By TOM ACTON
THE SOCIALIST PARTY of Great Britain is slightly unusual among 'extreme-left' groups. Unlike the shrill rantings of the SWP or the WRP, the SPGB in its publications generally attempts to advance its cause through logical argument and reason. Unusually among revolutionary Socialists they have sufficient faith in their beliefs to be to debate issues with their opponents, instead of trying simply to intimidate them.
Thus, when the SPGB produce a substantial 88-page booklet, Racism, which attempts to set out in intricate detail the anti-racist case, it seems only reasonable to treat it seriously and see if it does make a good case against racial nationalism.
Certainly its eighty-eight pages do the anti-racist case justice. An attempt to define race is made, the historical development of 'racism' is reviewed, as is 'racism' in the USA, South Africa and Britain. The booklet concludes with "What is to be done?" - the socialist alternative to racialism. Scarcely a single anti-racist cliché is forgotten as Racism warms to its task.
So what does Racism say? Is it in fact a damning indictment of the racialist case, something so cogently argued that only the most prejudiced bigot could fail to agree with it? In a word - no. In fact any self-respecting racialist reading Racism is likely to take comfort from the illogical irrelevance of most of its contents.
A cartoon from Racism – reveals more about anti-racialist prejudiced than it does about racialism.
The first thing that one notices in Racism is a reluctance to properly define terms. This reluctance conveniently permits the anonymous authors to indulge in the luxury of woolly reasoning and irrelevant argument.
Take 'racism' itself for example, defined by the SPGB in a mere eleven words as "the theory that people of one race are superior to another." All peoples and organisations deemed to be 'racist' are assumed to share this viewpoint - including the National Front - and Racism devotes itself to a refutation of creeds based on this premise.
Yet this definition is wholly inadequate, as would any definition be that tried to encompass the vast range of racialist theories and beliefs within a single definition. This point can best be illustrated by considering if the term 'socialism' can be given one single definition in view of the wide, and often conflicting, range of policies that have been implemented in its name.
Can one define 'socialism' simply by defining Stalinist Russia: 'Socialism is a system of absolute dictatorship, where people can be exterminated by the million for disagreeing with the Party Leader?' I'm sure the SPGB would be the first to complain if one did.
Yet ideologies based on some sort of appreciation of racial factors are just as wide and varied, and any anti-racialist arguments that fail to acknowledge this fact are flawed from the start.
There is for example a world of difference between a racial separatist and a racial supremacist. The former essentially believes that the various races are inherently different, that these differences are to be valued and are worth preserving by means of geographical separation, each distinct people being free to pursue the way of life of their own choosing in their own country.
The supremacist on the other hand does believe that races can be judged by a single standard, and may then, but need not, believe that the superior should rule over the inferior. In fact the latter 'racialist' seeks the creation, not of mono-racialism, but of what are in effect mixed-race societies, albeit ones where there is strict internal social segregation.
Whilst some 'racists' may well be motivated by animosity towards those of other races many others are motivated by the realisation that multi-racialism is a threat to all races, that it threatens humankind's greatest asset - its diversity, and that racialism works for the betterment of all.
A constant feature of Racism, and indeed of multi-racial propaganda generally, is to condemn racialists, not for what they actually believe in, but for what multi-racialists think racialists ought to believe in.
Thus racialists are condemned for basing their belief on the works of 19th century ethnologists, like de Gobineau, works which Racism not unreasonably condemns as unreliable and frequently wrong. In fact much of the scientific underpinning of racial nationalist ideology comes from discoveries made in the related fields of genetics, sociobiology, ethology and ethnology over the last twenty to thirty years.
Multi-racialists frequently spend vast amounts of time and effort researching the obscurest and crankiest writings on race in the nineteenth century, and then quietly ignore what is virtually the entire mainstream of modern Western scientific thought, on race and related topics. No prizes for guessing why!
Then there-is the claim that 'Racists are obsessed with colour! It is apparently the only thing we are interested in. One wonders why, in that case, we don't accept albino negroes as National Front members, and call for the repatriation of people with sun tans.
In fact racialists recognise that the various races differ in a multitude of ways; skin colouration is only a minor difference (although the sheer obviousness this difference inevitably imbues it with substantial symbolic and practical significance). It is only because ethnic differences are so profound and far reaching, beyond mere skin colouration, ; racialists do in fact consider race to be so important.
Indeed it is very noticeable that it is multi-racialists who, in order to minimise racial differences, always refer to 'Black' and 'White', rather than say Negro and European. They then accuse racialists with having an obsession with colour! 'Chutzpah' is, I believe, the appropriate term to describe this.
Racism's attempts to show the advantages of racial mixing are hilarious to say the least, and indicate how multi-racialists are forced to ignore reality to justify multi-racialism. Let's see what Racism has to say about America. "If racial mixing were detrimental to a society, causing it to stagnate or regress, then America would be among the most backward nations in the world. In fact, as we know, it is among the most advanced end high developed – probably the most powerful state in the world."
It is ironic that "good socialists" like the SPGB should be reduced to praising Capitalist America to justify racial-mixing – and the SPGB is obviously embarassed by its own arguments here – but the entire argument is entirely spurious. America is not populated by racially-mixed half-castes; indeed there is a conflicting line of multi-racist arguments to the effect that the White majority dominates the economic, political and military life of the country, excluding the ethnic minorities.
America has in fact one of the largest White populations of any nation on earth thus: the claim in Racism that the US "militarily, economically and politically... dominates much of the world" scarcely proves how successful 'racial fusion' is – rather the converse in fact.
The constraints of socialist thinking force the SPGB to support some pretty strange conclusions. Chief among them is the old myth that 'capitalism creates and supports racialism'. The reality is that capitalism is the most powerful force on earth at present working for the destruction of national and ethnic identities.
In fairness capitalism isn't inherently motivated either for or against racialism; it is however motivated to maximise profits. Capitalism has evolved over the last two centuries to its present internationalist stage. The capitalist world is now dominated by giant multi-national corporations, which owe no loyalty to any race or nation, and which perceive ethnic and national identities as a barrier to efficient trade, and global profit maximisation.
Historically this was not always so, of course, and South Africa is a good example. Once it was indeed profitable for capitalism to back apartheid, which in practice guaranteed it a source of cheap black labour. Now however international capitalism has clearly come to the conclusion that it will be more profitable to back Black Africa, and is disinvesting from South Africa as rapidly as possible.
At present, and for the foreseeable future, the inherent dynamic of capitalism – the profit motive – forces it to be actively internationalist and multi-racialist. The SPGB are right to condemn Capitalism, even though they do so for precisely the wrong reasons, since the creed they condemn has done more to advance internationalism and anti-racialism than they will ever do.
In conclusion the SPGB ought to be given credit for trying to rationally argue their case. They are at least rather more honest than most multi-racialists. For example unlike some who claim that 'Britain has always been a multi-racial society' the SPGB does concede that "The first immigrants – about 500 from Jamaica – came in 1948".
However they are trying to defend the indefensible, and the most ingenious of arguments can scarcely conceal the fact. Nationalists need not lose any sleep fearing that there is any danger of multiracialists winning an argument.