Saturday, January 11, 2003
Preachers of Hate - 11th January 2003, 21.00

Angus Roxburgh's new book on the rise of the far right in Europe was reviewed by David Lammy, the Nulab replacement for Bernie grant in Tottenham. As Angus wasn't able to find enough neo-nazis or racists to fill his book, he lumped the oddball, the nationalists and the Eurosceptic together - a heterogeneous group of populists. One would argue that they are linked by their growth in response to public dissatisfaction with the political elites who have not responded to their grievances. A shared ideology is not in evidence.

This mixture leads to the confusion in Lammy's review, who sounds almost schizophrenic in his twists and turns. At one point he sounds almost libertarian, although he just couldn't quite bring himself to say that political elites and states should just get out of the way:

But mainstream political elites have so far been unwilling or unable to trust citizens to solve their problems themselves, and to provide them with the resources and capacity to do so.

Lammy states that the EU should be concerned by the agenda of these populists: "A striking feature of the populist parties' agenda has been the extent to which they have reconciled aggressive market liberalism with fierce hostility to the European Union." This relatively easy task is not quite right, for as Lammy points out later on, many of these groups share the current European enthusiasm for defending economies through tariffs and state control - just implementing their concerns at a national level.

Roxburgh's packaging of these different parties into one extreme is a feature of the current intellectual landscape in the UK that is dominated by an illiberal unwillingness to entertain or discuss alternatives.

To even begin to think about Signor Berlusconi or the late Pim Fortuyn as ‘preachers of hate’ and members of a family that includes such racists as Le Pen is not just wrong; it is risible. What Roxburgh is really doing is reacting with liberal-conditioned horror to the reality that there are more ideas in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his or his employer’s philosophy.

That is why liberalism in Britain in all of its variations has defected to the blogosphere because one offshoot has declared its views Holy Scripture and enforces its madness in all areas of life. Some call this an extreme centre, but it can be identified by one symptom: its results defy common sense.


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