Katie Hopkins’ revolutionary defeatism

The writer Ronald Radosh has famously claimed that former Breitbart editor and current Donald Trump brain Steve Bannon said he is a “Leninist” who wishes to destroy the state.

Destroying the state seems an odd goal for a nationalist such as Bannon, and he has denied ever saying he was a Leninist. But the alt-right and their allies have adapted one aspect Lenin’s ideology: the idea of revolutionary defeatism.

Lenin’s developed the doctrine of revolutionary defeatism in the early stages of World War 1. It’s a simple idea: the workers have nothing to gain from the victory of their rulers in an inter-empire war such as 1914-1918. If Russia were victorious, the ruling class would simply be propped up. Therefore it is in the workers’ interests that Russia loses the war, opening the path for revolution.

The hard right’s attitude to Islamist terror riffs on this.

Take Katie Hopkins Daily Mail column responding to this week’s attack in Westminster. The reaction of Londoners, to praise our police force, to carry on about our lives, is not proof of resilience, or Stiff Upper Lip, or anything like that: For Hopkins, who claims to be a patriot (she capitalises “National pride” in her Mail article), it is in fact proof that we are: “Terrified of admitting the truth about the threat we face, about the horrors committed by the migrants we failed to deter – because to admit that we are sinking, and fast, would be to admit that everything the liberals believe is wrong.”

This is an odd patriotism indeed: one can only imagine Hopkins during the Blitz, loudly proclaiming that London Can’t Take It. But it is not exactly unusual for self-proclaimed patriots to be deeply pessimistic, to the point of cynicism, about their own countries and indeed their own people. What pushes this tendency toward revolutionary defeatism, however, is the belief that not only is the country going to the dogs, but that it frankly deserves to, even needs to lose the war.

In Hopkins’ England, terrorist atrocities are apparently “Every day occurrences”. On Hopkins sceptreed isle, the “war” is not between democrats and totalitarian Islamists, but “between the liberals and the right-minded”. The UK is apparently in freefall, and frankly, Hopkins is getting a kick from the terminal velocity (“I will walk over the river tonight and look to the Thames,” she writes, “to the Union flag lowered at half mast, and the Parliament below, and I will wonder, just how much longer we can go on like this.”).

This isn’t really new. Neo Nazis Skrewdriver sang “once we had an empire, and now we’ve got a slum”; Enoch Powell fantasised about the black man having the “whip hand”: all supposed patriots who not only despaired of their country, but were disgusted by it, or at least by their own pornographic vision of it. In the miserable mid-1970s described by Francis Wheen in Strange Days Indeed, serious thought was given to a hard-right coup to restore England’s standing. Opportunity Knocks presenter Hughie Green hymned that Britons should “stand up and be counted” even as Britain was “bankrupt of all but heritage and hope – and even those in pawn.” – and even Oswald Mosley fantasised that he would “get the call” from a nation on its knees.

It’s the vision of decline that propelled Bannon and Trump to the White House: Donald Trump’s promise to make America Great Again worked on the assumption that the US is in fact a terrible place. Brexit’s “Take Back Control” was based on the premise that Britain had lost control. Both nations are in need of renewal.

That renewal, though Hopkins will not yet say it, comes in the form of the strong men who will deal with the foreigners, but more importantly the traitors (Skrewdriver again: “Well we've gotta do something, to try and stop the rot/And the traitors that have used us, they should all be shot)

Hopkins appeared on Fox News this week to tell the world London was divided and “cowed”. This claim is not based on evidence, as Londoners who got on with their lives will attest, but on a fervent desire for the decline she and her fellow travellers need.

This country, they believe, is rotting, and they will do everything in their power to speed up that process.

Katie Hopkins
Hughie Green
Donald Trump
Steve Bannon