Macklin, Graham (2006) ‘Hail Mosley and F’ Em All’: Martyrdom, Transcendence and the ‘Myth’ of Internment. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 7 (1). pp. 1-23. ISSN 1469-0764

This article examines the varying experiences of British fascists interned without trial in May 1940. As Arthur Koestler noted in his 1952 Arrow in the Blue, ‘to be converted or convinced is a more or less sharply defined act; to lose a conviction is a long process of wear and tear’. By understanding internment to have represented just such a ‘watershed’, the experience of British fascists is revealed as a fascinating case study of political religion and by extension as a prime example of the binding power of ‘coterie charisma’. By conceptualising the experience of internment in such a manner, this article also explores the psychological processes that prevented the ideological death of British fascism. Focusing upon British fascism’s interpretation of internment as a cleansing crucible that intensified the political fanaticism of those who passed through it, it reveals the pivotal role that political religion played in the ideological transmission of the ‘sacred flame’ of British fascism into the immediate post‐war period and beyond. By examining internment as a transcendent, faith‐based experience, this article will argue that the reaffirmation of commitment to British fascism and, in many cases, to Sir Oswald Mosley personally, together forged a necessary ‘myth’ of internment through which the defeat and privation experienced by individual fascist activists during the Second World War could be reinterpreted and rationalised not as defeat but as the harbinger of a new dawn, after which fascism would emerge triumphant.

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