From Mrs Ann Farmer SIR –A K Chesterton was in the 1930s the right-hand man and biographer of the Fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, and edited his magazine. In his biography of Chesterton, Ideology of Obsession, David Baker cites some “particularly nasty examples” of his British Union of Fascists writings of 1937, including “a gang of greasy gesticulating Jews ... this alien rabble”; “the Judaic-Bolshevik Soviet slave-state”; and “blood-cousins of the maggot and the leech”.
In his The Apotheosis of the Jew, in the same year, AKC claimed: “[T]he entire tragedy of the Jew ... is due to his devastating sense of inferiority ... Because of this terrible knowledge there is aroused in him a compensatory itch to dominate the world ... he could not fail to conquer were it not for the inevitable arrogance that sooner or later attends upon his half success...” In his biography of Mosley, AKC complained of his leader’s refusal “to be drawn into adopting any racial line of attack on [the Jews], holding that an Empire composed of many different races, castes, colours, and creeds precludes any possibility of racial persecution, even if persecution were held to be otherwise desirable, which he denies”. Much later, AKC claimed that no editor of the Blackshirt was ever dismissed or even rebuked for antiSemitic attacks; in 1939, at a public meeting, the Jewish Chronicle reported that “[t]he wildest speech was made by A K Chesterton, who gave his delighted audience – mainly middle class – full value for their money by speaking ... of ‘greasy little Jew-boy pornographers’ ”.
The old defence of “some of my best friends are Jewish” was actually true of AKC: Joseph Leftwich (Israel Zangwill’s biographer), approached him after being impressed by some of the “nonanti-Semitic aspects of Chesterton’s fascism”; after the war they published The Tragedy of Anti-Semitism, of which in 1950 the Jewish Chronicle said that AKC “quotes the same rubbish [as in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion] in no less erudite terms. Mr Leftwich undoubtedly has all the answers; but Mr Chesterton does not accept them. One cannot penetrate into such minds.” Clearly the war and the Holocaust had done nothing to change AKC’s views, and he went on to become a director of the National Front. This was in contrast to his second cousin, G K Chesterton, who was always at pains to praise Jewish superiority, while blaming their alleged shortcomings on lack of a national territory, something in which AKC was not interested. GKC also began to modify his view of “Jewish finance”, and his early warnings against Nazism (in the early 1930s, around the same time as Winston Churchill’s) were sparked by Nazi anti-Semitism. In fact, AKC later recalled with bitterness having approached his more popular cousin for an anti-Semitic alliance, only to be ignored.
Yours faithfully, ANN FARMER Woodford Green, Essex From Dr K R Bleach SIR – For one whose prose was described by the Sunday Business Post as “dry, overly academic [and] likely to prove inaccessible to the general reader”, I must say I found Dr Douglas’s reply (March 5) to my letter (February 19) about A K Chesterton to be eloquently tendentious.
It is certainly true that Chesterton’s League of Empire Loyalists (LEL) opposed immigration in the 1950s and 60s, although he refused to allow this to be a central plank in League campaigning. Members were told to steer clear of the street-level agitation that occurred in Notting Hill and elsewhere. Any quarrels should be with the politicians. When, on separate occasions, the publisher Anthony Blond, Canon John Collins and the Sheffield Star implied that AKC involved himself in the incitement of racial hatred – an allegation echoed by Dr Douglas – he successfully took legal action.
So, far from having done “everything he could ... to make the lives of nonwhite and Jewish Britons a misery”, Chesterton denounced such attacks as “vileness ... appealing to the lowest of human instincts”. A split occurred in the LEL when AKC refused to bow to some extreme elements that wanted membership restricted to whites only. His view prevailed that anybody should be eligible to join what was intended as an Empire-wide movement.
Your readers will now be tiring of our mutual harrumphs. Suffice to say I maintain my view that A K Chesterton was a staunch patriot, dedicated to preserving British independence in a world dominated by the twin imperialisms of the dollar and Communism. Yes, his journalism could be polemical – even inflammatory by today’s PC standards – but we must remember he was the product of a more manly and robust era.
Writing from the rarefied atmosphere of his private liberal arts college in upstate New York, I wonder if Dr Douglas is so conditioned by the values of this present age that he is simply unable to understand A K Chesterton in the context of the times in which he fought so valiantly – as a soldier, journalist and political campaigner.
Yours faithfully, K R BLEACH Brewood, Staffordshire