What is Fascism?
Fascism is a political ideology that is often associated with the earlier half of 20th century politics. This is of course accurate, but to look beyond the surface of this literalism, it is essentially important to recognise – as horrific that these instances were – that Fascism is more than a phenomenon consigned to a single era of historical significance; it is a set of moral and philosophical beliefs.
These beliefs isolated are often harmless. You can hear them in almost any political debate. What is problematic is when they coincide, culminating into one rigid formula and belief system. Not just as coincidence but as the result of a gradual and insidious process. A social decline whereby these views become normalised, politicised and eventually enacted upon.
These beliefs are insidious not just because of the hatred innate in their assumptions, but because of their potency; they appeal to the worst of human attitudes: absolutist egoistic self-interest, scapegoating, blind obedience to authority, might-is-right, appeal to limiting notions of traditionalism over progress. When these beliefs collide – as often as they do – they form the moral and philosophical framework of Fascism.
The moral and philosophical framework of Fascism has been studied relentlessly. The trends between examples which span across continents echo and align with the aforementioned appeal to the worst of human attitudes. The picture belowis a list by Laurence W. Bitt that he created in 2003 after studying 7 different Fascist regimes:
British history is not one that is exclusively reflected in the country’s efforts during WW2. Not only were Oswald Mosely, the Blackshirts and the British Union of Fascists faced with a great degree of opposition, but also a great degree of support. In the press, undivided support was given from Harold Hamsworth (Lord Rothermere) who owned and controlled the editorials of both the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror newspapers – two of the most widely circulated newspapers still to this present day. The breakup of the BUF led to splinter parties and parties succeeding them with their Fascist views disguised. Modern far-right parties and organisations in the United Kingdom maintain this tradition, such as the British National Party, National Front, English Defence League, and Britain First.
In the United Kingdom, echoes of this support network between Fascists in the 1930s, and sentiments which sympathise with this ideology remains below the surface on a larger scale. All of these groups mirror the findings in Laurence W. Bitt’s work; they see these warning signs not as warnings but as virtues. In seek of stability – as inequality grows, living standards and opportunities decline – the more people cling to these warnings as virtues too.
A Nostalgic Warmth
Views which appeal to these attitudes not only often align with these ‘early warning signs’ that Laurence W. Britt points out, but come with a nostalgic perspective. A perspective which persists that only what remains of systemic oppression and societal hierarchies is accepted; all other notions contrary to this are scorned upon as regressive, ‘reverse-discriminatory’, or viewed as being outside the bounds of reasonable argument.
Regardless of whether this nostalgia is unfounded or contrary to historical and scientific accuracy, what is important to those who hold these views is the sense of belonging that it gives to them. A contented feeling, which in most instances allows Fascists – known or unbeknownst to them of what they are – to reconcile to themselves their life experiences of living in an utterly backward society.
This is the sufferer of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, who in order to reconcile themselves with their own experiences that amount to childhood trauma, loses all capacity for empathy. A defence mechanism which will never be unearthed to themselves as a defence mechanism. Despite the cynical, manipulative and destructive roads this takes them down, it has become their makeup as part of what makes them a human being.
Ignorance as Common Sense
In the United Kingdom, political debate often sees a conflation between ‘common sense solutions’, and views which demonstrate a lack of empathy; whereby a sense of nostalgia is also thrown in for added potency. In a society dominated by hierarchy; bias; privilege; arbitrary rules and results, a holistic and accurate analysis of issues is often neglected for whatever may feel accurate based on an individual’s anecdotal experiences. This leaves a lot of individuals – as Laurence W. Bitt observed using much more extreme examples – arguing fervently for nationalism, against human rights, identifying scapegoats, obsessing over national security, obsessing over crime – and specifically – capital punishment; the examples go on and on.
This rush to analyse based solely upon a single perspective, and to conclude on the harshest terms regardless of factual accuracy or overall utility for society is a symptom of a much larger disease and process. A symptom that is becoming increasingly common in British societal and political discourse.
The fact that this type of analysis is used by an increasing many whose views line up neatly with Bitt’s 13 early warning signs of Fascism shows us that this is an ignorance that masquerades as ‘common sense’, and a rising Fascism in the United Kingdom.