I was just reading a few appreciations of Paddy Ashdown, the one-time LibDem leader, who recently died. I tend to adhere to the saying de mortuis nihil nisi bonum, but when it comes to political people, kindness must sometimes give way to clarity.
In fact, I rather liked Paddy Ashdown, at least in parts (not that I ever actually met him). I certainly feel more respect for him than I ever could feel for the idiots who preceded and followed him (Thorpe, Steel, Kennedy, Campbell, Clegg etc, though I do have time for Jo Grimond, whose interesting and erudite memoirs I reviewed on Amazon years ago; Grimond was by far the best of the Liberal/LibDem leaders, to my mind).
I feel that Ashdown was a great deal more honest than most System politicians, for one thing. Also, he was an idealist, and someone willing to put a mission above his (and his family’s) comfort: not many men in their mid-thirties would leave a comfortable and perhaps promising SIS/FCO career to get involved in the hurly-burly of UK politics, particularly for something as marginal as the then Liberal Party (at the time it had only 13 Commons seats, despite having garnered nearly 20% of the popular vote in both of the two 1974 General Elections). Ashdown gave up a pleasant diplomatic/intelligence near-sinecure based in Switzerland to take ordinary jobs in the Yeovil (Somerset) area while pursuing his political mission. When his employer folded, nearly a decade later, Ashdown applied unsuccessfully for 150 jobs. When elected MP for Yeovil in 1983, he had been unemployed for 2 years and was doing unpaid volunteer work as part of a programme for the long-term unemployed.
Not that I agreed with much of Ashdown’s policy-set: an Ashdown is a politician for an England which was disappearing even in the 1970s. He seems to have been sanguine about mass immigration, for one thing. I doubt that he was ever anti-Zionist in any sense (certainly not my sense). Ashdown was no intellectual and not (to my mind) a policy person. Neither was Ashdown intellectually honest in a way that might match what I still perceive to be his personal integrity (leaving aside the “Paddy Pantsdown” episode). Certainly, amid the pathetic rabble called the LibDems, Ashdown could hardly fail to be seen as a star, just as the young Bill Clinton, with his Georgetown, Oxford and Yale academic background, could not fail to shine in the intellectual backwater that is Arkansas.
Yes, much can be laughed at in Ashdown, not least his absurd sense of his own importance and weight, as when he was or tried to be (using my own parody-title for him) “the Lord High Panjandrum of the Balkans and Afghanistan”, but without at least some elevated sense of self-worth, Ashdown would never have tried to be a political leader in the first place, I suppose.
So why am I talking about Ashdown, when this blog piece is supposed to be about the creation of a social-national movement?
What caught my attention about Ashdown as politician was that he only got elected as MP in 1983, after about 8-9 years of trying; also, once he was an MP, it only took him 5 years to become the leader of his party (admittedly tiny in terms of MP numbers).
One of the precepts of the American “self-help” guru Anthony Robbins is that “most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.” That is very true. Examples are all around in history.
Famously, Hitler joined the NSDAP as “Member no.7” in 1919. A year later, it was still of little importance even in its home city, Munich. By 1923 Hitler had attempted the Beer Hall Putsch, which went down in shambolic ignominy; by 1928, 9 years after its foundation, the NSDAP could still only raise a national vote of 2.6%. However, Hitler had built a party and beyond that, a whole volkisch movement. It only needed the right conditions in which to flourish. The Depression provided that, together with the widespread feeling against the Jewish exploitation of the German people: by 1930, the NSDAP had a vote of 18%, by 1932 of 33%, and by 1933 of nearly 44%.
Lenin’s serious revolutionary political activity could be said to have begun with the establishment of Iskra [The Spark] in 1900. Though by 1910, Lenin was still politically marginal, he was considered to be one of the leaders of the Marxist tendency, at least. However, both Bolsheviki and Mensheviki together numbered only 8,400 by 1910 (perhaps 75% of whom were under 30 years of age). Once again, though, the important point is that a party, albeit split, existed and, once the disastrous Russian participation in the European war of 1914 onward had destroyed the strength of the Tsarist government and society, that party could take over the existing uprising in 1917 and perform a coup d’etat later the same year.
Other examples? How about “Solidarity” in Poland? Founded by a small number of workers in Gdansk (former Danzig) in 1980, by 1989 it was the governing party in Poland.
UKIP was formed in 1993 and had become an organized though marginal party by 2003. UKIP never did break through. It peaked in 2014 and deflated from 2015. What stopped UKIP from taking power was not only the UK’s totally unfair First Past the Post electoral system (though that did not help). What stopped UKIP was, first, that it was and (to the extent that it still exists) is not a revolutionary, nor even radical, party/movement; also, there has been no truly “triggering” event comparable to the First World War, the Great Depression etc in the UK of the late 20th/early 21st centuries.
Even if the future for the UK and Europe is a kind of multifaceted civil war, a political party or movement must exist. It is the sine qua non. In a year, it would achieve nothing, but in ten years it could achieve everything.
Further Thoughts, 28 December 2018
As to practical steps, I have blogged before about these:
- Focus on one, two, or a very few areas of the UK at first;
- Establishment of safe zone(s) which can develop into a germinal ethnostate;
- “Tithing” as a way of building up operational funds.