The Brown Plague and how to fight it
A couple of years before Gordon Brown, 'World Statesman of the Year' according to Comic Relief - sorry the 'Appeal of Conscience Foundation', began borrowing from the slogans of the 1930s British Union of Fascists for soundbites for speeches to Labour Party Conference, ('British Jobs for British Workers'), his unhealthy obsession with 'Britishness' was already on full display. In 2005, Brown famously glorified the British Empire on a trip to Africa, declaring the 'days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over...We should celebrate much of our past rather than apologise for it'. Back in the 1930s, high days of white colonial power, when Britain ruled a vast swathe of the African continent as well as huge chunks of Asia and the Middle East, celebrating the greatest empire the world had ever seen was distinctly 'respectable' politically. This is what one famous German politician of the inter-war period, who in his autobiography had declared 'I, as a man of Germanic blood, would, in spite of everything, rather see India under English rule than any other', had to say in a speech in the Reichstag of 28 April 1939:
'During the whole of my political activity I have always expounded the idea of a close friendship and collaboration between Germany and England...This desire for Anglo-German friendship and co-operation conforms not merely to sentiments which result from the racial origins of our two peoples, but also to my realisation of the importance for the whole of mankind of the existence of the British Empire. I have never left room for any doubt of my belief that the existence of this empire is an inestimable factor of value for the whole of human cultural and economic life. By whatever means Great Britain has acquired her colonial territories - and I know that they were those of force and often brutality - nevertheless, I know full well that no other empire has ever come into being in any other way, and that in the final resort it is not so much the methods that are taken into account in history as success, and not the success of the methods as such, but rather the general good which the methods yield. Now there is no doubt that the Anglo-Saxon people have accomplished immeasurable colonizing work in the world. For this work I have a sincere admiration. The thought of destroying this labour appeared and still appears to me, seen from a higher human point of view, as nothing but the effluence of human wanton destructiveness.'
The politician in question was of course Adolf Hitler.* No wonder the British Nazi Party are looking such a threat in the coming Euro elections this June - almost a dozen years of New Labour trying to shove nationalist ideas imbued with connotations of race and empire down the throats of the rest of us - together with vigorous modern day acts of neo-colonialism and barbarism - are bound to have dangerous consequences. Oh yeah, and as Richard Seymour recently noted, 'I don't know if you saw it or not, but there's apparently this huge crisis in the capitalist system right now' going on as well. In my opinion, if humanity is going to do the whole '1930s thing' again, lets organise to try and make the rich and powerful - not the rest of us - end up paying for their crisis this time around. And that means building solidarity with the small number of factory occupations already underway, such as the workers in Dundee who yesterday decided to defiantly and gloriously occupy their plant rather than simply passively succumb to the idea that there is nothing we can do in midst of a jobs massacre of epic proportions. An international wave of 'sit-down strikes' such as those which swept America, France and even the Caribbean during the 1930s would rapidly transform the current political situation, and send out a beacon of hope to millions that 'another world is possible'. Such a strike wave would also do something else - it would begin to undermine the very social logic of the whole rotten system from within. Indeed - it is the only thing that can. As Rosa Luxemburg - who knew a thing or two about mass strikes - famously once put it, 'Where the chains of capitalism are forged, there they must be be broken'.
*From N Ferguson, Empire, (Penguin 2004), pp. 335-6.