Friday, September 08, 2006

THE RADICALISATION OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES

By Welf Herfurth*

'...National Socialism is not merely a political and economic upheaval but a social revolution as well. To a very large extent it has brought the lower middle class into power. To be sure, one finds quite a few aristocrats and intellectuals in the Nazi regime. Furthermore, there are plenty of Nazis sprung from peasant or worker stock, some of whom, like the Weimar Gauleiter, would rise in any society. Yet the lower middle class seems to be inordinately in evidence. One does not notice this so much in Berlin, because the ablest elements in the Party tend to gravitate to the seat of power. In the provinces the Spiessb├╝rgertum comes much more to the front.'

- Lothrop Stoddard, 'Into the Darkness' (1940)


Recently, the Sydney Forum hosted Professor Andrew Fraser, who gave an illuminating speech on, among other things, non-white immigration into Australia. He took the position that the 'Anglo-European' Australians (as he calls them) ought to resist the immigrant tide. But, he asked, how are the masses, or a significant proportion of them, to be mobilised into taking action? He declared that he did not, at present, have the answer. He did suggest, however, that as a first step nationalists should be aiming at a movement, at building a groundswell of support, before forming a political party; nationalism, he said, should be extra-parliamentary.

Another point that emerged, during discussions with other members attending the Forum (after the presentations by the guest speakers were over) was that a clear difference exists between radical and reactionary nationalists. A perfect example of the latter is Pauline Hanson, who, it could be argued, was a reactionary as well as an agrarian socialist. (One can be a socialist - ie, demand a redistribution of wealth - and be, at the same time, reactionary).Reactionary nationalists want to turn the clock back to an idealised Australia (or France or Germany) of the recent past. In the Australian case, they celebrate the parochial folk culture of Australia - ie, use Ned Kelly and other Australian folk figures in their iconography.

The radical nationalists, on the other hand, want a progressive movement forward - more than that, a complete break from the past and its traditions. We can classify Mussolini, Robert Mugabe, Che Guevera, Mao Tse Tung, and Hugo Chavez as men who are nationalists, radicals and socialists.

(Perhaps a clearer illustration of the difference that exists between a radical and a non-radical lies in the split in the mainstream Left in the West in the late sixties and early sixties. One side of the Left - the reformist - advocated working within the system and making changes within the context of liberal parliamentary democracy. Their tendency, even if they were communist, was to join the Democrats in the USA or the Labor Party in Australia and attempt to steer the ideology of those organisations towards communism.

On the other hand, the more radical Left advocated extra-parliamentary 'direct action' - the most spectacular examples of which were urban guerilla terrorism. Examples of urban guerilla radical groups are Baader-Meinhof in Germany, the Weathermen in the United States, the Red Brigades in Italy, and the Tupamaros in Uruguay).

One can see, from this example that a world of difference exists between the radicals of the Left and the reformists and moderates. Even if the moderates, in this case, sympathies with Trotsky and Mao - both radicals - they are still moderate by dint of their actions.

It occurred to me, after the Forum and the subsequent discussions, that the history and ideas of the Left, particularly the New Left, have a great deal of relevance to nationalism today in Australia and the rest of the Western world. Throughout this article I will be using standard terms most often found in Marxism - 'Left', 'Right', 'working-class', 'middle-class', 'bourgeois', etc - but without any evaluative tone. That is, I will not be using the word 'middle-class' as a term of opprobrium, as the communists and some neo-fascist intellectuals, such as Evola, do. These words shall be used as descriptive tools only.

A relevant text for the purposes of this article is Georges Sorel's Reflections on Violence (1908), which tackles some of the problems raised by Marxism - in particular, the failure of the working-classes to behave as the Marxist theory predicted. One of his conclusions was that attempts to bring about class consciousness through pure theory were doomed to fail. What mattered was an enabling 'myth', an idea which would induce class-consciousness among the proletariat, force them to undertake direct action against capitalism, and bring about revolution.

Sorel's solution - a syndicalist one - was the general strike, which would bring about all the conditions needed for the formation of class-consciousness, class-war, etc.

The advantage of Sorel's approach was its simplicity and directness. Modern Leftist groups try and bring about revolution by handing out issues of the Green Left Weekly on university campuses - when little to no proletarians are in attendance at those universities, and, in any case, have little interest in a refried Leninism. The Socialist Alliance also gets involved in campaigns to end sanctions against Iran, or get the Australian government to take Hezbollah off its list of terrorist groups - which is all very worthy, but has little to do with socialism, and again, fails to get the attention of the Australian working-classes. What the Australian communists need is a catalyst, a trigger which, like Sorel's general strike, brings about the conditions of change in one stroke.

Like the communists, the Australian nationalists are looking for a catalyst. They have in mind a revolution
- a racial revolution - in which white Australians will suddenly develop racial consciousness and sweep all the non-white immigrants away. Cronulla, for a time, seemed to be such a trigger event. Other racialists take a more gradualist approach: the white masses will develop race-consciousness, and then embark on a racial revolution, but only after non-white immigration gets to the point that it becomes unbearable. This is similar to the Marxist theory - that capitalist societies will inevitably become communist ones because of the progressive 'immiseration' of the working-classes, which continually lowers their living standards.

There are a number of problems with the Australian (and in general, white nationalist) approach. Without a doubt, endless non-white immigration has seen to a progressive deterioration in the quality of life in Western societies, and even mainstream politicians and media commentators (in, for instance, Britain, where the effects of immigration in the past ten years have been profound) are beginning to remark on that fact, or at least discuss it. But, by itself, immigration is not sufficient to bring about the revolution the white nationalists (or at least the more radical of them) are seeking. If one has a distaste for living and working among non-white people, one can simply move to a more white area - or a more white country. It may well be that the immigration of Sudanese asylum-seekers will expand to the point where whites have nowhere left to live; the pinch on available land and resources will be such that whites are forced to take action. But that, at present, is in the far future.

I myself believe, too, that the predictions of the demographers, who say that the British will be a minority in their own country by 2050, are too apocalyptic. Yes, immigration will continue to rise; but whites are not at the point of being bred out. (Even Bill White has written a number of articles arguing for this point). Which is not to say that immigration is not a pressing issue: it is. But it is not pressing enough for the white masses to rise up and do anything about it.

In order to get any group to take action - and here my analysis shows a trace of Marxism - their economic interests have to be affected. Economics also has a history of remarkable success in mobilising the disparate members of an ethnic group towards the same objective. Marx believed that capitalism, by affecting the working-classes economically, would be sufficient to make the proletariat realise that they share a common interest. Likewise, the economic effects of capitalism can unify members of an ethnic group. A case in point is the coup against the ethnic-Indian dominated Chaudry government in Fiji in 2000. George Speight and a number of other black Fijians stormed the parliament and held members of the government hostage for nearly two months, and Chaudry's government was overthrown in a military coup. What was the motive behind the coup? Simply that the economic interests of black Fijians were being affected. The Fijian constitution enforces black Fijian ownership of 83 per cent of land; Chaudry's government, it was felt, would introduce land reform - with the inevitable result that the hard-working and clannish ethnic Indians would buy up all the land.

The Speight coup is something white nationalists can only dream about. Speight managed to mobilise a large segment of his ethnic group behind him and overthrow the existing government (dominated by members of a foreign ethnic group) with ease. The key to his success was that his ethnic group saw that their economic interests would be endangered by a free-market economic system, in which Indians could buy all the land they wanted from Fijians; and so they gave him support.

I am not suggesting that nationalists here in Australia, or Europe or America, follow Speight's methods. I am using the Speight case to suggest that a serious racialist political attitude comes from socialism, or rather, a determination to protect the economic interests of one's racial or ethnic group against competition from outsiders. At the Sydney Forum, nationalist activists decried the fact that it is hard, these days, to mobilise 'decent people' to take up arms for the movement; that it was difficult to get women involved. Instead of reaching a wide cross-section of society, modern nationalism in the West seems to reach only a small proportion. (In an article by the New Right Australia New Zealand, titled ‘Freaks in the Movement”, it has been argued that that small proportion is primarily made up of the underclass - the working poor and the welfare class). The reason why is that nationalism is not appealing to the economic self-interest.

Nothing, in my experience, motivates middle-class Australian women more than the threat of immigration from the Sub-Continent - of Pakistanis and Indians and competing with them for the same jobs and the same contracts in I.T., law, medicine, finance, small business, engineering, science. We need plenty of members of that demographic - white-middle class women (and men) in the movement, but we are not getting them because we are not addressing their economic concerns.

The white Australian middle-classes dislike Sudanese asylum-seekers, and Vietnamese and Lebanese on welfare, but cannot be expected to be passionate about these issues. Why? Because the middle-classes are not welfare recipients, and are not competing against those migrants for state aid! But they are competing, in the field of business, against immigrants from the Sub-Continent.

(Perhaps one of the defects of nationalism in Europe is that it concentrates too much on immigrants who hail from the Middle East and North Africa. Arab, Kurdish, Turkish and African immigrants want to immigrate to Europe in order to get jobs in the low-wage service sector or to go on welfare. The economic interests of the middle-classes are thereby unaffected, even though these immigrants may become a social problem - ie, they go out and commit crimes. To my knowledge, the North African and Middle Eastern immigrants in France are confined to huge urban ghettoes and only infrequently come into contact with the white French. So they do not present a direct economic threat, either to the French working- or middle-classes).

This article does not aim at giving solutions to all the problems which afflict the nationalist movement; it, rather, aims at giving a clear statement of the problem. We have to clearly outline, among ourselves, what it is that we want. Once we have determined our goal, we can canvas the various means of reaching it.

The Marxists have a number of means of reaching their goal: some favour infiltrating liberal democratic parties; others, trade unionism; others, 'direct action'; others, terrorism; and so on. But, unlike the Marxists, we nationalists are not exactly sure of our goal.

What is it then? What is it that we want? I think we can summaries it as follows. We want a nationalism which is in keeping with historic Western and European nationalism of the past and present - European fascism, post-war neo-fascism and the Nouvelle Droite and thinkers in that circle (such as Guillaume Faye); a nationalism which is in tune with modern economic, social and geopolitical realities; a nationalism which is radical, not reactionary; a nationalism which has its base in the middle-classes; a nationalism which is socialist and left-wing.

The last of these needs some explanation. Socialism means a number of things: it means the redistribution of wealth through taxes, transfers and nationalisations, to a favoured sectional interest (in the case of Marxism, the working-class; in the case of the nationalism I am proposing, the middle-class). It also means protecting that favoured interest from competition (in the case of Marxism, cheap, imported and usually low-skilled labour) and maintaining the economic position of that interest against changes brought on by the market or by recession. The main threat to the position of the white-collar middle-class today is from non-white migrants, usually from the Sub-Continent (but not restricted to there).

Competition from that source will undercut the wages and living conditions of the white-collar class, and damage the country's national and cultural cohesiveness as a whole. So our socialism would oppose that form of migration, perhaps more vehemently than migration from Sudan or Kurdistan.

Which is not to say that migration from Africa or the Middle East is not a problem - of course it is - but the failure to address middle-class concerns is one of the reasons why nationalism has made so little headway in Australia and, perhaps, in Europe and North America as well. It is only by addressing the bread and butter issues, and the concerns of the class we most need to have on our side - the middle-class - that nationalism will become a mass movement, and then, after a sufficient period of growth, an electoral movement.

Once we have worked out the basics of what we want from nationalism, we can then go on to debate the means by which we will attain our goals. Hugo Chavez, for example, knows exactly what he wants: he wants to redistribute his country's wealth to his electoral base, the Venezuelan poor, in particular, the slum-dwellers of the urban centers like Caracas. He uses a variety of methods to achieve that goal, never confining himself to one, but can only do so with some success because he knows what he wants.

So I am not here, in this article, proposing any means; only ends. Once the nationalists here in Australia and in the Western world know what they want and can state their aims and goals with some clarity, we can proceed.

Otherwise we will be, like in the past decades, barking up the wrong tree and go nowhere.


*Welf Herfurth is a political activist who lives in Sydney / Australia. He was born and raised in Germany and can be contacted on herfurth@iinet.net.au

2 comments:

dasa said...

Some good points raised here. The middle classes are important in the electoral sense, as it's an ephermeral class and therefore will vote for whoever they perceive to have their best interests in hand. Reactionaries on both sides disparage the middle class, not seeing what it represents. In Australia it represents the largest voting block, therefore determines who is in government.

The 2001 Federal election was a case in point, despite howls from the left that Howard won on the back of the Tampa issue, Howard really one on economics, people will always vote in and for their own interests, they will not vote against themselves in favour of refugee's for example.

One of the other reasons that nationalists have not made much headway is not only the inabililty to connect with middle class concerns, it's also because they (middle class) do not percieve any immediate threat, why should they?, we live in properous times. The onus is on nationalists to be out there creating and building a profile in the community, seeding a popular movement.

As for National Socialist movement, I think it's founder outlined it succinctly in a speech given on the 4th of April, 1922:

"...We said to ourselves that to be 'national' means above everything to act with a boundless and all-embracing love for the people and, if necessary, even to die for it. And similarly to be 'social' means so to build up the state and the community of the people that every individual acts in the interest of the community of the people and must be to such an extent convinced fo the goodness, of the honorable straightforwardness of this community of the people as to be ready to die for it".

Anonymous said...

good article , maybe you should have mentioned the different interest groups which currently divide Nationalism in OZ , they might break apart if the economic position of the individual becomes [ very] difficult , hard to make ends meet .