I know it’s already the day of the EU referendum, and I meant to write this post earlier, but there’s a topic I really want to address because there are still people who believe that being anti-EU means being hateful, racist and xenophobic, and being in the EU by proxy means being in favor of friendship and tolerance. Naturally, you get people who decide that Nigel Farage is a fascist mainly for being both anti-EU (which is still conflated as being anti-European for some stupid reason) and talking about immigration in a way that isn’t “I love immigration!”. And recently, Farage is especially maligned for a recent “Breaking Point” poster he put out in support of the Leave campaign. Apparently it’s toxic and hateful, at least according to its critics, and I swear the Independent has even compared it to Nazi propaganda.
Clearly, the image is in reference to the massive influx of Muslim migrants coming into Europe, and the message is that the EU has handled the European migrant crisis with an exceptional level of incompetence. Honestly, to me the poster seems to be a low blow. Depicting hordes of Muslims coming into the country in such a dire way is ultimately sensationalist, and I’m not surprised that people were outraged by it. But it’s actually telling that when Farage launches a lousy poster for the Leave campaign, the media has a field day and everyone virtue signals about tolerance. Meanwhile, the Remain camp engages in flat out naked fear-mongering and rarely anyone in the media criticizes them for it. Where’s the outrage from the media about David Cameron’s warning that pensions would be cut if we leave the EU, which comes off nothing but a veiled threat. I would’ve thought criticism of David Cameron, of all people, was never in short supply – in fact, I recall not long ago when he was the among most loathed politicians in this country. But in the EU referendum, a lot of people are happy to take his side.
And really, the invoking of Godwin’s law for this poster is not that big a surprise. I have seen people spread around accusations that the Leave camp is fascist, and this poster would only further stoke the imaginations of idiots. But really, take a look at the Leave rallies, but I see no evidence of anything pertaining to fascism being espoused by the Leave camp. I see a fair share of talk about regaining control of the UK’s borders and curbing immigration, but what aspect of this is inherently fascist or xenophobic? Since when was it racist to criticize immigration? Since when was it xenophobic to discuss the effect that mass migration is likely to have on your community? Especially in the wake of the migrant crisis, when we are discovering the unintended consequences of a massive influx of people who have entered Europe and have clearly not mingled well with the culture they have become a part of. Seriously, Vote Leave and UKIP are probably only as fascist in the same sense that Donald Trump rallies generally are – which is pretty much not at all. Seriously, has anyone who has ever been to a Leave rally ever seen anything even remotely fascist? I doubt it. It all just stems from the usual bullshit regarding immigration.
And let’s actually talk about the nature of fascism. Generally, I see it, fascism refers to a political philosophy or ideology that is defined by the following characteristics:
- Rejection of individualism
- Rejection of civil liberty and liberal ideas
- Rejection of democracy or anything that could limit the power of the state
- Rigid social hierarchy, often based on the belief in a natural hierarchy
- Extreme and aggressive nationalism
- Aggressive emphasis on military power
- Intense authoritarianism
- Full-on totalitarianism (social and economic)
- Complete intolerance of dissent
- Centralized state control
- Political organization based on the will of a dictator
- Often legitimized via national/cultural identity, racial identity, or religious authority (such as in clerical fascism)
- Emphasizing the percieved superiority of a national, racial, or religious identity (usually the first two; the latter third is more true of clerical fascism)
- Emphasis on the greater good or the interests of the nation
It’s also worth noting that Benito Mussolini, the infamous fascist dictator of Italy during the 1930’s and 40’s, emphasized that fascism is an ideology under which there are neither individuals nor even groups outside the state, comfortable life is disdained, and the corporate state is endorsed – that is to say that state and corporation are one – in opposite to liberal economic ideas such as the free market.
That is what fascism is. That is what the anti-Leave people sometimes accuse the Leave supporters of endorsing, at least rhetorically. It’s also an accusation that you can find lobbied at the right wing generally by people on the left. Needless to say, Leave is not a fascist campaign. At worst, Leave only has some actors within who are nationalistic, but I don’t think they are universally supported. And I have no reason to believe that Farage embodies the fascist ideology in any meaningful way whatsoever. Not to mention, the only thing I’ve heard about him supposedly being racist is some banal criticism of last year’s UKIP manifesto lacking diversity and his apparently unwillingness to condemn party members who have made racist statements (which, as bad as that is, still lends itself to guilt by association nonsense). The only political party I remember in this country that was anything close to fascism is the BNP, which in general is more of a far-right nationalist than a full-tilted fascist party to my knowledge, and I haven’t heard about them since the last general election.
So in other words, the people who accuse Vote Leave and UKIP of fascism really need to do their homework on the subject of fascism before accusing their political opponents. Or they can choose not to, cover their eyes and ears and resume being idiots and see how that goes.