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Moseley - parts Channel 4 missed out

Oswald Moseley inspecting Blackshirts

Generations of people recognise the name of Sir Oswald Mosley as synonymous with Britain's Hitlerite fascist movement and it's infamous Blackshirt thugs. Curious then that such a character should be the subject of a four part series recently shown on Channel Four. Yet the bizarre portrayal of Mosley as a charismatic yet misguided, middle class, womaniser gives a clue to the appeal for such a project.

Big ideas man

The fascist leader is portrayed as an opponent of venal anti-semitism and a promoter of big ideas, while being surrounded by unimaginative politicians and dull opponents who failed to understand him. Represented as a flawed genius, he calls upon his countrymen to sweep away corruption and complacency in order to establish fascism and empire, while being supposedly trapped within his British Union of Fascists by anti-semites and Jew baiters- inevitably played by rogue elements from the lower orders. Yet evidence and testimonies that Mosley was, in fact, a resolute Nazi are skated over, despite being described by his own grandson Ivo, as a "ranting ethnic fanatic".

European Idea

One of Mosley's most enduring concepts was the "European Idea". As early as 1932 the Nazi's called for the creation of a "New Europe" in order to unite corporate Europe against the threat of socialism. This concept was refined in Berlin in 1942 with the publication of "Europaische Wirtschaftgemeingshcaft" (European Economic Community), a grand design which even included plans for a single unitary European state with a European Central Bank.

Mosley consistently campaigned for such an entity, even learning German out of "patriotic duty" while interned during World War Two. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Mosley proclaimed that National Socialism - Nazism - had failed because it was too narrow a concept and began openly advocating "European Socialism".

First to call for European Union

Mosley's British Union Of Fascists was the first political party in Britain in 1949 to call for a European Union. This union was to include parts of north Africa in "Europe". The fascist dream was and remains a "comprehensive policy for the new Europe"- "the complete Union of Europe with an European Government is now a entirely free system, in a large and viable area such as Europe-Africa, could solve the recurrent crises of the present European countries..."

Mosley edited a magazine, "The European", between 1953 and 1959, which called for a "Union of Europe", proclaiming himself leader of the Union Movement which campaigned for "Europe a Nation".

Sir Oswald continued to promote the Nazi vision of a world divided up into self-sufficient, autarkic, blocs which would be corporatist in character, which would deny the existence of class struggle. As such, there are many similarities with Euro-fascist visions and those of ardent Euro-federalists.

Commissioner Interestingly, the French Commissioner, Yves Thibault de Siluy, has even stated the need of insulating "Europe" from the "chaos of world markets". Mosley's paranoid European ideology also called for the creation of a Euro-African "great living space" (Lebensraum in Nazi terms) while excluding imports from third world countries, a concept which remains intact within the Common Agricultural Policy.

The inheritors of the Mosley tradition in Britain exist within groups like the League of St George who carry the slogan "Forward into Europe" on their publications. Such right wing Mosleyite sympathisers operate mostly within the Conservative Party and continue to promote the "European idea".

Darling of the Ruling Class

The enduring fascination with fascism's big ideas and it's horrific glamour maybe the reason why a fanatic like Mosley became the darling of sections of the British ruling class as well as the subject of the recent television series. It also reveals the lasting attraction of the big ideas of empire and imperial power which are still proving to be seductive to political elites within European Union and beyond.

See also
Copying Oswald Moseley
Hitler and European Union
Federalism breeds fascism