I admit to being a little mystified when I arrived at the British National Party’s 2007 Red, White, and Blue festival. In America, I’m used to nationalists having small, anxious meetings (that is, if the local leftists allow us to meet at all). But what I saw in England was astonishing: Ferris wheels, strong-man competitions, soccer tournaments, pig roasts, face painting, and 2,500 dedicated nationalists—men, women, and children—all gathered to listen, learn, and celebrate. Not only was it moving and inspiring, it was terribly confusing. I began to be haunted by the question, “Why couldn’t this happen in America?”
More than three years later, I’m still haunted by that question. How can we fix the American nationalist movement? Fortunately, many others—both Americans and Europeans—have found this question equally provocative; therefore, Counter-Currents/North American New Right has decided to publish a series of essays that address the American problem, the first of which is adapted from an interview I conducted in the summer of 2007 with BNP Chairman Nick Griffin.
As most readers are aware, Griffin’s tenure as BNP chairman has been controversial among pro-white Americans. While many admire the success and respectability he has brought the BNP, others insist that the party, under Griffin’s leadership, has futilely sacrificed its most important values. At the end of 2010, a year that saw the BNP enlist its first member of color—yet also a year in which two of the party’s leaders sit in the European Parliament—it is especially appropriate to reflect on Griffin’s views of the American nationalist scene. We thus hope that Griffin’s response will spark a constructive dialog that will help us build a vibrant, successful, and positive community of nationalists in America.
My question was “Why can’t we have something like the BNP in America?” Here is Nick Griffin’s answer.
Nick Griffin: At First, we in the BNP had problems similar to the ones you have in the States. Our previous leader, John Tyndall, did things his way for about thirty or so years. And that was a large part of the problem: we had certain personalities involved who wanted to keep doing things their way, so the personalities and the baggage of those people blocked any real change within the party. Now, some people today would say that it’s only the external circumstances which have made the BNP so much more successful—that the reason for our growing success is not the new direction of the party. Well, what proves that isn’t the case is the fact that the National Front, which is still around in Britain, is still marching and stomping around, being quite careless with its image, and it is smaller than ever—basically on the verge of collapse. If our success were due only to external circumstances, we would have grown, but the National Front would have grown proportionately. But that’s not what’s happened. External circumstances come into it, of course, because external circumstances for a nationalist movement haven’t been this good since the Great Depression. But it’s also a matter of cadres, of a solid organization and solid people getting together and doing the right things.
Your leaders in America have sometimes put your movement at a disadvantage, I think, with their derogatory references to the general public, to “Joe and Jill Sixpack” and “lemmings”—implying that these people are scum, basically. And the moment you start to think that way, your members cut themselves off more and more from everyday people. And the more that our people cut themselves off from the general public, then you end up with this tiny, incestuous sort of organization which remains powerless and often adopts extreme rhetoric and concepts. All the while, it becomes more and more repellent to ordinary people. And that’s the key problem. But you can change it, because we’ve changed it here.
Another problem that you’ve had in America is that, because of America’s enormous size, people are able to move away from many problems, like immigration, for example. But now—even in small towns—anywhere which has a substantial agriculture industry is awash with dirt-cheap, illegal labor. Their towns are being transformed. The public response to the Minutemen Project—despite that organization being totally crude and unformed—has been tremendous and positive. You see, there’s this huge groundswell of support in America for the things we’re concerned about. Popular musicians, like country artist Merle Haggard, for instance, are standing up for some of our issues in America—issues which would be beyond the pale in Great Britain. And the American public is able to see that opposition to immigration and so forth isn’t based on crazed hate.
There’s so much potential in the USA. Forget the excuses for why an effective organization hasn’t yet been built there. It’s only because you haven’t had the right single man to do it, or because you haven’t had the right group to do it—the right five or six people to work as a team. And that is what’s missing. That’s not to say it will be easy, because all of the other groups will either want to jump on your back and leech off of you, or they’ll smear you and accuse you of all sorts of horrors. It’s very difficult to build a proper, viable political organization, but it’s got to be done in America. I talk about this to American groups all the time, and the response is getting better and better.
You know, I get more sympathetic radio and other media interviews in America than I do in Great Britain. There are people out there, basically on our wavelength, willing to listen, wanting to get involved. They’d never join the kind of organizations that you’ve typically had in the States, but nevertheless they want to hear something positive and sensible. It’s important to remember that, when someone forms a solid organization, you won’t get rid of all the more extreme groups. You actually don’t want to. We’ve got several over here, and we regard them as our dustbin. And you know what happens if you don’t keep a dustbin around your house. If you just get on and do a good job, you’ll attract the best people from those other organizations. Some of those groups have good people, and they’re only with them because they haven’t seen anything else, or there hasn’t been anyone setting a better example.
Another excuse that is used in America is the size of the place, that it’s simply too big. That won’t do, because Pauline Hanson and a handful of people organized a very effective populist response to mass immigration in Australia, a country whose population is even more scattered geographically than America’s. If you’ve got a group of people willing to tough it out for several years, through what the Front National called their “crossing the desert” period—and in their case that period took seventeen years—then in the end you can pull through with a winning organization. External circumstances in America are changing at such a rate that the organization that gets it right, in a place where there’s so much pent up demand for our kind of politics, can become very popular and develop very, very rapidly.
And related to that, to people who say that the American electoral system discriminates against any third party, I would say that you have the best system for a radical movement to break through. Because here in Europe, we have some areas which are totally Labor, some areas which are totally conservative, and in these areas no other parties have any chance to win. But in America, you’re able to go to these areas and run in the primaries for whichever party is dominant; if you’re in a heavily Democratic area, stand your man as a Democrat. If you’re in a heavily Republican area, stand him as a Republican. And this has been done before in America: where a candidate, a couple of friends, and a dog, basically, without any funding at all, campaign for a few months and the guy gets 35–40% percent of the vote. But, if there’s an entire cadre-based organization behind these candidates, actually getting involved in grassroots political organization, I think you’d have a real chance at seeing some breakthroughs.
And for God’s sake: stop putting people up for president. It’s better to get a dog catcher elected than to waste your time running for the presidency. You can stand in elections under these labels and get elected; and you’ll cause such a huge fuss and controversy about the movement that’s behind it that you shouldn’t even be worried about forming a third party or wasting your time with sensational national elections. I think your system is perfectly designed for our kind of politics. Honestly, though this might be my intellectual arrogance, I think if we were able to dump the twenty or thirty best people from the European nationalist movement into America, we could create something massive within a couple of years. You look at all the advantages America’s got. God, I wish we had that.
It’s important that you start building a grassroots practical movement, doing hands-on community politics, helping areas and running campaigns on vital issues, not just issues connected with race—getting involved with school-oriented and other community issues, things like that. You should start by reading a book on Change Theory called The Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers. We’ve always ridiculed the left for being a bunch of beardy sociologists; the problem is: the sociologists study change theory and communication theory in order to learn how to change the world, so they know how to influence people and make things happen. You need a small group of key people to read these books and consider them, and develop a campaign and propaganda strategy; and then set out on a grassroots politics base in an area dense with nationalists, and enter a primary at the smallest scale available. And do this, mind you, within the two-party system. That will get you a lot of constructive publicity, which you will need to begin capitalizing on immediately.
I believe that America is, potentially, one of the most fertile countries for Eurocentric nationalism on the planet, probably only behind Russia. You have so many advantages: just briefly, you have some states where there is quite generous funding available for political party work. You can start there. You have whole rungs of local government: the school boards, the person manning the dog catchers, and so on, which are, in many places, elected positions. So, there is tremendous opportunity for a sensible party or political organization, with a radical hardcore, to do community politicking in fields that other people probably aren’t interested in. But also, because you’re controversial, when you get the dog pound director elected in this little town, it’s going to get you a lot of attention.
In our latest magazine, we talked about building nationalist strongholds—not geographical strongholds, but strongholds in areas of influence, such as in an independent service man’s organization. Right now you’ve got thousands of men and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and because there’s such domestic opposition to these wars, they’re going to be left feeling completely isolated and neglected. So support operations for them. And build a constructive music scene. See, these are concrete things that you can move into, things that the established parties simply won’t touch. The radical left were absolutely right in their long march through the institutions. They could see that this Gramscian position is not just about politics; it’s about a much broader movement. And that’s very, very important.
Again, it’s a matter of starting small. For example, our first Red, White, and Blue Festival had only about 250 people, and at that point the party couldn’t have possibly considered putting on a festival like we had this weekend, with 2,500 people or so. But once you reach such a level, you get the capability to do the same thing bigger and better. And there also becomes a point that the organization’s resources grow to a certain key level that you have a degree of organizational competence that you can then carry over to different projects. But the key is to start doing practical things and stop talking about skull sizes.
The nationalist readers in all parties of Europe look with concern at the striking absence of something worthwhile in the United States. We would be willing to help you develop your alternative media, to help any serious organization get off the ground, and we’d of course be willing to travel to America to speak at your events. Because if we help get something worthwhile going over there, it will help our cause over here as well. In the end, like Trotsky realized, you can’t have a revolution in just one country. But the lead has to come from you. Don’t think that any of the other groups are going to get serious, because they’ve had decades to do it and they haven’t. So it’s up to good people to come to the right conclusions, to provide leadership, and to get things done. It’s you and no one else.
I joined the National Front when I was fifteen, and by the middle of the 1980s, many of our younger activists—all in our early twenties and younger—tried to rescue it from the wreckage. And for about three years, we began to experiment with things like community politics, non-racist phraseology, collaboration with separatists of other racial groups, and other projects. After a while we began to experience some ideological indigestion, and by 1989 we happened to wreck the organization through indiscipline and inexperience. After the split, I was one of a group that went in the more “extremist” direction with the International Third Position, while some of the others wanted to have a more moderate, modernizing effort.
After the National Front split it was obvious that the movement in Britain was drastically divided. At that time there were several groups, none of which were going anywhere, so we decided to pool our assets and develop a resource center where we could use the experience we had gathered while doing some rather extensive work in British politics. We hoped that, in due course, we could build some contacts, carry out some organizational experimentation, and then build something truly effective.
Then I was in a pretty serious accident, which put me in the hospital and made me pretty damn useless for about a year. When I came back to the resource center, there was another group, a clerical fascist organization, which had basically taken over in my absence. Well, once I was sorted out again, there was nothing there that was of any value to me—they didn’t want me and I didn’t want them—so I went into the wilderness by myself for a period of about eighteen months in the early 90s. Then, I had a friend whose children went to a tiny village school in a very rural part of western England. They were told that they couldn’t have their traditional Christmas celebrations—with Christmas trees, a nativity scene, carols, and things like that—which had been going on for generations. The area’s educational authority declared that, since we’re now a multicultural country, you can’t celebrate Christmas unless you celebrate other holidays, like Diwali and others. The headmaster, who was a left liberal, said that he’d love to celebrate these other holidays, but that they didn’t really have the resources. Plus, he said, it’s not really appropriate here, because this isn’t really an “enriched” area, so to speak. So when he told the education authority that they didn’t have the resources to organize all these different celebrations, they responded by saying that they’d be glad to lend him some saris. When I heard about this—and this is one of the least populated areas in England, totally native—I realized that you can’t run away and hide from this, like I had done by moving up into the hills. I realized that I had to do something about it.
So I began to get in touch with former NF comrades who had moved into the British National Party, which was at that time an intellectually cretinous organization. But I found to my surprise that there were some good people involved—not just old friends of mine but good new people who were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, very keen and very naïve. And I could see that they were going to make all kinds of mistakes that I had already made, since I’d been around politics for a while at this point. So I began getting more and more involved with the BNP from 1993 onward. John Tyndall, who was running it at the time, had a problem with a moderating faction within the party that was trying to change the organization. And because I came from a fairly extreme, hard-line background, he thought it would be helpful to get me involved in various leadership roles. So since I was still fairly radical at that time, I was useful to him.
I got involved with the BNP thinking it was a far better organized group than it was. For example, when I started editing Tyndall’s magazine, Spearhead—which was the party’s main publicity organ—I asked the administrative organizer if he could put me on the mailing list for the organizers’ bulletin. He looked confused and replied that there wasn’t an organizers’ bulletin. There was nothing. So I approached Tyndall—who wanted to know how a bunch of kids had built a more effective organization than he could—and he gave me more and more responsibilities. And it started to make an organizational difference.
At first I had no thought about taking the party over. I gradually got to know the moderates, and in particular I got to spend time doing the things they were doing. And I found that what they were saying was right, that it really was what the public wanted. Also, external circumstances were really changing. While we were a bunch of crazed radicals in the early eighties, it didn’t really matter because there was no space for any serious nationalist organization in the country. But we found that, as the nineties went on, there was proper space opening up, and hence we had a duty to fill.
Then something happened that switched me from being a crazy-eyed extremist into a born-again moderate: one day we were approached by a British television crew that wanted to run a scam on the party and me. They approached us as if they were representatives of the Front National in France, and they offered us 50,000 pounds to help establish a proper nationalist movement over here. At first we thought that was reasonable enough, because we knew that LePen needed Europe’s other nationalist parties to get their acts together. So even though we were a bit suspicious, we decided to go along with it anyway.
Before we met up with these guys who were supposedly from the Front National, we decided that we better read up on their organization and learn something about them. So a friend of mine picked up a couple of leftist academic studies of the Front National—one in particular called The Resistable Rise of Jean Marie LePen—and while we were reading this book, we realized that this is really what we should be doing. Meanwhile, the “television crew,” of course, turned out to be a scam. Before they gave us the 50,000 pounds, they told us they wanted to make sure their money was secure, so they asked if we had a lot of tough young men who could protect their investment if the party was attacked. For proof, they wanted video footage of unarmed combat and things like that. That sort of behavior would have put us in prison for six months, so then we knew it was a trick. But in the end, it was our enemies who had encouraged us to read about how a sensible, successful, modern nationalist party was doing things, and it suddenly appeared right. We decided: that’s the thing to do.
This was absolutely confirmed a bit later. I began writing a book called The Mindbenders, which is now wrongly presented by the left and the liberals as a piece of anti-Semitism. It looked at the frankly disproportionate number of Jews in the mass media, which, coming from the background I had, I viewed basically as a conspiracy. But I’ve changed my mind now. For example, there’s no conspiracy to put blacks at the top of 100-meter races all around the world; they’re just marginally better athletes. Similarly, when you look at the higher levels of society, a tiny overall average edge in intelligence does the trick. There’s no Jewish conspiracy there. They’re just, on average, a bit cleverer than we are, so they tend to gravitate toward the top. And obviously, having a higher degree of ethnocentrism than we do, the Jews will tend to push their own interests. And I say good luck to them; they should be emulated for this, not condemned. Our problem is that our people don’t do it, not that they do it.
So in 1997, when I was partway finished with the book, my house was raided by police on a Race Act charge because of a magazine I was producing. Everything in the magazine was true, but the truth is no defense in English law. During the raid the police took away absolutely everything except my computer and my file cabinet. They always take computers, but for some strange reason they left mine there. When they were leaving, one of the officers looked around at my cluttered file cabinet, saying: “I’ve got a file like that. It’s a very useful file.” A couple of days after the raid, when I was looking around in my office—which was empty except for the file cabinet and the computer—I thought that was a really strange comment for the officer to make. So I looked inside the file cabinet and there it was: my book manuscript for The Mindbenders.
I really began to think about that: this was no accident. This book was part of the reason why they came to arrest me, so they were briefed that the book would be there. They should have taken it with them. But this officer had obviously been ordered by his superiors to leave it there. I then realized that the politicized elements in the British security service want us to put ourselves in this little crazy box—a box with “crazy” written on each side, on the top, and with a flag on it. And that’s why today I’m a genuine modernist; it’s not camouflage. And if any nationalist movement anywhere in the white world wants to get anywhere it’s got to learn that lesson.
1. Arthur Kemp, who was present during this interview, remarked that the party carried out some amusing subterfuge on the infiltrators. He remarked that a video of this prank can be found on YouTube under the title “The Cook Report.”