Tag Archives: fascism

Contagion

Canvassing is one of those things that many of us take for granted. It is part of what we do. Occasionally a meeting on a doorstep will echo down the years, coming back into the mind and setting a scene.

Such a meeting happened to me some years ago. It was in a Labour Ward in Liverpool, at the height of the Militant Tendancy regime. I knocked at a door in a Council estate and asked the gentleman who came to the door if he would vote for us. As I anticipated, he said no, he wouldn’t. So I asked who he would be supporting, expecting him to say, ‘Labour’.

But no. He looked at me and said: ‘ I’m voting Conservative.’ I couldn’t resist and asked him why.

‘Well, they’re born to rule, aren’t they’.

It is a picture that has stayed with me ever since. An old man, probably without two pennies to his name, supporting Mrs Thatcher. It has been a puzzle that has come back to me time and time again.

And here we are, in 2019, with the Brexit party soaking up Tory supporters and members, appealing to working class voters and the Tories through Boris Johnson, an old Etonian for Heaven’s sake,  trying to capture Labour seats.

Selling the vision that Britain won the war so can ‘get Brexit done’ is an advertising slogan that has been bought in to. If it was an advertisement, the ASA would soon smack those responsible down! But, in politics, there is no standards authority.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Liberal Anti-Fascism

The death of Pawel Adamowicz marks a turning point.

With the rise of the right there has been a spike in political violence in Europe and in the US. Bombs are being thrown, people threatened, and people killed in the name of so-called “populism”. The moment Adamowicz’s killer linked his actions with allegations levelled at the Civic Platform group of politicians is the moment when it became a political act.

The same goes for the murder of the MP Jo Cox. These are symptoms of the augmentation of what we deem as populism to a far more reactionary line of thinking, which will end, organically, in all out fascism. These exact paths have been trodden before.

What can liberals do about it? Adamowicz’s life was one of political action. As a student he organised protests and strikes across Poland during the time of Soviet occupation. He was a champion of minority rights and those of the LGBT community. He was, for all the things he did and said, a good man. I say that we ought to follow his example.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

A new propaganda

Very nearly every political movement since the late 18th century has its roots in the enlightenment, from American constitutionalism to the rational imperialism of Napoleon. It is hard to overstate its influence on every strand of modern political thought, from conservatism to socialism to liberalism. All built on this revelation: that facts matter more than faith, and reason is greater than fear.

The fascism of Italy, that spread like wildfire across Europe and then the rest of the world, was not built on the foundations of the enlightenment. It was instead a rejection of the values espoused by it, a direct reaction to reason and humanism. Fascism dictates that acting as one is more important than what is actually true, and that the truth dictated by those in power is supreme to any other, no matter what evidence might say. As Sartre said: “ have chosen hate because hate is a faith to them; at the outset they have chosen to devalue words and reasons.”

I recently finished reading Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev, a harrowing account of the post-Soviet media under Putin’s regime. He describes how the propaganda under Putin, like that of the Nazi Party and the Italian Fascists before it, works not by espousing a single version of the truth, but by undermining the very concept of truth. It calls into doubt all sources, until the public believes none, and instead sees all truth merely as an act of faith. Evidence is not of intrinsic worth in a such an environment, but is instead perceived to be a rhetorical tool like any other.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 49 Comments

Opinion: Britain has become a corporate state, not a free society

In the months after the financial crisis in 2008, I recall a conversation with an American friend of mine; we discussed the fallout and numerous rescue packages by countries. Financial media outlets, such as Bloomberg and CNBC, described the capital injections into financial institutions as a sign we are “all socialists now” – according to my American companion, this was far from the truth. In reality, Western economies have turned the page to fascism, not socialism.

When he mentioned this to me, I confess, it was rather amusing to listen to; very sceptical of such claims, until the request to research the facts myself led me to a worrying conclusion. The truth of matter is that we are not far off from what British fascists in the 1930s thought the financial sector should administrate to the rest of society.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 51 Comments
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