Joe Owens has done another inflammatory video - he cranks out half a dozen a week - attacking other British nationalists and proffering civic nationalism, populism and UKIP as the solution to all of nationalism's ills: this one is entitled 'REAL NATIONALISM or SCUM nationalism'.
Owens shows us a few clips of odd British nationalists at demonstrations, some of whom seem lumpenproletarian and defective. We see a few strange-looking and obese people. I was struck by the sight of one youngish man (at 06.18), walking with a cane and who appeared to have gout - a rich man's disease. Owens contrasts this with photos of nationalist demonstrations - including those held by the National Front - from the 1980s, when nationalists, and British people as a whole, were skinnier and fitter.
I can't speak for the British nationalists, of course; I can only speak for the Australian. Owens' video does relate back to us. A common complaint which has been heard on the Australian scene for years is, 'Why can't we attract more decent and healthy people - nice, well-educated, clean-cut, middle-class types...'. The answer is that those types for the most part don't participate in fringe politics, whether it be of the extreme Right or Left (and we should keep in mind that the ranks of the Far Left itself today are filled mainly with 'marginalised' people who appear weird or defective in some way - not healthy proletarians). The ones who do will, at the most, vote for the civic populists - such as One Nation, Rise Up!, Australian Liberty Alliance. They may even join those parties (but it should be noted that Australians in the main do not like joining political parties, even the mainstream ones). In other words, the 'nice, normal' types will gravitate, always, towards the mainstream political parties or their offshoots (such as the civic and populist formations); what's more, they confine their political activities to participation in the normal electoral process - that is, campaigning for parties and voting for them. They don't recognise that a politics exist outside the electoral sphere; they don't want constitute themselves (as the Far Left does) as an 'extra-parliamentary opposition'.
This brings us back to a criticism I made earlier of Joe Owens: those of the electoralist mentality believe that one should engage in politics only on election day (in state and federal elections) once every three years; for the intervening periods between election days and campaigns, one ought to just to sit idle - and perhaps fulminate, as Owens does, against those nationalists who are doing something during those periods.
Owens is asking a lot. We in Australia have just had a federal election, in which One Nation did well, and this year the state of Queensland will hold an election in which One Nation is expected to well. Those Australian nationalists outside of Queensland, then, are meant to do nothing and go to sleep for the next three years until the next federal election, when they ought to - according to Owens' recommendations - campaign and vote for One Nation, again.
But, contrary to what Owens says, politics in Australian nationalism does manifest itself in between elections and outside elections. In fact, we ought to take up a Marxist-Leninist, 'totalitarian' view of politics. Here is Selznick in the Introduction to The Organizational Weapon (1952):
The nature of bolshevism cannot be understood unless we grasp the fact that Leninist political doctrine rests upon a broad interpretation of the nature of power. In particular, bolshevik theory and practice recognize that power is social,- generated in the course of all types of action (not simply the narrowly “political”) and latent in all institutions.
This insight stems in part from basic Marxist theory and in part from the over-all aim of bolshevism—a total transformation of society that will invest every institution with political meaning. Leninism views politics as omnipresent. As a consequence, bolshevik strategy has identified vast new areas of political potential in what are usually thought to be nonpolitical special-purpose social institutions and mass organizations. This theory of power has increased the sensitivity of bolshevik strategy to unconventional methods of gaining influence. Exploitation of these devices has helped to keep the communist movement from adapting itself to constitutional methods; in this way, it has rejected the path of accommodation taken, for example, by most sections of the international socialist movement.
The bolshevik pursuit of power is subversive (1) because it is not limited to the areas where constitutional, responsible power is won, but is carried on everywhere in the social structure, wherever an increment of power can be squeezed from control of an institution or a portion of it; and (2) because communism knows no stopping place in its search for power short of concentrating total control in its own hands. This unceasing and unbounded struggle, associated with the politicalization of every facet of society, is a basic characteristic of totalitarian politics. Many of communism’s specific techniques are found elsewhere as well, but total subversion summons all the devices normally hidden in the interstices of a political order, emerging temporarily and episodically in times of constitutional weakness or crisis.
It is convenient for a subversive group to seek sources of power that may be won without bidding for direct popular support. Consequently it is better to work where small disciplined minorities can have their greatest impact. These are areas neglected by the major political forces, where the marginal strength of a minority can be most effective. Recognizing the importance of such areas of operation. Leninism stresses the need to build organizations designed to compete effectively in nonelectoral arenas.There you have it: Joe Owens and civic nationalism refuted in four (not so simple) paragraphs. Communists understand the above on an intuitive level, even though they would not have phrased it as bluntly as Selznick does here; so did the earlier generation of British nationalists such as John Tyndall. Owens belongs to that generation which was well-versed in 'totalitarian' theory and practice, which is what makes Owens' rejection of building 'organizations designed to compete effectively in nonelectoral arenas' so jarring.
To return to Australia: our nationalists and populists were given a signal opportunity to engage in politics in 'nonelectoral arenas', to summon 'devices normally hidden in the interstices of a political order', on Australia Day. They could have held some event to commemorate our national day. But, so far as I know, Hanson's One Nation, Katter's Australian Party, Hinch's Justice Party and the rest did nothing. I can reveal that one function was held in Victoria, attended by representatives of four nationalist organisations - and most of these attendees were what the Left, and the media, would characterise as 'Neo-Nazis'; Owens might even think that one or two of them were 'scum nationalists'. The point is that the civics, populists, anti-Islamic patriots, were conspicuous by their absence on that day, in Victoria at least; they could have held their own civic nationalist, 'anti-Nazi', 'anti-white nationalist' Australia Day commemoration, but they didn't. Only 'Neo-Nazis' possessed sufficient motivation, and organisation, to do anything.
As the Americans say, 'Personnel is policy', and when most of those who are driving ordinary, day-to-day activity in the nationalist scene are 'Neo-Nazi' and 'scum' nationalist, that scene will take on a 'Neo-Nazi' character by default. That's what happens when the civics and 'nice people' abandon the nonelectoral arena.
The same process can occur within an organisation which is infiltrated by communists: it becomes communist because most of the personnel is communist. When the communists who are members are the only ones bothering to turn up to meetings of a British Labour Party branch or a trade union, and doing all the legwork, the non-communist members - who are usually apathetic and don't have the energy or the motivation to put up a fight for the control of the organisation - will be thrust out. Selznick in his book describes this progression many times. In order to justify the sidelining of non-communists in a target organisation and that organisation's takeover, the communists will call upon a doctrine Selznick calls 'activism', which says in essence, 'We communists are the ones turning up to these sparsely-attended meetings, we are doing most of the work, so therefore we deserve the right to rule'.
It's not my intention to debate the rights or wrongs of this, merely to inject a note of realpolitik. We need to acknowledge the facts. If 'Neo-Nazis' predominate in the most basic day to day activities of the Far Right, then they will invest it with a 'Neo-Nazi' character - it matters little whether they are 'scum' or not.