As Hannah Arendt warned, fascism relies on “more respectable forms, until the whole atmosphere is poisoned with totalitarian elements which are hardly recognisable as such but appear to be normal political reactions or opinions”.
It is easy to be complacent about the threat of a resurgent far right. The most bloody and grotesque examples of fascism have not been found in Western Europe for more than seven decades now. The advance of liberal democracy, tolerance, racial, gender, sexual and religious equality has been real and awesome. Today important decisions in Europe are made by national leaders over warm scallop salad at the European Council table, not drawn up in force after years of violence.
However, much of the progress we made in the second half of the 20th century, and in the early part of the 21st, is under threat. In Britain, Europe, the United States and elsewhere, an extreme, populist right is gaining currency and, increasingly, power. Extreme right parties are polling at 10 per cent in Spain, 20 per cent in France, and – if you combine UKIP and the Brexit Party – 25 per cent in the UK. In Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States, the populist right already have the keys to power.
These movements are not calling for genocide, the imprisonment of their political enemies, or expansion into foreign territory. However, they are demanding politicians obey a vague, undefinable “will of the people”. They are creating the false narrative of a betrayal by foreign “elites” (cue Brussels bureaucrats). At home, they are scapegoating and demonising migrants (think of Nigel Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster), while harking bark to a deeply nostalgic vision of ethnically hierarchical past, with calls for “Empire 2.0”. They are attacking the truth, while denying the authority of experts and …read more
Source:: New Statesman