Economic hardships in societies that are already built upon foundations of xenophobia, racism, sexism, and homophobia give rise to fascism. Genuine grievances lead people to hate but existing attitudes and media coverage of right-wing groups pushes populations towards fascism. There’s an obvious parallel with today’s rise in far right groups and the rise of far right groups after the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Liberal democracies today are allowing these fascist sentiments in Europe to fester and their indifference towards far right groups could see yet another dark era in European history.
Across Europe fascist and far right groups have been on the rise. The most prominent rise has been of Golden Dawn in Greece, where they have been busy murdering left-wing rappers, attacking ethnic minorities in the streets and hitting women on television. Elsewhere in Europe, the far right have been gathering support in the form of the National Front in France, a resurgence of Franco inspired fascism in Spain, the Progress Party in Norway, and the Swiss People’s Party in Switzerland. The UK hasn’t escaped this trend; the popularity of UKIP and the continuing relevancy of the EDL demonstrate that far right extremism is present in the UK.
You could draw a distinction between these groups; some would claim that Golden Dawn is dramatically more violent and extreme than the anti-immigrant parties like UKIP. Maybe so, but the racist and xenophobic sentiments are still there and give rise to the sort of conditions that produces a hostile environment for anyone who doesn’t fit the group’s idea of the national identity. Fascism barely disguised under libertarian anti-immigration rhetoric could very well see us sleep-goose stepping into an increasingly far right political landscape.
A country doesn’t just wake up fascist one day; it’s a process that can see a population become more and more hostile as it advances. Dehumanisation of those that don’t fit the national identity is part of that process and the vitriolic rhetoric of the right-wing press and the alarmingly high number of reported hate crimes (added to the many that go unreported) in the UK indicates that a process of dehumanisation has been taking place for quite some time.
This descent into fascism is going unchecked by the government and large sections of the media. Constantly allowing fascists and crypto-fascists onto TV only serves to legitimise the racist, homophobic, and sexist views of far right groups. Nigel Farage appears to be on Question Time more than he’s off it and the fact that the BBC keep giving this man and other UKIP members a soapbox is a major problem. This liberal obsession of free expression for everyone is being disproportionately applied to the far right. UKIP are given a disproportionate amount of media attention and even though it largely exhibits their racism, sexism, and homophobia they still remain popular. They should be cut out of public life like the cancerous growth that they are, but still we keep seeing UKIP members spitting venom on television screens and dragging us deeper into a political hell. Constantly allowing them on television adds weight to their views. In an ideal world fascists and crypto-fascists wouldn’t be given a platform at all and instead be marginalised and condemned for the monsters that they are. When far right groups talk about what they see as the “Islamification” of Europe or radical Islam they sound a lot like fascist groups in the past that have talked about the threat of the “eternal Jew”. This rhetoric should be shunned and pointed out for the racist nonsense that it is, not placed on a panel show and treated as a valid opinion.
Government policy can also exacerbate fascist sentiment in the population. The measures against future EU migrants that David Cameron declared are especially severe and the recent mobile racism units telling asylum seekers to go home are indications of a populist government looking to keep up with the political attitudes of voters.
Why is it then that a lot of nations, European nations especially, tend to shift to the right rather than the left? I think it’s for the reasons I’ve just described, of how media and government focus pushes electorates towards the right. Ultimately, vested interests within government and the media in places like the UK face more of a threat from the left than the right. After an economic crisis discontent from a population is inevitable and capitalist forces face a real threat from a population driven by radical politics. A socialist, communist or anarchist movement could remove power from capitalist elements in government and media, but with a population motivated by far right views and fascism it’s feasible that capitalist elements can maintain their power. I think it can be agreed that the Daily Mail wouldn’t look out of place in a fascist state. So groups like UKIP and the EDL are given media coverage and allowed to air their views to the electorate, all this while a few select leftists who don’t propose anything too radical and probably back voting for Labour are there as a blanket representative for the left. The right is made the more obvious path in times such as these and it bodes ill for the future.