This is a very pertinent question now that the far right are in power in this country. It was posed this morning by Owen Jones on the front page of the Journal in The Guardian.
This is a question that’s been plaguing me ever since I recognised from the big red bus and Farage’s alarmist poster, that our far right wing were using fascist propaganda and that their attitudes towards people they considered their inferiors is very decidedly fascist. Boris Johnson says young people have a ‘Nigerian interest in money.’ Single mothers raise ‘ill-reared, ignorant and aggressive kids’ and that working class people are ‘drunks, criminals and feckless.’ You couldn’t have the attitudes of a fascist put more clearly than that.
Owen Jones was kicked to the ground and punched by three right-wing hoodlums whilst he was out celebrating his birthday and last Friday one of them was in court three of East London’s Snaresbook crown court. His name is James Healy, he is 40 years old and his behaviour and attitudes were revealed with inescapable clarity in that court. His home was full of right-wing memorabilia, white power logos, Nazi death heads and an SS flag and at the end of the trial the judge ruled that she was satisfied that Healy holds particular beliefs that are normally associated with the extreme right wing and that his attack was driven by homophobia and antipathy to left-wing politics. He will be sentenced next month. But Owen Jones doubts whether sending him to prison will do him or society any good at all.
‘The Ministry of Justice’ Owen says, ‘boasts of multiple programmes that help de-radicalise prisoners’, but Chris Daw, QC an expert on crime and punishment has told Owen Jones ‘in broad terms, the whole of the prison system is a complete failure when it comes to de-radicalisation.’ And this is because prisoners spend most of their time with other prisoners, extreme right wing talking to extreme right wing, so that they emerge from prison at the end of their sentences more violently fascist (if such a thing were possible) than they were when they went in.
So how can those of us who oppose fascism make any headway against such a system? Especially now that the government is listing any left-wing pressure groups like Greenpeace, The Animal Liberation Front and Extinction Rebellion, as dangerous subversives who should be dealt with by the police.
Opposition to fascism goes back a long way, Oswald Moseley’s black-shirt fascists were opposed by counter demonstrations by people in the left wing back in the thirties. Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement was active in the States during the sixties, his great speech ‘I have a dream’ was in 1963. But the most noticeable thing about that movement was that the members were out in the streets peaceably showing their numbers and their extraordinary self control. Mahatma Gandhi’s followers were equally numerous, equally determined and equally peaceable. These men and women have given us a blueprint for how to behave now.
Can we follow it I wonder? It’s going to be a hell of a job.
Perhaps it might be an idea to suggest that the various protest groups that already exist in this country, should support each other in every possible way. We are on the same side and we must speak whilst we’re still allowed a voice. We share Luther King’s dream. If we march, we are marching to show that all human beings are equal, that Johnson’s claims are wrong, young people DON’T all have a ‘Nigerian interest in money,’ single mothers DON’T raise ‘ill-reared, ignorant and aggressive kids’, working class people are NOT ‘drunks, criminals and feckless.’
As W.H. Auden said in September 1939 ‘we must love one another or die’.