Tag Archives: Mussolini

John Galliano, casual anti-Semitism and Ezra Pound

I don’t follow fashion and I despise the fashion industry. Out of all the arts, fashion is probably the least politically and socially engaged of all the forms. Its leading ‘lights’ are self-congratulatory and self-obsessed. Some, like John Galliano, are either completely clueless or wilfully ignorant of history. So when I’d heard that Galliano had been accused of anti-Semitism, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Galliano’s excuse for his outburst is that he is addicted to drink. Nowhere Towers believes this is a feeble excuse and suspects that Galliano is being dishonest and is really an anti-Semite at heart. In all of the talk about the incident, no one has once mentioned the fact that he models his appearance (and perhaps his thinking) on Ezra Pound.

For those who aren’t familiar, Ezra Pound was an expatriate American poet who lived in Britain in the early part of the 20th century. He was friends with T S Eliot, another expat American, whose poems he published. He also helped to shape the work of Hemingway and Joyce. Pound wrote for Wyndham Lewis’ (who was also an anti-Semite) literary magazine BLAST and coined the word “Vorticism”, which was the British inflection of futurism. Pound was appalled by the loss of lives in WWI, which he blamed on “international finance and usury” – these words are often employed euphemistically by anti-Semites to refer to Jews.  Initially attracted to  CH Douglas’s social credit ideas, he became a fascist in 1924. He wrote anti-Semitic articles for Action,  Oswald Moseley’s newspaper. He dabbled in economics too…but no one took him seriously.

He lived in Italy during WWII and broadcasted anti-Semitic propaganda for the fascist government.  When the Allies invaded Sicily in 1943, he fled north. Days after Mussolini was shot, he was captured by partisans, who later released him. Fearing the game was up, he and his wife surrendered to the US Counter-intelligence Corps in Genoa. He was imprisoned. He was later examined by psychiatrists, who concluded that Pound had had a mental breakdown. It should be noted that Pound was an early advocate of the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  If that sounds surprising, then we should remember that Zionism was not popular among the majority of Europe’s Jews and was seen, and rightly so, as a playing into the hands of anti-Semites.

So now Galliano is awaiting his fate. He claims that he isn’t anti-Semitic or racist and yet, it seems, he has plenty of previous form. Besides, racism seems to be rife in the fashion industry.  This blog says,

Issues around racism within the fashion industry aren’t new. Every few months, it seems, a new incident takes place: models being photographed in blackface (Claudia Schiffer in 2010 and Lara Stone in 2009); non-white models dressed in “tribal” clothing (most recently at the 2010 Victoria’s Secret fashion show); all-white runway shows (Fall 2008 is perhaps the most infamous example, but despite media coverage of the issue, the trends have continued); all-white fashion editorials in some of the most influential magazines; and, in seeming apology, the cliched “black issue,” dedicated  to models of color (see, most recently, Vogue Italia, 2008).  Influential people of color within the fashion industry have been speaking out for years, but the situation remains bleak.  With such a pitiful record, it’s little wonder that the hiring of a white editor for Essence magazine was met with such outcry.

Galliano’s defence reminds me of the oft-used defence of the 1970’s, “It was just a joke…can’t you take a joke”? Well, call me humourless but racism is racism and it doesn’t matter if it is masked by jocularities. In fact, that makes it worse.

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Politically motivated arrests and illusions of liberty

I found this article in The Guardian from one of the UKUncut protesters who was arrested on Saturday. This article confirms my suspicions that this country is sliding towards a police state.  This paragraph stands out,

A very senior officer in my station admitted to my parents that he regretted having to charge the protesters on the orders of Scotland Yard: he said they all seemed like “nice people”, and that he suspected the charges were politically motivated. These sentiments were echoed by other officers who kept distinguishing us from “proper criminals”. Another senior officer told me he suspected that it wasn’t so much a case of legality, but that UK Uncut had upset people who were that little bit too rich; that little bit too powerful. Some police officers, I’ve been told, even advised protesters about constructing a defence.

Yes, these are the same powerful people that not only own most of this country’s wealth, but are in a position to print lies about UKUncut and smear both the group and those people who support them.

Fortnum & Mason’s is not merely a posh supermarket, it is a symbol of the power and authority (not to mention their spending power) of the rich and the privileged.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Filippo Tomaso Marinetti, the libertarian who supported fascism

Interestingly enough, right wing libertarians claim to be in favour of freedom and liberty but aren’t prepared to extend this idea to anyone outside their select group of people – the wealthy.

We need to remind ourselves of the futurists, who also referred to themselves as “anarchists” and “libertarians”. They all supported Mussolini’s fascists. Therefore the gap between right libertarianism and fascism is quite a narrow one and remains so to this day.

The case of the Anti-Socialist Union in this country is strangely similar. Born out of the remnants of the Land and Property Defence League, the ASU represented the interests of the wealthy. The ASU were proponents of laissez-faire economics and, at one time, boasted a young Stanley Baldwin as a member. The ASU would become closely allied with various fascist movements in the 1920’s because of their shared opposition to communism.

Cut a right libertarian and you will find the blood of an authoritarian.

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Smears, lies, hatred and war fetishes

War and mechanized death. The futurists couldn’t get enough of it. 

Over the last few of months I have noticed a couple of Torygraph journalists making some very odd assertions. The claim being made is that “Lefties” apparently use the word “hate” when they mean” to disagree with” or so says Desperate Dan. He has used some of his blogs to wag his finger at what he sees as ‘hateful’ lefties. This one from October 26 is titled “Memo to my Leftie friends: you’d feel better if you didn’t hate so much”.   Then there’s this one from Oct 3 titled “Where would lefties be without hatred”? The factually-challenged James Delingpole also gets in on the act with this recent echo of Hannan’s twisted logic here. Like the kid who hangs around with the playground bully, Delingtroll is only there to sneer and to egg his pal on. He doesn’t claim to have influenced government policy…yet.

About these blogs. First, I seriously doubt that Hannan knows any real left-wingers, though it is entirely possible that he’s being sarcastic. Although recently he told his fans that Irish Socialist Party MEP and leader, Joe Higgins,  is “his favourite MEP”,  but he bemoans the fact that Higgins refused to shake his hand because in Hannan’s words, he (Hannan) is “a neoliberal”.  Stunning!  Second, the title presupposes that right-wingers don’t hate anything at all. We know that this isn’t true: they hate trade unions going on strike and they hate public bodies (quangos) like the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It’s that word “equality”, it sort of irritates them; gets them in a lather…they get in a right strop over it. And the spittle! They’ll shower you with it.

What Hannan and his wingman seek to do is to position themselves as morally superior to anyone that does not share their ideology. Their use of the word “hateful” is designed to cheaply smear their opponents and, at the same time, control discourse.  But in adopting this position of moral superiority, they are inadvertently claiming to have no emotions at all.  Presumably if they never hate anything, they are also incapable of love, empathy and compassion. But, as we already know, Randists are only concerned in themselves. Empathy sucks and as for altruism,  just don’t go there.

I first encountered this ideologically colonized form of the word “hate” eight years ago on American political fora like The Bully Pulpit on Delphi Forums where posters would routinely accuse anyone who criticized or mocked Bush of being “hateful”. This is really a form of political correctness, though your average right winger wouldn’t admit to it. The truth of the matter is that the Right have their own forms of political correctness: consider the reaction of the Right  to the defacement of Winston “Lively Terror” Churchill’s statue. The outrage was visceral: it was almost as if they felt their own bodies had been violated; the nation raped before their eyes.  Nationalist sensibilities are always politically correct.

To be honest, I think these two wannabe shock-jocks spend too much time hanging  around American right-wingers. Delingpole has appeared on the notorious Alex Jones’s radio show. For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, Jones is a loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist and all-round paranoiac who has set himself up as a “9/11 Truther”. Here he is talking about his favourite subject: those horrid environmentalists.

I normally ignore Delingpole. He’s like the long-lost love child of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.  He’s a well-paid professional gobshite.  His use of the word “liberal” as a pejorative comes from directly from American right-wing commentators. The problem for Delingtroll is that this use of the word liberal is unlikely to catch on here in Britain – no matter how much he repeats it.

Delingpole apparently describes himself as a “Conservative libertarian”. He is apparently rather fond of wars too. Historically, there have been plenty of historical figures who have relished the whole meat-mincing madness of mechanized death.  They get moist just thinking about it. The last self-described libertarians to glorify and worship war were the Italian futurists…most of whom were killed or badly maimed by the very war they fetishized.  Here’s an snippet from their manifesto,

9. We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.

They were nutters;  dangerous nutters who allied themselves with Mussolini’s fascists (Hayek didn’t see that one). You can read the rest of their manifesto here.

I think Delingtroll should lend a hand to the troops in Helmand  – we’d make sure he has a gun and some rations, of course. Fuck the tent and sleeping bag, if he’s that hard  he can sleep out under the stars. But he’d probably shit himself.

As they say in this part of the world, he’s all teeth and trousers.

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The new crusaderism?

The crusader mentality never went away. By ‘crusader’ I am not suggesting that there is necessarily an active desire on the part of Islamophobes to reconquer the Holy Land. No. What I am talking about is the way in which certain politicians, journalists and others seek to produce scare stories for popular consumption; these are scare stories that have a particular historical precedent. These myths have been systematically inserted into public conversations on Islam for the last 9 years. But stories, myths and tropes are only part of it. The English Defence League (EDL) has  articulated its discourses around the alleged ‘Islamification of the country’ and have formed themselves into a sort of mass lynch mob ready to crush anyone who dares to get in its way.  We see countries like France banning the burqa and politicians like Geert Wilders declaring the Koran to be ‘evil’.

Given the Vatican’s blatant refusal to come clean on the child abuse scandals that continue to dog it, Wilders and others have deliberately blinded themselves to the reality that all mass religions from Catholicism to Hinduism have a great deal of explaining to do vis a vis their methods of social control and the secrets that they keep. No mass religion is free from these sorts of scandals but in the Catholic church such abuse was institutionalized; the perpetrators shielded from investigation by the current Pope. Yet not a word about this from the likes of UKIP, Wilders or the EDL.

The Islamophobia we are currently witnessing has its roots in events that took place over 1000 years ago: the Crusades. While many Muslims have pointed out this fact to their detractors, Western neo-conservative journalists like Douglas Murray have sidestepped the issue. But they can do this no more. The current opposition to Islam is part of this new crusaderist mentality. The comments on this blog sum up this mentality. The issue of the building of a mosque called park51 (in fact a community centre) near  ‘Ground Zero’ has got American right-wingers foaming at the mouth. Of course, they conveniently and deliberately ignore the fact that Muslims were killed on 9 September 2001 along with Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus and others. Death doesn’t discriminate.

To ensure their opinions found purchase in the public mind, the neo-cons coined a word for Islamist fanatics: Islamofascist. The word is a portmanteau of  ‘Islam’ and ‘fascist’ and is designed to conjure up images of Hitler and the Nazis, who are a sort of touchstone of evil – true demons. Whenever a new enemy comes along, it is only a matter of time before he is compared to Hitler. Gamal Abdel Nasser found himself labelled as “another Hitler” by British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden during the Suez Crisis of 1956.  In truth Nasser wasn’t even a Mussolini yet this comparison found favour with diehard militarists, right-wingers and Daily Mail readers.  It was, after all, only 11 years since the end of WWII and memories were of Hitler were still fresh in the mind.  In the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte was used in a similar way. Parents would threaten their children by telling that ‘Boney’ would ‘get them’ if they didn’t go to sleep. An effective weapon to keep children in line for sure but what about the adults?

The title of Glenn Beck’s programme has the words “Jihad. Mein Kampf” as if to suggest that the fundamentalists constitute a form of Nazism, complete with its own uniforms and regalia. Somehow I doubt Beck has ever read Mein Kampf...

Funnily enough, Beck has a disclaimer: “I am not a journalist”. That’s all right then. He also ‘reminds’ us of how these fanatics use the “weapon of propaganda”. A bit like Fox News?

Christopher Hitchens has  declined the credit for the appearance the word Islamofascism – that’s big of him. The Popinjay says

The term Islamofascism was first used in 1990 in Britain’s Independent newspaper by Scottish writer Malise Ruthven, who was writing about the way in which traditional Arab dictatorships used religious appeals in order to stay in power.

Is that so? That still doesn’t make it right. How would one define Francoist Spain? As Christofascist? We know that Franco was a staunch Roman Catholic and placed the church at the heart of the state yet Franco wasn’t fascist; he sympathized with the fascists and the Nazis. He allied himself with the Spanish Falange, though did not join the Falange until the early 1960’s. In his attempt to explain away the term, Hitchens doubles back on himself,

Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the “pure” and the “exclusive” over the unclean and the kufar or profane.

Clear as mud, but that still doesn’t make them ‘fascist’, my former Trotskyite friend; it makes them either religious fundamentalists or religious purists; reactionary conservatives to be precise – not unlike the Generalissimo himself.  David Horowitz, another former Trotskyite, came up with the idea of an Islamofascism Awareness Week (sic). Steven Schwartz of the Murdoch-owned Weekly Bog Standard claims that

I was, as I will explain, the first Westerner to use the neologism in this context.

Good for you, Steve. Schwartz does his best to defend the term, going so far as to offer badly drawn connections between the use of state-sanctioned violence and the activities of Al Qaeda to make his somewhat tenuous point.

Fascism was paramilitary; indeed, the Italian and German military elites were reluctant to accept the fascist parties’ ideological monopoly. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are both paramilitary.

There is a major difference between the two: Islamic fundamentalists do not roam the streets looking for non-believers to beat up nor do they attack political meetings. Both Hitler and Mussolini used gangs of thugs to smash printing presses and offices of newspapers that opposed them. I see none of this in the cities of the so-called West. Where is the Al-Qaeda equivalent of the squadristi or the Sturmabteilung? They are nowhere to be seen. There are no Islamic fundamentalist equivalents of the Blackshirts, Brownshirts or any other colour of shirt…though the likes of Hitchens would have us believe that these religious fanatics have formed themselves into the kinds of paramilitary units that operated in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

A lot of the mutterings and op-ed pieces on ‘Islamofascism’ are redolent of the rantings of the evidently mad Peter the Hermit who propagated the will of Pope Urban II by claiming Muslims had committed a variety of unspeakable acts against Christian pilgrims. Never mind that Christians had, for centuries, subjected Jews to the very thing that they were now accusing Muslims of – the Hermit wasn’t interested as he was most probably a raving anti-Semite – like most Christians of the period.  It was partly because of Peter’s efforts that the Peasants Crusade attracted so many volunteers (Urban II had declared that anyone who took the cross would be given a remission from all sins. A very tempting offer to the superstitious medieval mind). Things haven’t changed  great deal since 1096, we may have more advanced technology but our attitudes and our way of thinking is, more often than not, rooted in the past. It is easy to accuse ‘Islamic extremists’  or Islam itself of being mired in the medieval period but our thinking, which we like to think of as ‘enlightened’ is mired in exactly the same place, if not an earlier time. This is particularly the case when one hears  Douglas Murray talk about the ‘creeping Islamicization of Europe’. These ‘warnings’ are medieval in their style, tone and delivery.

Islam is often accused by western commentators of treating women as second class citizens. What these commentators ignore is the fact that women, particularly in this country and elsewhere, are paid less than men and are objectified in the media. Feminine traits are ridiculed, sidelined and devalued, while masculine ones such as war-making are celebrated.  In the home, women do all, if not most of the work while the men do as little as possible.  Then there’s the issue of marital rape, where the husband believes it to be his conjugal right to violate his wife if he so chooses – a pater familias for our time? Perhaps.  In the light of this,  how are women freer in the west than in Muslim countries? They aren’t and it is a simple matter of cultural relativism that prevents the Islamophobes from seeing the truth. The Patriarchy is near-universal and doesn’t make distinctions between religions.

The way in which the word ‘Islamofascist’ has been used reminds us of how the western political pundits saw Saddam Hussein: as a new Hitler. The construction of demons seems to rest on the last great demon of our recent history. This laziness in thinking exists for a purpose: to convince the gullible and the illiterate that Hitler had been reincarnated in the body of a contemporary figure and, as such, had to be stopped. In the 19th century, the bogeyman was Napoleon Bonaparte whose name was used to keep children in line if they did not say their prayers or go to sleep when told to do so. “Boney will come and get you”!

I am not a Muslim. In fact I do not belong to any religion, mass or otherwise. These mass religions are not concerned with spirituality, rather, their focus is on blind faith and submission. What they all have in common is their vertical structures of power, where an educated (educated in the religious sense) elite controls all aspects of the spiritual as well as the temporal (your body and its needs). It is only The Religious Society of Friends – The Quakers – who have a horizontal power structure.

Finally, here’s a blog from Damian Thompson in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. The title is interesting and demonstrates how Islamophobia has percolated through each level of our society. The misguided belief that Muslims are being ‘pandered’ to for the sake of ‘multiculturalism’ has become a form of universal truth among Daily Mail readers, who were never predisposed to Others of any creed or colour.

In 1977, The Jam declared that “This is the modern world”! Today I would ask “Is this the modern world”? It doesn’t look like it.

UPDATE:

Here’s a wind up blog from Andrew Gilligan. If this kind of article was written about Jews and synagogues, there would be trouble. Yet, because it involves Muslims and a mosque that was, allegedly the place where various bombers worshipped, it is ‘fair game’. In this blog, Sunny Hundal of LiberalConspiracy asks “Why is Gilligan still taken seriously”? Good question.

Gilligan wrote an earlier blog about an “Islamist press release” from The Guardian.  For Gilligan a small group of cranks becomes a mass movement,

Perhaps it’s because Mr Ali is a senior official of the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe – which works, in its own words, to create an Islamic state under sharia law in Europe. The IFE and the MSF share the same offices.

I won’t happen anymore than I am likely to become President of the United States. Gilligan lives in a fantasy world that is populated by fools, ignoramuses and sockpuppets.

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Cheap tricks and smears. Welcome to the world of Dan Hannan

Hannan’s repeating the lie that the BNP is a ‘left wing’ party again in his blog. Only this time, he is involved in a spat with fellow Telegraph blogger, Damian Thompson. who says,

I really am bored of Right-wing Tories like my old mate Dan Hannan insisting that the British National Party is “far Left”. It isn’t. It’s on the far Right. Sure, the BNP’s economic policies reflect a version of socialism; it would create a monstrously intrusive, high-spending state not unlike those on the totalitarian Left. But, for crying out loud, let’s use some common sense here. Political parties are defined not just by their economic manifestos but also by their culture. And the culture of the BNP expresses a nationalist racism that is almost identical to that of European parties that everyone identifies as far Right, even if they are less statist and protectionist. This culture is a long way removed from Dan’s free market Whiggery; but then Dan is not on the far Right, just as (say) Will Hutton is not on the far Left and has almost nothing in common with the Socialist Workers’ Party. Calling the BNP Left-wing is like calling the Soviet apparatus Right-wing, as so many libertarian Lefties did in the 1970s. It’s a debating society trick, nothing more.

Quite right, Damian, quite right….it’s not only a debating society trick, it’s a cheap trick; a cheap and nasty trick.

Mad Dan’s headline reads “There’s nothing Right-wing about the BNP – except in the BBC sense of baddie”. I think that title reveals more about the man than he cares to admit.

Here, he falls back on a rather shaky piece of logic

The BNP, like all fascist movements, emerged from the revolutionary Left. It dislikes free enterprise, hates the rich and resents the monarchy. It markets itself as “the Labour Party your parents voted for” and its last manifesto promised “to give workers a stake in the success and prosperity of the enterprises whose profits their labour creates by encouraging worker shareholder and co-operative schemes”. Its support comes overwhelmingly from ex-Labour voters.

Wrong. The BNP was formed as a splinter group from the National Front whose precursor was Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. So what does this prove? Nothing whatsoever. Did Mussolini’s fascists emerge from the revolutionary left? No,  they did not. Mussolini may have, at one time, been a socialist but he was soon expelled for supporting WWI. he soon followed the lead of irredentist,  Gabriele d’Annunzio (who was a darling of the Futurists). Being expelled from a socialist party doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have taken socialism with you to forge into a new dynamic party of fascists. Yet, this is what Mad Dan assumes. Quite frankly, I don’t know what history this man has been reading but it is all wrong. Appealing to the working classes is pretty common for fashos, but actively incorporating them into the party’s leadership structure is something quite different. No far-right party has ever done this. In this way, the far-right shares something in common with the Tories. Remember the Primrose League? It was an attempt by the Tories to attract working class support in the 1880’s. But the working class never found themselves actually leading the League’s  local branches; they remained at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Then there are the Nazis:  Hitler was not and never was, a socialist.  While some of the Nazis may have, at one time, been socialists, they were either expelled or left the party of their own accord. Hitler was totally opposed to socialism from the outset. How on earth could he and his party be ‘left-wing’ when they were opposed to trade unions?

Hannan then quotes FA Hayek. This is a very bad move because Hayek isn’t exactly neutral in his ‘analysis’ of socialism; he wants to tie it to fascism and in so doing ignores the corporatist nature of fascism/Nazism in order to score a political point. The defence of Hayek appears to rest on a single premise: Hayek lived in Austria during the Dolfuss regime.  For Hannan, it is as if Hayek exists in some kind of ideological vacuum.

Read Hayek’s chapter on “The Socialist Roots of Nazism” in The Road to Serfdom,

No thanks, I tried Hayek and he made me sick….and he made the rest of the country sick when Thatcher adopted his philosophy.

This is pure gold,

In what sense, then, is the BNP Right-wing? Some argue that it is Right-wing to discriminate on the basis of race and nationality rather than class and income, but this would surely make Stalin, Gerry Adams, Pol Pot and Robert Mugabe very Right-wing indeed. A true Rightist believes that, other things being equal, the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion: a position equally abhorrent to socialists of the National or Leninist varieties.

When did Gerry Adams discriminate on the basis of race or even religion? You’re going to have to find some pretty solid examples, Dan; because your case is looking shakier by the minute. You do realise that there have been Protestant members of the IRA or did you think that the ‘Troubles’ was all about religion? Your take on the Right as ‘defenders of freedom’ is so risible that I can only say one thing by way of reply: Pinochet. Of course I could have said Franco or Salazar, but Pinochet was alleged to have presided over an ‘economic miracle’  that was, in part, informed by the theories of Hayek (as well as those of Friedman who was also influenced by the Austrian School).

As the blog nears its end, it becomes ever more batty. He shrieks,

No, there is only one sense in which the BNP is Right-wing, and that is the BBC sense. Our state broadcaster uses the epithet “Right-wing” to mean “disagreeable”

Do they? Is that like when “lefties” allegedly use the word “hate” when they mean “disagree”?  To be honest, I think you’re spending far too much time around Teabaggers, Dan.

One thing is clear from this blog and your blog of a couple of days ago: you don’t know your right from your left.

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