TV Documentary from 1999 on Contemporary British Fascism

This is more Fascism – British this time – for those that can stomach. And some of it is hard to take. This is a British documentary, The Lost Race, broadcast in 1999, that charts the career of the various Fascist parties and movements in Britain from c. 1979 to the end of millennium. It follows the NF, BNP and other Fascist splinter groups, like the Third Position after Margaret Thatcher’s election victory of 1979 took the wind out of their sails by taking many nationalist votes from the NF. Faced with defeat after it was almost on the verge of becoming a mainstream party, the National Front split, the British National Party emerged as the dominant party of the Far Right, and British Fascism in general began a process of self-examination and exploration trying to find ways to recover their position.

The documentary covers some of the bizarre intellectual movements within the BNP at this time. This includes Nick Griffin’s attempt to turn his stormtroopers into ‘political soldiers’ following the ideas of the Italian Fascist and occultist aristo, Giulio Evola and the Italian Fascist, Roberto Fiore. This involved trying to cultivate a mystical, spiritual dimension to the Fascist revolt, and the ideas of the late Libyan dictator, Colonel Gaddafi. I think Nick Griffin travelled at least once to Libya, and he tried to get the other goose-steppers to study Gaddafi’s notoriously muddled and incoherent ‘Green Book’. One of the former Fascists interview, now standing as a ‘National Liberal’ local councillor in one of the London boroughs, describes how he got a copy for the local council. It’s on their shelves, but no-one’s read it. Also highly influential in this stage of the BNP’s development were the ideas of the Romanian Fascist, Corneliu Codreanu, who tried to form a mystical nationalism based on a synthesis of love of the land with Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This also failed to ignite any interest. It’s hard to see how Griffin expected it to be otherwise. Codreanu’s Iron Guard was a failure, even in Romania. From what I understand, in the 1930s they tried to overthrow the Romanian government in a coup. King Carol formed a government of his own from the traditional Rightist groups, which then counterattacked and massacred the Fascists, including Codreanu. His ideas were also unlikely to have any resonance for contemporary Brits, considering the very different intellectual climate in western Europe. The early Russian intellectuals, for example, used to contrast the mystical mindset of their own country with western rationalism and its obsession with the law and legal niceties, in contrast with their own preferences for utopianism and solving social problems through a complete restructuring of that society.

As for the International Third Position, this can be summed up as plain, old fashioned segregation. In their case, Blacks and Asians were to be allowed to remain in Britain, but would be kept separate from Whites through a system of apartheid. This also eventually died the death, as the traditional stance of the BNP and Nazi groups always was for an end to non-White immigration and the deportation of Blacks and Asians back to their countries of origin.

One of the Fascist groups also made an abortive, and borderline fraudulent attempt, to set up a Whites-only Nazi commune on a farm in France. The documentary makers themselves go there, and visit the site in the company of one of the local dignitaries. They find the site abandoned and dilapidated. Its British owners only stayed there once, and were looking to sell the place. Despite this, they were still appealing for money for the project in the various extreme Right-wing journals.

This made sense of some of the things I’d heard about the extreme Right at the time. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke in his book on contemporary Nazi occultism, The Black Sun, discusses some of the links between Libya and European Neo-Nazis, who adopted a pro-Islam view linked with their anti-Semitism. Larry O’Hara, who did a doctorate, I believe, on the contemporary British Far Right, mentions the Third Positionists several times in some of the articles he wrote for Lobster in the 1990s. He also briefly mentioned the attempt in France to found a Nazi commune in his own conspiracy journal, Notes from the Borderland.

The BNP/NF also tried to gain support by copying the Liberals, and concentrating on ‘parish pump’ politics, local issues at council level. It’s about this new electoral strategy that they talk to the ‘National Liberal’ town councillor in London.

The documentary also discusses the extreme violence of the Far Right, and the rise of Combat 18, an extremely violent, expressly Nazi organisation that specialised in attacking left-wingers and anti-fascists. It was founded in 1979 by the American Klansman and Nazi, Harold Covington, whose members shot day five civil rights protestors.

What I, and no doubt many others, found particularly repulsive was the way the NF/ BNP tried to recruit and indoctrinate schoolchildren. The various Nazi periodicals encouraged pupils to inform on staff, who were supposed to be promoting ‘Communist’ ideas. These were then beaten up by the storm troopers. The programme includes an interview with a teacher, who was attacked by two men in school, after one of his pupils wrote such a snitch letter to one of the Nazi rags. The man was beaten because he had taught Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto. From that, you could be forgiven for thinking he was indeed a Marxist. Except he wasn’t. The documentary makers ask him this straight out, and he gives them a flat denial. The school’s course at the time involved teaching them about the Soviet Union for a term, which involved obviously studying the ideological foundations of the state in Communism. The next term, however, they were due to study America, and the term after that Europe. So no, the teacher was definitely not a Communist. And even if he was, it would have been a matter for official censure and discipline if he was trying to indoctrinate his young charges, and definitely not ground for a savage physical attack.

The Nazis also launched their own ‘comic’ intended to draw children into their vile world of racial nationalism. There’s a clip of one of them hanging around outside a school’s gates, selling copies of The Stormer to the children leaving school. The Stormer took its name from Der Stuermer, one of Goebbel’s vile propaganda rags. The documentary briefly shows a page from the ‘comic’, with strips like ‘Ali the Paki’ clearly intended to promote hatred towards Blacks and Asians through playing up racial stereotypes. I’ve got a feeling that The Stormer was banned, and the Nazis producing and distributing it sent to jail for incitement to racial hatred following police raids on their homes. Good. The footage of the Nazi shouting to all the schoolchildren to get their copies of it, only 10p is genuinely repulsive and creepy. It has the same kind of overtones as paedophiles hanging around school gates, trying to get their claws into young, vulnerable children in their turn. It’s one that makes you want to take a bath after you’ve seen it.

The documentary, however, states that these attempts by the NF and BNP to revive their flagging membership and electoral support ultimately died, as in those 20 years Britain became used to and more comfortable with being a multicultural and multi-ethnic country. There’s an interesting section where the presenter asks John Tyndall, the leader of the NF, if he would deport, say, someone who was half-black, or a quarter. Tyndall gets very tetchy indeed, and gives an evasive answer about how these issues would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

This was at the time a little too optimistic, as in the early years of this century the BNP seemed to be in the ascendant. Fortunately, that passed when just about everyone turned on Griffin and the BNP. These groups are still around, but they’re smaller than they used to be, though still as nasty, and now openly anti-Semitic, whereas before they kept that hidden.

Here’s the video.

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