Odd bunch, the British. A reputation for eccentricity. Everyone around the world, in America, in Turkey, in France, in South Korea, has a party who are beating their chests, waving the flag, breathing threats, emphasizing distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Britain had a great chance to row in behind the tidal wave of ultra-nationalism that UKIP was offering them in the local council elections yesterday, but they went ahead and blew it in front of an open goal! I’m beginning to think the British take this liberal nonsense seriously.
A lot of the UKIP disaster has to go down to the stupidity of Paul Nuttall. He simply played his hand too strongly. UKIP are basically without a cause after last year’s referendum. Nuttall thought he could just import proto-Fascism from the European continent into Britain, which is the height of irony when you think about it. Historically, the British electorate have flirted with Fascism, but it has been a brief and uncommitted flirtation. For example, Moseley never did that well in elections, either in the 1930s or in the late 1950s when he tried to capitalize on anti-West Indian sentiment. And, just when the Fascists looked to have a real chance of stirring up the House of Commons in 1979, the National Front were side-armed out of the way by Mrs. Thatcher, who made more civilized appeals to British nation-hood. Nuttall failed to read the script and so is just another one of those footnotes to British ultra-nationalism.
Why does Britain reject pulling burqas off women in Oxford Street or sending black people packing to ‘where they belong’? It is likely in Britain’s history. Britain is a maritime power which generally looks outwardly, albeit which coats its open-ness in a certain parochialism. British people are probably aware that part of the price they pay for having access to the high seas is that of tolerating the mysterious habits of other nations. By contrast, continental powers like France tend to be more insular and prefer coercing foreign cultures to behave like them. Fascism is thus more of a European phenomenon.