"Immigration Or Democracy"—Keith Woods' Speech To The VDARE Conference
05/02/2024
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James Fulford writes: This is Irish activist Keith Woods's speech to the VDARE conference as prepare, with Tweets and citations added. See the video for any ad-libs. Check out his  Substack  and follow him on Twitter at @KeithWoodsYT .

The theme of this year’s conference is that “immigration is the queen of the battlefield”, meaning if we lose on immigration, we will lose on every other issue. I know there are many conservatives who value some traditional values, the protection of civil liberties, free speech. And this is the most common pipeline by which people come to our ideas. But many remain under the illusion that they can retain these liberties in a multicultural society. I think events in Europe, even just recent ones, point to a more bleak future for multiracial liberal societies.

As I arrived here Thursday I opened social media to find remarkable scenes from my home country. Images from the small Irish town of Newtownmountkennedy, in County Wicklow, were beamed all over social media. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of Irish Gardai dressed in riot gear faced down locals who had objected to 1000 asylum seekers—unvetted migrant men—being planted in their small community of 3000.

In a last ditch effort to stop this plantation, locals set up barricades and large demonstrations. The police responded with extreme force: locals were beaten, journalists were pepper sprayed, the entire community was shut down as Irish security services turned the town into a small prison. Unprecedented scenes of riot police going door to door searching houses, stopping cars. Scenes like this have not been seen in Ireland since the Troubles, when an ethnoreligious conflict there made the North of Ireland the most policed area in all of Europe.

Scenes like this are shocking, but for people like me, they’re not surprising. In the past number of years, despite no major political party, institution, or mainstream media outlet to represent the view, anti-immigration sentiment has boiled up to the point of now being ranked as the top concern of voters. On any other issue, opportunistic politicians might look to seize on this. Instead, there is cross party agreement on the good of mass-immigration, and the need to destroy the threat of the so-called far right.

Despite the liberal caricature of old Ireland as a repressive, theocratic backwater, Ireland has historically been quite a free country for intellectuals and political radicals. It did not have hate speech laws of the kind we find in the rest of Western Europe. The radical left has always been quite fringe, and debate about immigration was quite open to critics until very recently. If you want an illustration of this, consider that as recently as 2008, a respected public intellectual called Desmond Fennell had an opinion piece published in the Irish Times, our establishment paper of record, titled “Grim reality of why the West's white race is now a dying breed”.

Can't load tweet https://twitter.com/TOR_EuroCon/status/1776262767701295368: Sorry, you are not authorized to see this status.

The article would not have been out of place on VDARE or American Renaissance, but it was published in the most bourgeois, most establishment legacy newspaper in the country. Fast forward 15 years, and the Irish Times now publishes multiple page hit pieces on me for having the same far right views as Fennell.

Last year, the Irish Independent devoted a page to the shocking story that an Irishman met Nick Fuentes in London. The horror! According to the report, police were aware of the trip and were monitoring the situation closely.

Ireland has also begun to play catchup with its European counterparts on speech crimes. Ireland has for years been in the process of passing a hate speech bill that ranks among the most draconian in the west. Among the provisions of the bill, the law that anyone possessing material considered hateful, even if they had no intent to distribute it, could be considered criminal. In other words, the Irish state is now legislating for thought crime.

And this of course was driven by the desire to quell opposition to the transformation of Ireland into a multicultural country. Government ministers have repeatedly spoken of the urgency of passing modern hate speech laws to deal with the problems posed by the emergence of popular anti-immigration movements.

And how much do the new arrivals to Ireland believe in free speech? In November last year, Irish people took to the streets of Dublin to protest the government, after an Algerian immigrant stabbed a teacher and three children outside a school. The protests turned to riot, and there some interesting statements made by foreign born politicians on the protests.

Well Lillian Seenoi-Barr, a councillor in Northern Ireland who is the first ever black person to hold elected office there, said

“We have to do something about this, we can’t keep ignoring it and pretending that this is some small minority. It is an organised terrorist group of people wanting to harm immigrants in this country, radicalizing young people and encouraging them to harm others and those wanting to live a peaceful life in this country”

"As politicians we don’t have a hate crime legislation to tackle this, in the north or south of Ireland, we do not have a strategy to protect minority ethnic people and now we need to step up now.”[SDLP councillor appeals for more to be done to tackle hate crime across Ireland, by Amy Cochrane, Belfast Telegraph, November 26 , 2023]

Azad Talukder, a Limerick Fianna Fáil councillor from Bangladesh then made the statement to his fellow city councillors that people who partake in such protests should be killed:

“I strongly believe that this is not the face of Ireland. This is just some criminals looting the shops. I don’t think they follow any ideological purpose. They come to the streets and just rob. They should get punishment. “Not even an animal does these kind of thing. It is very shameful and they should get public punishment. “I’d like to see them shot in the head or bring the public in and beat them until they die”

So a question for conservatives: do you think any of the liberties you enjoy will be safe in the hands of people like Azad Talukder and Lillian Seenoi-Barr?

But what does legislating for thought crime look like? What do we see in countries that already throw people in jail for nationalism? Well look to the UK, and at a very recent and high profile case—Sam Melia. Melia, an activist and organizer with Patriotic Alternative, had set up a group called the Hundred Handers on Telegram, which posted graphics intended for members to download and print as stickers. And what were the radical messages contained on these stickers? Here are a few examples:

According to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service:

“When Melia was arrested in Farsley, near Leeds, in April 2021, a number of stickers were found in his wallet, which included slogans expressing views of a nationalist nature.”

The prosecution used a book by Oswald Mosley, and other material related to fascism, as quote: “key signs of Melia’s ideology that underpinned his desire to spread his racist views in a deliberate manner.”

In other words, based off his private reading material, Melia was charged as a thought criminal, for the thought crime of racism.

At Sam’s trial, over three hundred stickers were produced, and the prosecution admitted in the opening stages of the trial that the language used on the stickers was in fact lawful. The prosecution contended that despite the content of the stickers being lawful, they were produced as a body of work intended to stir up racial hatred. During the trial the jury was also reminded that it did not matter whether the content of the stickers was true, as the truth is no defense in such a case.

The jury duly found Melia guilty, after which he was sentenced to two years in prison.

And it’s not just Britain jailing nationalists for thought crimes now.

Recently, a Belgian court sentenced nationalist activist and former member of Parliament Dries Van Langenhove—who some of you may have seen give a rousing speech at last year’s Amren Conference—to one year in prison. This case began when an undercover journalist discovered politically incorrect memes in a groupchat of which Dries was a member, and broadcast this to the nation in a television documentary. A years long investigation followed, until Dries’s trial this year, where he and six other members of his nationalist youth movement were tried on various charges for hateful and racist speech. The judge made clear that Van Langenhove had not done enough to stop the spread of offensive memes in his groupchat.

Van Langenhove was sentenced to a year in prison, a large fine, and 10 years of suspended civil liberties, where he can not participate in politics. And this comes at a time when Vlaams Belang, the Flemish nationalist party in Belgium, is polling as the biggest party coming up to federal elections.

The reality now is that across Europe, states are abandoning liberal norms to repress the spread of nationalism. A poll this week revealed that the AfD is the most popular party among 14-29 year olds in Germany. Other polling has showed AfD is now close to being the most popular party in all of Germany.

Recently, the New York Times wrote of how “German lawmakers are rewriting bylaws and pushing for constitutional amendments to ensure courts and state parliaments can provide checks against a future, more powerful AfD.”

For example, in the central German state of Hesse, the AfD became the largest opposition party in the state parliament in elections last year, giving them the right to hold positions on key committees, including intelligence.

So Hesse’s rival mainstream parties came together to pass a so called “democracy package,” to rewrite parliamentary rules, including one to block the AfD from the intelligence committee.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service says it classifies 10,000 out of AfD’s total membership of 28,000 as political extremists. Many prominent members, including its co-leader, has been debanked. And this year, the German Institute for Human Rights, a major state-funded think-tank, and the influential magazine Der Spiegel called for the banning of the AfD as "enemies of the constitution". The German President also suggested his support for banning the party.

Europe, and the whole Western world, is creeping into extreme tyranny. Everywhere, the justification is stifling the rise of nationalist movements. This is at a time where, as mentioned, support for these nationalist movements is reaching a high. The dinosaur conservative parties that have helped keep a lid on populism and maintain the stability of liberal democracy since the end of World War Two are dying. Conservative parties from Britain, to the UK, to Poland have negligible support among the young, and their traditional voter base is dying.

Looking at polling among European youth, they tend to be more left wing than their parents, but those on the right are tending to support explicitly nationalist, anti-immigration political parties. At the same time, the establishment in these countries has shown, and sometimes declared openly, that it will bypass liberal norms around political pluralism and free speech to shut down these movements. All principles are going out the window as liberal democratic states reveal their number one priority, before which all others will yield, is enforcing pluralist, multicultural societies on traditional white homelands.

This should trouble everyone who values the liberties afforded by Western societies. In what sense do we have free speech if someone can be jailed for subscribing to the ideology of nationalism? How can we have a democratic political process if establishment parties can collude to ban whoever they deem a threat to democracy? What does democracy mean at this point?

At the same time Ireland was passing some of the most extreme speech laws in the west, liberals were patting themselves on the back for being ranked one of the most democratic countries in the world. European leaders have repeatedly denounced Hungary’s Victor Orban as a threat to democracy, due to his prioritizing immigration control. Liberal thinkers regularly discuss the danger populism now poses to democracy. But what is populism as distinct from democracy?

In fact, Populism and democracy mean exactly the same thing. Even in their etymologies, Demos is Greek and populus is Latin for “the people.”

The real question then, is what does democracy mean to our elites who are censoring, debanking and jailing populists?

The liberal political philosopher Jan-Werner Müller actually wrote a book titled What is Populism?  where he laid out the liberal view of these terms. I think this understanding is quite representative of the modern left the broad consensus of the elite in western liberal societies. Muller writes:

“populism is always a form of identity politics…What follows from this view of populism as an exclusionary form of identity politics is that populism tends to pose a danger to democracy. For democracy requires pluralism and the recognition that we need to find fair terms of living together as free, equal, but also irreducibly diverse citizens. The idea of the single, homogeneous, authentic people is a fantasy; as the philosopher Jürgen Habermas once put it, “the people” can only appear in the plural. And it’s a dangerous fantasy, because populists do not just thrive on conflict and encourage polarization; they also treat their political opponents as “enemies of the people” and seek to exclude them altogether.”

This may seem like a perplexing little passage, but key is the equation of democracy with pluralism. And in the public square, that means the rejection of any sense of a people, a people’s interests, or a common good for a people. Muller even says the idea of a homogeneous people is a fantasy. But that is exactly what democracy was intended to serve, and it was exactly the point of all political theory until recently. To quote another political theorist, Michael Walzer:

“Most political theorists, from the time of the Greeks onward, have assumed the national or ethnic homogeneity of the communities about which they wrote. Prior to the work of Rousseau, theory was never explicitly nationalist, but the assumption of a common language, history, or religion underlay most of what was said about political practices and institutions.” [Pluralism, Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, p. 781]

So what happens when the political establishment has decreed that the purpose of politics is to exclude, rather than serve, the interests of a people? Well of course, a great many people do still believe they belong to a people, a homogeneous people composing the body politic is not a fantasy, it is an immediate, undeniable reality. Thus, the threat of populism. And so the modern state must direct huge resources not just into the repression of populist forces, but into social engineering designed to make this sense of a shared people with a shared interest incoherent. And that includes undermining the hope for their representation through mass, replacement immigration.

This is why, I believe the emergence of an identitarian right which is a true challenge to the establishment is inevitable.

The fundamental political question is one of identity. Who is our politics for? Who is the “we” that is engaging in politics together? The claim of the defenders of liberal pluralism is that we can avoid this question and any potential conflict or illiberal policies it could lead to by making the public square a place of absolute relativism. We can all have our private beliefs and attachments, but when we enter into politics we should put all these identities aside and serve democracy itself.

 But what happens when we ask why? What if the trend of declining conservatism and rising identitarianism continues, and nationalists begin to challenge this denial of identity? As we see now, their answer is repression, often brutal. But, as is happening in Ireland, every time the state flexes its muscle like this, and makes it clear the terms of engagement in politics are, it loses legitimacy among the majority population.

The more the question of identity comes to the foreground of western politics, the more traditional distinctions between left and right fade. The left and the establishment right have colluded to rewrite law to exclude AfD from government. Both the establishment neoliberal parties governing Ireland and their radical left opposition were united in denouncing anti-immigration protests which represent the views of the majority of Irish people. The differences in beliefs around economics that have divided left and right in recent decades have also faded. Where are the young political actors passionate about Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose or talking about the need for a wealth tax? As the future generations become more non-white, they also become more identitarian, on all sides.

All the examples I have discussed are of nationalists, but there is another person who triggered a furious response from the establishment recently, and the reasons for that are interesting.

When George Galloway was elected to British parliament with a landslide victory in a by-election in Rochdale, prime minister Rishi Sunak gave an emergency address to the nation to warn of “extremists undermining democracy”. Sunak specifically identified Islamism and far-right extremism as the forces seeking to undermine “the world's most successful multi-ethnic multi-faith democracy”.

The subtext was that Galloway had undermined democracy, or pluralism, by playing identity politics in Rochdale. Galloway’s campaign was anomalous in that he produced different election material to appeal to Muslim and White voters. While his appeal to natives focused on family, patriotism and law and order (specifically promising to target grooming gangs), his appeal to Muslims asked they protest Labour’s support for Israels war in Gaza by electing someone with a long track record of standing up for Palestine and Muslims worldwide. Rochdale’s large Muslim population duly obliged, and Galloway ran away with almost double the amount of votes of his closest rival.

Yet in the aftermath, much of the concerned talk of British liberals circled back to the far right, something which currently has no elected representation in British politics.

A piece in Unherd laid out the problem simply:

For most politicians, it has become rote to affirm modern Britain as a multicultural success story. But in reality, in a place like Rochdale, this multiculturalism isn’t a cosmopolitan paradise, but really what Amartya Sen called “plural monoculturalism”. Here different groups live apart with little contact with each other or any sense of shared social space.

This magnifies ethnic divisions and degenerates politics into nothing more than championing tribal grievances at the cost of enacting a broader social vision for the benefit of all. And while it is doubtful that there will be explicitly Islamic parties like in Germany, or a BNP-style party based on white majoritarian resentment seizing power any time soon, it is the logical endpoint of this ethnic identitarianism.

Is George Galloway’s sectarianism a sign of things to come?, by Ralph Leonard, March 3, 2024

So the concern of liberals like this writer, and Rishi Sunak, is that identity politics in a multiracial society may be like a contagion: once candidates get elected openly appealing to one group and its interests, the other groups are going to start asking why they’re not doing the same. And quite simply, there are still a lot more of than there are of them.

As soon as Europeans start asking the fundamental question of politics: who is this for? What is the us? Then the legitimacy of a regime that exists to deny and deconstruct these questions comes under real challenge. Once this question is asked, the secondary ideological distinctions that have defined our politics, the luxury of highly ideological disagreements, fades away. The left and the establishment right will park everything else to fight on that issue.

And what we are doing with conference like this, and all the work done by people here to spread our message, is accelerating to that inevitable outcome.

Keith Woods  (@KeithWoodsYT on Twitter) is an Irish patriot activist who is active on many platforms.

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