Tag Archives: fascism

Seeking indicators of totalitarianism and democracy?

In comment to his recent important article The army should not be called as strike breakers, Mr Boddington asserts that “We are not a totalitarian state but the direction of travel is to restrict freedoms”. If so, this is serious and demands that we seek indicators/bench marks of totalitarianism.

Totalitarianism concentrates power, wealth, status and so on and so does Fascism. Like all forms of totalitarianism, fascism contrasts with and opposes democracy. Consequently, the more Fascism flourishes and grows, so Democracy diminishes and becomes more vulnerable. What makes democracy yet more vulnerable are generally accepted attitudes to the effect that, “We are a democracy, so it can’t possibly happen here!”, “We defeated Fascism in World War II.”, “It’s only a temporary thing!”

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington lists 12 Early Warning Signs of Fascism:

  1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
  2. Disdain for human rights
  3. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  4. Rampant sexism
  5. Controlled mass media
  6. Obsession with national security
  7. Religion and government intertwined
  8. Corporate power protected
  9. Labor power suppressed
  10. Disdain for intellectual and the arts
  11. Obsession with crime and punishment
  12. Rampant cronyism

Using  the classic “Happy Form” rating system whereby a nothing rating gets a 0 and a severe rating gets a 10, as the writer did,  you get an informative reasonably accurate, if personal, calibration of where we, the citizens, and various ingredients of our society and its governance are in relationship to Democracy and Fascism. You also have a tolerably legitimate indication of where we and the organisations which represent and protect us, are on a spectrum or continuum between the contrasting poles of Democracy and Fascism.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 9 Comments

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
Advert



Recent Comments

  • David Raw
    Sorry, Mr Macfie, but the blue wall seats are not the same as the seats lost in 2015 for quite different reasons....
  • David Raw
    @ Alex Macfie " it’ll be much harder to attack him over it after he’s given his evidence". That's what you hope will happen. My opinion - after si...
  • Marco
    I would be concerned that whilst the Tory vote is imploding in "red wall" areas (up to 25% fall) it is is reducing by more modest amounts in "blue wall" areas (...
  • Alex Macfie
    @David Raw: Nearly all our seats "returned to type" in 2015, whether that was Tory or Labour. We all know the reason why. Obviously we have to play our cards mu...
  • Alex Macfie
    All current and former PO ministers will be giving evidence to the inquiry in the next phase, Ed included. This will actually help Ed, because (i) he won't be b...