Paint It Black
History; Posted on: 2007-11-16 14:05:25 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
A review of Many Shades of Black: Inside Britain's Far Right, by John Bean
Many Shades of Black: Inside Britain's Far Right by John Bean £8 19/- post free surface PO Box 97 Newmarket CB8 8WT.
Mass immigration from Afro-Asian countries has, quite literally, changed the face of Britain and many other European countries over the past sixty years. It has created a plethora of social problems, from the "racism" complained of by the Immigrants, to the riots, street crime and feeling of having become foreigners in the streets where they grew up complained of by the indigenous population. This feeling culminated in the realisation in the wake of 9/11 that Europe had a large, culturally and politically disaffected and in some cases physically dangerous Muslim minority in its midst. Some members of this minority take up arms to fight in the Middle East against the soldiers of the land whose citizenship they hold and in which they, and sometimes also their parents, were born. Others murder on the streets of Europe those, regardless of race, colour, creed, or sexual or political orientation, who presume to criticise the harsh, medieval dictates of Islam; and, we are told by our police and security chiefs, it is only a matter of time before Islamic fanatics imported by mass Immigration start killing their fellow citizens wholesale as well as retail in terrorist atrocities such as have already struck Madrid and Constantinople. Meanwhile "asylum seekers" flood in apparently uncontrolled ....
What is most curious about this drastic and visible, indeed in many areas obvious, social transformation of Western Europe is the matter, as Sherlock Holmes put it, of the curious behaviour of the dog in the night-time. In this case, of the political situation in the daytime for five or more decades. Despite the high visibility of what was happening, despite the clear evidence of opinion polls down the years that most of the native population was opposed to the process, and despite the fact that it happened in polities that pride themselves on being "democratic", on being governed in accordance with the will of their peoples, on Immigration the political debate, like Holmes' dog, did virtually nothing. Debate on Immigration was marginalised, and opposition ineffective and confined, at least until recently, to an ineffectual and irrelevant political fringe. One of the greatest social changes in European history, easily the greatest since the countries affected became universal franchise democracies, just went ahead regardless of popular opinion.
This book, by one of the leading figures in what opposition there was to mass Immigration in one of the most affected countries, Britain, sheds extremely perceptive and valuable light on why, on what muzzled the democratic dog so it failed to bark as the night-time deepened, despite, as is clear from this readable and intelligent autobiography, those trying to wake the cataleptic canine being in many cases far from the moronic conspiracy-theory cranks and sinister Nazi-fetishist perverts so often portrayed by their opponents.
John Bean, as his autobiography modestly but unarguably affirms, played no small role in trying to awaken the British public to oppose effectively what was happening to them, mostly against their will. From the 1950's through to the 1970's, he was at the forefront of the alphabet soup of organisations - UM, LEL, NLP, BNP, NF and so on - which tried with varying degrees of lack of effectiveness to mobilise mass opposition to Immigration. His book provides a fascinating insight into these organisations and their leading personalities. Even more valuably, it gives an incisive, and in this reviewer's opinion almost entirely accurate, analysis of why they all failed, from which those who are now trying, with, let it be said, unprecedented success thus far, to raise once more the standard of indigenous resistance, can and must learn.
They must learn lessons that, frustratingly, it is clear John Bean had himself learned decades ago. Former Labour Cabinet minister Roy Hattersley once gibed at Tony Blair that, unlike His Tonyness, he was opposed to the mistakes of 1983 in 1983. Similarly, Bean can show that he was opposed to the mistakes made by opponents of Immigration when they were being made, decades ago, rather than merely lecturing us from retirement with the superior wisdom imparted to us all by 20/20 hindsight. The one criticism that can be levelled at John Bean, which he might well accept, is that it is not enough to be right. It is necessary to get others to listen to and follow you when you are right. Many of the mistakes Mr Bean was cogently pointing out as being made in one organisation of which he was a leading member were still being made just as badly ten years later in another organisation of which he was by then a leading member too. It is difficult, reading this book, to avoid the impression that it is written by one in the plight of Cassandra, blessed with the gift of accurate prophecy but blighted with the curse that no-one, or not enough and not the right people, would take a blind bit of notice.
The book itself opens with an at times moving and almost elegiac portrait of the author's upbringing in a past differing deeply from today. Largely, as its author would argue because in the case of Britain now vis à vis that of the 1930's and 40's in which he grew up, it is not the past but the present that is a foreign country! Mr Bean's opening chapter is worth reading, for those who were born too late to live in the land in which he was raised, for a vision of how much, in every way but the superficial and material, we have lost. The tale moves on to demonstrate that whatever may have motivated its author's opposition to Immigration, it was not insular lack of exposure to a wider multicultural world, nor bigoted hostility to the Immigrant populations themselves. His visits to the Caribbean in the Navy, followed by a stint working in India, clearly gave him a not-unaffectionate insight into the peoples and cultures of those principal sources of subsequent mass Immigration into his own country, imbuing him with a view removed from the general perception of a "racist". Expressed by the author as long ago as April 1955, and explicitly endorsed as one he as "never really changed", thus "we do not contend that biologically any one race is superior to any other. The fact is we are all different! The African, the Asiatic and the European all have something to contribute to this world".
Mr Bean entered politics in 1950. The sort of politics he entered is significant, and is obvious from his book's subtitle - "Inside Britain's Far-Right". Given the views for which he was to campaign thereafter, it would seem obvious that there, on the "Far-Right", alongside the somewhat tainted embers of pre-war fascism, was where he belonged. But actually it could be argued, though it isn't clear if John Bean himself would argue, that this is the first reason that the democratic dog didn't bark at the strangers pouring through its garden gate. Those seeking to alert it were little less alien politically than the Immigrants were ethnically to the British tradition.
With hindsight, there is no obvious reason why opposition to the import of cheap labour mainly at the behest of big business for commercial reasons - West Indians to undercut the wages of London bus conductors and hospital nurses, Indians and Pakistanis to do the same to Lancashire and Yorkshire mill-workers - should not have come from the Trades Union Movement and the Labour Party, as it had decades earlier to the proposed import of Chinese labour for the same purpose, or indeed why the Conservative Party, whose back-benches did indeed rumble with dissatisfaction on the issue throughout the fifties and sixties, culminating in the political self-immolation of Enoch Powell, did not take a lead either. There was no a priori reason why an issue upon which either major party could have taken a principled stand, and won lots of votes, was instead deliberately and consciously avoided by them, and left to a tiny fringe with a great deal of dubious and tainted political baggage.
Mr Bean himself was swiftly to be educated in the reason that fringe itself believed accounted for the abandonment to it of one entire side of a huge social, cultural and economic issue. Immigration was all part of a "Vast Plot", probably Jewish, to destroy the White Race and bring down European civilization. The major British parties, as well as Washington and Moscow, were controlled by the said Conspiracy, under orders to do nothing to thwart its purposes. Bean was too intelligent and sensible to be taken in by this. "I thought then" - the late 1950's - he writes "that ... the 'world plot' theory of international finance and communism working in tandem was rather far fetched... Looking at it now after the events of the last half of the twentieth Century, not least the collapse of the Soviet Empire, it appears even more unlikely." - not that such considerations, or indeed any aspect of mere reality, could discredit the Conspiracy Theories in the minds of their adherents. Any absence of evidence, or failure of events to follow the path predicted by the conspiracy theorists, were considered merely further proof -"if proof were needed" to quote one leading exponent - of the power, subtlety and cunning of the Conspirators. One wonders why those who believe in this paranoid theory bother to do anything politically, since if they are right in their analysis resistance is futile - the Conspiracy is bound to win. Indeed, the one group it will be certain to ensure it does control is that of those purporting to expose it. Only the individual Conspiracy Theorist him or her self can be sure - well, fairly sure!! - that they are not a puppet of The Insiders.
Of course, the reason this drivel was so eagerly embraced as an explanation for the reluctance of the major political parties to do anything to resist the economic imperative to ship in cheap Third World labour of what was to become globalisation - the process rather than the plot that was really to blame - was that it enabled many on the "Far Right" to avoid facing the real cause. The deep and burning taint laid on anything that smacked of "racism", even merely preserving "racial identity", by the man and the movement that so many of them - though not, it must be said, John Bean - venerated - Adolf Hitler and Nazism. In the 1950's, when the War was not ten years won, the whiff of the gas chamber and the spectre of corpses piled high in death camps hung over anything remotely associated with racial issues. "Racism", it was widely felt - and those who widely felt it taught succeeding generations of politicians and educators to feel it widely too - leads inevitably to tyranny and genocide, one issue on which Jews, in particular, would speak with one voice, out of fear for their lives rather than to serve their Secret Plan to rule the world - was opposition to anything that smacked of racism, which they thought led inevitably to anti-Semitism and another Holocaust. Instead, as a result, they now find millions of Muslims in their midst whose leaders openly call for the extermination of the Jews (at the same time as denouncing the "Myth of the Six Million"!) The only British political leader of the early 1950's who opposed what was happening and could have spoken out without anyone daring to smear him with the swastika, on the "only Nixon could go to Red China" principle was Sir Winston Churchill. As official records recently released now reveal, he did actually voice his concerns in Cabinet, but was too old, sick and about to retire to do more. So the actual legacy of Adolf Hitler was to make the defence of the ethnic and cultural identity of Europe politically impossible in the quarters most able to do something about it, thereby quite likely dooming this European civilization, like the Roman one before it, to drown in an alien Immigrant horde and perish. Why even those who agree with every tenet of the NSDAP, let alone have any care for, pride in and concern for the future of their European ethno-cultural identity and civilization can feel anything but a burning contempt and anger at the man who more than anyone else ruined, besmirched and brought into utter contempt, and almost guaranteed the certain defeat, of the ideals he supposedly espoused is beyond this reviewer. This sentiment it appears is at least somewhat shared by John Bean. The one historical event which if changed would do most to save Europe, its people and civilization would be to make A. Hitler never have been born. As John Bean himself soon came to see, the Hitler-cultists who infest and infect the "far-right" are not merely wicked and wrong. They are also extremely stupid, possessed by a necrophiliac cult of the man who did more to harm their own beliefs than anyone else!
Given that such matters had left the running against Immigration, and for the preservation of European identity, to the "far Right", Mr Bean, given his views, had no alternative to joining it, and so he did, initially joining Union Movement, the rump of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, which in 1950 was about all that existed in this field. Mr Bean's stated reasons for doing so were revulsion at the "Germanophobia" of the British media - he had discovered during his naval service that not all the atrocity stories told about them were true (which tends initially to give rise to a doubt whether any of them are true). And indeed the people of a great European nation, however disastrously misled, were of course never the orc-hordes of Sauron depicted in the Allied media for some while after they had been defeated (a defeat involving the sack of half the country by the one combatant force who really did resemble said orc-hordes - Stalin's Red Army). Secondly, John Bean found much to praise in Mosley's espousal of a United Europe (with the caveat that he, Bean, if perhaps not Sir Oswald, really meant "a Europe of Nations - not a federal Europe" - hmmm!) And thirdly that Mosley struck him as a man of principle rather than "an average politician, who would turn a political double-somersault to gain a little extra power or more moronic votes at the next general election". Others might think it might have been better for what Mosley genuinely did have to offer had he been a little more of a politician, and less impatient and hot-headed, spurning advice not to ape the foreign symbols and ideas of Italian Fascism or to enter the mire of anti-Semitism even when such advice came from none less than Benito Mussolini himself! Ironically, the author Henry Williamson, in Sir Hereward Birkin and his Imperial Socialist Party, created a better fictional Mosley than the real article!
Unsurprisingly, given the political pyre of foreign folly on which its Leader had already immolated it, the 1950's Mosley Movement, as Mr Bean sometimes hilariously recounts, was a rather pathetic affair. He himself puts joining it down to youthful idealism (he was 23 at the time) and unwillingness to compromise (often, in such cases it is to be feared, with reality at all!) also to the fact that the part of UM he first encountered "were distinguished from some other Union Movement members that I met later by the fact that they all seemed to wash and shave regularly; they could all read and discuss their own policy; and they did not seem to suffer from sexual aberrations"! The sad fact, as he clearly discovered, is that often politically isolated, marginalised movements attract personally isolated, marginalised people, which in turn tend to repel sane and normal ones, thus isolating the movement even more and filling its ranks even further with cranks and perverts, of whom John Bean was clearly not one; nor indeed was he prepared, to his credit, to countenance the "defence of the crimes, brutalities and mistakes of Hitler and his Nazi gang" which "gradually took pride of place both on the public platform and in the party newspaper". So, in February 1953, he quit Mosley's UM in disgust.
There then followed over 20 years in the anti-Immigration and British Nationalist movement, which is interestingly recounted in the book and to which the reader is referred for details. Mr Bean's efforts were not entirely futile. In April 1963 his British National Party (the 2nd of the name, the current one being the 4th!) won very creditable results in council elections in Southall, West London, 27.5% in one ward, which later movements were to struggle to repeat until recent years. When a later BNP returned to the successful strategy adopted then of eschewing violent marches and meetings in favour of "methodically talking to people on their doorsteps". As on a number of issues, Mr Bean was right, long ago, and the Movement of which he was a pioneer wasted decades because it did not follow his lead. Mr Bean was also right in repeatedly trying to scrape the neo-Nazi encrustation off the Movement's sole, expelling its leading exponents Messrs Jordan and Tyndall from his ranks in 1962, a lead that should have been followed in their and their ilk's regard universally thereafter.
Mr Bean's swan-song was to play a prominent role in the foundation of the National Front in 1967. However, within a few years he followed what was to become a sadly well-trodden path, dropping out of active politics in disgust at the endless, pointless factional infighting and organised pursuit of political irrelevance which was to be the hallmark of the Front throughout its quarter-century of effective existence (a tiny rump apparently claims the name to this day, with the same desperate bravado and dubious connection with reality with which the Despot of Trebizond perished beneath a Turkish sword in 1461, claiming to the last to be the legitimate inheritor of the name of the Roman Empire).
It is in his reflections on why the NF, the biggest and most effective British Nationalist and anti-Immigration movement of the 20th Century, failed - and as a result the British electoral dog remained stubbornly silent during the first great wave of Immigration - that Mr Bean's book is of most value, especially no doubt to those who have now already surpassed its attainments in building such a movement in 21st Century Britain. In a lucid and compelling analysis, he lists six major reasons:
1) Establishment parties - in the late 1970's the Tories - seeking to defuse popular anger at Immigration by "talking tough" on the issue: although subsequently doing nothing about it.
2) Endless bouts of self-destructive internal factional warfare, driving able people out of the Party. Actually in many cases sparked by attempts to correct other abuses and errors Mr Bean lists.
3) Violent and counter-productive street activities such as marches, associating the organisation with the thuggery these incited against it from its opponents - and, though Mr Bean does not mention this, in turn recruiting thuggish and politically off-putting elements such as skinheads attracted by the violence and whom the NF came to need physically to perpetuate its street strategy.
4) "Nazi" smears inflicted from without, notably the photograph of John Tyndall making a fool of himself in what appears to be the attire of a Patagonian postal official circa 1962 - a smear made effective by not only allowing said person into the NF but making him Chairman. Mr Bean is certainly right that opponents will inevitably attempt to smear anti-Immigration and Nationalist movements as "Nazi", enabling them to dish out leaflets with photographs of leading members of same dressed up in Nazi uniforms enabled them to succeed, helped by the fact that many of said figures scarcely concealed deeply their continuing admiration for the Fuehrer, as was evident from the ("particularly sickening" as Mr Bean rightly says) Holocaust denial and World Jewish conspiracy line taken, as the author points out, in much late-1970's NF literature (especially the party's list of books for sale!)
5) "Nazi" smears inflicted from within. Mr Bean is right that most people joining the NF did so because they were opposed to Immigration. Most also then found they agreed with much of the NF's official policy platform - opposition to the Common Market, the return of capital punishment for the worst sorts of murder, and opposition to international bankers who put profits before national interest and jobs. But, as Mr Bean rightly says, once they joined they found party magazines and booklists ranting about Jewish conspiracies and denying the Holocaust. As John Bean says "It is small wonder that many would-be members decided that it was true after all. The National Front was anti-Semitic, and they could see why they were being called Nazis".
A point Mr Bean makes elsewhere in the book is also relevant - the NF was insufficiently radical in attacking the real principal cause of the problems against which the NF inveighed, not a Jewish Plot but a Capitalist Process: the inherent globalising dynamic of multinational big business, seeking the free movement of capital and labour in the service of profit, whether it be importing Indians to do jobs cheaply in Britain or "off-shoring" British jobs to be done cheaper in India, a mindless cybernetic System which rewards and promotes its apparatchiki according to how much they maximise "shareholder return" and thus compels itself to serve short-sighted, selfish corporate greed regardless of long-term effects, however obviously disastrous. This is a Capitalism no longer run in the main by a few big Capitalists but by a lot of little investment fund managers, who must serve efficiently as inhuman cogs in the global greed machine or be replaced by those who will. The International Money Power is just that, not a euphemism for "the Jews" or "the Masons" or any other merely human group who would at least have an interest in keeping human-habitable the world they sought to rule! The problem with the Global Greed Machine is that it is not run, secretly or otherwise, by any group of people able to change its course and is doomed to career blindly onward, driven by the dynamics of its own cybernetic process (operating through impersonal mechanisms such as share values and stock markets) until it plunges with all humanity on board into the abyss or is destroyed. Like the machine in the rugby ballad The Engineers' Song, the problem is "there was no way of stopping it", other than its destruction.
Lacking any such analysis - although it was not lacking in a strand of the Movement running from John Bean's own BNP through the group around the newspaper Britain First in the 1970's NF and the magazine Nationalism Today in the 1980's one - for much of its history after Mr Bean dropped out, the NF's "policy" was "the Blacks" and its "ideology" was "the Jews". The one increasingly, as John Bean had come to see by the late 1970's - again, 25 years before everyone else realised he had been right all along! - politically unrealistic in calls for "compulsory repatriation" (as opposed to a voluntary process combined with a stop on further influxes) and an ever-thinner veneer on negativistic racial bigotry, the other usually a code for Adolatrous cultism of the failed Führer who got us into this mess in the first place.
6) White flight. Native populations generally responded to the Third World colonisation of their neighbourhoods not by voting for candidates opposing it but with their feet - they upped and left for the suburbs. Eventually of course to be followed by the children of the colonists they fled. John Bean actually showed himself in Southall in the Sixties that such populations could be rallied to vote in defence of their own areas. If those leading that defence sunk local roots into such communities, as Mr Bean's local lieutenant Ron Cuddon did with the Southall Residents' Association, and campaigned effectively on the doorstep rather than ineffectually on the streets.
Given the incisiveness and accuracy of his critique of the Seventies NF, and the cogency of the remedies he offered, it is strange (though probably understandable in the light of the isolation contingent on his virtual retirement from politics by then) that Mr Bean is dismissive of the one group that tried to address these points at the time, and which would totally have endorsed every point he makes now and made then - and indeed welcomed him into its leadership - the mid-1970's National Party. Which said and did all that John Bean suggested be said and done, to such effect that it did what the NF never in all its history managed, namely actually winning any sort of election: two seats on Blackburn Council in May 1976, to be precise. Sneers at the NP "staggering out of the local pub" come ill to one who himself boasted that, at early-60's BNP camps, whilst John Tyndall and Co. were prancing about the countryside in The Spearhead (an absurd pseudo-paramilitary poseur outfit) he was glad to be ensconced with the more sensible elements in the pub as the "Beerhead"! The truth is that NP leader and then Blackburn Councillor J. Kingsley Read, like Mr Bean's lifelong friend Andrew Fountaine (to whose memory he touchingly dedicates his book), was a genuine original English character, whose occasional political eccentricities were more than compensated for by a personality it was impossible to dislike. Admittedly, Mr Bean cannot be blamed for thinking that Mr Read thereafter became an informant for the "anti-fascist" Searchlight smearsheet since that was what Mr Read, and those who were working with him to discredit this sordid little publication, wanted Searchlight to think also, which is why they claimed him for their own after his tragic and untimely death. Kingsley Read in fact remained true to the last, and deserves his due honour.
Ironically, after spurning those who formed the National Party - to the extent of allowing himself to be wheeled out once in support of the arch-enemy of all he ever advocated in the Movement, John Tyndall, at a factional meeting in the basement of a sordid South London pub in autumn 1974 - Mr Bean then did emerge from retirement to endorse the 1979 NF Constitutional Movement, a rather pale and seedy rehash of the NP by people who had conspicuously failed to support the same ideas and actions three years earlier, when it might have made a difference. Admittedly, largely out of loyalty to his friend Andrew Fountaine, whom John Tyndall had used to seize power in December 1975 and then discarded.
These petty and rather ancient factional cavillings are trivial matters beside the worth of John Bean's contribution to the cause he so ably espoused, a contribution which, thanks to this most valuable book, goes beyond what he did decades ago to what his ideas can still do today, enhancing a political contribution of which Mr Bean may not be aware himself. The strategy for electoral success based on sinking local roots and doorstep campaigning "on the knocker" pioneered by his BNP in the 1960's, was taught by the activists involved to those who were to prove its worth in the National Party in the 1970's. Whose activists in turn taught it to young National Front officers in the 1980's who themselves put it into practice in another BNP in the 1990's. And passed the right way to do it on in turn to those who were to use it with unprecedented electoral success in that party in the first decade of the 21st Century. This book adds a theoretical and historical dimension to John Bean's achievement. In explaining why the British dog did not bark in the late 20th Century Immigration night-time, it will be of great assistance to those who are already coaxing Fido to emit increasingly audible yaps which, they will doubtless wish to turn into a furious baying culminating in the teeth of an aroused people being sunk into the throat of the Capitalist system, the Global Money Machine, to which John Bean and his comrades pointed them half a century ago.
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