“I took the district line across London, squeezed into my little suit, with all of the other suits of Bengalis and Pakistanis. Sounds funny but racists never seem to notice other white people.”
Admittedly, I was a little sceptical about this book. Be it that Hate is an autobiography by ex-National-Front-administrator-turned-anti-fascist Matthew Collins, I had inkling that there was going to be an overly-apologetic and guilt-ridden feel to the writing, in an attempt to emphasise the author’s change of heart and alliance with the Searchlight organisation.
Although, expectedly, in odd areas there seems to be a swaying bias (“I’d fumbled and skirted around the issue when Searchlight asked me but now, having to think clearly, it’s obvious he was dangerous,” (pg.225)), thankfully, Collins refuses to dress up his involvement with the despicable NF throughout his younger years.
For the most part, his story intertwines his new-found beliefs with his old ones for some intriguing reading. His running commentary of violent confrontations with “Pakis” and blacks, and his developing hatred for minorities influenced by the thugs around him, is particularly shocking and brutally honest; as is his descriptions of the fascists preying upon the apathy of broken-down, working-class neighbourhoods that seemingly have no way forward.
Although most antifas are already aware that fascists are vicious psychopaths looking for someone to blame for their troubles, what’s perhaps most notable here is the differences between The BNP and NF, and the conflict between the two, which Collins touches upon with considerable insight. Though both organisations are equally as bad as one another, the author notes how The BNP disguise(d) its racism with pseudo-intellectual ideas on nationalism; while The NF was openly concerned with racism and anti-Semitism, and virtually disbanded as a result.
Whether The NF or BNP, Collins views the fascist organisation as an ensemble of violent, loudmouth, cocaine-snorting drunks, who are more concerned with instilling fear and anxiety within local communities than actual politics. His decisions to denounce The NF with cold, hard facts in the aftermath of the confrontations is convincing (“The National Front was only formed in 1967, how could it break into the political system that had only served two parties for hundreds of years?” (pg.38)) and serves as the main theme that fascism brings hope to no one.
Hearing that members meet with police and court disciplinary on a regular basis, and that their “masculine” actions are somehow democratic (“We were free to smoke and fart at will,” (pg.63)), may not come as a surprise or prove comfortable to all readers, but Hate is still a very commendable confession of one man who now seeks to make a positive difference within society.
(C) Andy Carrington 2011.