The Early Days of a Better Nation

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Not the Master Race

A few days ago I forwarded a promotional tweet about
Matthew Collins'
newly revised and reissued memoir Hate: My Life in the British Far Right.

Thanks to the wonders of online marketing, on Friday a free copy of the book landed on my doormat. I finished reading it on Saturday. That's the kind of book it is: hard to put down, very funny, and eye-opening. I've always hated the fash, you understand, but I've sometimes had a dark suspicion that they were a sort of Black Mass satanic inversion of the far left. Happily, I couldn't have been more sadly mistaken. If you've never fully appreciated the significance of German porn ('videos of Animal Farm, and I don't mean the film of George Orwell's book') in the cash-flow and sex-life of British fascism, this book will set you right.

Collins joined the remnants of the National Front as a teenager in the 1980s, at which time the Nazis were in a sorry state, shattered and reduced to a shadow of their late-70s glory by Tories unfairly stealing their votes and Socialists unfairly beating them on the streets. When Collins became sickened and disillusioned he changed sides, became a mole for the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, and helped to wreck the Front from within.

How the squabbling shower of losers, tossers, creeps, thugs, and drunks that make up the British fascist milieu repaired the damage and rebuilt is outside the main story of this book, but not outside its concern, and the lessons Collins draws are challenging. And his deadpan comic timing is flawless:
The C18 crew [the BNP's defence squad] consisted of all the well-known Nazi football hooligans from London, dressed to the nines in expensive gear, snorting drugs off the tables and drinking bottled beers. This was madness. I followed Nicky into the toilet where he was using his Switch card to cut up some more coke.
A cracking read and highly recommended.

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