Resisting Bannon, Fighting Fascism, Demanding Democracy

“Fascism begins as something in the air. Stealthy as smoke in the darkness, easier to smell than to see. Fascism sets out an ethos, not a set of policies; appeals to emotion, not fact. It begins as a pose, often a deceptive one. It likes propaganda, dislikes truth, and invests heavily in performance. Untroubled by its own incoherence, it is anti-intellectual and yet contemptuous of the populace even as it exploits the crowd mentality. Fascism is accented differently in different countries, and uses the materials – and the media – of the times.”
– Jay Griffiths

We are living in perhaps the most right-wing era since the second world war with racism, anti-semitism, islamophobia and other movements of hate being fostered and driven by the propaganda industry. With the rise of the far-right in Europe, the Trump movement in America and the rise of Bolsonaro in Brazil, with Erdoğan of Turkey, Putin in Russia, Assad in Syria, and Duterte in the Philippines, we are seeing a reactionary surge as elite rule fails and systems falter. In this context the normalisation of fascism by the BBC can’t be tolerated.

We are not immune to this in Scotland or in the UK – where the fascism of Thomas Mair or the now proscribed neo-Nazi National Action youth movement are the end-point of a deeper right-wing resurgence with UKIP, Brexit and the Tory party part of the continuum.

In this context it is gratifying to see leadership from the First Minister taking a tour of Auschwitz with 200 Scottish students.

Being conscious of how these movements are actively fostered and connected is crucial – and being aware of how fast they are being mainstreamed is also essential.

In Charlottesville, in Virginia, in August 2017, members of multiple white supremacist groups marched openly with torches chanting, “You will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!”

The President called them “fine people”.

The perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue atrocity killing 11 people told a law enforcement officer his motive: he believed Jews “were committing a genocide to his people”.

Here Steve Schmidt talks about the Caravan issue as ‘Trump’s Reichstag fire’ and that ‘40% of the country have opted into an alternative reality’:


In this context – in Scotland – we must show solidarity with minorities, trade unionists, the oppressed, the low-paid and the unheard as a basic part of our everyday understanding of the world. That means thinking about language and action and voice and rejecting misogyny, transphobia, homophobia as part of a practice of humanity and movement building. Understanding that ends and means matter and that the struggle for democracy is not confined to the constitution or to sovereignty but is about a much deeper understanding of real self-determination and autonomy is essential.

The Yes movement – a movement for democracy – must be explicitly anti-fascist and conscious of the world around it. The Yes movement, if it is to be anything at all, must be about imagining a better Scotland as part of an international movement for change and for resistance, as the stakes are getting dramatically higher. We must up our game not retreat into angry silos of grievance.

Let’s start by coming together against Bannon’s normalisation in our capital. Let’s start by reconfiguring the Yes movement as one that holds values of compassion, understanding and solidarity at its heart and strives to resist the descent into the far-right chaos that is being fostered around us.

Another Scotland is Possible.

Comments (12)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I am uncomfortable with the campaign to prevent Bannon from being heard. One of the tenets that we really want to espouse is free speech. Let him be heard but ensure that there is a good speaker in opposition to explain the fallacy of exclusivity and tribalism, to explain that the present USA was founded on immigrant communities and is now turning its back on the world with neo-fascist groups.

    Where we might stumble is that our “National” broadcaster tends to be as right wing and xenophobic as Bannon. The “game’s a bogie” if he is allowed to speak unchallenged with pat ball questions that do not challenge his views. Witness the frequency of Nigel Farage on Question Time and the disdain for the SNP and Scottish independence. This is just as important a question as whether he should be silenced.

    1. There is not a good speaker in opposition to explain the fallacy of white nationalism.

      There is Sarah Smith.

      He is the sole political figure being given a platform by the BBC. It is completely inappropriate.

      The “free speech” argument is being used by the far-right.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Things have been going downhill for Steve Bannon since Gleneagles. He just hasn’t been getting the gigs since he parted company with Angus Grossart. Surely Edinburgh can give him a warmer welcome than he got in Topeka, Kansas?

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Is there something amiss with the notifications? I no longer seem to get the email asking for confirmation?

  3. mince'n'tatties says:

    ‘Another Scotland is Possible.’
    Indeed it is and a start would be a reform of that carbuncle of Scottish devolution, Holyrood. On a non-partisan ticket it beggars belief that politicians can spend their entire well padded careers in that building without ever having faced the electorate.
    The List system rewards nepotism. The high profile Patrick Harvie has now passed 15 years as a ‘Lister’. No person of any party should be allowed more than two electoral terms before being asked to fight on a first passed the post ticket.
    And think on this; to date the structure of a first passed the post system has constrained Farage and the even more extreme right from real power.
    Don’t think it couldn’t happen here, oh it could. No Weimar thinking please. We need change before any ugly genie rears its head.
    Holyrood should currently be a work in progress, not a home for the comfy sinecure. That would be a democratic start.

  4. Redgauntlet says:

    I think that we need to think a lot more about how to oppose 21st century Fascism, and gnashing of teeth…

    We’ve always opposed fascism in Scotland. But it’s never been as real a threat in my life time.

    My guess is that Fascism is pretty much the default position of the uneducated human, certainly Western human being.

    Fascism is basically the primitive tribe – or clan – under modernity: the strong leader, the hierarchical structure, the death cult, the intolerance of the gods/teachings of other tribes, society organized in a conflict mode, and the creation of an enemy without or within.

    The internet has joined up people with fascist tendencies. Suddenly they can run a campaign from their living rooms…

    I don’t know how you combat it. I’m pessimistic. I think we are heading towards a high-tech fascist State…and the Trojan horse in the case of the UK is Brexit…

    Wait till no deal hits home. Wait till EU citizens are deported, or UK citizens in the EU.

    It’s going to get nasty…

  5. Redgauntlet says:

    The only remedy against fascism is education of course, and a vigorous and robust intellectual climate in which a democrat will always beat a fascist in an argument…

    And I think that Britain and the US, with their highly class ridden societies, with dumbed down electorates, in which the only value is money and wealth, in which intellectual life is basically barred from the public realm – to be an intellectual and get some air time, you have to be a kind of entertainer or clown like Zizek, and even then – whose politicians are almost all careerists to a man, whose journalists talk in cliches, soundbites and gobbledygook, whose universities have been turned into cash cows, whose academics are interested in climbing the ladder and little else…

    …well, these societies are INEVITABLY going to end up being fascist States, eventually.

    If you make the market the only arbiter for the organization of value in society, then you are basically opening the door to Fascism, of course you are.

    Young people have to understand that, when people my age, I’m almost 50, were growing up, there was a welfare state in this country which looked after people from the cradle to the grave. When I went to study at Glasgow University, I got a grant and housing benefit to rent a flat….and of course there were no fees.

    The market didn’t decide everything, there were values and you fought to defend them. We fought to defend them against Thatcher, and we lost…

    The Welfare State was invented to a large extent – or better said, was accepted – by the European ruling class because it was a way of ensuring societies were stable and safeguarding us against totalitarian Fascism and Communism… if you remove that safety net, you’re going to get desperate people looking for magic solutions like the strong man who “makes America great again” or, yest “takes back control”.

    And in selling arms to a fascist State like Saudi Arabia, we are already half way to Fascism…

  6. Redgauntlet says:

    I mean, the situation with the barbaric Fascist state of Saudi Arabia and the complicity of the fascist sympathizers Blair, Brown, May and Cameron with that totally and utterly repugnant fascist state, is grounds enough alone to leave the Union.

    The Saudis chop up a journalist in their embassy in a foreign country, and nothing fucking happens? We’re still selling them weapons? The Saudis will use those weapons against democrats anywhere they need to, we can be sure of that. Maybe one day they’ll use them against us?

    The UK is one the biggest sponsors of international Fascism as things stand. Bannon is a sideshow compared to the Saudis…

    Bannon is a convenient symbol and reaffirmation of our “civilized values” as we continue to sponsor fascist states in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and god knows how many other countries…

    People like Cameron, Brown and Blair are INSATIABLE, like cannibals are insatiable. Not one principle, not one scruple, not one shred of ethics.

    Those three whores, Cameron, Brown and Blair, will do ANYTHING for money just like May…

  7. SleepingDog says:

    While it may be that common definitions of fascism maps fairly well onto what is being described here, I think there might be another framework which is essentially simpler, shallower and models some of the psychology. It’s what your politics might appear like if you took the alignment Lawful Evil as a lifestyle choice:
    To clarify, I am not interested in the occult, supernatural or supposed malign influences of board or video games here. And followers of this alignment do not (necessarily) see themselves as “evil” but as the table in the article shows, as “Honorable and Determined”:
    “Although labeled as “evil” characters with this alignment tend to view themselves as determined, assertive, and full of conviction. To these characters, “good” is simply self-righteousness and the promotion of the weak over the strong. They tend to view moral neutrals as irresolute, since they seem to be torn between the competing philosophies of the self-satisfied and the self-reliant.”

    In the USA, the battle to stack the Supreme Court is a key indicator, as is withdrawal from international treaties and agreements (rather than simply ignoring or breaking them), gun lobbyists and Old Testament Christian fundamentalists.

    I have other reasons to believe that this character alignment has been disseminated through cultural products and exemplars, and been taken up by disaffected people, but it would take more than a comment to explain. The linked article is exceptionally well-written, though, and I encourage its consideration.

  8. jacobrichsnob says:

    Woody Allen: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Ya know? I read it in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, ya know, get some bricks and baseball bats, and really explain things to ’em.

    Victor Truro: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times – devastating.

    Allen: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point of it.

    Helen Hanft: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.

    Allen: No, physical force is always better with Nazis.

    Annie Hall 1977

  9. MBC says:

    Fascism isn’t a belief system but a sickness, an irrational sickness that grips people when they perceive (rightly or wrongly) that there is competition for resources which ‘may’ threaten them. Jane Goodall observed it amongst the chimpanzees that she had been studying for 20 years. The troup grew in numbers. A small sub-section decided to split off and moved to another part of the forest not occupied by the main group. The main group, suddenly, and without any provocation, then hunted and slaughtered the sub-group. The entire sub-group was eliminated. She observed the cheering and celebration of cruelty of the chimps of their own kith and kin and was much saddened to learn that chimps shared our own darkest traits. The chimps had identified the sub-group as ‘others’ and their former fraternal co-operation was suddenly and viciously turned on its head, like flipping a switch.

    I’m not sure that it helps to try to challenge fascism intellectually. Fascism makes no sense, it is a primate reaction to fear of competition from ‘others’ and of loss of resources. It is a disease and the medicine is economic.

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