KFC, Cranks and Capitalism

KFC’s move is hardly surprising. In areas with a significant Muslim presence halal fried chicken stores do a booming trade, and KFC is acting in the interest of its profits and moving into the market. Also keen to protect their interests in the case of reduced demand from non-Muslims, KFC are making sure there are non-halal outlets in the same areas, where those missing their bacon-topped Big Daddy Burgers can get their fix. In other words, KFC’s move simply reflects capital working in its interests. It follows the similar case of Domino’s Pizza, who also opened a halal-only outlet in Birmingham recently – leading to ‘a storm of controversy’ according to the Daily Mail, as customers had to call up another non-halal store two miles away to get their pork-topped Meateor pizzas.

KFC’s barely newsworthy move has also prompted outrage from some quarters, with some particularly barmy interpretations appearing amongst the more high-profile parts of the far right. According to the US based – a site with the sole purpose of claiming a global war between ‘Islam’ (i.e. all Muslims) and ‘the West’ and ratcheting up the tension accordingly – this is yet more dreadful news from the Islamic colony of ‘Eurabia’. According to the site: ‘Here is yet another indication of how pleas by Muslim minorities for pluralism and tolerance all too quickly turn into Islamic supremacist assertions that non-Muslims must abide by Islamic norms.’ It seems unlikely that Jihadists around the world see getting KFC to act in its material interests as a huge task, given capital is legally and materially induced to act in its interests, but we could be wrong.

It gets worse, or at least, more bizarre. The racist British National Party is also up in arms about the move. Anyone familiar with fascism will have experienced the apocalyptic narratives it spins about national decline, the death of the white race and the rest, and the just-so-stories it backs them up with. In this case, the BNP are claiming the 8 halal KFCs represent a genuine threat to the survival of the ‘indegenous British people’ [1]:

‘The definition of colonisation is when a foreign people settle in a nation and force the locals to take on the ways, norms and customs of the invading force. History is replete with examples, and the end result has always been the extinction of the indigenous culture and very often of the indigenous people themselves.’

Well, not exactly, but half-baked historical just-so-stories are part and parcel of the fascist mindset. It’s also entertaining to see the BNP take a stand against colonisation, given how much they like to carp on about how great British colonialism was for the world, and made everyone’s lives better. The ‘extinction of indigenous culture’ and the extermination of mutineering ‘indigenous people’ in that case really was for the best.

Back to KFC:

‘Britain stands at the point of no return. Left unchecked, this process will see the complete replacement, through immigration colonisation, of Britain and British culture well within the next fifty years … anyone looking for a practical example of how British culture is being crushed under the wave of immigrant colonisation need look no further than the announcement this week that Kentucky Fried Chicken is to launch a halal-only menu in eight of its London stores.’

The madness of this argument is pretty obvious. If the BNP is crusading to defend indigenous ‘British culture’ from ‘foreign colonisation’, how on earth does it manage to rationalise defending non-halal KFC menus? Since when was Kentucky in Britain, and since when has KFC been part of traditional ‘British culture’? Clearly there has to be some identification of KFC with Britain for its ‘Islamification’ to be newsworthy and a ‘practical example’ of ‘British culture being crushed’.

This really cuts to the heart of nationalist thinking. All cultures are by nature hybrid, changing over time in response to all kinds of historical influences. They mingle and evolve, and this has always been the case – even in the years before the modern ‘nation’ was invented in the 18th century with the rise of the capitalist system in Europe [2]. This is as much the case today as ever, and the fact that you have opportunistic fascists jumping to the defence of one kind of ‘foreign’ imported culture – Kentucky Fried Chicken – against another – halal meat – shows how true this is. Even the BNP can’t escape the fact ‘British culture’ is as mixed as it gets. What’s next, the support of non-halal curry houses?

As anarchists, we stand against these attempts to divide up the working class on fictional communal lines.  We share the same interests whatever colour we are, or whatever cultural box we get put into, as we all live under capitalism and are all bound to sell ourselves to it. Identifying ourselves as part of a national or communal culture, whether that is as part of the ‘British people’ or the ‘Muslim community’ means giving up our own interests as working class people and being swept into a cross-class imaginary community of shared interests. A white boss and a white worker have different interests under capitalism, just as an Asian boss and an Asian worker do. All these divisions must be rejected, just as all nationalism must, whether it is the racist nationalism of the BNP or the multicultural nationalism of the Labour Party.


1 – Whatever that’s supposed to be. The mix of the right kind of immigrants – ancient Britons, picts, angles, Saxons, jutes, Danes, Vikings, Flemish, Normans, Irish etc, presumably. Just not the brown ones. back

2 – See the AF’s upcoming pamphlet on nationalism, due out later this year. back