After banging my head on the cupboard on Thursday night, and going to bed with a sore head and a sulk, I managed to miss the most hyped-up offering that ‘Auntie-Beeb’ has had for a while. Well, other than Eastenders, which seems to beat it in the ‘Most Popular List’. Don’t we live in such an informed and politically interested country…?
Having now indulged in the delights of IPlayer, here you are folks, as I’m sure you were waiting for it, the long awaited (and maybe predictable) Christian Bodden response to Question Time. Bring it on… Crash Roll and so on.
A lot has been discussed about whether offering this platform to Nick Griffin would show his true colours, and simply allow him to make a fool of himself. Many people seem to rest on their happy laurels that this was the case. Sadly I disagree.
Don’t get me wrong, I think he showed himself for the vile and ignorant animal that he is. Sadly, against the backdrop of most of the rest of the show, this was not as striking as perhaps one could have hoped.
Griffin showed himself to be the perfect politician. Misinformed, relying on self-constructed spin, offensive, and resorting to cheap jibes about his opponents. But then we had Jack Straw blustering and skirting around the issue of immigration because he plainly had no answer to perhaps the government’s hottest potato. We then had Sayeeda Warsi displaying the Tory tendency to reduce everything to the the most blunt means with her parties ‘cap’ policies on immigration. Then we have the general debate from Bonnie Greer, and various members of the audience about the meaning of ‘indigenous’ handled in such a blunt manner: yes, we all (according to current archeological theory) came from Africa, but what does that actually add to the debate…?
And much as I think that Griffin deserves to be derided at any opportunity, it seems David Dimbleby had plenty of cheap jibes of his own.
So, the great debate. Should the BNP have been given this platform? The discussion of ‘free speech’ seems to be the main issue here. Aside from Griffin’s comment that the BBC is a thoroughly unpleasant and ultra-leftist organisation having some truth if you remove ‘ultra-leftist’ and replace it with which-ever political ideology is currently trendy and most likely to gain viewers, it is supposed to be an impartial tool of the ‘democracy’ we live under.
Let us, for the moment, assume that to be true. On that basis, it is right that the BNP be given this platform, as that is their Right.
Some people may find that distasteful, but bear with me for a while. What is a Right? Can yoou tell me that an animal has the right not to be eaten by a predator? No. (Sorry Vegans). Much as I would like to adhere to Animal Rights, Women’s Rights, Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’ and so on, and don’t get me wrong I live my live according to those kind of moral assumptions day by day, Rights have little real value, or even existence unless ratified by a political system that upholds those rights.
This is the inherent paradox in the likes of the UAF and Hope Not Hate, they would like to deny fascist parties or individuals the right to free speech that the political system the former support allows to the latter.
The BNP are a legitimate political party. Some people have tried to argue about the BNPs legality, or legitimacy, based on their policies, particularly on membership. Sadly it is a bit late for that when a party is on the ballot papers, and gaining seats. So the BNP have as much right the platform, representation, and so on as any other party.
Those of you who have now stopped reading and will wonder if I have suddenly become a signed up member of The Fash, have fun and I’ll see you later. The more intelligent remainder can hopefully see where this is going.
Surely something is wrong with giving someone quite so abhorrent the right to speak?
‘Hang on’, I hear the reply from the proportion of those who have stayed because they hope that this has suddenly become something they can all comment their racist tripe at the end. ‘You are the real fascist trying to deny us our right of free speech’. Sadly this is the standard, and slightly peurile, reply to this. I will return to this later.
To sum up the previous discussion into a more succinct term, what I am saying is that ‘liberal democracy’ is perhaps an oxymoron, if not a pile of poo, (though see my caveat below about whether a Liberal Democracy is what we actually are).
The most base form of Modern Liberalism, often referred to as Social Darwinsim, generally proposes the absence of Government, and survival of the fittest. Sounds good to me, as Little Boots will never die under this ideology. By the way that’s the only joke you are going to get. On the other hand, you have Social Liberalism where the interdependence of man is stressed, and one requires a benevolent government to help out occasionally. One end of this spectrum pretty much allows free reign to behave like a twat, while the other still has the problem of being subject to someone else’s rule if you do not wish to do so. Liberal democracy is supposed to offer individual freedom and protection from too much government control, and so in part this could be seen to strike a balance. Various forms of this are often touted as allowing this ‘freedom of speech’, and preventing governments from denying political expression. Notwithstanding the fact that really we a Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy, for the purposes of this argument I shall assume that there is little difference. In reality, as I will explain below, it matters little.
I do not intend to go much further into the subject of liberalism itself, but it shows itself here to be a slightly flawed and woolly system. And Democracy more so, shown by the fact that I am ‘represented’ in Europe by a fascist prick.
One of the absolute triumphs of this Question Time was that it demonstrates this fact perfectly. As well as showing the all of the elected representatives on the show for the fools they are, it has brought this free speech debate to the fore again.
My hope, is that some people may now begin to question the overall political structure that puts the BNP where they are. I am not talking here about Immigration, or Social Cohesion, or anything else on this micro level. I am referring to the whole system of so called democracy that allows the BNP their platform.
But is the only alternative the totalitarianism that we are all against..? No.
Liberalism is not the opposite end of the spectrum to totalitarianism, whatever one may suppose from its genesis.
Imagine if you will, the following:
You live in a community/society/group/whatever plural term you wish to employ, where you are not subject to the power of the state that you are born into. You may be taught the morals and values of that group, but you have access to learn and explore what you feel is right. You are free to leave the group at any time; if you find a group with whom you agree, they will naturally accept you. Or you can engage with those around you about why your view may change theirs for the better. They may agree and develop, or they may not, in which case you can compromise, or you can move on. The main thing is that no one person has the final say.
Because people who produce a product or service do it to make a living, not pay their shareholders, transnationals do not appear by buying up smaller organisations, and smaller organisations do not feel they need to be bought to stay alive.
Because resources are shared, everyone has more. No-one really is in want. No group needs to deny entry to others because it is under resourced. Because differences either meld, or separate of their own accord, no one needs to fear difference, or fear being over-run, which is one of the major precursors of racism in modern society. You can be afforded free speech, even if this is abhorrent, because it will not lead to your controlling, or harming anyone else who does not agree with it. So the BNP can sit in a field in Derbyshire, goose-step and tell racist jokes, but really they are not a big harm to anyone, because they can sit and do it to their greasy selves.
Who really would not agree that this sounds better than what we have now.
Of course this is not an infallible system. Of course there is the problem of greed, and power. But it seems likely that once everyone has more, many people will want less. There is the problem of individual pathologies; crime – This model relies strongly on the idea that crime is a result of structural inequality, which is not unilaterally accepted within the social sciences. Of course what happens to the poor sods born into the BNP’s Derbyshire Reich indoctrinated with the more unpleasant ideologies. And what happens when this group does decide to try and use their muscle to take over? These are, of course, very real concerns about this model. I have some ideas, but as this is already getting quite a long post I will leave it to those more versed in Anarchist Theory to debate and discuss them, for now. Or of course to challenge me, as this is my own, perhaps rough description.
But I will make one point. The ‘objection’ I hear most often to this idea, is that it ‘just won’t work’. When asked why, it is normally not that people do not believe it won’t work, but that they cannot comprehend the paradigm shift that would be needed to bring it in to place.
I agree. It is pretty incomprehensible. But, if we deny that fear of change, perhaps, one day we will move closer.
Let us use these troubled times to try and think outside the box a little. And maybe we will learn something new.