Setting the record straight.
The most common debate-grenades these days slung against anyone, who believes our society is squeaking in the hinges and creaking in the floor boards, is to append the labels “Fascist” upon them.
But what does the word mean?
It is clear that most people using it don’t understand, but it is an easy way of throwing a bucket of verbal paint with the colour “Hitler brown” or “Mussolini black” in the face of their opponents.
In a nutshell, this is probably defining the word “Fascism” quite well, but it should be understood that this label is thrown from the open doors of a glass house!
Bigotry, violence, the use of force instead of debate to press the point and a severe level of intolerance are probably the characteristics appended by most people to the word “fascism”. The roots of the origin are therefore firmly planted in Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.
Populism is also used a lot. It is a relatively new term, usually used to classify people, who object to the decrees of the ruling classes, i.e. to “bring the elite down to earth”, i.e. we don’t want to pay tax; you, the elite, sucks; power to the people – all without becoming downright anarchist and certainly not socialist.
It is therefore slightly more difficult to define the meaning of being “populist”, which is probably the reason why it is used as an expletive about someone in opposition, when nothing else comes to mind.
Racist is a more direct word – but in fact it is also a very tough word to define. It is usually used by one group to scorn another group with a different skin colour.
But what is a race?
In many ways the classification of humanity into races smells of the 1930s. We forget that the pseudo-science of the 20th Century, which was used to such a detrimental effect by the Nazis, has been all but abandoned, and the reverberations linger on.
Considering that we share 99% of our DNA with Chimpanzees, does that mean that Chimps are a different race?
Or are Mormons a different race from Catholics?
If not, why is it that a Christian, who expresses misgivings about Muslims, is being branded a racist?
And who says that Islam is a religion at all, when the mainstay seems to be a “culture”, a strictly regulated set or rules of how to live your life according to firm laws with prescribed punishment for any deviation, and with a superstitious overbuilding? One without the other – so far at least – doesn’t seem possible.
In short, modern debate has been invaded by residual emotions from the mid 20th Century, used without thought and in the same way as one would say “you are stupid or dumb”, implicitly relying on a reference to historic times still well remembered by most.
Arguments based on “value” (dumb, stupid, imbecile – or fascist, populist or racist) usually come from the armoury of the chattering classes, who are so steeped in political correctness, that they are blind to facts and proper debate techniques.
Value arguments are useless. In political discourse they are "boo words", boomeranging on the user rather than characterising the object of his scorn. Even a 6th former learns this in class – but of course, not everyone is a 6th former! Just have a look at the social media and the troll-comments to anything posted on the Internet.
As a lot of people use the word Fascist, and as it is part and parcel of even our legislation today, let’s try to nail the jelly to the wall and find out what it means.
Fascism."Frustratingly, I can't give a simple definition," says Kevin Passmore, reader in history at Cardiff University and author of Fascism: A Very Short Introduction. "It depends on definitions."
Well, there you go.
Perhaps “White Superiority”?
Although this would match e.g. the tenet of Ku-Klux-Klan and probably the implicit meaning for many people, it is still too simplistic and woolly. No one has yet called Taliban for “Fascists”, let alone Stalin’s Communists – but wasn’t their society representing the ultimate in fascism?
In a liberal democracy the basic political unit is the individual. The corporatist model emphasises co-operation over competition. This was the case in Mussolini’s Italy – but who would ever understand or think about this model today, when using the word “Fascism”? They rather anticipate the concepts of authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism and racial supremacy.
As someone commented on the Internet: “Right wing is seen as reactionary, yet people who stand up for democracy, sovereignty and the sanctity of the UK parliament are seen as reactionary [i.e. fascists], while people who champion the unelected supremacy of the EU are seen as progressive”. This is interesting, as the “we know all; our laws count; if you rebel, you must be eliminated; don’t work against us” are implicit Hitler/Mussolini-fascist tenets – but has anyone yet tried to call the EU a fascist organisation?
There are 2 modern historians or philosophers, who in particular have tried to define the volatile word “fascism” (my expression: Nailing the jelly to the wall): Umberto Eco and Emilio Gentile.
For the sake of enlightenment, I have quoted their definitions here:
Umberto Eco: (originally 14 points, delimited to these 10)
• "The Cult of Tradition", combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism.
• "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake", which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.
• "Disagreement Is Treason" - fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action.
• "Fear of Difference", which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.
• "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class", fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.
• "Obsession with a Plot" and the hyping-up of an enemy threat. This often involves an appeal to xenophobia or the identification of an internal security threat. He cites Pat Robertson's book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.
• "Pacifism Is Trafficking with the Enemy" because "Life is Permanent Warfare" - there must always be an enemy to fight.
• "Contempt for the Weak" - although a fascist society is elitist, everybody in the society is educated to become a hero.
• "Selective Populism" - the People have a common will, which is not delegated but interpreted by a leader. This may involve doubt being cast upon a democratic institution, because "it no longer represents the Voice of the People".
• "Newspeak" - fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning.
Emilio Gentile:1. a mass movement with multiclass membership in which prevail, among the leaders and the militants, the middle sectors, in large part new to political activity, organized as a party militia, that bases its identity not on social hierarchy or class origin but on a sense of comradeship, believes itself invested with a mission of national regeneration, considers itself in a state of war against political adversaries and aims at conquering a monopoly of political power by using terror, parliamentary politics, and deals with leading groups, to create a new regime that destroys parliamentary democracy;
2. an 'anti-ideological' and pragmatic ideology that proclaims itself antimaterialist, anti-individualist, antiliberal, antidemocratic, anti-Marxist, is populist and anticapitalist in tendency, expresses itself aesthetically more than theoretically by means of a new political style and by myths, rites, and symbols as a lay religion designed to acculturate, socialize, and integrate the faith of the masses with the goal of creating a 'new man';
3. a culture founded on mystical thought and the tragic and activist sense of life conceived of as the manifestation of the will to power, on the myth of youth as artificer of history, and on the exaltation of the militarization of politics as the model of life and collective activity;
4. a totalitarian conception of the primacy of politics, conceived of as an integrating experience to carry out the fusion of the individual and the masses in the organic and mystical unity of the nation as an ethnic and moral community, adopting measures of discrimination and persecution against those considered to be outside this community either as enemies of the regime or members of races considered to be inferior or otherwise dangerous for the integrity of the nation;
5. a civil ethic founded on total dedication to the national community, on discipline, virility, comradeship, and the warrior spirit;
6. a single state party that has the task of providing for the armed defense of the regime, selecting its directing cadres, and organizing the masses within the state in a process of permanent mobilization of emotion and faith;
7. a police apparatus that prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, even by using organized terror;
8. a political system organized by hierarchy of functions named from the top and crowned by the figure of the 'leader,' invested with a sacred charisma, who commands, directs, and coordinates the activities of the party and the regime;
9. corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty, broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the 'productive sectors' under control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power, yet preserving private property and class divisions;
10. a foreign policy inspired by the myth of national power and greatness, with the goal of imperialist expansion
Personally I like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s statement, as it is clear and uncluttered:
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Whichever definition you’d prefer, I think it is important NOT to use the word if you have no idea what it actually means and therefore fall back on a pejorative.
If you do, you expose yourself, not the object of your scorn and you could just as well use the F*** or C*** words.
Now try to apply the definitions on a) Anti Fascist Action (AFA), the violent organisation that exists in Scandinavia, Holland and the UK and who inevitably turns up at all meetings involving demonstrations for free speech, well armed with cricket bats and dressed in balaclavas and hoods; b) Islam and Sharia law; c) BNP; and d) UKIP.
a), b), c) are in my opinion round pegs in round fascist holes, considering their tendence to violence, narrow cultural views and laws, superiority claims and severe punishment for deviation.
No such thng can be said about UKIP.
It hardly needs explanation, but here goes:
- Does not claim racial superiority.
- Has no more supreme leader than any other party or CEO of a company.
- Promotes free speech and individual ambition.
- Has no “punishment” programme for people who think differently.
- Does not promote a Britain that’s better than everyone else, only a Britain that should be given the chance to compete using its inherent advantages, options and abilities, without being unduly constrained by anyone else.
- Refuses to accept uncontrolled influx of people who take but don’t give i.e. if you contribute, you’re welcome.
- Believe in action and decision making where the action is felt, i.e. not laws and decisions being taken out of touch with, and far afield from, the people concerned.
- Healthy competition and the individual’s right to self determination
It is clear that the very moment you start a political party, you also set up a set of values that characterise the party.
This goes for Labour, who are now anything but the Labour Party of the 1950s, or the Tories, whose values are as unclear as the wobbling Lib. Dem.s, who don’t seem to know who they are at all.
It was inevitable, that a reaction to the failure of the old parties had to come.
Other European parties, like the Danish People’s Party (DF), have therefore arisen and gone through the same change of finding out who they are.
Common to their present success are the facts that the old parties have failed, lied, cheated and disappointed, but also that UKIP (and DF) have found their legs and begun to stand firm, while listening to what people want. Remember Blair: “We can’t leave important decisions to people, as they don’t understand”!!
The massive and corrupt colossus called the EU has changed our world, while creating a political and organisational monstrosity, that has proven not to work: centralised government, remoteness, one rule for all, decisions removed from action, common economy amongst wildly different cultures and abilities, complete lack of democracy and unelected commissioners, etc.
The access to a money mountain (ca. £9000 mill p.a. – unaudited) and the objective of eliminating the national state have led to a situation that may break the back of several countries while making NGOs, consultants, individuals, firms and other organisations immensely rich.
Those benefitting from this situation – and they are many – will resist change with all means at their disposal, and then some.
It is, therefore not strange, that UKIP and other EU-opponents are being hung out to dry, are being called fascists and prevented from acquiring power, as they threaten to kill the goose that lays golden eggs!
In a world of massive demographic, religious and (possibly) climatic change it is evident, that we need to rethink who we are, how we live and consequently find the most appropriate systems to create a future for our children while optimising the use of scarce resources, in the main energy and water.
Someone has to stop the madness and say the emperor forgot to dress.
As we live with interaction on a global scale, we do have global responsibilities.
How far we take these responsibilities is the 64K question.
We could open our borders like Denmark and Sweden do at present and be swamped, but at a point in time we will discover that this is self destructive, eliminating our ability to implement any policy at all.
Closing our borders is just as bad.
The balance must be found, where the traditional parties, LibDemLabCon, have failed and lost all control.
So some of the questions that come to mind are:
Is it fascist to claim, that we need to understand what we are doing and implement a system of housekeeping that gives us a good life, at the same time as we continue to afford helping the needy as good world citizens?
The climate appears to be changing, but is it fascist to shout “Stop” to the ridiculous and hazardous move towards energy sources that are proven to be expensive and useless?
Is it fascist to call Ed Davey, the LibDem Energy Secretary, the most dangerous man in the UK today, as he will kill off our competitiveness, based on useless green investments while ignoring Fracking and Thorium opportunities?
Is it fascist to protest against a system that pays the developing world to pollute more and faster, while asphyxiating our own industry?
Is it fascist to ask a minority of citizens to adhere to, and respect, our way of life, while resisting minority cultural and religious rule?
Is it fascist to demand the law of the land to be managed in the land - and not in some foreign place?
Is it fascist to say “no” to parallel societies and multiple laws of the land, while being reasonably open and hospitable to immigrants?
Is it fascist to claim the right to free speech without being threatened with imprisonment?
Is it fascist to demand better local control with our utilities, all of which are now owned by non-UK companies, and demand reasonably priced el, gas and water for the WHOLE of the population, rather than paying foreign shareholders?
Is it fascist to demand that no old person dies of hypothermia in the winter - and that no child goes hungry to school - and perhaps balance the cost against sending money to countries that have big armies, send rockets to Mars and have nuclear capabilities?
Is it fascist to prioritise the needs and welfare of victims of crime over the "human rights" of foreign perpetrators and be able unconditionally to return them to their country of origin?
The list could go on.
In short: is it fascist to try and preserve the values of a country, that actually defeated fascism in WW2?