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Understanding Britain’s extreme right
Author: Paul Jackson

"Pride in Prejudice offers a concise introduction to the varied extreme right groups active in Britain. It looks to the past, in order to explore the roots of this complex movement, while focusing on the numerous groups and activists that make up Britain’s contemporary extreme right. This timely analysis examines the extreme right movement in terms of ideology and appeal, organisational styles, online and offline activism, approaches to leadership, types of supporters and gendered dynamics. Jackson also evaluates successes and failures in policy responses to the extreme right, and identifies the on-going risks posed by lone-actor terrorism.

Showcasing the latest research, Pride in Prejudice argues that Britain has never been immune from the extreme right, and demonstrates the movement has a long history in the country. It is made up of a wide variety of organisations, helping give this marginalised culture a diverse appeal and many are attracted for emotive as well as more rational reasons. While risks posed by the extreme right are manageable, Jackson concludes that this is only possible if we make ourselves aware of the ways the movement operates, and that by doing so we can also make multicultural liberal democracy more robust.

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Paul Jackson

This opening discussion sets out the ways in which this book will examine the extreme right. It offers concise definitions of key terms including far right, radical right, extreme right and fascism, and presents an overview of the book’s chapter structure. Finally, it starts to develop the argument that the British extreme right is rooted in British culture and identity, and also that the issues it poses do need to be addressed by politicians, and wider civil society.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter introduces the concept of groupuscular nature of the extreme right, a type of organisational style set across a range of competing organisations that developed in Britain and elsewhere after the Second World War. It reflects on the rise of new groups, such as Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement, linking interwar and postwar activism. It examines the impact of a new generation of activists, such as Colin Jordan and John Tyndall, and the significance of new political issues, such as changing demographics in Britain and the decline of empire. Finally, it reflects on the history of the National Front, and later the British National Party, as two important British fascist organisations.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter examines the history of British fascist and extreme right movements up until the end of the Second World War. It considers groups such as the British Brothers’ League as precursors to interwar British fascism, and highlights how leaders such as Rotha Lintorn Orman, Oswald Mosley and Arnold Leese developed openly fascist groups in the interwar years. It explores how these organisations offered competing versions of the ideology, were rooted in radicalised British identities steeped in cultures of empire, as well as taking inspiration from continental fascisms. Finally, it examines other important figures at this time, such as A. K. Chesterton and William Joyce.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter focuses on the development of British fascist and extreme right politics in the 2000s and 2010s. It documents the rise and fall of the British National Party and identifies its ability to develop a new language steeped in prejudice focused on Muslim communities. It also explores the rise of the English Defence League, another group capitalising on similar concerns yet developed in a very different manner. Finally, it reflects on the impact of the collapse of both of these larger organisations, then maps the highly diverse range of fascist and extreme right groupuscules active in Britain in the early 2020s. This culture includes street marching groups, political parties, vloggers, publishers, and a range of alternate cultural spaces.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter reflects on the diversity found in the leadership of the extreme right. It sees leadership in terms of exerting influence and suggests this can be achieved in a variety of ways. It examines issues including charismatic leadership, inspiring stalwart leaders and youth leadership. It reflects on the ways women as well as men have also taken on leadership roles. Moreover, it considers ideological influences, both from British activists as well as American and European ideologues that have exerted influence and inspired activism. In sum, it shows that the movement is diverse and complex, though genuine charismatic leadership is rare in the movement.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter explores the types of people drawn to extreme right activism, and stresses there is no single class or type of person the movement appeals to. Rather, it suggests the extreme right offers an alternate community bound by an emotional regime in which a diverse range of people with shared grievances can feel connected to a wider community of activism. It draws on ethnographic analyses of extreme right groups, including the National Front, the British National Party and the English Defence League. It also argues that, while these activists demonstrate genuine political concerns that should be listened to, it is highly problematic to present them as reflective of the communities they are active in. The extreme right’s activists are outliers, not typical of their communities.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter examines the turn to digital activism across the extreme right since the 1990s. It reflects on the rise of static websites, then a turn to social media, and more recently the impact of messaging apps on the organisational dynamics of the extreme right. It also considers the impact of memes as a new way to communicate politicised ideas and explores the cultivation of new narratives in online spaces, such as the ‘alt right’. It argues that the responses by tech companies to the increased ability to amplify extremist positions reflect a commercial logic, not more fundamental debates on free speech. Efforts to remove groups from mainstream platforms does hamper extreme right activism, and so legislative moves and pressure from campaigns to embarrass companies to remove material will have a tangible effect. As society has made a fundamental shift to a post-digital age, online extreme right activism will remain a problem for the foreseeable future.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter examines the wide range of gendered identities within the British extreme right, past and present. It comments on the appeal of women to interwar fascist groups as an important corrective to those who see this movement as one only appealing to men. Women’s roles were important in the National Front, British National Party and English Defence League as well. Masculinities are also important to consider, and the chapter examines how men can often feel a sense of frustration, while the extreme right space reflects these concerns and offers alternate male ideals to gravitate around, sometimes set in hypermasculine terms. Finally, it explores how gendered politics can be developed to express prejudices, such as the homonationalism that celebrates LGBTQ identities to frame Muslim communities as stereotypically illiberal.

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

This chapter examines the ways violence and the extreme right have often been intertwined. It reflects on the history of extreme right violence, and how this has changed over time, and also the ways the threats from lone actors have grown. It explored the idea of brakes on violence that can restrict aggression from groups, and stresses that fringe activists not only act violently in ways that are inspired by the wider movement, but also that elements of the wider movement celebrate these attacks. As such the extreme right fosters a potent ecosystem steeped in justifications of violence, and while groups tend not to direct aggression, they help sustain an environment likely to produce unpredictable violent attacks. Finally, it documents the wide range of violent attacks from the British extreme right since the 1990s.

in Pride in prejudice