From the June 1956 issue of the Socialist Standard
British Fascism’s New Look
"Fascism stands for the building of the highest civilization the world has ever seen . . . "
(Sir Oswald Mosley, Olympia, June 7th, 1934)
1932 saw the birth of the “British Union of Fascists,” with their black shirts and uniforms, armoured cars, their provocative marches through the East End of London, and their Mass rallies. To-day, over 20 years later, the movement is still with us. They still hold out-door meetings, and recently Sir Oswald Mosley, held a number of indoor meetings in Birmingham, Kensington, Brixton, and elsewhere. True, it does not have the membership it had in the ‘thirties. No longer are members allowed to wear uniforms.
Since the war, when over 800 of its members spent a number of years in prison, the movement has been re-organised and renamed. The B.U.F. is now “Union Movement.” The word “Fascism” has—for the time being?—been dropped; no doubt because of its unpopularity. But the British Fascists continue to call themselves “Blackshirt.” At the London County Council Elections—1955, their candidates in Shoreditch and Finsbury urged electors to “Vote Blackshirt.” And “Wake ’Em Up at County Hall.”
“Union Movement” retains its pre-war “Flash” sign on its literature, banners, flags and badges.
To-day we no longer see “British for the British,” or “Britain First,” chalked or whitewashed on walls; although such slogans as “Slump or Mosley,” or the letter “K.B.W.” (Keep Britain White) can sometimes be seen in Kensington, Hackney, Brixton, and elsewhere.
“National Socialism,” the phrase under which the German Nazis operated, has given way to Mosley’s latest: "European Socialism”—yet another contradiction! British Fascism wears a New Look!
At a mass meeting held last year in Trafalgar Square, Sir Oswald Mosley outlined his policy for Britain and Europe. He said that Union Movement "stood for peace"—just like the Communists do, no doubt!—but that they were not Pacifists; "Because they would always fight, if the life of the country was threatened." ("Union" 6th August, 1955). Mosley would have been a little nearer the truth had he said that Union Movement might—not would—support a war if it considered that British property interests were threatened.
The British Fascists have never "stood for peace"; they only opposed Britain's participation in the last war because it was against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Unlike Socialists, the Fascists are not opposed to war on principle; they do not oppose war because it is against the interests of working people in all countries to fight for their rulers' interests. The Fascist attitude is similar to that of the Communists: some wars are "good" wars, some are "bad"; some just, some unjust; some should be supported; others opposed.
Mosley and his British Union of Fascists did not oppose or condemn Mussolini when he attacked Abyssinia, or General Franco and his fellow generals and Falangists when they revolted against the Republican Government in Spain in 1936; or when Hitler attacked Poland in 1939.
As an alternative to the present system of society, with its antagonisms, its violence, its racial and religious hatreds and intolerance, neither Sir Oswald nor his movement have an answer.
Unlike Socialists they do not stand for an entirely new society, embracing all people, where poverty, privilege and intolerance will be things of the past. Mosley's policy is one of Nations, national interests—"Europe a Nation." The main theme that Sir Oswald Mosley put forward at the Trafalgar Square meeting was: " . . . Europe a Nation . . . the European people should unite into one nation and use 'European Socialism' to increase their standard of life so that three hundred millions of Europe could consume what they produced. With the raw materials of White Africa and of South America they could be independent of world supplies and world markets."
It is obvious from the above quoted remarks that neither Mosley nor his Union Movement has the slightest idea how world-capitalism operates. The ramifications of our society are obviously a complete mystery to them. Neither Britain nor the rest of Europe could ever be "independent" of world supplies or world markets within capitalism. And if he thinks that by adopting his spurious "European Socialism," i.e., Fascism, the peoples (workers) of Europe would consume what they produced and what they desired, then Mosley is even more foolish than the other Capitalist politicians and would-be leaders—which perhaps explains why he has been out in the political wilderness for over 20 years.
The Mosley movement of to-day is in essence no different from the pre-war B.U.F. Their papers, Union Incorporating Action, The East London Blackshirt, The European, The East Anglian Press, etc., etc., are much the same as pre-war Fascists publications.
To the Fascists the "Old Gang" politicians and Parties, the Jews, the "aliens," the "coloured invasion," and the financiers and Bankers—the "alien" ones, of course!—are the root cause of all our troubles. Their "solution" is the same old reform programme: the same old appeal to emotion and prejudice; plus a new one that they borrowed from the Anarchists—Syndicalism. Of the coloured workers from Jamaica and the West Indies who come here to get something of a living, they say: "We will send them back home, and we are the only candidates pledged to do it." (Union Movement election manifesto in Shoreditch and Finsbury, 1955). Such is the cynical programme of our local Fascists!
The whole of Union Movement policy is based on the acceptance of leadership. The workers need leaders to solve their problems for them, they say. If only they trusted THE "Leader," Sir Oswald Mosley, things would be much different!
Mosley has the solution to everything—slumps, the "coloured invasion" the "housing problem," "Communism"—even the bad roads! (See Union, 10:8:55).
Unfortunately, the Fascists, with their slavish doctrine of leadership, their less dictatorial brethren in other Parties that attempt to reform the present system, do not understand that these and many other problems that confront people, not only in Britain or Europe, but all over the world, are inherent in the system itself. The problems are themselves part of the society we live in.
Neither Mosley nor his movement, with their erroneous race theories and dictatorial policies, warrant any support from the workers of this country.
Peter E. Newell