Wednesday, October 01, 2014

We're All Fascists Now

The IWA site Click on Wales currently hosts articles on fascism from three of the country's more interesting pensmen Tim Williams, David Melding and Robert Stradling - oh and some of the comments are quite thought-provoking as well.

Now these articles do not discuss the current resurgence of murderous far-right nationalism in Eastern Europe - nurtured and sponsored in the main by the United States and the governments of the EU - nothing so controversial.  No, these articles are concerned with the Wales of 70 and 80 years ago and, you've guessed it, our old pal Saunders Lewis.

Tim Williams has a special talent for getting up people's noses even when he is right.  Surely he is correct when he says that Wales is "wending its inexorable way towards a monoglot English-speaking status." It's not the statement so much as the relish which we imagine he feels at the prospect.  I doubt that even a 1930s Catholic would disagree with his statement that Catholicism was "not on the side of human freedom and progress."  In pre-liberation theology times wasn't that rather the point?  But in any case this plain speaking is hardly likely to endear him to two of the country's larger population segments.

David Melding ably demolishes Williams' attempt to equate fascism with right-wing Catholicism.  Fascism for example worshipped the modern in a way which was anathema to the likes of  a "crank" such as Saunders Lewis.  In a way is Tim Williams something of a crank himself?  While Saunders Lewis wanted to turn the clock back to a rural, Catholic, monoglot elitist past, Williams' sympathies lie with the despised people he sees as having created modern Wales "and the political tool of the majority - industrial Wales and the Labour party."  A valley Wales which to all intents and purposes is as dead as perchentyaeth* and the itinerant bard tramping the countryside between the halls of his patrons.

Robert Stradling contrasts the Wales of the 1930s, proletarian and socialist, with an Ireland largely sympathetic to the right-wing Catholic dictatorships, and possessing the largest fascist party in Europe not in power.  Thinking perhaps of Lewis and his allies Stradling quotes Gwyn Alf Williams "it was as well for Wales that there was an English channel in 1940."  This is a common viewpoint that seems to think that a Nazi victory would have led to a Welsh puppet regime. I doubt this would have been the case - many in the English elite would have been eager to co-operate with a victorious Germany and the anglophile Hitler would have been happy enough to indulge them.  More likely Wales would have been the scene of some violent resistance in the Valleys, bloodily suppressed by London's quislings.  Where would Saunders Lewis have stood?  Well we have his own words, as reported in the Western Mail, to help us decide:  "It is possible, he added, that there would be bloodshed in South Wales if there was a Fascist Government. In such a case the Nationalist Party must take sides with the popular masses of Wales against Fascist dictatorship."

Is there a purpose, beyond entertaining history buffs such as myself, in this continuing discussion of the minutiae of Welsh history.  It's doubtful, although I would love to read a work about real Welsh fascists, rather than the imaginary ones puffed-up for shabby political advantage.   I've blogged about some here and hereThis is quite interesting as an illustration of current academic standards east of the Dyke.

Far better to discuss the present-day, the way in which Communism and Nazism are now treated as two sides of the same coin for example.  What in the 1980s were considered to be the viewpoints of over-the-top cold-war ideologues and emigres with unsavory backstories are now the mainstream. It won't be long before Hitler and Nazism are declared the lesser evil, all of which suits those elites who see the now disorganised working class as a latent threat to their hegemony.

Today the Ukraine is like some 1940s re-enactment park, except the refugees, the shelled working-class districts and the tortured bodies are real enough.  All this hushed-up by a neo-conservative mass media and given the green-light by the likes of Merkel.  Meanwhile the European and Anglo-American elites plan their Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a perfect recipe for the corporate state.

The question we should be discussing isn't whether Saunders Lewis was fascist but are we?

*  To those unfamiliar with this term I don't believe it to mean home ownership which seems to be the wikipedia version of the word.  Rather it is the obligation towards wider society placed upon those privileged to enjoy wealth.


Robert Tyler said...

Some excellent observations.

Anonymous said...

The IWA has done itself no favours commissioning arch Blarite Tim Williams to spread his muck so soon after BBC Wales desperate reporting that Wales no longer has any appetite for independence narrative they’re peddling so hard.

Despite the two subsequent article the whole series reeks of partisan point scoring as the comments on Tim’s article from Labour supporters prove his appeal is as a polemicist for Plaid Cymru haters and language, he has nothing positive to say about Wales.

Even under John Osmond a well known Plaid Cymru supporter the IWA was never this biased, since Lee Waters has taken over it’s slowly becoming little more than a Labour propaganda tool

Unknown said...


radnorian said...

Yes Unknown that definition says "the office and privilege of landowner"

I don't think that's entirely correct as privilege also meant responsibility. Additionally in Welsh law land couldn't usually be owned only occupied. So that for example an occupier of land could not dispose of land by sale and thereby deny his descendants their rights.

Geiriadur Prifysgol has this:
"the condition of being a householder, status (duties, &c.) of a householder (esp. with ref. to the system of patronage by the Welsh nobility in the later Middle Ages and the following centuries), hospitality, welcome; house-ownership, a householding"

This is fair enough as it notes "duties". I guess people look at the term householder and their modern minds read one thing. Infact what we have is a quite different way of looking at things which people in much of the world, where the tribe and the clan still have meaning, might understand better than modern-day Welsh folk.