As sometimes unaccountably happens, a number of correspondents have taken exception to my description of the Respect 'Coalition' as racist and fascist, and it's worth a brief note on historical precedent.
The obvious historical example of where the far Left meets the far Right is the split among French Socialists in the 1930s. Paul Berman refers to this in his book Terror and Liberalism, and makes the point that Holocaust denial is a movement originating on the French Left. This may seem contentious but is strictly correct: the founder of Holocaust denial, Paul Rassinier (who was actually imprisoned in Buchenwald for a time), served as a Socialist Deputy after the war. In the earlier post I linked to yesterday, I gave instances of French, Belgian and British left-wing ideologues of fascism from the 1930s.
But another significant historical case of this phenomenon is Japanese Communism between the late 1920s and early 1930s. The great majority of the party's supporters adopted in short order the ideology of race and nation in pursuit of their revolutionary socialist ideals. The party leaders Sano Manuba and Nabeyama Sadachika weren't mere ordinary racists and nationalists. They urged a pan-Asia solidarity that paralleled Nazi doctrines of race purity, and a corporatism modelled on Italian fascism. Their memorandum of May 1933 identified:
... common characteristics among Asian peoples in language, culture, race and religion. There is spiritual solidarity among them in their confrontation with Western capitalism.... The struggle against Western capitalism, which will develop into a war, will be a progressive step for the peoples of Asia. Japan should be the leader of Pan-Asianism and should unite the peoples of the East on a class basis into one great nation.Sano and Nabeyama were in prison at the time, but there is no suggestion they were insincere in their defection, which was emulated by most of their comrades, or that they saw themselves as breaking with their revolutionary programme. When they were released from gaol, both served with the Japanese army in Peking and pronounced themeselves ready to serve "the cause of the emperor". On Sano and Nabeyama's defections, see George Beckmann and Okubo Genji, The Japanese Communist Party, 1922-45 (1969, pp. 245-53).
These examples don't imply that Respect is necessarily a fascist and racist party (though it is). But it does suggest that when you come across a journalist for a far-Left magazine (whose blushes I shall spare on this occasion) declaring that "no organisation of any meaningful size has ever - in all of political history - moved from the classical expression of one pole to the classical expression of the other”, you can be confident he'll believe pretty much anything.