The roots of fascism
In times of crisis a fascist government invariably reserves support for those it knows to be loyal to its policies and creed. Who can forget Margaret Thatcher’s chilling question when presented with a new appointment, “Are they one of us”?
On hearing that, I recognised a fascist attitude. I could not reconcile it with the United Kingdom, a land of four nations that had fought off the evils of Nazism, who, together with millions of Russians and Poles, gave up million of lives for freedom and democracy.
Today I hear us using fascist language, and without a blush, instituting fascist policies.
To begin at the beginning
I shall begin here.
A recent essay, alarmed at a particular union’s aggression, attempted to define fascism and identify where it creeps into our society cloaked in neo-liberalism and wage parity.
I became unhappy at one union’s antics, a union resolutely against Scotland’s constitutional rights. Is it fair a union in the modern world employs neo-fascist tactics and language? Is it only unthinking, not realising the comparisons? Unions represent workers, charged with redistributing wealth. They are not government politicians, though some individuals leading them may seek that role one day.
When we look at the USA, for example, the undermining of union influence has been an on-going strategy of the right-wing for over thirty years. Republicans want union power stamped out. Democrats think some people power is unwanted, allowing Republicans to appropriate democratic territory. In that they aide Republicans. One governor actually boasted his state would be free of unions within a few years. What happens in the USA soon happens in the United Kingdom. The USA is a warning to the UK.
Unions are not above criticism. Recently, in Germany, they were fined for taking bribes, money and hookers, from Volkswagen to give VW an easy time in wage negotiations. Is an individual free to explore how a union is operating if he thinks it works against the democracy of his country? Why separate the people from the people? Us and them.
Surely organising a costly strike and rally against a council wholly in sympathy with the union’s membership is massive hypocrisy and a contradiction? The only conclusion is, there exist union representatives consciously or unconsciously intent on removing the very political party voted to govern by the very people the union exhorts to strike. This is the madness of us and them.
Fascism permeates everything. Smearing an individual is one tactic. The individual targeted is named an alternative Scottish nationalist, an “alt-nat”, meaning he is not sticking to the party line. What is that if not another version of us and them?
What is fascist rhetoric?
Over the gates into the Nazi extermination camps of Auschwitz and of Buchenwald are written the words: ARBEIT MACHT FREI – work shall make you free.
‘They’ can be cured by hard work and the fear of destitution.
To go further with this premise and stick with Glasgow, a working class Labour politician (not Tory!) a Glaswegian, coined the phrase “the something for nothing society”. Coming from a socialist this was a shock. And in my country, Scotland.
She was saying there are poor and the vulnerable so work shy they will take social security and unemployment benefit rather than find work.
The original name of the Nazi Party was the ‘German Worker’s Party’. The party’s doctrine was seek out, beat up, and if there is no change in behaviour fine or jail the work shy. They loathed unions. That is why one has to be careful when criticising a union when it purports to be helping its members.
Fascist ideology abhors welfare. It hates anybody that does not create wealth. The fascist, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco – they and there adherents are all the same – aver welfare robs the individual of the capacity to look after him or herself.
A fascist state announces it will not use the nations wealth to support welfare ‘scroungers’. The unemployed are too lazy to ‘get on a bicycle and look for work’.
The vulnerable who won’t stray far from their home in their wheelchair are not to be pitied. They should lose state benefits. Us and them.
Workers and slackers
Fascist ideology opines there are hard working citizens and there are undeserving minorities – they are always classed as a minority in fascist-speak. Such folk are not of the upright, good citizen whom those minorities take advantage. Us and them.
They makes racism a national virtue. They aver our nation will be a lot better off if we block entry to foreigners. We are told a lie, that foreign workers take our jobs. In reality they contribute to our economy, unlike the wealthy who squirrel their money away in tax havens. Jobs are for predominately white people. Immigrants, and refugees fleeing from wars we began, are predominately tanned or various shades of brown or black.
We move from a dignified and beneficial policy of employment and cultural exchange to one of blatant racism. Racism is part and parcel of fascism.
Not only did the Labour Party separate itself from unions by dropping Clause 4, it adopted the extreme right-wing policy of severely limiting immigration. Scotland has the opposite policy although immigration is a reserved matter.
In France the neo-fascist party Le Front National is viciously anti-immigration. It is criminally anti-Jewish. I ask the question, is there a difference between UK Tory policy on immigration, Labour policy and Le Front National? Us and them.
So long as we absorb and believe a warped doctrine, so long will we be open to fascist ideals. We will accept all rich people are a nation’s friend, the poor and the immigrant and the refugee are a drain on our society.
The mark of a nation’s humanity is how it looks after the poor and the vulnerable.
In their image
Fascism wants to dismantle the state to recreate it in its own eyes and for the benefit of the few. The Labour Party adopted the slogan, ‘For the many, not the few’.
Labour does not include Scotland among the many. Scotland must remain the vassal province of English nationalism. Hence, if a Labour affiliated union can progress that ideal, that is seen by Labour as a good thing. Us and them.
That is the clash of ideologies that I question.
Scotland wishes to make its own decisions once more, its own choices, to stand by its own foreign policy, without gross interference from a neighbour state, and to do that while remaining interdependent with England.
No nation is fully autonomous, well, maybe Iceland
Most countries are interdependent in trade and culture with one nation or another, usually their nearest neighbours. In the UK Scotland’s ambitions of exercising free will – the very meaning of democracy – are traduced before they become popular. Scottish political aspiration is described as ‘grievance politics’ and ‘separatism’. Us and them.
We live in a society where thieving big business bosses are to be admired, called captains of industry, a military or naval allusion. Now and then, one crosses a line and steals too much. The establishment that once encouraged and protected him will make an example of him if his nefarious activities are made public. They wish to mollify the rest of us, to give us the impression democracy’s justice triumphs, when, in fact, democracy has long been eroded. Us and them.
The boss pays back some of the money, loses his knighthood, and lives a fat and glorious life. He is one of them. The fascist doctrine of wealth in the hands of an elite creates more wealth and stability is drummed into us every day.
Survival of the fittest
Fascism can only survive if it controls all aspects of human activity. That includes the writing of books. The first thing Rupert Murdoch did when he bought Scotland’s most successful publisher, Collins, was to shred a critical biography of his business ethics. Is he a fascist? Not a card carry one. In mentality? Probably. He ostracises unions.
Fascism can and does impose itself on what an individual writes and publishes. Criticism, polemic, even satire is forbidden. Questioning decisions of the state is a crime.
Governments the world over are desperately keen to constrain and suppress internet activity, one of the great liberating forces of the 21st century.
To know fascism you have to be able to identify it.
My essays are not an end in themselves. They are a journey, an exploration, and attempt to discover knowledge, and in political terms, where my nation stands at a momentous time in its history. I ask what direction it should take to create the new society we talk of.
When writing essays highly critical of English colonialism or the English class system it does not mean I dislike English, in the same way when I say I dislike sprouts it does not mean I dislike vegetables. (And no, I am not comparing an Englishman to a turnip!)
I suggest we refuse to be hoodwinked by fascist myths, that we are free to engage with others on any topic we care to discuss or feel strongly about, and to be flawed or partial or in error when we write or speak. How else do we learn?
The dichotomy between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable is at the very heart of fascist ideology. It demands there is a law-abiding citizen and there is the criminal.
That is the essence of ‘us and them’.