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Year Zero Zealots Topple Statues – where will it end? Spiked and Nigel Farage ponder…

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Year Zero Zealots Topple Statue of Brexiter and Spiked Editor Brendan O’Neill.

Tom Slater was a prominent supporter of the Brexit Party and deputy editor of the site, Spiked.

He posted this in May 2019.

Vote for democracy – vote Brexit Party

….vote for the Brexit Party tomorrow, an alliance of democrats from all political and social backgrounds that is making one simple demand in these elections: respect the electorate. It is the only party that is making a positive case for Leave and for democracy; which is not just asking for your vote in this election but is demanding that every vote you ever cast in future be respected and acted upon.

In 2019 Bob from Brockley posted this invaluable article outlining the political background to the Spiked site and network:

THE RCP’S LONG MARCH FROM ANTI-IMPERIALIST OUTSIDERS TO THE DOORS OF DOWNING STREET

Bringing his account up the present Bob describes how the former Revolutionary Communist Party, reconverted into ‘Spiked’, played a role in creating the Brexit Party – after having helped form the ‘red-brown’ Full Brexit alliance of Blue Labour, ‘anti-rootless cosmopolitan’ campaigner Paul Embery, New Left Review star, Wolfgang Streeck, the Communist Party of Britain, Labour Lexiteers, Soverieigntists and a variety of other National Populists.

Here is a key section.

The RCP then played a key role in the creation of the Brexit Party, again providing “left” cover for a deeply right-wing project. Otto English in Byline Times documents how, in February 2019, a film-maker, Kevin Laitak, a disciple of Furedi, began turning up at local Leavers of Britain groups, telling campaigners that he was making a short film about rank-and-file Brexiters.

He then recruited activists who might consider standing for the new BXP, who were then called by a woman called Lesley Katon. Katon told would-be recruits that she was the co-founder of a group called ‘Invoke Democracy Now’, whose activists, English notes, included Claire Fox, as well as Luke Gittos, the legal editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, its editor, Living Marxism alumni Tessa Mayes and Munira Mirza, and Mick Hume, former editor of Living Marxism (for more on Invoke Democracy Now, see Colin Lawson).

Katon herself has several LM connections, and among the candidates emerging from this process were In addition to her client Claire Fox; Katon’s colleague David Bull who spoke at a Spiked event in 2003; James Heartfield, a long-time RCP cadre; Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, a former RCP activist and Spiked contributor; and in Scotland long time Spiked writer Stuart Waiton. Of these, only Fox was placed high up enough a regional list to get sent to Brussels.

Today we have this from Slater.

Slater whinges:

we shouldn’t celebrate the toppling of the statue, either. For it symbolises some of the more strange and regressive aspects to this new ‘anti-racist’ movement that has burst on to our streets and TV screens in recent days.

the frenzy with which a mob of protesters yesterday pelted the statue with paint, ripped it down, stomped on it, rolled it to the harbour, and then tipped it into the water was, frankly, unhinged.

This growing obsession with what are, at the end of the day, inanimate objects is one expression of the stifling politics of victimhood that has engulfed anti-racist politics, and a warped view of history that accompanies it.

By no coincidence whatsoever we now have this…

Good Morning Britain’s panel erupted into a fierce row as Nigel Farage condemned the toppling of a slave trader statue, and was accused of racism.

The Mirror continues,

Nigel compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the Taliban and refused to comment on whether he thought it was right or wrong to topple statues of Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler.

“I understand why they did it, but don’t forget those same people have been destroying historical monuments in Syria that are thousands of years old,” blustered Nigel, whose microphone was eventually muted so the other guests could speak.

And so it goes.

 

 

Populocracy. The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism. Catherine Fieschi. The “Populist Moment”.

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Populocracy. The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism. Catherine Fieschi. Agenda Publishing. 2019.

Britain had no political and social upspring comparable to France’s May 68. But it did have a “cultural 68” in rock music and the Underground. The UK has not seen a populist party get near the levers of political power. At one point, with rallies, speeches against traitors, metropolitan elites, the new Brexit Party looked as if it would ride the anti-68, Europe-wide populist electoral revolt. This began in many countries before the end of the last century, and their success can be seen in Ed Balls documentary series, Travels in Euroland. Yet there was no break-through. After winning the 2019 European Elections, Nigel Farage’s alliance of former revolutionary communists, left and right sovereigntists, Tory nationalists, the remnants of UKIP, and the even further right, failed, in the December vote, to get a single seat in Parliament.

Britain has, nevertheless, seen a cultural Populist Moment. If a re-forged UKIP “grass roots insurgency” failed to get MPs its ideas have walked right across the national stage. The Conservative Party’s use of national populist themes could be seen in attacks on the European Union, tapping into “traditional British identity and values” and dislike of “a remote and unresponsive political elite”. Anti-Parliamentarian threats to declare a State of Exception to override debate in the House of Commons and attacks on the Supreme Court resembled the populist demand that the will of the people trumps law-makers and the judiciary. Boris Johnson, with his 80 strong majority, was helped by the same political “dealignment” that has affected social democracy across Europe. His party may well have tapped into fear about the “destruction” of “historic identity and the established way of life” through “hyper-ethnic” change. The only ‘globalists’ by contrast, who got in their sights, were members of the European Commission and the liberal internationalists campaigning for a Second Referendum. (1)

What is left of this Moment? “Taking back control”, through getting “Brexit done” has shrivelled to mean, We are in charge, and We will do what we like. The populist content of the Tories’ stance looks mostly the gestures Catherine Fieschi calls “style”, and appeals to “authenticity”, although one would be hard pressed to find in the present Prime Minister much evidence of a populist “charismatic leader”. Some may see in his economics some tentative moves, but, as Sten Carver writes,  “Tory attempts to ride the two horses of neoliberal free trade and publicly funded infrastructure development are highly likely to come unstuck. Their ‘escape’ from the EU into the sunny uplands of deregulated international free trade is essentially an attempt to breathe new life into neoliberal globalism. ”  (Johnson’s Economic Populism) One can see further ideological  reverberations of this delayed culture war in the way that Laurence Fox has discovered a populist vein of anti-68 ideology, berating  the Western ‘Masochism” and guilt, a theme that has been exploited for decades by Pascal Bruckner (La Tyrannie de la penitence. 2006).

The Collective Will of the People.

Populocracy offers a good opportunity to stand back and look at the ““type, texture and feel”  of populism, the “blatant untruths” that fuel populism. Inspired during her MA studies to read the works o Stuart Hall on Thatcherism and ‘authoritarian populism” she continues to “take ideology seriously”. One starting point is the way the “people/elite division plays much the same the role as the capital/workers divide might have played in socialist politics.” (Page 13) The People’s “collective will” – a “holistic, organic – amongst metaphysical” conception of the people” is at the root. For ‘left populism’ citizens have also “inalienable (human) rights worthy of collective protection….the people are the expression of the collective will of sovereign citizens.” (Page 31) The right wing ‘organic’ people conception, grounded, one would say, on Edmund Burke’s contract of the living with the dead, or Charles Barrès’ idea of the bond between the nation, the people, la Terre et les Morts, can be rooted in “racial, ethnic homogeneity”. If the left populists do not share the anti-immigration implications of these ideas, there is little indication of how exactly the “collective will” of citizens” exists– a famous problem in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, Represented. How sovereign nation of the ‘People’ will get rid of the ‘oligarchies’, the elites, and confront the globalised economy, is the first of many other difficulties for any kind of populism. Perhaps somebody has spoken to The People. Most of us have yet to meet it and get a response. .

Fieschi does not explore these abstractions. She focuses on “the new link between citizen demands for directness, immediacy and transparency, what we have called authenticity” (Page 137) This, grounded on the “digital transformation” a “fantasy of radical transparency”, lies behind the way “populist parties have turned one of the most powerful promises of the Enlightenment – and of democracy – against itself.” (Page 157)

In the Introduction Fieschi begins with France, where she in 1996 she had met Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the Front National. A man who can switch from classical French to provocative vulgarity at the drop of hat, Le Pen “would, sing, dance, laugh, flirt. And lie. (Page 3) From federator of the post-Vichy extreme right, was a populist pioneer in “Being real”. Perhaps a key aspect of his daughter and successor, marine le Pen’s enduring presence on the French electoral scene is, Fieschi observes, her on-line presence, with 1,5 million Facebook followers and the creation of a ‘digital unit”. She concludes that the (renamed FN), the Rassemblement National has “written the handbook on populist politics in Europe” above all by promoting its version of “authentic politics”. Backing the Gilets Jaunes, she was “supportive enough without being invasive”. Marine, while facing competition on the far right with her niece Marion Maréchal le Pen, seems content to work within a “broad populist church”.

Left Populism.

The ‘left populist” Jean-Luc Mélenchon does not fare so well. The leader of La France insoumise (LFI)  having spent many pages, books and articles, explaining how he passed from “traditional socialism” to the opposition between the “people and the elites. As Fieschi notes of his efforts to mobilise the feelings of “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité”, and the “drapeau tricolore” that he fails the authenticity game. Many listeners to the LFI leader’s often hypnotic speeches, a traditional French politicians’ forte, would agree that he if he can “talk the talk” he cannot quite “walk the walk” His “citizens’ revolution” rallies – many will barely recall them – flopped. The LFI list  got only 6.3% in last year’s European elections. Unlike Marine Le Pen the Gilets Jaunes spurned him. Another block in his path to “federate the people” is that Mélenchon has kept up his long-standing hostility towards the rest of the French left during the mass strikes and protests against Pension Reform. His bold claim to not follow Jeremy Corbyn in apologising for offence to the Jewish Community is another bad sign. (2)

Populocracy looks at the Netherlands and Geert Wilders’ campaign against “elites and multiculturalism”, the “politics of offence”. Italy, she suggests has been “Populism’s Poster Child”. The Berlusconi years, the ascension of the 5 Star Movement, to Matteo Salvini of the hard right  Lega the rising star of Italian politics, at present out of office and challenged by the ‘Sardine’ movement, saw the wipe of out of the traditional socialist and communist left. Their successors on the centre-left have not resigned internationally, and appear closer to Emmanuel Macron than social democracy or democratic socialism. They indicate how the left-of-centre colours of the apparently radical 5 Star movement were washed away in the (now terminated) coalition with the far-right Lega. For Fieschi, who grew up in the country, it indicates, the tie between populism and “the political culture fostered by digital and its fantasy of radical transparency.” (Page 116)

A chapter on the UK Referendum on Europe offers many insights. Economic deprivation and cultural factors behind the Leave vote are bolstered by a look at how appeals to ‘authentic Britishness’ helped spur hostility to the European Union. The “lie” that British ‘independence” from Brussels would “bring back control” could be further explored. Left-wing supporters of Brexit believed that once free of the EU they could have their own “People’s Brexit’. Many went so far as to dream of a coming post-Referendum popular surge to take “control” of British institutions and the economy. They were virulently hostile to the only mass movement that did arise, the People’s Vote campaign. Many of them continue to justify their ballot box alignment with the Hard Right.

Ballot Box Movements.

France is not only the home of the “prototype” populist Rassemblement National. While not as dramatically as in Italy, the country has seen its traditional socialist and communist left marginalised, and the left splintered faced with President Macron’s centre party, La République en marche. In looking at how the working class left voters became “unmoored” from the left in the North of France, Didier Eribon suggested that a vote for the far right was part of the way people constructed their identity. (Retour à Reims 2018). In the past, with a strong labour movement, bound to the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) the ballot cast was an affirmation of solidarity with a social bloc that allied manual and public sector workers. The long march of labour halted in these de-industrialised regions people look at their life and interests completely differently. A protest against foreigners, against the Left or the Right, the parties that have been in government, increased the attraction of the far-right ‘anti-system’ message. There is no real movement, only the gesture of voting. (3)

Don Flynn suggests, something no too distant has happened in Britain.

The dispute over the UK’s membership of the EU suddenly offered people who had lost the habit of digging in and fighting back the chance to at least take sides in an argument that was driven by splits in the ruling class. Rebellion in pursuit of its own interests had ceased to be a part of the daily life of these communities, but at least they could now take on a foot soldier’s role in someone else’s revolt. The vicarious pleasures to be got from identification with other people’s victories, so strongly present in the fanaticism that goes with supporting football teams, was present in the backing given to the Faragist insurgency against Europe.

After the Deluge.

Populocracy is a valuable and stimulating study. It should stimulate further debate and investigation, For the moment would seem probable that far from creating a “new political subject” such ballot box dramas play, a different ‘relation’ to politics, mediated by the digital media, play central part in populist voting than just the search for “authenticity” and “transparency.” In both political and cultural populism the extreme right has flourished – and not always ‘virtually’ as its own branch of violence and terrorism has gained a foothold. 

 

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  1. Page 275. Revolt on the Right. Explaining Support for the radical Right in Britain. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin. Routledge. 2014. National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin. Pelican. 2018
  2. Page 265. Le Choix de l‘insoumission. jean-Luc Melénchon. Interviews with Marc Endeweld. Seuil. 2016. and L’ère du Peuple. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Pluriel. 2017. France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon says the UK Labour leader showed weakness by apologising for antisemitism accusations. December the 16th. 2019.
  3. Pages 127 – 160. Retour à Reims. Didier Eribon. Champs Essais. 2018 (New Edition).

After Nigel Farage Brendan O’Neill Set to be Knighted.

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Boris Johnson’s Favourite Marxist Brexiteer in the Offing for Knighthood?  

Rumours are flying that NIgel Farage is going to be knighted.

 

 

Nigel Farage Set To Be Knighted In The New Years Honours List According To Sources

This Blog can exclusively reveal, before Skwawkbox, that Heavyweight columnist Brendan O’Neill is also in the running after this amazing critique of multiculturalist elites.

Insiders say that the distinguished  pundit is in line for the The Order of the Companions of Honour.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2019 at 12:04 pm