[Peter Brimelow writes: The U.S. may shortly have "Hate Crime" legislation, which will of course immediately metastasize into an attack on "hate speech". Wanna bet that what is happening in the U.K., described below by a distinguished British libertarian, can't happen here?)
Also by Sean Gabb: England: The Peasants are Revolting
On Monday, August 24th 2009, the British Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) began legal proceedings against the British National Party (BNP). Its cause of action is that the BNP restricts membership to white people—"indigenous British ethnic groups deriving from the class of 'Indigenous Caucasian'" plus "those we regard as closely related and ethnically assimilated or assimilable aboriginal members of the European race also resident in Britain.".[Constitution Of The British National Party Eighth Edition, published November 2004(PDF)] (Which is interpreted to include Jews—thus one BNP elected official, Pat Richardson, a local councilor, is Jewish).
The BNP rule is said to be illegal under the Race Relations Act 1976 as amended in 2000. If successful, the court action will force the BNP to open its membership to all applicants regardless of their colour.
This is a politically-motivated prosecution. The BNP has long upset the people who now rule Britain. Its denunciations of mass-immigration and of multiculturalism disrupt what would otherwise be an almost smooth wall of praise—or at least of caution—by the other parties.
Despite universal condemnation in the media, the BNP has made considerable gains during the past few years in local elections, and managed to win two seats in June this year to the European Parliament. It may win a seat in the British Parliament at the next general election. Stopping the BNP is high on the agenda of the powers that be.
This being said, shutting down a political party simply because it dissents from the established multicultural faith is not something that is yet done in Britain. It is too openly an attack on freedom of speech. It may also be illegal under the Human Rights Act 1998, which enacts the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.
Nevertheless, the party stands to be ruined partly by the costs of legal action, and partly by the effects of losing the legal action.
These effects have been clearly spelled out by some of the BNP's enemies. According to the Blog of Operation Black Vote,
"Nic Careem, [Email him]a former Labour activist from Camden in north London, who is now with the Conservatives, said he originally argued that black and Asian people should join the BNP en mass [sic] to cause chaos and expose the extent of racism inside the party of Nick Griffin."
In other words, the BNP is to be flooded with non-whites, who will then use further legal action—assuming the internal structures of the party are insufficient—to destroy it.
This attack on the BNP is abhorrent for a number of reasons.
We in Britain are endlessly told nowadays that freedom of speech does not involve the right to preach hatred and "intolerance". But it does. Freedom of speech means the right to say anything at all on any public issue, and to make any recommendation on what the law should be.
I was born into a Britain where this understanding was broadly accepted. I live now in a country where it is not. Thus Simon Woolley [Email him] of Operation Black Vote dismisses freedom of speech as an "almost sacred cow". He even appeals for support to the majesty of the British Constitution:
"Over centuries our unwritten constitution has given us a framework for our democracy. From Magna Carta to the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, our democracy has evolved to reflect our changing times. This framework gives us a democracy which, for all its limitations, seeks to balance individual freedoms with fairness and tolerance."
In the technical sense, Woolley may be right. Being unwritten, the British Constitution is whatever the authorities decide it to be.
But his claim is irrelevant. A constitution does not legitimise oppression. Rather, it is legitimate so far as it protects rights. If the British Constitution no longer guarantees freedom of speech, so much the worse for the Constitution.
But this is barely less important within the liberal tradition than freedom of speech. The two rights complement each other. Freedom of speech is the right to say anything. Freedom of association involves the right to propagate what is said. It means the right of people to come together for any purpose that does not involve aggression against others.
Obviously, it also means the right not to associate. Laws imposing equal access to employment, or paid services, or membership of private associations, are not an extension of rights, but a denial of rights. By forcing people to associate with persons whom they would otherwise reject, anti-discrimination laws are a form of coerced association. They also allow dissident organisations to be taken over and destroyed.
The Lincolnshire Black Police Association, for example, declares on its website —rather, it declares on its section of the official web site of the Lincolnshire Police Force—that
"Membership applications for the LBPA are invited from everybody. Full Membership is available to all Black Minority Ethnic staff of the Lincolnshire Police. Associate Membership is open to ALL members of the Lincolnshire Police and outside agencies who wish to support the work of the LBPA."
I am told that these confessions of racial discrimination are being hurriedly taken down from the Internet. However, the BNP has published a selection of screen shots from the Lincolnshire and other branches of the Black Police Association. The EHRC has so far refused even to acknowledge complaints of this racial discrimination.
And even if the Black Police Association should take down the offending words and open its full membership to all, there is no chance of its being flooded by hostile whites. There are no white equivalents of Operation Black Vote or other ethnic advocacy groups.
Any whites groups that did form would soon be prosecuted or harassed out of existence. Any individual whites who joined would themselves be evangelists of the multicultural faith. If not, they would be chased out with violence or threats of violence that the modern Politically Correct British police—memorably described by purged National Review editor John O'Sullivan as "the paramilitary wing of the Guardian", the leading left-wing newspaper—would now do nothing to investigate.
It is also interesting that the EHRC Commissioner overseeing the BNP prosecution is John Wadham. He was once Director of Liberty, which is supposed to be the main independent guardian in this country of civil and political rights.
At a public meeting in 2001, I accused Mr Wadham of not caring about the liberties of anyone perceived to be on the political "right". This sent him into a rhetorical frenzy. A few weeks later, I felt almost guilty at how roughly I had treated him when I read this in a letter of his to The Daily Telegraph:
"[H]uman rights are primarily about limiting the power of the central state in its dealing with the individual citizen."
According to the accounts of the body that the EHRC replaced, Mr Wadham's salary in the year to the 31st March 2008 was £78,548. [VDARE.COM: roughly $127,735 US] I will limit my comments on this fact to observing that his salary—and it has probably risen by a third in the past 18 months—is at least three times his probable worth in any market-based employment.
By way of a conclusion, I feel I ought to give my opinion on the BNP. This is that I fear its success.
The next Conservative Government will fail to reverse the disasters that Labour has brought on the country. This is because the Conservatives do not even intend to try for a counter-revolution. When the failure has become manifest, people will turn to the only alternative party that has forthrightly denounced the Labour revolution and has an existing electoral base. This will be the BNP.
I fear that the BNP will, by default, become the only viable champion of counter-revolution.
Now, I am not frightened that the BNP is a party of national socialists, and that its leaders are counting the days till they can rip off their business suits, to show the black and red uniforms beneath. Under its present leader, Nick Griffin, the BNP has become a white nationalist party. The party believes in the expulsion of illegal immigrants, an in some voluntary repatriation of non-whites who are legally here, and in dismantling the Equal Opportunities police state from which people like Mr Wadham benefit. Other than this, a BNP Government might easily show more respect for the forms of a liberal constitution than have the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown—after all, this would not be difficult.
The problem is that the BNP and much of its leading personnel used to be national socialists. There are too many published statements in praise of Hitler or denouncing the Jews.
Of course, people change their opinions over time. Middle-aged men are not necessarily to be judged on what they said or wrote in their late teens.
That excuse has been made and accepted for the Ministers in the Labour Government. Many of these in their younger days were Trotskyite street bullies. Peter Mandelson, who is effectively deputy Prime Minister, joined the Young Communist League three years after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and used to sell the Communist Morning Star. John Reid, who was a Home Secretary in the Blair Government, was a member of the Communist Party in his late twenties, and was noted for his admiration of Josef Stalin. It would be easy to fill an article with the disreputable pasts of those who have ruled this country since 1997.
If there were any fairness in politics, they would be regarded as no less disreputable than the leaders of the BNP.
But there is no fairness in politics. A man can deny the Soviet holocaust—or even admit that it happened but try to justify it—and remain in good standing with the media and educational Establishments. The slightest whisper of approval for the lesser horrors of National Socialism, and a man is tainted for life.
This is unfair, but it is a fact that must be accepted. I can easily imagine how the BNP might replace the useless Conservatives as main opponents to what has been done to this country. I can also imagine how the movement then led by the BNP might be smeared and discredited out of existence.
Even so, if I can have no longing for a BNP breakthrough at the next but one general election, neither can I regard the legal proceedings against it as other than a classic illustration of how to run a post-modern tyranny.
The British State has no Gestapo, no KGB. But why would it need one when it has the Equality and Human Rights Commission?
Dr. Sean Gabb [Email him] is a writer, academic, broadcaster and Director of the Libertarian Alliance in England. His monograph Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back is downloadable here. For his account of the Property and Freedom Society's 2008 conference in Bodrum, Turkey, click here. For his address to the 2009 PFS conference, "What is the Ruling Class?", click here; for videos of the other presentations, click here.