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Palgrave Macmillan

Music, Youth and International Links in Post-War British Fascism

The Transformation of Extremism

  • Book
  • © 2017

Overview

  • Traces the evolution of post-war fascism in the UK into an international movement
  • Utilises a range of interviews with key figures within the movement
  • Examines how music became a conduit for the fascist movement
  • Includes supplementary material: sn.pub/extras

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About this book

This book examines the domestic evolution and international connections of post-war fascists in the UK. It argues that post-war British fascism became transnational as the radicals increasingly exchanged ideas, money and culture with like-minded foreigners. Using interviews with key figures in several countries, this book traces the history of the National Front (NF) and British National Party (BNP), focusing on the political parties’ youth, music and international outreach. It explores how British fascism grew into an international movement, how fascist youth developed skinhead music as a conduit for their ideas, and how some of those key figures made international connections with people in Iraq, Libya, Syria and the United States. Moreover, it also draws from rare internal party documents, law enforcement records and membership lists to track foreign funding and the parties’ domestic electoral growth. For the first time, this book gained access to both the leadership and rank-and-file of the BNP and NF to explore its culture and international connections. In doing so, it shows the successes, failures and changes that have made British fascism a force in the international extremist subculture.

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Table of contents (9 chapters)

Reviews

“Important contribution to the historiography on the growth of the extreme right in the British Isles since the end of the Second World War ... . rich detail how extreme right activists thus exploited ‘White Power’ music as part of their political and cultural crusade ... .” (Steven Woodbridge, The Historian, August 10, 2023)

“Examine the intellectual and ideological dimensions of the British far right, which in turn explain their struggles to gain popular appeal and political legitimacy ... .” (Kyle Burke, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 35 (5), 2023)

“An overdue in-depth historical examination of some of the more important developments to have taken place on the extreme right of underground British (and indeed global) politics in recent decades. Showcasing impressively exhaustive research, combining a wide-ranging study of primary published materials and a raft of interviews with key figures in the British neo-fascist subculture, this is an account thatably explains several important developments and rightly highlights the importance of transnational connections to contemporary forms of fascist politics.” (Benjamin Bland, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 56 (2), 2021)

“A great addition to upper-level sociology, anthropology, musicology, political science, or social science courses looking to elevate the level of seriousness with which cultural forms like music are considered. This book may help politicians, policy makers, and youth community workers understand how nascent—and seemingly dead—ideologies return to life. Lastly, Shaffer’s book may be of interest to fans of punk music and music in general, especially those who want to start to understand the slippery nature of politics exploiting music … .” (Michael J. Lorr, Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Vol. 14 (1), 2020)

“For anyone with a deep interest and knowledge in British fascism of that period, this will be an essential source … .” (Stephen Dorril, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 59 (1), 2020)

“Succeed[s] in … demonstrating that the significance of post-war British fascism lies not so much in its domestic electoral context, but in the international context where it became, particularly so in the 1980s and 1990s, a genuine force in the international subculture of right wing extremism. … Shaffer’s study reveals how the more entrepreneurial of Britain’s post-war fascists exploited music and youth subculture to take their messages of hate to the world.” (Nigel Copsey, Politics, Religion & Ideology, Vol. 20 (1), 2019)

“Excellent recent examples of such research, and also highlight successive chronological phases of these developments.” (Jeffrey M. Bale, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 53 (2), 2019)

“One strength of Shaffer’s book is the extensive interviews he carried out with NF and BNP leaders … . the book is valuable for showing how fringe movements function, recruit, and negotiate the difficult waters of local and national politics.” (Roland Clark, The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, Vol. 12 (2), 2019)


“Shaffer has made an important contribution to the study of British fascism. His empirical approach provides an invaluable, and very readable, guide to the many, tiny groups and splinter groups, as well as the variegated ideological trends, that have fostered this complex, marginalized movement from the 1960s to the present day.” (Paul Jackson, History - The Journal of the Historical Association, Vol. 104 (360), March 6, 2019)



“Music, Youth and International Links in Post-War British Fascism is based on an impressive body of interviews carried out by the author with some of the main figures of British anti-Fascism and Fascism. … These new interviews mark the book as a valuable contribution to the field, next to other well-established studies of postwar British Fascism by scholars such as Nigel Copsey and Graham Macklin.” (Liam J. Liburd, History - Reviews of New Books, Vol. 46 (5), 2018)



“In a welcome revision to this trend, Ryan Shaffer’s Music, Youth and International Links in Post-War British Fascism offers detailed examination of a milieu that, though on the margins of British politics and society, has helped to shape racist cultures in the second half of the twentieth century, and continues to campaign for extremist ideals in the twenty-first… Shaffer has made an important contribution to the study of British fascism. His empirical approach provides an invaluable, and very readable, guide to the many, tiny groups and splinter groups, as well as the variegated ideological trends, that have fostered this complex, marginalized movement from the 1960s to the present day.” (Paul Jackson, History no. 104, no. 360 (April 2019))

“Ryan Shaffer has produced an invaluable work that traces the cultural evolution of post-war fascism. The book will be essential reading for all scholars of the far-right, youth culture and post-war politics.“ (Matthew Worley, University of Reading, UK)

“In these pages are the leaders and the punters, the music and white power bands that are the children of Ian Stuart Donaldson and Skrewdriver, and many, many more. Ryan Shaffer does an especially meticulous job of documenting the international linkages that the National Socialist movement forged and the skinhead movement nurtured.” (Jeffrey Kaplan, Jilin University, China)

“In this content-rich book, Ryan Shaffer puts questions to the movers and shakers on Britain’s far right. The result is a challenging and perceptive insight into how Britain’s post-war fascists exploited music and youth to take their messages of hate to the world.” (Nigel Copsey, Teesside University, UK)

“Based on extensive scholarship Shaffer’s book provides fresh insight into the important impact that youth culture and music had in fostering the evolution of the extreme right in post-war Britain, both nationally and transnationally.” (Graham Macklin, Teesside University, UK)




Authors and Affiliations

  • Washington, DC, USA

    Ryan Shaffer

About the author

Ryan Shaffer is an historian and writer. His academic work focuses on Asian and European history with particular interest in extremism and political violence. He has published over 150 articles, reviews and chapters about European and South Asian politics in popular magazines and scholarly journals.

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