I’m currently researching identity and the far right for a project I’ll (hopefully) be starting soon on Blast Theory and Hydrocracker’s piece ‘Operation Black Antler‘. I just finished ‘The Road to Somewhere’ by David Goodhart and am now 60 pages into ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ by Douglas Murray. The focus of both books is quite different (Murray’s is explicitly cultural, whilst Goodhart takes a more analytical approach based on pollling), but the argument that racism – pure, unadulterated hatred for people of colour – does not exist is a common thread in both books.
Goodhart genuinely seems to think we have reached a post-racial consensus on immigration, bizzarrely citing UKIP as proof (anyone remember Farage’s comment about Africans with HIV and the Breaking Point poster?). His model of the Somewhere citizen essentialises working class communities into centre-right liberal caricatures,where racial animus is just a fact of life and should be read as a measure of belonging.
Murray, at the more extreme end of the spectrum, defines mass immigration as the displacement of one culture with another and only recognises racism when it manifests in a national event such as the Notting Hill Riots in the late 1950s. I’m curious to see what he will say about the EDL. I suspect racism won’t feature too heavily in his analysis of a gang of street fascists.
I struggle to see how either author expects post-Brexit Britain to achieve a greater level of cultural harmony when it denies the scale, veracity or even existence of ingrained racial prejudices. Despite their protestations, I can’t shake the feeling that they believe in their heart of hearts that a cultural re-set to an imagined past is inevitable and desirable.