UK Sleepwalking into Fascism: Workhouses for Disabled, The #RacistVan, Racial Profiling

NB1 

This week has seen a plethora of actions by the UK government, which if adopted by any other country, any compassionate person would consider fascist. Government sponsored vehicles are roaming the streets telling people to dob in suspected illegal immigrants, the UK Border Agency are stopping mostly non-white commuters on the transport networks and requesting they display credentials to prove their right to be here, and disabled people are being carted off to modern day workhouses. Yet in spite of all this, many are still reluctant to face the gut wrenching reality that all is not well in blighty.

Godwin’s Law? Oh Give it Up

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No doubt someone is already preparing a comment accusing me of Godwin’s Law for making this comparison.  So I’ll take a moment to set out why I am making it, and why it does not conform to the term.

Godwin’s Law was intended to highlight the sort of ‘Little Hitler’ comparisons to the Third Reich.

Train conductor just gave me a fine for not having a ticket… Nazi!”

Health and Safety laws mean I can’t smoke in my office anymore…it’s like Nazi Germany in here!

The government is telling me I can’t smack my kids anymore…Fascists!

This is the sort of thing that Godwin’s Law pertains to.  This is not what I am doing today.  I am laying out some clear similarities between policies in the UK today, and widely agreed upon Fascist nations in history.   These similarities should raise real concerns about the direction in which successive governments are driving our nation and should lead us to take a pause and ask ourselves if this is the direction we want to head in.

Despite this, I accept that nevertheless many people are determinedly unwilling to consider the awful prospect that our government might not be acting on our best interests and will use Godwin’s Law as a tool of cognitive dissonance.  In essence, Godwin’s Law itself can become a tool of censorship, used to close down important debate about the authoritarian impulse of the state and corporate power.

Fascism

NB5 

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 29, 1938. Message to congress

To be clear, Fascism is not about soldiers in jackboots goose-stepping along Whitehall. This is a post WWII idea of Fascism which, it could be argued, provides a smokescreen for identifying original Fascism. Umberto Eco coined the term ‘Eternal Fascism’ for this brand I write of, the antecedent of the nationalist, racist Nazi-style Fascism considered as default today.

If one say’s of Britain ‘We live in a fascist regime’, the immediate response is most often an irritated, dismissive shake of the head followed by ‘Well why don’t you go live in Iran/North Korea/Russia?’ depending on the chosen pariah state of the moment. To be clear, I wouldn’t want to live in those states either. Equally, we have a responsibility as, purportedly, the sovereign power of this country (our sovereignty delegated to parliament through democratic universal suffrage) to ‘put our own house in order first’.

People presented with this premise will find themselves unable to take the ideological side step required to acknowledge our corporatist system as fascist, rather than free market run amok. It is the truth we dare not admit. I argue this is mainly because no one wants to think they live in a fascist state, no one wants the burden of being called into action to defend against a fascist state and most people sincerely want to (and in many cases do) believe that matters of ideology and politics are irrelevant in the context of their daily lives. All of this is human and understandable. But that is different from it being correct or responsible.

In his 1995 essay, Eternal Fascism, Italian thinker and essayist Umberto Eco, provided one of the most compelling and ‘eternal’ definitions of fascism available to date.  He set out the key characteristics, observable in a fascist state.  He did not specify that ALL these conditions needed to exist for the state to be defined as Fascist, but that any, some or all of them are indicators of a fascist disposition. Of his 14 categories, there are at least 8 which apply to the UK today.

What’s Fascist about Blighty?

 UKBA2

Umberto Eco’s characteristics of ‘Eternal Fascism’ can be seen in the policies of the UK government over a number of years, arguably we have been careering towards this point throughout the unbroken rise of neoliberalism, from 1979 to today. For now, let’s focus on just three of these.

Fear of Difference 

The neoliberal dominated institutions of politics, media and even economics have made strident efforts to rebrand the Financial Crisis – a clear crisis of the private sector and neoliberalism itself – into a public sector crisis.  This scapegoating has affected a number of groups, but in recent months, the narrative on immigration has been ratcheted up out of all proportion to the size of the issue.  I have written in detail on the reality of immigration, so will not rehearse here.  In summary, the UK has a lower immigrant population than almost any ‘developed’ nation, these immigrants are mostly assessed via a Points Based System, only 7% are asylum seekers, and only 33% of asylum claims are accepted.  There is no open door. Finally, the immigrant population does not have access to a vast majority of the benefits available to UK citizens, the benefits they do receive are nowhere near the same value as those received by UK citizens and they are a third less likely to claim benefits than UK citizens.

Nevertheless, constant media and political attention is expended on the immigration issue – with almost no time asking the question – why are people coming here?  Many migrants are economic migrants, and those who are not are political migrants – both are systemic, not personal issues.  To argue in favour of ‘closing the door’ on people fleeing the system our country is so pivotal in exporting around the globe, often by force – what kind of morality if this?  This is the national equivalent of first class guiding their lifeboats away from the steerage passengers after the sinking of the Titanic.  The problem is the sinking ship, not the poor bastards swimming for their lives.

This week, the government launched the ‘Go Home’ campaign, driving an ad van around predominantly poor, mixed ethnicity areas of London warning that illegal immigrants would be arrested, with a number to text with information.  The van is planned to go nationwide in coming months.  Some might ask – well how is this racist?  It’s racist because it contributes to the total lie that immigration is out of control, a big problem and a culture of fear and suspicion of people who look different to the majority – ‘any of them could be an illegal!’

In the same week, in the same areas, UK Border Agency officers wearing stab vests patrolled commuter hubs such as Kensal Rise, Stratford and Walthamstow stations stopping predominantly non-white travellers and asking them to produce credentials proving their right to be in the country.  Reports suggest these officers became aggressive when questioned as to what right they had to request this information, by those being stopped and by concerned passers-by.  This might well be because under UK law the police do not have the right to perform random ID checks such as this without direct cause for suspicion – they are not permitted to perform this kind of random stop and search using racial profiling techniques.  This is because a person in the UK should not be suspected of being an illegal immigrant because they look or sound ‘foreign’ to a police officer or anybody else.  If not, we open the door to the yellow stars and the pink and black triangles which singled out Jewish, gay and disabled people during the Third Reich.

Finally this week, the UK Home Office twitter account took to producing stats each day of how many ‘suspected’ illegal immigrants they had arrested under the hash tag #immigrationoffenders – even displaying pictures of people they had arrested (while still only ‘suspects’) for us all to gawk and point at.  The fact that people are still even asking ‘how is this racist’ tells you just how damaging this conversation about immigration has become.  The UK populace is being taught to fear the ‘illegal’ and the ‘immigrant’ as a drain on our resources, while the country is being feasted upon by privateers and profiteers.

Contempt for the Weak

To be clear, this is the neoliberal interpretation of weak – which means, cannot perform the primary role of a citizen under this system, go to a workplace, make money (mostly for someone else) and pay taxes.  One of the most absurd aspects of this current system is that there is so much work to be done, so many people who could contribute to that, and yet we are only permitted to earn a  living through ‘jobs’.  These jobs may not match our skills, or deliver the most critical work that needs doing, and the physical layout of the workplace, inflexible hours and penalisation of sickness absence actively freezes out both the maximum contribution possible by our human resources, and the most efficient use of those people to deliver maximum utility for their effort.  In short, we do the wrong things, in the wrong way, with half our team on the bench – then we blame the people left behind rather than the system.  This isn’t just an ideological problem, but a problem that destroys and ends lives.

The government has mandated that every single person claiming social security payments for sickness or disability undergo a work capability test with Atos, to determine whether they could really be working.  The clear implication being – these people could really be working. In fact, ministers have not merely implied it, but propagandised about it until many people believe it was benefit fraud, and not the Bank Bailout which caused our sky high debt.

Earlier this year, the UK Statistics Authority publicly condemned the DWP’s misleading use of figures, accusing them of making claims about the efficacy of their policies that were ‘unsupported.  In short, they are just making this stuff up.  The Guardian has also exposed repeated cases of the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, and Tory party Chairman Grant Shapps, misrepresenting data on benefit claims and the results of their policies.

The made up figures made it into press releases, which resulted in bogus articles in the Telegraph, The MailThe Sun, the Express and the ITV and BBC News (along with myriad local news outlets)– all of which parroted disinformation without bothering to verify it.

As a result, the lies repeated often enough became the truth and a climate of suspicion formed around those who find themselves reliant on the welfare system.

Despite all this posturing and bemoaning, the DWP’s own estimates put the cost of benefit fraud at just £1.2bn (or only 0.7% of claimants).  To put this in context, the DWP loses almost double that (£2.3bn) each year through administrative error.

The government’s own statistics show that between 2010 and 2011 10,600 sick and disabled people died within six weeks of their Atos assessment. This is 204 people a week, or 29 people a day. 2,200 of these people died before finding out if they were still entitled to their social security, and an astonishing 1,300 had been declared ‘Fit to Work’ by being placed in the Work Related Activity Group. These people spent their final weeks alive being harassed by the Job Centre, answering pointless questions, and fretting over late payment notices and threats of eviction as their social safety net was ripped away.

It was revealed this week that disabled people are now to face the 21st century version of the Workhouse, with the UK government requiring them to attend live in residential ‘training’ scheme, anywhere in the country they are required and to perform mandatory workfare placements while they are there.  If they refuse, they lose their social security.

If this state harassment of those who are failed by the system was not punishment enough, hate crime against disabled people rose 25% in 2012 – as the toxic narrative of the burdensome disabled poisoned the public well.

The Cult of Tradition and Rejection of Modernism

The cult of tradition is the premise that all that is knowable is already told and it is for us to accept this, than seek to define some new idea.  Whilst we might be embracers of the modern in terms of technological and scientific progress, when it comes to the matter of ideas for new means of organising ourselves socially, politically and economically – the cult of tradition and the rejection of modernism is enforced to shut down and stifle debate.  In a recent article, I charted the emergence of the idea that There Is No Alternative to neoliberal capitalism.  This idea was launched and embedded under Thatcher, but entirely embraced by New Labour (hence the ‘New’), the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.

The sneaky trick with this Cult of Tradition though is that it presents itself as Modernism.  It hijacks the language of progress – reform, modernise, develop – only apply if referring to neoliberalising an organisation, institution or economy.

Anyone suggesting that this might not be the most effective, efficient or ethical way or running things is treated not as a critical thinker, but a heretic.  This ideology is so entrenched that even people who consider themselves ‘apolitical’ seek to close down the debate with such rhetorical tricks as ‘well what do you want, Communism?! That worked well in Russia!’ or simply that talking politics is somehow dry, boring or oppressive.

Economist Professor Steve Keen writes on the ideological cleansing of Universities in the field of economics, such that students are only taught neoliberal theories, only academics endorsing the neoliberal view receive research grants or publication in major journals.

In Nazi Germany, you needed to be a member of the Nazi party to gain employment.  In the UK today, you need to be a card carrying neoliberal.  In most office based jobs, the narrative of neoliberal, privatisation, outsourcing, so called free market and profit is ‘the way we do things around here’.  There is not even a space in which to present an alternative view or narrative, within the system, hence one is placed outside of it to present challenge.

We are Sleepwalking into Fascism

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Wherever we look, with regressive changes to the legal system which make being annoying an arrestable offence, the scapegoating of immigrants, the sick, the elderly and the disabled, or the refusal to encourage and enable critical thinking and the development of a more equitable and sustainable alternative – neoliberalism has turned Fascist, and our neoliberal state has turned fascist with it.

We are just a few years behind Greece on the ‘austerity’ programme, and that nation is now rounding up ‘undesirables’ such as LGBT people, drug addicts, prostitutes and immigrants and the poor and transferring them to internment and labour camps.  If it can happen in the state that created western democracy, it can happen anywhere.

The time to wake up is right now, the time to reject the narratives of scapegoating, suspicion and envy is now.  The most revolutionary acts we can partake in today are to grow things, make things, mend things and care for each other.

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75 thoughts on “UK Sleepwalking into Fascism: Workhouses for Disabled, The #RacistVan, Racial Profiling

  1. Pingback: UK Sleepwalking into Fascism: Workhouses for Disabled, The #RacistVan, Racial Profiling | Scriptonite Daily « this 'n that

    • Without quibbling about brand labels we can still say that we are sleepwalking into a totalitarian state, and that it is the doing of powerful corporate interest with the blind acquiescence of a broad sector of the public.

  2. “The UK government’s attempt at broadening Internet censorship does not end with the “opt-in” button on a customer’s broadband account. Web site owners and bloggers who attempt to avoid the government’s filter will be confronted with one of two options—self-censorship or being blocked. Anyone trying to get around the filter will likely be identified, recorded and subjected to extensive network surveillance and online traffic analysis, and face the possibility of an array of allegations.

    The government’s firewall is set to block access by default to web censorship circumventing tools, such as proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs). It is highly likely that restricted access to the Tor software bundle, which is free software enabling greater anonymity and connects to the heavily encrypted Tor Network, will also be contained within the censorship filter.”

    “Together with the information made available by Edward Snowden, Cameron’s latest move is a clear indication of the British state’s advanced preparations to implement dictatorial rule.”

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/07/cens-a07.html

  3. Pingback: Fascism Fail | Left-Wing Tory

  4. Excellent article, its so difficult to find some of these core statistics on the web so thank you, it’ll help in my future arguments. Problem is, even if I’m to make such arguments I feel like I’m in the wrong based on everyone’s reaction to what I am saying. That “We can’t afford it” or “Not enough space or resources” and of course the ever classic, “Taking our benefits” (Despite the facts on the article stating otherwise).

    The problem now becomes, what the heck can be done to counter it? Try to raise a voice and you get silenced, raise a little bit of a voice and you get ignored for being too “Politically Correct” and by the gods do people want everyone in politics to be Jeremy Clarkson! Sending letters to MPs isn’t going to change their minds and those MPs that are actually trying to help are too few in number to counter it. It’s frustrating for me, having studied history and seeing a pattern repeat itself that could so easily be avoided but people have no interest in that, instead all they want is vengeance.

  5. the article is just as narrow minded as the faults it attempts to point out.

    Concerning disability benefits … it really is not unreasonable for the state to certify that people really are disabled and are not just stealing money. Your statement that merely asking people to prove that they are entitled to a benefit is accusing them of fraud is really not a tenable stand point.

    On stopping people and questioning them at railway stations … this is a tough one …BUT we really do have a serious housing and population problem in the UK (and an even worse budget deficit issue) and Britain really cannot operate an open door policy simply to be nice. The single underlying fact (even if it is unpalatable) is that it would be most unusual to find a ‘white’ person who was not entitled to be here given that the vast majority are from the EU/Australia/USA and Canada. And even if they were here illegally we can probably state with certainty the the UK has just as many of our citizens in those countries as they have here. Unfortunately this basically means that any immigration officer would probably be wasting his/her time stopping Caucasians. I am not defending it I am just stating the truth.

    Economically it is true that it is great to have a sub base of really low income illegal workers (people who cannot complain about the minimum wage, work conditions, benefits etc). But this strata really does undermine fair wages in the UK , having vast numbers of ill educated illegals only hurts one segment of society .. the working class. It has always seemed odd to me that the Tory government are against immigration (aside from their natural Little Englander, NIMBYism, Daily Mail) and the Socialist, in general, pro it. As cheap labour benefits business but harms the power of the working man.

    Concerning the spying on its citizens.. I do not know a single person who approves of this of whatever political persuasion. The only people who seem ok with it are the various governments of the day. And they always use the ‘security of the state’ as an argument. But with all such arguments you must look at the other side.
    The daily bombing atrocities in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan etc does leave you with a difficult question as to how safe do we want to be. Do we put up with ‘spying’ and accept that some of it will be directed at those who we might personally feel to be unsuitable. But I can bet that the writer of this document would be right up there saying that the authorities should spy on member of the BNP (who are in reality a pathetic bunch of neanderthals) but throw up his hands and cry foul if the state dared to spy on people who he happens to agree with.

    Extremism is often defined by your standpoint. The writer of this article frankly seemed to me to be more extreme than the ‘fascist’ state that he is complaining about.

    • Simon – we have – or rather, had – an NHS with doctors and consultants who contributed to a person’s medical file. What else DO you need? My daughter, who at 18, has a developmental age of 12 months, was invited to a ‘work focussed interview’. She has NO functional speech, and complex special needs. The DWP has a medical file a foot thick on her, detailing all of this.But it was not sufficient. She had to attend the interview. But she couldn’t. Her cognitive disabilities leave her afraid and potentially very aggressive in strange environments, and she could have harmed herself, her carers, or a member of the public. DWP did accept a fax from her GP to this effect, although they would not accept her NHS file as evidence of her profound disabilities. An ATOS doctor had to visit her at her care home. I cannot begin to imagine what this cost. How can this be justified?

      • Further – the level of fraud documented in government stats will cost far more to deal with than it actually costs. But – that’s the point. It garners huge profits to private companies. It is always the case that when public services are privatised a vested interest is created. This vested interest is almost invariably against the public interest, and it is funded by public money. Such waste.

    • “Unfortunately this basically means that any immigration officer would probably be wasting his/her time stopping Caucasians.”
      Utter nonsense. I live in one of London’s biggest boroughs, and a large proportion of ‘Caucasian’ residents here are foreign – mainly from eastern Europe. Indeed, I’d say most immigrants to the UK are ‘Caucasian’, and I think you’ll find that he vast bulk of ‘white’ immigrants to the UK are no longer the nice middle class, English-speaking Aussies and Canadian types you seem to want them to be.
      Also, most of my law-abiding, decent, community-minded neighbours are of Asian or Caribbean extraction, and the vast majority of them were born here.
      Get out more simon – sounds like you live in the 1950s.

    • In response to your comment about immigration harming the working class due to cheap labour- it is really only a problem under the current treatment of immigrants as socialist ideals would provide these immigrant workers with the rights needed to demand fair wages and therefore would contribute to a more equal system.

    • In response to your comment about immigration harming the working class due to cheap labour- it is really only a problem under the current treatment of immigrants as socialist ideals would provide these immigrant workers with the rights needed to demand fair wages and therefore would contribute to a more equal system where people are employed based on their merits.

    • Simon, have you not read any of the blogs here & elsewhere before weighing in? The new ATOS tests are NOT about substantiating disability or such, it is about changing the definition of who the Government is willing to give benefits to. The process IS NOT a medical, and is NOT about some need to ensure that disabled are not being “Held back” , or whatever soft focus you decide you are comfortable with.

      I can’t understand why you make these comments, here on this site, with the amazing journalism telling us what the mainstream don’t and won’t. If you found your way here, why don’t you read & reflect before posting?

  6. Pingback: Sunday 4th August, 2013 - Journeymouse

  7. I think you have written this blog post upside down. Not everybody will invoke Godwin’s Law and the large block of text about it is a barrier to the truly important and interesting information you then have underneath it.

    My brain started falling asleep before getting to the ‘meat’ of the post and I am worried other people who would otherwise enjoy/learn from the important point of your post might switch off before getting there, leaving you preaching only to the already converted.

    I wonder if you could put the Godwin’s Law stuff into a chunk at the bottom and then just have a ‘if you are about to invoke Godwin’s Law read this’ in parenthesis for those who want to go there and then get stuck into the cold hard realities right at the start?

  8. Pingback: Scriptonite Daily’s Round up of the Week’s News | Scriptonite Daily

  9. Pingback: Xenophobia | Vox Political

  10. A very interesting read. When the Tories and the LibDems got together and started enforcing their policies I could see the writing on the wall. The media appears to only print the propaganda. We hear nothing of the deaths and suicides only about how wonderful the hardworking are, whilst the sick, disabled and vulnerable are benefit cheats, leeches and nae’r-do wells. Many times I’ve also stated the weakest are being stigmatised and paraded in much the same way Hitler treated the Jews. If we don’t do something now, come the day any one of us falls into hard times or illness, we will find ourselves pushed into Government Ghettos away from public view. We will have the type of food, clothing, living essentials deemed appropriate by the Government. There will be no money, simply a card which will be credited with what we need. We may get rudimentary health care, our children a basic education and that will be it. Who knows, by the time we reach 70 we may even be culled as the Liverpool Care Pathway is upgraded to take into account the aged who, in failing health, have become a drain on society. I know it sounds far fetched and scaremongering, but we never thought what is happening today to our NHS, Police, Legal and Benefits services would become a reality. There will be a 3 tier society, the poor State reliant, the workers keeping the wheels in motion and the rich impervious to it all, immoral and injust. Bankers and some Politicians have got away with theft on a grand scale, but have escaped any real punishment for their actions. Yet ordinary folk daren’t voice an opinion without fear of arrest or incarceration. There’s something wrong going on and it can only get worse if we don’t act now. So, I have to agree, we are sleepwalking into something. I don’t know if it’s fascism, but it is something very unsettling………………

  11. Economic immigration should not even exist when there is mass unemployment, if anything economic emigration should be encouraged.

    7% of immigrants are asylum seekers? I think that is criminal. It should be a much higher percentage.

    Oh and moving services to charities whilst simultaneously slashing their funding is helping the people?

    I think you are playing into the hands of the divide and conquer to a degree, you are taking sides against the uneducated native working class, when it is the super rich who have manufactured the current situation who are the true enemy.

  12. The day after this was posted it was announced that there is to be an investigation into weather human rights were infringed and racial profiling used in the methods used by the immigration officers. I am wondering if within a fascist state there would be such an immediate call for justice and such checks and balances on the governments actions?

    I would be worried if there were no such influential outcry but its existence, I feel under ones your argument that we are ‘sleepwalking into a fascism’.

    • The fact that there are movements within the society to overcome the fascist behaviour would act as evidence of the existence of the fascist state. There were valiant efforts on pre war Nazi Germany, Italy & Russia of groups seeking to overcome the rise of fascism. We need to acknowledge what’s going on and kill it before it becomes all powerful, fascism is a sliding scale not a static situation.

      • this is how they will make everyone have to produce their credentials in the “interest of equality”, uk getsapo coming to a street near you

  13. I am guided that David Cameron is Goebbels reincarnated – hence all the propegenda. Also guided that Obama is Himmler reincarnated. They are leading both countrys to nazism and need to be stopped.

  14. Again, yet another five star article. I have nothing helpful to comment, except that I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis; that books like Origins of Totalitarianism (Hannah Arendt) forewarned of this fate to western democracies and a collusion between the inner core of power and the mob mentality on the ground level; that cliche-ridden and commodified speech has replaced thoughtful observations and that evil stems generally from people who don’t think about good and evil or right and wrong; that the only correctives to this thoroughly evil mainstream culture and so-called thanato-politics (death politics) is by raising awareness underground, talking to friends, relatives and outsiders, forming or joining groups of like-minds who agree that England is no longer a free country but instead a cynical, hate-fueled, nihilistic and narcissistic nightmare, orchestrated and puppeteered by a clique of sociopaths. I would like the option to become an ex-pat since the English have chosen the road to fascism, unfortunately other Western governments have chosen it also and are steadily catching up with the UK and the US. Our days are numbered; for all the manipulation and lies, however, I blame the British public for choosing not to think, for choosing to turn a blind eye and for choosing to be rabble rather than upright civilians and, above all, for placing its fate in the hand of sociopaths – politicians, journalists, academics, businessmen and so forth – without blinking an eye or batting an eye lid. Truly appaling.

    • I agree with you completely, bubromer. Wanted to add though that I can understand how people may not know which direction to turn in these confusing times. Ignorance is never an excuse, but without having time to sit down to work through the data yourself it’s difficult to know who to believe – thepress? The government? There is no one strong voice bringing this to the fore..

      • A very true point, Ella. Thinking for oneself is energy and time consuming, two resources which are drained by the workaday lifestyle and the whole barrage of (mis)information, differing opinions and knee-jerk hate comments. I think this phenomenon is not only very ancient – historically, only the privileged could afford to sit back and think things through and philosophers, however alternative, have always been elite members – but also points to the wider determinism at stake in contemporary society, by which I mean that personal room for manoeuvre is seriously limited by economic and societal constraints and that, if one truly wants to speak out against this or that, it is a case, unfortunately, of putting one’s freedom and life on the line, as is certainly the case in the US. A tentative answer, however, would be to learn to think critically, as Scriptonite points out, which requires a minimum of self-awareness and courage and is a thing that most people do anyway, whether aware of it or not, for example when they question the statements of politicians. Not everyone is weak minded and influencable, unfortunately for power-mongering politicians, which means that there is still hope and I would agree with J.R.R. Tolkien in his view that “where there is life, there is hope”, i.e. only until all life has been denatured or destroyed on earth will it truly be fair to lose all possible hope. We are still a long way from that, thank heavens, however over-determined the neoliberal stronghold on thought may appear at the moment.

  15. Thank you. And why does the DWP demand that you give them permission to remove money from your bank account if you want paying? That is unreasonable and frightening.

  16. Being accused of over-reacting or of not understanding the real nature of “fascism” via this Godwin’s Law quip is very annoying. It may be perfectly at home in a youtube comment thread, but not in a sincere discussion. We need a response that can quickly negate the accusation in an equally dismissive and annoying way, (other than f*** off). I propose we have our own rhetorical “law”.

    So Godwins law (from wikipedia):

    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

    I propose that anytime somebody decides to bring up that old chestnut to subversively undermine a valid critique about the trajectory of society we hit them with “Mendoza’s Law” which is:

    “As a denier of creeping fascism grows more desperate, the probability of citing Godwins Law approaches 1″

    Remember it!..Mendoza’s Law! :)

  17. You make some really good points here, and I appreciate the barrage of supporting links. I think that you may want to reconsider the bombastic style though.

    Unfortunately Godwin’s law is in effect in this article. While you’re correct that the way people attempt to ‘enforce’ the law is flawed, the problem is that as soon as you began citing Nazism it’s likely a big chunk of readers immediately dismissed any prospect of validity in the rest of the piece.

    It’s an issue of hyperbole – where over doing one’s point tends to weaken the effect of the underlying argument. There’s a lot of it in this sort of writing – people are angry and full of bile, so I understand how it happens, but an argument is more effective if you lead someone to your conclusion rather than pummel them with it. Your point isn’t any less valid for it, and I wouldn’t use it as an argument against you, but it does limit your reach.

  18. I was one of the ESA claiments kicked off by atos, nearly dropped dead of a heart attack 6 weeks later, good and quick intervention by the paramedics and first class NHS care, three stents later, I can now moan about it, never going to be the same again, always worked and only 13 years away from retirement too. had to go to appeal and then tribunal and spend 6 months on £71 a week, eventually got my money backdated and my benefit increased.
    I found it a deeply depressing time, over winter with greater fuel costs etc, but most of all, the feling that the DWP knew that my benefit should have been double what I was getting and yet went out of its way to prevent it from being paid.

    I have experienced the bitter taste of this governments policies, how many people have to suffer these outrages against us all before we have history repeat itself? Never, there can never be a large mass assemby against the government again, the miners strike would under todays laws would have resulted in concentration camp sized mass arrests and imprisonment, criminalising thousands of people. See what happens with the sentencing of the latest unfortunates with the Fracking protests. no mercy on public order offences, always increased to police assault, even for pushing back in a crowd in a cordon, spitting will get you custodial sentence, etc

    it may be wiser to only grant the drilling company and its backers a licience if they become personally liable for all events after it screws up. I mean really liable, down to the last stick furniture and tile on the floor. There is only limited liability as a company, a limited amount of cash should it go a bit deepwater horizon. no good to a post industrilised country now getting used to the green of countryside, Thats the way forward, screw up and get your assets siezed, You could bet George Osbourne pater in law would not risk the family pile if there was a shadow of total ruination for his association with the drilling company.
    we all know its going to go tits up so why do prison time? the thought of a group of people who had the desire to impliment this through parliment as a prudent measure to prevent the possible envionmental wasteland that once was our countryside. Look to the states and see the impact there. why was this allowed to happen over here? Bought an Paid for, the whole lot of us and we never knew we was for sale.

  19. As usual you have put this far more eloquently than my rants…..and you have given me information which will be useful in trying to convince others about the frightening moves this Government are making. The build up to focusing attention on immigrants has been obvious by small and disgusting comments over the past few months in the Daily Mail. One stated that in some cities immigrants far outnumbered British natives now. There was no info on what this statement was based on . Just like there was nothing to back up the small piece which said immigrant woman were having abortions when they were pregnant with females as they regarded male babies as more important. This kind of propaganda is alarming, but what is more difficult to understand and perhaps more sinister is the lack of public outrage to these hate mongering words and actions.This process of normalising discrimination ties in with the removal of strong and popular leaders who worked for the Commission of Racial Equality, and which no longer exists of course. The main reason that I wanted to leave a comment though is because a few weeks/months ago I read somewhere that on Camerons’ visit to India earlier this year he made an agreement for a number of Indian Nationals to come to Britain and work here for up to 12 years, they would not be allowed to stay beyond that. I remember thinking at the time that this would no doubt be part of a plan to fuel the flames of anti immigration and racism somehow before the next election.I didn’t note down where I read this and can’t find anything about it now. Do you know if this agreement was really made in India and/or anything about it?
    Thankyou for all the research you do and your articles, I should be solvent again in the next few weeks and so be in a position to contribute some cash.Meanwhile I will laeve the last words to Nye Bevan…………..
    “The tories every election must have a Bogeyman. If you haven’t got a programme, a Bogeyman will do.”

  20. Whilst there are a good many excellent articles on this and similar websites they now all seem to be seeking some sort of pseudo intellectual acceptance. Godwins Law is not a law. It is an academic view that if you talk about bad things enough the “Nazi’s” or “fascists” will be mentioned. Not rocket science. They were the most recent example of evil in the world. Pretty sure the Romans, Huns and Goths were probably regarded in much the same way during their time.

    Using pseudo intellectual language informs no one, confuses most and attempts to further an understanding of current politics that nobody needs.

    “Neoliberal”, “Fascist”, “Nazi”, “socialist” have no meaning to the vast majority.

    Straightforward calling a spade a spade is the new politics. “Scum” “Skiver” “Lazy” “Workshy” “spongers” “fraudsters” are used by our political leaders on a daily basis and readily accepted as gospel by the general public without recourse to pseudo intellectual explanations.

    Whilst it may be “intellectually improper” to sink to the level of the name callers it is in fact the only way a propaganda war can be won.

    Until we have headlines such as “Thieving MP’s fiddle expenses” “Corrupt politicians caught in bribery scam” or “MP’s lying about statistics” the war is lost.

    All we get is MP’s “misled people over statistics” or “unwittingly released wrong figures ” or mistakenly claimed too much in expenses” These kind of statements leave no impact on the public at large as they are small inoffensive statements.

    Mention MP’s expenses fiddles and the best reply you will get will be “Duckhouses or mortgage fraud”

    Mention the Philpotts and you will get “murdering lazy scumbag benefit cheats” no pseudo intellectual reasons for that, purely and simply our MP’s put the name and the words together. Propaganda at it most effective and memorable.

    • Your point is valid in general but not in relation to the above article. This article explains Godwin’s Law, and defines Fascism. It is a thoughtful article and intended to be. I don’t wish to just tell people things are bad, but help demystify some of these ‘intellectual’ phrases. I know that a 7 year old reads this blog regularly so it is certainly accessible. Some of my blogs are spent doing what you have outlines above, this one is not about that. We need to recapture the ability to think critically, and debate and discuss ideas. I am asking people who read the blog to take time to read and think about what they read, that’s what this blog is about. Part of the issue with our world is that we discourage critical thought, so to have a world where things work better and people generally are more compassionate, thoughtful and constructively critical about how things are done, we need to develop that kind of civil society. Otherwise we succeed more quickly in getting people riled up, but then they have nowhere to go as the symptoms of our sorry state would remain.

  21. Another brilliant article, thanks.
    You said you believed the UK displayed 8 of the 14 characteristics of a fascist state as outlined by Eco, and then discussed 3 of them in your article. I was wondering what you think the other 5 are. I have just read the 14, thanks to the link provided, so it would be interesting to see if we are on the same page.

    • Hey!
      I think we could probably make a loose case for most but slamdunks would be Newspeak, Permanent Warfare, Selective Populism, ostentatious wealth of enemies (but bastardised toward poor people milking benefits, whilst accepting real wealth & privilege of corporations) and milking Individual/Social Frustration.

  22. hmmm, sorry but this just isn’t true: “It was revealed this week that disabled people are now to face the 21st century version of the Workhouse, with the UK government requiring them to attend live in residential ‘training’ scheme, anywhere in the country they are required and to perform mandatory workfare placements while they are there. If they refuse, they lose their social security.”

    Nowhere in my post does it say this, quite the opposite in fact, hence the phrase wild speculation. At present these courses are not mandatory, the fact they may be put out to tender (they may also be scrapped) is of great concern as is any future direction or expansion of the scheme.

    Also fascism, which depends on a large, omnipotent state is not really compatible with neoliberalism, which depends on a small, administrative state. We are a million miles away from fascism, That doesn’t mean we’re not fucked, fascism is not the only tyranny, but in no way can what is taking place right now be compared to fascism which has a very distinct meaning and has only emerged twice in human history under very different social and political conditions to the ones we face now.

    • I disagree, on your definition and instance of fascism and your interpretation of neoliberalism. But it would be a dull world if we all agreed. I’ll unsource you though as appreciate that would be irritating to be misphrased! Keep fighting the good fight Johnny!

      • You may disagree, but no-one who knows what the words actually mean would I’m afraid. You can’t just say I don’t like this so it’s fascist, these terms have meanings.. There is nothing remotely corporatist (which doesn’t mean rule by corporations) about this government and it isn’t underpinned by a mass movement – they are the two key features of fascism and they don’t exist here. Honestly, not meaning to have a pop, but you need you read up on this because what you’re saying sounds a bit daft.

        • Still disagree. I’m using Eco’s definition of fascism, explaining it and where the links are and I’m happy with that. I’m in the midst of writing a much fuller account of this argument in a book which grants more space to devote to a fuller analysis. If I’d just said ‘fascism’ you’d have a point, but clearly that’s not what I did. I define the fascism I am talking about, the characteristics of it, and some ways in which I believe our current system exhibits those characteristics. You might disagree with that thesis, cool, but that’s not through my lack of reading on the subject but a divergence in our interpretations of neoliberalism and fascism. If you disagree with Eco’s definition of eternal fascism then we can debate that one til the cows come home.

          • The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people.- Benito Mussolini, Fascist

            When government– in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.- Milton Friedman, Neoliberal

            you see the problem?

            • You’re mistake is to use what Friedman and neoliberals SAY about neoliberalism and what they DO. Different, very different. Which is why it is more useful to look at the actual government collusion is neoliberalism which is anything BUT small state – it is authoritarian, ideological, academic, social – all consuming. Also you must examine global as well as local behaviours. Neoliberals backed the bailout – not small state. Friedman & the Chicago boys were beat chums with Pinochet. Your line on neoliberalism inadvertently lets them off the hook and propagates their mythology. They are not libertarians. I’d recommend reading Steve Keen’a Debunking Economics for an excellent critique of ideology and practise of neoliberalism.

              • I’m looking at what they are doing, privatisation, the erosion of workplace rights and the social wage, charity replacing social security, all small state policies and the main thrust of this government’s programme.

                Almost all neo-liberals and right wing libertarians believe in a strong state when it comes to law and order, by which they mean defence of property rights and strong national defences, Thats why they had no problem with Pinochet.

                • Not quite. They transfer the assets of state (taxes & other resources) to the service of the private sector – but it doesn’t shrink. For example, spending as a %GDP now higher than under labour. Education policy eg. free Schools/academies centralises decision making away from LAs and into Westminster & the DoE. The state becomes increasingly authoritarian in order to enforce the detrimental policies that no right minded democratic civil society would permit – and while they do so and are still vulnerable to electoral overthrow, they use propaganda to pit the masses against the “undesirables”.

                  • Yes! So pissed off with they myth that the “right” are actually all about small government. In the US they cry “small government” yet want to control people’s (mostly womens’) bodies and deny them marriage rights, take their bargaining rights away, drop drones, use our taxes to pay private corporations’ profits instead of public servants wages, spy on every citizen and jail those who even dare to protest about it. As much as they may want to call this “small government”, “rugged individualism”, “capitalism” “free market” or “freedom” it is anything but. It’s the same story in the UK as the US. It’s amazing what authoritarian, totalitarian evil is being done in the name of “freedom” and “small government”.

                    • Thanks James :) Drives me mad too. So blatantly not shrinking the state, but expanding it and removing the representative nature of it. It’s fascist.

                  • “Neoliberal”, “Fascist”, “Nazi”, “socialist” have no meaning to the vast majority. I am familiar with each, and increasingly politicised. This article was helpful and your debate too…

                    • Thanks for your comment Simon, really glad you got something from the piece. I agree that (and this is partly to do with the cult of tradition section above) most do not know what these words mean. That’s why I think it’s really useful to set out what we mean by those words before we use them.

  23. It’s the Tory way turn one section of society against another,divide and conquer.They started this in the 80s with Thatchers Union laws and dividing the miners steelworkers etc,and have continued it now.One of them must have a blueprint for dictatorship somewhere where President CaMoron rules the country and the Queen’s just a mouthpiece for the republic.Seems to be getting that way.

  24. The economists in the Conservative, Lib Dem, and Labour Party all studied at the same institution. One reason there are no new ideas or alternatives from them.

  25. Pingback: Facism rising in the UK | musings from outside the asylum

  26. We all know that immigration is a huge problem in the the UK and has to be stopped or halted for many, many years to come. We have no room left for anymore immigrants, no work, no anything! We also know that there is a huge problem with illegal immigrants as well. How are we to stop it? I don’t know but at least something is happening instead of just being left to fester. I believe that customs officers should be able to stop anyone, not just those who have colour in them.
    A really good way is to issue identity cards, I see absolutely no problem with everyone having them and keeping them on their person, so that in the event of accidents or being stopped to see your identity at any time (but particularly night times), can be seen by the police or customs officers.
    I have nothing to hide, and I am pretty sure that millions of others haven’t either, so identity cards are the way to go.
    As for trying to bring down the immigration numbers I am at a loss as in a few months time Romanians and Bulgarians can just come over to live here! We need the borders closed for at least 5 years!

    • I would say that the original article completely misapplies or misunderstands Godwin’s Law, which has nothing to do with the way in which someone will glibly describe any restriction or rula as ‘fascist’ (and as an old anarch from the 70s, I’m very familiar with its overuse). Godwin’s law is a jokey observation of the way that almost any long discussion on a forum will eventually deteriorate, starting when someone compares something to Nazi Germany; it does not refer to a simple comparison made straight off.

      However, we need a name for the law that someone will, in any discussion of civil liberties, bring up the old and totally invalid chestnut that ‘those who have nothing to hide having nothing to fear’. Even if you ignore the chance of someone coming to power with a very different idea of what you might want to hide (being Jewish, being gay, living with someone you aren’t married to ~ as one time Chief Constable Anderton actually said should be kept on the PNC, because unmarried couples were an undermining threat to society!), there are countless examples already of people being harrassed simply for taking an interest in certain subjects or political parties ~ my sister-out-law worked for the labour party and had her phone bugged in the 80s.

      The very act of charging people to collect and observe certain behaviours, opinions and lifestyles inculcates the systemised paranoia that leads to harassment and worse.

      That immigration actually ADDS to the UK economy in nett terms, and that illegal immigration is a small percentage of that (and a great boon to those wishing to avoid minimum wage laws ~ it’s said the US economy would collapse if bona fide citizens did all the work, dunno about ours), obviously needs repeating often to counter ‘the great lie’. It’s no use belittling people for swallowing it; to get them on side you need to be patient and maybe a bit Socratic (and open to their opinion in case you’re proved wrong ~ the winner in an argument is the one who is proved wrong, for they have gained knowledge the other already had).

      We shouldn’t need to compare things to Nazism or Falangism or Stalinism to argue that they are wrong. But these lessons from history do indeed show how insidiously nasty forces can take advantage of difficult times. A better cliché to refer to would be Santayana’s “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

  27. Also in this crap week we have Snowden telling us how much the US values GCHQ rent-a-spy services and a report outlining how the banks screw over smaller companies – if Godwin’s law gives a problem then take read of Jack London’s Iron Heel – Lets rename the House of Lords the House of Minor Oligarchs – Upper house to the House of Sell-out Scum.

  28. As a dual nationality, a long term disabled person, I was forced to leave the UK, my home of 36 years, and my beloved adult kids….back to the land of my birth…sadly it looks like Oz is going the same way as the UK. I am so glad you are in the world. Thank you for being my voice.

    http://Www.lindacairnes.com
    Mobile: 0434812140
    ‘Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.’

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