Alexander Raven Thomson

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Alexander Raven Thomson
Born 1899
Scotland
Died 1955 (aged 55–56)
Nationality British
Citizenship British
Occupation Manufacturer of silver paper
Known for fascist politician and writer
Political party
British Union of Fascists, Union Movement

Alexander Raven Thomson (1899 – 1955) (usually known as Raven) was a Scottish politician best known for his membership of the British Union of Fascists and was considered to be the party's chief ideologue. He has been described as the "Alfred Rosenberg of British fascism".[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Scotland, Thomson was educated in universities in his homeland, the United States and Germany, studying philosophy.[2] He became a leading authority on the works of Oswald Spengler and in 1932 published the book Civilization as Divine Superman, which rejected Spengler's theories about the decline of civilization, arguing that it could be avoided by the rejection of capitalism and its replacement with collectivism.[2] Whilst studying in Germany Thomson met and married the daughter of x-ray pioneer Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.[3] Upon his return to Britain he made his money from the manufacture of silver paper, a process he learned in Germany.[4] Thomson's political career began with him joining the Communist Party of Great Britain, although his membership did not last long as he rejected notions of historical materialism and saw himself move more towards corporatism.[2]

British Union of Fascists[edit]

He joined the British Union of Fascists in 1933 and soon rose to the post of Director of Policy, from where he became the leading ideological light in the party and a close associate of Oswald Mosley and Neil Francis Hawkins.[2] Whilst in this position he produced his seminal work The Coming Corporate State (1938), in which he set out the vision of a BUF government in Britain. Thomson envisaged the formation of twenty corporations, each controlling a specific sector of the economy. These corporations would be further divided up to cover each individual industry and would also feed into a National Corporation, which would effectively form the government. Corporations would have equal representation for employers, workers and consumers, with elections to the corporations taking the place of existing political activity.[5] Thomson became a leading figure in the BUF and in 1937 he represented the party in Municipal elections in Bethnal Green (SW), winning 23.17% of the votes and finishing ahead of the Liberal candidates.[6] Although he was not elected, the result marked a good total for the BUF. His status in the party now assured, Thomson became editor of the party weekly, Action, in 1939.[7] An important figure in the BUF, he served for a time as Mosley's representative to Germany, a role in which he was closely watched by MI5.[8] He shared with the Nazis a strong anti-Semitism[9] and was generally noted as an admirer of Nazi Germany.[10] He was part of BUF delegation that attended the 1933 Nuremberg Rally.[11] Mosley admired Thomson for his intellect[12] and would later describe him as an "honest man and devoted patriot",[13] although he was also known to privately criticise Thomson as something of a 'yes-man'.[14]

Following the outbreak of war Thomson devised a plan to attack the Nordic League as 'Nazi traitors' in the hope of establishing the BUF's patriotic credentials, although it came to nothing and actually ran alongside attempts by Francis Hawkins to establish BUF control over the League.[15] Along with most of the leading members of the BUF, Thomson was detained under Defence Regulation 18B in May 1940 and interned for much of the Second World War.[16] He spent his entire jail spell in Brixton Prison, rather than the generally more favourable prison camp on the Isle of Man, until his release in 1944.[17] Thomson reacted badly to his spell in detention and suffered a nervous breakdown whilst incarcerated.[18]

Union Movement[edit]

Following his release Thomson set up a number of book clubs across Britain to ensure the continuing spread of Mosley's ideas.[17] The book clubs served as planning meetings for the future of Mosleyite politics after the war.[19] He also led the Union of British Freemen, a group he set up with fellow ex-BUF member Victor Burgess in 1944 as an attempt to bring together former BUF members.[20] After the war Thomson travelled regularly to Ireland to meet with Mosley and discuss political development.[21] Eager to expand the base of operations of fascism in Britain he also sought unsuccessfully to forge alliances with the proto-environmentalist Rural Reconstruction Association through leading member Jorian Jenks, a former BUF activist, as well as individuals on the fringes of Welsh nationalism.[22]

He joined the Union Movement on its foundation in 1948 and became a leading figure in the new party as both General Secretary and the editor of the UM newspaper Union.[17] Playing a leading role in the development of the ideology of the UM, Thomson initially supported Europe a Nation enthusiastically, but soon tired of the esoteric policy and in 1950 organised a brief, and even more unsuccessful, move to neo-Nazism.[23] After this he came to advocate a "left-wing fascist" approach, arguing that the UM should target the working class for support with leftist style, anti-capitalism rhetoric.[24]

As well as his important position within the UM domestically, Thomson was also a central figure in the party's international links. Thomson was sent to Spain in 1949 to try to build up support for Mosley in the country, although the trip was somewhat unsuccessful as he failed to impress the falangists and had to contend with the negative words of former BUF member Angus Macnab, who had grown to loathe Mosley.[25] later Thomson was central in liasing with the New European Order, a group Mosely had no official contact with due to his support for the European Social Movement.[26] His international reputation grew further in 1952 when he was appointed to the editorial board of the prestigious Nation Europa magazine.[27] He also became known as the publisher of Frederick J. Veale's Advance to Barbarism, one of the early pieces of Second World War Historical revisionism.[28] He also contributed to The European, a magazine edited by Diana Mosley.

Thomson continued to serve as leading UM figure until his death in 1955 from cancer.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ R. Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969, p. 117
  2. ^ a b c d Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, p. 117
  3. ^ S. Dorril, Blackshirt – Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, London: Penguin, 2007, p. 252
  4. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 252
  5. ^ Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, pp. 143-150
  6. ^ Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, pp. 279-282
  7. ^ Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, p. 119
  8. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 317
  9. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 410
  10. ^ Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 55
  11. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 172
  12. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 280
  13. ^ O. Mosley, My Life, London: Nelson, 1970, p. 332
  14. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 260
  15. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 493
  16. ^ Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, p. 294
  17. ^ a b c d Biography at Friends of Oswald Mosley site (Archived version)
  18. ^ G. Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, New York: IB Tauris, 2007, p. 21
  19. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 554
  20. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, p. 39
  21. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 553
  22. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, pp. 585-6
  23. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, pp. 54-5
  24. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, p. 63
  25. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, p. 99
  26. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, p. 110
  27. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, p. 111
  28. ^ Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, p. 129