Thursday, August 18, 2005

Britian's own entry into the Wingnut Olympics

It has come to my attention that this blog might easily be percieved by the uncharitable is American-bashing. So, in the interests of fairness, I thought it was time to point out that the UK has it's fair share of raving right-wing lunatics too. On that note, I'd like to introduce everyone to former TV chat show host, current head of UKIP and nutter extrordinaire Robert Kilroy-Silk. Here's a link to a quick BBC summary of his firing from his TV post.

And a more general overview of his career

And here's the man in his own words, as compiled by Private Eye magazine

I've often heard other British ex-pats compare Kilroy-Silk to Pat Buchannan. Now, I'm no fan of Mr Buchannan, but I do feel that the comparison is a little unfair to him. Buchannan is a crotchety old right-wing bigot, but Kilroy-Silk is absolutely barking mad. I once saw him on TV patiently explaining his theory that the world is run by a secretive cabal of gigantic 7 foot tall alien lizards (one can only assume that he was deeply traumatised by the crappy minseries "V"). No, I'm not kidding and I'm not making this up. Some rather more rational associate seems to have advised him not to mention the lizard theory in public since then, and it's hard to find any information on it (the man has very efficient lawyers), but it was the kind of thing that rather makes an impression on a young girl and I've never forgotten it.
For those of us Brits who often like to indulge in the delusion that our country is much more tolerant than the US Kilroy-Silk should serve as a national wake-up call. The man was for a while the whip of a national political party. He's an MEP. Comforting as it would be to dismiss him as a random loonie, the fact is that people actually voted for this man. There is a segment of our society that hears him say things like this, about the rising rate of TB infections, "The indigenous population is not responsible. The diseases are being brought here by refugees, immigrants and tourists... It is the foreigners that we have to focus on", and think "my, what a clever man, I think I'll vote for him".
It almost makes me wonder if this is the flip side of the famous British fondness for eccentrics. It's one thing when we're smiling at Vivienne Westwood's inexplicable handbags, or enjoying the antics of the Monster Raving Loony Party (which actually is a real national party, by the way), but is it that very love of wierdness which leads us also to tolerate dangerous wackos like Kilroy-Silk? Are people just failing to take him seriously? Or is it just that we enjoy keeping a few nutters around for the entertainment value? That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but when we start ELECTING them the whole thing starts to seem a lot less amusing. Here's another couple of Kilroy-Silk quotes.
""The barmy liberals like Diane Abbott don’t like the word ‘swamped’ when used by the Home Secretary to describe schools and GPs’ surgeries being overrun by asylum seekers who cannot speak English. What word would they prefer? Overwhelmed? Drowned? Submerged? What is the problem with using proper English words to describe an appalling situation that many British people have to put up with?"
"It is simple enough. We station paratroopers a mile from the British end of the [Channel] Tunnel.. The paras herd the immigrants together and cart them off to Dover where they are dumped on a secure slow boat to -- wherever" (17 Mar 2002)."

Still think that Brits are so much more reasonable and tolerant? Somebody voted for this guy. Isn't that an uncomfortable thought?

Addendum : Since everyone may be feeling a bit bummed out by this point I thought I'd provide some comic relief, which after all is the way Brits usually cope with depressing things. Make sure to watch this with the sound turned up.

And another thought - what the hell is going on with all the former leftists who've turned into raving right wing bigots over the past few years? Christopher Hitchins, I'm looking at you (J'accuse, in fact, you hypocritical little bastard). A lot of the neo-cons used to be leftist too. What happened?


FoolishOwl said...

In general, they were crappy Leftists to begin with, and not in touch with real, concrete activism.

Most often, they uncritically accepted that the Soviet Union, or Stalinism in general, was actually socialism, and the only form socialism could take. When, eventually, they were forced to acknowledge that there was something a little dodgy about the Soviet Union, they flipped over to the Right, into more or less uncritical support of the US.

That was pretty much what happened with the few neo-cons who had considered themselves Left in the past. Their view of Left politics was completely abstract.

David Horowitz has made a career (of sorts) out of, "I used to be a Leftist, and I know their secret plans: to KILL US ALL!!!" From what I've read of his biography, he was, for a few years, part of the most psychopathic lunatic fringe of the radical Left, but was only interested in violence against authority, and actually had elitist and misanthropic beliefs even then. In other words, even when he was nominally a Leftist, he was the sort of Leftist that anyone serious about progressive politics would throw out of a meeting before he got too far in his lunatic ranting.

I remember reading Christopher Hitchens years ago, in the early 90s, when he had a regular column in The Nation. Almost every column he wrote struck me as politically conservative, although he always framed it as calling for reform of the Left. The big issue with him was imperialism and colonialism: he accepted the basic chauvinist position that "Western culture," especially that of the US, was better in absolute terms than any other culture, and that therefore US intervention was the best solution to whatever problem the US ruling class claimed it was trying to fix. The critical turning point for Hitchens was the invasion of Yugoslavia, when he announced he was breaking with the Left. Since he's now flirting with Horowitz, who's a complete nutcase just this side of an outright fascist, I consider Hitchens to have completely lost any integrity he ever had.

StealthBadger said...

The other possibility (talked about in The Power of Nightmares) is that quite simply, the neo-cons HAVE no direction of their own, believing that it's not important what myth is used to keep the population in line. So they jumped ship to join what they thought was the winning side.

Kruschev's Secret Speech (which essentially destroyed the U.S. Communist Party, something the FBI had been trying to do for a decade) actually is the beginning of the end of the Old Left. By that time, most of the big neo-cons were already attached to the Republican Party, since the GOP had snagged the most marketable presidential candidate in the U.S. - Dwight D. Eisenhower. Once Eisenhower's expansion of Truman's allegedly insufficient loyalty programs kicked in, Nixon's political protege Joseph McCarthy had already flamed out at the Army-McCarthy hearings, and the Democrats had all but lost the credibility in foreign affairs they'd expected World War II had given them.

StealthBadger said...

I highly reccommend The Red Scare and The Dark Ages by Marty Jezer, which has a great deal of information about the demise of the Old Left, if nothing much about the neo-cons.

Beth said...

I think it's much more porsaic. That is, if we're talking socialism rather than communism. All the 20 something hippy socialists of the 70's got older, got jobs, got mortgages and Mercedes and now pay huge amounts in taxes. Now is when the welfare state has lost its aura of love and grooviness cause it costs a bundle. As long as it was someone else's bundle, it was easy to support.
You know the true socialists, at least here in Canada, because us over 40's who actually earn a good living are still card carrying members of the New Democratic Party knowing they won't be offering tax rebates any time soon.

Cassandra Says said...

I'm willing to buy a combination of craven selfishness and Brian's "people who just like to blow shit up" theory. I think something specific happened to Hitchens during the Clinton administration though. He seems to have felt that he was dissed by the powers that be and have thrown a gigantic strop, followed by "well then, I'll just take me toys and go play with the Republicans instead!".
Pathetic really.

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