2016 has been some year so far. A year in which Scotland once again failed to qualify for an international football tournament and 2 months into the new qualifiers already look out of the next one. A year which every celebrity is wondering if they will be next for the Grim Reaper.
In politics the shocks just keep on coming, with pollsters wondering if they are remotely relevant at all. Following a 2015 election win for the Tories they overtook the Labour Party to become the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament at the Holyrood elections this year. Following that was the earthquake referendum result which saw Britain sign up for an EU exit resulting in a PM departure, A new PM unelected by party or public and a strengthening of mandate for a Labour leader trying to bring the party back to its founding roots. Now finally a new President of the United States, not the one that was expected or for most within America and around the world..wanted. The TV star and multiple business failure Donald Trump.
Pollsters are shocked, the public are stunned. Just what is going on with the western world at the moment? Why is fear and hatred winning out over logic, reasoning and compassion? What kind of society and world are we heading into? Well perhaps we are already there.
For years the Third Reich in Germany, Hitler and the Nazi’s have been a curious fascination to many, prompting thousands of books and documentaries of their rise and fall out of power. It has always seemed so surreal. How could a country allow itself to be engulfed by an such a monstrous ideology led by crazed and evil men who wished to destroy a race of people and the very notion a of civilised world. For many German citizens at that time they don’t really recall how it happened they just seemed to sleepwalk into it. As bizarre as it seems we here in the UK are sleepwalking towards this more and more.
After the First World War, Germany was in a state of disarray, an attempted takeover by the communists which was ill planned and without mass support was soon extinguished after a split between the Bolsheviks and the SPD who stated.
“ Socialism cannot be erected on bayonets and machine guns. If it is to last, it must be realised with democratic means. Therefore of course it is a necessary prerequisite that the economic and social conditions for socializing society are ripe.”
Needless to say it was soon destroyed by the ruthless Freikorps. What followed was a weak democracy which accepted in full the demands of the Treaty of Versailles in spite of the impact it had on the German people’s self pride and their finances. Through mass loans from the US the German economy was able to rebound until the Wall Street Crash in 1929 when the US required all debts to be re-paid sending the German economy into a tailspin leading to huge volumes of quantative easing leading to a huge deflation of the mark.This led to the rise of extremes,with the public utterly disillusioned with a government and a system it no longer trusted seeking alternatives… any alternatives. Sound familiar? Hitler who had been seen as a comedic figure and as such gained more traction in the press than most of the minority parties. Hitler used this notoriety to send the message of hatred and fear that eventually led to the rise of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich.
To see a re-run of this in modern day look out for the satirical film on Netflix ‘Look who’s back.’ Hitler was entertainment value for the democratic elite (See Nige Farage).
There were many Germans who were hurt, angry and frustrated following the First World War. For some they found their home in the National Socialist movement. Like wise after the crash in ‘29 and the weak and insipid responses by the Weimar Government. Germans looked to extremes and Hitler’s message of blame was seen by many as a solution. Why take responsibility or accept shortcomings when the blame can fall on the Versailles traitors, Jews and others who are not ‘us’.
Yet in spite of this the Nazi Party never received a majority vote in multiple party free elections. How then did they come to power? Edmund Burke’s famous line is most apt. While those who wished to change the system to harsh bigoted and fascist extremes did so. Those on the left were a disorganised rabble obeying orders from Moscow no matter the damage. While most Germans just stood back and got on with life. Those who survived the experience looked back on this time as simply not recognising the symptoms and the growth of fascism before it was too late. Are we likewise? How far to extremes will we go before we awake from this slumber.
Since the ascent of New Labour there have been many warnings as to the rise of the far right with parties such as the BNP and EDL rightly investigated and outed for the organisations they really are. Since that time however we have had a Conservative Government aided by a right wing media in attaching blame for the financial crisis, not at the banks or big business which led us to ruin and refuse to pay tax. Rather at an easy target without the financial muscle to fight back. The poor, the disabled and migrants coming into the UK to find work. Despite tax evasion costing some £14bn last year to an estimated benefit fraud between £1.6 bn -£3.3bn.
Make no mistake the ascension of ideologies of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage have long been in the making. One need only to look at Benefit Britain on Channel 5 or…. well basically any article in the Daily Mail for the last 10 years. The rise of Nigel Farage, even when an unelected leader of a small political party into becoming a regular on media should set alarm bells ringing. Remember in Germany who was also given free press as he was seen as a fool.
Perhaps the biggest mistake we made when seeking out the rise of the right in the UK was that we looked to the BNP to backstreet pubs and shady politics when the real dangers were dressed in expensive suits under the guise of a quiet Home Secretary keen to observe your internet searches and a bumbling Mayor of London. The notion that we are sleepwalking into the abyss should have been awoken with the Nazi-esq front page of the Daily Mail calling UK judges enemies of the people for daring to rule in favour of the democratic rule of parliament.
How did we get here? Yes the governments more extreme ideologies are beginning to show more with May than Cameron’s ‘Compassionate Conservatism,’ Yes we have a right wing media with a clear agenda to suppress any notion of progressive politics but we too as the left must hold our hands up as culpable too. For far too long and far too often we have fought each other rather than the real enemies of working class people. Too often have we embraced ism’s to attack our own declared the state of the world is purely down to bigotry, sexism and racism. That Donald Trumps success was working class men trying to hold onto power! That the leave victory is down to ignorance, racism and bigotry.
This is a sham. Yes, racism and intolerance has begun to breed in this country and other parts of the western world. But it is not the cause rather the effect of factors that for too long we have neglected to address. This lazy blame culture removes the need for real assessment of the lefts failure to articulate solutions to the social and economic conditions that are prevalent and have allowed the right and far right to successfully peddle these distortions based on fear and hatred.
How long will it be before the left decide it is better to understand than to grandstand? To find solutions than to find someone to blame? More worryingly how much more will it take for the people of this country and others to wake up and begin to reject this move towards a fascist state?
With the election of Trump the coronation of May and potential far right gains in France and Germany next year, How much longer will good men and women do nothing and allow the triumph of evil over hope and progress?