2 May 2008

What London's In For: A New Mayor and a Newish Fascism

Racism is insidious. It has a new face. The face of Anti-Racism.

Years ago, recognising the importance of Political Correctness and exploiting the anxiety generated by 9/11, the fascist BNP cunningly reinvented itself as entirely Non-Racist. In doing so, it focused its efforts less on the idea of carting off black communities and ethnic minorities “back home”, than on the supposedly rapidly inter-breeding alien Muslim communities invading “our country.”

Increasingly, these ideas have crept into the mainstream political spectrum. Although the failings and inadequacies of the British, European and global political economy are rooted in its structural inequalities, immigration takes the blame for the problem of unemployment. Although al-Qaeda terrorism is a marginal phenomenon relative to the global Muslim community, covertly financed even now by Britain’s own diplomatic and financial allies in the Middle East and Central Asia (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), Muslim communities are increasingly criminalised wholesale as inherently backward, anti-modern, and excited by medieval anti-female violence. Thus, multiculturalism is recognised as a huge mistake. Difference should never have been tolerated – it needs now to be concertedly dissolved into a homogenous culture, the norms and values of which are defined by an implicit ideology of ‘blood and soil’ – ‘we are the white indigenous population, our skin evidencing our purity of bloodline, our pristine ancestry, tied to our native soil; and thus you aliens coming into our land need to conform to our ways.’

Suddenly, there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’, irreconcilable, except by the latter’s absorption into the ‘us’. Cultures are viewed as discrete entities tied to biologically distinctive racial groups. Racism, and racial war fought as a clash of civilisations, is viewed as a natural, inevitable dynamic of the neo-Darwinian human condition – regrettable, perhaps marginally tameable, but nevertheless entirely natural, and thus understandable. The real signifier, then, of difference is no longer biology as such, but culture. Cultural difference implies bio-territorial incompability.

Social cohesion, then, can only be achieved through a process of purification. Cleansing the soil of alien additives by converting them into ‘good citizens’ who are no longer culturally different.

This is a new form of fascism, different from the old, blatant, Nazified manifestation, primarily due to its recognition that it cannot allow its face to be seen. While denouncing the piece of cloth a Muslim woman might wear on her head (yet strangely uninterested by the pieces of cloth sometimes worn by Jews and Sikhs), it hides beneath its own veil, the veil of ‘freedom’. It hides so well that it no longer even recognises its own reflection:

‘We want you to be free. Free to conform to our ways. For we are Modern, the New.’

Freedom is now defined not by the individuals right to be as they wish to be. It is defined by a bio-territorial mass, dissent against which is viewed as a dangerous form of subversion, a national security threat, justifying further sanctions against freedom, ridicule, humiliation, incarceration, until the source of subversion submits.

Boris Johnson is here to stay.

And here’s some of what he’s already had to say.

Of course, he denies that he is racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic. And he may well even believe this, genuinely.

But the new racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia is defined fundamentally by its new chameleon visage, its extraordinary ability to shape-shift at any moment and appear as its exact opposite. Here we have instances of Boris being an anti-colonialist, an anti-racist, and an anti-terrorist. Yet it is in these very instances that he reveals himself for what he is.

“What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness. They say [Tony Blair] is shortly off to the Congo . No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.” [Telegraph (10/01/2002)]

“Like much of western Europe, Britain faces a demographic quandary. In the words of a recent UN interview the populations of EU countries are ‘melting like snow in the sun’… No one knows whether this is caused by the fecklessness of the modern British male, or by women’s liberation; or whether it is because divorce has become too easy.” [Boris Johnson, Lend Me Your Ears (London: HarperPerrenial, June 2004) p. 395]

So is Boris worried about the White Race, the increasing ability of Browns and Blacks to reproduce themselves and perhaps outnumber Us?

“When I shamble round the park in my running gear late at night, and I come across that bunch of black kids, shrieking in the spooky corner by the disused gents, I would love to pretend that I don't turn a hair. Now you might tell me not to be such a wuss. You might say that I am at no more risk than if I had come across a bunch of winos. But somehow or other a little beeper goes off in my brain… You might tell me that when they shout their cheery catcalls, I should smile and wave. And, you know, maybe a big girl’s blouse like me would break into an equally rapid lollop if it were a gang of white kids. Quite possibly. The trouble is, I'm not sure. I cannot rule out that I have suffered from a tiny fit of prejudice. I have prejudged this group on the basis of press reports, possibly in right-wing newspapers, about the greater likelihood of being mugged by young black males than by any other group. And if that is racial prejudice, then I am guilty. And so are you, baby. So are we all. If there is anyone reading this who has never experienced the same disgraceful reflex, then - well, I just don't believe you. It is common ground among both right-wingers and left-wingers that racism is ‘natural’, in that it seems to arise organically, in all civilisations. It is as natural as sewage. We all agree that it is disgusting, a byproduct of humanity’s imperfect evolution. The question is, what to do with the effluent?” [Guardian (21/02/2000)]

Well thanks for the admission, but Boris, you're not absolving yourself by insinuating that everyone feels the same way you do, nor that how you feel is actually an unfortunate byproduct of 'nature'.

“... too many Britons have absolutely no sense of allegiance to this country or its institutions. It is a cultural calamity that will take decades to reverse, and we must begin now with what I call in this morning's Spectator the re-Britannification of Britain. That means insisting, in a way that is cheery and polite, on certain values that we identify as British. If that means the end of spouting hate in mosques, and treating women as second-class citizens, then so be it. We need to acculturate the second-generation Muslim communities to our way of life.” [Telegraph (14/06/2005)]

I’m a second generation Muslim. Come and acculturate me. Please. I had no idea that my kind spouts hate in mosques (yes, the Finsbury Park mosque is not "all mosques") or that we treat our wives, daughters, mother, sisters and generally any females we meet as second-class citizens. I'll ignore for now that marginalising a woman for wearing a cloth on her head puts her in second-class. I’d really like to understand what you mean Boris, whether, indeed, there is any meaning at all behind this notion, and any real research or understanding behind it. How many mosques have you visited Boris? Or are you still believing that fraudulent nonsense put out by the right-wingers at Policy Exchange exposed by the lefty liberals on BBC Newsnight? You say we should identify our British values. I agree. But can we try to get beyond the banal tautology that British values mean fighting those barbaric second-generation Muslims who hate our values?

We’ve all got to be as British as Carry On films and scotch eggs and falling over on the beach while trying to change into your swimming trunks with a towel on. We should all feel the same mysterious pang at the sight of the Queen. We do indeed need to inculcate this Britishness, especially into young Muslims.... We should teach British history. We should think again about the jilbab, with the signals of apartness that it sends out, and we should probably scrap faith schools. We should forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English; because if you want to build a society where everyone feels included, and where everyone shares in the national story, we cannot continue with the multicultural apartheid.” [Telegraph (04/08/2005)]

Right. So if I’m not entirely impressed by the Carry On films, don’t eat pork, have a conception of modesty than doesn’t involve running naked on the beach, wonder what the big deal is about a monarchy that swallows taxpayer’s money due to dubious historical reasons, then I’m bordering on typically Islamist treason? I guess I’m just not sharing in “the national story” – or maybe the Etonian Boris version of it.

But perhaps it's too much to expect an educated Etonian to understand what really lies behind social exclusion, the segregation and marginalisation of both white and non-white communities in this country, the structural violence, institutional racism and class inequality that hits at the majority of the British people, Muslim and non-Muslim. Far easier to focus on the bogeyman of "multicultural apartheid", get Us to hate Them, so that the system itself can avoid uncomfortable scrutiny.

I’m sure an eager Boris fan will find many ways of interpreting such statements in the most angelically benign fashion possible. Thank our lucky stars we’ve got the BNP to remind us! For the BNP, Boris should be brought in as their preferred second candidate, because “a second choice vote for him gives you the chance to vote BNP as your first preference and still vote to get Livingstone out of office”. Boris Johnson as Mayor would “be an improvement for the majority of Londoners.” Oh yes, the majority of Londoners. You mean, "the White Race majority", don't you, my dear friendly fascists?

Boris clearly feels more comfortable airing his rather filthy laundry when it concerns Muslims, who aren’t recognised as an ethnic minority and thus receive less protection than other ethnic minorities. Thus, Boris feels on firmer ground, more confident, when dealing with us subversive brown folks with our medieval beards and scarves, psychotic penchant for honour killing, and rampant obsession with imposing Shariah Law-defined Caliphate dynasties on England, by which to generally repress, murder and subjugate. No need for him to mince words. He jumps right in to mincing Muslims.

To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture – to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques – it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers. As the killer of Theo Van Gogh told his victims mother this week in a Dutch courtroom, he could not care for her, could not sympathise, because she was not a Muslim. The trouble with this disgusting arrogance and condescension is that it is widely supported in Koranic texts, and we look in vain for the enlightened Islamic teachers and preachers who will begin the process of reform. What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?”
[Spectator (16/07/2005)]

If you really feel like getting "18th century" on someone's ass, try your own, Boris, but please, I beg you, stay the hell away from mine.

And from the same piece: “The Islamicists last week horribly and irrefutably asserted the supreme importance of that faith, overriding all worldly considerations, and it will take a huge effort of courage and skill to win round the many thousands of British Muslims who are in a similar state of alienation, and to make them see that their faith must be compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain. That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.”

“The proposed ban on incitement to ‘religious hatred’ makes no sense unless it involves a ban on the Koran itself.... Militant Islam has been shielded from proper discussion by cowardice, political correctness and a racist assumption that we should privilege the beliefs of a minority, even when they appear to be mediaeval." [Telegraph (21/07/2005)]

So Islam is the problem, the "Koran" should be banned, and the Muslim minority's beliefs are "mediaeval."

So let’s fast forward to the present. What are you telling voters now, Boris? Islam is a "religion of peace". Militants take stuff “out of context.” We don’t need to ban the “Koran”. It’s not the whole Muslim minority community who believe this dastardly evil stuff supporting terrorism. Hmm. Somewhat off-key from your previous statements, Boris. So here we have a case of lying as part of your political campaign. Shouldn’t this be illegal in a democracy? No, I guess, not when democracy is already half-dead. Rather like Boris' pathetic Etonian excuse for a brain.

Boris Johnson’s coming victory is a significant blow to our weakened democratic institutions in this country, and proves that those who wish to protect human and civil rights need to revitalise, somehow, their traditional defunct strategies. Those strategies are failing precisely because they issue forth from a serious failure to understand the interconnected systemic dynamic of the intensifying social, political, economic and ideological crises our societies are facing. We don’t understand the insidious nature of the new racism. We don’t even recognise it as racist. In fact, some of us think it’s a wonderful step toward what Boris calls “re-Britannification” - the first time I’ve seen a term used regularly by Hitler and Himmler (the idea of “Germanisation”) appropriated and re-applied in a modern European context.

This is a wake up to civil society, that it needs to re-think its modus operandi and in particular its entire sociological vision. Unless we do so, and fast, the post-Boris era will be even worse than the one round the corner.

10 comments:

  1. Sharp as a knife. This cutting piece of commentary leaves no room for Boris to hide or escape. Superb writing Nafeez...

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  2. Interesting piece, I'm equally worried and disappointed about BJ, but I think you make a couple of misconceptions about what he's said. Zoe Williams in the Guardian did the same, and it mystifies me - in Boris's speech about Blair touching down in Africa, is it not crystal clear that he is attributing the reactionary colonialist view - that the use of the terms "pangas" and "watermelon smiles" suggests - to BLAIR, not to himself? It's clearly ironic, to puncture what he sees as Blair's patronising, messianic attitude towards Africa, and how that attitude masks, or updates, an older and more traditional prejudice.

    Secondly, although I'm uneasy about the passage in which he confesses to a "tiny fit of prejudice", I suspect it's occasionally shared by a great many people, of all races and faiths, who consciously abhor prejudice and feel guilty when it creeps up on them every now and then. Taking the absolutist and puritan view that even this occasional dark thought makes one an out-and-out racist isn't helpful. Where I differ completely is that racism isn't "natural", that's clearly preposterous - but its spectre surrounds us so completely that, with so many different voices screaming different arguments at all levels of society, that the odd pang of prejudice can become something like a learned reflex, a Pavlovian twitch - one to be abhorred and ignored - but also to be interrogated, and I think that's what Boris is trying to here - albeit in his clumsy way.

    As a final point, a real flaw in your piece is your own minor prejudice, I'm afraid! You twice use the term "Etonian" as a pejorative, which strikes me as juvenile inverse snobbery. What does him being an Old Etonian have to do with anything? You're too sophisticated a thinker to cheaply associate privilege and private education with prejudice and conservatism. Plus there's the slight whiff of hypocrisy, given that you attended a traditional British private school yourself. Or did that august institution play no role in the formation of your admittedly formidable intellect?

    On the whole though, I share most of your concerns (although I confess I support the abolishment of faith schools, though not to foster a mono-culture, but because I don't approve of the indoctrination of children into any faith, and have never seen what place religion holds in a classroom other than as a subject of objective study), and admire your writing. I do fear Boris, perhaps through no conscious effort of his own, will prove a divisive and destructive mayor. Sigh.

    Could be worse - we could be living in Italy, which seems to be on the verge of declaring itself a fascist state once again.

    S

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  3. Excellent article. Hate to think what Boris' term does hold for us!

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  4. and i used to think ole boris was simply a mop headed bumbler

    goes to show how well the media does its job of not doing its job properly

    having read this post, and your previous prediction that boris would win, Nafeez, i have to say i cannot disagree with any of it, though i do feel that with the media doing/not doing its job so very well, there is not quite the acceptance of this new fascism that you fear, at least, it's not so widespread as we're meant to think it is, off-message is always off-mic, or off-camera

    corporatism, capitalism, is recruiting more of its own enemies and its own resistance every day with its treatment of employees, and now it is doing so openly on the global scale

    people know the ruling and finance 'elite' is screwing them hard, they know something's up, and the 'elite' aren't blind to these realisations either

    the war "against" terror, being largely a war against Islam as it seems to be, looks to me to have come about just at the right moment, and coincidentally of course, to meld anti capitalist sentiments from not only non Muslim anti globalisation activists but also similar theological views of Islam itself, with a particular :shhh ! don't say it out loud !: focus upon Islam's issue with usury

    Christianity has been castrated of this 'arcane-ty' for so long no-one remembers what usury even means within that faith, but, and i have to confess to speaking from a place of near total ignorance in regard to Islam, Islamic faith still (and in my opinion rightly so) holds usury in very low regard

    i find it difficult to separate out the twin notions that 1) most of us here in 'free democracyland' have an idea we're being shat on royally, but don't have this name - this word weapon - for a part of our financial pain - and 2) that Islam has many of the answers

    is this in part why Islam is so under attack ?

    is this in part why all the talk of caliphates and hand chopping ?

    inoculation ?

    only silver lining i can see for Islam is that sooner or later the war "against" terror will 'unveil' itself as the war on dissent and then at least Islam will not be so singled out...of course, it would be nice if it all stopped...

    i wish

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  5. On the money. Boris is ironic and post-ironic, which seems to have fooled many commentators into thinking that his shit smells better.

    I'm hopoing his minders don't let him explore re-Britification because I can't drink that many pints.

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  6. Yes, there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ "US" is people that want to be left alone, people that respect freedom (Speech, religion, political rights), people that believe in equality and human rights. "Them" are those that want to impose their beliefs on others, that want respect for themselves but do not respect others, that call for multiculturalism but will not respect other cultures and their laws.

    "Them" is Muslims, in case you haven't figured it out.

    Note how Muslim portray BJ's victory, as if they will be persecuted. It is always about what others do or don't do, isn't it? Muslim never consider their actions. To consider the possibility that so much dislike for Islam might be related to the hate, anger and violence Muslinms do is beyonh most MUslims. They can only thing that Islam is misunderstood or attribute any problem is islamophobia.
    Don't worry, BJ and the UK will continue to treat Muslims a lot better than their treat non-Muslims (in case you are ignorant of history and world events).

    If Muslims want facism, they should read the hadith and learn about the deeds of their dear prophet and the so-called "rightly guided" Caliphs (of whom 3 of 4 were killed by other Muslims in case you don't know).

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  7. err john? Is that you Boris JOHNson???

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  8. An interesting Article. Nicely Done Nafeez.

    John I suggest you read up a bit yourself on how Christians used to treat anyone of a different religion not long ago. Crusaders come to mind?

    Anyone can take verses out of context and that is what people like Nick Griffin thrive upon. I can do exactly the same thing with all other religious texts.

    By the way, with regards to Hadiths, not all are accepted as authentic, with a large percentage actually being "weak" in those terms.

    "Man is either your brother in Faith or your Brother in Humanity". Imam Ali.

    Fascism I hear you cry.

    Boris is more of a comedian than a serious politician. I suspect the real work will be done by those appointed by him.

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  9. There is a lot of anti-muslim rhetoric from Johnson,strange when you consider his past.

    Johnson is the oldest of the four children (including Rachel) of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative MEP and employee of the European Commission and World Bank and his first wife, painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a prominent barrister[4] and president of the European Commission of Human Rights.[5] Stanley Johnson also has two children by his second wife. On his father's side Johnson is great-grandson of Ali Kemal Bey, a liberal Turkish journalist and interior minister in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire who was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence.[6] During World War I Boris's grandfather and great aunt were recognised as British subjects and took their grandmother's maiden name of Johnson.

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  10. Absolutely brilliant Nafeez, it's incredible how Boris' 'bumbling idiot' routine has managed to seduce people into believing his base and hateful prejudices are the harmless and the jocular slippages of the avuncular sort. Good job on exposing London’s new Mayor for the bigoted fool he most certainly is.

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