Frank Furedi goes Red-Brown in Hungary
It’s worth witnessing the descent of the former de facto leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Frank Furedi to the far-right. The spectacle will add fuel to the speculation that all is not as it seems with the LM Network and Furedi’s former colleagues. In 2018 I revealed the dark money behind Spiked! Furedi’s former comrades who were in receipt of $300,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation (‘Revealed: US Oil Billionaire Charles Koch Funds UK Anti-Environment Spiked Network’).
Now, as Ravi Bali writes (‘Ex-Marxist Furedi Joins Racist Authoritarians at CPAC Hungary‘): “Frank Furedi––who was the foremost intellectual of UK radical-left group, the Revolutionary Communist Party, for more than 25 years––has made the transition from revolutionary Marxism into the fold of white-nationalist authoritarianism. Furedi spoke last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest, Hungary. CPAC is organised by the American Conservative Union (ACU), the foremost right-wing Republican organisation in the United States.”
It is perhaps no surprise that Furedi has made this turn, given the LM Brexit Ultras dabbling with Faragism, entering Downing Street and hunkering down in the Lords like Baroness Fox of Buckley. Whether this is confirmation that this network were always a clandestine state-run outfit, or have a trajectory from ‘left’ to ‘far-right’ on the basis of a shared hatred of liberalism is not yet clear. Certainly for Bali “Furedi’s collaboration with Orbán and CPAC is an extreme example of a red-brown alliance, in which self-declared leftists become apologists for reaction..”
While Furedi’s appearance at CPAC is an eye-opening event given the other participants – it is a part of a shift from the supposed left to the far-right that his entire network has taken up.
As Andrew Coates has written: “Although the trajectory from the far left to the right is not an uncommon phenomenon, the shift en masse from the RCP to Spiked via Living Marxism, which kept much of the same leading personnel intact and with few openly breaking with the party/network, is more unique. As Chris Gilligan, a former RCP member, has noted, this network seems to be quite a conscious decision made in the late 1990s, citing Dolan Cummings writing for the Spiked Review of Books in 2007:
I never left the RCP: the organisation folded in the mid-Nineties, but few of us actually ‘recanted’ our ideas. Instead we resolved to support one another more informally as we pursued our political tradition as individuals, or launched new projects with more general aims that have also engaged people from different traditions, or none. These include spiked and the Institute of Ideas, where I now work.
Over the years, former RCP members who had made the initial transition into LM and Spiked have fallen away or become less involved, even though their public criticisms of their ex-comrades is muted.”
So who was at CPAC and what do they think?
The event was addressed by Donald Trump (by video), and Tucker Carlson, the white-supremacist, Fox News host. The far-right was represented from across Europe: from Belgium, Vlaams Belang, from Italy, Fratelli d’Italia, from Spain, Vox, from France, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National.
The event – which had a complete media blackout – was peppered by figures from across the American new right.
Mark Krikorian of the American far-right Center for Immigration Studies, argued that ”The “loss of civilizational confidence is the real threat to the West, and it is in that context that mass immigration serves as a threat to Western civilization.” Migrants, Krikorian argued, were not truly assimilating nowadays.
“Patriotic assimilation” was essential Krikorian continued, “where the newcomers, and especially their children, emotionally and psychologically embrace the country and the people they have joined and see the culture and history and heroes as theirs with the blemishes and the glories of it.”
This was responded to by Furedi, who said: “What they’re saying is that the past is a clear and present danger – a danger to our lives in the here and now – which is why you have people in the United Statues getting rid of statues.” This was part of a left-wing attempt to control language, Furedi said; an attempt “to control our minds.”
This is the lodestone of the LM network. Their mantra of libertarianism has ended up with him siding with actual fascists.
According to Andrew Coates: “In his CPAC talk, Furedi made a clear reference to Charlottesville, Virginia and the decision of its city council to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The city council decided that it was no longer acceptable to publicly honour someone who waged the Civil War against the US in order to retain slavery. Strangely, what bothers Furedi is not the Nazis who came to Charlottesville to oppose the removal of the statue, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. It is the anti-racists who wanted to retire the statue from public display in a park because they did not want to continue to honour a pro-slavery figure. Furedi suggests that this is part of an effort “to control our minds”.
Also on display at CPAC, among the swirling of wild paranoia and conspiracism was the idea of Replacement Theory, the belief that America and Europe’s (white) majority is being actively replaced by immigrants and ‘leftists’. This idea has been cited as motivation for a number of school shootings and acts of right-wing terrorism, often claimed as acts of the ‘mentally ill’.
What does this all mean? Who cares if a marginal figure goes to a conference of crackpots in Hungary?
Bali claims: “Furedi is quite an influential figure. He was the main theoretician of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), until it disbanded in 1997. It was once the third-largest organisation on the far left in Britain.”
There are three reasons this is important.
If the RCP are long-gone they have not disappeared. They have instead (almost incredibly) infiltrated into senior and strategic positions throughout the British establishment, in the House of Lords, permanent media fixtures, dozens of front-group think-tanks, even in No 10. What does that tell us about who they are and who they were? How does part of the left (Corbyn and Co for example) getting vilified and buried by the media, and others get ‘invited in’?
The second is what this represents for the left (if we consider Furedi and the LM network the left at all). But, given the position of the ‘anti-imperial left’ on Russia, Putin, Ukraine and Syria we can see a phenomenon of elements of the left so embittered and disorientated by their hatred of ‘liberalism’ that they end-up full-circle sharing ideas and outlooks with the far-right.
This is an example of the left’s real confusion and inability to keep up. A lot of the positions spouted from the Alt-left come from knee-jerk positions that have been held tightly for decades. There’s a continuum between the confused apologists and Furedi where he has ended up.
Third, this exposes the idea that the LM family are dangerous iconoclasts and edgy radicals. When their intellectual leader is exposed like this it’s far more difficult to build a narrative of being (really) of the libertarian left.