I really, really, really can’t put anything more starkly or certainly than the title. The entire liberal democratic order which we have been part of for so long has been totally upended by a cancer of resurgent fascism. If Brexit was a symptom of this cancer then Trump is a metastasis to the brain and lungs, and a sign that this cancer is both aggressive and terminal.
The battle is lost because anyone with any power or influence who could conceivably have fought against this turn of events has been enabling it and allowing it to grow, and the will to actively fight it in the way it needs to be fought is not there. It is precisely the fault of the same sort of chattering “moderates” or “independents” or “centrists” who, with Brexit, decided that what was directed by media owners, Conservative MPs and the blatant fucking fraud that is Nigel Farage, a commodities trader and then career politician fashioned into a working class hero anti-politician by nothing more than skilful marketing and ignorance, was actually a revolution of the put-upon and neglected white working class. It is the fault of the same people who decided that the response to xenophobia was to reward it with “understanding” and attention rather than principle. Inasmuch as the white working class did vote for Brexit and Trump for economic reasons, they were played; encouraged to vote against their own interest and ignore the actual cause of what has made their lives so thoroughly shitty (that being the progressive rollback of trades unionism and deliberate destruction of manufacturing starting in the Thatcher era). Brexit is not going to make the UK richer, and Trump is not going to make anyone’s life better or more comfortable except for the racist frog avatar people who have been emboldened and feel that the wind is blowing in their direction. They feel that way because they have been and it is.
There is a reason why the right way to deal with fascists, racists, homophobes and other such cunts is and was not to allow them a level playing field and compete in the “marketplace of ideas”, with the smug assumed knowledge that nice and noble liberal democratic ideals will beat them handily due to their moral correctness; the correct response is to deny them a platform to the greatest possible extent, because fascists do not give a fuck about your nice liberal democratic ideals of open debate, they do not give a fuck about the marketplace of ideas and they certainly don’t give any fucks at all about finding truth, sitting down around a table and finding compromise and a better way forward or any of this highfaluting Enlightenment bullshit that the dead white men that wrote the US constitution thought would lead to perfection. Being afforded a platform is what they want; it gets their foot in the door and gives them legitimacy so they can spout plausible sounding populist nonsense and stir up hatred; it gives them the grounds to say that their ideas as much an equal choice in the marketplace of ideas as anyone else’s. They explicitly do not care about the rights of free speech and assembly they demand and mourn every time their bigotry is censured except to the extent that they want the opportunity to spread more of it. They do not care about the truth or coherence or even basic consistency of what they are saying, because they explicitly reject your Enlightenment values of reasoned debate and discourse and wish to substitute their own of sheer brute force. Every single one of the “moderates” who argues that discourse is the solution here seems to forget that what ended Nazism as the despicable force in the world that it was was not reasoned factual debate, it was a solid asskicking by the UK, US and USSR followed by the government that replaced it completely expunging Germany of Nazism in all its forms – its language, its institutions, its symbols and the denial of its crimes against humanity being erased and banned except to the extent of leaving its beaten, rotting head on a pike as a warning to others.
But this time around we, as a people, didn’t learn a lesson and we didn’t no-platform anyone, we fought against no-platforming because we naively believed that the truth will out and we’ll soundly defeat these bastards with the sheer force of words and rhetoric, ignoring that their chief advantage is that they don’t give a shit about the rules of discourse and we do, leaving us restrained and them not. The Daily Mail, Fox News, Breitbart, The Sun, the more obscure derpy places like Townhall, WorldNetDaily and American Thinker all thrive and disseminate complete horseshit and hatred because they are not required to care about the truth of what they publish or broadcast, they don’t particularly wish to care about it and so they don’t, while The Guardian, the Independent, the Times (both New York and London) and even the Daily Telegraph see it as a noble duty to print the truth (as, rightly, should everyone). They fight by Queensberry Rules while the Sun and Breitbart grab the nearest chair and prepare to smash it over everyone’s heads.
Some may object to my characterisation of Farage and Trump as fascists, calling this hyperbole. These people can go fuck themselves as they are part of the problem. Trump and Farage both hold in common a contempt for liberal, pluralistic democratic institutions and checks and balances, exemplified by Farage’s outrage over Parliament being required to sanction our exit from the EU (and his attendant call for a march on the High Court so that it would “listen to the will of the people”) and Trump’s desire to “open up libel laws” so as to be able to sue media sources that dared to print nasty things about him, or even to print what he actually said – in direct contravention to the US’ own constitution, a document I honestly doubt Trump has the attention span to read, let alone comprehend. They both wilfully stirred up, at best, fear of if not hatred of an “other” – in both men’s cases, refugees from Syria, in Trump’s case also Mexicans and to a certain extent African-Americans and Jews. They both have an express desire to place the nation state, the only good nation state in their world view, above all else, and see fit to equate whatever ends they want as good for the country and all else as expressly bad and traitorous to it. They are fascists, by any reasonable definition, and their platform should have been denied, and it wasn’t.
Special mention here goes to the BBC, who more than any other organisation (even the proudly Ukip-loving Daily Express) legitimised Farage as part of our discourse. Every gap on a panel show he could fill, every political discussion programme he could find a slot on, every possible chance he could take to put his nasty frog-like face in front of an audience as if he was a serious contributor to the political process and the public conversation, rather than a nasty and unprincipled anarchic piece of work who wanted to tear the whole thing down and remake it in his own image, they gave him and he took. Even as he gave tentative endorsement for political violence in the event of immigration not being controlled to his liking, the BBC continued to almost uniquely coddle him and allow him a platform. That comment alone, as horrifying as it is revealing, should have been the point at which the nation’s media stopped giving him oxygen, but that was a few years after they started giving him a platform totally unmerited by either Ukip’s actual support or the quality of their arguments, and the damage had already been done. By comparison, Trump reached his state of sheer repellence about twelve seconds after his campaign started and as such he should have been treated as the horror clown he is rather than given the hours upon hours of media attention he did not in any way deserve. The final insult of this was thrice placing this buffoon, this awful exemplar of everything with diction as poor as his reasoning, on a stage opposite Hillary Clinton, an intelligent woman whose thirty year career of public service in positions of great responsibility had undeniably improved the lives of many through her efforts, whose accomplishments seemed to have been placed on a level pegging with thirty years of grift, sleaze and literal bankruptcy.
So what, we just no-platform now, stop this before it can get truly ugly? It’s too late. The cancer has taken root and spread, and it is now vandalising the property of minorities, grabbing women’s pussies on subways and intimidating everyone Trump cast shade over during his campaign. Moreover, the people who support this shit do not care to listen to your facts or your solutions, they are vengeful, spiteful people and are thoroughly convinced of their own popular support. Nobody believes themselves to be a villain, even someone shouting at a Mexican-looking person to go back home from their car, spray painting a swastika on a black church or groping a woman because they feel they can now gleefully do so. Social media also plays a part in this, both in the sense of allowing both “sides” to create echo chambers where they can further have their belief of moral rectitude reinforced and then of allowing one side to be thoroughly brigaded and trampled by another that, as above, does not care about your mores or your rights or your well being or your state of mind or anything else beyond that and will direct as many death threats and revenge porn pictures towards you as their bandwidth permits. (Thanks, by the way, Twitter – even Reddit, a site which has swallowed the “valuable discourse” bollocks whole, tired of their group of awful pricks and did something to try and wall them off from the rest of their site, no matter how ineffective; why can’t you?)
Here is the real talk, for the US. This is going to get worse before it gets better and it will be a very painful process both ways. The incoming Trump administration is not “draining the swamp”, it is draining itself of decent public servants like Barack Obama (a man who, frankly, is too good for the US and is probably now fully aware of that fact, or should be) and refilling the empty pit that remains with discredited, corrupt pieces of shit like Newt Gingrich, a man so free of scruples he let his mistress suck his dick in a car parked out in front of his house with his wife inside. It has already undertaken to make several truly idiotic decisions, such as ceasing all trade with China and Japan – a move that threatens to further destabilise the world economy, and is already sending the Japanese Yen into freefall. Trump does not see the point of NATO, an organisation which has quite effectively kept the peace and keeps imperialism – actual imperialism – at bay, further increasing the chance of war and lessening stability. He doesn’t believe climate change exists, a truly baffling position to take given that so many parts of the US are so susceptible to it. The US is heading for the sort of introspective autarky that North Korea has made such a blinding success of, simply because its leader is a mentally-stunted clown who transparently believes that everything – everything – is a zero-sum game, where any benefit another country, faction, race, sexuality or party may derive is a loss to his own. His most vocal supporters are white supremacists and the alt-right (but I repeat myself), and they are practically frolicking with their new-found freedom to be pieces of shit without fear of censure since law enforcement overwhelmingly supports Trump. If someone voted for Trump, they cannot claim they didn’t vote for this, because they did. Trump is a package deal, and that package includes all of the above.
What about the UK? We’re fucked too, as I previously wrote about. The government has taken the line that the referendum must be followed through on, and does not care about the consequences because it is politically advantageous for them. We are going to be leaving the EU without a cushion to land on, and we have practically no means of making a “success” of Brexit as our Prime Minister repeatedly says, possibly since at this point she is plainly being wilfully deluded in the interests of expediency. Our best hope would be if we were to become a nation somewhat like Japan, but frankly our population is not as educated as theirs, we do not have the manufacturing capacity to have anywhere near their level of self-sufficiency, our culture is nowhere close to theirs and we do not have anywhere near the level of unique skills or must-have products that they do (I don’t see anyone particularly pining for the return of the Austin Allegro while the Nissans we make on Japan’s behalf get bought up in their thousands, nor are Pye TVs particularly wanted in comparison to Panasonic.) We are witnessing the rise of an ugly nationalism and a contempt for the democratic institutions that we urgently need, and a sense that these can and should be ignored if they don’t go with what some assumed majority wants – to the extent that this is stoked by economic factors this can only get worse. There is no mandate for any of this that is in any way defensible, and yet the referendum is being treated as the unalloyed voice of the people while ignoring the almost 50% (probably more, at this point) of the country who wanted nothing like what is happening now. We are also in the position of left-wing positions being instinctively seen as childish, unrealistic or just plain stupid, whereas right-wing ones are seen as adult, realistic, sane and inevitable even when they lead to poor outcomes, largely because our media and political agenda is set by right-wingers and even our less right-wing sources are not at all impervious to their sway. There is an opposition in the country that does actually have some rather good solutions, however whatever the right-wing media has done to discredit them is equally matched by how thoroughly they have discredited themselves through infighting, incompetence on the part of its leadership and a complete failure to realise that if centrism and triangulation didn’t fix things before, it certainly won’t now as politics becomes more polarised and less amenable to such things.
To conclude this somewhat unfocused screed, I have thoroughly had it up to here with this notion that what I really need to do is understand this supposed white working class anger that has the potential to lead to so much destruction and horror and then try and go from there. No and fuck you – I shouldn’t, because every single mote of outrage I have seen from this white working class has not been at anything that could be seen as a realistic cause for their indisputably poor lot in life, and they have clearly not been voting for or endorsing anyone that could help them; the anger has been vented at minorities and scapegoats and long-standing democratic institutions which are meant to ensure that no, “the people” (or whichever group I am supposed to assume represent “the people”) can’t have whatever moronic whim passes through their heads and that there are some principles more important than holding an election or a referendum and having whichever side wins rule the people who didn’t like kings. Principles like rule of law, the sovereignty of Parliament, judicial review, or for that matter not having peoples’ windows bricked because they’re not the right colour or because they either like genitals that are the same as theirs, have or wish they had ones different from the ones they were born with or both. Furthermore, I personally resent the idea that ignorance is somehow superior to knowledge, that ignorance even deserves to be given the same amount of thought or consideration as knowledge or that an ability and desire to think about things past a reflexive surface level makes you somehow elitist or even traitorous, and I am disturbed by the ever-growing cancerous idea that it is.
But as I say, we are too late, and this is hopeless. This genie is now thoroughly out of the bottle, a bell has been rung that cannot be un-rung, and we are all going to have to simply respond, react to and resist it as best as we possibly can, since there is no way now of actually halting it, only perhaps slowing it down, and the institutions that are supposed to protect democracy, pluralism and anyone who dares to be different from the norm are being undermined and infected. I can only hope, deeply, that fewer people suffer this time fascism surges than did last time.