Essays

Hurrah for the Blackshirts

“Hurrah for the Blackshirts” by Harold Harmsworth (Lord Rothermere) in the January 1934 Daily Mail 

HAROLD HARMSWORTH (1868-1940), together with his brother, developed the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. In 1934, he contributed the article below to the Daily Mail. It provoked Jews affiliated with Lyons & Co. and Salmon & Gluckstein. In response to a threat to withdraw their advertising, Harmsworth retracted his brief support for the Blackshirts.In his autobiography, My Life, Sir Oswald Mosley remarks:

Lord Rothermere [Harmsworth] explained that he was in trouble with certain advertisers, who had not liked his support of the Blackshirts, and in company with many other people had now heard of the tobacco business and liked it still less. This was war, and I reacted strongly. The card to play with Rothermere was always his brother Northcliffe, whom I had never met but who was a legend for his audacity and dynamism. I said: ‘Do you know what Northcliffe would have done? He would have said, “One more word from you, and the Daily Mail placards tomorrow will carry the words: ‘Jews threaten British press'”; you will have no further trouble’.

The long struggle fluctuated, but I lost. He felt that I was asking him to risk too much, not only for himself, but for others who depended on him. He was a patriot and an outstanding personality, but without the exceptional character necessary to take a strong line towards the end of a successful life, which might have led to a political dog-fight. In my view, the matter could have been quite reasonably settled if he had stood firm.

These Jewish interests took this action in the mistaken belief that their life and interest were threatened. Any group of men who feel this will naturally do their utmost to resist. This is no evidence of occult Jewish power, simply the determination to fight by men who in this case had the means to do it, which I had not. The whole affair was as simple as that, there was nothing obscure or mysterious about it.

Despite his public withdrawal of support for the British Union of Fascists in relation to the Daily Mail, Harmsworth continued expressing support for fascist interests, including Hitler’s own actions and policies in Europe, through the 1930s. When Hitler annexed the Sudetenland, for example, Harmsworth sent a telegram of support to Hitler. He also praised the creation of protectorates in Bohemia and Moravia. Despite his advocacy of a strong British military and autonomy, he was vilified and even today the Daily Mail is ridiculed.

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Hurrah for the Blackshirts

Harold Harmsworth
1st Viscount Rothermere
from the Daily Mail of January 1934

Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere

BECAUSE FASCISM comes from Italy, short-sighted people in this country think they show a sturdy national spirit by deriding it.

If their ancestors had been equally stupid, Britain would have had no banking system, no Roman law, nor even any football, since all of these are of Italian invention.

The socialists especially, who jeer at the principles and uniform of the Blackshirts as being of foreign origin, forget that the founder and High Priest of their own creed was the German Jew Karl Marx.

Though the name and form of Fascism originated in Italy, that movement is not now peculiar to any nation. It stands in every country for the Party of Youth. It represents the effort of the younger generation to put new life into out-of-date political systems.

That alone is enough to make it a factor of immense value in our national affairs.

Youth is a force that for generations has been allowed to run to waste in Britain. This country has been governed since far back in Victorian times by men in the middle sixties. When prosperity was general and the international horizon calm, that mattered little, but to cope with the grim problems of the present day the energy and vigour of younger men are needed. Being myself in the middle sixties, I know how stealthily and steadily that seventh decade saps one’s powers and stiffens one’s prejudices.

Under the inert and irresolute control of these elderly statesmen, the British Government is equally without real popularity at home and prestige abroad. In the vital matter of air-defence this country has been allowed to sink from the foremost to the lowest position among the Great Powers. While the leaders of other States are reorganising their national resources to break the crushing grip of the world-crisis our own are content to drift and dawdle. They are persistent only in preparing British abdication in India and Ceylon by the same methods as lost Southern Ireland to the Empire.

The Blackshirt movement is the organised effort of the younger generation to break this stranglehold which senile politicians have so long maintained on our public affairs. In its organisation, aims and methods it is purely British, and has no more to do with Italian Fascism than the Italian Navy has to do with the British Navy.

Sir Oswald Mosley, center, leader of the British Union of Fascists (also known as the Blackshirts)

Such an effort was long overdue. The nation’s realisation of the need for it is shown by the astonishing progress the Blackshirts are making, especially in the big industrial areas. Reports that reach me from the provinces go far to substantiate their claim to have the largest active membership in the country. A crusading spirit has come back to British politics. Yet many people who would be vastly impressed by a similar movement in France or the United States have so far failed to realise the profound importance of the new national activity which is stirring all around them.

What are these Blackshirts who hold 500 meetings a week throughout the country and whose uniform has become so familiar a feature of our political life?

They fall mainly into two distinct age-groups. One consists of those who were just old enough to take part in the war, and who have been discouraged and disgusted by the incompetence of their elders in dealing with the depression that has followed on it. The other is made up of men too young to remember the war but ready to put all their ardour and energy at the service of a cause which offers them a vigorous constructive policy in place of the drift and indecision of the old political parties.

Blackshirts proclaim a fact which politicians dating from pre-war days will never face — that the new age requires new methods and new men.

They base their contention on the simple truth that parliamentary government is conducted on the same lines as it was in the eighteenth century, though the conditions with which it deals have altered beyond recognition. They want to bring our national administration up to date.

This purpose does not rest on theory alone. It can be justified by the gigantic revival of national strength and spirit which a similar process of modernisation has brought about in Italy and Germany.

These are beyond all doubt the best governed nations in Europe to-day. From repeated visits to both under their present regime, I can vouch for it that in no other land does the overwhelming majority of the people feel such confidence and pride in its rulers.

If our own system of government were reorganised in the same way, and full scope accorded to the energy and enterprise of British youth, this country would soon regain its old position of world pre-eminence. With our present out-worn machinery of State and feeble personnel of Government the continuance of its decline is certain.

We must keep up with the spirit of the age. That spirit is one of national discipline and organisation.

The Blackshirts are the only political force in Britain that is working for these ends. Even if they were on the wrong lines, it would be to the benefit of the country that its younger citizens should be taking an active interest in national affairs. But which of our older politicians, looking back on his own record, dare assert that they are on the wrong lines?

Government by one or other of the long-established political parties had proved such a failure that over two years ago it was abandoned.

To it there succeeded an artificial alliance of the leaders of all parties. The record of this merger of political talent consists almost solely of a series of abortive international conferences in this country and abroad.

If discussion and exchange of views were an effective substitute in human affairs for action, the National Government would be the best that Britain has ever had. But the experience of the past two years has proven that these futile and time-wasting devices are no more than a screen for inertia and indecision.

The huge majority obtained by the present Government at the general election of 1931 was the last vote of confidence that the nation will ever give to Old Gang politicians. Two years from now another general election will be almost due. The whole future of Britain will depend upon its issue.

A prolongation of the present regime may be regarded in the country’s present mood as out of the question. There will be a pronounced swing either to Right or Left.

If the inflated, impulsive, and largely ignorant electorate which Old Gang statesmen have brought into existence were to return the Rump of extreme Socialism to power, all hope of this country’s recovery would collapse amid the confusion of Communist experiments.

At this next vital election Britain’s survival as a Great Power will depend on the existence of a well-organised Party of the Right, ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Mussolini and Hitler have displayed.

Such a movement, making “Action” its motto instead of “Drift”, will draw a surprising measure of support from former Socialists, who have discovered that the leaders of that party also value words above deeds.

That is why I say, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! They are a sign that something is stirring among the youth of Britain. They are the symbol of that new realism in public life which alone can rouse it from its torpor.

Hundreds of thousands of young British men and women would like to see their own country develop that spirit of patriotic pride and service which has transformed Germany and Italy. They cannot do better than seek out the nearest branch of the Blackshirts and make themselves acquainted with their aims and plans.

They will soon lose any lingering idea that this campaign is trying to introduce foreign methods and principles into our country.

They will find the loyalties and aims of the Blackshirts as British as their membership, and as a striking contrast with the hesitations and compromises of all other parties, they will discover that Blackshirts do not cover faint hearts!

Young men and women may join the British Union of Fascists by writing to —

The Headquarters, Kings Road, Chelsea, London S.W.

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Source: Ur-Fascist Analects

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