Recently I have been out in town in my local area, and I have seen a few of these posters:
At first glance, I thought this was the announcement of the beginning of some kind of Nazi-esque far-left and racial nationalist organization because I thought the eagle and that rune, which resembled the kind of runes you usually see associated with far-right organizations, and this created the impression that they might have vague ties to fascism. But when I looked up the movement I found that it turns out that they aren’t some kind of left-wing fascist movement, but they are socialist nationalists (no, not national socialists; just bear with me for a moment).
According to their website the movement is known as Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr, which is Welsh for “The Great Unrest” (which seems to be a reference to a series of demonstrations, strikes and civil unrest that occurred in the UK around the time of World War 1), and they describe themselves revolutionary socialists (apparently as opposed to reform socialists) who are interested in Welsh independence, which would of course mean that they want Wales to break from the union. They appear to be a very recent movement, but their blog suggests that they’ve been around for at least three years.
I didn’t realize this at first, but the eagle you see on the poster is actually the White Eagle of Snowdon, which they believe is a symbol of Welsh resistance to imperialism. That rune is a representation of that eagle, and it is also known by its Welsh name Yr Eryr Wen. Other symbols tied to the movement include the Red Pitchfork, which is they consider to be a symbol of their rural land campaigns, and the Scotch Cattle, which they consider to be a symbol of their commitment to a supposed class struggle in Wales. I’ll be honest – you know you’re in for a good time when they talk about how committed they are to the idea of class conflict.
They also seem to have flags with the number 1831 on it, and I’m not entirely sure what that means.
They also seem to be opposed to the European Union, which frankly is something I think we can agree on. In fact they consider themselves to be part of the left-wing Brexit movement, or Lexit (I hope that doesn’t get confusing when or if Luxembourg decides to have its own referendum on the EU). I suspect their opposition to the EU is tied to their apparent nationalism and their opposition to imperialism, or at least what they see as imperialism – they may view the European Union as an imperialist institution, and to be fair I wouldn’t blame them for thinking that.
There’s not much information out there, at least that I can find, about this Welsh Socialist Republican Congress that they are planning. When I looked up “welsh socialist republican”, I get results for something called the Welsh Socialist Republican Movement, and older left-wing Welsh nationalist movement that started in 1980 and apparently did not last very long. They seemed to be disillusioned with the Plaid Cymru party, which they saw as being uncommitted to the nationalism, socialism and republicanism that they were supposed to uphold. Beyond that, I know little of the movement. Given that Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr are planning a “Welsh Socialist Republican” congress, it seems to me that they me that they might be trying to revive the original movement, or something to that effect. There are apparently pre-congress meetings to be held this month in Carmarthen, Wrexham and Merthyr. I don’t think I would want to attend those sort of meetings, but if I did want to go it might be a good way of getting more information first-hand considering I actually live not far the area of one of their planned locations for these meetings.
There is something I am worried about with regards to the movement, and it does concern the Yr Eryr En symbol. In researching the symbol I found that it actually has been tied to radical nationalism, and not just specifically left-wing nationalism. There was the Free Wales Army who were a militant Welsh nationalist movement back in the 1960’s. They used the symbol to represent their movement. Apart from that, who else should I find brandishing the symbol other than the Welsh branch of National Front. On one of their flags, that very symbol appears alongside three flag designs.
In fact, these are the same people who held a white pride rally in Swansea back in March, and there do exist images of this flag being waved in Swansea.
That both Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr and National Front seem to the use the symbol is surely not entirely coincidental. It doesn’t matter to me that one of them are avowed socialists and the other are far-right white supremacists. Both adopt the symbol for their respective movements, which suggests a commitment to radical and/or possibly authoritarian nationalism, based on the authoritarian values of the supremacy of the state, as is the case in any dictatorship. The kind of nationalism where national identity would be enforced from the top down instead of springing from the bottom up.
Whatever Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr are planning, you can rest assured that I am diametrically opposed to their movement (apart from the fact that they oppose the European Union), mainly because of their advocacy of socialism but also because of what I suspect their brand of left-wing nationalism might entail (not least because of the fact that Scotland is currently controlled by an illiberal left-wing nationalist party). These people want to bring both socialism and Welsh nationalism to the fore of Welsh politics, and I honestly think that doesn’t sound like a very pleasant combination. It also seems to me that, between these guys and the presence of Antifa and Anarchist Action Network, it seems to me that there is a lingering far-left movement in Wales. I really hope these people don’t gain any legitimacy in Welsh politics. They are one of the last things Wales could possibly need.