The Firm

SWASTIKAS

I read Lucy’s article Who are the real fetish nazis? with considerable interest, and as one of the people responsible for questioning the fetish acceptability of the swastika in the first place, I feel bound to reply.

Firstly, there is no centralised ban. If a club promoter wants to exclude someone on the grounds of improper dress, it is the promoter’s decision. Nobody can stop you wearing swastikas in the street, or in the privacy of your own home, or indeed starting a swastika fetish club.

After a little proliferation of swastikas in 1993, The Firm consulted with The Anti Nazi League and co-produced a flier [enclosed] outlining the issues involved. We were in no position to institute an outright ban, nor did we think that to be the most effective measure. I attended the meeting at which SM Pride banned the swastika in 1998, and I voted against the motion, as a ban seemed to me, dictatorial and crude. However, the idea that we needed to distance ourselves from the Far Right in the eyes of the press prevailed. SFC followed with a similar ban shortly afterwards, and other organisations, including The Firm, have done so as well.

It is not pleasant to be told what to wear, and I know that a ban provides something to kick against (for which reason, I initially opposed it). Were this any other issue, I would support Lucy’s arguments, but a line has been drawn on the swastika, and drawn it must remain. Lucy has pointed out that people do get emotional around this issue, when the matter is best assayed with a mature detachment. I must point out that it is when people stop getting angry about attempted genocide that we need to worry. I will confine my emotion to that little show of irritation and proceed on more rational lines.

I am familiar with the argument citing as bigots, those who stifle the voices of bigotry, and it is a falsehood. Lucy’s suggestion that I am a nazi is based on a confusion. I am a sexual freedom activist who works very happily in a mixed race, gender and sexuality environment in an East London Theatre. Nazis are people dedicated to destroying the not-same; at time of writing, a real nazi is being tried in The Old Bailey for attempting to start a race war in London by blowing people up with nail bombs. If only Nazis confined themselves to telling people not to wear badges! Can you imagine the scene in Krakow? "Hello, Pinsky. I feared that big Brownshirt was going to beat you up, steal your property and send you to Auschwitz!" – "No, he just told me to take my Tufty Club badge off. They’re quite nice really." Alas, Nazis do exactly the reverse, and make people wear badges – for example, little yellow stars.

The exclusion of swastikas does not extend to uniforms, religious regalia, or any other badges. The uniforms of the German army circa 1940 were especially smart – far more attractive than ours (with the possible exception of the WRAF) – and it would be nonsensical were SMers proscribed from wearing them, or any other uniform.

It is also true that in the past, the swastika has been used as a good luck talisman by various faiths, since then however, it has been hijacked by the far right with most significant effect. However benign it’s original meaning, it was not benign enough to stop all those people being gassed. It is now a symbol of Fascism, and there are still people who adhere to that most evil philosophy, and who list SMers and fetishists among those to be dealt with tomorrow, which they believe, belongs to them.

It has been argued, by apologists for the nazis, that more have been killed, down the ages, by people wearing crosses, hammer and sickles, and crescents. To this I must point out that Christianity, Communism and Islam kill people when they go wrong. Fascism kills people when it is working as it is intended to work, and not because of how they think, act or worship (which is bad enough), but because of their breed, irrespective of anything else.

No other creed is so inimical to the personal freedom embodied on The Scene, and the swastika symbolises that hatred of us. To wear a swastika on The Scene may not be the mark of a nazi, but it is the mark of a most dangerous complacency. The Second World War may be long over, but the human rights issues that under-ran it are still with us, and they may continue to be long after the last concentration camp survivor has died.

First published in Fetish Times # 21