Tag Archives: rise of fascism

Beware the 1930s

My mind keeps going to parallels between the worlds of Brexit and Trump and what happened in Germany in the 1930s.

At the time of the referendum I was at the annual conference of the International Society for Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations. A gathering of people from across the world who are used to exploring unconscious processes was a rich context in which to explore what was going on under the surface.

By coincidence, on polling day one conference session was intended to focus on ethical dilemmas. We were shown short films on two famous psychological experiments, the Milgram experiment and the Stanford experiment which are controversial both because people were harmed, and because they shed light on how civilised people can come to behave badly. They have been used to understand what happened in the concentration camps, but are much more widely applicable than that.

The ensuing discussion seemed a little dry, as if there was something important which was being avoided. I took the microphone and made a link with some of the violence of the referendum: the murder of Jo Cox, an incident in a supermarket where someone I had seen earlier in a Vote Leave stall was shouting at a cashier planning to vote Remain, and some very aggressive comments from Leave supporters in door-knocking in the campaign. This is not to accuse Vote Leave of orchestrating violence, but it suggests something was being mobilised (which has become more obvious since then). I commented on the dark streak in Europe: along with our capacity to be civilised, there is a capacity to behave in very destructive ways. I expressed my fear that this was close to the surface in the referendum and struggled with tears as I commented on the way the EU has been set up to contain that destructive streak in the European psyche, and the fears evoked by some in the UK wanting to pull away from that. I was met with a round of applause.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 33 Comments
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  • User AvatarIan Shaw 22nd Jan - 10:04pm
    Yes Jo keep going, politics needs you, the Lib Dems need you and people need you. You were a big part of me leaving the...
  • User AvatarJohn Peters 22nd Jan - 9:50pm
    Are policy papers meant to be publicly accessible? If not, why not? I tried following the https://www.libdems.org.uk/policy_papers link but it requires a login to the...
  • User AvatarPeter 22nd Jan - 9:45pm
    Goodbye, everyone.
  • User AvatarRossMcL 22nd Jan - 9:35pm
    John Roffey - you are perfectly entitled to leave the party, as you have done. But you need to accept that being outside the party...
  • User AvatarRossMcL 22nd Jan - 9:22pm
    Well said. Too many trolls around and I for one fully support LDV clamping down on them. PS Am I the only one who saw...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 22nd Jan - 9:09pm
    @ Julian Tisi "But hold to your view that it was all the fault of the coalition if you wish." I don't wish, Julian, I...