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Frank Furedi: from Revolutionary Communist Party, to Spiked and National Populism, takes the Plunge into the Racist Conservative Political Action Conference, Hungary.

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Ex-Marxist Furedi Joins Racist Authoritarians at CPAC Hungary.

Background:

The Revolutionary Communist Party was a group on the British left founded in the late 1970s whose best known figure was Frank Richards (a very amusing party name, taken from the author of Billy Bunter), that is Frank Furedi. Furedi, a sociology lecturer at Kent, was said to regale his audience, largely students, with pamphlets such as Who Needs the Labour Party. It had a tightly centralised structure, some presence and continuous clashes with other left groups in the early 1980s (living in France at that time I fortunately escaped that). Much has been written on them, and you can be sure it is not by those who ever warmed to them.

The RCP folded in the 1997, and he group became but their journal, Living Marxism, rebranded LM in 1992, continued. It was distributed through newsagents, including in W.H. Smith. The Editor Mick Hume talked of the absence of a force for social change – in Marxist terms the agency of the working class and labour movement – and favoured “a positive case for human action in pursuit of social liberation.”. They published many contrarian pieces, James Heartfield‘Taboos: Smacking parents’ and “Wolf in sheep’s clothing Ever hit your dog? If so, you could find yourself being investigated on suspicion of child abuse and domestic violence. Brendan O’Neill reports” the latter is one of our favourites).

One of these articles ended the magazine. ITN’s successful libel challenge in 2000 to an article, that “claimed they had faked pictures of Bosnian Serb war crimes” closed them down. The ensuing award and costs arising from legal action by the ITN against LM were estimated to total around £1 million. The action bankrupted the magazine. They closed.

This further propelled a further change in direction and in from the bowels of the RCP emerged the Institute of Ideas, now the Academy of Ideas, which still holds bean feasts in London, including a conference every year.

The RCP ex, also set up the on-line magazine Spike. Confusionist, mixing right wing criticisms of political correctness, now known as woke ideas, anti-environmental quibbling – in the name of a human progress – and, a parody of contrarianism, in the figure of the original editor of the Web Site, Brendan O’Neill, it carved out a niche all of its own. Moving towards national populism, they became Brexit ultras. Key cadres of the RCP linked up with the Brexit Party of Nigel Farage and got one MEP, Claire Fox elected in 2019. Fox now sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Fox of Buckley.

Enough of the Intro.

(Marxist-Humanist initiative, inspired by the ideas of  Raya Dunayevskaya)

Here is the Ravi Bali piece, ” Furedi’s collaboration with Orbán and CPAC is an extreme example of a red-brown alliance, in which self-declared leftists become apologists for reaction.

(Thanks Bob..)

Frank Furedi––who was the foremost intellectual of UK radical-left group, the Revolutionary Communist Party, for more than 25 years––has made the transition from revolutionary Marxism into the fold of white-nationalist authoritarianism. Furedi spoke last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest, Hungary. CPAC is organised by the American Conservative Union (ACU), the foremost right-wing Republican organisation in the United States.

Furedi is now employed as a part-time researcher for the Hungarian 21st Century Foundation, which is effectively a propaganda unit for the Fidesz Party of Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán. Hungarian-born and of Jewish descent, Furedi is a strange fit with an organisation that trades in anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories.

Orbánism and Trumpism

Orbán has declared that Hungary is an “illiberal democracy” that defines itself against everything liberal or from the left. This is what makes Hungary a role model for the American right wing, and what makes Orbán their darling.

Luminaries of the American hard-right were also speakers at CPAC 2022, Hungary. Former president Donald Trump addressed the gathering by video, as did Tucker Carlson, the populist, white-supremacist, Fox News host. America’s most prominent nonwhite white supremacist, Candace Owens, was there in person.

Furedi opened his talk with a “quip” about being happy to speak at an event where they did not ask him for his preferred pronouns. In a different space, this remark could be just seen as the standard trans- or feminist-bashing that many conservatives indulge in. But in the context of CPAC, it takes on an even more worrying significance. If you look at Furedi’s “joke” alongside of what Orbán has said, it is clear they are using the same playbook: “Hungary must defend itself because the Western left wing is attacking. It is trying to relativize the notion of family. Its tools for doing so are gender ideology and the LBGTQ lobby”.

Furedi and the Charlottesville Massacre

 In his CPAC talk, Furedi made a clear reference to Charlottesville, Virginia and the decision of its city council to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The city council decided that it was no longer acceptable to publicly honour someone who waged the Civil War against the US in order to retain slavery. Furedi characterized this and other decisions to remove Confederate stautes as follows: “What they’re saying is that the past is a clear and present danger––a danger to our lives in the here and now––which is why you have people in the United States getting rid of statues”.

Strangely, what bothers Furedi is not the Nazis who came to Charlottesville to oppose the removal of the statue, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. It is the anti-racists who wanted to retire the statue from public display in a park because they did not want to continue to honour a pro-slavery figure. Furedi suggests that this is part of an effort “to control our minds”.

Rolling Stone,

CPAC Europe Is a Safe Space for Authoritarians — and the Republicans Who Love Them. With the U.S. press banned but American conservatives looking on, speaker after speaker peddled the great replacement theory and spouted contempt for immigrants

Too many people do not embrace this “Western past,” explained Frank Furedi, of the Hungarian XXI Century Foundation. “What they’re saying is that the past is a clear and present danger – a danger to our lives in the here and now – which is why you have people in the United Statues getting rid of statues.” This was part of a leftwing attempt to control language, Furedi said; an attempt “to control our minds.”

Other far rightists present: Belgium, Vlaams Belang, Italy, Fratelli d’Italia,cSpain, Vox, France, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National. While most spoke (like their comrade Furedi) of culture wars, gender, adding the threat of the LGBT lobby (which even Spiked only vaguely alludes to, being more obsessed with the trans issue) , and so on, the French attendee talked of immigration.

  l’avenir du « camp patriote » européen. Le Point.

des députés du Vlaams Belang belge, à des Frères d’Italie, à des Espagnols de Vox… Quand la plupart des intervenants ont axé leur discours sur les questions de genre et la menace que fait courir à nos sociétés le « lobby LGBT », le jeune leader français, 26 ans, a décidé de parler immigration, un thème récurrent au sein du RN….

This sealing of an alliance with the national populist far right comes after Furedi eulogised the Hungarian populist Orbán’s electoral victory in April this year.

The Hungarian revolt

The re-election of Viktor Orbán is a stunning rebuke to the meddling of the EU.

Since its election in 2010, Fidesz has actively sought to contain and undermine the domestic influence of the soft, woke power of the EU and US. Indeed, in its own way, Orbán’s Hungary has provided an alternative pole of attraction to those throughout Europe who have been disturbed by the woke cultural climate prevailing across Western society.

It is unlikely that Fidesz would have done so well if a significant section of the electorate had not felt so insulted by the domestic opposition and Western media. Much like the pro-EU side during and after the Brexit vote, Orbán’s opponents have denounced voters as ignorant and stupid.

The results of this election are likely to give confidence to political movements in Europe that are devoted to the principle of national sovereignty and self-determination. Had the Hungarian government been defeated, it would have represented a major triumph for the EU bureaucracy.

The failure to dislodge Hungary’s government therefore represents a major setback to the EU’s federalist project. It is likely that the EU and other globalist opponents of Hungary will now double down in their efforts to isolate and marginalise Orbán’s government. Supporters of popular democracy everywhere should oppose this.

See Anti-statism and the trajectory from the Revolutionary Communist Party to Spiked

Late last year, I presented a paper at the online Historical Materialism conference on the RCP, Spiked and their shifting concept of the state. I had previously posted the text of my paper on my Patreon, but thought I’d post it here now as interest in the history of the RCP/LM/Spiked network has risen again with Munira Mirza’s resignation from Downing Street. I had previously written about Mirza, Spiked and the Tories’ culture war for The Guardian here. This is part of a wider project on the history of the RCP, so any feedback is most welcome.

Although it remained a tiny group during the 1980s, the Revolutionary Communist Party has become infamous for the number of ventures that grew out of the far left group and the prominent role that many of the party’s former leading members occupy in the British media and political landscape nowadays. The RCP formally dissolved in 1996, but became infamous after its journal, Living Marxism, was sued for libel by ITN regarding claims made about the news company’s coverage of aspects of the Balkan Wars. After losing the case and the winding up of LM, the magazine’s former editors, alongside other leading RCP members, formed the website, Spiked Online.

In the last twenty years, Spiked has become an increasingly vocal and visible actor in Britain’s culture wars, combining libertarianism and right-wing populism with a penchant for contrarianism. A number of its editorial team and contributors have made headway in the mainstream media, such as Frank Furedi, Joanna Williams, Mick Hume, Brendan O’Neill and Tom Slater. At the same time, Claire Fox was an MEP for the Brexit Party (and now a Baroness in the House of Lords) and Munira Mirza is a chief political advisor for Boris Johnson. As Spiked appears to have gained access to the corridors of power and scaled the heights of the media as British politics lurches to the right, this paper will discuss how the RCP transformed from a small Trotskyist party in the 1980s into the notorious website that Spiked is today, developing what critics have referred to as the RCP/LM/Spiked network.

Although the trajectory from the far left to the right is not an uncommon phenomenon, the shift en masse from the RCP to Spiked via Living Marxism, which kept much of the same leading personnel intact and with few openly breaking with the party/network, is more unique. As Chris Gilligan, a former RCP member, has noted, this network seems to be quite a conscious decision made in the late 1990s, citing Dolan Cummings writing for the Spiked Review of Books in 2007:

I never left the RCP: the organisation folded in the mid-Nineties, but few of us actually ‘recanted’ our ideas. Instead we resolved to support one another more informally as we pursued our political tradition as individuals, or launched new projects with more general aims that have also engaged people from different traditions, or none. These include spiked and the Institute of Ideas, where I now work.

Over the years, former RCP members who had made the initial transition into LM and Spiked have fallen away or become less involved, even though their public criticisms of their ex-comrades is muted.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2022 at 12:07 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Thanks for sending. He’s a nasty piece of work. It was only a matter of time that he – and the rest – made such a plunge.

    Sent from Mailhttps://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986 for Windows

    Mark Metcalf

    May 31, 2022 at 1:27 pm

  2. Andrew Coates

    May 31, 2022 at 2:12 pm

  3. Isn’t Furedi’s wife a leading Pro-abortion activist ? Bet he keeps that quiet amongst his friends on the European and American Right.

    IainF

    May 31, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    • She is indeed, also involved in the National Secular Society:

      Healthcare & Secularism Conference (2018)

      Standing up to Abortion Opponents – Ann Furedi

      https://www.secularism.org.uk/healthcare-and-secularism-confer.html

      On Ann Furedi:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Furedi

      Andrew Coates

      May 31, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    • Exactly! Ann is a big-wig at the British Pregnancy Advice Service. I’m waiting for Frank to come out against abortion, as he should do with the way he’s going and the company he keeps. Then there will be fun chez Füredi!

      Dr Paul

      June 1, 2022 at 9:46 pm

      • This is interesting as well, considering their turn to open red-brown, or just plain fascism (we noticed Furedi’s interest in the Hungarian Orbán regime, but neither you, I, or anybody else thought he would turn out like this).

        “Throughout the 1980s, some at the magazine opposed the “no platforming” of fascists and racists, stemming from an objection to state bans and censorship. Furthermore, use of racial discrimination legislation was seen as a call for state intervention in working-class and migrant communities. In reality, this meant that while the RCP (and its front, Workers Against Racism, or WAR) were involved in a number of anti-racist campaigns, it denigrated the work being done by other activist groups. One of the constant tropes of the RCP/WAR was to argue that while the rest of the left concentrated their efforts in one area, they really should be concentrating in another (which coincidentally was where the RCP dedicated their attention). This notion that everybody else is wrong and just tilting at windmills persists in the writings of Spiked today.

        Actions against non-state racism in the 1990s, such as those by anti-fascists against the British National party, were often dismissed or framed as attacks on the legitimate concerns of the (white) British working class. The end point of this rhetorical stance has seen a writer in Spiked dismiss the threat of the far right, suggesting that the BNP could appear “moderate” and “level-headed” when compared with the anti-fascist left; and the magazine publish an article titled The Myth of Bigoted Britain. Simultaneously, while its predecessor had abandoned class politics in favour of ideas in the 1990s, Spiked has also criticised the rise of identity politics as pure ideology and an attempt to divide the working class.

        These preoccupations have proven to be well suited to a moment in which the right has reduced racism to a component of a “culture war” being waged by the “woke” left. Mirza’s previous comments on Spiked about institutional racism, diversity and multiculturalism reveal the mindset in which this new proposed commission on racial inequalities has been cast. They also reveal how the fixations of a contrarian, right-leaning, libertarian website, established by disillusioned leftists, has become part of the mainstream discourse in the UK.

        Evan Smith is a research fellow in history at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of No Platform: A History of Anti-Fascism, Universities and the Limits of Free Speech.

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/23/fringe-1980s-communist-faction-no-10-attitude-racism-munira-mirza

        Andrew Coates

        June 2, 2022 at 8:11 am

        • Yes, there always was a libertarian tendency which, in retrospect, should have been a warning. Part of the reason why it wasn’t taken as such was that the Old Left *had* become overtly top-down, and anything that could counter that seemed interesting; new questions were being asked and new answers were needed. But that objection to no-platforming and any sort of state intervention was clearly the catalyst, the trigger, for this active denial of racism they indulge in today – ironically precisely the sort of thing which had helped to discredit the remnants of the pre-68 Left.

          februarycallendar

          June 2, 2022 at 10:31 am

  4. Strangely enough on the derangement of psudonym nonsense (that’ll put the SDS plods back on their feet….) the original Frank Richards of Billly Bunter fame was false. Born as Charles Hamilton to a lower class servant family but pushed into a grammar school in the 1880’s he used up to 20 for a variety of genres,(such as public school tales, westerns and policing and detective novels.) Some of his quotes, recycled, could serve as good Spiked shock horror pieces; take “All boys ought to be drownded at birth” attributed to ‘William Gosling’ Greyfriars school’s throughly proletarian caretaker, He detests all schoolboys, fond of gin and long past retirement age.

    holliebushgmxcom

    May 31, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    • Boris Johnson the ‘Fat Owl of the Remove’ already uses Cripes!

      James Heartfield, the man it would be a kindness to call a confusionist, ex-RCP top cadre , Spiked author, Brexit Party stalwart, (candidate for them in the 2019 European elections) was born James Hughes. He went the ultimate party name stage and renamed himself in honour of John Heartfield the left wing anti-far right pioneer of modern photomontage.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Heartfield

      https://www.spiked-online.com/author/james-heartfield/

      Andrew Coates

      May 31, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    • I was *that* close to pointing out that Frank Richards was a pseudonym myself.

      In childhood I had a brief, intense fixation with Bunter reprints (one of which, ludicrously, changed his postal order to a decimal amount, as if anyone could possibly believe they could be happening after 15th February 1971). Now I wonder what I could possibly have been thinking.

      februarycallendar

      June 1, 2022 at 9:03 pm

      • At about his age I was more of a fan of these books, not that I read anything remotely near the whole 38!

        “The Just William series is a sequence of thirty-eight books written by English author Richmal Crompton. The books chronicle the adventures of the unruly schoolboy William Brown.

        Published over a period of almost fifty years, between 1922 and 1970, the series is notable for the fact that the protagonist remains at the same eleven years of age, despite each book being set in the era in which it was written.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_William_(book_series)

        Never read this one: 1938, “William — The Dictator.”

        “The discovery of the empty Gorse View gives William hope for running his prize idea — a Boy Sanctuary laden with cakes, biscuits, buns and baths of lemonade — on a commercial basis. While discussing the matter, the Outlaws discover a drill of Fascists in black shirts, and decide to form their own coloured shirt band (The Greenshirts, marked by a green armband). Their manoeuvres are copied by Hubert Lane’s Blueshirts, who also proceed on the Fascist agenda of setting up a Colony in Hubert’s aunt’s house. The Outlaws’ attempts at converting Gorse View into their ‘Colony’ is worsted by its sale. A windfall in the form of a picnic hamper, that fell out of a speeding car outside the house, promises to make their dreams of a Boy Sanctuary come true. While they are in the process of setting it up, the owner of the house turns up. She holds their attention with her tale of theft of her car, and the boy sanctuary is in the meantime raided by her daughter and her friends, who were expecting a party. All ends well as the Outlaws corner the abundant remains of the hamper, as the Laneites are crushed to see the prosperous Outlaw ‘Colony’.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_the_Dictator

        Andrew Coates

        June 2, 2022 at 7:37 am

        • Oh, I read William as well. Those later books could have quite jarring clashes of eras (“William and the Pop Singers”, where he encounters a sort of Paul Jones type, unsure and embarrassed about commerce).

          februarycallendar

          June 2, 2022 at 10:28 am

  5. I hope Frank Furedi appreciated how another ex-Trotskyist who became influential among American conservatives was quoted by Rolling Sone at the conference.

    “James Burnham said that civilization dies only by suicide. I’m afraid that our lack of activity could easily lead to such an end,” cried Vaclav Klaus, the former Czech president. “

    John Rogan

    June 6, 2022 at 11:02 am


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