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Parties, ideology and culture
Author: Thomas Linehan

This book provides a clear and accessible guide to the essential features of interwar British fascism. It focuses on the various fascist parties, fascist personalities and fascist ideologies. The book also looks at British culture and develops the knowledge of undergraduate students by providing a solid source of background material on this important area of interwar British history. The focus on fascist culture throws new light on the character of native fascism and suggests a potentially rich vein of new enquiry for scholars of British fascism. The book considers the membership strength of Britain's interwar fascist parties. The ideas of racial Social-Darwinism influenced British fascism in a number of ways. To begin with, hereditarian ideas and biological determinist models contributed to the emergence of racial theories of anti-semitism. The anti-semitism of the Imperial Fascist League was of a very different order from that of the British fascism. Moreover, to Britain's fascists, artistic modernism, with its creative use of distortion, disintegrative images and general disdain for the traditional discipline of the art form, made a virtue of deformity. The search to uncover the anti-liberal and anti-capitalist pre-fascist lineage would become a highly subjective exercise in invention and take the fascists on an imaginative journey deep into the British past.

Thomas Linehan

Webster also levelled a classic chimeric accusation at Jews, carried over from medieval antisemitism, that they were aiding Satan in his grand design to undermine Christianity. 11 Personality mechanisms might have been at the root of Webster’s anti-Jewish beliefs. An insight into her general psychology can be gauged from the fact that she believed in the occult, mysticism, reincarnation, telepathy and the existence of ghosts. 12 The anti-semitism of the Imperial Fascist League was of a very different order from that of the BF. The IFL advocated a doctrine of racial

in British Fascism 1918-39
Incipient fascism?
Thomas Linehan

stimulate inquiries into Fascism. 47 There was also a body calling itself the Order of the Red Rose, which appeared in 1917. 48 The Order was anti-semitic and opposed to ‘finance capitalism’, and included amongst its members William Sanderson, later of the Imperial Fascist League, and George Mudge, later to join the Britons. In addition, the National Political League (NPL), the National Propaganda Movement Central and the Council of Economic Leagues would make an appearance during the sensitive early postwar years. 49 The latter body sought to ward off the socialist

in British Fascism 1918-39
The British Fascisti and the Imperial Fascist League
Thomas Linehan

’ obsession with the new ‘fascist man’, their neoromantic fascination with the soil, or their desire to develop the philosophical side of fascism. Another of the main fascist parties in interwar Britain was the Imperial Fascist League. The IFL’s origins and history are inextricably bound up with Arnold Leese, one of the period’s most fanatical, uncompromising and idiosyncratic of fascists. Leese was the nephew of a baronet, had a sheltered upbringing as a child, was a teetotaller and non-smoker in his adult life and extolled the virtues of a healthy diet. 57 For much of

in British Fascism 1918-39
Abstract only
Thomas Linehan

majority of these records were hurriedly destroyed by BUF branch officials, who were anxious to conceal the identities of local fascists from the authorities. 3 The whereabouts of branch records that may have escaped destruction remains a mystery. The picture is even bleaker for the other fascist parties of significance, the British Fascisti and the Imperial Fascist League. Both organisations were probably far less diligent than the BUF in compiling and maintaining accurate registers of members. If such records were kept and maintained, their current whereabouts

in British Fascism 1918-39
Thomas Linehan

and drain its moral resistance. 48 Pronouncements on these matters occasionally bordered on the hysterical. A BUF member charged that English literature was full of the ‘ravings of the Onanists, Nymphomaniacs, Drug-fiends, Impotents, Pederasts, Homos, Masochists, and many other abortions’. 49 A similar note of moral outrage and alarm could be found in the commentary of the Imperial Fascist League. The arrival in England of the ‘filthier brand of French novel’ disturbed one IFL member. 50 Other categories of books with sexual themes were equally obnoxious to the

in British Fascism 1918-39
Keith Hodgson

being the product of the English tradition.’9 The insignificance of two inter-war groups that were predicated upon virulent anti-Semitism, the Britons and the Imperial Fascist League, has been further cited in support of this proposition.10 However, not all who have examined British fascism have been so sure that its ultimate failure was pre-ordained. Much of the initial reporting of Italian fascism in the mainstream press was favourable,11 and its early imitator, the British Fascisti (later renamed the British Fascists), once dismissed as ineffectual,12 is now

in Fighting fascism
Abstract only
Networks, methods and strategies
Janet Clark

Branch in relation to some cases of anti-Jewish behaviour. Neither was he impressed by the reported ‘absence of dissent’ when Jews were abused at Bethnal Green meetings. This was, he observed, ‘so much the worse. If the I.F.L. [Imperial Fascist League] are known to distribute labels like “Jews: public enemy No. 1”. Is not this an offence?’86 Game’s response fell short of the assurances that the Home Secretary wanted to see and he minuted his concerns: I have never answered Capt. Hudson, I think. Nor, I think, Mr Laski, KC – and I really don’t know what to say to them

in The National Council for Civil Liberties and the policing of interwar politics
Abstract only
Thomas Linehan

nationalist group aligned to the Imperial Fascist League, proclaimed that ‘the uniform standard of physical beauty’ amongst Greeks, Romans, Celts, Goths, a standard which later permeated medieval and modern Europe, derived from a ‘Nordic racial aristocracy’, or those males ‘fair of skin and hair’ and with blue eyes. 35 For the Nordics, the physical attributes of the Nordic racial aristocracy were the ‘nearest to human perfection’, a ‘truth’ apparently not lost on the ‘great cultures’ of the ancient world, including the Greco-Roman civilisations, who proceeded to invest

in British Fascism 1918-39
Thomas Linehan

ideas and biological determinist models contributed to the emergence of racial theories of anti-semitism. As Richard Thurlow noted, the theory of fixed inborn characteristics, or genetic endowment, was a feature of the crude racial philosophy of the Imperial Fascist League (IFL). According to Thurlow, Arnold Leese of the IFL was convinced that different groups of individuals had ‘fixed and immutable types of character’, which led him to the conclusion that race determined behaviour and cultural attainment. 44 This stress on the pre-determinedness of individual

in British Fascism 1918-39