Monday, 3 October 2016

The resistible rise of Arturo Mackenzie

Being Welsh i do like to take an interest in the welsh blogosphere and sad to report that despite Wales proud radical political traditions the welsh blogosphere is by no means uniformly left wing or progressive. Indeed i can only think of two bloggers in Wales (apart from yours truly of course) who consistently articulate progressive and left wing arguments - Glyn Morris of the excellent 'National Left' blog and Martyn Shrewsbury's always enlightening 'All too Human blog' and links to both these blogs can be found at the end of this post. And it was while on a recent visit to Martyn's blog i learned of an online debate he recently participated in with the Neath based UKIP activist and editor of the right wing 'Burkean' website Benjamin Mackenzie.



For those who might not be familiar with 'Burkeans' and think they might be creatures from an episode of Dr Who they are in fact disciples of the 18th century Philosopher Edmund Burke and represent an eccentric strand in 'conservative' thinking that abhors the emergence of the modern state. For Burkeans the 'rot' set in so to speak in around 1832 when voting rights started to be extended to people who didnt own property. 'Self reliance' and 'thrift' are the watchwords for any aspiring Burkean. So if you need open heart surgery there shouldnt be anything as apparently 'tyrannical' as a national health service to treat you - you either do it yourself or you should have worked hard and saved to pay for it. Similarly Burkeans recoil in horror at progressive 20th century developments like 'state education' - for burkeans educating the proles isnt just wrong it's positively dangerous. It really is no surprise then that even Margaret Thatcher sent these misanthropic right wing headbangers packing during her years in office.

While for those who might not know Martyn Shrewsbury he was the first leader of the Wales Green party and has subsequently become an articulate and consistent champion of 'Eco Socialism' ie the belief that the pursuit of social and economic justice must be married to the protection of the world's environment and the livings things we share this planet with. And in that sense everyone who proclaims themselves to be a socialist in the world which exists at present surely has to be an eco socialist. For green socialists like Martyn politics begins at the community level and the phrase "think global - act local" would be a very good summation of this approach to political activity i think.

They were debating Benjamin Mackenzie's claim that Adolf Hitler was a socialist. I dont intend spending too much time dismantling this absurd proposition - suffice to say anyone with the slightest grasp of German history in the two decades after the first world war would know Hitler and his nazi regime were about as far from socialism as you could get. But just to briefly recap, lest anyone is labouring under the mistaken impression there is anything to Mackenzie's risible claims : Hitler joined the German workers party as a spy on behalf of the German army. In his deranged Magnus Opus Mein Kamp Hitler repeatedly expressed his all consuming hatred of marxism and its jewish author. Throughout his sorry misbegotten life Hitler had an abiding hatred of two things - jews and the left. Before they came to power in Germany the nazis routinely attacked and murdered socialists, communists and striking workers.

And when the Nazis came to power socialist and communist parties - along with trade unions - were immediately outlawed and it was members of these parties along with trade unionists who joined jews as the first prisoners of the concentration camps. The major german industrialists backed and funded the Nazis precisely because they destroyed the german labour movement (decapitating the organised working class has of course always been a key aim of fascist regimes). With a membership drawing heavily from Middle class professions like civil servants, doctors, engineers and the self employed the nazis privatised swathes of german industry - in fact the term 'privatisation' was first coined during the third reich - and private property was left untouched. In essence Hitler and the Nazis were to socialism what Pontius Pilate was to christianity.

If his denials of the extreme right wing nature of Hitler and the third reich werent bad enough Benjamin Mackenzie then (around 9 minutes 55 seconds in) proceeds to offer what can only be described as an undisguised apologia for Mussolini's fascist state. In a bizarre attempt to tell us that Fascism isnt synonymous with racism he cites the example of Mussolini's Italy. It would seem that according to Ben Mussolini wasnt a racist or indeed such a bad guy at all and that il duce's fascist state didnt pursue any racist policies until 1938, and that was only because of 'pressure' from his ally Hitler (clearly Ben Mackenzie has never come across the celebrated writings of a certain Primo Levi).

Unfortunately among the reams of notes Mackenzie seemingly printed off from wikipedia and recites in parrot fashion during the debate he seems to have missed the fact that as far back as the early 1920s Mussollini was stressing the importance of  'preserving europe's aryan stock' and denouncing 'jewish bankers' - phrases which could easily have sprung from hitler's own lips. And as the historian Renzo de Felice has demonstrated Mussolini was under no such pressure rather the 'race manifesto' he introduced in italy in 1938 was merely an extension of Mussolini's own long held racially motivated outlook.


Mackenzie also conveniently seems to have overlooked the deeply racist policies Fascist Italy pursued 3 years prior to this in 1935 following its brutal invasion of the then Abbysinia (now ethiopia). After a conquest in which the Italian army had used chemical weapons and slaughtered three quarters of a million Abbysinian soldiers and civilians Italian rulers there proceeded to enact a series of racial laws which would have put apartheid South Africa to shame. And in communique's Mussolini sent to the italian occupiers following the conquest he instructed that any Abbysinians who still resisted Italian rule should be 'exterminated'. Note the word extermination - a word more commonly associated with the Nazis in relation to the jews but a policy began in Ethiopia by Mussolini in 1936.

But then Mussolini was denouncing slavs as 'barbarians' in 1920 - and later incarcerating thousands of them in concentration camps. And thousands of Roma were put in concentration camps and starved to death in fascist Italy. Far from il duce aping hitler - as Mussolini apologists like to try and claim - if anything it looks as if Hitler learned a thing or two from Mussolini.

And for further evidence of the truly monstrous nature of Mussolini's Fascist rule you could also throw in the vast military and logistical support he gave to Franco's fascist forces in their overthrow of the elected republican government in spain : supplying 85,000 troops, 30,000 blackshirts and torpedoing ships taking essential supplies to ports in republican controlled towns. Indeed without Mussolini's support it's doubtful Franco's forces would have triumphed and subsequently been able to unleash a reign of terror which saw an estimated 250,000 republican prisoners summarily executed and buried in hidden mass graves.

Oh and let's not forget that on Mussolini's watch Jews in Italy were banned from public office, banned from numerous occupations and banned from marrying non jews and that 10,000 italian jews would be deported and perish in the nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz. And when towards the end of the debate Benjamin Mackenzie attempted to draw comparisons between Nicola Sturgeon's SNP (a left leaning anti racist social democratic party) and the Nazis i realised he had completely lost the plot.

Alarmingly Benjamin Mackenzie describes himself during the debate as a 'british nationalist'. Now unless youve been on another planet in the last few years you'd know that this is a term synonymous with british neo fascist organisations like the British National Party and the utterly repugnant Britain First, and because of these repellent associations it's a term which even the likes of Nigel Farage would never be caught using in a million years.

UKIP isnt of course responsible for public statements by its individual members, indeed in recent times they've acted relatively quickly when members have been found to have fascist or extreme right wing sympathies. So when Benjamin Mackenzie's fellow Neath based kipper Malcolm Biggs was recently exposed as a former candidate for a neo fascist party he was promptly removed from their list of candidates for the Welsh Assembly elections last May. But should Benjamin Mackenzie stand for position within UKIP or seek to contest an election for the party UKIP officials are going to have to tackle him about some of the deeply alarming views he expressed in this video. As a failure to do so rightly means UKIP will continue to be open to charges they are a home to people with fascist and extreme right wing sympathies.

It will be apparent to some that the title of this post is a paraphrase of a very famous work by the left wing German playwright Bertochlt Brecht (if you know the play the title requires no explanation lol).


http://nationalleft.blogspot.co.uk/

http://all-to-human.blogspot.co.uk/

Useful Anti-Fascist links

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/

http://uaf.org.uk/

http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/





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