The Third Position: The New Nationalism and the New Racialism

Key to understanding the post-war political fringe re developments that took place in Britain in the 1980s. Specifically, these developments grew out of the British National Front (the activities of NF leaders, Derek Holland and Roberto Fiore, have been noted earlier). These developments helped set the “new nationalists” apart from the Nazi political dinosaurs who, to the young Turks of the movement, droned on endlessly about immigration and the cranial capacities of difference races. The achievement of the intellectually inclined nationalists seemed meager at first. In terms of sheer numbers, the NF membership plummeted. But over time the self-styled national revolutionary elite proved the most successful in breaking into new circles, especially those with religious affiliations.

The Third Positionists of the National Front wanted the student youth support hitherto monopolized by the Marxists. “Social Justice, Ecology and Racial Purity” were called the three pillars of the “new nationalism.” The NF even took up the cause of militant “animal liberation.” The party advanced a remarkably eclectic program drawn from such sources as the Distributism of Chesterton and Belloc, the agrarian utopian-socialism of William Morris, Muammar Qaddafi’s Green Book, the Romanian fascist Iron Guard, and Strasserite National Socialism. Despite the confusing permutations over the years, certain key concepts have remained in steady use—”national revolution,” “against capitalism and communism,” “beyond left and right,” etc.

NF theorists formulated strategies that have become commonplace amongst other far right groups. They can be largely credited with the “new racialism” whereby neo-fascists sought to shed an overtly Nazi racist image. They no longer advocated “race hate” but “racial separatism.” In 1987, under the direction of the triumvirate of Derek Holland, Nick Griffin and Pat Harrington, the NF provoked shock and interest with headlines proclaiming solidarity with “black nationalists” like Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Little came out of it and the NF could only garner the backing of some insignificant, three-man organizations like the Pan-African International Movement. Part of the problem was that black separatists could be as bigoted as their white counterparts, and they may have felt white nationalists were just angling for good copy.

By the mid-1980s the NF had gone through a number of purges. In 1980, NF Chairman John Tyndale was ousted, and over time the old-guard neo-Nazis were eliminated in favor of the more radical revolutionary nationalists. The period 1985-6 saw a further split between the “ideologues” and the “street activists.” For a time this led to a confusing state of affairs in which there were actually two rival NFs. But the smaller and more elite “Political Soldier” wing eventually came out on top. Even after the NF collapsed in 1989, giving rise to the International Third Position (ITP), the Political Soldiers set the tone for neo-fascist subversion in the years to come.


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