Fabio Paolo Barbieri (fpb) wrote,
Fabio Paolo Barbieri

Racism and violence (followed up from my last post)

My friends who have followed this blog for a while may have noticed the connection between my analysis of consciously foolish PC-speak in my last entry and the fierce attacks I repeatedly made on Marvel Comics' X-Men features - especially last March (http://fpb.livejournal.com/380876.html). The conclusion that the PC societal leadership really fears mobs on the streets and regards its fellow-citizens as potential stormtroopers waiting for nothing more than an opportunity to go off their heads is directly related to my analysis of the view of the American public enshrined in the X-Men universe by Chris Claremont and his successors. In the mutant universe, the average human citizen is so riddled with innate hatred and fear of anything he does not understand - especially his genetic betters - that any political activity by them is to be regarded with suspicion. It is a paranoid, hate-ridden world, and you may remember the terrible name I used for it.

The point is that Claremont - apart from being, in a sense, part of the societal leadership, as the creator and driver of a major comic book franchise - is affected by the same imagery and indirect experiences - mutuated by television - as the rest of that leadership. Claremont was young in the sixties, and saw plenty of TV reports about racist mobs and lynch law in the south. That indirect experience, I argued, must be seen as the heart of his fear and hate of the average American citizen. The context-free, brutally immediate nature of TV communication explains both the intensity of his obsession with this imagery and his complete inability to understand the socio-political context and historical development of these events. To him they are not one strange feature of a peculiar piece of history, but a natural feature of the being homo sapiens; and that is because TV presented them to him in his youth both with the power of immediate impact and virtual presence, and with the extreme dearth of explanation and context that is a natural and inevitable characteristic of TV reporting. To explain a single problem, TV needs an hour, minimum. Given that, it can be brilliant (as in the wonderful recent BBC documentary, Did Darwin destroy God?), but a news bulletin, which is what most people get their views of the world from, simply does not have that much time. (And that is even discounting the deliberate will to lie, of which I have just been reminded by a spectacularly mendacious performance by Channel 4's Jon Snow.) That is where the average person gets his/her anecdotal, impression-based, image-ridden, context-free view of the modern world. That is where Claremont and his successors got theirs; and that, I would opine, is also at the heart of the social prejudice of the PC societal leadership.

Those among these men who did not live through the sixties, learned at the feet of those who did. To them, racism is not just a fact, but a toxic horror dominating the background of their world and inevitably connected with mass murder. In Europe especially, this experience - the more distant because it came from across the ocean; Europe in the sixties had few racial minorities - became associated with another horror, namely Nazism. Both these horrors had in common that they were distant enough not to be in any way personally felt - they were part of a background of horror, along with starvation in Africa, tyranny in Latin America, and various other causes, against which it was felt to be good to rebel. And incidentally, the idea of being in revolt against a corrupt and hypocritical world implied the notion that the revolted youth in question intended to set it straight; and that implied that it intended to take a directing role in society. Before they were out of high school, the part of the sixties generation that most seriously bought into the "revolution" ideas was unconsciously staking out a claim to govern. Its revolutionary attitudes implied that it felt a responsibility, a duty, a need, and indeed an ability, to take control of the world and direct it in what it regarded as a better direction. And its moral revulsion at what it saw of the world in the headlines of the papers and the summaries of TV newsreaders - and, increasingly, in their own "alternative" press - was the token of its right to drive for power. It said to them that they were morally better than their compromised, authoritarian, racist fathers. "We shall make a new world," they said.

We should not underrate the importance of this motivation. Of course, the hippy world is deader than the Dodo, Kumbayah is a term of mockery if not abuse, and it is already thirty years since the leader of Punk embodied in a few hate-ridden words the rejection of the hippy claim to moral authority: "Never trust a hippy," said Johnny Rotten. And that even though he was their direct heir in the line of rebellion-as-token-of-virtue. But the one thing that had lasted was the commitment of that "generation", or rather of its leaders, to political power ("changing the world"). They had inevitably entered political parties, college administrations, even corporations and private companies; and the claim to superior morality, while it had abandoned the naively arrogant forms of 1969 or so, had not gone away. How could it? It was their motivation. It just lurked in the shadows, unadmitted, unrecognized, unstated.

Among the tokens of righteousness of the sixties generation, the revolt against racism had a very high place. Some sixties activists really did dangerous and honourable work against the American evil - going down south to confront armed extremists, risking and sometimes losing their lives. But I do not imagine that the majority of them ever did much beyond buying Joan Baez records and a Martin Luther King poster. The important fact, however, is that in the sixties, because of the coincidence between recent - but not recent enough - memories of the Kristallnacht and Nazi mobs, and the contemporary, but distant, last throes of the dying Ku Klux Klan dragon (easily mistaken, from a distance, for the bellow of a charging beast), a disastrous meme was formed. In the minds of the hippy generation, racism became associated with mob violence. It became an article of faith - as we have seen with Chris Claremont - that racial discrimination leads inevitably to mob violence. This is the article of faith that has led so many children of the sixties, seventies and eighties, to purposely and deliberately make fools of themselves in the last few days. Racial discrimination leads to violence; they learned it as children, along with an overwhelming sense of horror at its supposed results - from "strange fruit" on southern trees to mountains of dead in civilized Germany. People brought up in the belief that racial discrimination inevitably leads to the Ku Klux Klan and the SS would do anything to avoid stoking up what they regard as that dangerous passion.

Except that this is wrong. Group discrimination certainly involves the potential for various kinds of violence and injustice; if nothing else, because the injustice it tends to foster is a ready matrix for violence. No group can be deprived of opportunities, kept down or out, because of their identity, without a threat of force. But that is far from the convulsions of uncontrolled civil violence which our current ruling class fears. Historically, discrimination has been enforced by state authority, much more often than by mob violence; and it has often been helped by forces among the oppressed themselves, who internalized their role and came to regard it as necessary, sometimes even as sacred. If anyone in, say, India, wished to break out of their caste identity, the first enemies they would meet would be in their own caste, and as likely as not in their own families. So I am not saying that there is no necessary connection between group discrimination and violence; only that the image of rampaging mobs burned into the minds of our masters is a very imporverished and indeed ignorant version of the various kinds of group discrimination. There never was anything in history more thoroughly and elaborately racist than the British Empire (and I say this in the full knowledge of all the various merits of this gigantic accident in the history of mankind), whose representatives shuddered with horror at the sight of the mixture of colours in the Imperial Court of Brazil. And yet the British regarded the American hate and fear of blacks as something both detestable and ridiculous, and lynch law as a token of barbarism. (Read this: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17875/17875-h/17875-h.htm - and please notice that it was published in 1853!)

The two specific forms of violence that went into the making of this meme, Ku Klux Klan lynchings and Nazism, had specific historical roots. Both arose from a catastrophic military defeat that left behind large numbers of disgruntled veterans, used to violence and with easy access to enormous stockpiles of leftover war weapons. (Of course, the Civil War had taken place a century before the Sixties; but the KKK was a product of that war, and it was as a product of that war that it rooted itself in southern society until it was broken. Its ways, its use of power, its attitude to the rest of the world, were as much a result of the Civil War as the Nazi Party's of World War One.) Nobody can understand events in Europe east of the Rhine from 1917 to 1934 unless they bear in mind the picture of hundreds of thousands of young men let loose from shattered armies, trained to the highest level of military skill and armed to the teeth. The wonder is not that violence gripped most of Europe, but that it spared France and Britain.

And just as the association of racism with mob violence is not inevitable and universal - as the meme we are discussing has it - but specific to certain places and times, so conversely mob violence has absolutely no necessary connection with racism. Indeed, the cycle of civil violence that accompanied and followed the First World War was started by Vladimir Lenin in the name of an ideology that was the very reverse of racist, and carried on all over Europe and Asia (the horrors of the Anatalian wars of 1919-1923 are unknown to most Europeans, but they were easily the match of anything that happened in Russia, let alone Germany or Italy or Hungary) in the name of half a dozen competing ideologies of which Nazism was only one. The anger and dissatisfaction of a whole generation of abused young men was the basic factor; whether it expressed itself in communism or anarchism, in competing forms of nationalism, or in the new-fangled scapegoating of Jews on biological grounds, depended mainly on time, place and circumstance.

It follows that our societal leaders are fighting a ghost; and a ghost of their own begetting and inventing. But there is a lot more to be said about this ignorant deformation and demonization of group prejudice. (I will not say "racism", because, as I hope to explain in a future essay, to me race is a false problem.) The fact is that it has a positive and equally fraudulent reverse, living in the minds of that same aristocracy, arisen from the same notions, and bearing very real results. For if political evil can be summed up in racism and racist violence, then the desirable society - and the real world in so far as it has been corrected, changed, made "new" by the virtuous new generation of societal leaders - must be the opposite of racist. Hence the obsession with multi-culturalism. The redeemed society is multi-coloured, multi-cultural - inevitably. All the races and cultures in the world live there in perfect harmony. And the proper path of any political figure who shares in this particular culture is to foster and encourage multi-culturalism. And at this point we get to matters that are desperately urgent, desperately contemporary, and so frightening in their implications as to make Major Nadal and his murders a mere side-show.

Here in Great Britain, the last few weeks have seen a number of developments that arise directly from the stone-hard consensus of the whole ruling class around this notion. My comments on Nick Griffin, though recent, are now badly out of date; and it is impossible to make a forecast on how things will develop even in the next few days. What happened was that a former Labour speechwriter called Andrew Neather - a classic insider, gone straght from college to interning for Labour ministers and eventually to writing their speeches - wrote an article in London's local newspaper, the Evening Standard, arguing that immigration had been good for London - better restaurants and more nannies. Apart from the oblivious upper-class-twit tone in which it was written, appparently calculated to infuriate Labour's traditional working class suppport, this article let, not a cat, but a man-eating tiger out of the bag.

The government, he said, had not been remiss in letting in unprecedented waves of immigration. It had done so deliberately, and over a matter of years. Also, one of the main reasons to do so was "to rub the right wing's nose in multi-culturalism and make their views out of date." (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23760073-dont-listen-to-the-whingers---london-needs-immigrants.do)

As may be imagined, this started an earthquake in the internet. And a smoking gun turned up almost immediately - The Times printed evidence that immigration officers were encouraged to "run risks" not against but in favour of immigrants. Now, from a purely practical viewpoint, it is impossible to make a forecast. Those I made a few weeks ago are hopelessly out of date. But coming developments depend on things that cannot be assessed; in particular, what really is the power of the Internet, if any. The story has gone viral all over the conservative half of the British internet, but has not broken out. The overground media, all of them, are holding the line. The BBC has barely mentioned this matter. Channel 4 not only did not mention it, but baldly lied about yesterday's speech in which Gordon Brown promised a tightened immigration regime. They made it sound as though he were trying to claim neutral ground against the BNP - and not, as it has become clear, shamelessly reversing their own secret policy after it had become known. Therefore, what is going to happen is that we are going to see what power the Internet really has. These things are widespread on the Net and unmentioned elsewhere. And the Tories are leaving them almost untouched - the party and the Tory papers are deliberately refusing to push this as an issue, which is making the conservative netroots furious. The Tories have long shown that they are just as sold on the multi-cultural idea as Labour, and are equally desperate to discourage any problems between communities. So, we have the first really clinical experiment, almost without interference. If the Internet counts for much in modern politics, then the Tories are in nearly as much trouble as Labour, and the minor right-wing parties are in for a party. If not, then the big three parties will continue to dominate the scene.

My contribution to the debate is this: this secret policy was the direct result of the sequel of false assumptions and irrational memes I described. That Britain had now become a multi-cultural country was an article of faith with the PC crowd already in the eighties, and long before the current wave of immigration was unleashed. At the time, I read The Guardian regularly, and I can witness that the assumption that Britain already was wholly multi-cultural was both a certainty and a discussion-closer. As a matter of fact, that was not true then and it is not true now. Britain was, and it still is, a majority white country with a certain amount of native and immigrant minorities. But nothing could have convinced the PC classes of that; and the secret policy to multiply immigration was nothing but an attempt to make reality closer to "their" reality - much in the same way as the disastrous attempt to bring in women candidates by the hundreds, regardless of ability or experience. (As it turned out, most of the so-called "Blair Babes" did not progress beyond minor office, and of those who did, the most successful proved unpopular because not PC enough - Ruth Kelly, Hazel Blears - or ended up admitting their own inadequacy - Jacqui Smith, Estelle Morris.) Not only that, but immigration had until then been from areas and social groups which had within living memory belonged to the old British Empire, and which had a good deal of cultural contact with Britain. To speak of people who, like the East African Indians who fled Uganda, had belonged in a British-led economic and social framework, or who, like the West Indians, spoke English, belonged to Christian churches and played cricket, as separate cultures, was in itself unconsciously racist; it was to judge people by skin colour rather than by language, culture and life experience. And yet it was on the basis of the presence of these people that the British societal leadership declared that theirs was a multi-cultural country.

The final results, so far, have been, not only disastrous, but directly counter to their goals. The very things they saw in their nightmares, and that they wanted to ban from the country, are, one by one, coming to pass. A genuine Fascist party, with a neo-Nazi and consciously racist leadership, is now a viable political entity in this country, because immigration has become such an issue. Separately, another group calling itself the English Defence League has sprung up in reaction to perceived outrages against patriotism by Muslim crowds. The EDL is not connected to the BNP - for now - but its origin is equally worrying: it has its roots in organized football hooliganism. The most important thing is that it is a genuinely grassroot organization, with no political background whatever, created by people with no political experience and only moderate interest in public matters, purely out of disgust at the behaviour of an immigrant group. And their name, unpleasantly reminiscent of that of North Irish Protestant terrorist groups, reminds us that there are people in these islands with a great deal of experience in intercommunal violence. And none of these things would have happened without the self-justifying superstitions that govern the minds of our leading classes.
Tags: bnp, britain, edl, human folly, multi-culturalism, political correctness, racism
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