Fascism is incredibly easy. That is one reason why it is spreading. All you have to do is claim that the people are upset. What they are upset by something is something for the fascist to decide. It could be left-wingers, Europeans, Jews, Muslims or any other ethnic minority or, as is now becoming the case, migrants from wherever they might come, even though their number is actually declining.
What the fascist always claims is that those who are upsetting the people are doing so by taking away their rights, their jobs and their culture. Evidence is not provided in support of such claims. Facts are not a part of fascism. Hatred of difference, mostly imagined, is enough for its purposes.
Then the fascist suggests that there is an elite group running the country that is doing so in favour of this group that the people are suggested to hate. After that all the fascist has to claim is that it is the duty of people to overthrow that elite and remove them from office and then those who are upsetting the people can also be removed and everyone’s problems will be solved.
There is nothing more to fascism than this, except to note that those who promote fascism are most likely be from an elite group that has no prospect of securing power for itself but by promoting these falsehoods.
What is the difference between fascism and populism? The only significant identifiable one is that fascism openly embraces violence in pursuit of its goals and populism tries to use the instruments of state to legitimise its perpetual hold on power. The line is still on the side of populism in the UK. In the US it increasingly looks as if it has been crossed, with the events of last week reinforcing that view. The methods are otherwise similar.
We do have a populist government. Look at the Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Express, and Mail on Sunday today. After two torrid weeks for the Tory government what we see is a combined attempt to deflect attention from Boris Johnson’ obvious failings by issuing a collective demand that the so-called migrant crisis be tackled. That the existence of this issue can largely be explained by Brexit, which has meant that we have no choice but to accept those who arrive on our shores, is a fact that those newspapers ignore.
That these newspapers have combined in their opposition to migration in the face of the government’s failure to deliver anything positive is unsurprising. Fascism is not about positive government. It is instead about the creation of perpetual chaos. Only by the delivery of successive crises that can be blamed on those whom it says the people must hate can it ensure that the animosity which it uses to perpetuate its power can be fuelled.
There is one last characteristic to mention. It is not for nothing that within political economy fascism is described as ‘corporatism’. To remain in power fascists have to buy off those who might have the means to oppose them. Since they are aware that opposition has a price that means that the wealthy are those that they must appease. They do this by providing them with opportunities for profit. Silence is secured at a price. Except, that is, in the media, where support is bought in the same way.
The rules of fascism can be learned with ease. There is nothing subtle about them. Tolerance for deviance is not required, because homogeneity is demanded. Through objectification suppression of the conscience is achieved first of all. The oppression of others then follows. The traumatic cost is enormous but so long as the media can be controlled the ideas can be perpetuated. This is the future that we face unless we recoil against the tyranny of the government that we now have. Even an old Tory like Ken Clarke has said so.
The choice is ours. For the sake of human rights in this country the choice now has to be ABC: anything but Conservative, because they are now the pathway from populism to fascism.