Britain is my homeland. For all her flaws, there is a part of me that is forever England.
Having lived overseas for some time now, I’m in a peculiar position. Every time I return home, the landscape is a little different. Is it England that’s changing? Or is it just me, or both? What I’ve noticed is that the United Kingdom absorbs the cultural norms of America from across the watery Atlantic membrane like opiates crossing the blood/brain barrier.
Scaremongering about the far-right is just the latest phenomenon in this grand cultural exchange.
For years, the archetypal British socialist has fallen into one of two broadly defined categories. First, there are the so-called ‘champagne socialists’ who wring their hands at the problems of racial minorities and the poor. Ask them to visit a soup kitchen with you, and you will be drowned under a deluge of pressing engagements and non-specified excuses. They are, however, well-versed in how jolly awful capitalism is, despite having no real desire to change anything specific about it.
Second are the children of these middle-class dilettantes who are doing a graduate degree in either Gender Studies or Sociology. These kids are the twins of the ones who have taken up shields with NO HATE emblazoned on them in the US. All the better to beat veterans in wheelchairs with, my dears. The red blood of these angry men (and feminists) is fashionably juxtaposed with the black—the black of bloc anarchist.
Technically speaking, there is a third kind of quasi-socialist who flits between the parent and child socialists at will, selling pot to both. This is, of course, the true anarchist, the greebo, the hippy. Politically and culturally irrelevant, these strange critters cloak themselves in cold war German military jackets and patchouli. For some reason, they never age, only seeming to be replaced by a never-ending cycle of dropped out kids, who burn out on acid, and decide that because the system is fucked anyways, mountaintop psytrance raves are more worthwhile than maintaining steady employment and saving for a house.
All three groups are rarely comprised of stupid people. Ideologues, for sure. But never stupid. They’ve read Proust. They understand Sartre, or at least they tell you they do over a poorly rolled joint with a THC content lower than their IQs. These people are our intellectual elite.
Do you know who are stupid? I mean, really stupid?
Football (soccer) fans. Dumb as doorstops. They fight each other over tribalist nonsense. They spend vast sums of money earned through hard labour on tickets and paraphernalia that swells the off-shore accounts of Russian billionaires. Their simple minds turn to junk food when their team loses. They don’t care about politics. They are working class, by and large. They vote as their parents voted.
Except this has recently changed. And dramatically so.
For decades, the left has bemoaned the lack of political engagement among the working class of Britain. The leftist wrings his hands about ways to engage the youth of today in politics. For, as we all know, the 18-24 demographic now outnumber the baby boomers. If only they would get out and vote. Socialist utopia beckons!
This is not what has happened.
The predominantly working-class men who follow football have begun to be politicised, alright. Oh yes, they have. As Rudyard Kipling wrote,
It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.
The Football Lads Alliance, an ostensibly apolitical movement against all forms of extremism, looks ideologically naive on the surface. Formed in the wake of Islamic terrorist attacks in Britain that are all-too-soon scrubbed from the mind, the FLA marched through London on June 24.
The March Against Extremism disavowed the far-right, but is, in essence, a response to the lack of action taken by the UK government against Islamic extremism. After all, it is by far the most threatening and deadly extremist behavior in the nation. The march paused to pay respects at London Bridge, site of the horrific van and knife attacks.
Naturally, the march has been portrayed in the press as organized by the far-right. Naturally, the usual suspects on the left, the communist Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the newspaper Socialist Worker, were quick to jump on the bandwagon. What is a leftist movement if you have no enemies to purge.
In all, ten thousand working-class men marched through the capital, with no violence, a far-right presence tiny enough to be insignificant, and yet, there the leftists were. Crying ‘NAZI!’ at the top of their little lungs.
But, this article is not about the march. The march organizers claim to be apolitical, which is idealistic in the extreme. In the case of any social movement, you play politics, or you will be played with politics. As the Socialist Worker points out with accuracy:
“By pointing out to softer elements of the FLA that they are being used by fascists, opposition can drive a wedge into this new right-wing movement to split it too.”
This is correct. It doesn’t matter if the Football Lads Alliance is 0% fascist. It only matters what the optics are, and who controls the narrative. Outside the group, the narrative is controlled by the left, who have successfully painted the FLA as an offshoot of the English Defense League, a nationalist group that has been explicitly shunned by the FLA. It is also indicative of the desired outcome of the socialists that the “softer elements” be brought over to their camp. As ever, when the far-left cannot convince through argument, it will attempt to subvert through slander.
That really should prove my point. On the inside of this growing movement, there’s the danger of infiltration by the far-right. Outside the group, the press and the far-left are already lumping the movement in with far-right nationalism. It’s a great recruiting tactic if you’re a budding Antifa, who’s all dressed up with no one to mace.
I hope I’ve given a complete enough overview of the situation around these events, coming as they are hot on the heels of Muslim gangs raping white girls, children losing their lives to nail bombs at pop shows, stabbings in pubs, and an attempted bombing of a train (which was met by the public with a resounding ‘meh’).
While our politicians, cowards to the last, exhort us all to Keep Calm and Carry On You Plebs, it is the working class who are finally realizing who and what has come for dinner.
“I already am eating from the trash can all the time. The name of this trash can is ideology. The material force of ideology makes me not see what I am effectively eating.” -Slavoj Zizek
Does it take a bunch of football fans to point this out? Are we Brits so mentally enchained as to be unable to discuss the elephant in the room? So it appears, that to discuss the problem of Islam in the United Kingdom online gets one arrested. To talk about it in the workplace will result in unemployment. To talk about it in the home will split your family. To talk about it with your friends loses you your friends.
Where then, as a culture, are we to look? We have built bridges on our walls because we are not racist enough to build walls around our nation. We quibble over Brexit, the democratically mandated will of the people because middle-class socialists like easy holidays in Tuscany. Freedom of movement across Europe is jolly good, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing on the dole queue.
Here is the clarion call that is loud and clear. The people on the Football Lads march are the people of Rotherham. The people of Newcastle. The people of Manchester. The people of London. Their opponents live in the green belts. Their opponents cry “Not Al,l” when the argument is never about all or none, and never has been.
Unlike the United States, the actual violent aspects of the left are incredibly small in the United Kingdom. This is proportional to the numbers of active far-right street groups, who can barely draw more than a hundred people to a rally. The idea that a bunch of sports fans can drown out both sides with a non-partisan message is highly encouraging to me. Though, there are still dangers ahead.
On October 7th, there was another Football Lads Alliance march in London. Beginning in Marble Arch, tens of thousands marched against extremism.
Here is the issue. The Football Lads are 100% correct in opposing extremism from Islam and the far-right. But they fail to understand that this will not deflect criticism from the leftist media that the march is a smokescreen for the far-right, regardless of intentions. It will also not prevent, as the Socialist Worker again correctly noted, that the far-right will recruit on these marches if they can.
And so we come to the problem inherent in having such a vague goal. Marching against extremism sounds nice enough. But the fact is, extremism is a subjective term. Without context, extremism is meaningless, and therefore so is its opposition. Extremism is not an enemy in and of itself. As Sam Harris said, “Jain extremists can’t take their eyes off the ground when they walk lest they step on an ant.” While there’s no need for the Football Lads to become a political movement, the understanding must be that the movement is political.
The Football Lads Alliance has only recently begun as a movement, and so we should not be too critical of their organization yet. Still, as friends, we should not allow friends to fumble blindly in a dark room full of knives.
The wry comedy we can all at least enjoy, however successful this nascent movement might be, is that the decades-long struggle for the leftists to instill class consciousness in the proletariat may be at an end. It’s just not ending up the way their Critical Theory professors told them it would. The working class has awoken, and shockingly enough, they’ve decided that being told that they’re racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic, is a crock. About bloody time.
And where are our police force while all this goes on?
What’s happened is that our police force is busy pandering to an LGBT+ crowd with freshly painted squad cars. The use of no-no words on social media will see you arrested. The very idea of criticising Islam in public will have you on a watchlist. The watchlist that we already have in the UK, that of 23,000 known jihadis or fundraisers for terrorists, lies gathering dust.
This is not to say the security services in the United Kingdom do not do a seriously heroic job preventing and catching terrorists when they’re allowed to. Our leaders were told for years that cutting the policing budget in the face of Islamic Terrorism was an awful idea. These senior officers who said so were ignored and portrayed in the press as simply greedy for more tax revenue.
It’s good to know who our masters consider to be the real problem. It’s not the terrorists. It’s not the socialists. It’s everyone else. It’s you, with concern for your family as another rape gang is arrested and passed off in the press as simply Asian. Strangely we have yet to see a group of Japanese men in the docks passing around teenage white girls like sex dolls. It’s the people who voted for Brexit. It’s the working class who resolutely vote against what they’re told is in their best interests.
And so, tired of being ignored, sick of being disparaged, the Saxon has begun to march. Let us all hope they do not begin to hate.