Friday, 19 October 2007

Fascism and the White Working Class

In his report back from last weekend's Socialist Party national committee meeting, brother A noted our friends the British National Party had come out in favour of the postal workers.

In a press release on their website (dated 11th October), the BNP writes

"Postal workers have a good case. They are striking to defend their pension scheme. They are striking because the pay deal of 6.7% over two years is actually a pay cut when you take real inflation into account. They already earn £80 a week below the national average wage! They are striking because Royal Mail is seeking to make unfavourable changes to their terms and conditions to compete with private companies who are cherry-picking the most profitable areas."

It continues;

"The Brown regime is hell-bent on continuing the Blairite policy of liquidating the Common Wealth of this country, wrecking public services by turning them into private profit centres for giant corporations. Inconvenient though the postal strikes are, the postal workers are in the forefront of the battle against doctrinaire privatisation."

If the BNP were half-way serious about their support, then where have they been throughout the strike? For a party who claims to be the authentic voice of the white, British working class; it has been notably absent from picket lines outside sorting offices, MDECs, depots, and post offices.

Of course, this support is purely demagogic. It was only a short while ago the BNP were denouncing the CWU for supporting posties' rights not to deliver their poisonous electoral material. This is the very same BNP who said firefighters "must forego their ambiguous position of using strike action as a means of leverage in pay negotiations" at the height of the FBU's dispute with the government! With friends like these ...

These kinds of opportunistic lurches to the left has a long pedigree in fascist politics. Like all on the far right, the starting point of their politics is the nation or 'the race'. Anything that threatens to sunder the essential unity of that category is a threat that must be dealt with. For example, New Labour are quite happy to dismantle public services and oversee the direct subordination of more and more civil society to the dictates of capital, and the government has had no qualms opening the borders to East European workers. Furthermore the working class as a whole is politically disenfranchised and is expected to forego the few crumbs from the rich's table it could expect in the past. Therefore it appears from this standpoint as if the Blair/Brown regime has time for everyone but the white working class. In BNP 'thought' this section of the working class is excluded precisely because it is the salt-of-the-earth repository of the British nation, and so they tailor their propaganda accordingly. This is not the whole of the BNP story as the fascists can also rely on significant support from sections of the middle class, but this discourse has clearly struck a chord in many working class communities up and down Britain. It helps explain how the BNP can poll very significant results in areas it has never stood in before.

But this strategy can only go so far. It's all very well winning support from white working class voters in periods where it has had the political stuffing knocked out of it, but quite another when it moves into action to prosecute its interests. This is why the BNP are never seen on workers picket lines - the logic of class action cuts against their idea of an indivisible nation/race. It's obvious to anyone who has taken industrial action that workers must stand together, regardless of gender, race, and sexuality in order to win. The BNP's nationalist rubbish tries to deny this by posing a common national interest between worker and boss, and seeking to divide workers by whipping up prejudice and hatred.

Fundamentally, however the BNP wishes to dress up, its "radicalism" is deeply reactionary. The British nation it defends is not the one of rebellion, of the general strike, the miners' strike, and the poll tax struggle; but the Britain of colonial brutality, class privilege, imperial bigotry, and capitalist exploitation. They offer the working class nothing but the whip and the chain.


Dave said...

Given all the 'British jobs for British workers' crap Brown comes out with, the convergence with New Labour is pretty spooky.

The Green Arrow said...

What Brown actually meant to say was "British jobs for Polish workers"

Phil BC said...

Thanks for gracing this blog with your wit, Green Arrow. Maybe in your next one you'll get round to addressing the points in my post.

Leftwing Criminologist said...

hi, glad to see some regular posting on the blog again. quite a good explanation of the bnp's current strategy though

Jonathan Wood said...

Good post.