Prince Harry, Democracy, and the power of the Swastika

by on February 5th, 2005

The January 13th issue of “The Sun” news gazette publicized what is currently being touted as a scandal all across Europe, and has drawn considerable attention of the North American media. On the front page of “The Sun” Prince Harry was shown wearing a Swastika emblazoned armband and decked in the fineries of Nazi regalia at a friend’s costume party.

Prince Harry’s example has alarmed the European Union (EU) whose stated goal is as follows: “The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity.”

The EU is considering a 25 nation ban of explicit publicity of Nazi symbols: a proposal fortified by the pleas of German Conservatives, Liberals, and Social Democrats within the EU parliament. Franco Frattini, the EU’s justice and home affairs commissioner, iterated his consideration of the issue via his appointed mouthpiece Friso Roscam Abbing, stating “It may be worth looking into the possibility of a total ban, a Europe-wide ban,” adding further, “Commissioner Frattini shares the general feeling of opprobrium on the use of the swastika and other Nazi symbols.”

It is known that the origin of the Swastika lies in Ancient India, where it is still today widely revered as a symbol of peace and prosperity, and by extension representing a sort of cosmic equilibrium. The Swastika alights in Celtic culture, as well as in Scandinavian and Finnish lands, where it is regarded with the redolence and mysticism of the Pagan times.

Yet in the controversy of National Socialism this Ancient symbol was twisted to mould to a new meaning whose ideology has been redeemed in bloodshed and in the death of a few dozen millions of Europeans. In retrospect, EU’s prerogative in banning the blemish of this historical moral failure is at least understandable.

Yet, in banning the Nazi legacy from Europe actually is a whet to Neo-Nazi and Fascist movements currently burgeoning throughout Europe. According to Wikipedia ( “The official German statistics for the year 1990 record 178 right-extremist motivated violence crimes(Gewalttaten), in 1991 there were 849 and in 1992 there were 1,485…”

An uncanny echo from the blossoming days of National Socialism, contemporary Neo-Nazism is fuelled by the same factors as those that fuelled the original Third Reich: unemployment and sentimentalized, visceral, petty resentment.

According to Wikipedia: “In the 1990s, after German reunification, Neo-Nazi groups succeeded in gaining more followers, mostly among teenagers in Eastern Germany. Many were new groups that arose amidst the economic collapse and subsequent high unemployment in the former East Germany.”

EU’s goal seems plausible, attempting to establish a pan-European economic balance and prosperity with one hand, yet with the other supplanting the attempts of extreme right wingers that invoke days of lesser moral reasoning.

Yet, the nostalgic attraction towards Fascism is more paramount in Europe these days, than ever before since 1945, with right wing incidents occurring in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden which were once thought to be relatively un-afflicted by the hate mongering phenomena. EU’s attempt at an uneasy democracy is logically somewhat hypocritical, as it discriminates against the fundamental right of speech: that is, it does not allow in its democratic structure the publicity and marketing of anti-democratic opinions of the negative sort. Yet EU’s attempt, though logically hypocritical, constitutes a blend of a firm moral stance and a quasi-democracy.

Democracy is an institution where everyone has a say and a sway. It is a Utopian structure within which the pre-determined perverse can coexist with the pre-determined high-minded. It is a dogmatic institution reminiscent of the envisioning of the Bible, where it is said to the effect “..The lion may drink from the same pool as the sheep”.

To some, this interpretation of democracy sounds more like “The lion may sleep in the same bed with the sheep and copulate, and produce a new breed of offspring”: that is to say, a productive harmony between unequal opposites, different in mode and mien, with different dietary habits, miraculously reconciled in the bedchamber of democracy. The idea is absurd.

Ultimately, Prince Harry’s “scandal” is a timely newsflash, as it reminds us of the state of the world, locked in a cocktail of moral, existential, and pragmatic quandary: Leaping from the vines of ideas, refining its leap to make it more graceful, towards the unforeseeable coconut of happiness.

Obviously, Neo-Nazis want to be just as happy as the rest of us. Yet the rest of us want to be happier than the Neo-Nazis wish us to be. The struggle then, is realizing mankind’s happiness. For that we are reminded of the original meaning of the Swastika, which is still worshipped in some parts of the world as a symbol of peace and prosperity.

Alexander Rai