That gross and appalling tragedy in New Zealand. Nutter opening fire at mosques as Friday prayers take place. Yes, obviously, a tragedy and appalling. We’re in tautology territory here. And yet there’s something wrong with the reporting of this. Benton Tarrant is being described as a fascist, possibly an eco-fascist. This could well be true. He’s also being described as right wing. That could be true too. What is not possible is that he is both fascist and right wing – for fascism is, by definition, a left wing phenomenon, ideology. Entirely true, today’s left don’t like to be reminded of this fact but then why should we succumb to this one of their delusions when we don’t their others?
Thus Jacinda Ardern is wrong here:
The prime minister has called the mosque gunman an extremist right-wing terrorist and revealed he’s an Australian citizen.
Or, of course, this is wrong:
Wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, Brenton Harrison Tarrant sat impassively as the judge read the charge against him. Tarrant, an Australian-born former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist, did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance scheduled for April 5.
It’s entirely true that his Blood and Soil idiocy is fairly Nazi let alone merely fascist – fascism including a rather wider grouping, including Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Stroessner’s Paraguay, Mussolini’s Italy and so on – but that doesn’t tell us whether he’s left or right, not in itself. There have been equally racial or racist left wing regimes. No one at all is going to claim Pol Pot was anything but left and extreme such and he most certainly insisted upon the primacy of the Khmer link to their land and the exclusion of foreigners – or their murder along with anyone who’d had anything to do with foreigners.
That fascism is a left wing preoccupation I’ve mentioned before. Colin Hines is very definitely lauded as one of Britain’s progressive thinkers yet there’s little in his economics – note, please, economics, not anything else – which wouldn’t fit into a British National Party manifesto. Indeed, there’s not much that didn’t:
Worstall implies that I am pushing a fascist approach by asserting that my desire to protect and rediversify national economies finds echoes in the policies of the BNP. Yet such a guilt-by-association approach is as vacuous and inaccurate as saying that since Hitler was a vegetarian, all vegetarians are fascists. So let’s move onto what I really say in my Compass Thinkpiece paper “Progressive Protectionism”, and why I am convinced that such a programme will increase economic security, and hence actually reduce the likelihood of a rise of fascism.
The alternative to this is a progressive protectionism which will allow countries to wean themselves off of present levels of export dependence. It would enable the rebuilding and re-diversification of domestic economies by limiting what goods states let in and what funds they allow to enter or leave the country. Having regained control of their economic future, countries can then set the levels of taxes and agree the regulations needed to fund and facilitate this transition. National competition laws would ensure that monopolies didn’t develop behind protective barriers. Finally, there is an internationally supportive approach to trade with poorer countries, ensuring that the gains from the remaining international trade would be targeted to help fund the move towards a localised economy that benefits the poor majority. In essence, this approach will make space for domestic funding and business to meet most of the needs of society worldwide. This taking back of national control over the economy is the only way to tackle the financial, social and environmental crises, return local power to citizens and provide a sense of security and hope for the future, particularly amongst the young. If implemented it could play a crucial role in seeing off the rise of the extreme Right, as this invariably flourishes when the sense of insecurity within the majority worsens. At present none of the policies offered by parties of any political hue are likely to tackle this in the way that progressive protectionism can.
That sort of national protectionism is a part of fascist economics. As Hines himself notes with the Hitler and vegetarian point, supporting national protectionism does not make you a fascist. But given that such national protectionism was a part of fascist economics it does mean you’re promoting the same economic idea the fascists did.
Or as I’ve put it elsewhere:
But a little point we would make to Hines. If your economic policy recommendations could have come from the manifestos of Le Pen, Melenchon, Mussolini, Moseley or the BNP then we would recommend a reconsideration of those economic policies you’re pushing.
As other little comparisons have shown other than that Blood and Soil nonsense there’s very little in the BNP manifesto that couldn’t have been fitted into Labour’s 1945 one. Or, indeed, wasn’t lifted from it.
Mussolini came from the Italian Socialist Party, Hitler declared he was a socialist, Moseley was a Fabian, Labour MP and Minister. Much of current progressive economic idealism would have fitted into a fascist playbook. The idea that the economy should be regulated into producing social outcomes at the expense of efficiency or freedom for example. That was the fascist method of economic management. They didn’t nationalise, they regulated to much the same effect.
And thus we get back to Brenton Tarrant. He’s obviously a nutter and an entirely vile one. Such people exist, sadly. But this idea that he’s both right wing and a fascist doesn’t stand up. For fascism is a left wing ideology whatever its connections to nationalism and spiffy uniforms. But then that’s just the language of our times, isn’t it? Vile nutters must be right wing for no lefty is ever vile nor a nutter. Despite the evidence of history.