Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Guess Who's Coming To Tea

On the extremely rare occasions (I can only think of one, although I admit that it was a very significant one) that Fascist regimes have come to power in countries with monarchies, then they have abolished them as soon as possible in order to get into their stride.

Leaving aside exactly what Franco was or was not - he was never a member of the Falange, never attended the whole of any of its conferences, and was thoroughly despised by the real thing in the Fuerza Nueva - it is undeniable that Spain broke with his legacy specifically by restoring the monarchy.

If numerous local kings, princes, grand dukes and the rest had still been doing what such figures do throughout German-speaking Europe and the Italian Peninsula, then Hitler and Mussolini would have been impossible, since there would simply have been no gap to fill. The ludicrous Mosley, a pioneering European federalist but whose importance at the time is wildly exaggerated in order to do the same for his Communist opponents, openly wanted to abolish all hereditary titles (not his only similarity with New Labour), although that never stopped him from using his own.

When he attends a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, Nick Griffin can doubtless explain all of this to the Queen as the background to his own party's policy of abolishing the monarchy. When not discussing Her Majesty's own descent, both from the "negroid" Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and, via Elizabeth of York, from Muhammad.

This really will be the last opportunity for either of them to have that conversation. The BNP took barely half as many votes this year as last year, fought 38 council seats and lost 36 of them, and lost every seat on Barking & Dagenham Council, of which it had thought that it might take control.

Like the NF before it and the BUF before that, the BNP was always talked up by its sectarian Left opponents, in order to make themselves appear more important than they really were. This remains very much the case with the teaching of the 1930s. Mosley was never really terribly important. Nor was Griffin.

Every thirty or forty years, this tendency reappears to make a lot of noise before going away again. Thankfully, I will be in my sixties or older before it next happens. And thankfully, it would, once more, only last for a few years. That is how these things work.


  1. Break Dancing Jesus15 June 2010 at 16:20

    Still a fascist in dential are we?

    The Mussolini of the provinces and the De Rivera of the North indeed.

  2. Why did the Italian Monarch do nothing about the Fascists?

  3. Partly because he wasn't the real one so far as a lot of the population was concerned. Great swathes of the country had no ancestral loyalty to his House; very far from it indeed, in many cases. Outside Prussia, the Kaiser would have had the same problem against Hitler.

    And then Mussolini, recognising the threat even from a monarchy as precarious as that, got rid of the institution anyway. Of course.

  4. Regarding the King of Italy, Mr. Lindsay is exactly right. Many Italians had no sense of loyalty towards the House of Savoy. In many areas, and especially in the South, the Savoyards and their Piedmontese troops and officials were seen as foreign invaders, more French than “Italian.” For a long time after unification, it was not unusual to find Bourbon loyalists in the Southern provinces. This attitude also partly explains the poor performance of the armies of united Italy, which contained many Southern peasants.

    These peasants did not understand why they were fighting and could care less about much outside of their own locality.

    This attitude also applied to Fascism. When asked what he thought of the Fascists, one Southern peasant said that he barely knew anything about the Fascist regime in Rome, and didn’t care. All he cared about were his crops. I don’t know as much about Northern and Central Italy, but it was true that the monarchy was not popular everywhere.

    Some scholars have also argued that Victor Emmanuel III supported Mussolini as a safeguard against left-wing radicalism and as a possible bulwark of stability.

    There is perhaps some truth to that claim, but it should also be noted that Victor Emmanuel III was something of a weak man who did not even particularly want to be king. I believe he even went so far as to contemplate renouncing the throne in favor of his cousin, the Duke of Aosta.

    The personal defects of Victor Emmanuel III should not be seen as an indictment of the idea of monarchy per se. If I am correct, a number of monarchs opposed fascism in Europe during the World War II period.

    In any event, whatever opportunistic things they may have said in public, most fascists were privately very anti-monarchy. In fact, the entire idea of a monarch seems to defy some important aspects of fascist ideology.

    I mean, how can you support extreme, ethnocentric nationalism when your monarch’s dynasty may have originally come from another country, or whose members have the blood of many different ethnic groups? The whole idea of monarchy seems to fly in the face of racism.