Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Joe Owens returns!

Joe Owens has returned to YouTube after having had his YouTube channel deleted a few weeks ago. National Action - the banned UK Far Right group - were responsible for having the channel deleted. They had complained to YouTube about one of Owens' clips, which used some photos or footage 'owned' by National Action, and YouTube went and deleted the clip in question and then Owens' entire catalogue (which contained well over a hundred videos).

National Action were retaliating against Owens, who had been attacking National Action ever since they first appeared. He had called the National Action 'kiddies' 'dafties' - i.e., morons - and implied that they were 'agents of the Secret State'. Owens views any Far Right group which doesn't practice electioneering and civic nationalist populism as either agents provocateurs, snitches who work for the security services or the Left, or as time wasters and fools. He could be right, so far as I know, about National Action: their appearance and behaviour strikes me as being bizarre, and, as he observed once, despite National Action's avowed fascism, they don't look as clean-cut and disciplined as the old, real fascists of the 1920s and 1930s - Mosley's BUF, for example. British life has degenerated in the past twenty or so years, and so has British Far Right politics; Owens considers National Action to be a symptom of that degeneration. I'm inclined to agree with him on that point... Much of what National Action did seemed counter-productive, and to me they represented a step down.

A lot of nationalists don't like Owens; I do. But I've found that, after a time, the excitement generated by Owens' ideas when you first encounter them wears off, and it's then that his world view appears rather constricted and limited.

To Owens, nearly every Western country boasts a civic populist party which every decent and self-respecting nationalist should throw his weight behind. Owens particularly likes Donald Trump, Marina Le Pen, Nigel Farage (when he headed UKIP) and Australia's own Pauline Hanson. OK, so far so good; but (and here's my objection): suppose you, as a nationalist, have joined Hanson's One Nation and during the election campaign gone around handing out fliers and knocking on doors; suppose, through your untiring efforts and grass-roots activism, you've helped contribute to One Nation's extraordinary electoral performance and to Hanson's winning a seat in the Senate; what do you do in the three years until the next election? Ditto Donald Trump: what do you as an American nationalist and racialist do in the next four years now that he's been elected? Owens implies that we ought to 'support' the successful populist candidate, perhaps by marches, demonstrations, letter-writing campaigns, etc. which are to be aimed at helping the candidate push through any legislative agenda; Owens doesn't really offer specifics. To me that hardly seems a constructive and efficient use of an activist's energies. Besides which, politicians such as Trump don't really need that much in the way of help from activists, particularly street activists; Trump, from the looks of things, looks ready to get to work on building the wall, deporting the illegals, as soon as he  takes office - he doesn't need any encouragement, any prompting, from the base. Nationalist activists, in these scenarios, can be as useful as a fifth wheel. This is why so many on the American Far Right who supported Trump now seem to be struggling to come up with a rationale for their existence.

This raises an important point. The likes of Trump, Hanson, Wilders, Le Pen form part of the liberal democratic system, and parties in that system do not usually attempt to motivate their members to do anything other than campaign and vote on election day - they don't direct them to take up 'extra-parliamentary opposition', for example. Selznick writes in the introduction to his The Organizational Weapon (1952):

Most political parties, organized to function only in the electoral arena, mobilize their adherents only partially. Such groups are usually content to win a general loyalty, and to “get out the vote.” This is consistent with their limited constitutional role. But if a fuller mobilization is attempted, integrating the members so effectively that they become available for continuous deployment in many arenas, a reservoir of energy will be developed that can be used outside the normal framework of political controversy. A source of power is tapped which may be used in conspiratorial ways to gain influence for an elite that cannot compete effectively at the polls.

Selznick cites, as examples of this 'mobilisation', the NSDAP's use of the SA during the period of the Reichstag fire and the Enabling Act in 1933; also, the Czechoslovakian Communist Party's use of marchers, striking workers, and 'action committees' (which occupied factories and government buildings) during the communist coup of 1948.

Selznick's 'organisational weapon', as we can see from his definition of it, can be used and applied by communist, fascist, Islamist groups... We can characterise it as practice, not theory; ideology doesn't come it - or perhaps we can say that the practice is the theory.

So the question is: does Owens want nationalists, populists, racialists to have absolute power or to just to win a few seats? Does he want a mainstream, nationalist political party which operates within the confines of the normal political process, or does he want an 'organisational weapon'...

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