THIS IS A LONG POST: WERE WE RIGHT TO PUBLISH IN THIS WAY?
Anthony Barnett (London, OK): The future of Britain as it enters a period of constitutional upheaval is the subject of a number of overlapping conversations in OurKingdom. Inevitably, Scotland is a magnetic reference point. Twenty years ago the convention that led to its new parliament was explicitly based on principles that subverted the English form of sovereignty. As a result one can see the whole of the UK as being caught up in the slow collision of the opposing forces embodied by Holyrood and Westminster parliaments. When al Jazeera TV ran a report on this, my colleague Jon Bright linked to it and queried how Scotland could be genuinely nationalist or independent. Some of us responded by pointing to the difference between its "civic nationalism" which is open and embraces sharing sovereignty within the EU and an exclusive "ethnic nationalism".
Any discussion of nationalism arouses demons. One result was an unsolicited comment sent in by Jack Gibson (presumably a pseudonym). It was not ad hominem or personally abusive and was well written. At the same time it expressed an ugly ferocity. Whether or not the author fully knows it, beneath his eloquent phrases and citation of Voltaire is the knuckleduster of fascism. It is not our role to publish a provocation of this kind. OK is a moderated platform and this comment qualifies for deletion. From a clinical point of view, however, if this kind of material is now circulating we should restate what is wrong with racism. My aim is not to ‘debate' with the views that follow but to set out why they are unacceptable and to alert readers to the need for vigilance if they are once again on the rise.Jack Gibson: "England free? Not with you lot at the helm. Actually I'm bound to wonder how many on this site work for the opposition. So you prefer ‘civic' nationalism do you? How nice. Long before Orwell, Voltaire remarked that we invent language to conceal truth. The true meaning of the word ‘nation' implies kinship, links by blood, not political convenience. You take refuge in ‘civic' nationalism because you are too scared to talk about the real thing.
The English are a white nation. If you are not white, you are not English. We should assert this with vigour, and for two reasons. First because it is true historically, and because the moral right of a people in their own homeland to define themselves in whatever way they see fit is no-one's damned business but their own. Second, and crucially, because biological egalitarianism, the notion that human differences show only superficial variation between individuals and groups, is a lie.
It is a lie carefully cultivated by internationalist propaganda for reasons of political advantage. It is a lie nonetheless. Blacks are not simply white people with a melanin problem. They are different. The English are who they are, their culture is as it is, in part because of biology. Defend biology and you defend the nation.
Our people will lose this country. They will lose it because, like you, they wish to avoid unpleasantness and would prefer to be liked. They will lose it because they are weak and because in nature weakness has its own peculiar smell, one which attracts predators rather than allies. They will lose it because they are fat and indulged and idle and careless of their past. They will lose it because they deserve to lose it.
No-one asked us about immigration, yet we are expected to take it and like it, and to absorb newcomers in ever increasing numbers. It is disgusting that when government admits whites will be a minority in England by the middle of the century, in effect announcing the dispossession of the English nation, our stoutest defenders simply adopt a more convenient definition of nationhood.
And don't bother rabbiting about ‘pragmatism', or ‘realism', or ‘political maturity'. All that is really just the want of a quiet life and a way to appear radical without getting our hands dirty. Pragmatism will not demand restitution for years of seeing our culture abused and our people denigrated. Pragmatism will not repatriate. Pragmatism accommodates. It stands firm by imposing on (those who pursue its course) its own people the consequences of policies it cannot bring itself to denounce and - inspired by pragmatism of course - failed to oppose in the first place.
All nationalist platforms which disavow racialist principles are a betrayal. I have seen the EDP's (English Democratic Party) manifesto. Its carefully worded allusions to identity (representing ‘all the people of England' as ‘people of many nations') tell me I would be no more welcome under Christine Constable's ‘pragmatism', nor my descendants any safer, than Gordon Brown's or Cameron-the-Dave's. If it is wrong to want to live peaceably among our own kind in our own country say why.
Look at Scotland. Their politicians preach a multiculturalism they make damn sure they don't have to practice in their own back yard. Thirty years have passed since Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play for England and not a single black or Asian has been selected to represent Scotland - in football, athletics, rugby or anything.
Every few weeks some new government ‘initiative' is announced to purge sport of ‘racism', to ‘improve access' for ethnic minorities. These plans never affect Scotland. Go to the Scottish version of the ‘Let's Kick Racism Out of Football' website. All the pictures of happy multiracial sporting endeavour are actually from the English Premiership. I wrote to the site-owners (and to the Scottish executive) about this curious anomaly but got no reply.
In Scotland hospitals are staffed mostly by whites (Scots). Compare these with English hospitals. Compare English towns and cities generally with those north of the border. It is true that our neighbours have been seeking to attract new immigrants in recent years. But from where? From eastern Europe - the last white stronghold on earth. They know what they are doing and, aided by the London press and government, are careful not to draw attention to what is going on.
By contrast the English have their affairs run by assorted South Africans, Scots, Irish, Ghanaians, Australians, and god knows how many varieties of Asian. They haven't the first idea about nationhood and don't seem to care.
It begins and ends with race. Scots know it even if you lot are too cowardly to accept the fact. When Scotsman Tony Blair sent 200 asylum seekers to Glasgow it prompted hostile demonstrations. He quickly apologized and promised never to repeat the exercise.
He was as good as his word too, as it was at this point that government started planning new processing centres in the English countryside. In 2004 the government quietly closed all Scotland's asylum offices.
Good for the Scots I say. They are liars and opportunistic weasels and I loathe every one of them - but at least they know who they are and are determined to protect themselves. At this juncture I should just tell you of a message from the English Folk Music and Dance organization, which informs me of an obligation to be ‘inclusive' in a multicultural society, and to accept Asian music as English. No doubt you approve of such insanity.
Is it any wonder the Scots laugh up their sleeves at such a miserable bunch of invertebrates? I doubt you've even the courage to publish this."
‘Jack Gibson' is wrong. A nation is not a biological entity. Neither nationalism nor patriotism are racisms, even when racists avow them. Nationalism is an attachment to a polity, or would be polity. This is not a biological concept, its members are its citizens whatever their race. Benedict Anderson's study ‘The Imagined Communities' shows why this is so in terms of the original development of nationalism. Perhaps knowing that any attempt to define a nation racially won't work Gibson tries to use skin colour as if this was a "racialist principle". But this is ridiculous. Any argument about skin colour soon forces us back to inner purity. We know where this leads.
Historically, even when the English were full of prejudice and saw the British empire as demonstrating the superiority of the white man, it was not the case that "if you are not white, you are not English", see John Archer Mayor of Battersea, born in Liverpool in 1863, Dadabhai Naoroji who became MP for Finsbury Park in 1892, or K S Ranjitsinhji who played for cricket for England in 1896.
Whatever our colour, those of us who are born here of parents who live and work here have, at the very least, a full claim on our country. "Pragmatism", Gibson says scornfully, "will not repatriate" as if this was a fault and pragmatism a disease of the feeble minded. You cannot "re-patriate" people who are born and grow up here. To whom will you apply this to in 2008? To where would you send them?
"Our people will lose this country", says Gibson. Wrong again. People like you never had it, Mr Gibson, whatever your real name, and will not do so now. The claim that "England is a white nation" is absurd as a concept, false historically, untrue as a description of the present, and will be repudiated as a claim on the future. Even better "biological egalitarianism" is true. Live with it!
As for Gibson's bizarre views on Scotland, I'll leave it to others to measure the racial purity of its national teams and its health service, although the BBC says that Nigel Quashie has played for Scotland 13 times and Andrew Watson, apparently the first black international football player anywhere in the world, was a member of the Scottish team in 1881-82. Over time I am confident that Gibson will be proved even more factually wrong in his assertions on this thanks to Scotland's civil nationalism.
It is easy to rebut the 'Jack Gibson' arguments. But if they are being regurgitated with some eloquence then it is necessary to register an English fascism. 20th century fascism, and even more so Nazism, was an imperial belief. It claimed the superiority of a race and set about to cleanse the surrounding parts of the planet. Gibson's is a defensive fascism, which just asserts that England belongs to those he says are biologically qualified. But the claim is made with force despite the appearance of reason. The call to be strong, to oppose those who smell of weakness, to allege that anyone who does not "stand firm" merely accommodates out of a spineless desire for a quiet life, this is the language of the recruiting sergeant who exploits people's anxiety with the appeal of potency. It is a familiar pathology, the curse of puffed up "strength". Well, it is robust, principled and English to be pluralist and want to live in peace. Of course, if we must, we will fight to defend this: our multiplicity, black, brown, yellow and white together. Yes, indeed, this is a practical response. As a friend says, "pragmatism dances, it is subtle,it is flexible, it does not need an identity carved from stone", this too will be defended.
If, as it seems, the "racialist principles" of ‘Jack Gibson' are being fed to a new generation, it is important to set out yet again - and calmly - why they are completely wrong. But this is not to debate with them as if they are reasoned. It is to diagnose them for what they are - to point out that they while they may disguise themselves with references to the Enlightenment they are a claim of purity set out in a language of force. Defining those who disagree as weak and soft, they are a physical attack in the form of words. Well, we are not frightened. The openDemocracy team debated whether or not to publish 'Jack Gibson'. The decision was that if this material is in circulation then so too should be a clear rebuttal that deprives him of any advantage he might gain by being able to say that we did not dare to bring to the attention of England this pathological but menacing concoction.