This one's for Mr Jonny who reports LIVE, and thankfully still ALIVE, from the scene of the Oxford tussle.
Almost all of the people going to the Oxford Union last night were going in order to refute, denounce and generally take a stand against the policies of the British Nasty Party and the stories of Mr Irving that deny the horror of the holocaust.
Almost all of the people shouting and screaming and intimidating outside were trying to stop them from doing that.
So you have to ask: which side were "Unite Against Fascism" actually on?
What is FASCISM, anyway?
That turns out to be a much more VERY difficult question than you would have thought.
Let me ask someone VERY CLEVER: Mr Doctor Umberto Eco, the famous author and thinker. Because he was born in Italy in 1932 he is just old enough to have had a bit of PERSONAL EXPERIENCE of REAL Fascists.
Writing for the New York Review of Books in 1995, Dr Eco presented his SPOTTERS’ GUIDE to Fascist Regimes. (God Save the Queen, etc.)
The thing about Fascism, argues Dr Eco, is not that it is INTELLECTUALLY COHERENT – because it is SERIOUSLY not – but that it is sufficiently FUZZY to cover a number of brands of totalitarianism.
So Dr Eco sets out, in fourteen steps, how Fascism works. You start with NOSTALGIA for a better past and ASSERT that this gives you the ANSWERS to the problems of the present. Rejection of the "modern" means turning your back on REASON and INTELLECTUALISM. You draw a power base from the FRUSTRATED lower middle class by exploiting their FEAR of anything DIFFERENT. To exploit that FEAR you need to pin the blame on an ENEMY.
What you end up with, then, looks like Fascism. In simple terms, it is an authoritarian movement, characterised by (a) making an excessive virtue of traditional national identity and (b) putting the blame for national ills on some token group who are responsible for some "plot" against the nation, see (a). They are often, but not always, based around a charismatic leader figure who uses a mass of organised "foot soldiers" to participate in intimidation tactics – verbal or physical – to silence any alternative views. Typically strength and unity are valued ABOVE individual rights and freedoms.
Being based on UN-reason and ANTI-intellectualism means that most of your ideas don't stand up to INQUIRY. So intolerance of argument comes fitted AS STANDARD. Furthermore, opposing the brain means worshipping the body, and emphasis is placed on the PHYSICAL over the INTELLECTUAL. Hence the use of force to prevent dissent.
It could also be said that ever since World War Part Two, the word "FASCISTS" has been a convenient universal shorthand for "THE BADDIES".
"Unite Against Fascism" – which is, frankly, the same as saying as "Fascists Against Unity" – identify the elements of "extreme nationalism" (i.e. Mr British Nasty Nick Griffin) and "sinister imaginary conspiracy" (i.e. Mr Storyteller Irving). These crucial features certainly could identify Nasty Nick and the Idiot Irving as WANNABE Fascists IF they were the ones with a massed rabble bullying other students and storming the Union building.
BUT under these circumstances, Nasty Nick and the Idiot Irving ALSO serve as the scapegoats, the "enemy" with their "imaginary plot" against all our "traditional national virtues".
The key factor here is: "DISAGREEMENT = TREASON". Anyone, anyone at all, who disagrees with the protesting League Against Fascism is identified as THE ENEMY.
Mr Nietzsche – and THERE was a man who sailed too close to the Fascist wind – Nietzsche said: "If you're going to fight with MONSTERS watch out that you don't BECOME a monster. And when you gaze into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."
If you are going to use FORCE to stop people disagreeing with you… what have you become?
Having said all that, the downside is that all my definitions also appear to describe Communist Russia… or for that matter, Mr Frown and the Labour.
(You don't believe me? Check out "British Jobs for British Workers" and tell me that's NOT an appeal to the frustrated lower middle class by exploiting their fear of anything different AND making an excessive virtue of traditional national identity all in one!)
In fact, the ONLY thing that REALLY seems to differentiate Fascists from other dictatorships is the use of MILITARY CHIC! Communist dictators might parade the enormous size of their… MISSILES, but it takes yer genuine Fascist to, as Mr Mad Larry might very well put it, FETISHISE that military machismo. Uniforms in grey and tan and khaki just don't cut it; it's not until you pull on the thigh high boots, armbands and black, black leather that you can say you've REALLY made it.
REAL Fascism is a very VISUAL ideology. Sad anoraks like Nasty Nick and Irving sneaking in and out simply do not measure up.