Oswald Mosley


British Fascism was a revolt against an old world that had failed to solve the economic and social problems of the 1920s and 1930s. The old world was entrenched in the ideas of the nineteenth century, principally the economics of laissez-faire capitalism, a doctrine based on the belief that a system of free trade based on international competition would correct itself without state intervention.

This system of economic liberalism was based on a paradox that was ultimately responsible for low wages, poverty and unemployment. It was believed that an economy could provide demand to meet production so long as nothing interfered with it. The laws of the market, however, relied on low wages to expand production but with low wages came a home market with less purchasing power.

The workers were then denied the opportunity to buy the goods they produced. This was the paradox responsible for the plight of the working class in Britain.

Mosley transcended both free market economics and the Marxist alternative. He rejected both the belief of those who put their blind trust in international competition based on free trade and those who simply waited for capitalism to collapse through its “inherent contradictions”, as the Marxists viewed the recurring crises.

Before turning to fascism, Mosley had visited America where he witnessed a higher standard of living linked to a highly developed technology. The secret he found rested on the existence of a large home market protected from the competition of low-waged imports because America was large enough geographically to become self-sufficient in food production and raw materials. Restricted immigration also maintained a shortage of labour that gave the unions more clout to push wages up to a higher standard of living for the workers, thus giving them the purchasing power to buy the goods they produced. The elimination of the need to trade with the rest of the world by being self-sufficient solved most problems.

So why not do the same with the resources of the British Empire?

The main obstacle was the City of London. The main occupation of the City of London was foreign lending for the purpose of making profits for financiers. As the home market became depressed through low wages and unemployment, the City of London invested more and more in foreign countries. With the absence of gold and other services in these countries, the interest from loans was drawn back on foreign imports … knocking down the producers and consumers in Britain.

Mosley attacked this system for its predatory affects on the national economy claiming that the speculative nature of international finance led to instability and the destruction of British industry.

His other target was the House of Commons and the government of the day which he described as the “debt collectors for the City of London”, incapable of challenging the vested interests of finance-capitalism and then betraying the workers, as MacDonald’s Labour government had done previously.

Herein lies the reason for Mosley’s decision to turn to fascism. Parliamentary government was too enfeebled, too corrupt and lacking the real power to act. The very idea of internationalism was at the root of this political paralysis because on the one hand you had the Labour Party socialists committed to the notion of an international brotherhood and the reactionaries in the Tory Party wedded to international capitalism and free trade. Later, in British Union’s paper Action he was to write …… 

Prate of world brotherhood from the socialists opens up the way to world exploitation by the financier”. (Sept 11, 1937)

The errors of this internationalist doctrine were enshrined in both socialist and capitalist thinking from which neither side could extricate itself and the workers were always the losers.

That the noble principle of the “brotherhood of man” could triumph over international finance and liberate the workers from the shackles of usury seemed to be an ideal worth striving for. The reality, however, was that this “brotherhood” of the workers was mistakenly believed to be internationalist by nature thereby linking it with the internationalist practices of the financiers.

To attempt a national solution to these economic problems was unthinkable to the socialists of the Labour Party simply because it would shatter their ideal of “world brotherhood” and so they remained fettered to the old system of exploitation.

Internationalists of the world had truly united!

Mosley turned his back on parliamentary democracy as a rejection of the type of men it produced. Party politics drained any fight or true idealism from those who entered the corridors of Westminster. They became corrupted immediately they engaged in the rules and rituals of a chamber full to the brim with windbags, sycophants and those hesitant to act against the system.

In his book, Tomorrow We Live, he wrote, “Many a good revolutionary has arrived at Westminster roaring like a lion, only a few months later to be cooing as the tame dove of his opponent. The bar, the smoking room, the lobby, the dinner tables of his constituents’ enemies and the atmosphere of the best club in the country, very quickly rob a people’s champion of his vitality and fighting power”.

Fascism offered the alternative of a new type of man willing to take on the entire system of international usury and the financiers that used it for their own profits. The new type of man that fascism was to produce was of almost Nietzschean proportions, imbued with a heroic vitalism in stark contrast to a bloated and corrupt practitioner of endless talk and no action.

The trenches of the First World War were the cradle of rebirth for the “new man”, forged and moulded through the fiery furnace of horrific warfare … to return home to a land their generation gave so much in bloody sacrifice. It was not long for the betrayal to become obvious.

In BUF, Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, James Drennan wrote, “Out of the night of history old shadows are appearing which menace their bourgeois complacency. Growing groups of unknown men out of the streets are laughing the unbeliever’s hollow laugh at all those things the democrat has taught the people to hold dear. Worst of all, a figure appears that they had thought was gone for ever over the great scaffolds of the Reformation … The oligarchs and the democrats dread this classic figure more than anarchy – for it is the figure of the Leader …”.

The personal qualities of leadership were evident in Mosley’s personality and style. A phenomenal platform speaker, he articulated his arguments more fluently than most. It was this ability to analyse and define his beliefs that swayed so many to his side and gave hope to thousands.

He threatened the very existence of predatory capitalism, those who exploited through the uncontrolled movements of finance and those parasites that grew fat on gambling in commodities, stock markets and the exchanges.

Finance was to become the handmaiden of the economy and not the master. Through the Fascist Corporate State a national economic system would end the rule of financiers by distributing the products of the workers’ labour to all the people with finance serving the nation. All the resources of Empire would have been used for an Insulated Empire Policy protecting the nation from cheap foreign imports.

Robert Edwards

©2002   'Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists by Robert Edwards'

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oswaldmosley.net - 2008