(First Response) On the Recent Nostalgia for Enoch Powell

Enoch Powell, the man behind the infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, has found newfound appreciation in the 21st Century, a fact that unfortunately can be laid at the feet of those responsible for the European immigration crisis. Prior to this, Powell and his speech had effectively been placed into the same box as Mein Kampf and “Segregation Today, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever.” However, among the formerly stigmatized nationalists and even modern conservative intellectuals (including Douglas Murray, who had mounted a defense of Powell in his otherwise wonderful and eye-opening book “The Strange Death of Europe: Identity, Immigration, Islam”), Powell has become a figure of nearly prophetic vision with regards to the changing demographics of Britain. When put into the proper historical context, the fears expounded upon in Powell’s speech are groundless and blatantly racist–the speech was, after all, a reaction to the increasing presence of black people in England and the groundless accusation of interracial rape which instigated the Notting Hill Riots. However, it is easy enough to recontextualize words spoken almost exactly fifty years ago today in order to find a prophet–religion gets away with such blatant intellectual dishonesty all the time. There will always be people who are hungry for revisionism.

Consider the Hobolt article regarding the reasons behind the success of the Leave Vote. The fears of those who voted to abandon the European Union–anti-immigration stances, the desire to reassert control over borders, et cetera–are absolutely not irrational when we look at the disastrous consequences of the mass immigration policies of Europe. Nobody in their right mind would look at Germany, Sweden, Italy or any other country that allowed in such a ridiculous number of people without regard for available space, available resources to adequately care for and integrate these people into the society or the strain that this would place on the native population. Worse than that, transplanting millions of people who come from illiberal, hyper-religious (that is to say Islamic), ultra-conservative third-world countries was going to shift the zeitgeist of the society receiving the transplant. This was destined to be a disaster from the very beginning and, unfortunately, this is the kind of environment where racists, far-right figureheads and fringe groups like The National Front, UKIP, Geert Wilders and Enoch Powell find re-invigoration and, worst of all, vindication.

Unfortunately, years (if not entire decades) will be required to repair the damage caused by this immigrant crisis. Perhaps world leaders will look at these events and realize that they need to think carefully before virtue-signalling their countries toward the brink of illiberal chaos. Otherwise, the vultures of the far right will find a banquet of corpses on which they can feast.


As is was the first time this has happened, Brexit cause quite a stir. Following the relative shock that surrounded the results, many asked if this was an anomaly, or would we continue to see other nations vote to leave the European Union (EU). The reading this week, though, seem to suggest that Britain was perhaps a unique case, and so it should not be viewed as a potential first domino in a row.

Likely due to the geographical separation between the British Isles and continental Europe, Britons have long felt distinct and separate from the rest of Europe. Perhaps it is this reason that none of the major political parties in Britain chose to be entirely for or against Brexit. This national mindset has resulted in recent time in the reluctance to join the European community following the Second World War and the change for Empire to Commonwealth. Even since joining in the 1970s, Britain has continued to act reluctantly with the EU, particularly relating to issues surrounding further integration. With this historic and cultural knowledge, it’s clear that Britain was not just another domino, but a unique case in itself. This isn’t to say that other nations won’t leave the EU, though, but rather that if they leave, it will not be in any way because of Brexit.

First Response: Brexit Wasn’t Built in a Day

For this week, the readings focused on Brexit. More specifically, it focused on whether Brexit is a phenomenon with its root causes stretching back into the 20th century, if it is a more recent phenomenon, or if it has both current and historical roots.

To answer this question, we must first know what Brexit was about. Why did people vote to leave the EU? The readings generally agree that it was due to the populations feeling that they have been left behind by the economy and their negative feeling towards immigration and immigrants. Likewise, these feeling can be traced back to the 1960s when Enoch Powell made his famous Rivers of Blood speech. In it, he quoted a constituent who suggest that it is not long until the white English man no longer has the power in England. Immigrants would have replaced them.

The second reason would be the economic and regulatory issues that some believe the UK faced when in the EU, which can be traced back to the same year that the UK joined the EEC which would become the EU.

While reading the articles I kept asking myself, why did these feelings stay controlled for so long? In other words, why did it take about 50 years for anti-immigration sentiment to push the UK out of the EU? What was unique about the cultural and political situation in 2015? The articles address these parts but I do not feel that the Eurozone collapse could have been enough to push these to the surface. Hopefully, we can tease out the short term causes more in class.

Brexit as a symptom of the Exit of the EU – 1st responder

The EU has been experiencing some skepticism from those in its member states. Especially in recent times with the refugee crisis and Eurozone crisis, which have exposed weaknesses in the EU and its policies. Brexit is one of the examples of this dissatisfaction which has manifested with the people of Britain voting to exit the EU. There were many issues which were apart of this vote including the effect migrants from the EU had in the state. It appears that one of the things that are emerging in the world today, as can be seen with Brexit, is the move towards focusing on one’s own state rather than an interdependence that build a network like the EU. The emerging view is the need to protect values and the citizens themselves which begins with the exclusion of the feeling that they can help others too.

This point can be emphasized more in the dividing of those in the state that have received more education than others. Often it has been the case in Brexit that the less educated people have the less they have benefited from the openness of the EU and therefore take a more Eurosceptic view of the EU rather than those younger people who work in the city and readily experience the integration of the EU. So in saying that, the understanding of the EU, in light of Brexit, has some issues that are deeply set in society and moving forward it can be asked if other nations will follow this. Especially in recent times, the EU seems to be treated with more member states leaving but only with the unfolding of time, events and EU policies can the answer really be discerned.

First Response: Brexit and the Politics of Fear

A dominant feature across this weeks readings was that of the idea that those that were opposed to remaining in the European Union fell into a specific demographic of those that were disenfranchised from globalization. The idea that immigration and regulation were perceived as negative by the leave camp was made evident in both journal articles as well as the Rivers of Blood speech.  The iconography of a river of blood clearly indicates the extremes that the leave camp feel globalization could potentially put them in.

A problematic aspect of this is the misinformation and logical extremes that arise from an issue such as Brexit.  Powell opens his speech in the video by saying “In this country, in 15 or 20 years time, the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”.  40 years have elapsed since that time and this has proven to be in no way shape or form the case but the important aspect of that statement is the fear-mongering.  Fear, as mentioned in both readings is a crucial aspect of Brexit.  The fear of losing ones livelihood to immigrants or losing the identity of the nation are the two dominant fears surrounding Brexit.

The main question surrounding this is how valid are these fears?  Obviously the ‘black man’ does not have the whip over the ‘white man’ but the idea of a loss of national identity is a much more valid fear.  Over 50% of British people for one reason or another felt that the United Kingdom would be better off without the European Union but was this the right decision or was the fear it was based on unfounded?

First responder: Brexit was a long time coming

What struck me most about these readings was the idea that immigrants are an economic drain rather than an economic benefit. Refugees, who fall into the humanitarian category, are one thing. But immigrants are people who come to the country in order to directly contribute to the economy, or to live with and support loved ones who contribute economically.

In the Brexit initial reflections reading, this line section really jumped out,  “Cameron referred to the need to build the EU around ‘the right to work, not the right to claim’, stressing the need to prevent ‘vast migrations’ when new countries joined the EU.” These types of mass migrations and the perceived strain that they put on the UK were one of the main reasons the UK ultimately voted to leave. That quote comes from a 2014 interview. But these anti-immigration sentiments and the belief that immigration is a strain on the system originated much, much earlier.

In Enoch Powell’s 1968 River of Blood speech, there is a hauntingly familiar sentiment, “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents.” This language of dependents is the same idea that Cameron invokes nearly 50 years later.

A cultural lack of understanding about the benefit and importance of immigrants is what, in my opinion, pushed the UK to exit the EU.

What makes the UK different from other countries in the EU? Are they more racist? More anti-immigrant? Or simply more desperate to reclaim their status as a global power?

First Response: Brexiting the Conversation

The British disaffection with the EU, which lead to the final referendum to exit the supranational state, can be summed up in a few words: anti-immigration and the economy.

I think it’s difficult to determine whether some of these issues are long or short term causes, but nonetheless, it is apparent that some have fueled the fire.

In terms of structural causes, Britain was initially left out of some of the forming groups within the European Union. As mentioned in the Meon & Selter reading, they remained out of both the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC). Furthermore, the UK is not a part of the Schengen zone and still use the pound, meaning that they still retain control over their economy.

When I mentioned the issue of migration, this has been a longer term issue with Europe, but mainly within the British context. The “Rivers of Blood” speech said by Enoch Powell in the House of Lords in 1968 has become a focal point in a modern context around the point of anti-immigration. Yet, clearly, these ideas are nothing new. It is the conflation of immigrants with danger that perpetuates the fear and stereotypes. Furthermore, given the context of the migration and refugee crisis, it creates fear, and therefore an issue of ‘national security’.

As Hobolt stated there are a few reasons for some of these longer term issues, including: socioeconomic factors; geographical identities; feelings about the domestic political establishment; and, policy attitudes. As the information from the referendum has showed us, many of those who chose to stay were uneducated. Nonetheless, the government holds a lot of weight internationally, as England is still part of the Security Council.

It is important for us to remember the privileged position that England is in and how this makes them look on the international stage.  

First Response: Brexit

Our readings and videos this week focused on the rise of the Brexit movement and why/how such a movement could have come to pass. What I found interesting was the anti-immigration sentiment within Britain that has been around since before the “river of blood” speech. As history students, we know that Britain is probably the largest exporter of immigrants since the Early Modern Era. Canada, America, and others were once considered “British Colonies” and as a result our most prominent populations are white, all with claims to British or UK heritage. Do you think that the British past will play a part in the British image in the future? Do you think that Britain still considers their past as “colonizers” their ‘great past’?

Brian Lewis’s speech was particularly interesting as he navigated the strategies the British government uses to gain support for their movements, such as allying themselves with the Gay/Lesbian community for political gain as opposed to genuine support. Do you think these communities will see through political schemes such as this? The British population was almost perfectly divided over Brexit, as Brexit won by approximately a 1% lead. Do you think minority populations were in favour of Brexit? Or do you think persecutions of the past have made them wary of all government?

My final question is this: What is the future of Britain? Will their government lean towards the less democratic?

It was a democratic vote that won Brexit the day. Should choices that affect the country on an international scale be left in the hands of the voters?

First Response: Brexit

This week the readings focussed on why a referendum emerged in 2015 and why Britain voted the way it did in its 2015 referendum on Brexit:

Enoch Power’s speech in 1967 shows that there has always been a fear of mass-immigration to the UK. As the UK is not connected to any other countries, immigration has not previously been a huge fear. Enoch shows that there has always been an anti-immigration atmosphere in the UK since WW2 and that it has not merely emerged in the last decade in response to the economic crash and the rise of populist parties in mainland Europe.

Hobolt accounts Brexit to demographics- a population which is split between young and old, educated and uneducated and which lives in a very divided North-South sphere.

Brian Lewis put it down to a long trend of political conservatism and related that to the recent history of same sex relationships in the UK, something which I had not really considered. He always touched on some interesting ideas; namely that right-wing politicians, such as Le Penn, became supporters of same sex marriage, to safeguard western values from Islam, who primarily do not support it.

I think that the most interesting message to come from Brian Lewis’ talk on Brexit is that Britain are nostalgic for their past as a world superpower. There is a generation that is still alive that remembers Britain as a powerhouse of the world. Since the cessation of the Soviet Bloc from 1989, Britain have no longer needed to be a part of the EU as a communist obstacle. It is now just a union of countries, many of which Britain sees as inferior to them. It is important to remember that Britain was Eurosceptic from the outset in 1973, and although I agree that a fear of immigration was an important element in creating the demographic separatism, the foundations of scepticism have always existed amongst that same demographic who voted out. Furthermore, I agree with Lewis in saying that the only reason the referendum occurred was due to a Tory ploy to unify the party. Cameron ‘sacrificed the nation to save his party’.

So my questions for the group this week are:

  • Does Brexit represent a changing revolutionary tide in the UK and Europe or simple continuity with feeling the 1970s?
  • Despite being inherently more Pro-European, is there a possibility that the Brexit domino effect will occur in the rest of Europe, especially where there is already evidence of populist growth?

South African White Genocide and Why You Should Tie Your Shoes – Op Ed 2 (Late)

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton calls to fast track visa extensions in response to South African White farmers who claim “We are being hunted,” and has offended South African officials, and brought wider international attention to an issue that’s obscure to most.

Recent South African farm land seizures has been the latest racial tension between white property owners and the poorer black South Africans, in a long history of racial transgressions. Property owners feel disenfranchised by the State, which comes at an especially vulnerable time as the shadow of Apartheid inequality looms overhead. White Farmers cite anecdotes of the murder and rape. These are examples of an alleged ‘white genocide,’ taking place in South Africa today.

Context is important, and while violent crime including murder and rape has historically been quite high in South Africa, there is no evidence for white genocide. The South African Institute for Security Studies says that white farmers did not appear to be targeted more than any other citizen – racial motivation for these crimes is falsely ascribed.

Leading up to the American Civil War, Southern behaviour paralleled that of the South African white farmers in at least a few ways. In each case they identify an ‘other’, and establish themselves as victims at the hands of this other, and falsely ascribe motif to further entrench the Us vs. Them dichotomy.

In the American case, the Northerners disallowed the spread of slave institutions beyond what were known as the Slave States. Despite the majority not having any stake in slave trade expansion, this hypocritical victimhood complex reframed the restrictions on slave expansion as an attack on all Southerners.

The confinement of slavery was stigmatized as an oppression of states’ rights, akin to attacking Southern families ‘at their firesides’, humiliating their honour and to bring ruin on them. Notice the parallels in the rhetoric from the Southern American slave advocate, and the South African farmers, who both invoke family as a point to defend. This very effectively generated popular support to push the expansionist agenda of slave holders, which precipitated the Civil War.

It also has been an effective strategy for South African Farmers. By building solidarity with a larger group through victimhood, Southern Farmers too receive much greater political support. Despite no evidence for targeted violence against whites, this allegation has brought international recognition to white South African Farmers.

Closer to the truth than ‘white genocide,’ is that violent crime indiscriminately plagues South Africa. Probably whites are not targeted disproportionately as there is a high degree of black on black crime to consider. The statistical gap creates uncertainty on racial characteristics of rural South African crime, and needs to be filled in order to fully discredit claims of white genocide.

The lack of data on this topic implies much about the claims for ‘white genocide’, when no clear picture of farm murder statistics by racial demographics exist. It is an assertion based on anecdotal evidence, much less a systematic issue.

For economic reasons, land owners who are the haves, surrounded by have-nots, will expectedly be targets of violent crime in a violent country like South Africa. Though lies will circle the globe before the truth has a chance to tie its shoes.

Katie Hopkins does not tie shoes. She announced in January that she will be visiting South Africa, alongside many other far right personalities, desperately staking a bid to be the first to record a documentary of this alleged genocide.

Such zeal from these outsiders is misplaced when considering the statistical facts available, or the lack there of – but will history repeat itself? It is no longer a question of whether these farmers could succeed in drawing wider popular support on the false pretense of racially motivated crime – we have seen how successfully a minority interest can co-opt wide support in history. Lies have already circled the world, so tie your shoes.