A plea for accuracy – 4

So what about today, 73+ years after the end of World War Two? Today, we have populism, the Far Right and the alt-right, all of which use the themes we discussed. Real or perceived loss (usually regarding ill-defined vague fuzzy concepts like “our culture”, “our tradition” or “our identity”), the idea of some mythical resurrection and the Not Like Us parts are all represented in their rants. We certainly have the charlatans (Wilders and Baudet in the Netherlands, Johnson and Farage in the UK) and we have the charlatans who got themselves elected, among them the current head of state of the USA and a bit further afield the con artists who run The Philippines, Turkey and Brazil; you can argue that Poland and Hungary have joined this group of like-minded rogues.

They don’t like parliamentary democracy very much. Their preference lies – in ascending order – with:

1 – cheap propaganda (Take Back Control. Holland Is Our Country. In The Name Of The People. Make America Great Again.)

2 – referenda that offer simple Yes-No answers to complex questions (Brexit, migration, Ukraine’s accession to the EU)

3 – political theatre (from the fishing boats debacle on the River Thames prior to Brexit all the way to Turkey’s staged failed coup) and

4 – gratuitous violence (Duterte’s unlawful execution of supposed criminals comes to mind).

This works because people can still not be bothered to educate themselves in politics but are ready to go along with the ride, any ride – as long as it’s cheap and simple. This is, let there be no mistake, a dangerous cocktail and from history we know that none of this ends well. Ever.

***

However, we’re not three minutes away from Kristallnacht. There is no evidence of a concerted effort to get hold of the levers of the State through organised violence coming from one single Party. Some are dreaming of it, for sure, but it’s not happening. The reason, looking most especially at the countries in the West, is excessively simple: there aren’t enough people desperate enough to become incorporated in violent vigilante units. To be sure, life can be pretty bad for some but we are nowhere near the calamitous state Europe was in at the end of World War One. Quite the opposite: in spite of the Yellow Vest protests exploding all over France and perhaps elsewhere an honest report must highlight the simple fact that most of the folks living in the West are pretty damn well off. (Looking at The West from a West African perspective my own private take of those last four words is less charitable: they’re Spoilt Rotten.)

Today, fascistic themes come from the boredom and nihilism of prolonged and seemingly endless affluence, not from existence-threatening destitution. Given this context, far-right claims should be childishly easy to counter because they are what they have always been: stuff and nonsense. Take, for instance the blatant falsehoods currently spread over the Marrakech compact, which does not enshrine migration in law but simply re-hashes in a non-binding fashion existing agreements.

But instead of dismissing this childish populist nonsense with the contempt it deserves, we start screaming our heads off and shouting “Fascist!” at people we disagree with of feel slighted by. These are signs, as I mentioned in a similarly intended post six years ago, of a deeply narcissistic society that’s is not in search of solutions or the truth – but in search of therapy. Calling these right-wing fantasists “fascists” makes the callers feel good about themselves and makes the fantasists thus addressed feel more important than they actually are. The fact that the call is historically inaccurate is what gave rise to this blog.

If, for instance, the United States were now run by a fascist government as is claimed by some, the Constitution would have been suspended, the Supreme Court subordinated, Congress made into a rubber stamp or done away with altogether, media made to broadcast the same Party-approved message, protesters locked up, tortured, killed or disappeared. To be sure, horrific policies are carried out against immigrants and the underprivileged (in a class sense, of course) but sadly this is not unique to the USA. The EU does exactly the same: not only has it written off roughly one-fifth of its population as being unworthy, uneducated, unemployable and thus of no use, it has also militarised its southern border into an anti-migrant fortification. This is dangerous. But we do not have the large-scale top-down state-organised brainwashing and violent repression that characterise a totalitarian fascist state. Only North Korea appears to copy the model successfully…in the name of a family dynasty that pretends to spread socialism.

Concluding remarks shortly.


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