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Passion and politics in the English Defence League

‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation.

The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing.

Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.

Aspirations to non-racism
Hilary Pilkington

4 ‘Not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’: aspirations to non-racism The EDL is widely represented and perceived as a ‘racist organisation’; it is considered to be such by three-quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed by Extremis/ YouGov in October 2012.1 The EDL itself publicly claims to oppose racism, fascism and Nazism; this is encapsulated in the movement’s core slogan, ‘Not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ (see Figure 4.1). There is a degree of academic consensus that the EDL is not a classic far right organisation (see the

in Loud and proud
Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

politically extreme BNP, and won some new members to its cause. By 2001 there were disturbing signs of a far-right revival in Britain. In the general election the BNP took 16 per cent of the vote in Oldham. This was followed by violent disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, in part stimulated by the activities of the BNP and other far-right organisations. Liberal opinion was bewildered, alarmed and uncomprehending. While it is

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Open Access (free)
Everyday trajectories of activism
Hilary Pilkington

chapter opens with a broad-brush portrait of the socio-demographic profile of activists in this study contextualised in existing data on the composition of support for, and activism in, far right organisations. The chapter then considers routes into (and often out of) the movement and the costs and consequences of participation. While space does not allow the detailed profiling of all respondents, the individual stories of eight activists are included as short vignettes. In this way, it is hoped to evoke characters who are recognisable and ‘live from chapter to chapter

in Loud and proud
Open Access (free)
Emotion, affect and the meaning of activism
Hilary Pilkington

they are saturated with emotion. Virchow (2007: 148) argues that the creation of ‘emotional collectives’ and ‘collective emotions’ is an objective of these events as ‘leaders of far right organisations carefully plan these emotions to integrate sympathisers’. That emotion is not ‘an incidental aspect of activism’ but ‘strategically deployed and fostered by organisers to engender sufficient commitment amongst activist collectives to maintain their on-going participation’ is recognised by Juris (2008: 65) too. This is achieved, he argues, by building affective

in Loud and proud
Open Access (free)
Anthropology and rural West Europe today
Jeremy MacClancy

, and non-violence.4 These communities may not all be on the left or leaning towards the liberal: in the mid-1990s, an international far-right organisation occupied a semi-abandoned hamlet near Valencia, east Spain, which they tried to turn into a neo-Nazi haven.5 Some intentional communities may be formed by the villagers themselves: the longestablished socialist utopia of Marinaleda, Andalusia, southern Spain, is so successful it has spawned imitators elsewhere in the region (Hancox 2013). What is striking about all these different settlements, founded from the late

in Alternative countrysides
From the ‘militant’ to an ‘immunised’ route?
Ami Pedahzur

freedom of the individual. The other variable is more practical – the fact that, due to structural barriers, the NSPA stood no real chance of becoming an influential political actor. Yet other far-right organisations did in fact make their way into the legislature and gained access to policy-making procedures, mainly through the Republican Party. 12 Despite the limited success of David Duke and other extremist leaders of the right, American authorities have never had to confront the dramatic emergence of such forces and hence has not adopted any special measures to

in The Israeli response to Jewish extremism and violence