War On Free Speech: The UCL Student Union Bans Fascists And Talking About Fascists
THE UCL Student Union has banned the college’s Nietzsche Club. The Union write beneath the headline “Motion to the Union Council: Fight Fascism”:
This Union notes
That a group positioning itself as a “student club about traditionalist art and philosophy” and as “Tradition UCL”, has started operating at UCL.
That this group has been putting up posters with their contact details around UCL campus.
That their posters’ heading reads “Too much political correctness?”, and they advertise a study of the philosophers Nietzsche, de Benoist, Heidegger and Evola.
That a second poster appeared around four weeks after the previous one had first been put up, bearing the title “Equality is a false god” and, once again, advertising the philosophers de Benoist, Heidegger and Evola for study.
That on this second poster the group has repositioned itself as a “Nietzsche Club” and altered its contact details to include a new email address.
That the aforementioned philosophers and thinkers are on the extreme-right, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, homophobic, anti-Marxist, anti-worker and have had connections, direct or indirect, with Italian fascism and German Nazism.
You might not agree with the Nietzsche Club. But when did students at universities become censorious?
This Union believes
Believes. Not knows. Because it’s not as if knowledge matters at at university.
That this group is aimed at promoting a far-right, fascist ideology at UCL.
That there is no meaningful distinction to be made between a far-right and a fascist ideology.
That this group may have connections to the wider fascist movement and other organised groups, specifically those groups using the name “Radical Traditionalism” to describe their ideology, such as the “Traditionalist Youth Network”, and the “Traditional Britain Group”.
That fascism is directly threatening to the safety of the UCL student body and UCLU members.
That fascism is used by the ruling class to divide workers and students along ethnic, national, religious, and gender lines, as a measure to split them and thus weaken their effectiveness as a force and undermine their resistance to policies of austerity, attacks on living standards and public services, and other consequences of the crisis of the capitalist system.
That fascism has no place at UCL or UCLU, and that any attempts by fascists or the far-right to organise on campus must be met with unconditional resistance.
This Union resolves
To ban and otherwise prevent the installation of any further publicity of this group around UCLU buildings, and to urge UCL to adopt the same policy in the university buildings.
To prevent any attempts by this group to hold meetings and organise events on campus.
To reject any attempts by this group to seek affiliation and official recognition from UCLU as an official club or society.
To commit to a struggle against fascism and the far-right, in a united front of students, workers, trade unions and the wider labour movement, with the perspective of fighting the root cause of fascism – capitalism. Thus, the struggle is to be united under the programme of a socialist transformation of society.
The Union that seeks to clarify how they came to be intolerant of ideas, afraid of debate and enemies of free speech. They also think other students are so doltish as to attend a meeting and become an unquestioning Nazi.
We viewed the appearance of the “Tradition UCL” group on our campus in the wider context of fascist groups establishing themselves at universities around the UK under the guise of labels such as “traditionalism” and “radical traditionalism”. Nevertheless, at a previous meeting in February, UCLU Council had voted to refer the motion back to the proposer precisely because concerns were raised that the group should be investigated more thoroughly. The second vote – in March – in favour of the motion occurred after a student investigated the group and its organisers. Naturally, people investigating potentially fascist organisations may wish to remain anonymous due to how anti-fascist campaigners are often targeted for violence.
The irony is that the college offers a course:
The course is concerned with the philosophical theories of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Critical Theory has more:
This may quickly draw ire from Nietzsche fans, as the German philosopher is often mistakenly associated with Nazi ideology. Nietzsche, who was a critic of anti-Semitism, was the victim of a posthumous campaign by his sister to manipulate his work to appeal to the then-rising German Nazi Party.
However, it seems the UCL Nietzsche Club is in fact celebrating that manipulated, racist, legacy. The official university motion accuses the group of promoting “far-right” and “fascist” ideologies.
One poster for the group read: “Too much political correctness? Student club about traditionalist art and philosophy (Benoist, Heidegger, Evola). Interested? firstname.lastname@example.org.” Another read: “Equality is a false god.”
The Tab notes:
The Nietzsche Club, who originally positioned themselves as “Tradition UCL” and were not affiliated to the union, had courted controversy with a provocative poster campaign bemoaning “political correctness”, and equality as a “false god”.
They listed Nietzsche, Benoist, Heidegger and Evola as “traditionalist” thinkers they were interested in.
While all of these thinkers have been used as inspiration for far right movements, some of them are popular across the political spectrum, and their work is widely studied on philosophy and politics courses.
Nietzsche in particular is viewed by some as a hero of free thought, and the irony of the ban will not be lost on his fans given he foresaw the intolerant tendencies in liberal thought, observing that “all higher values devalue themselves”.
Nico Hines writes:
Mussolini, the Italian dictator, was certainly a fan of Nietzsche’s work, and Adolf Hitler visited his archives in 1934, but many political scientists have since argued that any links to fascism resulted from a fundamental misreading of the German philosopher’s writings.
One of the common driving forces behind Nietzsche’s thinking was the desire to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” he wrote in 1888, but the UCL students’ union wasn’t taking any chances.
While Nietzsche and, to a lesser extent, the Nazi-sympathizer Heidegger are considered giants of philosophy, another thinker cited on the group’s posters is more commonly consigned to the backwaters of extremism. “It is the latter name that gave them away completely,” said Timur Dautov, one of those who formerly proposed the ban to the students’ union. “It is like starting a society to study Hitler.”
“Julius Evola criticized fascism from the right, was a rabid anti-Semite, and wrote of the superior ‘Nordic race,’” Dautov told The Daily Beast. “Far-right racists, sexists, and homophobes trying to organize on campus is a direct threat to the student body, and if our efforts at their disaffiliation have been at all successful in preventing them from organizing, then, yes, we are pleased.”
Thomas Gorton notes:
Tom Slater runs a campaign called Free Speech Now!, which aims to promote open dialogue within the university. Speaking to the Daily Beast, he said: “Not only does this censorship undermine the very ideal of a university as a place where even the most abhorrent ideas are aired and contested, but it projects a lowly view of students. The notion that one wacky reading group could somehow pose a direct threat to ‘student safety’ just shows how little the union believes in the mental capacity of its members to take part in the cut and thrust of politics and debate.”
Legal Insurrection says the banners are Marxists.