Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 19 Jun 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

UKIP and the bland face of domestic fascism

The fascist does not wear a brown uniform, boots and carry a sign that helpfully says ‘Deutschland Erwache.’ That was fascism that was particular to a certain place, a certain time and, the actions of a few, fringe idiot aside, is unlikely to be repeated. In Italy at the same time, the story was slightly different, in Spain it was different again and in Portugal, different again. Everywhere that had fascism or a fascist dictator experienced it slightly differently. And so it is with Britain in 2016.

An absence of men in uniforms and boots, waving flags with symbols on them does not mean that fascism is absent. It means that it largely wears plain clothes because it finds that, if you do that, you get less opposition and are treated seriously. I’m partly talking about the idiots from Britain First, with their matching fleeces, combat trousers and strange liking for calling themselves ‘brigade’ or ‘platoon,’ which makes it fairly overt, but I’m mainly talking about UKIP.

They do, at least, have the sense to avoid anything that looks like a uniform. Instead, they prefer a suit or, hilariously in the case of Farage, a yachting blazer that makes him look like a particularly hateful version of Alan Partridge, gold buttons and all. This means that they can say essentially fascist things and not be thought of as anything other than politicians with strident views, which is welcome to the sort of person who was smacked as a child and thinks it doesn’t do you any harm. Or thinks we need National Service.

Farage has said that he feels uncomfortable on the train when people speak in That Foreign. He wouldn’t like Romanians living next door. And he thinks violence will break out if people don’t vote for his shitty ideas. Of course, if you imagine that he feels uncomfortable when people talk Yiddish, wouldn’t want to live next door to a Jew and thinks that Jews will be harmed if people don’t vote for the NSDAP and their ‘corrective measures,’ it makes it fairly obvious, but just because he’s attacking foreigners, don’t think that his intent is any different.

Fascism is about finding an ‘other’ responsible for all of our problems and blaming them, endlessly, while enacting measures that make their lives impossible. To the Nazis, it was Jews, but also gay people, trades unionists, communists, gypsies and anyone else who was left of centre. They also believed in killing disabled people but, significantly, public outrage against that led to what was known as the ‘T4 Programme’ being stopped. UKIP’s targets, of course, are Muslims and anyone who isn’t British, but the rest of the list is the same.

And you don’t just need to focus on one target at a time. The Nazis passed the Nuremberg race laws while shipping cartloads of lefties like me off to the concentration camps, from which few ever returned. One of the phrases used at the time was ‘protective custody,’ as though the Nazis cared so deeply about their personal safety that they wanted to keep them away from people who would have killed them, so watch for variants of this being used.

The men who say these things, sit there, smoothly intoning hatred in their suits and posing as your friend or the bloke down the pub who likes a pint and has some interesting ideas about how the world works. And that’s how fascism works. They don’t look like reactionaries to you, because that wouldn’t help. Instead, it’s much more effective to look like a reasonable man who ‘those Muslims’ have pushed too far, someone who had his car broken into by someone who ‘was probably from Poland’ or doesn’t mind foreigners, because he holidays in Spain, but wants them to stay in their own country. Which is how it starts.

In pre-Nazi Germany, the street fighting was dismissed by the middle classes as excess that would soon be curbed once that nice Herr Hitler actually had what he wanted. A bit of rough stuff, sure, but wasn’t his goal a greater Germany and jobs for all, which everyone could get behind. And once the Nazis had been voted in, for the final time there was an election, the only people who felt their malice were people like the Jews, gypsies, gays, trades unionists, communists and so on. If you weren’t one of those, you’d be fine.Which was lucky, because most people weren’t and life was pretty much fine. And it’s here that Martin Niemoller’s words become chillingly prescient. In 1946, after fascism had brought Germany to ruins, he wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Niemoller is not a figure without problems of his own. An early supporter of Hitler who, in the past, articulated anti-semitic ideas, he came to recant them fairly thoroughly, presumably when he spent the years from 1937-45 in a concentration camp for the ‘crime’ of opposing Nazism. His lines, though, are not ambiguous. Fascist regimes tend to have a list of enemies who they work down, with differing emphasis. Most people are fine. People on the outside, however, are not.

I’m almost certainly one of UKIP’s enemies. I’m a socialist and support the trades union movement even though I’m not a member. Muslims are, to me, my brothers and sisters, and foreign people are just people who happen to have been born in a different country. And I’m also not patriotic. This is just a place I happen to have been born and it claims no greater hold over my affections than that. Were I able to choose citizenship, I may opt to be Swedish. That, at least, is an active choice. So I find myself ranged against the new regime.

I find that I’m already watching what I say in case some blowhard takes issue with me and decides to knock my head off in a pub car park, damage my car or burn down my house. And this is, of course, where it starts. People get afraid of speaking out and fall silent, which the violent and hateful people take as acquiescence or worse yet, agreement. The murder of Jo Cox, by one of UKIP’s fellow travellers, is just the beginning. Unless there is a decisive reaction on June 23rd to this hateful idiocy, this country is lost.

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