Fascism does not gain power by way of revolution. Nor need it take to the streets, at least in its early days. That only happens when the vestiges of opposition need to be eliminated. Instead fascism gains power through the democratic process. It wins an election, offering simplistic falsehoods that seek to divide society as the basis of its appeal. And then it sets out to not lose power again.
I have long feared fascism in the UK. John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network and I identified it as the major threat to the work we wanted to do at the same time that we set out to achieve change to benefit a majority in society in many countries in 2003. I think we were right to do so.
And now I think that the time has come to say that fascists are in power in the UK, and are ready and waiting to take the next steps to control society in pursuit of their goals.
We know lies were used to win the last election. The ‘oven ready’ Brexit that was very obviously nothing of the sort. The claim was blatantly untrue. And that was well known to those making the claim, who also knew (as we all now know) that they had no intention of complying with the deal that they said they would agree. But those lies delivered an 80 seat majority for them. And that was all that they acted about.
Since then we have had brazen denials, again about Brexit. The required nature of the Northern Ireland backstop was clear to see for several years. Despite that the expectation that it be executed as agreed is claimed to be a power heist by the EU when it is nothing of the sort. Expecting someone to abide by their word is not a heist. The party refusing to do so, which is the UK, is revealing contempt for the international order, which has always one of the primary characteristics of fascist governments.
Now we also have an announced and planned assault on human rights, which at a practical level Covid regulation also permits. Worry if you’re a woman, gay, trans, bisexual, or a member of any religious or ethnic minority. The UK intends to remove your rights to promote the interests of the white, male minority.
Add to this a an inevitable forthcoming devastating recession, which the government very clearly seeks to make as bad as possible, I would suggest deliberately, and we will have the basis for despair that is always the ultra-nationalist recruiting ground.
The use of state money in pursuit of corporate gain, which is another characteristic of facism, appears to already be underway.
Whilst the idea that there should be tolerance of the behaviour of an elite whose behaviour might be different from that expected of the rest of us is also in progress. What else was the defence of Cummings’ outing to Bernard Castle for?
And the suggestion that Extinction Rebellion be considered to be a body involved in organised crime is a clear indication of intention. Opposition is to be criminalised.
Whilst the scapegoating of those desperate people seeking sanctuary in the UK as they flee their home countries is another very obvious sign of this government’s planned prejudices.
In the background the enrichment of associates appears to have begun.
And attacks on experts have long been this government’s stock in trade. Fascists always hate intellectuals.
All the hallmarks of fascism exist then, excepting, as yet, two things. One is a religious element common to such movements, but maybe much of society has moved on from that need, so I am not sure that absences is significant. The other is any significant promotion of military power, which I admit is a curious absence. My suspicion is that the leaders of our armed forces may not be in alignment with our government as yet. Worry when a cull of the military top brass happens in that case. Cummings has already announced the review that will set that in motion.
The proto-fascist road to fascism in the UK is not now just clear. It is readily apparent that we are a long way down it. Far enough in fact to say that we now have what looks on the basis of all reasonable analysis to be a fascist government.
Of course I worry about saying this. That is the clearest sign that my claim is justified.
But if we do not call out what is happening now who and what will stop it?