Racism as Anti-Racism
By Brendan Clifford
Racism is, according to the most advanced definition of the Anti-Racist Left in England, something of which only whites are capable. And whites are not only capable of it, but are racist of necessity.
When non-whites identify social qualities with skin colour, that is not racist. And when whites deny that skin colour is of any social consequence, that is racist.
But it was not always so.
Until about twenty years ago, anti-racism meant a denial that race carried specific social attributes with it as a biological inheritance.
It was a denial of the validity of racial stereotypes. and it raised doubts about whether mankind could. in any meaningful sense at all. be divided into races.
Karl Kautsky, the chief theorist of the Socialist International in its better days, published a book entitled Are the Jews a Race? The answer which the socialist movement expected and which was given was that the Jews were not a race.
When Hitler categorised the Jews as a race that was taken as a sign of his inherent degeneracy.
Race & the Citizen
But under the Race Relations Act the Jews are a race. Race has been made a constituent element of citizenship. Camden Council made a race survey of the Borough a couple of years ago. At least one woman refused to answer on the ground that her family had been racially assessed in Germany in the thirties and most of them had gone up in smoke a few years later.
Camden’s race assessors assured her that their purpose was altogether different from Hitler’s. But she told them to go to hell – once bitten, twice shy!
“Anti-Racism” is a movement which, on the old socialist understanding of this matter, would have been regarded as racist. It is deplored by politicians of the establishment. But it is a product of ground which was fertilised with racial conceptions by the Race Relations Act.
Establishment liberalism, finding that it had brought about a situation in which race was threatening to develop, sought to ward it off by legislation which gave official currency to racial conceptions.
(And this was compounded by an Immigration Act which was made indisputably racist by the fact that it allowed the large-scale immigration from a white foreign state – the Irish Republic – to continue without restriction.)
Race Comes to Britain
The prospect of race war arose in connection with the West Indian immigration of the post-war years. It was not that the West Indians brought race conceptions with the and asserted them. Nor was the problem created by the pathetic remnants of Mosley fascism.
I worked on the buses in the late fifties, when London Transport began to be staffed chiefly by Irish and West Indian immigrants. The Irish knew they were immigrants – had we not fought a war to make ourselves a foreign state? The West Indians thought they were British.
They were British officially; they played British games; they belonged to British religions, or were religiously lax in the British manner.
That generation of West Indians would have become black English as the Irish became white English if the liberal establishment which had encouraged them to immigrate had taken some steps to facilitate integration.
But the liberal establishment did nothing, and let the West Indian immigration become a race problem. It did nothing, not because it was racist, but because it was liberal and the thought of actively guiding a social development was alien to it.
Race & West Indians
The West Indians were the source of the race problem, not because they were black but because they were British.
Previous waves of immigrants, as well as the post-war Asian immigration, came from old and well established cultures. When they came to Britain they continued living to a considerable extent in their culture of origin while they made an adaptation to British culture. Left to their own devices, they made a place for themselves in British society.
But the West Indians did not bring with them a well-established culture of their own. They supposed themselves to be British, and when they found that they were not treated as being simply British they were vulnerable to insult in a way that other immigrants were not.
That is why in the sixties they developed a racial hide to protect themselves against the world. (The Round House Conference of 1967 marked the conceptual appearance of the “black race” in English politics.)
Race Relations Act
The liberal establishment, having failed to do anything to secure the British identity with which the West Indians came to England, responded to the emergence of “black power” with the ill-conceived Race Relations Act, instead of with measures to deal with the specific problem of West Indian accommodation to English society.
The absurdity of the Act was pointed up when, as I recall, the first conviction under it was for an expression of prejudice against the “scottish race”.
The Act gave official currency to race conceptions, and religion and national differences were placed under the category of race. The racial form was laid on by the state, and became the raw material of a new radicalism.
The new radicalism has culminated in Anti-Racism. Anti-Racism defines racism as prejudice plus power. And since political power is controlled by the white majority in Britain, only whites can be racist.
Blacks – that is, everybody who is not lily-white – can be as racially bigoted as they please, but can never be racist.
Anti-Racism has this to be said for it: it ridicules the “racial awareness” courses of the multi-cultural wets. It says that whites who go on these courses just become more sophisticated racists.
That must be so in logic, since they cannot cease to be white. And that is so in practice as a matter of experience.
Race Based Politics
Anti-Racism is the best thing that has happened since the Race Relations Act set race politics in motion. It is the consummation of racially based politics, and after a good dose of England might be ready to return to non-racial politics, and to become once more the mongrel nation that doesn’t give a damn about biological breeding.
Either that, or it will become a carefully segregated conglomeration of racial thoroughbreds supervised by Mrs. Boateng.
And where will the Irish fit in then? Ken Livingstone has made us an ethnic minority and declared us to be one of the great oppressed people of the earth. But anyone who cares to go to Ireland and take a look will see that we are whiter than the English.
And we can pass for English whenever we please – look at Callaghan and Healy. In a properly racial Britain we will have a real identity headache.
This appeared in January 1987, in Issue 1 of Labour and Trade Union Review.