A. K. CHESTERTON: RADICAL NATIONALIST
by DEREK HOLLAND
“My impression of Strasser? A dauntless man of compelling sincerity and charm. May his Cause prosper because in essentials, it is our own.”
A.K. Chesterton, above left, with Otto Strasser, 1955.
WHEN the NF embarked on its programme of ideological development, it was greeted by most rank and file Nationalists as an important historical landmark. However, there emerged a group of erstwhile Nationalist 'leaders', who denounced the programme, shrieking “the Strasserite cuckoos are back in the nest!”; their intention was to convince grassroots Nationalists that the NF had become a party of national Trotskyites. It's heartening to record that most patriots rejected this absurd proposition because they possessed the ability to distinguish between Trotskyism and our platform of Social Justice.
In their desperate attempts to influence people, the reactionaries resorted to wholesale lies and distortions. Their strategy was especially pronounced when it came to the question of the 'spiritual allegiance' of the Party's first, illustrious Chairman, A.K. Chesterton. The reactionaries, the failed men of yesteryear, propagated the argument that were A.K. alive today, he would roundly condemn the ideological direction of the NF. This article will demonstrate the utter stupidity of this belief by reviewing briefly major points in A.K.'s life.
Arthur Kenneth Chesterton was born of English parents in Krugersdorp, South Africa. In 1915, he enlisted in the 5th South African Light Infantry; by his 17th birthday he had survived three major battles in the German East Africa campaign. He was commissioned and transferred to the 7th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, later receiving the Military Cross for gallantry. Demonstrating great physical courage at an early age, he was later to show even greater moral courage in the realm of politics.
He returned to England in 1924, took up a journalistic career and swiftly rose to the editorship of the Shakespeare Review; he quickly became a widely respected journalist and critic.
The steep decline in Britain's fortunes in the late 20's and early 30's prompted him along with many other patriots, to join Mosley's Blackshirt movement. He rapidly emerged as a leading figure of the movement, being heavily involved in organizing, writing and speaking. From the outset, he was identified with the radical wing of the party, utterly rejecting the Rothermere faction who saw the BUF as "the action arm of the Tory Party". In 1938, disillusioned, he left the Blackshirts. He disliked Mosley's slavish apeing of the German Nazis for two reasons. Firstly, he believed that the Nazis were not the Nationalist miracle they claimed to be; secondly, he argued that the British people wanted British Nationalism, not an imported creed.
PRINCIPLE BEFORE PROFIT
After the war, he resumed his journalistic career and in 1953 became Lord Beaver-brook's literary adviser and personal journalist; the relationship was to prove stormy. The sellout of Britain and her interests caused A.K. to found Candour in 1953 as a rallying point for patriots, much to the annoyance of Beaverbrook. Following a series of confrontations, A.K. was given an ultimatum: choose between a fat salary and rosy future with Beaverbrook or Candour and insecurity; he chose the latter, thereby putting Principle before Profit.
As the sixties wore on, Chesterton realised that Britain's salvation was being hindered by the chronic disunity of British patriots. It was because he was widely held to be the Elder Statesman of British Nationalism that he endeavoured to overcome immense problems of personality and organisational disversity and build a solid, effective Nationalist force.
He recognised that the first phase of this project was the creation of the IDEA of a NATIONAL FRONT and that, in consequence, excessive dogmatism had to be avoided; the result was a broadly based programme that would unite the majority of Nationalists. The period 1967-70 was a difficult one that continually threatened the stability of the fragile merger, but A.K. successfully steered the Party to the 1970 General Election; it was an historic achievement. Overnight, a deeply divided organisation became a unified, living reality.
The next stage would have been a period of education, whereby the membership would have been confirmed in their commitment to the Cause; A.K. knew that the movement could only be built on Principle and not Personality. Unfortunately, he was ousted by a clique of opportunists before the process could begin.
We have taken up the banner bequeathed by A.K., yet the reactionaries insist that we represent a betrayal of A.K.'s ideals. The leading exponents of this argument are a coterie of political pygmies. Well, was A.K. a fervent supporter of National Capitalism as these individuals claim?
The simple answer is no. A.K. was an intelligent and articulate man, who strongly attacked Capitalism. He realized that in attacking a Rockefeller or a Rothschild, he was attacking not only the owners and controllers of the banking system, but also the owners and controllers of the capitalist corporations that are stifling nationhood worldwide.
SUPPORT FOR STRASSER
The reactionaries have cited this journal's interest in the Strasserite worldview as definitive proof of our “Bolshevik roots”. They whine that “if A.K. were alive today, he would be foremost in denouncing the current NF as a blood relative of the SWP”. Is this true?
In an article, 'The Crime of Dr Strasser' (Feb. 1955) A.K. wrote: “Strasser is a potent force and carries tremendous influence among the workers of his country. They (the communists) hate him even more violently than they hated the Nazis themselves”. This would have been an opportune moment for A.K. to denounce Otto Strasser as a National Trotskyite and so confirm the reactionaries in their belief; instead A.K. showed, here and elsewhere, that he was well disposed to Strasser and his platform of Social Justice. For example, he wrote in Candour (March 1955): “I agree with him that the fight is against both Moscow and Wall Street. It happens too that though we are both strong nationalists, we have come to hate 'the State' with its manifold tyrannies and are anxious to see in our own countries, the DEVOLUTION OF POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC POWER.”
This is a total condemnation of the philosophy of the reactionary, who preach the centralization of all power into the hands of “the State”.
Let it be clear, therefore, that in taking a radical anti-capitalist and anti-communist line that seeks to diffuse and distribute the power and wealth of the Nation to the British people, we, of the NF, are confirming a tradition initiated by A.K. Chesterton.