April 13, 2017

1934. The Fascist Plan for Great Britain

Oswald Mosley Declares Plans for Fascist Britain
Two blackshirts guard the "Black House," the headquarters of the British Union of Fascists in London, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise of fascism. In 1932 Oswald Mosley founded the British Union of Fascists, a political party which took heavy inspiration from the Nazis. Throughout the 1930s he and his party campaigned for a fascist Britain in the vein of Italy and Germany. Nazi officials considered Mosley a top candidate to lead the country as part of their planned invasion of the United Kingdom.

From The New York Times, April 24, 1934:
Fascists Plan Corporate State In Britain, Mosley Declares
'Violently Opposed to Economic Dictatorship of Bankers,' Leader Says—Seeks to Solve Underconsumption Problem by Raising Wages in Whole Field of Industry
The leader of the British Fascist movement, which gathered 10,000 Britons in a mass meeting in London Sunday night, tells here the aims and purpose of the movement. Sir Oswald, a wealthy aristocrat, was once a Socialist.


Fascism, the new political creed of Europe, has reached Great Britain. The great meeting which crowded Albert Hall, the largest public hall in London, definitely marked this new phase of British political development.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Fascism in Great Britain must necessarily adopt the same form as under Mussolini in Italy or under Hitler in Germany. Fascism is a universal creed of patriotic reconstruction along modern lines and under the disciplined control of a powerful central government. It came to both Italy and Germany under the stress of a grave economic crisis and when those corrupt countries were trembling on the verge of communism.

Under such circumstances, its advent was inevitably accompanied by some degree of violence—but violence, it should be noted, far less than these countries would have suffered in a Red revolution.

Says People Want Fascism

Germany and Italy embraced Fascism because they had to. Great Britain turns to Fascism because her people want it.

The older political parties in Britain are completely discredited. It is barely two years since the Socialists (Laborites) were swept from office by a Nationalist landslide, but already the national government is covered with shame and ridicule and the pendulum is swinging back to the extreme Left.

The old political system is breaking up because the greater part of the electorate does not know to which of the old parties to turn. It cannot trust one of them. A huge mass of floating votes, amounting from ten to fifteen thousand in each constituency, is positively waiting for new political leadership. The Black Shirt movement is out to supply this leadership and rapidly gathering within its ranks the disillusioned members of all parties.

Our policy is one of action and we seek the complete restoration of British prosperity and prestige. The Black Shirts are determined to combat the flabby policy of surrender which is rapidly breaking up the British Empire.

Opposed to Bankers' Rule

In home affairs we are violently opposed to the economic dictatorship of the bankers and financiers in the City of London. We plan to set up a corporate State which will place every industry in the country under the direct control of a self-governing corporation, on which will sit representatives of employers, workers and consumers. These will fix by negotiation the rates of wages, hours of work and prices and terms of competition which will be legally binding for an industry as a whole.

These corporations will send representatives to a national council of corporations which will function as an industrial parliament. Here matters of general financial policy will be settled and the operations of the various industries controlled and regulated in the interests of the nation as a whole.

The Black Shirt movement recognizes that the problem of underconsumption is the major economic problem of the day and that it can be solved only by a general raising of wages and salaries over the whole field of industry, within the controlled system of the corporate State. This will increase purchasing power in the home market and enable industry to supply cheaply by mass production methods its output for an assured market.

By these means the Black Shirts intend to bring to an end the tyranny of the vested interests and the sham democracy of politics and to restore prosperity to Great Britain.