Superbia, Ur Fascism and Britannia

Earlier this week a US commentator, Steve Schmidt, described President Trump’s exploitation of the migrant ‘Caravan’ issue as ‘Trump’s Reichstag fire’ and declared that ‘40% of the country have opted into an alternative reality’. Estimates for Britain are not currently available, but can’t be far off.

With the brutal revelations about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, the rise of the far-right in Europe, the Trump movement in America and the rise of Bolsonaro in Brazil, Erdoğan in 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.

Anti-semitism and overt racism are on the rise. This week eleven people were shot in a Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This week the Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini started deporting 2,700 illegal migrants. The American writer Sarah Kenzidor remind us that: “(Steve) Bannon is a white supremacist who wanted to segregate his children from Jewish kids”. It’s in this context that the invitation to Bannon to come to Edinburgh by BBC News and BBC Scotland can be seen as the normalisation of fascism, and its at this moment we should pause to try and trace how we got here.

How did the politics of the far-right and in some cases actual fascism become acceptable in western democracies?

Political commentator Chris Hedges argues that: “Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism. These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate…. they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the liberal state.”

Ur Fascism

Evidence of actual fascism – as opposed to “right-wing populism” (the distinction is blurry) can be gleaned from mapping them against Umberto Eco’s Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism – in which he identifies fourteen features of fascist ideology which are constant across time. Here’s three that jump out:

“To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged.”

“Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.”

“Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons—doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.”

The arguments for Trump – and his followers – being an expression of a neo-fascism is given weight if we map his speech against the key fascist tenets as laid out by Eco: “a cult of action, as celebration of aggressive masculinity, an intolerance of criticism, a fear of difference and outsiders, intense nationalism and resentment of national humiliation.”

A CULT OF ACTION
“I get things done better than anybody”

INTOLERANCE OF CRITICISM
“I’m fed up with the guys back there, the media, they’re the worst”.

AGGRESSIVE MASCULINITY
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody. and I wouldn’t lose any voters”.

FEAR OF OUTSIDERS
“A total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the country”

INTENSE NATIONALISM
“We’re going to make America great again”

RESENTMENT OF NATIONAL HUMILIATION
“We’re losing everything. I will make that stop.”

J

Broken World

But it’s not just fascist, it’s exposing a deeper set of broken relationships and processes.

Ecological breakdown, gender wars and extreme precarity are part of the culture of fascism which exudes and thrives on. A hyper-narcissism is present too in the cult of leader, whether it be Tommy Robinson, Donald Trump, Oswald Moseley or other lesser figures who attract obedient cult followings.

For some Trump is a neo-liberal super-ego “enjoining us to go right to the end”, according to Slavoj Žižek.

It’s important not to just project this onto America, most of the strands and language are apparent here, now.

Hyper-nationalism, hyper-machismo, overt racism, a language of, and deification of violence, and a hatred of the weak whilst masquerading as populism, all are present and correct in Brexit Britain.

The extra element that Trump holds is what some have called “jouissance” – a pleasure from perpetual stimulation.

Whether it be sending US troops to guard against a mythical caravan almost a thousand miles away (they may need very long-range rifles to shoot the children), the spectre of Marxism on campus perpetuated by the Lobster-expert and beef-eater Jordan Peterson, or the anti-semtisim coded through George Soros paranoia, the whole pantomime is a fecund circuit of constant and overwhelming outrage.

This paranoid tradition has a long history in America and is now pump-primed by social media and Alex Jones style ‘journalism’ all with the figurehead of Trump boosting morale amongst the base. As the writer Olivier Jutel has pointed out: “the enemy often assumes an occultist quality as with the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, believed by over half of Trump voters, in which the Democratic Party is said to be part of an elaborate child-sex ring.”

Before we think too smugly of ‘stoopid ‘Muricans’, it’s worth noting that “Make America Great Again” isn’t a stones-through away from “Take Back Control” and all of the impulses and threats and paranoia of Trumpism are present and correct in Brexitland and the triumphalist contempt of Britannia Unleashed.

This neo-fascism has an anti-ecological impulse at its core. The election of Bolsonaro in Brazil may be the most obvious expression of this but it can be seen elsewhere. Doing nothing in the face of omnicide is the most oblique form of responses which shelters of safety in “business as usual” whilst an extinction process is under way.

Fascism and Omnicide

Author Jay Griffiths points us to this phenomena of fascism and anti-ecology: “Such detestation of the natural world, amounting to biophobia, is one of the hallmarks of libertarians and alt-Right alike.”

She explains: “Climate-change denialism is the signature deceit of alt-Right and libertarian rhetoric, top trumps in their pack of ‘alternative facts’. But the alt-Right has a host of alt-facts at its fingertips. Politics has always been riddled with propaganda, spin and cover-ups, the difference is that the libertarian mindset relishes its dishonesty; part-trick, part-game, part-combat. Over and over, all members of the far-Right use the notion of ‘free speech’ to vindicate offensiveness and outright lies.”

And here we are with dupes and liberals defending Steve Bannon’s entry to Edinburgh under a rallying cry of “free speech”.

There’s a final and obvious element to this, the role of patriarchal fundamentalism and a resurgent misogyny, as identified by Eco and as witnessed by us all, daily.

As the writer Suzanne Moore observed (“Patriarchy is the sea in which Trump and his sharks gather”):

“Patriarchy is not some men-only affair. Many women play a role in sustaining it. The far right, by the way, is not afraid of using this word. It claims it as the basis for all that is good in western civilisation. The elevation of Trump is absolutely patriarchal fundamentalism. He has swept up a lot of the Christian vote because of it. The adulation of Putin is the worship of another white power based on patriarchal rule: unapologetically anti-women, anti-gay, anti-black and anti-Muslim. It is obsessed with displays of masculinity to the point of fascist camp. The right promises the restoration of a time when men were men and women were sanctified mothers or whores. Such authoritarianism may be delivered by both men and women. As the American author and feminist bell hooks says, patriarchy has no gender. It is not situated only within the individual – which is why screaming “Sexist!” at someone only gets you so far. Were the women who voted for Trump furthering patriarchy? Yes, obviously. They may believe it can protect them. The dismantling of this power cannot possibly come from those who won’t name it and spend the entire time shoring it up, largely reaping its benefits: that is, much of the liberal establishment. By assuming the culture war had been won, the myths of impartiality and neutrality have allowed far–right voices to go unchallenged. Patriarchal power asserts itself through cultural as well as economic resentment. And that is everywhere. The oft-repeated sentiment that feminism is itself an extreme movement is evidence of how liberalism bows down to authoritarianism.”

What can be done about this?

We can be the antithesis of fascism.

We can counter fear and hate. We can live in solidarity respect and love. Sometimes we will need to fight fascism in the streets to physically prevent them operating, having presence.

We can create democratic structures in our minds and in our society.

We can fight for a better democracy where we live and we can stand up against fascism and oppose the politics of Steve Bannon being normalised by our public broadcaster.

As Griffiths writes: “The character traits applauded by today’s far-Right – ambition, superbia, speed, drive, spin, success and spikiness – are the qualities the Futurists valued. There is fire here but never warmth; appetite but never food.”

Responding to this then, hospitality warmth and nourishment – given and shared this winter – is a form of anti-fascism.

 

 

Comments (36)

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  1. Ian McQueen says:

    I didn’t recognise reality in this article at all, except insofar as it’s a prime example of what George Orwell called “doublethink” — accusing your opponents or victims of what you’re guilty of yourself. Gender wars were started by Marxist-inspired cultural agitators in the late Sixties. Read any feminist tract. What are the words that jump out at you? Power, force, fear, threat, strength, hate. Those are the things they want this word made out of. It’s pure Nazism. Precious little place there for humanity or “love”.
    The result of the victory of this real fascism is that Chris Hedges, Jay Griffiths, and Suzanne Moore can live in privileged negativist hate-fortresses of their own from where they can fire out substanceless badspeak in pseudo-intellectual language, memes they hope will be parroted into truth by being made currency, in the good old Goebbelsian way, to try to disable the counter-attacks of honest analysis and of humanity. Creative intellectualism can make any poison ‘true’.
    Trump won because so many people had finally had it with being lied to morally and being disenfranchised and criminalised because they represent the race (they’re going after a whole race now, not just a class) most resistant to the Frankfurt School’s Long March to Marxism through culture and the institutions. The Long Marchers succeeded in their publicly stated aim of taking over the media a long time ago, they’re well on the way to turning education into indoctrination where only one discourse is allowed (totalitarianism), and now they’re going for the law. All this is coming straight from the crypto-revolutionary horse’s mouth, not the psycho-pathology selectively and hypocritically applied to the right only on the strength of a misapplication of Eco’s dramatic formulations (an example of calling up ‘evidence’ in support of a pre-determined conclusion), or the perversion of the entire non-left’s motives constructed by Mr. Small.
    Isn’t 100 million deaths enough for you, comrades?

    1. john burrows says:

      Deranged and unhinged.

      Your contribution offers us all a poignant example of the main premise of the article in action.

      Your hatred for anyone outside your own comfort zone is unmistakable. It is clear that you have already enthusiastically embraced fascism.

      As such, your apology for Trump and his ilk holds no weight. But rest assured, Bannon’s creation Breitbart, would be proud of you.

      1. Jo says:

        John
        That’s a terrible response to another person’s opinion. It’s actually pretty fascist to be honest!

        I didn’t like the article much either nor the similar one Mike wrote very recently. For me they both seek to draw up a list of bad guys while overlooking completely how we got to this sorry state. That’s hardly helpful or balanced.

        Trump won power because, in my view, too many people were simply not prepared to vote for Clinton! With such a deeply awful track record as hers I find that position understandable.

        I know of many Americans who aren’t “lower-class whites” (What a dreadful phrase incidentally) but who were horrified that the Democrats put Clinton up as a candidate. They were further enraged at the idea that Hillary’s many major flaws should be swept under the carpet because, hey, she’ll be the first woman POTUS!

        I think it is necessary to refrain from drawing up lists of “extreme” groups, governments, world leaders et al while refusing point blank to recognise that by attempting to control and dictate the narrative, we are behaving in an extreme manner too. The west has form when it comes to hypocrisy – big time! Its media has form too in meddling with the facts to the point where journalists and broadcasters are as untrustworthy as politicians.

        All in all, it’s a sorry state of affairs but nothing will improve while we look at our own conduct through rose-tinted specs or attempt to present our own views alone as the right ones while dismissing all others as “fascist”.

        1. No-one – precisely no-one is dismissing all others as ‘fascist’. This is just factually incorrect. Plain wrong.

          I’m not going to desist from examining the rise of fascism which is avery real and present danger. If you find this awkward, so be it.

          1. Jo says:

            Mike
            See what I mean?

            Anyone who doesn’t agree with you is simply “wrong” in your eyes.

          2. I’m simply pointing out some simple facts. I’m sorry if you find that upsetting or confusing.

            I wasn’t dismissing all others as fascists, I was being very precise.

    2. milgram says:

      Bollocks. Jog on.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    I think what is missing from this assessment is how this ideology is disseminated to youth (without the Nuremberg rallies). Remember that a significant input to this pattern was identified through GamerGate. These are minorities within minorities, but they have loud voices. And the patterns are sometimes obvious without being obviously alluring. Who roots for the Empire? Well, evidently quite a number:
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LawfulEvil

  3. w.b. robertson says:

    have tried hard (and failed dismally) to understand this diatribe… but by jove, the anti-fascist brigade can certainly drag out the heavy artillery in operation overkill!

    1. Jamsie says:

      WB
      The problem in Scotland is that these anti-fascists consider that everyone who did not vote yes in 2014 is fascist.
      And that their voice is the only voice which should be heard.
      The division in our country created and promoted at the whim of wee Nicola is probably now the way of Scottish politics.
      It will take years for the rifts to heal if they ever do.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        Sympathy for fascists!!? Never thought I’d see the day when thinking fascism should be opposed would be a stick to beat people with. What a world we live in. Sad, dangerous times.

        1. Me Bungo Pony says:

          Sorry about the “stick to beat people with” metaphor. It was just a figure of speech but, given the propensity for actual fascists to literally beat their opponents with sticks, probably not one I should have used.

          1. Jo says:

            MBP
            Thanks for your reply.

            I can’t answer for the other posters.

            As for the rise in racism, sectarianism and bigotry….in Scotland at least bigotry and sectarianism are certainly not new. For too many they are a way of life.

            Fascism is indeed an ugly thing. That is why those who claim to be fighting it need to carefully guard their own conduct lest they embrace equally deplorable tactics. It’s a huge debate and an important one. Labels can be thrown around too casually now. Our media cannot be trusted to report facts accurately. Indeed the publicly funded BBC is the worst offender. The newspapers are even worse.

            Personally I find it all very dishonest and depressing. There are different models of fascism. Sadly one modern type is when you express a “wrong” opinion on social media and you instantly have a raging mob hurling abuse at you in tweets! It’s a tactic designed to intimidate and, ironically, is often used by women (despite the fact that so many prominent women are forever complaining about being “bullied” on social media). But when it suits, it’s an acceptable tactic for movements like #MeToo to use. Who needs a judicial process when you can tweet allegations against someone, add #MeToo on the end and Bob’s your uncle, the accused is tried and convicted in the blink of an eye! No need for police, for evidence…no need for all that rubbish. Dangerous times indeed.

        2. Jo says:

          MBP
          I’m not sure anyone is saying that.

          There’s a difference between opposing fascism and choosing to label the views of others as fascist just because they’re different from your own. Now that really is dangerous.

          1. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Sorry Jo, but both w.b. and J*msie used the term “anti-fascist” pejoratively. In the sense they used the word, to be “anti-fascist” is to be worthy of derision. To me, this implies extreme right wing views are becoming main stream, while what was considered “reasonable” (not even left wing) for the entirety of my life is now being questioned and ridiculed. It is no coincidence that there has been a rise in bigotry, sectarianism and racism in this new climate. I very much doubt w.b. and J*msie are fascists themselves; but by showing a clear antipathy to those who actively oppose fascism they are part of the problem I perceive.

          2. Jamsie says:

            Jo
            You hit the nail on the head!
            MBP
            My comment simply said that in Scotland the anti fascist standard was that if you did not vote yes in 2014 then you were a fascist or right wing extremist.
            How is that in any way pejorative?
            As you say I am not a fascist and I am not seeking to defend fascism but I also cannot find any sympathy for the suppression of freedom of expression.
            Better to win the arguments and debates than give them grievance by closing down their right to express themselves.
            That’s when violence could kick in.
            But the level of division in Scotland created by Indy seems to be ever hardening.
            People are talking about democracy when they don’t really want it to be enacted.
            One man one vote.
            It is the only way.
            The majority carries the day.

          3. Me Bungo Pony says:

            You truly live in your own head J*msie. A world where delusion and wishful thinking are inextricably mixed to create an alternative reality that you desperately want others to believe in, despite it contradicting their own reality based experience. All because you believe your country to be a worthless, irredeemable basket case that couldn’t tie its own shoelaces without help. The “cringe” personified.

      2. Derek Thomson says:

        Utter garbage, as always. I admire your consistency in spouting drivel with every post you make.

        1. Jamsie says:

          Deeply insightful!
          Not!!

      3. No-one suggested that everyone who did not vote yes in 2014 is fascist.

        No-one.

        Supine, deluded, confused, nostalgic, misled, selfish, cringing, yes all of this, but a very small minority amongst the loyalist sect were actually fascist.

        Jamesie your time is up – I’ve grown tired of your endless tirade and whilst keeping a pet Troll was fun for some time that novelty has worn off, so farewell.

        1. Me Bungo Pony says:

          Genuinely sad about that. He is a troll but he does, inadvertently, act as a vehicle to illustrate just how nonsensical and indefensible much of the Unionist argument is.

  4. John O'Dowd says:

    Looks like you’re being trolled Mike (IMcQ and WBR).

    Presumably some of the thousands of letters/comments boasted about by Scotland in Union. A full time industry – one of the few left!

    Just a point – not that it makes any difference to any eejit that would give it brain space:

    “Gender wars were started by Marxist-inspired cultural agitators in the late Sixties. ”

    The opposite of the facts. Identity politics and ‘gender wars’ were instigated by those who would distract us from the real struggle.

    Any Marxist will know that that is class, class, class first and last.

    The rest

    “Gender wars” – cui bono?

    Get the class struggle right, and the rest follows naturally.

    1. Gashty McGonnard says:

      That.

      There are good reasons why the poor are increasingly turned off by pseudo-left ideology. However sordid the alt-right’s true intentions might be, however ultimately fatuous their bluster – they’ve done a great job of channeling justified grievances that were being ignored and shamed. People had no bread: the left said let them eat gender theory. The ideas of Althusser, Foucault, Irigaray, Derrida, Lacan, etc, etc, were supposed to undermine hierarchies faster than class struggle would – instead, they became meek PoMo handmaidens of neoliberal greed.

      “Equal Opportunities” to all forms of wage slavery became the common goal of left and centre from the late 80s. If you couldn’t be homogenised into service industry, ignoring all differences, except those between customer and colleague, you were for the scrap heap. Political correctness was co-opted to hide the exploiters’ blushes: excess profit is an accident – workplaces exist to increase the store of human harmony, doncha know! Even the absurd housing ponzi, the single biggest expropriation of wealth since Pizarro humped the Inca, was praised from the political left. Hauling oneself up the property ladder by one’s bootstraps is the road to betterment, apparently (but don’t mention the bankers raking it in, or why the government’s so keen to inflate the bubble, instead of say educating the plebs – and doing manufacturing, exports and a real economy).

      So by 2008, there’s a lot of ordinary people miffed at the liberal left. If you’re in Motherwell or Sunderland you’re just getting over Thatcher sending your Dad’s job to China when Blair and the EU send a smarter, healthier, better educated (thanks, communism) Pole to take yours. It’s not inherently xenophobic to be annoyed in that situation, but when the left call you racist for grumbling… it’s not surprising if you look elsewhere.

      It’s 2018 now and we’re racked by austerity, there are people rough sleeping and begging everywhere. The Daily Mail does gushing coverage about new same sex parents (my best regards to them too), one of whom is the Tory leader. Hmmm, maybe identity politics is no longer the bleeding edge of human emancipation?

      Like the OP, I’m appalled by the ‘populist’ crypto-fascists. No good will come of their bugeyed misanthropy. Their clammy pallor exposes the deep, heart-weakening shame that accompanies all hostility. They can’t risk caring or being cared for. As sentient organisms, they have my pity.

      But I hope the left can present an inclusive, reality-based, bread and butter alternative soon, or it could be bug eyes all the way down.

      1. Interesting, genuinely agree with you about the right and the alt-rights ability to channel genuine grievances and I also “hope the left can present an inclusive, reality-based, bread and butter alternative.”

        Bu then you flip into Poles stealing peoples jobs in Motherwell?

        & not sure what Althusser has to do with it?

        1. Gashty McGonnard says:

          Not my opinion about job stealing, Ed., I expressed that badly – was imagining how someone in the situation might see things. My point’s just that somebody who’s consistently stressed and shafted by the economic system is bound to be angry: and if they don’t have the mental or physical means to identify or resist the true cause, by default they’ll turn the anger either onto themselves or a convenient scapegoat. Kick the cat; smoke the smack; blame the migrant: transferred aggression is a basic and instinctual stress response.

          Yeah, Althusser’s not quite in the same bracket as the others. I do think that his type of anti-humanism is an example of the left losing its way, though. Yes, we’re determined by social and cultural structures, but not fully. Subjectivity is also creative and transformative, individuals do have agency: denying this is disempowering and contrary to experience. Complete denial of any consistent human nature by the left is just as ‘biophobic’ as normative, prescriptive definitions of mankind from the right. We have commonalities in the givens of our existence that can’t be fully defined, but cut across lines of gender/race/class/privilege etc. Hunger, fear, hurt, sympathy, birth, death, love, connectedness, whatever – what other basis can there be for solidarity? I don’t have the ability to make a philosophy out of my vague ideas (and I may be caricaturing Althusser a bit), but I know I’m not alone in my assessment of postmodern leftism.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Trump may spout identifiable phrases of fascism, but it may be difficult to identify any consistent ideology.

    A CULT OF ACTION
    “For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act”

    INTOLERANCE OF CRITICISM
    “Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time.”

    AGGRESSIVE MASCULINITY
    “The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms.”

    FEAR OF OUTSIDERS
    “And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of the immigration laws.”

    INTENSE NATIONALISM
    “So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.”

    RESENTMENT OF NATIONAL HUMILIATION
    “For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years.”

    Those are quotes mostly from Barack Obama’s wikiquote page, and some are taken out of context (from passages with an overall contrary message).
    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Barack_Obama
    Nevertheless, there is much more continuity between the Trump and Obama administrations than discontinuity. In fact, you might think the Business Plot succeeded after all.

    Times have moved on; inculcation of fascism presumably used to rely on control of a child’s whole education and a near-totalitarian grasp of media to be somewhat effective. This new worldview seems to be much more closely connected with globalized cultural consumption where you practice and refine your beliefs. Typical social media affords bullying, for example, but lacks some of the depth, nuance or immersion of other platforms.

  6. Frank says:

    Is it just me or is Bella on some kind of ultra-left turn recently? I know Bella has always been left wing left but recently the tone has become Socialist Workerish. The left has always used and abused the F word and we end up with a situation whereby right wing populists, classical liberals, neoliberals or anyone who is not PC or a full covert to social liberalism, is labelled fascist. Neoliberalism actually began as an anti-fascist/anti-totalitarian movement. The attempt to label Trump fascist based on snippets of daft things he has said is also intellectually shallow. Similarly, the quote from the American academic, about ‘lower class people’ embracing fascism, is offensive and highlights the elitism of today’s left. I wonder if this guy actually knows any lower class people? I also don’t get the point about Jordan Peterson only eating beef – he eats a meat only diet because of a rare genetic disease but hey ho, don’t get that get in the way of the facts when you’re trying to smear him as a fascist.

    Gerry Hassan had a useful article in the Scottish Review recently about fascism and also makes the point that the left’s abuse of the term has robbed fascism of its meaning. In it, he quotes Paxton who provides a really useful definition:

    ‘A form of political behaviour marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints, goals of internal cleansing and external expansion’.

    1. Frank – I was very specific about the rise of fascism and it’s a term being used by many commentators to describe the extremism being witnessed and condoned in America,

      I’m sorry if you find this troubling.

      Sometimes politics changes and changes rapidly and you need to acknowledge that and recognise it and name it. That’s all we are doing.

    2. “Neoliberalism actually began as an anti-fascist movement” – you’re going to have to help me a bit with that …

      1. Wul says:

        “Neoliberalism actually began as an anti-fascist movement” – you’re going to have to help me a bit with that …

        Mike, have a look at Freidrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”. This book was an inspiration to Mrs T. She famously showed it to her Cabinet and said “this is what we are going to do”

        Hayek and others saw the rise of Nazi fascism as a direct consequence of the centralised state planning and economic intervention so popular with various left governments. They thought that it’s opposite, unregulated free markets, would lead to a naturally liberal freedom for all.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_to_Serfdom

      2. Frank says:

        Most of the early neoliberals were political emigrees who had fled Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which is probably why neoliberalism’s anti-statism is best understood when situated historically. The early neoliberals Hayek, Walter Lipmann, Karl Popper, von Mises, and so forth, wanted to create an apolitical society in which the market would regulate society and place limitations on the reach of government. Two texts I would really recommend on the history of neoliberalism are Philip Mirowski’s ‘Road to Pelerin’ about the first neoliberal think tank – the Mont Pelerin Society which met in the aftermath of WW2. Michel Foucault’s ‘governmentality lectures’ also provide a really good outline of early neoliberalism and it’s critique of fascism and communism.

        1. Me Bungo Pony says:

          People on this thread have very different reading preferences to mine.

          1. Wul says:

            “Know your enemy” Bungo.

    3. andy says:

      I think it may be just you, Frank.

  7. Wul says:

    Isn’t this rise of fascism, populism, blaming, scapegoating etc. just the result of chronic inequality?

    We now have millions of people around the world feeling, rightly or wrongly, that they have been left behind, ignored, de-valued and basically not invited to the party.

    Neo liberalism has created a very efficient system for concentrating wealth. That is a perfectly natural outcome when we let “business” dictate how our country is run.
    We can have socialist fascism or capitalist fascism. It will exist quite happily in any environment where humans are ruled by one set of ideas and one set of people.

    Fascism loves centralised power. To dissolve it’s strength we need to decentralise power and money to local levels. We need to de-couple the influence of business from our democracy. Business & profit are fine, but they can’t be in charge of our government because they don’t care about people; they have no love. Business is a wonderful servant but a terrible, cruel master.

    I’d like to see our country governed by fair laws that limit the ability of any one person, group or corporation to acquire an unhealthy share of resources or power. We can keep ourselves happy and healthy by having public luxury ( good services, parks, leisure, health care, education etc) and private sufficiency.

    There’s no point in arguing about who is right or wrong, whose news is fake etc. until we work out why so many of us are so very unhappy.

  8. Jim Ferguson says:

    A genuinely interesting and thought provoking opinion piece. Who has power in the naming process? Those who control the wealth and resources.

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