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Beyond fascism and democracy

Forced into political exile by internment, Mosley read extensively and importantly learnt German in what one biographer called an ‘attempt to think and feel as a European’.21* The result of this newly felt Europeanism was his postwar doctrine of ‘Europe a Nation, Africa an Empire’, with which he relaunched his political career. In November 1947, to a crowd of adoring supporters gathered at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, just after the publication of his postwar statement of ideology, The Alternative, Mosley said:

If they linked the Union of Europe with the development of Africa in a new system of two continents they would build a civilisation which surpassed, and a force which equalled, any power in the world. . . . From that union would be born a civilisation of continuing creation and ever unfolding beauty that would withstand the tests of time.29

The union of Europe was to be the foundation and core of his postwar ideology and was presented both then and sometimes even now as a brave new idea.30

In short Mosley called for a united Europe that would act as a third force to the USA and the USSR. This ‘new’ idea was to be built on a synthesis of all that was best with Europe and America and would thus be ‘beyond Fascism and Democracy’.31 His vision of a mercantilist super-state, perhaps paradoxically, was to be built on a rejection of the internationalism of communism and the transcendence of the narrow nationalism of traditional fascism. It was to be replaced by ‘the extension of patriotism on the basis of kinship’.32 His united Europe was to be a bulwark against communism, and thus, unlike some on the right, Mosley called for the new European Nation to be allied to America because as he saw it:

America and Europe have to work together for survival. The reason is that they are faced with the external menace of a fundamentally opposed and very powerful State, which intends the destruction of the civilisation and cultural heritage of the West in favour of that International Communism.33

As will be shown later, not all on the British far right were so willing to be pro-American.

Unsurprisingly some were shocked by what they wrongly perceived as Mosley’s volte-face away from ‘Britain first’ politics towards Europeanism. Yet for Mosley the two positions were not contradictory, as he saw the union of Europe as a way to protect Britain in the new scientific age: ‘The new science presents at once the best opportunity and the worst danger of all history. It has destroyed for ever the island immunity of Britain and compelled the organisation of life in wider areas’.34 Thus the ‘true service to the British people is now identical with service to the other great peoples of the West’.3’ Mosley perceived Europeanism as an extension rather than a rejection of British interests, not an outright refutation of British nationalism but rather a tactical and necessary shift towards pan-continental nationalism. As Macklin correctly states, Mosley ‘merely adapted and enlarged the parameters of his fascist panacea to suit the times’.36 What is clear is that he really did believe that this plan was the only way to overcome the determinist predictions of Spengler, arguing that it was ‘not a matter of volition, but of compulsion. . . . Within Western Europe . . . resides the answer to the basic question of whether the human species will continue’.37 He concluded: ‘We postulate, therefore, that the Union of Europe is a first condition of human survival’.38

Perhaps more interesting than the plan for a united Europe was his vision for Africa, which he saw as ‘key to all’.39 His plans for Africa developed over time. Initially he envisaged the subsuming of white colonies into his European economic system while the black colonies were to be given immediate independence. This Africa would be divided into two separate nations along racial lines. He later proposed an alternative idea that involved increasing the size of white controlled Africa and ensuring a white majority that would then operate an Apartheid-style system.40 While the intricacies of his idea evolved, in essence, Mosley envisaged a subordinate African empire, which would be developed for two reasons: ‘Food and raw materials’ and because ‘Within the limits of the existing system we cannot find the means to pay for them’.41 A united Europe would engage in ruthless economic imperialism, stripping resources and dumping surplus goods. In Mosley’s eyes this breadbasket adjunct would allow a united Europe to compete with the superpowers on the world stage, end European dependence on American aid and create new spheres of international influence among the great powers. As Mosley delusionally envisaged it, Europe would ‘develop Africa as a source of supply and exchange for European manufactured goods, and . . . leave America the Western Hemisphere and the larger part of the other world markets’.42 Such a proposition might be viewed as unworthy of study if not for its ability to illuminate Mosley’s attitude towards race in the postwar period. Some, like Skidelsky, have attempted to rehabilitate him by casting doubt on his postwar racism, arguing that 'It would be wrong to describe his position as racialist’.43 Yet his Euro-Africa theory makes a mockery of this claim. The briefest investigation of this aspect of his postwar ideology makes it clear that Mosley had lost none of his patronising, imperial racism or his more vulgar and base rhetoric about ‘Ju-Ju- men’.44 He believed his theory would ‘carry the light of Europe through the shades of darkest Africa’45 and made no bones about who this was being done for. As he wrote, ‘The Trusteeship |of Africa] is on behalf of White civilisation. The duty is not to preserve jungles for natives, but to develop rich lands for Europeans’.4*’ In short, as Macklin notes, ‘Mosley’s scheme was not only reminiscent of the worst excesses of eighteenth century slavery it was also completely unworkable’.47

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