Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Are we sleepwalking into fascism?


I HAVE just finished Simon Elmer’s The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State. 

A socialist, Elmer co-founded Architects for Social Housing in 2015 to address London’s housing crisis through industry collectives for the redevelopment of urban council estates. He has likened the current approach of Western neo-liberal democracies in destructive crisis engineering to the power-grab of glasnost in 1990s Russia

The Road to Fascism proposes that modern neo-liberal democracies are in thrall to a new form of fascism via what Elmer dubs the ‘Global Biosecurity State’. According to a template identified in 1995 by Italian historian and cultural theorist Umberto Eco as the archetype (‘Eternal’ or ‘Ur-Fascism’), Elmer believes fascism 2.0 reflects the same 14 characteristics as previous forms (including Nazism, Spanish Falangism and other movements from the mid-20th century). 

Subscribers of fascist movements, Elmer observes, have exhibited shared features that I would attempt to distil from Eco’s to a common handful: 

(I) Cult of tradition, where the religious adherence to an arbitrary and illogical set of rules (mask mandates, plastic dividers, social distancing and arrows on the pavement) is shifted to a permanent readiness for battle, and rooted in panic (the ‘Wars’ on terror, Covid, global warming and Russia as examples).

(II) Popular elitism, which we can see in the treatment of unvaccinated untouchables as ‘Untermenschen’, whom Elmer describes as a ‘semi-criminal and diseased underclass, unworthy and undeserving of human rights or the freedoms of citizenship’.

(III) Worship of heroism and a staging of ritual demonstrations (such as clapping for the NHS), to align with a militarised reordering of society and banning of any dissent or deviation from acceptable, scripted narratives. This is similarly reflected in today’s woke ideologies, the trans movement and its hatred of the female (which Elmer accurately compares with machismo attitudes under Mussolini and Hitler). 

(IV) Totalitarianism enforced by a militia, as with Hitler’s Brownshirts. We could see parallels in the police patrols threatening anyone sitting on a park bench during the lockdown, or the Covid marshals making house visits following a return from holiday. Elmer takes this further into the idea of the ‘camp’ which he sees as reinstituted in a ‘permanent spacialisation of the state of emergency’ which ‘reduces its citizens to their biological existence’.

(V) Propaganda through artistic media as embodied by emotionally charged imagery such as the pink handprints on London’s Covid Memorial Wall or paintings by the American artist Norman Rockwell. Such highly stylised pictures were used to instil feelings of unity and gratitude in the masses, along with a sense of belonging to a larger purpose. In popular culture the language is further dumbed down by Newspeak to impoverish faculties for critical thinking and information is censored to secure the correct narrative. Phrases such as ‘hands, face, space’ are locked into collective minds primed by fear to ensure compliance with whatever the police state believes to be best.

(VI) Sacrifice of the individual to the collective good, for the sake of a monolithic ‘people’. A key feature of fascism is subjugation to the will of the leadership. The authoritarianism imposed by our climate emergency priest class is an inherent characteristic of fascism, already supported by corporate powerbrokers such as Elon Musk and his company Tesla, busy pumping out EVs faster than the children in third world mines can dig out lithium. Certainly with Big Tech able to track our every movement through GPS and the impending rollout of central bank digital currency (CBDC) logging every purchase, it should be quite easy to ensure you don’t exceed your carbon allocation. 

A recurrent theme of ‘The Road to Fascism’ is the post WW2 shift from national governance to unaccountable international technocracy. The unelected global bureaucrats who make the rules we live under (from the murky WEF, to the WHO to the UN and many others) are supported by a framework held in place by giant corporations such as Apple, Google and Facebook. Elmer is correct, I think, in the analogy, as it does all resemble the Imperial Roman ‘fasces’ or bundle of sticks around an axe from which the term ‘fascism’ originated (and which was adopted as the official symbol of Mussolini’s regime).

He tracks developments on the horizon, including digitisation, artificial intelligence and automation, to tie into where the stakeholders are likely heading. Then he issues a stark warning. As the current status quo could be seen in the same way that the winter of 1939-1940 ‘phoney war’ was a period of relative calm and false sense of security, he reminds the reader that Hitler at that time was tactically remobilising Nazi forces in to invade Scandinavia and Western Europe.

In some sense he may be right. We could be sleepwalking into an even further disaster than the last three years. But Elmer loses me when he has to bring it all back to the evils of capitalism. He sees fascism as an inevitable result of capitalism, quotes Lenin and spouts some socialist diatribes about the decay of capitalism producing fascism.

Whilst the theory around exploitation of crisis capitalism by vested interests can be supported by recent events (just look at the bribes so many received from PPE contracts, the blatant disregard for lockdown rules by powerful ministers and the private jets flown by climate emergency preaching elites), Elmer’s pessimistic views come across as fatalistic and he ignores a more hopeful possibility that there is another, better way. 

Perhaps the only answer to the ugly face of neo-liberalism is capitalism’s more freedom loving, sensible cousin – true conservatism.

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Bridget Jones 2024
Bridget Jones 2024
Bridget Jones

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