The looming amnesty of millions of illegal immigrants is deeply unpopular with millions of Americans, and for good reason: If the immigration bill the Senate passed in June gets through the House, this nation is finished. The bill would not only legalize some ten million illegal aliens but bring in five times that many—legally—over the next 20 years. Could this crisis provide the impetus for the creation of a political party capable of challenging the ruling duopoly?
Such a challenge is under way in Europe. After many false starts and dead ends dating back to the early 1970’s, an ethnic-nationalist party capable of upsetting the establishmentarian Labour-Tory consensus has emerged. The British National Party (BNP) did very well in local elections last May and now holds 54 council seats across the country. In some areas—notably in East London—it has replaced Labour as the dominant political force among the ethnically British working- and lower-middle classes. According to the Spectator, working-class voters are switching to the BNP in such large numbers because they believe that it is the only political force that articulates what they are thinking: “Today’s BNP possesses the local campaigning skills and ability to make a personal connection with the voter that mainstream parties have forgotten.”
I spoke at some length with Nick Griffin, the BNP chairman, during his recent visit to the United States. He readily admits that he is still outside the pale of the current British establishment, but he is quick to add that he does not want to be there in the first place, because that establishment has presided over the decline of Britain to a point where she is being destroyed as a sovereign political entity. Her
traditional culture is being destroyed. The native peoples of Britain, according to our government figures, are going to become a minority in their own homeland somewhere between 2060 and the end of this century. The establishment which has done that while being paid out of our taxes, and which is putting in prison those who complain about it, is not an establishment by which I wish to be considered respectable.
Griffin is against overseas military adventures, generally, and the war in Iraq, in particular.
We don’t want to export our political system to the Third World, we don’t believe in imposing our economic system by force, we don’t believe in multi-culturalism, in laissez-faire economics domestically or “free trade” internationally. We don’t believe in “propositional nations,” and we don’t seek to impose Western culture on the whole world.
Griffin describes the BNP as “ethno-nationalist” but adamantly rejects the “racist” label. He sees racism as ahistorical, abstract, materialist, and reductive in nature, devoid of any innate connection to real community ties, common culture and institutions. Racism has become a leftist cant term, he says, and now it can literally mean anything. He is quick to add, however, that we should not pretend that differences between ethnic and racial groups are negligible:
The ethno-nationalist position is to recognize that ethnic and cultural differences exist, that the best way to preserve the diversity of humanity and harmony within a community is to maintain as high a correlation as possible between the boundaries of ethnic groups and the boundaries of sovereign states. If you look around the world, the incidence of violence and strife is invariably high when this correlation between ethnic and national borders is low.
The problem in the West is that this negative correlation is increasing, and that problem is not confined to Britain, the United States, or any other single country or region. It is prevalent in all Western countries, even one so culturally and historically distinct as Spain—where some want to remove the statue of St. James of Compostela, the “Moor Slayer,” lest some Muslims feel offended. In Scandinavia, even feminist activists are reluctant to speak out against the epidemic of rapes of Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish women by Muslim immigrants. Despite all the differences in Western culture and civilization, Griffin says, it is in weakness that we detect common themes and common threads:
There’s enough common cultural DNA to make us susceptible to the same viruses. We all have elites which are able to do the bidding of tiny interest groups and their demands for special “rights” and entitlements, because there’s nothing to push back the other way. We have elites which have come to give their loyalty to their own class with its peculiar ideology, rather than their own people. It’s ordinary people with very little voice in the society that suffer the consequences. It reflects a very ugly strand in the elite mind-set. The holier-than-thou, welfarist elite needs a permanently unhealthy, unstable society. The more discord, unhappiness, poverty, and helplessness there is in the society, the more power the elite will have. The more people you have who need help, the more fractured the society becomes, and the elite acquires more power and prestige, closing the circle; the larger the empire they build, the more civil servants they’ll have under them, and the larger their pension. The worse it gets, the more tendency there is to make it even worse.
Our interview was posted on ChroniclesMagazine.org on June 8, and it triggered an interesting debate among our friends and readers on whether something similar may happen in the United States. One reader found especially striking Mr. Griffin’s reference, in an article published on the BNP’s website, to “a safety valve.” “Those journalists and Establishment commentators,” writes Griffin,
who are seeking to demonise and shut down the BNP safety valve—taking our words out of context and attributing to us thoughts, aims and tactics that we simply do not have—are playing an unbelievably dangerous game. Either they are ignorant of the real and potentially fatal tensions on the streets, or they simply don’t care about what happens out there in the real world.
We do, because we know those streets. Our people live on those streets, and we don’t want to see them go up in flames.
The irony of liberals carping about the nationalist right, our reader opined, is that, if liberals’ worst fears actually did come true, and some blood-hungry fanatical-right regime came to power, the elites would have no one but themselves to blame for having suppressed the voices and ignored the concerns of ordinary people until the situation finally reaches a critical mass, the pendulum of human folly swings in the other direction, and we witness some sort of collapse into tribal barbarism.
A regular contributor to our writebacks who goes by the name of Carolus believes that the elites have made a fatal miscalculation by casting their lot with Islam:
While I must admit there would be certain grim poetic justice in seeing Tony Blair’s severed head held aloft by a screaming jihadi, I expect that Blair has already made careful plans either to escape just before the imams seize total control or serve as a “court Jew” in the new caliphate. Still, the Muslims just don’t seem to have much impulse control. They might not be able to resist.
As Carolus observes, one problem that cannot be overcome by any amount of strategy or dedication is one of demographics. We can play the field absolutely perfectly and still lose, if we don’t have enough players:
You can’t have a revival when the people you are trying to revive simply don’t exist. There are probably a fair number on both the left and right who cannot be “woken up” for the simple reason that we would be appealing to principles that they flat-out do not value—rather like showing Tony Blair a future English caliphate. This is one of the reasons I have reservations about getting into arguments with Republicans. I expect a lot of the Republicans of the country-club or military-industrial-complex variety would—if you finally, incontrovertibly proved to them that neoconservatism was actually a form of liberalism—announce: “Oh. OK. Well, then, I guess I’m a liberal.”
Several readers, Red Phillips among them, agreed with the diagnosis but want to fight that battle anyway, because we need to redefine the baseline of the debate:
If all that people hear is two guys fighting over a faster or slower rate of growth, then people are going to assume that is the only debate. There needs to be a voice saying “perhaps we actually ought to cut spending.” There is that voice now; it is just small. Much of the problem lies in the fact that the left, thanks to their now-completed “long march through the institutions,” have managed to control the very frame of the political debate such as it is.
Several correspondents have noted that Griffin’s criticism of the Conservative Party in Britain could, with equal validity, be directed at the GOP:
By portraying themselves as a party that isn’t really comfortable with mass immigration, with multiculturalism, with the destruction of Western values, and by just hinting that they are the party that might do something about it, they’ve been able to persuade huge numbers of Britons who are very concerned about these issues that those concerns would be addressed if they vote Conservative. In this way, they’ve acted as a roadblock for any new political force to come forth and say, “This is an issue that really matters.” The fact that the Tory Party was there masquerading as the party of patriotism and the maintenance of traditional values and national identity merely acted as a major obstacle for anyone else concerned about those issues. In addition, corporate interests—traditionally influential within the Conservative Party—are to blame for encouraging the trend that secures a steady supply of cheap labor.
Such similarities notwithstanding, there exists a broad consensus among our readers that there is unlikely to be a successful “nationalist” challenge to the status quo in the United States—mainly because America does not have an ethnically unified population. According to a correspondent from New York who goes by the name of Robert Locke,
The sine qua non of ethnonationalism is an ethnos to base it on. This is something American rightists, who think ideology is abstract, and one can just choose to embrace any ideology simply by deciding to, often just don’t get.
Europeans, by contrast, understand that the ethnos, not the race, has to be the foundational postulate of any patriotic political movement. Race is important, they contend, but only because it is one defining characteristic among many. A society that is not held together by natural solidarities will either fall apart or lean more heavily on artificial means—economic power, political tyranny, or religious fanaticism.