In 2009 I wrote a post called The F word. It summarised an article, Is the U.S. on the Brink of Fascism?, which in turn described a definition of fascism and the five stages of the development of fascism in a country, concluding that America is now well in to the third stage, the transition stage or “tipping point” beyond which there is no turning back:
America’s conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country’s legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America’s streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won’t do their political or economic bidding. This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It’s also our very last chance to stop it.
In England the campaign for Brexit has exploited racism and xenophobia. Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a man who gave his name in court as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. He had “decades-long affiliations with neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations” and was in possession of “extreme right-wing literature”.
Extreme right-wing politics is the politics of dumb anger. The ultimate causes are inequality and fear. The inequality that exploits and weakens the average worker / family. The fear that naturally arises from this stress, and looks for someone (someone “different”) to blame. The more the elite enrich themselves at the expense of the majority, the more they dumb down education and the media, the more they exploit racism and fear, the more the politics of dumb anger gains traction.
In general the elites don’t mind this, because it works pretty well for them. They think they can control and profit from this situation, e.g. Republicans in the USA. But then along comes a tipping point, like Donald Trump (who is nothing more than the logical consequence of dumb anger), and ooops – the elites have lost control of their system, with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic results.
How are we doing in NZ? (Anyone else here a fan of “Sleeping Dogs”?) Heather du Plessis-Allan had a go at this question in the weekend.
Fascism is just a few votes away
If you think fascism has no chance, don’t get too comfortable. It’s the kind of thing that’s here before you know it. In 1928, the Nazis got only 2.6 per cent of the vote. Five years later, the party won 44 per cent.
Every part of me wishes New Zealanders could feel smug about our tolerance and absence of men who do weird things with their hair, but have a look at what some of our politicians have said this week.
Act leader David Seymour suggested we force immigrants to sign a document pledging a commitment to New Zealand values. No hating women, no hating people who aren’t the same colour, no hating homosexuals, and so on. Then he and Winston Peters had a spat about whose idea it was first.
It’s a nice idea. Well, it would be if all Kiwis were like that. But we all know Kiwis who are misogynist or racist or homophobic. …
The politics of dumb anger is alive and well in NZ. Here’s some factors that HDPA missed: It is there in the dirty politics blogs, the comments sections of far far too many online forums, in attitudes sometimes given voice in talkback radio or through prominent media propagandists. We have a “PM” who was hosting dirty politics from his office, does prison rape jokes on talkback, and disparaging inconvenient science at every opportunity. We have a government that is actively increasing inequality, damaging health, education and democratic systems, and lashing out viciously at any criticism. How far will we go down this path?
Update: I’m not the only one having these ponders: “Brexit-ism and Trump-ism are symptoms of deep ills, reactions against all-knowing and all-owning elites who have presided over growing inequalities and other societal reshapings that have upset, disempowered, dispossessed or scarred “everyday” folk who feel left out and/or let down, outcasts-in-their-own-lands.”
The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family's security.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) September 13, 2015
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) June 19, 2016