Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet of Ancoats, was an English aristocrat (a fourth cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II) and statesman. Mosley was a Member of Parliament for Harrow from 1918 to 1924 and for Smethwick from 1926 to 1931. He was also Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Labour Government of 1929–1931.
Mosley began his political career as a Conservative; then he broke with the Conservatives to become an independent; then he joined the Labour Party. In 1931, he broke with Labour and formed his “New Party.” After the New Party candidates failed in the elections of 1931, Mosley regrouped and founded the British Union of Fascists in 1932.
The BUF went through typical political ups and downs, but claimed a peak membership as high as 50,000, including prominent members of the aristocracy, military, press, business community, and intelligentsia. Furthermore, many Britons who sympathized and collaborated with Mosley and the BUF never officially joined the party. Adventurer T. E. Lawrence, author Henry Williamson, and conductor Sir Reginald Goodall have been profiled at Counter-Currents. For an extensive list, see the Wikipedia article on the BUF.
Like other fascist parties, the BUF was anti-communist, nationalistic, pro-private property, and anti-egalitarian. As fascists, the BUF recognized the necessity of cultivating individual excellence, ambition, and creativity. But they also wished to mitigate of the worst excesses of individualism and capitalism by opposing free trade (globalization) and usury and advocating better wages and benefits for workers, social welfare programs, and public spending on infrastructure.
Like Hitler and Mussolini, Mosley was a charismatic leader and speaker who sought to attain power by the creation of a mass political party. Public marches and speeches were staples of BUF activity. To protect BUF rallies from Communist and Jewish violence, Mosley formed a paramilitary “blackshirt” corps. There were many bloody brawls and police bans.
The largest meeting addressed by Mosley took place at Victoria Park, Bow, in July 1936. The crowd was estimated at 250,000 people. In July 1939, the BUF held the largest indoor meeting in the world at Earls Court in London, where Mosley addressed a Peace Rally of some 30,000 people.
At the beginning, the BUF, like Mussolini’s movement, was not anti-Semitic and actually had a number of Jewish members. However, over time, it became apparent that the vast bulk of the Jewish community was aggressively anti-BUF, thus the BUF became increasingly anti-Semitic.
The BUF was never a National Socialist party. Like Mussolini, Mosley never took biological race or anti-Semitism all that seriously. After Hitler’s rise to power, however, Mosley maintained cordial relations with the Third Reich. Mosley married his second wife, Diana Mitford, on October 6, 1936 in Berlin at the home of Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests.
In the late 1930s, as Jewish anti-German warmongering intensified, the BUF worked to save Britain and Europe from another war, campaigning on the theme of Mind Britain’s Business. After Britain and France started the Second World War by declaring war on Germany on September 3, 1939, Mosley campaigned for a negotiated peace.
On May 23, 1940 Mosley’s opposition to the war was silenced. He was interned under Defence Regulation 18B, which was used to silence the most active fascists and National Socialists in Britain. The BUF was later banned. Diana Mosley was also interned. The Mosleys lived together in a house in the grounds of Holloway prison until November 1943, when they were released from Holloway because of Sir Oswald’s ill health. They spent the rest of the war under house arrest.
After the war, Mosley returned to politics, in 1948 forming the Union Movement, which called for a European federation (called Europe a Nation) with an essentially fascist political and economic order. The idea of a European federation was advocated in the 1930s by fascists like Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, although it was always a minority viewpoint. After the Second World War, however, it became a central idea of the most far-sighted thinkers of the right, including Francis Parker Yockey, Jean Thiriart, and now Guillaume Faye.
In 1951, Mosley left Britain for Ireland. Later, he settled near Paris. He explained his decision to leave Britain by saying, “You don’t clear up a dungheap from underneath it.” In 1959, Mosley returned to Britain to run in the 1959 general election at Kensington North. In 1966, he ran in the 1966 general election at Shoreditch and Finsbury.
In 1968, Mosley published his autobiography, My Life. In his later years he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He died on December 3, 1980 in Orsay, near Paris, aged 84.
Counter-Currents has reprinted six pieces by Mosley:
- “Christ, Nietzsche, and Caesar,” translations: Ukrainian, Russian, French
- “Europe a Nation”
- “The European Declaration”
- “The Extension of Patriotism”
- “The Doctrine of Higher Forms”
- “The Meaning of Wagner’s Ring”
- Amanda Bradley, “How the British Constructed a New Woman’s Movement:
Julie V. Gottlieb’s Feminine Fascism”
- Jef Costello, “‘The Flash in the Pan’: Fascism & Fascist Insignia in the Spy Spoofs of the 1960s”
For articles tagged Sir Oswald Mosley, click here.
For more information on Mosley’s life and work, see http://www.oswaldmosley.com/