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The pivot of empire: Australia and the imperial fascism of the British Union of Fascists Evan Smith To cite this article: Evan Smith (2017): The pivot of empire: Australia and the imperial fascism of the British Union of Fascists, History Australia To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14490854.2017.1359092

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Date: 29 August 2017, At: 23:51

HISTORY AUSTRALIA, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1080/14490854.2017.1359092

RESEARCH ARTICLE

The pivot of empire: Australia and the imperial fascism of the British Union of Fascists Evan Smith

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Flinders University, Australia ABSTRACT

KEYWORDS

This article concentrates on the British Union of Fascists and its attempts to build a ‘New Empire Union’ in the 1930s to transform the British Empire into a fascist, self-sufficient empire. The BUF, under Oswald Mosley, believed that a fascist revolution, in Britain and in the colonies, was the only way to maintain the British Empire. The BUF hoped that Australia would become a trading partner to create a self-sufficient empire, with the goal of removing Britain from the world of ‘international finance’. While Australia was a liberal democracy, the BUF pointed to the ‘White Australia Policy’ and the treatment of the Indigenous population as examples of the hierarchical racial politics that could form the basis for a sympathetic fascist settler colony.

White Australia Policy; British Union of Fascists; Oswald Mosley; New Guard; settler colonialism; Greater Britain

In 1936, Sir Oswald Mosley declared in the journal of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), Fascist Quarterly: ‘Our world mission is the maintenance and development of the heritage of Empire’.1 Although often overlooked by scholars of British fascism, this pro-imperialism was central to the ideology of the BUF.2 As John D. Brewer has argued, fascism in Britain was a response to the crisis faced by British imperialism during the interwar period, particularly among the ‘declining middle class’.3 While victorious, Britain had been financially and socially devastated by the unexpected longevity of the First World War. These difficulties were exacerbated by the addition of mandated territories that came under British control after the Treaties of Versailles and Lausanne to the empire, and there was much concern that these pressures, combined with growing colonial demands for self-government, would break up the empire.4 The BUF, established in late 1932 by Mosley, represented an extreme form CONTACT Evan Smith [email protected] 1 Oswald Mosley, ‘The World Alternative’, Fascist Quarterly, 2, no. 3 (1936): 384. 2 Paul Stocker, ‘“The Imperial Spirit”: British Fascism and Empire, 1919–1940’, Religion Compass, 9, no. 2 (2015): 45–54. 3 John D. Brewer, ‘Looking Back at Fascism: A Phenomenological Analysis of BUF Membership’, Sociological Review 3, no. 2–4 (1984): 751. See also Martin Pugh, ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts!’: Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars (London: Pimlico, 2006), 180; D.S. Lewis, Illusions of Grandeur: Mosley, Fascism and British Society, 1931–81 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987), 182–83. 4 See John Darwin, ‘The Fear of Falling: British Politics and Imperial Decline since 1900’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 36 (1986): 27–43; Ronald Hyam, Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation 1918–1968 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 30–7; Richard Overy, The Morbid Age: Britain between the Wars (London: Allen Lane, 2009), 23–5. ß 2017 Australian Historical Association

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of this imperial anxiety. For the BUF, the maintenance of the British Empire was imperative, central to keeping Britain’s place within the world and ensuring living standards in the domestic sphere. As Paul Stocker has shown, the BUF was one of a number of British fascist organisations to have concerns about empire, as both the British Fascisti (BF) in the 1920s and Arnold Leese’s Imperial Fascist League in the 1930s promoted awareness of the fragility of the empire in the face of ‘alien’ communism.5 This article, however, will focus on the BUF as it was the largest and most influential fascist organisation in Britain during the interwar period. While Britain formed the metropole of the empire, the settler colonies at the periphery (achieving Dominion status just prior to the inception of the BUF) were also seen as integral to its preservation. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa were viewed by the BUF as bastions of the imperial spirit that would help revive Britain at the core of the empire and create what Mosley described as a ‘Greater Britain’.6 This would be achieved through trade and economic cooperation, as well as via a closely integrated armed forces and support for traditional British institutions such as the monarchy (although expressly not parliamentary democracy or the rule of law). This idea of a ‘Greater Britain’ composed of the settler colonies was not new, and as Duncan Bell has shown, since the 1830s there had been a push by some for a form of colonial unity based on the ‘commonality of race, institutions, sensibility, and citizenship’ between Britain and the ‘white’ settler colonies.7 The BUF seized upon these Victorian ideas of colonial unity and transformed them into a policy to reinforce the racial and cultural supremacy of the British Empire and the ‘British race’. Mosley had a particular definition of the ‘British race’ and its status in law, which he outlined in 1936: We believe profoundly in our own British race which has created the Empire, but we know also it would be bad for the Empire to stigmatise by law other races within it as inferior or outcast. We have created that Empire without race mixture or pollution, by reason of the British social sense and pride of race. That is an achievement unique in history, and we can trust the British genius in this respect in the future as in the past.8

The Dominions also held a special place for the BUF as these settler colonies were ruled by a dominant British elite that could be depended upon to ensure the survival of the white British ‘race’.9 Although there has been scholarly debate over whether anti-Semitism was inherent within the BUF (or a later development),10 there is no doubt that the BUF was imbued with the ideas of racial superiority prevalent among Stocker, ‘“The Imperial Spirit”’, 48–50; Paul Stocker, ‘Importing Fascism: Reappraising the British Fascisti’, Contemporary British History 30, no. 3 (2016): 334–35. However, Stocker has revealed that BF had a lesser opinion of Australia than the BUF, seeing the Australian working class as potential communists who threatened imperial trade links. Stocker, ‘Importing Fascism’, 335. 6 See Oswald Mosley, The Greater Britain (London: BUF pamphlet, 1932). 7 Duncan Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future World Order, 1860–1900 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 25. 8 Oswald Mosley, Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered (London: BUF Publications, 1936), 46. 9 Hereafter the use of the term ‘race’ will not be in quotation marks, although it is recognised that the idea of race is a social construct. See Robert Miles and Michael Bannon, Racism (London: Routledge 2003), 1–18. 10 See Colin Holmes, ‘Anti-Semitism and the BUF’, in British Fascism: Essays on the Radical Right in Inter-War Britain, ed. Kenneth Lunn and Richard C. Thurlow (London: Croom Helm, 1980), 114–34; Thomas Linehan, British Fascism 1918–39: Parties, Ideology and Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 176–200; Pugh, ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts!’, 213–34. 5

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the British population by centuries of imperial conquest. All of the Dominions perpetrated large-scale racial discrimination informed by these colonialist ideals, but in some places, such as South Africa and Australia, racism and racial divisions had become central to the function of the state apparatus.11 Although the idea of a strong British Empire was central to the ideology and political platform of the BUF, the organisation’s outlook on imperial matters has been overlooked by most scholars of British fascism. Notwithstanding some research that has been done on the BUF and Irish republicanism12 and some allusions to the BUF’s campaigning on the issue of Indian self-governance in the more general histories of Mosley and the organisation,13 the strong links between British fascism and imperial anxiety have been largely overlooked. Australia, a British colony since 1788, had been federated into one nation-state in 1901 and was a parliamentary democracy that offered universal suffrage for both men and women over 21 (at the federal level). Australia also offered a protected eight-hour workday and minimum wage, as well as legalised trade unions, represented in parliament through the social democratic Australian Labor Party. Thus, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Australian workers seemed to enjoy the same political and economic benefits as the most advanced sections of the European working classes.14 These benefits were, however, offered only to those who were considered ‘white’, with Aboriginal and non-European (and in some cases non-British) migrants being excluded from this ‘worker’s paradise’.15 The legislative framework established at Federation explicitly excluded these groups of people, with the constitution and the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (Commonwealth) removing citizenship status for the Aboriginal population and the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (Commonwealth) barring entry to non-European migrants, colloquially known as the ‘White Australia Policy’.16 It was this ‘White Australia Policy’ that particularly endeared Australia to the British Union of Fascists as a resilient defender of the British race (in contrast to the ‘decaying civilisation’ in the metropole of London),17 and greatly informed the BUF’s attitude towards the Dominion. The other major factor that informed the BUF’s view of Australia and its place within the British Empire was its ability to provide Britain with raw materials and foodstuffs, as well as a market for British goods. The Dominions, including Australia, could provide Britain with what it needed to maintain domestic living standards and would mean that Britain would no longer have to

11

See Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the Question of Racial Equality (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008). 12 James Loughlin, ‘Northern Ireland and British Fascism in the Inter-War Years’, Irish Historical Studies 29, no. 116 (1995): 537–52; R.M. Douglas, ‘The Swastika and the Shamrock: British Fascism and the Irish Question, 1918–1940’, Albion 29, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 57–75. 13 Richard C. Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: From Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts to the National Front (London: I.B. Tauris, 1998), 124, 145; Pugh, ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts!’, 177–94. 14 Neville Kirk, Labour and the Politics of Empire: Britain and Australia 1900 to the Present (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 23. 15 Neville Kirk, Comrades and Cousins: Globalization, Workers and Labour Movements in Britain, the USA and Australia from the 1880s to 1914 (London: Merlin Press, 2003), 70–1. 16 Lake and Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line, 150–57. 17 A.K. Chesterton, ‘Portrait of a Leader: Oswald Mosley’, Action, 5 June 1937, 14.

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rely on ‘foreign’ countries, such as Argentina and China, which the BUF felt was not in the national interest. This article looks at how Australia was portrayed in the publicly available BUF literature from the 1930s. It will examine material from the BUF’s weekly newspapers, Blackshirt and Action,18 as well as its ‘theoretical’ journals, Fascist Quarterly and British Union Quarterly. Furthermore, the sections on empire from Mosley’s 1933 book A Greater Britain and its 1938 follow-up Tomorrow We Live will also be explored, as well as the 1936 book Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. The article will argue that while the British Union of Fascists was driven by an extreme form of nationalism, this was an imperial nationalism that went beyond the shores of the United Kingdom and sought to maintain the superior position of the British race throughout the British Empire. While British fascism was not anti-capitalist, it inherited the idea of ‘white labourism’, which, as Jonathan Hyslop has explained, put forward the notion that: the white working classes in the pre-First World War British Empire were not composed of ‘nationally’ discrete entities, but were bound together into an imperial working class.19

On the one hand, this gave British fascism a transnational dimension, spreading out to the Dominions of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. On the other, it differentiated it from that which other scholars have described as ‘international fascism’.20 British fascism developed upon well-established colonialist ideas about the necessity of empire to create a ‘Greater Britain’ (such as those proposed by the Imperial Federation League in the 1880s),21 and the mission of the ‘white man’ to ‘civilise’ the rest of the world. The Dominion of Australia, with its White Australia Policy and its barbaric treatment of the Aboriginal population, seemed to embody these colonialist desires and appeared to the BUF to be an important ally for sustaining the empire as well as providing an example of how a white workers’ utopia could be developed.

18

G.C. Webber has argued that these newspapers had an average readership of around 22,000 in the mid-1930s, but Blackshirt peaked in October 1935 with estimated sales of 22,000 and fell to 12,000 by February 1938. Action had an estimated readership of 20,000 in October 1936 but was down to 14,000 by the outbreak of the Second World War. G.C. Webber, ‘Patterns of Membership and Support for the British Union of Fascists’, Journal of Contemporary History 19, no. 4 (October 1984): 579–80. 19 Jonathan Hyslop, ‘The Imperial Working Class Makes Itself “White”: White Labourism in Britain, Australia, and South Africa before the First World War’, Journal of Historical Sociology 12, no. 4 (December 1999): 399. 20 See Roger Griffin, ed., International Fascism: Theories, Causes and the New Consensus (Oxford: Arnold, 1998). European scholars have also started using the concept of ‘transnational fascism’ to describe the competing influence that Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany had over smaller European fascist movements, but this is very different from the imperial networks that the BUF used to promote fascist movements in the Dominions. See Arnd Bauerk€amper, ‘Transnational Fascism: Cross-Border Relations between Regimes and Movements in Europe, 1922–1939’, East Central Europe 37 (2010): 214–46. 21 The Imperial Federation League was established in 1884 and promoted colonial unity realised by a federation between Britain and the settler colonies as the leaders of a wider British Empire, overseen by an Imperial Parliament. See Charles S. Blackton, ‘Australian Nationality and Nationalism: The Imperial Federationist Interlude, 1885–1901’, Historical Studies: Australia and New Zealand 7, no. 25 (1955): 1–16; Michael Burgess, ‘“Forgotten Centenary”: The Formation of the Imperial Federation League in the UK, 1884’, The Round Table 289 (1984): 76–85; Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain, 12–20; Andrew S. Thompson, Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics, c. 1880–1932 (London: Routledge, 2014), 26. For Nazi Germany’s approach to these imperial ideas, see Matthew P. Fitzpatrick, ‘Nazifying Colonialism: Settler Colonialism and the Fate of Germany’s Colonial Chronotope’, Settler Colonial Studies 6, no. 1 (2016): 23–44.

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The BUF and the British Empire Although some have argued that the BUF was a mixture of left and right political elements,22 most scholars view the BUF as an extension of the right wing of Conservative politics.23 Gary Love has proposed that despite influences from both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, many of the BUF’s ideas had origins in domestic political thought and Mosley’s fascism had a thoroughly British characteristic.24 Dan Stone has suggested similarly that ‘fascism in Britain was a movement inspired by domestic concerns just as much as it was by Continental ones’, with its roots in ‘aristocratic revivalism of the Edwardian years, the Edwardian popular leagues, and the Diehard movement’.25 This is particularly so in regards to the BUF’s view of the British Empire and its imperial patriotism. As Julie Gottlieb has written, ‘Imperial policy and a heightened imperial consciousness were … central to the BUF’, and core to this was ‘a scheme of imperial preference’.26 Aside from viewing the empire as central to the economic future of Britain, the BUF, through ‘the idea of hyper-patriotism’, fostered an ideological fixation on the maintenance of empire – what Stephen Cullen referred to as an ‘unstinting belief in King, Country and Empire’.27 Cullen further suggests that ‘the BUF’s love of country and Empire … was the deciding factor in their adherence to the movement’, playing an emotional role ‘side by side with the rationality of corporate economics’.28 As outlined by Cullen, the British Empire had a dual role in the outlook of the BUF – on the one hand, it was the basis for an economic strategy for imperial autarky, while on the other, it was the vehicle for ensuring the continued greatness of the British people. The empire, Robert Skidelsky wrote, was ‘the most obvious unit of life for Mosley’s “Greater Britain”, the area carved out by its history and sustained by kinship and sentiment’.29 As Mosley stated in 1938, ‘Our appeal for Dominion co-operation is based not only on kinship and history, but on an over-riding mutual economic interest’.30 In the BUF’s manifesto, The Greater Britain (published in

See Lewis, Illusions of Grandeur, 34; Philip M. Coupland, ‘“Left-Wing Fascism” in Theory and Practice: The Case of the British Union of Fascists’, Twentieth Century British History 13, no. 1 (2002): 38–61. 23 See John Stevenson, ‘Conservatism and the Failure of Fascism in Interwar Britain’, in Fascists and Conservatives: The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-Century Europe, ed. Martin Blinkhorn (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990), 264–82; Linehan, British Fascism, 91; David Renton, This Rough Game: Fascism and Anti-Fascism (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2001), 65–78; Stephen Dorril, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism (London: Penguin Books, 2007), 217–43. 24 Gary Love, ‘“What’s the Big Idea?”: Oswald Mosley, the British Union of Fascists and Generic Fascism’, Journal of Contemporary History 42, no. 3 (2007): 467. 25 Dan Stone, ‘The English Mistery, the BUF, and the Dilemmas of British Fascism’, Journal of Modern History 75, no. 2 (June 2003): 355–56. 26 Julie V. Gottlieb, ‘Women and British Fascism Revisited: Gender, the Far-Right and Resistance’, Journal of Women’s History 16, no. 3 (2004): 113. 27 Stephen Cullen, ‘The Development of the Ideas and Policy of the British Union of Fascists, 1932–40’, Journal of Contemporary History 22, no. 1 (1987): 116. 28 Ibid., 123. 29 Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (London: Papermac, 1975), 306. 30 Oswald Mosley, Tomorrow We Live (Abbey, UK: Abbey Supplies, 1938), 43. Skidelsky further suggested that the empire served as a ‘self-contained economic system “insulated” from low-wage competition’ that fit into Mosley’s Keynesian view of the crisis of the marketplace demonstrated by the Great Depression. The application of Keynesianism to a fascist worldview, argued Skidelsky, was what made Mosley’s fascism ‘distinctively English’. As Stephen Dorril and Matthew Worley have made clear, while Keynes’ economic ideas were influential upon Mosley’s previous venture, the New Party, by the time of the BUF Mosley was more influenced by the corporatism of Italian Fascism. See Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley, 302, 306; Dorril, Blackshirt, 242–43; Matthew Worley, ‘What Was the New Party? Sir Oswald Mosley and Associated Responses to the “Crisis”, 1931–1932’, History 92, no. 305 (January 2007): 42. 22

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October 1932), Mosley promoted the economic importance of the empire for the future of a self-sufficient Britain. Mosley believed there was a ‘natural balance of exchange’ between Britain, which was ‘primarily a producer of manufactured goods’, and the other countries of the empire, which were ‘primarily producers of foodstuffs and of raw materials’.31 To ensure that this balance was being upheld and that the necessary production processes were being maintained, Mosley argued that ‘interImperial planning can arrange … for production in the various parts of the Empire according to suitability for production’.32 Central to this notion of the ‘natural balance’ was the idea of ‘Imperial unity’, which would direct the other countries of the empire, including the Dominions, to act for the benefit of the empire as a whole, particularly for Britain, the metropole at the centre of the empire. The general plan that Mosley laid out in 1932 was: to transfer our purchases of foodstuffs and our raw materials from countries which at present afford us little or no market in return, to Empire countries which afford us a large market in return.33

This idea of the self-sufficient British Empire was further developed in a 1936 document, with Mosley claiming, ‘we can produce in Britain all the foodstuffs now imported from foreign countries’, with the exception of items like Manitoba hard wheat from Canada.34 Although exceptions were made in the 1932 manifesto, by 1936 Mosley was proposing that all foreign imports were to be excluded and that any shortfall could be made up by the Dominions, ‘who stand to gain much by participation in our long-term, as well as our short-term policy’.35 Again he referred to the idea of ‘empire planning’ to encourage an ‘equal’ distribution of imports and exports across the British Empire, with Mosley reiterating that ‘a natural balance of trade exists between our manufactures and Empire primary products’.36 This planning would be aided by the fascist reorganisation of British industry under the Mosleyite scheme, as explained by Cullen: ‘national organization would enable Britain to trade as a bloc and not as so many individual companies’.37 Mosley believed that this imperial trade would allow Britain to expand its industrial base, which in turn would drive further demand for raw materials from the empire. He explained: We shall buy raw materials from Empire countries by direct bargain, that they take the £ for £ equivalent of our manufactures in return. In addition to manufactures for current consumption, the Empire, within a system of Empire planning, will increasingly demand capital goods in the shape of machinery for development of its primary industries.38

Posing the question as to whether the Dominions would accept this arrangement, Mosley stated they would, ‘for the simple reason that [the arrangement] will pay them, and it is the policy for which they have always asked’.39 Alongside these 31

Mosley, The Greater Britain, 132. Ibid. 33 Ibid., 134. 34 Mosley, Fascism, 25. 35 Ibid., 26. 36 Ibid., 40. 37 Cullen, ‘The Development of the Ideas’, 120. 38 Mosley, Fascism, 39. 39 Ibid., 40. 32

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economic reasons, Mosley contended that ‘Fascist Movements are developing in the Dominions, and the innate loyalty of Fascism has a special appeal for them’.40 In Tomorrow We Live, the BUF’s last major policy document before the Second World War, Mosley returned to this idea of mutual cooperation between Britain and its colonies helping to propel the country forward. He wrote that the ‘conjunction of the vast resources of our Empire with the genius of modern science can solve the problem of our age’, with ‘the problem’ being described as ‘the breakdown of the obsolete international system’.41 Mosley called the British Empire ‘the only alternative to chaos and exploitation’ and declared that the BUF sought to ‘build an Empire system that rests on the simple principle that the British people shall consume what the British people produce’.42 He also outlined the reasons for the focus on the British Empire – namely because the empire possessed the highest-quality workers, machinery and raw materials imaginable and: with our own resources of men, machines, and raw materials, we can immensely increase our present wealth production, provided we have a market for which to produce.43

Besides the strategic and economic importance that the BUF bestowed upon the Dominions, Mosley and other key figures in the Union also emphasised the importance of the Dominions in maintaining the superiority of the British ‘race’. From 1932 onwards, the BUF differentiated between ‘native’ and ‘white’ standards of life and maintained that both would be improved within the self-sufficient British Empire under fascist rule.44 Especially as the influence of German National Socialism impacted upon the BUF, Mosley and the other theorists in the Union talked about the particularism of the British race and its ‘civilizing’ mission across the British Empire. In Fascist Quarterly, Mosley also discussed the ‘peculiar genius’ of the British race in pursuing the imperial project across the globe.45 According to Mosley, the British had instilled a hierarchical framework of race that was practised across the empire. Prior to the twentieth century, he argued, this was often done informally and without resorting to the legal system. This gave the appearance of a superficial ‘fairness’ among British subjects, obscuring the deeper inequality between the coloniser and the colonised. With the Dominions much more likely to implement legislation to maintain racial hierarchy, these peripheries of empire became, for fascists and other far right imperialists, outposts where the British race not only survived but thrived. Mosley celebrated this, writing that it was ‘in this arduous duty [that] the finest and toughest characteristics of the English are developed’.46 These racialising efforts by the Dominions were praised by the BUF for ensuring the preservation of the British race within the empire. 40

Ibid. Mosley, Tomorrow We Live, 37–8. Ibid., 38. 43 Ibid. 44 Mosley, The Greater Britain, 138. 45 Mosley, ‘The World Alternative’, 384. 46 Ibid. 41 42

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The BUF’s Director of Propaganda William Joyce (later known as ‘Lord HawHaw’)47 reminded readers of Fascist Quarterly that in the First World War, the Dominions had joined the war effort almost immediately. The reason for this, he argued, was that ‘they came in response to the urge of common blood, and not because their freedom was then, as now, dependent on the strength of the British Navy’.48 This sentiment was reiterated in 1938 by Major-General Fuller, one of the many ex-officers who held leadership positions in the BUF,49 who proclaimed that Britain and the Dominions possessed ‘a common moral basis – a common origin, a common tradition and a common idea of freedom’, which could build an empire ‘rooted in British soil and cemented by British blood’.50 As Paul Stocker has written, the British Union of Fascists portrayed the British Empire as a ‘testament to Britain’s greatness as a civilisation and as Empire builders’51 and the Dominions held a special place within this fascist programme for the rebuilding of the empire. Within the empire, Australia was seen as a natural home for this fascist imperial project with its overwhelmingly white population, its perceived lack of a ‘native problem’ and its natural geographical barriers against invasion from Asia. The next section of this article will examine how the fascist press in Britain portrayed Australia in the 1930s, as an important part of an autarkic empire and as a protective habitat for the British race.

Portrayals of Australia in the BUF press The importance of Australia for imperial self-reliance As a source for raw materials and as a market for British goods, Australia was important for the BUF’s ideal of imperial self-reliance. This was reiterated in the BUF press from the earliest days of the organisation. In November 1934, The Blackshirt featured an article on the ‘unheeded appeal’ of Australia as a resource for Britain that would offer significant material benefits, with Henry J. Gibbs writing: England is primarily an industrial nation – Australia, agricultural … and if developed by Britain would prove an increasingly fruitful market for reciprocal trade of a rising quantity and quality.52

Gibbs argued that Australia, along with Canada, was invaluable in supporting the living standards of the British population, arguing that Australia ‘certainly would be a most important member of this [reciprocal] scheme, for it is definitely a land of Tomorrow’.53 Gibbs encouraged a ‘closer economic and spiritual union between Australia and the Motherland’, viewing it as ‘a vital and paramount necessity’ to 47

Joyce left the BUF in 1937, and during the Second World War broadcast English-language Nazi propaganda from Germany. See Colin Holmes, Searching for Lord Haw-Haw: The Political Lives of William Joyce (London: Routledge, 2016). 48 William Joyce, ‘Britain’s Empire Shall Live’, Fascist Quarterly, 1, no. 1 (1936): 100. 49 W.F. Mandle, ‘The Leadership of the British Union of Fascists’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 12, no. 3 (December 1966): 363. 50 J.F.C. Fuller, ‘Foreign Policy and Imperial Strategy’, British Union Quarterly, 2, no. 3 (1938): 33. 51 Stocker, ‘“The Imperial Spirit”’, 51. 52 Henry J. Gibbs, ‘Australia’s Unheeded Appeal’, The Blackshirt, 30 November 1934, 8. 53 Ibid.

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maintaining the balance between industrial Britain and the agricultural Dominions.54 In another article, Gibbs reminded readers that Australia, along with New Zealand, ‘purchases more English commodities than do all the 150,000,000 inhabitants of North and Central America’.55 The BUF emphasised Australia as an agricultural producer that would provide for both Britain and the rest of the empire. A 1935 article in The Blackshirt talked of transforming the ‘arid plains of Australia’ into ‘fertile pasturelands’,56 while a letter to Action in December 1937 urged Britain to buy Australian fruit, writing:

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What a chance for Australia if only the blundering Free Traders of both countries would only awaken to facts. Why should it be that England finds it necessary to import Greek currants, sultanas, etc, Palestine oranges and frozen meat from the Argentina.57

Elsewhere in Action, the BUF lamented that the British government ‘perversely directs [its economic interests] into South Eastern Europe’, while ‘Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and Canada are crying out for trade and investment’.58 This foreign trade was seen as ‘betraying’ British industry and the rest of the empire, as nearly all the products bought from Europe could, the BUF argued, be bought from within the British Empire. As the anonymous author of the article claimed: Every bushel of wheat we buy in Roumania is a bushel of wheat lost to Canadian farmers; every shoe we order in Czechoslovakia is a shoe lost to Northampton.59

This, in the eyes of the BUF, was nonsensical economic policy because South Eastern Europe was deemed to be ‘bound, whether we like it or not, to become a German sphere of influence within the next few years’.60 The BUF held that it made more economic (and political) sense to shore up the existing colonies and Dominions of British Empire and not get involved in cultivating European markets as this would be part of the new National Socialist German Empire, believing (‘naively’ as Gary Love has written)61 that the two empires could coexist (and arguing that only fascism could keep peace in Europe). As Mosley wrote in 1938: The desires of these two powers, therefore, for the first time become not antithetical but complementary. For a strong British Empire throughout the world can be regarded by the new German as a world bulwark against Oriental Communism, and a strong Germany in Europe can be regarded by the new Briton as a European bulwark against the same disruption that invades from the East the life of Western men.62

Within this new British Empire envisaged by the BUF, Australia held a special place, with Raven Thomson declaring, ‘Under the British Union, Australia will become the 54

Ibid. Henry J. Gibbs, ‘The Empire Was Not Built by Men in Armchairs’, The Blackshirt, 21 December 1934, 4. 56 ‘Britain’s Forgotten Markets’, The Blackshirt, 6 December 1935, 4. 57 ‘The Voice of Britain’, Action, 6 December 1937, 18. 58 ‘Government Sells Empire for European Alliances’, Action, 3 December 1938, 7. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid. 61 Love, ‘“What’s the Big Idea?”’, 467. 62 Mosley, Tomorrow We Live, 66. Despite potential imperialist rivalries between Britain and Italy in the Mediterranean and North Africa, the BUF also supported Italian imperialism in the mid to late 1930s. When Italy invaded Abyssinia in 1935, the BUF celebrated the Italians’ colonialist project. Furthermore, in 1938, the BUF also described Italy’s colonisation of Libya as ‘ample proof of the ability of modernised states to develop colonial resources’. Dorril, Blackshirt, 355; ‘Reveille!!!’, Action, 5 November 1938, 2. 55

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firm southern pivot of a Greater Empire’.63 The BUF’s ‘planned Empire trading’, Thomson proposed, would ‘guarantee the Australian producer of raw products his fair trade of the increased home market in Britain’ and also win for Australia new markets in Europe for wool and other raw materials, thus ‘enabling Australia to break loose from the dangerous trade relations with Japan’.64

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Australia as a place of British settlement Part of this view of Australia as an important part of the British Empire’s trading relations was the country’s promise as a destination for British migrants to take opportunity of the vast space offered and its potential for agricultural and industrial development. This had been a widely held view in Britain since the early days of the Australian colonies and the BUF reinforced the idea of the British colonial settler as imperial pioneer. In November 1934, The Blackshirt enthusiastically quoted former Prime Minister of Australia, Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who had declared, ‘we believe that Australia to-day offers a magnificent opportunity to the British citizen who has courage and initiative and is prepared to work’.65 The embrace of the language of the brave, pioneering British colonial migrant seeking adventure and wealth at the periphery of the empire revealed the ‘cult of masculinity’ that was fostered within the BUF, where physical ‘manliness’ was celebrated as a sign of courage, determination and leadership.66 As Julie Gottlieb has written, ‘The Blackshirts … stand out as the forward guard of an unreconstructed masculinity, evoking the prescriptive codes of manly comportment and behaviour associated with a more confident imperial age in Britain’s pre-war past’.67 In Action, Robert Gordon-Canning celebrated the pioneering British colonist, unfettered by the ‘unintelligent interference … of the expert’ and direct rule from Westminster.68 Taking a ‘blood and soil’ approach,69 Gordon-Canning applauded the agrarian nature of settler colonialism, writing: There must be a large body of settlers, who look upon it as their home. If these men are to be properly self-reliant it is essential that the bulk of them live on the land, deriving from it that subtle spirit which is the life of local patriotism.70

Gordon-Canning believed that these colonial settlers from Britain would be able to make good use of the land, displacing the Indigenous population, who he deemed to have ‘neither the skill nor the ability to cultivate’.71 A. Raven Thomson, ‘Australia: One of the Pivots of the Empire’, Action, 15 May 1937, 12. Ibid. 65 Gibbs, ‘Australia’s Unheeded Appeal’, 8. 66 Tony Collins, ‘Return to Manhood: The Cult of Masculinity and the British Union of Fascists’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 16, no. 4 (1999): 145. 67 Julie Gottlieb, ‘Body Fascism in Britain: Building the Blackshirt in the Inter-War Period’, Contemporary European History 20, no. 2 (May 2011): 115. 68 Robert Gordon-Canning, ‘The British Empire: The Great Colonists’, Action, 15 May 1937, 9. 69 This fetishisation of the agricultural land and the ‘back-to-the-soil’ idealism by proponents within the BUF, such as Jorian Jenks, fed into the major BUF policy of autarky and the need for Britain to be self-sufficient in food. Richard Moore-Colyer, ‘Towards “Mother Earth”: Jorian Jenks, Organicism, the Right and the British Union of Fascists’, Journal of Contemporary History 39, no. 3 (2004): 359. 70 Gordon-Canning, ‘The British Empire’, 9. 71 Ibid. 63 64

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The territorial fiction of terra nullius, a popular concept for justifying the colonisation of Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s,72 similarly fit into the BUF view of the Dominions, especially Australia, which was seen as a landscape waiting to be tamed and developed. Australia, the BUF stated, was a ‘vast continent of a little under 8,000,000 square miles in area with a population of 6,623,754’,73 supposedly waiting for the British to cultivate it. To not develop this land, Raven Thomson proposed, would create a ‘land vacuum’ that was ‘in much too close proximity to the overcrowded Asiatic continent for safety’.74 To fill this vacuum, he suggested that steps needed to be taken ‘to fill the empty continent with men and women of British stock’ and only with this flow of British migration would ‘the threat of external Asiatic pressure … finally be raised’ [sic].75 In 1937, The Blackshirt called for the British government to finance the settlement of British migrants in the Dominions and supply them with the necessary training to help develop these parts of the empire. An Australian correspondent for the journal urged, ‘It is to the benefit of the Mother Country that the Dominions should be populated and utilised to their fullest degree’.76 For the BUF, the Empire Settlement Act did not go far enough to assist those migrating to the colonies and the Dominions. They argued: if the same help were to be given to [Australia] as is given to foreign countries by the powers of International Finance in the City of London, she could also be numbered among the richest countries of the world.77

With this assistance from the British government, it was assumed that the British race would be able to flourish in the Dominions and utilise the land to help build the autarkic British Empire envisioned by the BUF. Australia, the BUF believed, was the ideal environment to cultivate the British race at the periphery of the empire. Australia and the BUF’s concept of race In the same March 1937 article in Action, Raven Thomson declared that, unlike South Africa, New Zealand and Canada, Australia was a perfect place for the settlement and cultivation of British settlers, due to its ‘complete freedom from any racial problems’.78 With Australia, the British had ‘an entire sub-continent completely controlled by one race of people speaking one language’, which he argued was ‘a factor which cannot be paralleled elsewhere in the Empire except in the Home country’.79 While warning that ‘even New Zealand has her Maoris’, the Australian Aboriginal population was dismissed as ‘entirely insignificant in numbers and culture’.80 For Raven Thomson, Australia was the ‘second British homeland’ and it was paramount that the British and Australians together fought to ‘preserve the racial integrity of the See Andrew Fitzmaurice, ‘The Genealogy of Terra Nullius’, Australian Historical Studies 38, no. 129 (2007): 1–15. Gibbs, ‘Australia’s Unheeded Appeal’, 8. 74 Raven Thomson, ‘Australia’, 12. 75 Ibid. 76 W.J. Bussey, ‘Australian Immigrant’s Experiences’, The Blackshirt, 13 March 1937, 7. 77 Ibid. 78 Raven Thomson, ‘Australia’, 12. 79 Ibid. 80 Ibid. 72 73

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Australian continent’.81 If this could be achieved, the article argued, then ‘Australia must inevitably form one of the two pivots of Empire, for it is about the two great blocks of pure British race that the Empire must revolve’.82 British emigration to the Dominions was enthusiastically promoted, although other European migrants were not, with one letter to Action describing Greek and Italian shopkeepers as belonging to ‘doubtful nationalities’ who were taking jobs from unemployed ‘white’ Australians.83 Alongside the negative portrayal of southern Europeans in the BUF press, the pages of Action also became increasingly filled with unpleasant descriptions of the plight of Jewish refugees in Australia in the late 1930s. Although Daniel Tilles has argued that anti-Semitism and racism had been a central part of the BUF’s programme since its inception,84 discussion of race (especially the demonisation of Jewish refugees) within the British Empire in Action started to significantly increase from 1937 onwards, as German National Socialism came to have a greater influence upon the organisation. Due to Australia’s strict immigration policy and reluctance from the Commonwealth government, the number of Jewish refugees coming to the country in the 1930s was quite low, with fewer than 100 before 1935, then slightly more than 150 in 1936 and just over 500 in 1937.85 Despite these low numbers, the BUF was eager to present these Jewish refugees as a threat to the Australian way of life and the British race in the antipodes. In May 1939, Action stated that although ‘the number of Jews is still very small’, the Australian press ‘appears to estimate their failings much more effectively than do the papers of this country’,86 with an issue of the magazine from the following month referring to the editorials of the Sydney Bulletin as evidence that ‘public opinion is rising rapidly in Australia against the admission of every kind of undesirable alien under the label of “refugee”’.87 Another issue of Action extensively quoted the Australian tabloid Truth to depict ‘a rising tide of resentment against the proposal that Australia should become the dumping ground for Jews from Central Europe’.88 The BUF portrayed these Jewish refugees as ‘parasites’,89 who were coming to Australia to ‘depriv[e] local workers of jobs’,90 and colonise the unpopulated areas of Australia, such as the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia.91 One letter to Action in September 1938 (shortly after the Evian conference was held in France to decide which countries would host the Jewish refugees fleeing Europe) claimed that Jewish representatives in Europe would ‘prefer to invade Australia with 40,000 co-racials’, but declared that this would be ‘an insult to the British people, whose forefathers fought for and colonised our Empire that today is our heritage’.92 The newspaper strenuously objected to suggestions that 81

Ibid. Ibid. 83 ‘The Voice of Britain’, Action, 2 December 1937, 18. 84 Daniel Tilles, British Fascist Antisemitism and Jewish Responses, 1932–40 (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). 85 Andrew Markus, ‘Jewish Migration to Australia 1938–49’, Journal of Australian Studies 7, no. 13 (1983): 18. 86 ‘Behind the News’, Action, 13 May 1939, 10. 87 ‘Empire Notes’, Action, 17 June 1939, 6. 88 ‘Australian Newspaper Protests against Influx of Alien Jews’, Action, 6 May 1939, 13. 89 ‘Still Parasites’, Action, 18 February 1939, 13. 90 ‘Australian Newspaper Protests against Influx of Alien Jews’, Action, 6 May 1939, 13. 91 George Sutton, ‘Shot and Shell’, Action, 29 January 1938, 19; ‘Reserved for Readers’, Action, 3 September 1938, 8. 92 ‘Reserved for Readers’, Action, 3 September 1938, 8. 82

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admitted refugees could ‘improve’ the British race and that the need for more people in Australia could be met with Jewish refugees. The newspaper opined: When will these insults to British manhood (and British womanhood) cease? British Union will improve British stock by restoring British pride of race, not by admixture with alien blood.93

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Building the fascist movement in Australia In August 1933, The Blackshirt announced that the BUF was forming a New Empire Union that would bring together the various fascist movements from across the British Empire. While mentioning that fascist movements were springing up in New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, the BUF concentrated on the New Guard, which allegedly had 100,000 members and was reported to have ‘often played a decisive part in Australian politics’.94 The same article mentioned the negotiations between Mosley and Eric Campbell, announcing that with the New Empire Union: … we now have a united Fascist drive throughout the Empire, against the great financial interests which have impeded Empire development, and towards the selfcontained Empire which is our common objective.95

Inspired by the British Fascisti of the 1920s and the British paramilitary response to the General Strike of 1926, the New Guard was formed by a group of ex-servicemen in Sydney in February 1931.96 It arose from several paramilitary organisations established in the 1920s that feared the rise of communism, the Labor Party and militant trade unionism during the Depression. Its most pronounced enemy was the Labor Premier of New South Wales, John Thomas (or Jack) Lang, a confrontational leader (particularly in opposition to the Commonwealth government) accused by the right of being a Bolshevist (despite being anti-communist), as well as having ‘a desire to wreck Australian society’.97 Unlike the Canadian Union of Fascists, which was established by British expatriates in Canada,98 the New Guard was a local, organic organisation that came into existence more than a year and a half before the British Union of Fascists. The New Guard grew quickly, and through a series of public stunts and demonstrations (such as Francis de Groot’s cutting of the ribbon at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in March 1932) it attracted the attention of the authorities and the left.99 Feeling pressure from attacks from the Communist Party and the trade unions, alongside arrests of several New Guard personnel, the New Guard’s fortunes faded after the dismissal of Lang as Premier in May 1932. 93 ‘Refugees’ Blood to “Improve” British Stock: Outrageous Suggestions Made by Maude Royden’, Action, 29 April 1939, 9. 94 ‘The Fascist Empire: BUF Policy Re-Stated’, The Blackshirt, 26 August 1933, 1. 95 Ibid., 4. 96 Keith Amos, The New Guard Movement 1931–1935 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1976), 13. 97 Nick Dyrenfurth and Frank Bongiorno, A Little History of the Australian Labor Party (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2011), 82. 98 See Lita-Rise Betcherman, The Swastika and the Maple Leaf: Fascist Movements in Canada in the Thirties (Pickering, Ont.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1978), 76–84. 99 See Andrew Moore, The Secret Army and the Premier: Conservative Paramilitary Organisations in New South Wales, 1930–1932 (Sydney: UNSW Press, 1989); Richard Evans ‘“A Menace to this Realm”: The New Guard and the New South Wales Police, 1931–32’, History Australia 5, no. 2 (2008): 76.1–76.20; Andrew Moore, ‘The New Guard and the Labour Movement, 1931–35’, Labour History 89 (November 2005): 55–72.

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It was in this period that Campbell reached out to the BUF, as well as to Fascist Italy’s Benito Mussolini, inspired by the apparent dynamism that the European fascists presented, compared with the stagnation of the New Guard. By the beginning of 1933, membership of the New Guard had almost halved in less than a year.100 Setting off for Europe in January of that year, Campbell hoped to form a network of solidarity between the New Guard in Australia and similar organisations in Europe (especially in Britain) and the Dominions, preparing the groundwork for an imperial fascism. On his European trip, Campbell first met with Mosley and attended several BUF meetings and gatherings and, as Andrew Moore has asserted, far from recognising the traditional imperial hierarchy that Mosley, Joyce and others believed would be the relationship between the BUF and the fascist movements in the Dominions, Campbell felt himself to be on an equal footing with Mosley during these meetings.101 Addressing the crowd at the BUF headquarters in London in April 1933, Campbell declared that ‘the time was not distant when the Empire would be ruled by Fascists’ and he spoke highly of the New Empire Union that would also take in similar organisations in New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.102 Using Mosley’s connections, Campbell travelled to Rome and Berlin and met with high-level Fascist and Nazi officials (but not Mussolini or Hitler) and returned to Australia in August 1933 ‘enthusiastic about the fascist transformation of Europe and the movements he had experienced at first hand’.103 By December, Campbell had transformed the New Guard into the Centre Party, moving from a paramilitary organisation to a political party. Moore argues that this shift into electoral politics is ‘explicable only if one takes the Centre Party to be … a Trojan Horse which would participate in the process of liberal democracy only in order to undermine it’,104 a method employed successfully by the Nazi Party in Germany, yet unsuccessfully by the BUF. This conversion to fascism (and to the Centre Party) was explained by Campbell in a 1934 book, The New Road: I am a Fascist because I am a democrat. I am a democrat because I believe in government by the general will. The only possible form of government for a country like Australia, where … there is no traditional ruling class, is the intelligent selection by the people of the most high-minded and capable of their number to undertake the task of government … The party system of government is a negation of everything that [democracy] stands for; it is to the ideals of Fascism that we must look for the retention of democracy as the guiding spirit of the people.105

100 Andrew Moore, ‘Discredited Fascism: The New Guard after 1932’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 57, no. 2 (June 2011): 189, 198. 101 Andrew Moore, ‘The Nazification of the New Guard: Colonel Campbell’s Fascist Odyssey, 1933–1938’, in National Socialism in Oceania: A Critical Evaluation of Its Effect and Aftermath, ed. Emily Turner-Graham and Christine Winter (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2010), 99–100. 102 Cited in Matthew Cunningham, ‘Australian Fascism? A Revisionist Analysis of the Ideology of the New Guard’, Politics, Religion & Ideology 13, no. 3 (2012): 390. 103 Moore, ‘The Nazification of the New Guard’, 101. 104 Moore, ‘Discredited Fascism’, 197. 105 Eric Campbell, The New Road (Sydney: Briton Publications, 1934), 49.

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This was reinforced in a letter that Campbell wrote to Mosley in May 1934 (intercepted by the British and Australian authorities), in which he stated that the ‘principles of the Centre Party are simply an application of the Fascist principles to Australian conditions’.106 In the new manifesto, Campbell reiterated his commitment to the empire and the autarky proposed by the New Empire Union, calling for Australia and Britain to ‘create a racial and economic security that could defy the world for all time’.107 If the proper commitment was made, Campbell suggested, ‘Britain could disregard the rest of the world, and Australia every other market but Great Britain’.108 Moreover, Campbell called for increased migration from Britain to build the Australian population and further develop the land, and in doing so, make the country ‘safe for all time from fear of Eastern aggression’.109 As he stated, ‘Racially, Australia would be all the better, all the sounder, for a large influx of British blood’.110 Campbell’s conversion to fascism, however, did not convince many of the New Guard’s former supporters, and membership dwindled over the next few years. By the time The New Road was published, the material conditions that had allowed the New Guard to appear as a temporary political force in Australian politics had changed. Much of the political impetus behind the New Guard was opposition to Premier Jack Lang and a fear of the Labor Party’s ostensibly ‘socialist’ agenda. After Lang was replaced as Premier by the United Australia Party’s Bertram Stevens (with the UAP also in power at Commonwealth level under Prime Minister Joseph Lyons), much of this fear dissipated, as these governments at state and Commonwealth level were ‘very much similar in ideology and social character to the New Guard’.111 At the same time, the economy started to recover after the Great Depression, which had pushed a significant number of Australians to the political extremes, both right and left.112 Alongside these economic and political conditions, the Centre Party’s increasing enthusiasm for German National Socialism alienated many of those who formerly supported the New Guard (although Campbell then moved away from this pro-Nazi position in 1937–38, saving himself from internment, and a similar fate to Mosley, in the Second World War).113 Although Campbell expressed to Mosley in 1934 his hope that ‘we will be embarking on a lifelong association’,114 by the mid-1930s it seemed as if the New Empire Union had been quietly disregarded. After this initial flurry of support, the BUF press did not mention the New Empire Union or the New Guard again, making only oblique references to the growth of fascist movements in Australia and the other Dominions.

106 Letter from Eric Campbell to Oswald Mosley, 7 May 1934, A6122 2 vol. 1, National Archives of Australia (Canberra, ACT) (hereafter NAA). 107 Campbell, The New Road, 133. 108 Ibid. 109 Ibid., 135. 110 Ibid., 134. 111 Moore, ‘Discredited Fascism’, 205. 112 See Stuart Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998), 203–43. 113 Moore, ‘The Nazification of the New Guard’, 109. 114 Letter from Campbell to Mosley, 7 May 1934, A6122 2 vol. 1, NAA.

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Conclusion Apart from its potential as a fascist outpost in the British Empire, the BUF was fascinated by Australia because of what it offered in its present condition, namely a loyal and largely white settler colony with a seeming abundance of empty land for agrarian ‘development’. Australia did not need to be a fascist dictatorship for it to be deemed useful by Mosley and the other imperial theorists within the BUF. It was enough that it was an advanced liberal democracy with strict racially exclusionist policies and a keen sense of imperial patriotism, evidenced they believed by the number of Australians who had volunteered to fight for the British Empire in the First World War.115 Andrew Moore and Aurelien Mondon have both examined whether the pre-conditions for fascism existed in Australia in the 1930s,116 but in many ways, from the perspective of the BUF, the conditions that suggest that Australia was in some ways ‘proto-fascist’ could also be seen as explaining why Australia did not need a fascist revolution. As Mondon has written, ‘the extremely hostile treatment of Australia’s indigenous population [and] the White Australia policy prevented a typical extreme right the likes of those in Europe from emerging’ as the far right in Australia was ‘unable to present itself as an alternative in the way its European counterpart had so successfully done’.117 Moore described the White Australia Policy as ‘an institutional taproot for fascism’s inevitable companion, racism’,118 but this widespread and politically mainstream racism hindered an Australian far right or fascist organisation from emerging, as Mondon has argued. Australia was not fascist. Rather, its liberal democracy was based on racial exploitation and brutal colonisation and this meant that there was little appetite for fascism within the settler colony and little space for racism to be exploited by a fascist demagogue. Far from requiring ‘expressions of dictatorial will’, Australia’s treatment of the Aboriginal population and use of the White Australia Policy offers what Matthew Fitzpatrick has called in a different context ‘evidence of the diffuse possibilities for exercising exclusionary sovereign … power within a functioning liberal state’.119 Alongside its importance as a colonial site where the British race could prosper, Australia, along with the other Dominions, was also seen as vitally important for the development of a self-sufficient empire. From the days of the New Party, Oswald Mosley had been preoccupied with the idea of an autarkic British Empire that was able to provide for itself through trade with the colonies and Dominions, exchanging raw materials and foodstuffs for consumer goods, and thus ending Britain’s reliance on foreign trade and ‘international finance’. Australia, as well as Canada, was referred to constantly in the BUF press as an agricultural reservoir that was fundamental to fulfilling the idea of a self-sufficient empire, with Britain at its centre. Australia was seen as a loyal Dominion, ready to provide resources and manpower for the maintenance of the British Empire. Don Beresford, ‘National Socialism Takes Root in Australia’, The Blackshirt, 2 August 1938, 6. Moore, ‘Discredited Fascism’, 188–206; Aurelien Mondon, ‘An Australian Immunisation to the Extreme Right?’, Social Identities 18, no. 3 (2012): 355–72. 117 Mondon, ‘An Australian Immunisation’, 361. 118 Moore, ‘Discredited Fascism’, 190. 119 Matthew P. Fitzpatrick, ‘A State of Exception? Mass Expulsions and the German Constitutional State, 1871–1914’, Journal of Modern History 85, no. 4 (December 2013): 800. 115 116

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A number of scholars have looked at fascism as an international (and even transnational) phenomenon, spreading across Europe in the interwar period, assisted by Mussolini’s idea of a Fascist International,120 by its anti-leftist role during the Spanish Civil War121 and by Nazi Germany’s establishment of fascist and proto-fascist allies during the Second World War. However, historians have overlooked how Europe’s old imperial powers, particularly Britain and France, developed fascist movements within their empires during the same period. Given the various fascist, far right and paramilitary movements that emerged in the Dominions in the early 1930s, it can be argued that a transnational fascism developed inside the British Empire, with the British Union of Fascists as its directing centre in the metropole. The fascism expressed by the BUF and fostered in Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand was more than a British fascism. It was an imperial form of fascism that saw the maintenance and utilisation of the empire’s already established framework as central to its programme. While the BUF and its corresponding movements across the empire were undoubtedly influenced heavily by Italian Fascism (and later German National Socialism),122 they were also heavily indebted to the legacy of British colonialism and shared many of its features with other pro-imperial groups that existed in the first half of the twentieth century. Australia, the ‘workingman’s paradise’ as white nationalist and socialist William Lane described it in 1892,123 was integral to the BUF’s idea of a fascist British Empire, an idea that did not last long after the ‘New Empire Union’ was announced, except in the pages of The Blackshirt and Action.

Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Matthew Worley, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andrekos Varnava and Peter Monteath for reading earlier versions of this work.

Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

About the author Evan Smith is a Visiting Research Fellow with the School of History and International Relations at Flinders University in South Australia. He has published widely on British immigration history, anti-racist politics and the history of the British left. He is the co-author of Race, Gender and the Body in British Immigration Control (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and co-editor of Against the Grain: The British Far Left from 1956 (Manchester University Press, 2014).

120 See M.A. Leeden, Universal Fascism: The Theory and Practice of the Fascist International, 1928–1936 (New York: H. Fertig, 1972). 121 See Judith Keene, Fighting for Franco: International Volunteers in Nationalist Spain during the Spanish Civil War (London: Bloomsbury, 2007). 122 See John Perkins, ‘The Swastika Down Under: Nazi Activities in Australia, 1933–39’, Journal of Contemporary History 26, no. 1 (1991): 111–29. 123 John Miller (William Lane), The Workingman’s Paradise: An Australian Labour Novel (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1980).