The EDL has staged a couple of successful operations over the past few days. Maybe that’s why the house organs of the Left have felt compelled to load their rhetorical shotguns with salt and spray it in all directions.
I have to admit to a sneaking admiration for Matthew Goodwin’s mastery of propagandistic techniques. As an amateur polemicist, I can see the devious effectiveness of listing Gates of Vienna and Storm Front side by side. GoV, Nazis — same thing!
Let’s face it: July 22, 2011 provided the far Left with the exact opportunity they had been waiting for: a real right-wing terrorist — the first since 1995! The children’s bodies had barely thumped to the shore of Utøya when the op-eds started rolling out of the presses denouncing the “extreme right”.
Notice how the case against us is framed. We’re “not openly violent”, “nor do [we] advocate violence as a political strategy”, but that’s not enough to exonerate us. Our motives in rejecting violence are merely tactical: “most parties on the far-right wing reject violence because of their electoral ambitions.”
Yup. Uh-huh. That must be it. If I weren’t worried about my future prospects on the hustings, I’d be out there spraying all the Progressives with my AK-47, wouldn’t I?
As if it were impossible for a person to hold right-wing views and still reject violence as a matter of principle!
Our opinions are said to encourage a “culture of violence” — which assertion is impossible to disprove, since the Left believes that violence is inherent is the principles espoused by conservatives. To disagree with the connection between conservatism and violence is to reveal yourself as weak-minded, foolish, or perhaps — gasp! — a secret fellow-traveler of conservatism. The horror!
Anders Behring Breivik (or whoever wrote his manifesto) is said to have been inspired by the extreme right, which therefore must bear at least partial responsibility for the psychopath’s slaughter last summer.
Funnily enough, the same argument is never considered when the ideological arrow points in the opposite direction. Karl Marx inspired inter alia Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot. At a conservative estimate, these five men were responsible for the deaths of a hundred million people.
Yet Marx has lost none of his luster. He is highly revered in the cloisters of academia, from Berkeley to Barcelona to Brisbane. His philosophy is lovingly transmitted from generation to generation by the guardians of our cultural inheritance within the ivied halls of our finest educational institutions.
Yes, the rules are different for us “right-wing extremists”. But we knew that coming in, didn’t we? None of us can honestly claim to be surprised by all this.
Excerpts from Mr. Goodwin’s remarks in The Guardian are below. I’ve bolded some phrases that are relevant to this discussion. They serve as reminders of the arguments that are likely to be used on both sides of the Atlantic when the time comes to carry out the wishes of the OIC and crack down on all the dangerous “Islamophobes”:
The threat of far-right extremism warrants more than lip service
The committee report on the roots of violent radicalisation draws attention to the danger of ignoring far-right activity
by Matthew Goodwin
Have we got the balance right in our current approach to countering extremism? For much of the past decade, western states have focused the bulk of attention on tackling al-Qaida-inspired terrorism, and the underlying processes of radicalisation that lead some citizens toward this specific form of violent extremism. The result is a large body of evidence on both the terrorist groups, and the factors that “push and pull” some individuals into engaging in violence on their behalf.
Given the new priorities of national security that emerged in the shadow of 9/11, this focus was both justified and understandable. But more than 10 years on, the challenge from extremism looks rather different. This point is reflected in a home affairs committee report on the roots of violent radicalisation, that is published today, and to which I gave evidence. As the report points out, while al-Qaida-inspired terrorism remains the dominant threat, the challenge from extremism is becoming more varied, and hence requires a more holistic approach.
In particular, the report notes that one form of extremism that has remained neglected for too long is the far right. Though often derided as a lunatic fringe or a movement of “ignoramuses and bigots”, the far right continues to escape our serious attention. As the report points out, one view held by many is that government strategy on counter-extremism “only pays lip service to the threat from extreme far-right terrorism”. In contrast, and after collecting evidence from a range of different experts and opinions, the committee concluded there was “persuasive evidence about the potential threat from the growth of far-right organisations”, and that “[t]he Prevent Strategy should outline more clearly the actions to be taken to tackle far-right radicalisation”.
For those of us who have long argued about the need to take the far right more seriously, this point is particularly welcome. The vast majority of far-right parties in Europe are not openly violent, and nor do they advocate violence as a political strategy. Nor, with some notable exceptions, are most supporters of these parties pro-violence. While there are borderline cases in Europe, such as the National Democratic Party (NPD), which is currently under the microscope because of its links to a violent neo-Nazi cell, most parties on the far-right wing reject violence because of their electoral ambitions.
But while not openly violent, I would argue that many of these movements do foster a culture of violence among followers, and a particular set of narratives that would deem violence acceptable under certain conditions. Like most political movements, the far right offers supporters its own vision of society, and reasons for them to get actively involved. But unlike mainstream parties, the narratives that the far right cultivate among its supporters — or what are known in social science as their “vocabularies of motive” — are in many respects different.
Furthermore, like previous decades, these narratives are further embedded through “narrowcasting”, whereby supporters obtain their news and information from only one source. In this way, and like other extremist groups, the far right often manipulates statistics and events in a way that amplifies notions of threat, survivalism, urgency and action. For Breivik, this process appears to have taken place within prominent far-right blogs, such as Gates of Vienna. In Britain, it is found within websites such as StormFront.
Like today’s report, my view is that we need to take this movement and its potential for violence far more seriously. If Norway taught us anything, it is that dismissing the far right as a collection of cranks is an outdated and inaccurate view. More research is needed on what might “trip” someone like Breivik from joining a radical far-right party into violence or, alternatively, what might pull these individuals back from the brink. But overall, we need to modify our view of this movement, and its adherents.
Read the rest at The Guardian.
Matthew Goodwin has written similar material on numerous occasions in the past. Check his archive in the Grauniad if you’re interested, or see this piece, which was written while the smell of cordite still hung in the air over Utøya.
Many thanks to DF for all the background material.