Jonathan Bowden: “A Socialist Party with the Union Jack”

NOTE: I have made minor alterations to the original words of Bowden where parts of the tape were unintelligible, and where he strayed into incoherence. This was to add readability to tangential and often incoherent thought.

From a table talk at the Union Jack Club, 21st November 2009:

“In the 1970s, the National Front was demonised by the Tory media for being a socialist party with the Union Jack. When I read The Telegraph as a teenager, it said, ‘Forget Rhodesia, hanging, flogging; forget immigration policies…’ — which they instinctively knew a lot of their readers would sympathise with the National Front about — ‘…and concentrate on economics.’ They are socialists, they will tax you, they believe in socialised medicine, socialised education, and so on. They are little different from the center-Left of the Labour party; do not go there. And that’s slightly convincing to many bourgeois people, and of course they’re only a proportion of the society.

I think the way to approach it is to take a different view, and that is: people are class-divided, but it’s also divide and rule. Many middle-class people are deeply patriotic (and they’re probably confused they’re this way, but they are). There are few middle-class people that rubbed their hands with glee at the torment of the working-class during Thatcher’s recession during the early 1980s, contrary to propaganda, because most people have an instinctual patriotism. And the way you can get around all these different problems is: you say to the bourgeois class, [‘Patriotism is the only socialism.’]1 It may be difficult for you in part; there are vast waves of the population of the the Conservative party that never represents working people, never thinks of representing, and then resisted war, they own half the population and you need social economic theorems which cover all of that.

The difference from socialism of the Left in terms of sociality of the Right is that the moral premise is different. The Left believe the enforcement of an equality though social engineering is good, whereas the Right believe it is rather incidental; occasionally necessary, but that it leads to undue equality. Inequality is always the goal, therefore the Right-wing form of social intervention, and the ethic that lies behind it, is different. So when the Tories say, ‘you’re just a group of socialists waving a flag,’ they’re wrong, and that is because the Right do not believe in equality in the way that the Left does. Therefore all of its proposed sociœconomic propositions (that you have a managed capitalism within a nationality, where the straight forwardly successful and entrepreneurial come up to the top, but at the same time they can’t suddenly close down a factory and move it to Hungary and then move it to Indonesia, and cut all of the workers’ wages if it is in their interest to do so because they have a responsibility to the society, to the people that they come from, to the area which they’re born), imply that there is a national development to economic life which superintends ‘my profit,’ ‘my firm,’ ‘my life,’ that sort of purely Libertarian attitude.

Deep down, although many bourgeois conservatives would explode at the hearing of that, many of them secretly agree with those sorts of ideas actually, but they’ve never thought you can say that, because if you do say so you are a ‘fascist’ aren’t you? You’re one of them. The people we fought in the war; the people that shouldn’t be listened to.”

From “Creative Destruction: Bowden on Libertarianism”:

“What looks remarkably nice in Hayek’s books about capitalist markets, such as his book attempting to refute Marx and the idea that there’s a business cycle — there’s no such thing as the business cycle, because it refutes the idea that markets fail. Markets can never fail, and Hayek deduced this sort of econometric text that’s highly mathematical. It’s one of the many texts that he won the Nobel Prize in Economics for. But in the course of this text called The Pure Theory of Capital, he’s trying to prove that capitalism is the only system that works. The problem with those views is they may be mathematically true, but socially and politically they’re not true.

[…] What Libertarianism fails to realise is the sociœconomic consequences of allowing markets to fail to that degree, so they can then start up again in a purist way, are so great and the misery that would be inflicted on tens of millions is so great that in democracy it is literally unfathomable and ill-proportioned and cannot be permitted. … [Libertarianism is] not really a form of practical politics at all, but a form of idealistic philosophising based on market liberalism extending out into all areas of life.

[…] In the nineteenth century the state was much smaller in Western terms, much more laissez-faire; surveillance of the citizen would be nil, but also, of course, statal concern whether you lived or died or not was nil as well.”

1. I added “patriotism is the only socialism” because it is a phrase he used often and most likely intended to say here. He never actually explained what one should say to the bourgeois class, but it is safe to assume that something to the effect of “patriotism is the only socialism” was intended.


Beethoven, Bruckner, and Wagner are my philosophers. I am a (busy) student interested in economics and the arts. My YouTube channel:

3 thoughts on “Jonathan Bowden: “A Socialist Party with the Union Jack”

  1. Interestingly, Mosleyites used to refer to Australia as essentially an national-socialist/ fascistic country in nature, as it had a strong social welfare base along with highly nationalistic foreign policy and a racialist immigration policy.

    1. Yes, you’re right.

      Early 20th century fascism is interesting, but it is my ambition to modernise and formalise those ideas for the 21st century. The social and economic order that Bowden dreamed of can be built in our century, at the very least theoretically.

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