Saturday, May 24, 2008

Racists in the area

A number of bloggers have discussed the far right's performance in the recent London elections. Studio living notes that the National Front 'got 8,509 Assembly votes in Greenwich and Lewisham, and 11,288 in Bexley and Bromley'. The larger British National Party didn't stand in these constituencies. As discussed here before, the NF are organisationally miniscule - failing to muster more than 25 people for a recent Eltham 'march' - but they clearly have some brand recognition for racists from the period when they, rather than the BNP, were the main far right party in Britain. As Tom Royal puts it: 'we’re left with the prospect that thousands of people in this city genuinely want a political party that actually wants to deport non-white people from the UK (or “repatriation of all coloured people currently resident here” as it puts it). And that - however it might be caused - is both a terrifying and depressing prospect'.

Still overall the vote for the far right was not as big as they had hoped and minute in some areas. Brockley Central has done a detailed analysis of Mayoral election votes in four local wards - Brockley, Ladywell, Telegraph Hill and Crofton Park. The numbers voting for the far right here were very small. In Telegraph Hill ward for instance, the BNP candidate for Mayor only received 47 first preference votes out of 3642 votes cast and it was a similar proportion in the others.

Let's not imagine that there is any chance of the BNP coming to power. The real risks as I see it are (1) that a bigger vote for the far right can increase the confidence of racist thugs and spill over into more racist attacks and (2) that their success shifts the wider political spectrum to the right, with other parties putting in place increasingly more hysterical anti-immigrant policies on the premise that they have to stop people drifting off to vote BNP (see for instance Labour plans to build new detention centre places, including at Yarl's Wood where children and families are locked up). People who want to seriously challenge racism (including its institutional forms) need to consider this this rather than imagine that all racism in London is embodied in the laughable figure of BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook.

Anyway there's a National March Against Fascism and Racism starting in South London next month: 'On Saturday 21st June there will be a national demonstration and carnival parade against fascism and racism in London celebrating the diversity of our society and making it clear that racism and fascist organisations like the BNP will not be tolerated. There will be a march and carnival parade, with floats, marching bands, speakers and banners from every organisation opposed the BNP's racist hate... Saturday 21st June 2008, Assemble: 12 noon, Tooley Street, London SE1(behind Greater London Assembly building, near Tower Bridge, nearest underground station London Bridge).March to Trafalgar Square, W1... Called by Love Music Hate Racism and Unite Against Fascism, supported by trade unions and other organisations'.

20 comments:

ross said...

typical ostrich like response to the rise of the far right: a demonstration, a parade,the same tired old establishment (govt/trot/left) speakers wheeled out, a 'celebration of diversity' (why should diversity in itself be celebrated? fair enough celebrate the freedom that may (or may not) lead to diversity but to see diversity as an end goal and a good in itself makes no sense)

no attempts to address, or even acknowledge/raise the underlying reasons that drive people to resort to support the far right in the first place - increasing inequality, job insecurity, crap access to decent homes, crime, anti-social behaviour,alienation, atomisation etc..., nah lets have a lollypop waving carnival instead with the three wise monkeys, and if everyone says racism is bad loud or often enough it'll just go away

(not a pop at you by the way)

Transpontine said...

Ross I tend to agree with your analysis of some of the underlying reasons for people's alienation and I also agree that just wheeling out the same 1970s Anti-Nazi League tactics has very little impact on support for the far right. In the 70s/early 80s there were a lot of young people who were on the fringes of the far right - the fact that bands they followed like Sham 69 and The Specials came out strongly against racism probably did have a real influence.

My sense at the recent Love Music Hate Racism festival was that they were simply preaching to the converted with no real strategy for reaching beyond them. However to talk of social conditions 'driving' people to support the far right risks implying that the people who vote BNP don't have other choices. Let's be clear that most people who vote for the BNP choose to do so knowing full well that they are a racist party with fascist roots (which is why just denouncing the BNP as racist nazis has little impact).

People disenchanted with the political system could also choose to vote for a left wing alternative (I know Respect and co. aren't exactly credible but they are there on the ballot paper) or they could sidestep party politics and set up movements to fight for their social interests. People in much worse social conditions have done just that - such as the workers in London who set up unions in the 19th century. I know that's not easy and requires long term work, but along the way lets not make too many excuses for BNP voters.

ross said...

true, but transpontine why would people who are in the situation that i describe choose to vote for a left wing party that over the last few decades has done nothing to address (or at least give the perception of confronting/addressing like the BNP does) the very problems that they are facing? it doesn't make sense

true they could so something for themselves, but it's hardly surprising that people don't given the last few decades has been spent by those in power disabilitating that very tradition, trumpeting ultra individualism, the cult of the market, the rubbishing of society and most things co-operative or progressive, that's a big ask for disenchanted and alienated former labour supporters (because lets face it that's where the BNP is picking up the support to swing it council seat wins) to do, and it's bloody hard even if you are off the mind to do it, and in the few areas where that has happened over the last ten years or so the response from the current authorities (police, local govt, central govt) has been to snuff out such movements before they can get going as the fear of a determined, collective community solidly coming together to collectively deal and face problems that they are confronted with on a daily basis is something that puts the fear of god into the current ruling institutions, so the push is made to render the effectiveness of these attempts impotent from the word go (which shows at least those who try to do it are doing something right given the response they are met with)

lets face it, the BNP saw a gap in the 'market' in the mid 1990's when it was clear that nu labour were set to abandon it's traditional constituency, and they put the resources and effort into (superficially) trying to fill that gap. obviously it's just a cover for them to push their real agenda, but it's a dam site more than anyone on the left (and i don't include the iwca as left) has even thought about, let alone attempted to, do, so lets give credit where it's due to voters why on earth would they vote for the 19th century trot left when it offers them just as little as labour currently do

the far right clearly lost the street war in the 70/80's but to be honest that's been in their benefit as they've been refocussing ever since on community politics (again i say superifically but convincingly) while the old opposition to the far right has been for ever stuck in time, waving their lollipops and being blind to the very issues that gives rise to the right (and then we all get blamed come election time for not voting and allowing the BNP to increase their presence, even though those who we are being asked to vote for are responsible for the rise of the far right in the first place, yet as a response we're asked to give them a further mandate!)

Transpontine said...

'why on earth would they vote for the 19th century trot left when it offers them just as little as labour currently do'

Maybe, but my point is that the BNP certainly don't offer anything either. Is it the case that the BNP is doing more community-focused work in working class areas than the left - or is the case that they have a headstart because of the history of racism and populist nationalism which the left never really dealt with when it was stronger. Perhaps a bit of both, but when the National Front can pick up thousands of votes in South London without any real organisation or presence, we can't really credit their superior community organising skills for the result.

ross said...

what they offer, which is more than any other outfit at present, is a capacity and willingness to articulate and engage with those very problems and issues that have led to swathes of former labour supporters who now feel abandonded and disullisioned by the nu labour project to look elsewhere for a voice, the fact that at present it's only really the BNP who are even pretending to be a place for that disillusionment (under the cloak of it's real aims) means that they will continue to garner support for as long as that process continues

I think it is fair to say that the BNP does do more community focussed work in working class/former labour strongholds than the left, but that statement says more about the weakness of the left than the strength or effectiveness of the right, however electoral politics is a relative game and thus this is what we get

the NF is a different case in point, and my points so far have been in relation to the ongoing rise in support for the organised and 21st century far right, i.e. the BNP, i don't extend that analysis to the NF or any of the countless other mirror images of the far left. However the presence of a fairly chunky support for the NF, probably says more about the shifting of the political ground to the right by the BNP (and the tories and labour before them), as now people, mainly ex-labour supporters, who previously would have never considered voting for the BNP, are now finding their concerns (superficially) articulated by the BNP, there has been a gradual de-stigmitisation of voting BNP, this shift in the sands must effect the whole political spectrum and thus out pops increased support for the NF as a result, purely as a result of what the BNP has done over the last decade or so. I'm not suggesting this is the sole reason, however the support that the NF got at the elections obviously represents the support of people who are out and out racist/fascist, if you subtract this from the overall BNP support, the remaining gap represents a large swathe of people who vote BNP, not because they are racist or fascist but because the BNP is the only organisation whose rhetoric about crime, anti-social behaviour, poor access to housing, job insecurity, alienation, multiculturalism (oh the irony with that one) etc.. resonates with them and hence leads them to either triumphantly or reluctantly vote for them come election time. To characterise the whole of the BNP's support as due to them being racist once again displays the ostrich like outlook of being blind to the material issues on the ground that opens up the possibility of people supporting the BNP and thus misses the critical opportunity to confront & negate it. the rise of the far right today can only be confronted by a better, stronger, more committed, more meaningful and substantive community politics that actively & effectively acknowledges, confronts and addresses the day to day issues of working class communities, sadly this fact is either not understood by those who claim to be against the rise of the far right, or if it is seen the monumental task inherent in that analysis is considered too much like hard work and/or work that does not boost the celebrity like establishment status of the current popes of anti racism/fascism, and thus we are left with an increasingly detached from reality lollipop waving carnival as the last impotent response to a very real threat

Transpontine said...

I do have some sympathy for the kind of perspective on this put forward by the Indepenent Working Class Association and others, and agree with the strategy of confronting the BNP on its 'own territory' by the kind of focus on working class communities Ross proposes (while not forgetting that in London a large proportion of the working class aren't white and are pretty unlikely to be voting for the BNP any time soon.)

It's just that I can't buy the idea of support for the BNP as simply a social protest vote with racism as a side issue. The far right are able to draw on a deep reservoir of racism which might have been banished from official discourse but has never really gone away. I think you can end up in a patronising position which assumes that working class people who vote BNP don't understand who they're voting for - for the most part I think they do, and race is a reason why they do - though I agree that this doesn't mean they are all hardcore racists/fascists who should be written off.

ross said...

"I do have some sympathy for the kind of perspective on this put forward by the Indepenent Working Class Association and others, and agree with the strategy of confronting the BNP on its 'own territory' by the kind of focus on working class communities Ross proposes (while not forgetting that in London a large proportion of the working class aren't white and are pretty unlikely to be voting for the BNP any time soon.)"

Yep, but the way you word that (at least the sentence in brackets) is though the notion of progressive community based/led politics only exists as a weapon against the far right (and thus should only be done in areas where the far right have a presence) and is not something that should be done as a thing in and of itself and for the very real tangible benefits that arise from a community coming together, facing, seeking and finding unmediated responses to problems that they face in their day to day lives. this imo, is the ultimate aim - the resultant bulwark that it provides against the rise of the far right and racism is essentially a by product of the main objective (and to treat anti-racism/fascism as a thing in isolation, independent of this, in the 21st century, leads only down the ineffectual and tokenistic lollipop waving route that we so often see these days)

"It's just that I can't buy the idea of support for the BNP as simply a social protest vote with racism as a side issue. The far right are able to draw on a deep reservoir of racism which might have been banished from official discourse but has never really gone away. I think you can end up in a patronising position which assumes that working class people who vote BNP don't understand who they're voting for - for the most part I think they do, and race is a reason why they do - though I agree that this doesn't mean they are all hardcore racists/fascists who should be written off."

well it's a hard thing to prove empircally, all i can point to is say for example in london where all of the council seats that the BNP have won over the last few years are seats that were previously labour held, and the noticeable feature of those contests have been a reduction in labour votes and an increase in BNP votes, with generally static overall voter turnout rates. this could point either to people who previously voted labour not voting for anyone in those elections and people who previously never voted voting for the BNP, or it could suggest a straight switch from people voting labour to voting BNP.

If it is the later, which i believe it is, then it's hard to put all of the the current increase in BNP support down to a deep reservoir of racism, as it implies that either that racism suddenly just appeared in those sections now voting for the BNP, or that it existed historically amongst previously staunch labour voting areas. i can't buy either of those two explanations (although the policy of official multiculturalism over the last couple of decades is probably responsible for an element of the former) which leads me to my opinion that the BNP's filling of the vacuum that new labour created in the mid 1990's, owes it's support more to the issues that it articulates openly (poor access to housing, crime, anti-social behavior, the blight of drugs on working class communities, job insecurity, alienation etc..) than those that it attempts to hide/spin and a deep resorvior (of previously untapped) racism

mark said...

There's members of my family who would quite happily inform you that they voted BNP. They will tell you that it's for all the reasons that Ross outlines above. And because it's all the bloody darkies that cause the problems.

The feeling of loss that change causes are real, but so is the diffused feeling that it is people of other ethnic groups that caused the change.

My uncle, who lives in the northern city that I'm from, feels that all of the shops and businesses local to him have been replaced by ones that are especially asian. What he can't see is that before those shops and businesses moved in, there wasn't a flourishing high street, there was an empty, dead high street with virtually no shops. Now it's flourishing, just with shops and business that he doesn't feel appropriate. He quite literally feels that they're alien to him and his way of life.

So, for him, a quick bit of reckoning up tells him that visibly new people in the area equal change, so the answer is to send the buggers back, or at least send them elsewhere.

He's wrong, but there's the logic. He isn't racist in that he's up for some street fighting and window smashing, but he is racist because he does blame, without any reservations, people of other ethnic backgrounds for what he sees as negative changes to his area.

The 'protest vote' things is a red herring. People vote BNP with conviction, however unsettling that conviction might be.

I can see where Ross comes from, but it is the typical carping response to any action, however ineffectual, to combat racism. It's easy to be doubtful of the effect of things like carnivals and gigs when you know that you aren't guilty of racism yourself.

I think I've probably been shaped by music and popular culture a bit much. I just *know* that there's nothing cool and sexy about racism.

The perception that all left wing activity is somehow airy-fairy, effete, over-intellectual or just a gesture has been the classic fascist line for a long time. The BNP leadership aren't exactly all ex-miners.

I think people do feel left behind and unlistened to, but it's hardly surprising if the debates people think we should be having start with 'how do we stop immigration?' rather than 'how do we make our community stronger?'. I'm not sure what we should do about the fact that people are angry because the government of the day isn't as racist as they'd like it to be.

Cheers,

Mark

ross said...

"There's members of my family who would quite happily inform you that they voted BNP. They will tell you that it's for all the reasons that Ross outlines above. And because it's all the bloody darkies that cause the problems.

The feeling of loss that change causes are real, but so is the diffused feeling that it is people of other ethnic groups that caused the change."

that's the thing both of these two things are real feelings experienced in the day to day reality, however the former is objective whilst the later subjective, and you can see why any post thatcherite govt in power are more than happy to cloud the real underlying issues (i.e. life in a neo-liberalised world) as to why people are faced with the problems that they are faced with in their lives today. racism has always been used as an implicit tool to shift blame and divide those who have essentially the same objective interests, yet time and time again when it comes to elections we're finger wagged by liberals into voting 'anyone but BNP' and therefore to continue to give a mandate and a crutch to the system that creates & permeates the problem in the first place

"I can see where Ross comes from, but it is the typical carping response to any action, however ineffectual, to combat racism. It's easy to be doubtful of the effect of things like carnivals and gigs when you know that you aren't guilty of racism yourself."

well if you aknowledge that the rise of the far right and the racism that comes with it is a real threat, then it's only fair to elicit a carping response to attempts which are (in your own words) ineffectual in doing just that. why should we support tactics that are out of date and have proved time and time again to be ineffectual in even coming close to achieving anything like their stated aims? they don't get us anywhere other than prop up the self importance of the establishment who are involved in promoting themselves in such activities. as to not being guilty of racism myself of course i have been, but it wasn't through going to a festival and waving a lollipop that changed my outlook, so adding my own personal experience to that of the observed empirical lack of success this approach has had over the last decade or so means i'm afraid i'll keep on carping in typical fashion to such dead end tactics for as long as it takes!

Transpontine said...

Interesting contribution Mark, you're point about the BNP leadership is spot-on - while they claim to be the voice of the white working class they actually have total contempt for them - fascism is not democratic and has an inherent social elitism at its heart (see this article for examples.

I think Ross is right that historically racism has been used to divide people, but I wonder whether this is changing - i.e. that crude racism is now dysfunctional for capitalsim in a globalised economy. Not that racism is altogether being abolished, but its outlaw status makes it something to fall back on for people who feel left behind by these changes.

Transpontine said...

Ross: "the way you word that... is though the notion of progressive community based/led politics only exists as a weapon against the far right"

I agree that this approach is right as an end in itself, obviously in the context of this discussion I have been talking about the far right. However I also have faith in people's ability to organise themselves - the last thing people in, say, Barking and Dagenham, need is lots of lefties/anarchos from elsewhere flooding in to 'help' them organise their communities.

ross said...

completely agree and i didn't realise that's what my posts suggested i was proposing.....

Transpontine said...

don't think you were proposing that, but having berated the left for their tactical cluelessness you do wonder what would happen if they started agreeing - it might be like the 70s when student trots were sent into the factories!

ross said...

it's very rare for student trots to be found in any other place than on campus or in trafalgar square after another 'hugely successful' A to B march these days so i think we are safe from that prospect!

Re: "I think Ross is right that historically racism has been used to divide people, but I wonder whether this is changing - i.e. that crude racism is now dysfunctional for capitalsim in a globalised economy"

capitalism is dysfunctional for capitalism in a globalised economy but it is still pursued rigorously, however i don't think this is the place for a discussion of capitalism's contradictions!

however in terms of it's place in the 21st century neo-liberalised world, i'd say it still has a useful role to play for clouding the underlying issues that people are faced with. it's no coincidence that the rise of neo-liberalism in the last 4 decades has went hand in hand with the rise of official multiculturalism, the state & capital would far prefer the social apartheid that multicultarlism crafted where ethnic groups fight each other for a bigger share of ever decreasing resources, it helps place those in similar circumstances as the enemy of each other and clouds the real issues as to why those resources are decreasing overall.

it also has the inherently racist reductionist value of being able to treat large groups of people (who have different hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, goals etc..) as one homogenous blob with one single identity (derived from their ethnicity) and whose support can be delivered as a block through the buttressing of self appointed community leaders (we never hear of the black or asian working class for example)

likewise in an increasingly globalised world where capital, and to a lesser extent labour, can move much more freely around, racism is a godsend for those who wish to cover up the impact of that world torn apart and raped by decades of enforced neo-liberal policies

mark said...

I think one of the difficulties is that it is extremely difficult to artificial create communities, either geographically or or as communities of interest.

Most people just want to get on with being themselves in their own lives, without signing up to a series of responsibilities and obligations.

Where communities do spring up spontaneously is situations of threat or instability. Social capital, the sum of the relationships between people, is not always a positive force. What is good for a particular community may not be good for the community at large and vice versa. In short, it is easier to bond together reactively to respond to perceived 'bad' things than it is to bond together to proactively act to bring about something that may occur in the seemingly distant future.

In a lot of respects, the New Labour project has been caught in a cleft stick on this. It has wanted to both prevent sectional interest being paramount while also looking to target specific problems at a local level. If you do either of these things, you end up either ignoring some 'communities' or favouring one 'community' over another.

The problem is: How do you distribute funds to areas that need them? If a council does not do the work itself, then the money must be distributed by various means like grants and contracts. To do that, you need to find people to give the money to. An instructive read for a similar situation is Tom Wolfe's essay 'Mau Mauing the Flack Catchers', about the ways in which the problems of distributing government aid to communities created a particular situation that made it inevitable that 'self-styled community leaders' were needed.

If you have an already functioning community of interest, it means you have a head start on people who aren't already organised in this way.

The people who claim to be ignored are people who have never had to form themselves into a community, already by default belonging to the majority.

Cheers,

mark

ross said...

"Where communities do spring up spontaneously is situations of threat or instability"

i agree, and after 3 to 4 decades of neo liberal policies thrust upon us and the wider world and against a backdrop of a depletion in the resources of the world and a complete and utter abandonment of the majority working class by the political establishment we have exactly that

there was an interesting article in the guardian today which echoes some of the things i've been saying her (apologies for the long list of quotes from it)

""They haven't just let me down. They've broken my heart," says John Oldcroft, sitting outside the centre. "Stoke-on-Trent has been Labour for 60-odd years and they've taken everything for granted. Labour are just turning into Conservatives. We've got a local BNP lad who lives on the estate and he came and had a word."

Oldcroft voted for the BNP this month"

"There is no BNP army - they cobbled together 40 activists for the local election campaign - and it is hard to find anyone in local politics who believes the BNP are performing constructively or effectively in Stoke's council chamber. But even their political opponents agree that the BNP councillors are busily visible in their local areas. "The BNP have gone into the communities, they've listened to what people said and they've engaged with them in ways Labour haven't for years," says Mick Temple, professor of politics and journalism at Stafford University."

"The men and women of the BNP look like your neighbours," says Michael Tappin, the former Labour group leader and ex-Stoke MEP who lost his council seat on May 1. "They are not the mythical 25st men with body-piercings and tattoos as portrayed by antifascist demonstrators. They are respectable. It's impossible to demonise them. They wear suits, they look tidy." As Tappin says, they pick up old ladies when they fall over in the street, shop for the elderly and cut people's lawns. "It's like that saying about Mussolini - 'at least he made the trains run on time.' Here, it's 'at least they get your grass cut.'"

"The rise of the BNP in Stoke is also the story of Labour's catastrophic decline. Twelve years ago, Labour won all 60 seats on Stoke's new unitary council. Now it holds 15, plus the mayor. Vast swaths of the city - 13 of 20 wards - have no Labour representation: "

"Ask local people what concerns them and the big issues are seldom national, although Gordon Brown gets a kicking over the 10p tax band. Most mentioned are Labour's closure of care homes in Stoke, its Building Schools for the Future project (closing old schools and constructing new ones) and the city's regeneration, which will involve the anachronistic-sounding demolition of streets of Victorian terraces."

""In effect, we have racially segregated estates. Race is a very beguiling solution to economic problems but what drives people into the BNP's arms is poverty, and within poverty I include lack of education.""

"In other cities, Labour's failure would lead to a resurgent Conservative or Liberal Democrat regime but I did not meet anyone on Stoke's estates who votes Tory or Lib Dem. In this one-party state, the BNP has stepped into the vacuum"

"The tactics by a lot of people on the left are out of date," says Lawrence Shaw, a Stoke trade unionist. "Saying 'smash the fascists' doesn't work any more. If there was a serious, union-based alternative to Labour with roots in the community that would see BNP support fall away quite dramatically."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/may/28/labour.thefarright

mark said...

Interesting Lynsey Hanley blog post at The Guardian:

http://tinyurl.com/4fk6ad

She suggests that it's dangerous to create a seperate catagory of person 'the white working class' and let them off the hook for voting for parties they KNOW to be racist.

Cheers,

Mark

ross said...

i agree that it's dangerous to anchor policy/outlook towards a category of white working class, this is however just the same critique of multiculturlism that has been around for nearly two decades yet ignored by both the left and the government who effectively did the same thing elsewhere with other groups and thus created the backlash that we are seeing now

the recent bbc's season on the white working class, was an example of how after decades of trumpeting multiculturalism and finally realising that they'd backed the wrong horse, they decide (in their heads) to take a different slant on things, but ironically they do so using the thinking that has backed the concept of multicultaralism all along, giving us a then a series not on the working class but on the white working class

as for the rest of that article i think it's pretty poor, written from the viewpoint of someone who obviously doesn't have to face the reality of the problems faced by those abandoned by the new labour project, and still seems to reek of the middle class lefty paternalistic view that 'these people just need things explained to them by clever people like myself' - which in itself is ironic as the article seems to be trying to take a stance against behaviour like that in the first place. it also leads back to the same old thing again, this time implictly, that people should continue to vote for parties that have been responsible for the rise of support for the BNP in the first place - this is the problem no the solution!

as for her comment that 'is there anyone else other than the media invented white working class that we would excuse for voting BNP' - there are loads, this is the legacy of official multiculturalism at work, excuses have being made for all kinds of behaviour from artificially homogenised groups within the multiculturalist state, you reap what you sow

Transpontine said...

I think there's a soft multiculturalism and a rigid one. The soft one is simply a recognition of reality - that there is not, nor is there ever likely to be, a single homegenous culture in the UK. People have different ideas, religious beliefs, dress styles, languages, accents, foods. I have no problem with, for instance, schools recognising this diversity rather than - as they used to - trying to turn everyone into identical protestant citizens of the Empire, saluting Queen and country.

The rigid form of multiculturalism divides society into discrete 'communitities' with supposed leaders to represent them. It fails to recognise that real cultural diversity and inter-mixing cuts across these separate 'communities', or that these communities may be fractured by class, gender etc. The rigid approach assumes everybody must belong to an ethnically/culturally defined community and implies that they should exclusively identify with 'their' community. In a sense the BNP have jumped into this by putting themselves forward as representatives of the 'white UK ethnic' community. Of course by putting forward 'whites' as a supposed community of victims, and as one ethnic community amongst others, they are in some ways undermining the classic racist ideology at the heart of the BNP which assumes some natural superiority of white people. But clearly they remain racist, and most people who vote for them must be aware of that.

So I agree that some forms of multiculturalist policy could encourage the formation of a racist white ethnic identity, as could carping on about the 'white working class'. On the other hand there's no going back from a mult-cultural reality. And we need to recognise that populist racism/nationalism in England goes a lot further back than multiculturalism - witness violent attacks on Irish Catholics in the 18th and 19th centuries, on black sailors at the end of the first world war, in Notting Hill 1958, in the reaction of some workers to Enoch Powell in 1968.

ross said...

i agree to an extent on the distinction and which is why i often use the term official multiculturalism when criticising it, however even the soft version of which you speak still has it's downsides, it results in people turning a blind eye to certain forms of behaviour or activity that would not be tolerated elsewhere purely because of what ethnic group they belong from, this toleration at certain levels feeds in to, and supports, a limiting of the freedoms of individuals within certain communities who happen not to want to follow the norms & values of their traditions. anyroads either definition is an oxymoron of sorts as both kinds leads more to a multitude of monoculturalist areas rigidly defined and closed off from each other rather than anything like what the name multicultarism actually suggests.in addition to creating a society built on social apartheid, it seems to encourage toleration of behaviour for community's as a block whilst at the same time encouraging intolerance of choice for individuals within that block, yet for so long pointing this out makes you axiomatically racist in the eyes of the liberal hand wringers

this pretty much brings me back to the first comment i made on here, this idea of celebrating diversity in itself as though that should be some kind of desired end goal and has a value in itself, rather than encouraging freedom on a more general basis to live your life how you want (whilst not bringing harm to others) and if this freedom brings about more diversity then so be it, however if it brings about less diversity then so be it also. more (or less) diversity is a by product of more freedom and as such should not be celebrated in itself, detached from the reasons that underpin (or undermine) it