Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

The Poverty and Ignorance of Ethno-Nationalism

The continued blight of capitalism on the lives of the working class has led to a proliferation in the rise of Neo-Nazi groups.

Many neo-Nazi groups are located in the North of England. They have infused anti-immigrant and particularly anti-Muslim xenophobia into their ideas and beliefs through the concept of "ethno-nationalism". Their aim is to create a nation composed of a single ethnicity from which everyone else is debarred.

These neo-Nazis claim that the working class are suffering economic and cultural losses due to immigrants and ethnic minorities. The ignorantly believe they are being "displaced" by immigrants in a "white genocide". Ethno-nationalists also view multiculturalism as a code word for the destruction of the native national identity. It comes as no surprise that they deride "Marxists" and "Socialists". They hold to conspiracy theories that see the country dominated by a "cultural Marxism", with "Marxists" to be found in all the political institutions from the Media to politics.

In the United Kingdom, the biggest threat from neo-Nazi groups has come from the remnants of National Action, which was the first radical right group to be proscribed as a terror organisation in December 2016. The group, whose members believe that "Britain should be for British people," reportedly operated training camps where recruits learnt hand-to-hand combat in preparation for "white jihad". Many ideas have been borrowed, via the internet, from Nazi groups in the US and Europe, from Isis and from Pol Pot.

Members of National Action escaped into a fictional history of Empire and English exceptionalism. It was a fantasy politics. They wanted a white utopia (or should that be dystopia) with the country cleared of all immigrants; a vision which offered them hope for the future but was, in fact, no future at all. A bankrupt and childish ideology of hate only led to imprisonment.

Since December 1916, there have been at least 14 trials involving more than 30 individuals formerly involved in the group. These cases deal with membership charges, hate crimes, and terror plots by individuals affiliated with neo-Nazi groups.

According to Hope Not Hate, Instagram has become a hub for young neo-Nazis to recruit young people to far-right groups, a report from an anti-racism group has warned (GUARDIAN 22 March 2021).

Britain's youngest convicted terrorist, who led a neo-Nazi cell from his grandmother's house, was handed a two-year rehabilitation order last month after pleading guilty to 12 offences, including two of dissemination of terrorist documents and 10 of possession of terrorist material. The boy from south-east Cornwall was just 13 when he first got hold of instructions for explosives.

Hope Not Hate identified two far-right groups active in the UK - The British Hand and the National Partisan Movement - which have used Facebook-owned Instagram to recruit members, while using other messaging apps, such as Telegram. They tend to scoop up vulnerable and impressionable teenager looking for meaning in their otherwise empty lives.

More often than not, these recruits are bored and poorly educated. Life is no more than casual violence, recreational drugs, and alcohol and scape goats. They are drawn into a politics of hate because they have been manipulated into believing their problems derive from immigrants and refugees rather than the profit system.

These young workers live in abandoned town and villages with nowhere to go and no reason to think there is a future. The groups to which they belong are overtly anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT

They criticise those who oppose them as "race traitors". Race is, of course, a fiction, a social construct. There is only humankind, divided into a class society around the ownership and non ownership of the means of production and distribution. Class unity not class division should be the watchword.

Standing behind these Neo-Nazi foot soldiers are the secretive leadership. The mass of the membership are led and manipulated by politicians who would never have them at their table. All that the leaders of these neo-Nazi groups want from their followers is violence, their obedience, and their fists and boots. They are just seen as demonstration fodder, useful to shout out inane and meaningless slogans.

All these leaders can offer the embittered young workers they prey on is the same capitalism and the same class exploitation offered by any other political party. The leaders of these neo Nazi groups sell them the lie that their troubles flow from immigrants poor workers like themselves not from capitalism. Their ideology cannot solve the problems of unemployment, poverty, poor education and bad housing. All these problems flow from capitalism.

Are they a threat? More of an irritant. Commodity production and exchange for profit still goes on regardless. And a little reading of history should teach these would-be fascists that fascism has had a poor record of success.

Italy's fascism did not last long and its leaders executed. The Thousand Year Reich lasted less that twenty years, its leader committing suicide in a Berlin Bunker. Fascism in Spain and the Americas also has had little success within a historical context. Fascism has had a track record of unmitigated failure. It has left a train of death and destruction; of imprisonment and torture, of genocide and war but it has never been politically successful.

And the secret police do not have much difficulty infiltrating neo-Nazi groups, arresting its members and banning them as political organisations. They might kill, they might cause violence and hatred but it is largely ineffectual to the working of capitalism and its political representation.

Nevertheless their mental landscape is full of anti-socialists ideas which suit those who want capitalism to continue uncritically from one generation to another. If someone is being drenched in neo-Nazi ideas and beliefs at a computer screen in their bedroom they are not going to be amenable to socialist ideas. They will not understand that it is capitalism that causes their problems not immigrants and refugees, who are exploited, poor and desperate like themselves.

The Neo-Nazis amount to a collection of dysfunctional losers and misfits. This does not mean that they are not dangerous. Nail bombs, knives, transit vans fitted with explosives can inflict terrible injuries and death with terrible tragedy for anyone directly involved. But there is no mass movement and no mass backlash.

Mass unemployment and the problems associated with mass unemployment drives nationalism. Capitalism is the cause and while it remains will continue to generate reprehensible ideas and beliefs as illusionary solutions to the problems facing the working class.

The neo-Nazi leadership have another problem: Boris Johnson's Tories. Just as Margaret Thatcher took thousands of National Front voters away with her rhetoric of "swamping" in the 1979 General election, so Boris Johnson, with his Post-Brexit English nationalism has undermined the neo-Nazi agenda. The far-right group For Britain got fewer than 50 votes in 25 of the council wards (GUARDIAN 10 May 2021). Thousands of UKIP voters have joined the Tory Party.

More dangerous than Johnson's English nationalism is the vial of nationalist poison which will seep into Scottish politics as Nicole Sturgeon's Scottish nationalists press ahead for a second Independence vote. Nationalism is inherently aggressive and violent. Nationalism is a divisive belief system which can explode into hate and violence.

Not the grounds necessary for the growth of the socialist movement and a world-wide system of production directly for social need. The socialist message is to all members of the working class. Socialists do not discriminate on who and who should not be a socialist. The socialist case is for all workers who are forced to live on wages and salaries and someone dependent who is forced into wage slavery.

This includes those workers erroneously attracted to neo-Nazi politics. These are only anti-working class ideas and beliefs which can be dropped by an awareness of capitalism and the need to establish the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.

The argument for socialism is that the problems facing our class, forced to live off wages and salaries, will cease to exist and freedom of choice be given, only in terms of common ownership of all the means of living. With the establishment of socialism, politically and democratically by a socialist majority, the material fears of unemployment, poor housing that underlie racism would disappear.

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