Smash the BNP?
I’m bothered this evening by something I read earlier on Indymedia UK. In an article entitled “BNP Paper Stall Smashed”, there is a report of some self-styled anti-fascists using violence to stop the BNP selling newspapers and handing out leaflets in Selby, Yorkshire.
Is violence, or “extreme prejudice” as the author of the article calls it, the answer to the BNP?
Personally, I think not.
In recent years, the BNP have tried to change their image, ditching the skinheads and jackboots, for pin-stripe suits and ‘electoral respectability’, whatever the hell that is? My concern is that violence against the BNP gives them a victim status that they do not deserve, allowing them to claim ‘martyrdom’ and greater public support, while simultaneously casting those opposed to fascism as the ‘thugs’. No doubt many a left-hating tabloid would have a field day doing just that. I can just see the Daily Mail waxing lyrical about the “new nazis” of the militant left! It would be a mistake, in my humble opinion, for the left to pick up the discarded jackboots of the BNP.Another concern is that of increasing the cycle of violence. It does not take a great leap of imagination to think how the BNP would exact it’s revenge on those who would smash up their stalls etc. Will this only lead to the hospitalisation of anarchists, socialists, and other left-wingers in return? I will most likely be involved in the running of a stall this weekend, for Plymouth CND. I hope the actions of some anti-fascists in Selby does not lead to the legitimisation of political violence in general. A movement born of violence will be a violent movement. And as a man of peace, I do not wish to be part of a violent movement.
I have always felt that the hateful and racist policies of the BNP, or any other bunch of right-wing nut-jobs, can be easily defeated with a calculater and an etch-a-sketch. The BNP will be defeated once and for all, once the ideology has been exposed and dissected for the worthless trash it is. If we cannot beat the BNP in straight debate, then we really are in a fine pickle!
My educated guess is that many, if not most BNP voters, and possibly even rank and file members, are not natural fascists or racists, but members of the working class disillusioned, quite rightly, and registering their anger, with the main political parties, in particular the Labour Party. And if these BNP members and voters are fascists, they will have been turned that way because of a system that dissed ’em.
The Left has to get out there, and tackle this disillusionment. Win, in the common vernacular, the “hearts and minds” of those flirting with the BNP. It should be easy. A little flexing of our intellectual muscle, as opposed to our fists. Fighting fire with fire will only see us get burnt. Let us not become what we despise.
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the destruction is wrought in the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of democracy and freedom?” -Gandhi
Peace, Love, Freedom, and Tolerance