Figure 6.-- Observers provide conflicting view of the VNJ. Some see the black shorts and the highly nationalist orientation of the movement and charge that the group is a neo-Fascist organization in the mold of the Hitler Youth. Others acknowledge that the VNJ is highly nationalistic and perhaps on the fringe of Belgian political life, but insist that the VNJ does not have a Fascist orientation.
Observers provide conflicting view of the VNJ. Some see the black shorts and the highly nationalist orientation of the movement and charge that the group is a neo-Fascist organization in the mold of the Hitler Youth. Others acknowledge that the VNJ is highly nationalistic and perhaps on the fringe of Belgian political life, but insist that the VNJ does not have a Fascist orientation. Often terms like NAZI and Fascist as a way of labeling groups without really understanding what the terms mean. An esential aspect of Fascism is nationalism, but not all nationalists are Fascists.
'Black Shirts' as the 'Black Shorts'. Has anyone ever read the P.G. Wodehouse novel (I
> cannot remember the title) which features one with Roderick Spode as the Leader of a made-up British fascist movement known as the 'Black Shorts' - it was, of course, meant to be gentle satire. It's remarkable to say the least that 60 odd years later, his image
has come true--in Belgium at least. The uniform may look attractive but do not be fooled-- there is nothing nice about these boys or their political movement or, especially for the
younger ones, their parents either. The more grown-up members last year won a substantial proportion of the seats on Antwerp city council.
Various observers provided these accounts.
"It is important to understand that while Fascists were extreme nationalists, not all nationalists are Fascists."
"Not strictly accurate. The party with the seats on Antwerp council is Vlaams Blok, an explicitly racist as well as Flemish-separatist political party
(though recently trying to sound more respectable - they have just booted out a vice-president who questioned the holocaust). The picture you mention isn't from a torchlight procession but from a song festival which was also attended by other, more mainstream youth groups. Most of the other VNJ pictures in the collection are from the annual Flemish gathering at Dixmuide, which certainly has, some years, attracted some
unpleasantly fascistic elements (Vlaams Blok but also similar outfits from other countries) but is not, in itself, a racist/fascist event - it is also supported by people from all the other (moderate/mainstream) Flemish parties."
"I think you are mistakenly referring to the VNJ as a political party, which they are not and - according to their Charter, art. X - do not want to be. Their ideology may be a quaint and antiquated brand of nationalism but 'respect for every spiritual,
philosophic and religious conviction' (art. VI) and 'respect for the individuality and independence of all peoples as the basis for a growing international solidarity' (art. IX) --however woolly and free--floating that may sound- cannot in my opinion be
equated with fascism or Nazism. Whatever the merits of their political ideology,
racist they are certainly not. I have repeatedly observed that some of their members are coloured. I've spotted Creole boys at two occasions, another one who was obviously of mixed Asian/European descent and a fourth one, a girl, whom I took to be one of the many adopted children from Korea. Maybe the confusion is due to the existence of yet another nationalist youth movement called Vikingjeugd. These are a very small group indeed which I havn't been
able to trace on the web so far. And yes, if I may be allowed to judge from a single conversation with a young member last year, they espouse highly reprehensible political views."
"There is no structural link between VNJ and Vlaams Blok; indeed, VNJ makes a big thing about NOT being a political party. (For those who can read Dutch, see VNJ beliefs. It says it is independent of parties and it certainly doesn't contest elections. Some (though not all) of the events it supports are very right-wing Flemish-separatist, but it doesn't explicitly espouse racist politics. What it does explicitly espouse is an independent Flemish state as a step towards the reunification in the long term of all Dutch-speaking peoples (a complete non-starter, in my view, but there you are) but its emphasis is more cultural than political. It would be interesting to know what would happen if a mother-tongue Dutch-speaker who happened to be black (there are some) applied to join - but no doubt they wouldn't want to anyway."
HBC does not at this time have enough unformation about the VNJ to accuartely identify its oeientation. This is in part because VNJ literature is mostly in Dutch which we can not read. We do stress that an esential aspect of Fascism is nationalism--but not all nationalists are Fascists. Essential elements of Fascism besides nationalism are 1) desire to acquire territory and expel the current residents, rascism, hatred of other nationalities, and an authoritarian rejection of democracy. There are other elements of Fascism, but these are siome of these are some essential elements. HBC can not determe to what extent the VNJ accepts or rejects these elements.
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