Sunday, February 15, 2009

The seeds of fascism

It is very easy to view fascism as a mid-twentieth century aberration, a peculiar blending of circumstance and history, poverty, desperation, the opportunism of extreme nationalists. It was all of that, but it was much, much more. To an extent, there's no such thing as fascism - it is too tangled and confused to be easily isolated into a single, coherent doctrine. But what it is, most certainly, is the most anti-human of all political belief systems. It reduces the human to an element, a part of the system. This, of course, is deeply ironic since one of the triggers of fascism is a mistrust, bordering on hatred, of systems, the machine, the totality of modern living which has the effect of pushing people in a direction they don't like. But it is a sorry fact of life that revolutions against a state generally end up replicating that state: constant revolution is impossible, it will always retreat into reaction.

The consequence of this casual approach to fascism, however, is complacency. It happened then. It won't happen again.

Look around you. Fascism reacts against the 'system'. It is the reactionary made political. It hates reason, abjures argument. Its method is dogma - shouting from the rooftops, making slogans, creating scapegoats, raising the temperature. Anything that reduces debate and increases passion. In all of this it displays an antipathy to progress - 'it was better the way it used to be, before...'

Before. Before what?

'Before the immigrants came. Before the bankers and politicians stuck their noses in the trough. Before we got joined to Europe. Before all these black people/Muslims/terrorists starting coming here and changing our ways of life. Before kids were feral. Before our jobs were being lost in their thousands. Back when it was just us, and we were in control. The good old days. What we need now is a return to volkish tradition. Innerlichkeit'

Fascism was and is a reaction against enlightenment. It uses religion, that fundamental spirit that is inside all of us, some relic of our prehistoric forbears, to foment disaffection. It uses fear. It uses jealousy. It uses anger. It takes the concerns of the present and uses them as a way of suggesting the past - a mythical past - was better, and that the way to progress is to retreat.

We're in dangerous times. The seeds are there, ready to germinate. All they need is indifference. The casual way we are casting aside our civil liberties suggests to me that such indifference is already present.

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