The making of a British Fascist : the case of A.K. Chesterton
The thesis is based upon a belief that it is possible to obtain a clearer understanding of the causes, consequences and complexities of British Fascism through studying the process of politicization, from childhood to full Fascist political consciousness, of Mosley's Director of Publicity and Propaganda in the British Union of Fascists - Arthur Kenneth Chesterton, M.C. (1899-1973). In order to trace through the exact nature of Chesterton's road to Fascism, those events and ideas which can be seen as crucial to his ideological evolution are highlighted. These include his childhood, spent amidst the jingoistic patriotism, overt racism and covert anti-Semitism of fin de siecle South Africa; his cloistered private education in England (1911-1914); his dreadful and yet uplifting experiences of war, while still intellectually and emotionally a child; the bleak disillusionment of peace - his return to South Africa in 1919, where he was faced with the realities of Afrikaner nationalism and white trade unionism, in opposition to Chesterton's beloved British Empire, which drew Chesterton into armed conflict under most unhappy circumstances; his return to England in 1924 and immersion in the small-minded world of provincial journalism; his development of a romantic literary intellectualism which led him to the transfer of essentially metaphysical values into the realm of political analysis; and finally the impact of Fascist ideology itself, with its extreme xenophobia, cultural nationalism, mystical historicism and rabid anti-Semitism. The result is a portrait of Chesterton which explains his motivation in terms of a complex mix of personal, intellectual, and contextual forces,and thus demythologises the man, removing the easy-to-manage hate figure and replacing him with a complicated figure of tragic contradictions. A comparison of Chesterton's Fascist beliefs with those of Mosley and William Joyce reveals that each was motivated by different obsessions, suggesting that inter-war Fascism was a coalition of many strands of opinion, held loosely together by certain common assumptions.