On fascism, feminism and ‘TERFs’

Several years ago Zero Books published a series of books by a small group of remarkably lucid and insightful young(ish) radical intellectuals. The group included Mark Fisher, Owen Hatherley and Nina Power. Tragically, Mark Fisher is no longer around, but an anthology of his articles and blogs is the subject of a detailed review in last week’s LRB. Owen Hatherley is to be found on any given day in any number of outlets being his customary brilliant self. When I happened across Nina’s Power book (One Dimensional Woman) on my shelf the other day I wondered what had become of her.

I then came across this blog post, written last week. In it she tries with striking honesty and sensitivity to defend herself against the ongoing accusations of transphobia which have led to her losing work and being no-platformed as a ‘TERF’.

The allegations of bigotry relate to a series of Facebook posts in which she challenged the notion (now enshrined in law) that one’s ‘gender’ is purely a matter of self-definition. She points out that for generations of feminists gender has always been a social construct. There is no essential part of any human being which determines what clothes he or she wears or what work he or she is able or should be allowed to do. Nonetheless the concept of gender identity has been used throughout most of human history to oppress people born female.

For a newer generation of LGBT activists, particularly prevalent online and in sections of the Labour Party, such beliefs are now taboo. They hold the notion that one is born physically male or female to be erroneous. There is no such thing as biological sex. Instead, people’s gender is innate, an ineffable maleness or femaleness which is unrelated to genital organs.

The problem is not so much that this logic is highly questionable, but rather that those who do subject it to either cursory or (as in the case of philosophers such as Kathleen Stock and Nina Power) detailed intellectual inquiry have been bullied both on and offline for daring to do so. It’s not only female academics who are being intimidated; women’s rights activists including Julie Bindel and (most recently) Helen Steel, of McLibel fame, have been vilified and no-platformed for having the temerity to stand up for basic feminist principles. Helen was recently removed from a Land Justice UK camp for violating their ‘safe space’ policy with her apparently toxic feminist beliefs.

There has been a wave of attacks on trans rights over the last few years, horrifyingly exemplified by the election of the openly transphobic Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. In the States Trump himself has whipped up hatred against trans people. Such characters attack LGBT people just as they assault women, in defence of a patriarchy threatened by several decades of social progress. Women and LGBT people are at the frontline in suffering their attacks and seeking to resist them. It’s no accident that both leaders also deny climate change at the service of an ideology which positions nature as just another female body to terrorise and violate.

In defending basic progressive causes and values against such male monsters, unity is paramount. We all need the Left to be able at the very least to recognise its main enemies and to expend its energies on trying to undermine and take away their power. I don’t know what lies behind the trend towards excluding women. Maybe, as some have speculated, it’s another more insidious form of patriarchal power at work, men trying to take away from women even their very right to define themselves as such. Certainly no one can seriously believe that people such as Nina and Helen represent a danger to those who consider themselves to have fluid gender identities. It’s also definitely not the case that any young girl who likes to wear trousers and climb trees is automatically in need of counselling and surgery. Gender is, after all, not an innate quality but a social construct.

I’m unlikely to be threatened and ostracised for making such statements, for one very simple reason that doesn’t need stating. I’m writing this because I find it terrifying that people whose involvement, whether on the plane of intellectual inquiry or political activism, in the movement of what we have to regard as new forms of fascism should be curtailed. I also find it deeply worrying that those who entertain even the slightest doubt about the erasure and exclusion of women are pushed towards making common cause with the far-right, ie with those who are actually hostile not only to trans people per se but also women, gays, immigrants and the planet itself. If women as insightful as Nina Power and as principled as Helen Steel are excluded from our movement, and if we can’t allow meaningful and respectful discussions to take place around issues of huge importance, we are going to fail spectacularly.

Rejoice, comrades, for the Lexit utopia we seek is now within our grasp!!!

In agreeing to negotiate over Brexit with Theresa May, it’s quite possible that Jeremy Corbyn is falling into a trap,and that May is merely filibustering once again so she can get to the point where there’s a stark choice between her shit sandwich of a deal and the neocon wet dream of “no deal”. As many have said, the litmus test as to whether she’s serious or not will be whether or not senior Brexiter ministers resign from the cabinet. They haven’t done so so far, suggesting it is just a time-wasting ploy. Despite Paul Mason’s customary (and typically hapless) optimism, it’s quite possible that Corbyn has no idea what he’s doing and still thinks that those who voted for “Brexit” actually *want* Brexit.

Regardless of whatever happens now, it’s essential for the survival of democracy and the economic interests of anyone who doesn’t own a hedge fund that the Tory party split. That will leave us with a substantial fascist presence in Parliament, but at least it will keep them out of Government for the time being.

In the slightly longer term, Labour needs to confront its internal demons and try to help all its supporters who have fallen under the sway of the far right understand that they’ve been duped. The stage instruction for Brexit read clearly ‘Exit, stage right’ and we can no longer afford to allow ‘Lexit’ delusions about a “WTO Brexit” to fester. Challenging such nonsense will not be easy, as just a few minutes on social media shows that there are very many Labour supporters who’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that in supporting Brexit they are challenging international neoliberalism rather than helping the domestic far right into power. Their levels of conceit and complacency are truly staggering – I’ve even seen one ‘Lexiter’ refer to Rees-Mogg, Johnson et al as “a few irrelevant toffs”, while ex-SWP cultist John Rees called the one million people’s vote marchers “fascists”. A speaker at a pro-“Lexit” rally praised Tommy Robinson of the EDL for his attacks on “left liberals”, ie remainers. Then of course there’s the bloody cyclists. One characteristically amusing-but-good-god-how-depressing “Lexit” talking point is that Farage and co tried but failed to “subvert the vote” before being skillfully outplayed by the ghosts of, I dunno, Tony Benn and Lavrentiy Beria?

Brexit has always been a Rorschach blot, one made of horseshit rather than ink. While people of sound eyesight and sane mind can make put the silhouette of a far right coup, some elements of the Left have been persuaded that it contains the image of a socialist utopia, one that is mercifully free of “left liberals” and the “non-traditional” (i.e. non-white) working class people. Neil Faulkner has done a excellent job of identifying the disturbing (to say the very least) historical antecedents of such delusions.

When challenged on their collusion with a coup by the British equivalent of the AfD or FN, “Lexiters” love to change the subject to the EU’s treatment of Greece (thus letting their own ruling class off the hook for austerity*). They have little to say about the fact that very few Greeks (apart from the Golden Dawn) would have chosen to leave the EU. But if it’s Southern European analogies we’re interested in, it’s reasonable to wonder what the British pro-Brexit left make of the current government of Italy, where a supposedly progressive sect believes itself to be in power and maintains a facade of radical respectability while its neofascist coalition partners smash up democracy and basic human rights from within. Maybe that’s what the future holds for the UK – after all, those “few irrelevant toffs” would be more than happy with such an arrangement.

*To be fair they often blame the Tory shock doctrine onslaught on…yes, you guessed it, the EU. Because as you’ll be well aware, no Englishman would ever harm another Englishman, it’s like a code of honour going back to Arthurian times, anything bad that happens in this country must be the work of those beastly foreigners. Fffs.

P.s. “Lexit”

Brexit/”Lexit” supporters issue furious denials as Revoke petition reaches six million


Advocates of Britain’s departure from the European Union have reacted with fury and scorn to the news that the petition to the Government to revoke Article 50 has nearly six million signatures.

“It must be fake”, said Eddie Dingler. “There’s no way six million people have signed that. Show me the evidence. No, not that evidence. I mean…other evidence.”

“I’m happy to accept that there may have been at least one million upper middle class fascists on the march in London on Saturday, said Lexit supporter Johnny Rees. ”But that number, six million, just seems…suspicious in some way.”

One pro-Brexit tweeter claimed he had “documentary proof” that the six million figure had been fabricated, while Ulster Brexiteer called the petition “riddled with fraud”.

Chernobogu, also on Twitter, responded angrily to Donald Tusk’s claim that “We can’t ignore the 6 million signatures for the Revoke Article 50 petition”. He went on: “How do we know that those people exist, or indeed have ever existed? What evidence is there that the petition itself ever took place? I’ve seen aerial photographs that show beyond any possible doubt that the site of the petition has been agricultural land since at least the 1830s.”

Leading Brexit supporter David Irving is due to give a tour of the alleged petition site on Thursday, during which he will provide incontrovertible evidence that six million people cannot have signed it. There will then be a short talk by Professor Matthew Goodwin entitled ‘All hail Salvini, il nuovo duce’. Tickets can be purchased on the SWP website.

Cabinet coup: May to be replaced as PM by Rupert Murdoch’s pet dog

Theresa May could be ousted from No 10 within days after her Cabinet plotted to replace her with Rupert Murdoch’s pet dog as a caretaker Prime Minister.

A senior Downing Street source told The Mail on Sunday last night that even Mrs May’s Chief Whip, Julian Smith, had advised her to set out her departure plans, with Rupert Murdoch’s pet dog emerging as the ‘consensus choice’ to succeed her.

The dog is being championed by Cabinet Brexiteers who are furious about what they see as an attempted ‘coup’ by Remain-backing David Lidington, Mrs May’s de facto deputy.

Last night Henry Newman, one of the Rupert Murdoch’s dog’s closest allies in Parliament, said the Prime Minister’s ‘ill-judged’ speech blaming MPs for the Brexit crisis ‘united Labour and Tory critics against her’

A senior Government source said yesterday that there was now ‘complete unanimity’ in the Cabinet that Mrs May should step down as soon as possible.

Although some have speculated that having a dog as Prime Minister may not be ideal at a time of political crisis, sources within the Government have sought to reassure those concerned. A leading cabinet minister who asked not to be named commented: “Every British government has been in Rupert Murdoch’s pocket for decades. If it weren’t for him, Brexit wouldn’t even be on the cards. It won’t actually be his pet dog making all the decisions, it will be Murdoch himself calling the shots, deciding on a daily basis what best suits his prejudices and interests. Just like normal, basically. I mean, if you think of him as being a bit like a British version of Robert Mugabe, it all begins to make a lot more sense. I say, you’re definitely not going to name me in this piece, are you?!”

New ‘Lexit Party’ backed by George Galloway launches

Grassroots Out anti-EU membership campaign event, London, Britain - 19 Feb 2016

A new political party has been launched in an attempt to attract hardline Labour activists unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to forge a compromise Lexit plan.

“The Lexit Party” — which was registered with the Electoral Commission on Thursday — will also pose challenges for Labour, which has drifted sharply to the left since the election of Corbyn as its leader.

George Galloway, one of the most influential figures in modern British politics — despite having only won seventh place with 1.4% of the vote in the 2016 London Mayoral Election — described the new group as a “live vehicle” that could be “mobilised” if Lexit is delayed.

He said the new party had potential donors lined up if there was a snap election. “The engine is running,” he said. “In defence of democracy, we stand ready for battle.”

The former Respect Party leader said the party would spring into action if Lexit does not take place as planned on March 29. Some cabinet ministers have openly speculated that Britain needs to delay Article 50, the mechanism that triggers Britain’s departure from the EU, not least to ensure that all the necessary legislation is enacted.

Mr Galloway told the Daily Telegraph that if the prime minister did not welcome “this new electoral threat” they should “deliver a proper Lexit”. “Our objectives include overthrowing neoliberalism, wiping out illegal immigrants and establishing socialism in one country by sometime in late 2019.”

David Lammy, a Labour MP, said Mr Galloway had taken a salary as an MP for 18 years while complaining about career politicians: “This is all just a George Galloway ego trip,” he said.

The Respect Party was a left-wing to far-left political party active in the United Kingdom between 2004 and 2016. At the height of its success in 2007, the party had one Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons and nineteen councillors in local government.

Catherine Blaiklock, joint leader of the Lexit Party, said hundreds of SWP and Socialist Party members had been in contact saying they wanted to defect to the new party.

Additional reporting courtesy of the Financial Times.


Let’s be honest: this godawful situation is not *entirely* Theresa May’s fault


This morning I wrote a piece blaming Theresa May herself for the current deadlock. Hence I didn’t expect much of her evening statement. Like anyone else I half-hoped she’d blow her brains out on camera; there was also a tiny part of me (I won’t say which) that entertained the hope she’d just say fuck you and fuck this whole fucked-up process, I’m revoking this shit as soon as I get back in there (points at door).

Nevertheless, I have to admit that something in her manner and tone convinced and…charmed me. OK that’s obviously not true, but I think I now understand her logic in a way that wasn’t apparent to me before. To explain what I mean (whatever do you mean??) I present here some uncontroversial facts about Brexit. Although Theresa May herself may be in denial about some of them, they may once assembled reveal something about how she makes sense of what she’s trying to do:

1) Whatever May wants to believe, MPs can’t vote for or against the deal again, it’s against parliamentary rules. There are ways around this, but they take more than a week.
2) Emmanuel Macron has already declared that his government will oppose an extension. (UPDATE: These first two facts are no longer facts.)
3) The only people who support No Deal are Nigel Farage (a lifelong fascist whose brand-new party just turned out, and who woulda guessed it, to have yet another fanatical racist for a leader (wherever does ‘e find ’em??)); some Tory megalomaniacs who really don’t need to be named; the noted political philosopher Donald Trump Jr (and we all owe a vote of thanks to the Daily Telegraph newspaper for granting us an insight into his, er, insights); thirty bedraggled ex-BNP morons last seen dawdling half-heartedly towards Berwick; and, last but not least, a dwindling number of football hooligans (the season is after all starting to come to a climax, which is oddly enough the same reason Nigel Farage had to cut short Monday’s photo session and go and sit huddled up on that bus). It would be nice to add the SWP et al to this as a mere joke, but – and they would be delighted to see this acknowledged – their typically opportunistic misreading of the situation is actually (for the very first time in the history of the 38th International!) having an impact on historical events (by helping with the realisation of the consolidation of a global far-right project of the sort that Leon Trotsky might probably on reflection have opposed, but never mind that for the time being).
4) The Kyle/Wilson Amendment would resolve the deadlock, but I refer you to point 1) and point 5).
5) Jeremy Corbyn is as thick and as obstinate as week-old dog shit during a drought. What the fuck was walking out of that meeting all about?! Fucking prick.
6) Anyone looking in from the outside will quite reasonably judge May to be dishonest, stupid, stubborn and arrogant. However, without straying too far into Devil’s Advocate territory, it is useful to consider how she sees herself. For example, it’s unlikely that someone so mendacious would be aware of her duplicity. Similarly, with regard to her stupidity – the Times columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris gave a personal account this week of just how dim she really is – it’s worth paying attention to what Messrs Dunning and Kruger have to say about that. Like many stupid people, her ignorance begins with not knowing how stupid she is. As for her stubbornness and arrogance, she almost certainly takes any comments about her inability to (for example) revise her ‘red lines’ as a tribute to her tenacity and steadfastness in the face of others’ weakness and prevarication.
7) May’s deal is the only existing version of Brexit. As she established as soon as she took power in 2016, her Brexit is the only one that matters. That’s how she thinks, and in a way – and it’s important to bear in mind here that she is a) basically psychotic in her devotion to the fortunes of the Conservative Party (an absolutely disgusting institution which only exists to preserve and promote inequality) and b) a ideological authoritarian and racist piece of shit – she’s not wrong. After all, her party allies, Members of Parliament, and the ‘ordinary people’ Rupert Murdoch keeps introducing to her to via Sky News all keep insisting that they really, really want something called ‘Brexit’. She’s now negotiated Brexit and presented it to them, but it turns out they don’t want it. And yet still the same people keep telling her they really, really, really want this thing called ‘Brexit’… Remember that she, unlike any normal person, actually believes that Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Raab et al genuinely have the best interests of the Party (that is to say, the country) at heart; thus is she trapped in a loop, condemned to repeat the whole process until Doomsday. Or next Friday, whichever comes sooner. In the meantime, it’s unfortunate, to say the very least, that she’s far too stupid and arrogant to see that blaming and insulting MPs is not the most effective means of getting them to vote for her deal.
8) Of course May’s dishonesty, stupidity, arrogance and stubbornness have contributed an enormous amount to getting us into this dire mess. But. There’s an emerging narrative that puts all the blame on her and makes out that her Withdrawal Agreement represents a distorted and deficient shadow of the pure, perfect, platonic ‘Brexit’. Those of us who oppose both her proposed deal and any other form of ‘Brexit’ need to resist this tendency, one which will become more pronounced over the next months as the broader consequences of the vote start to be felt in everyone’s daily life. In the end, it’s not Theresa May’s deal that’s the problem, it’s the entire project of leaving the EU that’s at fault. Her deal is Brexit, or to put it in even pithier terms: Another Brexit is not possible. Given that her own deal is universally hated and has no means of being ratified, and given that members of her cabinet are already wanking themselves into a frenzy at the prospect of all those body bags filling up with corpses of the poor, there is only one possible solution: for Parliament to step up and revoke Article 50 immediately.

Everyone needs to come together to tell Theresa May to revoke Brexit and fuck off

So here we are. Eccoci. Parliament has now rejected May’s deal twice and as things stand won’t get a chance to do so a third time. There is no other version of Brexit available and no time, energy or (on the British side) basic wherewithal to devise and negotiate an alternative. Those who ordered this panino alla merda are not going to eat it and in any case the kitchen has now closed.

May used to be admired for her tenacity. An LRB profile from two years ago focused on that quality, making the point that “For her politics is all about following through”. Once given a job to do, she places immense value on carrying it through to the end regardless of any intervening circumstances or potentially regrettable consequences. To take up that metaphor of following through, she is going to shit Brexit out no matter how much strain it takes and how much embarrassment to her reputation it entails. She resembles Trump himself in her psychotic insistence that the buzzing, distorted, out-of-whack reality in her head must prevail despite anything that might be going on on the outside. She triggered Article 50 knowing full well that her party had no plan for an orderly exit and therefore the UK wouldn’t be ready to leave on March 29th 2019. For the last two years she has held to our heads a gun marked in white ink with the words NO DEAL, just so she could fill her gnawing absence of a soul with the sense of herself as someone who gets the job done. It now looks as if she is demented enough to pull the trigger. The country is to be sacrificed for the sake of her self-image.

No one in the country now wants Brexit to take place apart from the Prime Minister herself and a choice selection of ideological fanatics, tax-dodging hedge-fund owners, and outright morons. (We should also include Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay Brothers in that august company – incidentally I see the latter have now brought out the intellectual heavyweights in support of their cause.) The bleating of everyone from government ministers to cowardly Labour MPs to Owen “TELL THEM AGAIN!” Jones to the effect that even a second’s delay to Brexit would provoke widespread revolt and rioting has been emphatically discredited by Farage’s pathetic PR stunt and the total absence of protests outside Parliament in response to MPs voting for an extension*. As someone sagely pointed out, internet bots were never likely to turn out in large numbers to march,sing and bang saucepans together. This lack of popular outrage is tangible evidence that regardless of online bluster the number of actual existing human beings who both understand what a “no deal” Brexit entails and yet still support it is vanishingly small. Eppure, si muove.

As for those Conservative MPs who insist on smashing everything up so that they can play at putting it back together again, this from the New Statesman should help us reflect on just how little they have to lose:

Brexiteers always refer to how much faster countries outside the EU are growing. But this is like giving up your solid 40-hour-a-week day job to work just one-hour-a-week for a rapidly expanding firm for the same hourly pay.

Of course, Raab, Rees-Mogg, Farage and all the rest do not have and have never needed 40-hour-a-week jobs. Corbyn, whose decision to set his alarm for 6am on June 24th so he could go on TV and call for immediate implementation of Article 50 absolutely fucked over the entire country, may not share their access to country estates or offshore hedge funds but he does have an allotment and the most secure job in North London: Official Leader of the Official Opposition. Yet over the last few weeks he seems like someone who barely has enough energy and willpower to water his turnips, let alone oppose the fucking Government and defend democracy against a far-right coup.

Until yesterday I thought the only two remaining options were: a) a referendum to ratify or reject May’s deal or b) revoking Article 50 immediately. Ratify or Revoke, based on the Kyle/Wilson amendment, would have been a good slogan if there were to be another parliamentary vote. Now her deal is beyond reviving and she seems to have finally surrendered to the desire of the British equivalents of Mao and Pol Pot for a Year Zero, for the no deal Endlösung which was their only objective all along. Hence the principle message of Saturday’s march must be: “You have failed. Brexit has failed. Revoke it and resign.” And if Corbyn wants to go down in what’s left of human history as anything other than a witless dupe of international fascism, he will be at the head of that march, rather than spending the afternoon weeding his allotment or making yet another stupid, stupid speech about Brexit being a mere “constitutional question“. Life and death are “constitutional questions”, fffs. Which side is he on?


* The odd pantomime fascist on Sky News notwithstanding, there is no equivalent to the gilets jaunes in the UK. Brexit was not primarily a result of the immediate economic anxieties that led disaffected French smalltowners to block roads and riot in Paris, Bordeaux and elsewhere, detailed by Jeremy Harding here. It is rather a distinctly unappetising stew of xenophobic resentment and post-imperial self-pity, a dish particular to British cuisine. Alienation from globalisation was one ingredient stirred into the pot by the ultraleftist opportunists of the SWP et al, but it certainly wasn’t the most powerful one. The toxic additives poured in by the Leave campaigns, with their 5.2 gypsies about to arrive from Turkey, their polar bears and NHS lies etc etc etc left a particularly bitter aftertaste. But en fin de compte, while the French are angry because they don’t have jobs and their public services are shit, the British are pissed off because their country isn’t nearly as significant as they think it should be.

Ps. I’m not on Twitter, could someone please post this on there with the hashtag “#lexit”?

Salvini supporters are publicly calling for Greta Thunberg to be assassinated

I wrote here two days ago that the cutting edge fashion in global fascism is to abandon climate denial and seek to co-opt concern for the environment rather than disdain it; Marine Le Pen, for example, no longer sees climate change as a Jew-led conspiracy but as a golden opportunity to push her agenda of global genocide. It’s since transpired that Italy is behind the French on this score. Although de facto Italian leader Matteo Salvini would no doubt approve of the means Brenton Tarrant used to put his beliefs into practice – the Australian fascist had the name of Salvini’s ally and ex-Lega candidate Luca Traini written on one of his guns – the terrorist’s self-description as an “eco-fascist” would seemingly cause Salvini some puzzlement, judging by the reaction of his supporters to the worldwide Climate Strike on Friday.

This article (in Italian) details the comments made by several pro-Salvini personaggi, some of them prominent in the Italian media, over the last few days. The writer and TV personality Maria Giovanna Maglie called for the Swedish teenage activist to be “mown down by a car”, while the former pop star Rita Pavone called her “a character from a horror movie”. Diego Fusaro, a political philosopher whose self-definition as a “Marxist” should be taken with un grandissimo pezzo di sale, accused the 16-year-old of being part of a plot by the “cosmopolitan elite” (hem hem). The well-known climate liar and founder of the daily newspaper ‘Il Foglio’, Giuliano Ferrara, tweeted “I don’t want to be accused of pedophobia, but I detest this idolatrous figure Greta and her disgusting braids, and the false world of lies she weaves round herself”. The hashtag #nogreta was trending among supporters of Salvini’s neofascist Lega party and its fellow travellers/coalition partners in the Five Star Movement, some of whom still, bizarrely, style themselves as environmentalists and even, in some outlandish cases, anti-racists. Salvini himself joined in with a typically puerile Trump-style tweet welcoming global warming as it will mean more “herbs”, a comment which will delight those among the Five Star Movement who aren’t in outright denial about Salvini’s being in power. A Five Star supporter I spoke to on Friday confirmed what I’d heard elsewhere, in that he felt that Salvini and the Lega “weren’t really” in control of the Government and that the self-confessed fan of Mussolini should be given “more time” to implement his agenda, which includes forcibly evicting and deporting hundreds of thousands of neri, protecting the Mafia by removing police protection from journalists who investigate them and building a European far-right alliance with Kaczynski, Orbán, Le Pen, and all those other names far too depressing to mention.

I’ve read* that those who voted for the electorally larger but politically junior element in his coalition (one of whom (although few people can remember whom) is nominally Prime Minister) pay little to no attention to ‘MSM’ accounts of what the Lega gets up to, putting their faith instead in the blog of their guru Beppe Grillo, a Pied Piper demagogue with a…colourful personal history**. Grillo has in the past blustered about climate change but in case anyone had their hopes up that his movement represents a progressive form of populism, also once proclaimed that “Anti-fascism is outside my purview” and tweeted that Rome is full of “swamped by rats, rubbish and illegal immigrants”. In a devastating article detailing Italy’s ‘descent into barbarism’, the universally respected journalist Roberto Saviano writes:

When people speak in general terms of populism in relation to this government they risk obscuring truly alarming facts on the ground with abstract political labels. There is no doubt that the blind eye this administration turns to racist attitudes has had serious consequences. Cynically the government gives a nod and a wink to extremist groups whose votes they do not want to lose.

The fact that Grillo’s blog has been called “the largest source of fake news in Europe” also helps explain why the Five Star Movement is far more committed to ensuring that kids aren’t protected from life-threatening diseases than it is to defending children who stand up for the environment from far-right death threats. At least it can’t be accused of incoerenza.

*The Lega/M5S Fascist/Moron coalition is a Rorschach blot, albeit with merda rather than ink. From that link: “The alliance between the Five Star party (the post-crisis ‘populists’) and the League (the xenophobic ‘populists’) is arguably functioning because of the borders around their electorates’ news sources. Occasionally I come across people who actively support both Five Star and the League. Far more common, however, are supporters of one party who are effectively ignorant of the policies of the other. For example, a Salvini supporter might rail on about how the closure of the ports will save Italian women from predatory Africans, but will have nothing to say about Five Star’s economic policies. On the other hand, a gloating Di Maio worshipper will happily praise the wonders of Five Star’s citizens’ income proposal or their anti-corruption stance, but will actively disassociate themselves from the League’s racism. And this is exactly the tactic of the separation of Ministerial powers: Di Maio, minister for jobs and welfare, makes no pronouncements about migration. But neither does his party. Search Five Star’s Facebook page, and you’ll find no mention of the Salvini law, as if it simply hasn’t happened. The same is true vice versa (with the exception of pension reforms, which the League takes as one of its central policies).”

**The M5S Party Line is that it was “ice on the road” that caused Grillo to crash his car and kill three people. That wasn’t the verdict of the court.

Stunning photos show breathtaking scale of Friday’s MASSIVE pro-Brexit protest

On Thursday evening Nigel Farage tweeted his outrage that Parliament had just voted to extend Article 50. Within seconds his well-oiled party machines were in operation, as word spread, buses were booked, and 17,410,742 people, every single one of whom shares his profound anger at this unconscionable affront to democracy and is ready to put all of his time, energy, livelihoods, personal freedom and physical safety at the disposal of the fight for sovereignty, prepared to march on Westminster for the largest demonstration the country had ever seen.
I arrived about 1pm, by which point it was very hard to get anywhere near Parliament Square, let alone close to the House of Commons itself.
At one point I was genuinely concerned for my safety. No one had – no one could have – anticipated such numbers.
It’s hard to convey in a mere photo just how many ordinary British people had taken to the streets to express their fury at the news that Brexit probably won’t happen as scheduled. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Owen Jones, as I had taken with a pinch of salt his warnings that the country would spontaneously explode in revolt if Brexit were impeded for even a second. This photo shows how my complacency was completely misplaced. And this is on a weekday! Imagine the size of Saturday’s protest!!! Clearly those elements of the pro-Brexit campaigns who suggested they just organise a PR stunt in Royston Vasey because they simply don’t have the numbers for a large national protest, and in any case whenever there has been a demo in London the only people who turn up are football hooligans, which shows that the only argument against calling the whole fucking thing off, which is that there’d be a nationwide breakdown in social order, is wrong, were, er, wrong. I apologise for the previous sentence.
Fortunately they had quickly arranged a platform so the voices of the popular heroes of the #Lexit movement could be heard by all whom had come from so far and wide, etc. From the left, Kate Hoey (MP); Jennifer Helen Jones, aka Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (FSA); Alexander Theodore Callinicos (SWP/StWC/UAF/LMHR/IS/IRG/KCL/SA/RTR/RAR/ERG), son of Honorable Ædgyth Lyon-Dalberg-Acton; Daniel Hannan (MEP), who gave a very moving speech inspired by the Disney film ‘Dumbo‘; Tommy Robinson (HMP TBC); and on the far-right, the smallest, ugliest, piece of shit, Nigel Farage himself (PBUH).
These young women were among many schoolchildren who had marched spontaneously out of their classrooms in order to demand that they and their families be restricted for the rest of their lives to a tiny-minded, petty, resentful, alternately arrogant and insecure, shit-fooded, self-pitying, racist island ruled over by either a climate-lying plastic aristocrat who probably believes in FGM or another climate-lying tinpot floppy-haired sociopathic c*nt called Boris.
By this point the crowds were immense. Some had speculated that potential pro-Brexit protestors may have been put off from expressing allegiance to a far-right cause by news of the mass murder perpetrated in New Zealand by someone whose values are not all that very very different from those of Farage, Rees-Mogg, Trump et al. By the way, it wasn’t me who said that, it was him. Anyway they were wrong, look at the photo
Small placard, too many words, poor ‘typology’, I was told by someone I subsequently got talking to in the pub. Chiara reckoned the last line is a bit patronising but once I’d mansplained to her that it was supposed to be ironic she calmed down a bit.

UPDATE: This post has now been superseded by “reality”.

UPDATE UPDATE: There is an…explanation (not an excuse!!!) for the low numbers:


…or alternatively:


See you next Saturday.

(Ps Although Farage’s photo op was absolutely pitiful and much of the ridicule it was greeted with hilarious, we may be falling into a bit of a trap, in that images of hardy, mud-soaked and rain-sodden ordinary British volk, battling not just the elements but universal opprobrium in their vain pursuit of national destiny, is an emblematic instance of the mythology that Fintan O’Toole pinpoints as the inspiration for Brexit in ‘Heroic Failures’. I’m sure both the Jarrow marchers and Farage’s true political ancestors in 1920s Italy were treated with disdain in their day, so the negative coverage is unlikely to daunt those who, having no idea of or concern for the risks involved, still support a no deal Brexit. So let’s hope the cameras and hashtags move on and the whole thing is swiftly forgotten. As Trump has shown, for the modern far-right movement ridicule is nothing to be scared of, and images of vainglorious victimhood can actually rally people to the cause. It’s quite probable that the organisers knew it would provoke this reaction, and that’s why they decided to do it. #youutterhypocrite #yesIknow)

Climate campaigners need to be extremely vigilant about eco-fascist discourse

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It’s been a central tenet of this website that the global rise in far-right sentiment is partly a displaced expression of repressed anger and fear about climate change. The context for Friday’s atrocity in New Zealand confirm that if that was ever true, it’s now becoming less so. I’d seen odd reports that some elements of the global far-right were abandoning climate denial in favour of what one might call genocidal eco-misanthropy, and had noticed that (for example) Marine Le Pen is no longer a climate denier. She’s ahead of the pack, given the influence of Bolsonaro and Trump in persisting in outright denial. There are a lot of pre-existing ideas that can easily be coopted by far-right newborn environmentalists, as Paul Caterell details here. I’ve long felt that initiatives such as the Dark Mountain project were so misanthropically Malthussian in their response to accelerating environmental meltdown as to share common ground with those inclined to see climate change not as a threat but an opportunity, and I’m not talking about the superficial TED Talks utopianism of so much that passes for ‘environmentalist’ discourse but something much more sinister.

The self-definition of the Christchurch terrorist as an “eco-fascist” led me to this article from the New Statesmen. It should alert everyone connected to environmental activism and climate campaigning to be extremely wary of discourses which unite deep ecology, geographical boundedness, animal rights, veganism, a return to the soil, and forefathers. Names to look out for include Pentti Linkola, Danielle Savoy and Savitri Devi, and images popular with eco-fascists include Norse runes (particulary the ‘life rune’ – see above), forests and what has been jokingly called ‘cabin porn’. The article has many more details about the linguistic and semiotic clues that may indicate the presence of eco-fascist ideology. It partly involves turning on its head the standard right-wing trope that Hitler was a vegetarian and an environmentalist. The most cutting edge fascists celebrate those aspects of Nazism, recognising that ‘Lebensraum’ was partly about creating an ecological utopia by cleaning up the toxic elements that were polluting it with their very existence*.

The core of eco-fascist discourse, and by far the most dangerous one, is overpopulation. On a recent Extinction Rebellion protest I was handed a glossy leaflet by David Attenborough’s charity outfit, the headline of which highlighted overpopulation as the core problem we face. Leaving aside the fact that had Attenborough not persisted in his climate denial for so long we probably wouldn’t have got to this point so early, his focus on overpopulation seems to be hugely problematic. If you claim that the problem with the world is the existence of too many people but are not willing to take the logical step of either killing yourself or not making any more, then the issue immediately gets reformulated into: there are too many other people. Which leads to the question: Who gets selected for eradication and/or sterilisation? Now, while we may be naïve enough to go on blithely claiming that it’s other people’s apathy and overconsumption that have caused the problem, we can’t pretend we don’t know what solutions those forces occupying or angling for power across the world, from the US to the UK to Brazil to Italy and elsewhere, are going to propose when things get really bad.

Of course, it’s natural and good that many people seek to change their own lives before telling everyone else to do so. The sudden plethora of vegan restaurants where I live in East London is remarkable. Am I suggesting that anyone who turns vegan is a potential fascist? Absolutely not. But at a time when lots of young people are educating themselves online and demanding that climate change be treated as an political emergency rather than being left as an awkward social taboo which most adults would rather suffer than combat, it’s incumbent upon us to identify, expose and exclude anyone linking land, nature and race.

There are very few eco-fascists who dare to take their principles offline and put them into practice; we just saw how destructive it can be when they set out to advertise their beliefs, to create mass rather than mere social media memes and to impress Rupert Murdoch as well as their fellow 4chan trolls. Most will do so at a somewhat more subtle level than Brenton Tarrant. What appear to be innocuous memes promoting sound environmentalist values may have hidden resonances, so we have to learn how to spot and call out all instances of language which seems to hint at a connection between blood and soil. For example, at that same XR demonstration someone got up and repeatedly used the phrase ‘our lands’. Was that person an eco-fascist? Almost certainly not. But as Foucault pointed out, there is a sense in which our words speak us rather than we them, in which ideas circulating in society have more power than the people who voice them. We can’t allow genocidal nihilism to infect the enthusiasm of this new generation of climate activists, most of whom get much of their information and ideas in the same forums where identitarian and eco-fascist memes circulate, pushing the notion that the main culprits for climate change are not corporate power and unfettered capitalism but mass migration and multiculturalism. Hence we need to be extremely vigilant about which words and images we use both on and offline and be particularly careful when addressing the thorny issue of overpopulation. Maybe it will come down to a battle of symbols: not the so-called “life” rune, symbolising life for our particular ethnic group and death to everyone else, but this symbol, representing the protection of the life chances of every single one of the true, universal Us.


*It’s worth reading up on what Jared Diamond has to say about the link between environmental pressures and genocide in Rwanda; this presentation gives a brief account of it.