Fascism and the Weaponization of Words

Nigel Farage is a fascist. Tommy Robinson is a fascist. Donald Trump is a fascist. This term, among many others, has been shooting from lips like bullets from muskets in the front lines of an infantry. At first, such terms were supposed to fire at volleys, in regimented formation, at the command of the officers. In practice, however, as battle ensues, each soldier fires a musket at their own discretion. Which of course brings total confusion to the battlefield, soldiers being enveloped by the smoke of the discharged rounds, hindering accurate shooting. Fire at will!

Language suffers most of all in this melee because what we are left with is a smoky vagueness. Let me explain. This is the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of fascism:

“An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization”

Here’s dictionary.com’s definition:

“A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce etc, and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism”

Wikipedia:

“Fascism is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe”

There’s a great deal of debate in academia over what fascism really means, but the one thing that everyone agrees upon is that it involves authoritarianism. The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of authoritarianism:

“The enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom”

The prerequisite to qualify for this description is to either be in power or to advocate for it in a way that will subdue personal freedom.

How can Nigel Farage be a fascist when he is a leader of a minor political party, and is unlikely to be in power for at least several cycles given the fabric of the British political system? How can he be a fascist when his political position over many years has essentially been at odds with a political power which has refused to acknowledge the will of the majority of the British people?

Tommy Robinson has no power and is in fact the subject of power, Big Tech removing him from their platforms under increasingly draconian hate speech laws, which are effectively suppressing the freedom of speech under the guise of “tolerance”. He has also recently served a custodial sentence, being found guilty of contempt of court by the British justice system for exposing decades long child rape gangs, something covered up by other branches of the British justice system, for which he already served 10 weeks in jail.

As for Donald Trump, he does have the power to qualify for the term, but unlike Big Tech, he is not enforcing strict etiquette in the modern marketplace of ideas, nor monopolizes it.

These huge companies have power and they’re exhibiting striking signs of authoritarianism by curtailing personal freedom through censorship. As is the British justice system, which is swiftly prosecuting someone who has exposed endemic corruption within the system, rather than swiftly prosecuting those who were preying on children. These profiles are more befitting of the term “fascist”.

The entire political discourse is awash with insults and accusations. A fog bank of pejoratives sweeps in, blurring meaning and covering up understanding. If those engaged in political debate are using words so flippantly and without context how can anyone comprehend the debate itself?

Indeed, many political words have been so abused by dishonest and slovenly use that they’ve lost their original meaning. Terms like ‘fascism’, ‘far-right’, ‘racism’, ‘nationalism’, have become so broad and vague that they can hardly be distinguished from one another, like the polished stones on a riverbed which have been eroded by time and the torrent of water. As far as I can tell, in terms of use, they all now essentially mean the same thing: “something deeply unpleasant”. But, clearly, it’s those who are quick to use inflammatory labels who are the most unpleasant.

It’s axiomatic that in an intellectual tussle the first person who throws stones always loses. Not that those who try to control the lexicon are interested in winning debates. Their interest lies in suppressing them.

In Defence of Democracy

I expect many people won’t agree with what follows. But there seems little point in writing if the only objective is to imitate those around us, as if we were shadows on walls aping others’ movements. So much harm can come from this shadow dance. Not so much from what is said, but what is left unsaid. Because if we merely repeat what we consider to be the popular response, we will become a people who will be silent about many things.

It seems strange that I should have to qualify my support for the practice of rule by majority verdict. That it wouldn’t be the popular thing. Except it is. Our view of popularity is warped by the losers being much louder than the winners. By them thinking that they know better. But unless we respect other people’s opinions, we disavow our own, because in a democratic system neither can survive without respect, and they of course have no future without survival.

In recent times bashing democracy has become a popular pastime. Not a day goes by without the majority’s judgement being questioned, and without their choice being attacked. Many do so by invoking the spirit of the high ideals western civilisation has been built upon, including democracy itself. But in affirming democracy, it appears as if millions of people are actually rejecting democracy, without knowing the difference.

Democracy can’t succeed unless the losers concede defeat. What we have seen from some quarters is an increasing unwillingness to do so. A multitude of excuses have rained down on proceedings like a monsoon.

We have had personal scandals, Russian conspiracies, Ukrainian conspiracies, character assassinations, violence on the streets, rent-a-mob protests. And much else besides. We are led to believe that all of it is justified; that the establishment’s lamp is shining a light on corruption. But it’s as if the devil himself is lighting the lamp only to make everything appear as it is not. Because on both sides of the Atlantic nothing has come from these attempts other than an ongoing obstruction of government. In the US the failure to bring an administration down has certainly not been through a lack of will. In the UK efforts have been every bit as desperate, if only more civil.

In both countries what can only be described as the weaponisation of the legal system has been an unwelcome development. And for what? Either the winners’ heinousness is somehow escaping eagle-eyed justice, or the losers are emptying their arsenal of bad faith. But I would tentatively suggest that if these frenetic efforts had as much substance as billed, they would have met with more success than just the vitiation of democratic will.

Many have welcomed these interventions. Their bias has afflicted them with a feverish misapprehension that the law is the last bastion of justice; that it is the guardian of public interest. But anybody with a trace of common sense must know that legal processes will probably work against democracy, but quite certainly in favour of an oligarchy. In a society where power goes with wealth and where wealth is in an extreme state of inequality, extending the powers of the law means something quite different from extending the powers of the public.

If those with material wealth or position can muzzle those they disagree with in an electoral system, the public become little more than chimpanzees at the ballot box. As it is the vote is reduced to scrawling an illiterate X in one of two boxes. But now it appears as if it’s effectively an X in one box. Because if we so much as dare to put an X elsewhere we are treated as primates who are not able to follow simple instructions. Not only are our wishes not respected, we’re insulted for having them.

This has a destabilizing effect. People don’t like to be treated as fools. They prefer their abasement to have the character of self-determination.

Put simply, we either have a democracy or we don’t. If we desire a system that is genuinely democratic, public choice must be the means as well as the end. Otherwise we live in a system quite different. One in which people are told to keep their minds on their work, pay their taxes and leave matters of the state to the state.

It requires tacit and explicit consent for a small class to rule over a much larger class. The democratic process is part of that consent. When you toy with it, you toy with the very basis of the social contract itself. A house with rotten foundations will eventually crumble, for we should always remember that there is a marriage that cannot be endured by anybody or anything: to be overworked and neglected.

Neither can a house at war with itself survive. Indeed, the constant barrage of negative, sensationalist media coverage has achieved little but impede governance and inflame tensions. Every stone thrown has disrespected the vote of hundreds of millions of people. And more troublingly, its long-term effect will be to threaten salubrious dialogue. I think it’s no coincidence that society has become more polarised since electoral results started to go against the established order.

As for those presently siding with an anti-democratic power smarting from electoral defeat, they may get what they prefer in the short-term, but in the long-term the surrendering of popular consent to the expertise of a ruling class is very dangerous. Because what happens when it is their democratic wish superseded by ‘expert’ edict? It’s surely foolish to think that it won’t be. To forgo your democratic say for favoured short-term results is akin to wanting to trade real beauty in exchange for its appearance, like gold for bronze. One principle is ageless, the other will only have its moment in the sun, before it’s lost to Time’s Caprice.

“The democratic tendency… leads men unceasingly to multiply the privileges of the state and to circumscribe the rights of private persons… often sacrificed without regret and almost always violated without remorse… men become less and less attached to private rights just when it is most necessary to retain and defend what little remains of them”


– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

If we want to retain our rights and freedoms, we must keep one eye open like a watch-dog and keep guard even when rested; we must remain ever attentive to the ruses of those who wish to subvert them; we must never grow complacent, always remembering how hard people worked for them and under what harsh conditions. Because a “[Citizens’] chief business… is to remain their own masters”.

The surest way of doing so is by the upkeep of a democratic system fit for purpose, by the people and for the people, with public servants accountable to the electorate they serve. The surest way of doing so is to not be a part of a process that constantly denigrates our fellow citizens, scolding them as if they were wayward children. We must at least consider that we sit in the same schoolroom as they do. I’m afraid that in such a world, if Truth and Honour are the objectives, it isn’t the children who receive gold stars who are the most enlightened.

In fact, if we are unable to assert ourselves by making meaningful democratic decisions, we may as well be tots in a nursery. In other words, if we lose the responsibility for these rudimentary functions and forms of freedom, we lose not only our citizenship, but our adulthood. You only have to take one look at the television and cinema listings to discover that we are championing this infantilization in more ways than one.

There’s not a huge number of positives to take from this infernal mess in the play pit, but at least the people paying attention should realise that the liberal establishment holds them in utter contempt. All people. Because wherever your loyalties lie, the attempt to cancel a vote is the attempt to cancel every single vote cast; an attempt to constantly hinder an administration, not through debate, but by slinging mud, is itself an attack on every single person. Because democracy isn’t simply the public’s opportunity to ratify what has already been agreed; nor to be induced, through the art of manipulation, into accepting it. For democracy to have any real meaning it is surely that the masses can go against the wishes of a governing class, and for their wishes to be respected.