I had once thought the Beslan atrocity to be that event but, clearly, I was terribly, terribly wrong."

There have been many events of Muslim atrocity that could, and should, have been triggers for a Western wake-up call. The fact that none of them -- let alone their cumulative effect -- has been, indicates that only multiple and horrifically excessive events, far exceeding anything we've seen thus far, will have the effect which, rationally, should have already happened by now.

Kevin Stroup said...

If one woman, Pamela Geller, can derail the EDL, then the EDL was already weak and dying anyway. I have always liked Pamela Geller's blog, as do I this one, but there is a difference of opinion now. So be it. But the EDL had better toughen up and get its act together. Pathetic that one person, no matter how famous, can damage this group this easy. Lame.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Kevin, it took the acts of just one man to plunge Europe into the Great War. A well-aimed barb or accusation can destroy a life, a career or an organisation just as effectively as an orchestrated multi-pronged attack. Often more effectively, in fact, because the source of the attack is a person and not a group; one single person is identifiably human, whilst a group appears inhuman in comparison. A single person making an accusation can immediately be perceived as the david against a goliath, no matter what.


Of course, any group is weak to accusations of racism. The accusation of racism short-circuits the mind and makes people react in an irrational way. When someone is accused of racism, they have no defence, no matter how strong their position. No matter how strong, Kevin.

Geller went nuclear. She can't walk back from it, and she has done irreparable damage to the EDL simply by using that litte word "racist", on which the EDL's opponents will leap with such glee and proclaim that even the crazy American Pam Geller can see that the EDL are racist bigots who need to be stamped out.

The word racism is like a well-placed piece of dynamite. It seems like nothing, but set off in the right place it can bring down an enormous rockfall on your head.

No matter how strong the mountain is.

EscapeVelocity said...

My understanding of fascism would put much of the lower class white Europeans who support lavish welfare states and worker control of production via Unions, with strong nationalism.

Kevin Stroup said...

Graham, if the charge of racism sends the EDL running for cover, does the EDL really have what it takes when the going will get....bloody? I doubt it. I stand by what I said before, if one torpedo is enough to take you down, you are not much of a battleship. I would be looking for another navy to sign on with.

Zenster said...

Hesperado: There have been many events of Muslim atrocity that could, and should, have been triggers for a Western wake-up call. The fact that none of them -- let alone their cumulative effect -- has been, indicates that only multiple and horrifically excessive events, far exceeding anything we've seen thus far, will have the effect which, rationally, should have already happened by now.

That's why I continue to predict the looming Muslim holocaust.

Remember: ISLAM WOULDN'T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.

Kevin Stroup said...

12 million Jews are not a threat. 1. 2 plus BILLION Muslims are. Focus people. Worrying about some militant Jews is absurd. Its like worrying about getting malaria in New York City while you are getting your brains stomped out by some hoods. Tell me, how many Americans, Brits, French, and Germans have the Jews killed lately? Now compare that number to how many have been killed by Muslims. Focus.

Henrik R Clausen said...

The truth about the prevalence of this word, "Fascism" is quite surprising.

It originates from Stalin's feeling of betrayal following Hitler's invasion of Poland. He was so affronted at being crossed by a fellow Socialist (i.e. National Socialist, that is Nazi) that he instructed his propagandists never to use Nazi again because it contained, and was, "socialism". Thus Fascist became the favoured term.


An important point - and weird, too, that Stalin managed to set public discourse in this manner.

Rightly examined, the German National Socialists were in several ways significantly worse than the fascists of Italy (being bad enough by themselves). Yet, 'Fascist' became the common derogative, not 'Socialist'.

Britain's National Socialists are the BNP and no one decent, including the EDL, want anything to do with it.

A point that could well have made it into the essay itself. I'll let it be here instead.

Zenster said...

Kevin Stroup: 12 million Jews are not a threat. 1. 2 plus BILLION Muslims are.

While I tend to agree in an overall sense, it still merits examination as to how just one single Jew was able to throw the entire EDL into disarray.

Jews continue to have a peculiar and disproportionately potent status as "protected minority" among both liberals and conservatives. This gives them a much deeper reach into politics and media than even the Muslims have at present. As can be seen, charges of anti-Semitism ― at least here in America, whereas in Europe it turns into "racism", which is their cause celebre ― remain a nasty lever that can topple things rather quickly.

So, while we must keep our eyes on the Islamic ball, we must still pay attention to the Jewish penalty lines. There remains a strong concern that Jews ― be they Eretz or Liberal ― will so snarl up the Counterjihad that they shall become more of an enemy than friend. This must not be allowed to happen.

melkquelk said...

Given my background (17 years under Ceausescu's regime in Romania), I can only add the small remark that "fascism" had been used by various instances as a convenient, easy-to-recognize, hysteria-creating, keyword. Along with "bourgeois", of course. So back to the topic - what is fascism, anyway? My view

-a keyword eliciting mass hysteria and the end of any reasoned dialogue and using one's brain for its typical functions
-an absolute black stain that pushes its receiver in defensive mode and creates breathing space for the emitter
-a relative 'white ball' for the emitter who gets somehow more righteous in the ways of a 3rd party for having emitted the epythet

Fascism-labeling (or nazi-labeling, see related posts) will have an added value for the emitter, and detrimental impact on the receiver, as long as the 3rd party (discourse audience) simply has no idea what it means. The perverse thing is that, in many cases, denying the label 'fascist' appears to 3rd parties as exonerating the meaning of fascism itself. Again, nothing new: one has (I have) witnessed hundreds of similar cases during Communism.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." (by the main man himself, Joseph Goebbels)

Hesperado said...

Fascism, like "Left" and "Right", is a recent coinage reflecting the deformation of political science in the past two centuries (as Eric Voegelin would have put it).

Like Sunni and Shia, the Leftist extreme (Communism) and the Right-wing extreme (Fascism), are more pertinently diagnosed according to their underlying pathology of gnostic alienation -- and the gnostic solutions ("immanentization of the eschaton", pace Voegelin again) -- which they share; rather than the more superficial trans-internecine hostilities between them.

Meanwhile, caught in the crossfire between these two modern Gnostic sects is a larger more amorphous mass of more or less noetically healthier Westerners whose ideas, positions and activities will tend to be tarred with the brush of Fascism to the extent that they push their rational agenda too "incorrectly" relative to Political Correctness, which in its decaffeinated, diet, and "Lite" (not to mention organic and free-range and eco-friendly) form of the Leftism it has repackaged for mass consumption tends to enable the demonization of those who seem to be non- or anti-Leftist, while leaving virtually untouched Leftists:

Thus even in the broad non-Leftist but still PC MC mainstream, Leftist thugs and rabble-rousers cannot be categorized as Fascist -- for that would be as unthinkable as, for example, categorizing blacks as racist, or Muslims as imperialist.

1389 said...

@Zenster,

Despite what you and others might think, the problem here is not about the fact that Pamela Geller is Jewish. It actually has nothing to do with Judaism, or with Nazis, or with fascism; it's all about blind arrogance and personal ambition.

Pamela Geller, like Charles Johnson before her, has attempted to arrogate the role of "leader of the Counterjihad" by setting herself up as the arbiter of who is, and who is not, a legitimate member of the Counterjihad. Nobody has the right to do that.

Last I checked, Charles Johnson is not Jewish.

Much like the Tea Party in the US, the Counterjihad needs no leader and it has none.

Anyone, whether it be Charles Johnson or his enemy Pamela Geller, who tries to arrogate the role of leader of the Counterjihad, will fail. As soon as the dust settles, that would-be "leader" will be left behind.

Zenster said...

1389: It actually has nothing to do with Judaism, or with Nazis, or with fascism; it's all about blind arrogance and personal ambition.

Thank you, 1389. That much is rapidly becoming apparent. Still, Geller has used her bully pulpit as a voice for American Jews to propagate this smear so, at some level, the Question still arises.

Admittedly, given Geller's celebrity-craving status, it may not be anywhere near the prominent issue that it otherwise might seem to be.

Hesperado said...

1389 & Zenster,

I would say that this Problem has to do with Jewishness only in one respect: in the respect that Pam Geller, perhaps just as she would like to arrogate to herself a leading role in the counter-jihad movement, also would like to arrogate to herself a leading role in Protector of the Jews, and pursuing that objective arrogantly and ineptly (trusting and supporting those whom she perceives to be loyal -- viz., Roberta Moore -- for the sake of the gains such loyalty would yield for her designs on arrogation of power). Thus, she is protecting the CJ from antisemites through an unwise trust in a perceived ally in a perceived cutthroat underworld of potential Nixon-with-a-5-oclock-shadow Enemies at every turn, with the other half of the twofer here being her role as coming to the rescue of the CJ.

People with this mindset -- combining arrogance, paranoia and power-hunger -- aren't necessarily bereft of decent, ethical motives otherwise: I'm sure Pam Geller sincerely loathes Islam and sincerely feels compassion for its victims. That doesn't mean she doesn't also have the aforementioned character flaws, which seem to become magnified the further she puts her foot in her mouth.

But 1389 is correct in that the real issue here -- which is precisely independent of Pam Geller's ego, however much it has been tending to get its various appendages caught up in the gears of the issue -- is not about
"Jewishness".