Don’t call me a fascist, you racist

By Mary Kenny, the author of ‘Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce – Lord Haw-Haw’ (THE TIMES, 17/11/06):

THE WORD “fascist” is thrown around lightly these days, either as a catch-all boo-word, or parcelled indiscriminately with “racist”. After the acquittal of Nick Griffin, Peter Hain described the British National Party as “racist and fascist”, a common portmanteau expression. But this is sloppy thinking, and a loss to the distinction in language.

A Fascist may be a racist but he is not necessarily so; a racist is not always a Fascist either. The Spanish dictator Franco was a Fascist but not a racist: in the 1930s, the left-wing New Statesman disparaged Franco as a “negrophile” (he employed Moroccan troops with gusto). And Franco gave asylum to more Jewish refugees than democratic Sweden.

Fascism is the political philosophy of the authoritarian, corporate and militarised state and is historically hostile to capitalism. Salazar, the Portuguese dictator, was a clerico-Fascist (corporate state plus clergy) but something of a liberal on race. The Portuguese were more racially multicultural than other European colonialists, and intermarried more with colonised peoples than other Europeans. Thus the ethnically mixed Brazil.

The white South African regime was assuredly racist — the South African Communist Party had for its slogan “Workers of the World Unite For a White South Africa” — but the Boer tradition was not fascist. It was, as between their own group, democratic and egalitarian. And anti-monarchist, too: the Dutch Calvinists regarded monarchy as a form of “idolatry”.

A racist is someone who disparages people of another race he considers inferior: he may also hate certain religions where a faith is linked with ethnicity. A Fascist may so idolise the State that he elevates the host community above all others: but, especially if an Imperial Fascist, he may wish to include other races within the state he worships.

The late and much lamented comedian Linda Smith told a darkly droll story about visiting her granny in Birmingham, who was obsessed with, and prejudiced against, “the blacks”. Linda was mortified that “Granny was a Fascist”. No: Granny was a racist. She had nothing at all to say about the corporate state.