"Those who speak scornfully of the ignorance of the mob do not err as to the fact itself; their error is in not seeing that just as a crowd is comparitively ignorant, so a crowd is comparitively innocent... you may say if you will that the poor are always at the tail of the procession, and that whether they are morally worse or better depends on whether humanity as a whole is proceeding towards heaven or hell. When humanity is going to hell, the poor are always nearest to heaven".
The Victorian Age in Literature
THE terms 'radical' and 'populist' have both been in relatively common use in Nationalist circles in the past. However, to my knowledge, they have seldom, as yet, been used together. Nonetheless, and in all honesty, I can not claim to be the innovator of the phrase since that honour goes to Margaret Canovan, who applied the term to G.K. Chesterton in her book G.K.Chesterton - Radical Populist, published in 1977.
On reading Miss Canovan's book I was struck first by how apposite the term 'radical populist' was to Chesterton's political and philosophical beliefs; his love of the common man and his championship of the poor being demonstrated in all his writing, not at least in the quote above.
However, I was also struck by how apposite the term 'radical populist' is to the National Front. It seemed to me, as I turned the pages of Miss Canovan's book, that we could learn far more from Chesterton's view of the world than merely the Distributist economic ideas which offered the NF a radical economic alternative to either capitalism or communism.
In fact, by embracing Chesterton's vision of the world, and his understanding of the nature of the people within it, we could come to understand ourselves and our relationship to those we wish to represent, i.e. the mass of the British people. In short, to get ourselves in order, the NF must be a radical populist Party!
However, I would be the first to admit that, of itself, the above assertion is both sweeping and vague. After all, an objective observer may ask, what exactly is meant by 'radical populism'? Starting with a dictionary definition, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines 'radical' as
- Of the root;
- Naturally inherent, essential, fundamental;
- Forming the basis, primary;
- Affecting the foundation, going to the root".
Thus 'radical' means getting to the very root, the very heart of the problem, something which is evidently essential before an objectively correct solution can be found. This makes a mockery of those reactionaries who, like Pavlov's dogs, react automatically and without thought. For example, assertions such as 'radicalism is wrong' or 'radicalism is a myth' are patently absurd.
However, superficially at least, the dictionary definition of 'populist' is not so cut and dried. According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary populist means, rather obscurely, an "adherent of U.S. political party aiming at public control of the railways, graduated income tax, etc., formed 1892; adherent of Russian political party advocating collectivism."
As a staunch opponent of collectivism, and as an Englishman, G.K. Chesterton obviously does not fit this rather antiquated and pedantic definition! Neither, it goes without saying, does the National Front.
Nonetheless, a radical recourse to the dictionary, i.e. looking for the root-meaning of the term, gives us more pertinent and precise definition. The word 'populist' derives from the Latin word populus, meaning people. Hence, a populist is one who believes in his people.
Consequently, we find that a radical populist is one who believes in his people and seeks the root causes for their problems.
Now, however, it is necessary to apply radical populism in a practical sense. What exactly does it mean when we say that the National Front is a radical populist party? How does radical populism differ from other brands of Nationalism?
To answer these questions, a look at the NF's chequered history will prove instructive.
At the end of 1975 there was a split in the National Front, with what became known as the 'populist faction' splitting away to form the National Party. Consequently, those who remained loyal to the National Front came to look on 'populism' as a dirty word.
This distrust of 'populism' was nurtured by the NF's leadership, who wrote that the populists would water down policies. However in hindsight, the real reason for the anti-populism of the NF's leadership is obvious. They distrusted the popular approach because they distrusted the population! They had a cliquish, cultist mentality, rooted in Hitlerism. They were out of tune and out of touch with the public they purported to represent.
Then, as now, populism was attacked by those with a cliquish mentality who wish to turn the National Front into a cult, be it a personality cult or a semi-religious cult. Cranks in sects disliked and distrusted by, and distasteful to, the mass of the people whose support they shun.
Neither need there be any truth in the accusation that populists water-down policies, for in spite of simplistic suggestions to the contrary, there is absolutely no conflict between radicalism and populism because our radical ideas are popular. Although, to reiterate the above quote by Chesterton, the masses may be 'ignorant', they are, nonetheless, in fundamental agreement with our radical viewpoint.
In short, the public by and large, are National Front supporters even if they don't know it yet! As G.K.Chesterton put it: "They (the working class) are under the enormous disadvantage of being right without knowing it. They hold their sound principles as if they were sullen prejudices." (Eugenics And Other Evils).
Our job in the months and years ahead is to make the British people aware that only the National Front reflects their inner feelings and instincts about the state of their Nation. We know this to be true but we have to make them know that it is true. To do that we must be populist, we must present our policies in a popular way. We must be seen as part, not apart, from the people.
And this is where the populist parts ways with those with a cliquish mentality ...
The builders of cults and sects, self-styled leaders of self-styled 'elites', make a virtue of being apart from the people. To these people the public are mindless sheep or, worse still, disgusting dross, not fit to be members of their 'club' or 'cadre'. Unfortunately, ― or fortunately perhaps! ― their pessimistic view of human nature ensures that they can't progress beyond being small and ultimately irrelevant groups.
This is so because cliquism is essentially pessimistic, and pessimism, in turn, is essentially nihilistic ― and nihilism negates growth. Again the relationship between pessimism and nihilism was illustrated succinctly by G.K. Chesterton: "Pessimists... could hardly curse even the blackest thing; for they could hardly see it against its black and eternal background. Nothing was bad, because everything was bad." (Charles Dickens).
Populism, on the other hand, is quintessentially idealistic and optimistic, taking as its central maxim a deep-rooted belief in the inherent worth of the people.
This then is the choice which confronts Nationalists. We can take the path of radical populism or that of cliquish cultism. One leads to the people, the other leads away from the people. One leads to relevance and power, the other to irrelevance and oblivion.