Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.

Not At All About McSweeney’s; The BNP, Literature and Hope

As with most sane people waking up this morning, I’ve been thinking about the BNP winning two seats in the European elections. Some of my thinking is already documented on my Twitter (a few friends had been posting their disgust/contempt/frustration on their Facebook accounts, but Twitter seems more appropriate for this discussion, for some reason — that it forces you to articulate yourself in shorter statements, thus encouraging more critical thought?), and the issue I’ve been left considering is What Does This Mean?

There are always going to be BNP voters. Thinking about issues of education, class, economic problems — there’s scope for a lot more detailed work to be done on this. But I suspect it might be difficult/futile to try to change these people’s minds. So what can we do?

Sunny Hardal’s article on the Guardian’s site is a good reaction to the results. Particularly for this paragraph:

The BNP are not increasing their votes. In both Yorkshire and the north-west, their total number of votes fell from 2004. This absolutely does not mean that more people are being seduced by the BNP’s propaganda. It means that Labour’s share of the vote collapsed and went to other parties, thereby helping the BNP under a proportional system. If the party makes a comeback then there’s no reason why the BNP will continue to get its MEPs elected.

The problem, then, is not stopping the BNP winning more votes. (Does every society come with a built-in minority of idiots that are genetically pre-disposed towards antagonism, thus giving the majority something to define themselves against?) The problem is stopping apathy, and reshaping our political system to better reflect the interests/systems of 21st century Britain.

What I’ve been thinking about in the last half hour is Nick Griffin. NB: not ‘who’, but ‘what’.

Nick Griffin is not a real person. He is a construct born of the problems Britain has been undergoing. He is what we need at this point in time, he is the spirit of 21st century Britain. With his help, we will once again be whole.

How will we achieve this? By destroying Nick Griffin and the BNP, obviously! He will be our sacrifice.

Inspiration for this realisation comes, tangentially, from Borges’s story: “Three Versions of Judas“, in which is discussed the possibility of Judas being the true incarnation of God:

God became a man completely, a man to the point of infamy, a man to the point of being reprehensible – all the way to the abyss. In order to save us, He could have chosen any of the destinies which together weave the uncertain web of history; He could have been Alexander, or Pythagoras, or Rurik, or Jesus; He chose an infamous destiny: He was Judas.

Jesus may have been the Son of God, but Judas was God.

Nick Griffin is the God-Judas of our time.

He is here to save us. By being the one thing we need to rally against, to galvanise our political spirit once again.Some more quotes from Sunny Hundal to exemplify what we have to do (what Griffin’s special status demands we do):

…the BNP have to be taken seriously because they have shown they can win more than 100,000 votes in a region. This is not a party to be taken lightly and should be exposed as the incompetent charlatans they are, complete with their racist histories.

It may stop Labour ignoring its traditional working-class origins, now so comprehensively stomped over that they’re migrating to other parties in droves.

Other tactics: lambast/shame anyone you know who didn’t vote in Thursday’s elections. Talk about politics. Argue about apathy. Care about what happens in your country. Simple stuff, really.

(This post also inspired by current reading of Warren Ellis’s series, The Authority, in which the character Jenny Sparks is the Spirt of the 20th Century, installed by nature/whatever as the world’s protector.

The idea of societies/worlds having in-built protection systems is hugely appealing to me, for some reason. Identifying religion-substitute fetish?)


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Filed under: miscellaneous

4 Responses

  1. Stuart says:

    You’re right, in a sense. Nick Griffin and Co are here to focus minds, but I think it is the minds of politicians they are supposed to be focussing (and by association anyone with faith in politics). He is embodiment of things other parties aren’t saying or addressing – this is how he projects himself. Society always has those who feel left out economically or socially (legitimately or otherwise) – with a healthy political culture people see the government or major opposition as offering a solution, when that fails they turn to extremists. They see the majority parties as not representing them so many turn to the fringes either out of horrid beliefs or to be antagonistic and make a point.

    “Far-right” parties are actually rightist politically and relatively leftist economically (think “National Socialists” and Nazi full-employment policies, and Griffin’s comments about public services last night), they feed on economic plight and disillusionment and link it to identifiable enemy ‘others’ like immigrants or Europe – blame takes the place of solutions. Mainstream parties need to convince that 6.5% that they have better solutions than the BNP.

  2. Ernesto Priego says:

    “Mainstream parties need to convince that 6.5% that they have better solutions than the BNP.”

    I agree, but voters also need to be able to distinguish “right” from “Right,” the anti-immigrant stance is so obviously retrograde that it can only attract the most politically disinformed in the best of cases. The racist agenda of the BNP is well documented no matter what they say. Even if the mainstream parties are doing a terrible job as well, it’s important to tell what’s ethically correct and what is frankly dangerous for the whole world.

  3. Ian Dunn says:

    The BNP’s success is ultimately irrelevant. Picking up a couple of MEP’s during a perfect storm of public resentment of parliament, economic depression and large scale immigration into the country is hardly cause for concern. On the continents there have been numerous far right election success in recent years without democracy collapsing.
    The English personality is not suited to radical political change and will never embrace it. After the end of New Labour, Cameron’s conservatives will govern in a similar style for 15-20 years before burning themselves out and being replaced with some sort of Lib_Lab hybrid which will go on to rule for a similar period.
    Baring some massive Outside context problem obviously.
    The BNP are as you suggest a handy totem for the established parties to whip itself into a righteous frenzy which is by no means a bad thing. Your suggestions are good ones but ultimately the impact is minimal.

  4. Kevin says:

    I have a similar pessimistic realism to your final point, Ian.

    I think we need this minimal, low-level political activity as another safeguard against potential dangers, but you’re right that it’s never going to do much. What would we have to do to actually create political change? Is Obama an example of that? Or is he just a placeholder for the possibility of change?

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