race & murder in Britain

Jim heartfield jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Sun Apr 25 13:52:50 PDT 1999

The far right here has just planted its second bomb in an immigrant area, first it was the afro-Caribbean Brixton area of South London and yesterday it was the Asian (that's Bangladeshi to you Americans) area of Brick Lane.

The bombs used are nail bombs, which have caused severe injuries (two Brixtonians stand to lose their sight), though thankfully no-one has yet been killed.

Unlike the US teenagers, these killings are pretty clearly linked to the organised far-right. The venues are the two best-known immigrant areas in London.

Writing in today's Observer, black London Mayoral candidate Trevor Phillips (who used to be the Communist Party backed head of the National Union of Students when I went to college) makes the right point:

The far-right's descent into bomb-planting is a sign not so much of their ascendancy as their political isolation. As Phillips puts it, they have failed to define Englishness in their own likeness.

For twenty years the far-right here survived under the umbrella of the Tory party, through fringe groups like the Monday Club. As long as the right was 'radical' and advancing, then the far-right could act as a kind of radical fringe to the Thatcherites.

But once the Conservative Party was thrown on the defensive, it moved hard and fast to emphasise its distance from the organised far-right. And as the Tory's were politically isolated, the British National Party and the National Front were even more so.

Today they are universally despised. And the use of bombings only emphasises the passing of the days when they could demonstrate throughout London streets with a heavy police escort. Since 1990, the police have stepped up the infiltration and arrest of the organised right, which has many of its supporters now in prison. The head of Scotland Yard's anti-terror squad Grieve has been moved onto policing racial attacks.

In message <v0401170db34919af4b6f@[]>, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> writes
>Jim heartfield wrote:
>>I remember Sid Vicious wearing a Swastika T-Shirt - which had tremendous
>>shock value in Britain - but in no sense meant that he was Nazi or even
>>racist (he wasn't).
>Yeah but Sid Vicious killed only himself.

I guess that depends on what happened with Nancy...

I liked the band too, but there is a strand of romantic adolescent hatred of the world there that is common in a lot of youth culture, with its death-fantasies and narcissistic messianism. Most of us just get over it I guess.

One thing I do think is that you cannot make generalisations on the basis of what a couple of nuts get up to. In a country of 200+ million, there's bound to be a few people who go off the deep-end. It's not necessarily something that you can generalise from. One thing it is not, is the recreation of the Third Reich. That would be to take the adolescents' fantasies as good coin. -- Jim heartfield

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