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 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 an 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 Brexiteers 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 its been noticeable 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 N. 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?
And 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?)
7 thoughts on “Is Farage’s New ‘Brexit’ Party Fascist?”
When asked if Donald Trump is a fascist, in an interview relating to her book ‘Fascism: A Warning’, Madeleine Albright said ‘no because fascists use violence to pursue their objectives’ or, it might added, to keep momentum in their ‘movement’. But, she said, he is showing fascist tendencies.
In his book ‘The anatomy of Fascism’ Professor Robert O Paxton explains, if I have understood it properly, that fascism is not of the left or right but feeds off general discontent and thrives if political institutions cannot cope with the pressures. He also pointed out that fascism in Germany was partially enabled by the fact that conservatives chose, at one stage, to ally with fascists in an attempt to defeat socialism.
It is complex stuff but it is not difficult to see, today, parallels with conditions and events that existed in Europe post WW1. The leaders of conventional political parties in the UK now need to come together to describe the dangers that the Brexit Party poses and to stop it from developing into something more perilous than it already is.
Thanks for this Francis. Sheri Berman is well worth reading on the nature of the new “fascism”, especially its political programmes. My own view is that 21st century neo-fascism is different from 1930s physical force fascism and relies more on taking power via elections and then using the state to dismantle democracy, gradually. I need to write this up!
An interesting piece, which came up in Google after reading a piece about why Remainers should not call Farage a fascist.
I’ve just been in Prague for a few days, and visited the national memorial to the Czech soldiers who were airlifted from the UK into Czechoslovakia to assassinate Heydrich (they succeeded in 1942). The exhibition shows how the Germans came into the country after the Munich Agreement in 1938 and gradually took it over, then thoroughly oppressed it – destroying the intelligentsia and any opposition.
We hear so much about the end of the Nazis that we forget how they got started. Your piece is a valuable and balanced reminder of that.
Farage may not be a fascist yet (I like the term Faragist), but it’s likely some people supporting him are. He is playing with a dark and dangerous fire that he may not ultimately be able to control.
The warnings are there in history and they need to be remembered very quickly.
So you are looking compare the Brexit Party with the Nazis and Nigel Farage with Adolf Hitler. Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? Nigel Farage with Adolf Hitler? This is so desperate its laughable.
Did you actually read it? Because it doesn’t sound like you did. And if you did why not comment on what it actually says rather than just the headline?
The brexit party is beyond doubt a uk neo fascist party who by creating havoc throughout the. Uks political systems have. Succeeded beyond there wildest dreams . By the creation of A NAZI PARTY MARK 2. there are many many dark days. ahead that I never thought possible During my lifetime having lived through the. 30s. God help us Farrages scumbags will. Certainly not
Another comparison is Singapore’s People’s Action Party and its founder Lee Kuan Yew. The PAP has a traditional Leninist structure and Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) was inspired by Oswald Mosley when he studied in Cambridge after the end of WW2. If you google PAP’s logo/flag, you will notice that it is almost identical to Mosely’s British Fascist Party’s logo. LKY initially worked as a lawyer representing trade unions. The PAP initially contained communists but once the PAP won election and formed government, LKY threw all the communists in jail. The PAP also abolished independent labor unions and replaced them with labor unions subservient to the state. To this day, the PAP is an interesting hybrid of socialist and capitalist policies. They have a public housing system that houses over 80% of the population (socialist policy) and a controlled media (socialist) but don’t have a minimum wage and tax revenue as a share of GDP is very low (capitalist). They have dominated every election ever since they came to power. The Leninist structure of the PAP essentially means that the party cannot be taken over by an internal democratic vote (e.g. opponents join the party and then vote out the leadership). Rather they have a cadre system, where trusted members approve new members and leadership positions.