During the 1970s and 1980s in Britain there was a strong and initially vibrant anti-fascist movement. Through organizations such as the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) it involved the young and with Searchlight is spread the word and kept the world aware. However, it seems that the antifascists feel they have done their job, they can retire content in the knowledge that they have defeated the enemy. Certainly the state of the far right in UK politics, particularly the weak and inconsequential states of the British National Party (BNP), National Front (NF) and English Defence League (EDL) might suggest we can rest on our laurels. Occasionally writers raise the warning flag after the Europeans support Golden Dawn, Pegida or the French National Front, and at home attempts are sometimes made to tar UKIP with a racist or fascit brush. But there is a problem.
Much of the fascism that was met previously used simple racism to whip up fear and support. When the fascist was a thug who expressed his hatred of people because of the colour of their skin he was easy to spot, and easy to tackle. Some fascists shifted their focus from “the blacks” to “the muslims” in the hope that they would be able to maintain their fearmongering and calls for power. In part this worked, campaigns against Hallal meat and honour crimes did gain more traction. People who would never fall for a racist move based on skin colour were sometimes drawn into campaigns of racist anti-islamic feeling under apparently liberal and humane banners. But there was a further problem.
While it is true that our home grown fascists use islamophobia to garner support it is also true that some groups with Islamic origins are themselves fascistic.Indeed, it is these fascists who prove the greatest threat to our future. Christopher Hitchins spoke of “fascism with an Islamic face” as he disliked the term Islamofascism but he did recognise this as a valid term (1). Our fears to avoid stoking islamophobia mean we avoid this term and it leads us towards much more dangerous problems. Many on the left, who would be naturally anti-fascists, find themselves allied with anti-Semitic and frequently fascist groups. Even Owen Jones has started to realize the blindness that this causes (2).
Make no mistake, it is not that these groups are ‘partially’ or ‘in a fashion‘ fascistic. They are fascist at their core. An old, but still valuable, piece by Lee Jenkins (3) was quite celar in the common core of the ideologies of ISIS and its related organizations. He noted :-
- Glorification of Violence
- Hyper social conservatism
- Strength through Unity
- Sexism and brutalhomophobia
- A yearning for a Golden Age
- Ideological purity
are all themes that these organizations hold in common. There is very little to separate ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda and Hezbolla from other fascist groups. A difference in victim does not avoid the obvious conclusion. As Michael Onfray has said the Islamic Revolution “gave birth to an authentic Muslim fascism” (4).Just as in the middle of the last century we were called on to fight and destroy fascism developed in Europe. This century we face the same task dealing with the fascism developing out of the the middle-east.
(1) Defending Islamofascism. C. Hitchins. Slate. 2007
(2) Antisemitism has no place on the Left. O Jones. Guardian 26/8/15
(3) Islamism Is Our Generation’s Fascism. L Jenkins. 25/7/13
(4) Michel Onfray: Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Carlton, Vic. 2007, pp. 206-213.