Where Have All These Fascists Come From?
Stuck in traffic the other day I was reminded of the lyric by Leonard Cohen: ‘Wasn’t it a long way down, wasn’t it a strange way down.’ The line came to me as I watched car after car crawl by on the other side of the central reserve. It seemed like almost every car contained a middle-aged white man in a business suit, every one overweight and bald or grey. This I realised, is the passive face of white supremacy, the banality of evil as Hannah Arendt so aptly put it.
How else can we account for Donald Trump, Brexit and all the other outbreaks of fascism across the western world? These people are not a minority as we are led to believe, we live among them and interact with them everyday. They are physically nondescript and most are not vocal in their beliefs, so it’s easy to miss the sheer number of them around us - that is until they get to the ballot box. At that point, pencil in hand, the hatred and xenophobia they carry around everyday is unleashed.
Hang on you might say, Trump and Brexit are only recent phenomena, if these bigots live among us then why have we not seen this before? Well consider that since the 80s the United Kingdom has had nearly 25 years of Tory government, the only exception being Tony Blair’s New Labour government which was a Tory party in Labour clothing. In the US four out of the six presidents in that time have been Republican.
So right wing sentiment has always been there but it seems now that all these grey men in cheap suits have been emboldened. Quite possibly it’s caused by the internet, acting as an echo chamber for alt-right beliefs. More likely is that the picture of diversity being beamed into their homes from the increasingly interconnected world doesn’t fit with their white-centric image of how things ought to be. They are scared and in their fear have driven world politics to the extreme.
Where it all ends I don’t know but next time you are in traffic have a look across that verge and see what we are dealing with.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.