National Action: the puny threat of fascism

Tom Bailey

Topics Politics

Earlier this year, a fascist student group called National Action made blogosphere headlines when it crashed a talk given by Marxist professor Alex Callinicos at Warwick University. More recently, the group has been stepping up its efforts. Last week, National Action held a demonstration of about 20 people in Liverpool. Meanwhile, its posters and stickers have reportedly appeared at over a dozen universities around the country.

The group is unequivocally fascist, with their website bearing the slogan ‘For a Free White Britain’. However, they’re hardly a threat to student politics, or anything else for that matter. With its members donning black balaclavas and hooded jackets at demonstrations, National Action seems to be trying to replicate the aesthetic of continental European far-right groups and football firms, yet due to their puny numbers they can’t help but look like there are just playing dress-up.

Recently, British student unions have been very quick, overzealous even, in their reaction to what they perceive as the threat of fascism on university campuses. University College London’s student union (UCLU) recently banned a Nietzsche reading group because of the philosopher’s supposed far-right ties. For a short time in March, the University of Derby banned the entire UK Independence Party (UKIP) from campus on just as tenuous grounds.

After all that anti-fascist posturing, student unions must be chomping at the bit to clampdown on a group that is the real deal. But, if anything, National Action proves that censoring fascists isn’t just illiberal, it’s also unnecessary. National Action members appear, at best, to be an odd collection of vicious misfits, condemned to living out their university days isolated from their peers and getting the odd bit of media coverage for their attention-seeking stunts. We can be optimistic that the majority of students (and the public in general) will see National Action for what it is: a handful of losers spouting complete nonsense.

Tom Bailey is studying for a masters in history at University College London. Visit his personal website here. Follow him on Twitter: @tbaileybailey

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Topics Politics


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