An insight into the delusional ideology of the Tory Party

(Or: Why we can’t afford to let them win the next election)

The Tory Party has recently released its very own ‘vision for the future’. Although it makes for disturbing reading, it does offer an insight into the inner ideologies of the Tory Party, an organisation so keen to re-brand itself and gain some distance from its unofficial title of ‘The Nasty Party’. Entitled 2020 Vision: An Agenda For Transformation, the document is available to read here.

I won’t go into the whole document, although it does give interesting insights into the Tory’s agenda. So much of Cameron and Co.’s rhetoric is steeped in doublespeak so it’s interesting to see the veil lifted and see their, albeit terrifying and destructive, agenda that lays behind the lies. The whole document gives insight into their own vision of a Tory-led UK in 2020, but I wanted to quickly examine the small section found under the heading “The Innovation Economy”. It is here that an actual fictional narrative has been created describing the horrifying implications that could happen if the Tories remain in power:

It is the morning of the 7th May 2020. Over breakfast, Mr and Mrs Jones, happily married for 50 years with three children, are reflecting on the past and their hopes for the future. Reflecting on the difficult years of 2010-2015, they now know Britain is on the right track. Britain is topping the world economic tables for competitiveness and unemployment is low. The most striking development is that it seems the whole world wants to invest in the UK.

Mr and Mrs Jones have a large proportion of their savings in bonds. Not Government bonds—which are no longer issued—but in interest-bearing bonds from mutuals, cooperatives, social enterprises and private businesses. Their oldest child, John, is a successful ‘Life Science’ entrepreneur. He is hiring 20 top class science graduates and another 20 apprentices from the local technical college. He happily invests his profits in research and development. His business benefits enormously now that the Government only accepts electronic invoices. The UK online services industry has cornered the market for electronic invoicing standards. Electronic invoicing alone has added about 0.5 percent to GDP. Their daughter, Mary, is a successful maths teacher on the road to promotion. Her husband is an orderly at the local hospital trust. Nobody can remember if it is private or public; it is just a good hospital and they both hold a stake in its future. Their youngest, David, is a perpetual student and hightech entrepreneur. Like so many others, he is also registering his own IP with the Online Intellectual Property Office.

Mr and Mrs Jones seldom see politicians on TV. The only political stories appear to be about tax reductions, high-tech exports and the massive trade surplus. Britain is confident, dynamic and at ease with itself. The only criticism Mrs Jones has is that “the Conservative Government failed to raise the tax-free threshold to £25,000. It’s such a disincentive for lower earners.” However, Mr Jones reminds her of the days of “those awful tax credits, national insurance contributions and year-end tax returns.” Mrs Jones reflects on this, adding, “at least we know where we stand with a 20 percent flat tax.” “But,” Mr Jones says, “never trust a politician, I very much doubt they will get the flat rate down to 15 percent by 2025 as they promised.” “True,” adds Mrs Jones, “but we can’t expect too much, now that Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year.”

Fantasy? Not necessarily.

Whilst making for a rather unsettling read, it describes what the Tories aim to achieve. It also describes their ideal future for the UK. There is a really good breakdown of this part here, but I will give a quick explanation of the parts I found unsettling (in no particular order).

  1. Britain is topping the world economic tables for competitiveness and unemployment is low.

    Under the current Tory government unemployment is a key concern, despite the government assuring us that unemployment is falling. The reality is that the statistics that make up unemployment are convoluted, with many on workfare schemes, and still claiming JSA, being counted as “employed”. Government workfare schemes are actually taking paid job vacancies away from workers. High street names like HMV are going bust, leading to mass redundancies. Widespread public sector cuts mean even more unemployment. With all this in mind it is really hard to see how the Tories envision a future with Britain topping the economic tables and low unemployment figures under their leadership. Unless in 2020 they are still manipulating the unemployment statistics, of course… The skwalker1969 article describes it nicely:

    Silly, silly people who opposed the Tory wage-slashing, benefit-cutting, state-shrinking ways! Don’t we realise that we’re on the path to a Shining Future? 2.5 million unemployed people, an impending triple-dip recession, Foodbanks opening at the rate of 3 a week and rising rates of suicide – nothing more than a few eggs that needed to be broken to complete the Conservatives’ ‘omelette’.

  2. Government bonds are no longer offered

    I won’t profess to say I understand the whole government bonds aspect, but the blog I mentioned earlier, skwalker1969, has given a decent description of what it all means:

    “The idea that government bonds – which is how governments finance their spending – ‘are no longer issued’ is far more revealing than you might think at first reading.

    That the report thinks such bonds will no longer be necessary betrays the extent to which the Tories, in their secret ‘heart of hearts’, want to slash the state on which many people inevitably have to rely.

    Only in a country where virtually everything is provided by private companies, and paid for by direct charges on each individual ‘customer’, could a government even conceivably do away with government bonds. Either that, or we discover that we’re sitting on oil reserves that make those of Saudi Arabia look like a duck-pond.

    Without that unlikely event, a country that does not fund its spending through bonds is going to be one that has no place for the vulnerable, for those who through disability or circumstance are unable to pay their own way. Such people are too expensive, and too unprofitable for private providers if the government is not footing the bill.

    That this is how the Tories see the future speaks volumes about their plans and ethos – far more than their coded, public statements will ever admit to. Life sciences and electronic invoices Here we see what the Tories are pinning their hopes on.

    The economy is circling the drain because of policies that are either misguided or, more likely, deliberate; full-time jobs are disappearing while poorly-paid part-time jobs replace them if we’re lucky; decision after decision sucks cash – and therefore demand – out of the UK economy. And demand is everything, for economic recovery.”

  3. Nobody can remember if hospitals are private or public

    Perhaps one of the more relevant and eye-opening aspects of this Tory vision is this statement, though it might seem unsurprising to many. It is clear that the Tories want to sell off the NHS to private corporations, privatising the National Health Service that even Thatcher left alone. However, in their ideal future, the public can’t remember, and don’t seem to care, if hospitals are private or public; they’re just seen as “good hospitals”. The NHS will be privatised and sold off bit by bit, and in the Tory Party’s ideal (and delusional) vision of the future, nobody will care. Well, maybe they will care when the private corporations cut corners and place profit before quality, efficiency before patient care, inflated management bonuses before…

  4. Mr and Mrs Jones’ youngest son is a “perpetual student”.

    One of the more delusional aspects of their vision is the notion that the average couple, Mr and Mrs Jones, have a grandson who is a ‘perpetual student’. This is laughable considering this government tripled tuition fees. Enough said, really.

  5. Politicians are seldom seen on TV anymore

    This bit is rather scary, though I suppose the whole ‘vision’ itself is one big nightmare trip. So, in the crazy world of Tory-led 2020, politicians are “seldom seen on TV anymore”, and the only political stories that do appear are all about “tax reductions, high-tech exports and the massive trade surplus”. So in their vision of the future, politicians rarely feature in the news. Clearly an uninformed and ignorant public is a Tory wet dream. With a government rarely featuring in the news, it would be free to get away with… well, anything it wanted. Such as privatising public services, for instance. Although maybe it’s not as sinister as all that. Maybe the Tories aren’t on TV much because they don’t actually do much in the future. In fact, it’s probably explained by the fact that:

  6. Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year

    I guess in the Tory world of 2020, corporations and business run everything, and Parliament is just there to occasionally  lower taxes for the wealthy elite. Maybe by 2020 Parliament is more like the Royals, where they’re just there as a tourist attraction and a hark back to the “old” days where elected governments actually ran the country. Maybe, despite the attacks on the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable, the public services, the council cuts (etc, etc.) – maybe despite all of that, Cameron’s “Big Society” was actually implemented and a lot of public organisations and local services are run by volunteers in the community, and everything else is controlled by multinational corporations that pay 0.5% corporation tax, or something. Ah, those crazy Tories…

    The funny thing is, even the Tories (in their crazy scenario) admit that they won’t be able to do much with only 16 weeks out of the year. Mr Jones is moaning that the flat tax rate of 20% (more on that in a second) isn’t the 15% that they promised (at least the Tories still envisage them breaking promises in 2020), to which Mrs Jones replies:

    True,” adds Mrs Jones, “but we can’t expect too much, now that Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year.”


  7. There is a 20% flat tax. For everyone.

    Another scary aspect of this ‘vision’ is the fact that taxes are lowered to the extent that there is a “flat tax” of 20% for everyone. That means that even the millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate of tax as the working classes. Actually it will probably be much like today, where they pay even less due to tax evasion/avoidance, etc. However, in the future, and even with a 20% flat tax rate for everyone, the Tories aren’t happy. This future government of 2020 wants a lower flat tax rate of 15% for everyone. It’s hard to see how further tax reductions will help support the government and the country, but then again by 2020 (under a Tory leadership) everything will be run by the private sector so there probably won’t be any sort of welfare system or “public” services to speak of by this point anyway. Maybe we won’t even need a welfare state, because by that point all the poor and disabled will have died out (so they hope?). Even schools will be fully privatised, run for-profit, by the time the Tories are done. The flat tax gained will just go towards paying the MPs salaries, I suppose.

There’s much more to dissect from that scenario, and the 2020 document as a whole, but I only wanted to do a quick run-down of the impressions I got from it. It’s clear that the authors behind the document are delusional, and potentially dangerous (!!). If this is representative of the Tory ideology and real vision for the future (and I cannot see anything to counter this), then it is clearly very worrying. If anything puts you off voting for them in the next election, let it be this. Unless you want a future government who only sits for 16 weeks a year, and lowers taxes for higher earners to the point where a welfare system and public service sector becomes impossible to maintain; a future where big business runs everything and the government doesn’t even feature on the news… It’s not that I love seeing politicians and government policies talked about on TV all the time, but surely they need to be in the public eye to be held accountable? Surely the public should be kept informed?

Damian Hinds, the Conservative MP who is one of the authors of the report, said that the ideas aimed to encourage social mobility, supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds who wanted to get on in life.

“The electorate gave our party half a chance in 2010,” said Mr Hinds. “This work is about showing what we could offer the country if voters give us a full opportunity to govern on our own in 2015.

See what I mean? Anyway, let me know what you think below.

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Disability hate crimes soar to ‘record levels’, doubling since 2008 financial crisis

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the number of disability hate crimes has soared since the 2008 financial crisis, leading to concerns that the “anti-scrounger” rhetoric employed by the Coalition is leading to hostility and aggression against the most vulnerable members of society.

The Independent reports that disability hate crime has doubled since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, yet yespite the rise, the number of people convicted for the crime actually fell last year. A total of 1,942 disability hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2011 while only 523 people were found guilty of a disability hate crime – down 5 per cent from 2010.

I remember when the rhetoric from both government and the media was very much anti immigration and immigrants and asylum seekers seemed to be blamed for most of the issues that Britain was facing. Now the focus and blame has shifted towards other vulnerable members of society – those on benefits and those with disabilities. “Benefit scroungers”, as well as the welfare state itself, are being blamed for much of the economic crisis and the deficit. This rhetoric has allowed the Coalition to effectively attack and slowly attempt to dismantle sections of the welfare state and the public sector, all the while blaming “scroungers” and the most vulnerable members of society.

“There are historical parallels,” says Katharine Quarmby, the author of Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People, who has grown alarmed by the levels of “benefit scrounger” abuse aimed at disabled people. “If you have a group that is blamed for economic downturn, terrible things can happen to them.”

“Iain Duncan Smith [the Work and Pensions Secretary] is saying ‘We’re going to push through these benefit reforms’ and hinting strongly that lots of people on disability benefits are scroungers,” Quarmby says. “That kind of rhetoric leads to disability hate crime on the streets.”

  • Last year the Glasgow Media Trust found the public believed between 50 and 70 per cent of those on disability benefits were fraudulent. The actual number is likely to be between 1 and 2 per cent.
  • The same report found that there has been a tripling in the use of words such as “scrounger”, “cheat” and “skiver” in tabloid stories on disability in the past five years.
Charities are expressing concern at the rise in these reported incidents. Guy Parckar, head of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “The impact of hate crime simply cannot be overestimated, and these figures suggest that police authorities and local and central government must all look again at what they are doing to tackle disability hate crime.”

David “we’re all in this together” Cameron has missed an opportunity to win public support over RBS bonuses

 

 

You don’t hear the once frequently-touted line “we’re all in this together” much anymore. Vote for “change” was another phrase repeated by the Conservatives who promised to bring equality, justice and, above all, trust back into a government that had seemed to forget that it was elected by the people and for the people. Cringeworthy as it sounds coming from a Tory politician, the phrases were obviously perceived by many to be legitimate as they rushed to the polls to vote Conservative, forgetting for a moment that the very nature of the word “conservative” contrasts strongly with the word “change”.

 

Perhaps Cameron doesn’t dare spout the line “we’re all in this together” these days because he knows he’ll be laughed out of government, or perhaps he innately knows that now he’s in power, heartwarming phrases that don’t actually mean anything are no longer needed to garner votes. Still, there’s no doubting that the simple phrase was powerful coming after years of a Labour government that seemed unaccountable to the public. A party that had lost the trust in the people, prompting the Conservative party, of all parties, to act as if they were going to bring trust and accountability back into government.

 

Despite never really believing Cameron’s rhetoric of “we’re all in this together”, I was still stunned to find that Cameron didn’t act on that phrase and step in to ensure that Stephen Hester, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive, was blocked of his nearly £1m bonus. Cameron has also been stating for months now that he would be “tough” on executive pay, especially in light of growing public anger.

 

I was stunned because I believe Cameron missed a trick here. Actually living up to one’s rhetoric is, surprisingly, admired in a politician, and had Cameron followed through with his sentiments I believe he would have won back a lot of public support in both his leadership and the coalition itself. Here Cameron was offered a golden opportunity, yet he let his Tory sentiments get the better of him.

 

It also awarded Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, a chance to strike back at Cameron for failing to act on his rhetoric. Now, whilst I feel the Labour party has been a pretty rubbish opposition party (missing many chances to really strike back at the coalition and assert their own position and a counter deficit-reduction plan), this inaction on Cameron’s behalf was impossible for Miliband to ignore.

 

“It’s a disgraceful failure of leadership by the prime minister,” Miliband said, in a rare moment where he channeled the public’s anger. “He’s been promising, for months, action against excessive bonuses, executive pay – and now he’s nodded through a million-pound bonus.

 

“He’s also been lecturing shareholders about how they need to be more active in holding executives to account. He owns, through the British government, 83% of the Royal Bank of Scotland. He must now explain, not least to the British people, why he has allowed this to happen.”

 

You see, the RBS (now 83% owned by taxpayers) decided to award Stephen Hester a £963,000 bonus. Hester already earns a basic salary of £1.2m, and the move to award nearly £1m as a bonus has led to public outcry, and a missed opportunity by the coalition to actually act on behalf of the will of the electorate.

 

Even Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London, decried the decision, stating that RBS should be run “on public sector lines”. In an interview with the BBC, Johnson added: “The idea that this is not in the control of the government seems to me to be far-fetched. Stephen Hester is an able man, probably doing a difficult job, and his contract must have been drawn up, I guess, when he was appointed in 2008 under Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown.

 

“I do not know what they were thinking of when they drew it up that way, but it certainly seems to me to be right that the government should step in and sort it out. People will not understand how somebody can get a whacking great bonus like that when they are basically running a state-owned concern, and I am at a loss to justify it.”

 

David Cameron and Nick Clegg both pretended it was all the fault of the Labour government and, despite the fact that their government owns 83% of the bank, said there was nothing they could do.

 

Cameron said: “He was brought in to do this job, his contract was put into place by the last government – we are obviously constrained by that contract.”

 

Clegg also blamed everything on Labour and acted as if his hands were tied, stating: “The last government not only let the banks get away with blue murder – then they entered into contracts with them, which allowed them to continue to pay themselves large bonuses. Now whether you like it or not – and I don’t particularly like it – we are constrained by those contractual obligations.”

 

George Osborne also stated that he didn’t really care about any of this rubbish and doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. Speaking in Davos, the chancellor said: “I think it is difficult to justify levels of pay in the financial sector compared to other industries.”

 

The only problem with Clegg and Cameron’s rhetoric that it was all “Labour’s fault” and Hester’s bonus was “constrained” by a pre-existing contract is… well, it’s not exactly true.

 

Documents provided to The Independent revealed that their claims were misleading, if not entirely false. As the Independent reports:

 

“A copy of Mr Hester’s personal contract with RBS, updated in 2009 and seen by The Independent, reveals he has no contractual right to a bonus – and the Government could use its position as the bank’s largest shareholder to veto any remuneration it thought was excessive.

 

“In the section on bonuses, the contract states: “The executive [Mr Hester] may, at the discretion of the Remuneration Committee, be entitled to participate in any Bonus Scheme as approved by the Remuneration Committee, the terms of which may, at the sole discretion of the Remuneration Committee, require the Executive to defer a proportion of any bonus awarded to him.”

 

The Independent continues, stating that: “Sources at RBS confirmed that the Remuneration Committee’s recommendations had to be put to a full vote of shareholders at the annual general meeting, which the Government controls.”

 

Labour also denied such “contractual obligations” regarding the bonus were in place. Lord Myners, the Treasury minister responsible for the banks when Labour was in power, confirmed there was no contractual obligation for a guaranteed bonus in the contract.

 

So this is where I remain confused. Here was a golden opportunity for the coalition to utilise their power as shareholders and garner public support, though instead they used excuses which seem to be rather… fabricated.

 

 

 

 Meanwhile, RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton has given up a £1.4m bonus he was due later this year, the bank has announced. Whether this is out of a real moral obligation or due to controversy surrounding Hester’s bonus, we do not know, but I feel the act itself is honourable. A spokesman said: “Sir Philip Hampton will not receive the 5.17m shares he was awarded in 2009 when he joined RBS.”

 

 

 

The Guardian reports that Hampton is thought to have told the bank’s remuneration committee it would not be appropriate for him to take the shares to which he is entitled. He was given the scheme when he was appointed at the 83% state-owned bank as part of a three-year long-term incentive deal.

 

 

 

The chairman’s decision to waive his bonus is likely to put further pressure on Hester and the coalition. The government’s inaction is also allowing Miliband to have a voice, as Labour hopefully begins to find its purpose in opposition. In a statement on Saturday, Miliband encouraged the government to vote against the bonus at the RBS annual general meeting in April.

 

“Freezing the pay of a nurse or hospital porter while allowing a publicly owned bank to pay million-pound bonuses, is the last nail in the coffin of this prime minister’s claim that we’re all in it together,” he said.

 

“Having spent weeks boasting he would block bonuses, David Cameron refuses to even publicly explain why he has changed his mind.”

 

The Guardian has helpfully produced a set of data that puts Hester’s near-£1m bonus into perspective, stating examples of things that £963,000 could buy.

 

All in all, I am left baffled by this government’s inaction and Clegg’s growing inability to detach or distance himself from Cameron. The missed opportunity to garner real public support seems pointless to me, and only serves to reinforce my belief that in no way are we “all in this together”, and further supports my view that this government would rather make the poor pay for the mistakes of the rich. Being tough on banker’s bonuses, particularly banks that are 83% owned by the public, would send an important message. Instead, the banking sector is still being allowed to get away with “blue murder” in Clegg’s words, while the public is being made to pay for the mistakes of the few.

 

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Don’t disobey during Olympics. Everything is okay. Keep calm and carry on.

I am beginning to despise Nick Clegg. Originally I hailed him, voted for him, praised him. Then, I grudgingly came to accept his betrayals and thought that perhaps it was a good thing that there was a liberal influence in a Tory government. After that, I grew angry at Clegg once more, knowing that he was not the man I thought him to be. The man I intentionally voted for. Every now and then, he reminds me of why I have grown to dislike him, and why I am growing to despise him.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has said believed the public would be would be “gobsmacked” and “appalled” by calls for the public to engage in civil disobedience to defend public services during the Olympic Games.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite – Britain’s largest union – has called on workers to strike against the Government’s harsh spending cuts during the Olympic Games.

“If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that’s exactly one that we should be looking at,” Mr McCluskey told the Guardian. He also said members of the public should support the campaign by engaging in civil disobedience.

Nick Clegg seemed to believe that people would be “appalled” that workers are fighting against the spending cuts at such a glorious time in British history.

“I just think people will be gobsmacked, appalled, that someone thinks that at a time when we are finally hosting one of the greatest events in the world, he is calling for civil disobedience,” he told ITV Daybreak.

Clegg also called on the Labour party to “rein in” McClusky – Unite is Labour’s largest donor. But there is more to this than an element of opposition-bashing. Clegg generally believes, it seems, that the public would be against such action and has condemned workers and citizens fighting for their rights and beliefs.

Now, call me socialist or whatever term you wish to use, but I have always believed in the democratic right to protest, demonstrate and disobey against elected officials. The government does not get to pick and choose when and where this is acceptable, though they try. You used to be able to protest in Parliament Square, for instance. Used to being the key term here.

What better time or place for civil action then the Olympic Games? The main parties are right, the eyes of the world will be on us then, so why should we pretend everything is all rosy and peaceful? The coalition, rightly or wrongly, is tearing up public spending and pushing vulnerable people into despair. Are people who wish to fight against this to hold their tongue until a fortnight of sports is over with?

Downing Street condemned the calls and called them unpatriotic. UNPATRIOTIC? How is fighting for your beliefs, for others, and for national services unpatriotic? Fighting for your country and for your society means more than keeping silent when you are told to.

David Cameron’s spokesman said: “The Olympics are a great opportunity for this country to show everything that is great about the United Kingdom and advertise ourselves to the world. I think what he is proposing is deeply unacceptable and unpatriotic.”

In fact, I agree with McClusky’s statement:

“The attacks that are being launched on public sector workers at the moment are so deep and ideological that the idea the world should arrive in London and have these wonderful Olympic Games as though everything is nice and rosy in the garden is unthinkable. Our very way of life is being attacked.

“I believe the unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting. If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that’s exactly one that we should be looking at.”

He added: “Now nobody has made any decisions yet and, of course, it would be nice if we were able not to disrupt such a prestigious event as the Olympics.

“But by the same token, people have to understand that we are fighting for our heritage here. Our parents and our grandparents, having defeated fascism in Europe, came back determined to build a land fit for heroes. They gave us the welfare state, the National Health Service, universal education.

“All of that is being attacked. I, for one, am not prepared to stand by and have my children or grandchildren say to me, ‘What did you do when this was being taken away from us?’

“When you say what can we do, and the likes of the Olympics, I’m calling upon the general public to engage in civil disobedience.”

I’m sure you can find varying surveys of the public which portray different allegiances. I am sure there are those who support action, as well as those who condemn it and believe the Olympics should be about the sport, and not see any disruption. But you cannot support the idea of democracy and then limit or try and hide away people protesting, striking, or disobeying their elected officials and pretend everything is okay.

As Downing Street said: “The Olympics are a great opportunity for this country to show everything that is great about the United Kingdom and advertise ourselves to the world.”

– So why not show the world how great and democratic the UK is? How open to protest and free speech we are? Instead, the government wishes to lie and for two weeks pretend to the world that nothing is wrong, nothing to see here… If it was up to the government, the Occupy movement would be brushed under the carpet, strikes would be illegal and the world would be none the wiser. I do hope that disobedience happens during the Olympics, because it is undemocratic to set a time and a place for protesting or disobeying. It is unpatriotic to stifle those who wish to fight for their country.

I am gobsmacked and appalled at the rhetoric spewing out of this government of late.

14 Signs of Fascism (Laurence W. Britt)

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council Logo (Image via Wikipedia)

I saw a post on Latent Existence‘s blog which detailed a list of the “warning signs of fascism”, written by Laurence W. Britt in 2003 and published in Free Inquiry Magazine.

Analysing the regimes of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia, Britt extracted a list of 14 common threads that linked them all together. He wrote that “they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power,” each containing these 14 common characteristics. It is a quick, interesting read, and it is worth correlating such characteristics with Western democracies today, such as in the US or the UK, and noting if you find any characteristics below that you can relate to our democracies, surely far removed from the threads of fascism?

 

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. Supremacy of the military/avid militarism

Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism

Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media

Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security

Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected

Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment

Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections

Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections wit

h candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

You can read the full article here.

Apologies for the lapse….

Apologies for the lapse in posting.. I have been busy with Uni assignments, work placement, moving house, etc.. However, I shall hopefully return to regular posting soon. Thanks for those who regularly read this blog, and for newcomers who have just discovered it.

If you have anything to suggest, or news that you wish to share, you can email me at: louis.sidwell@gmail.com.

I’ve posted a track/speech by political-rap-artist Lowkey for you all to enjoy in the meantime.

As usual, comments and feedback is much appreciated. Thanks.