#FacistBritain has been trending on Twitter. But can we quantify whether the UK is descending into a modern, fascist state? Simply put: yes, we can.
Fascism’s “defining characteristics”: nationalism and disregard for human rights
Che Scott-Heron Newton tweeted how she believed fascism was “presenting in modern Britain”. She noted four areas. One was “Powerful and Continuing Nationalism”. In this instance, she gave the example of police protecting a Winston Churchill statue:
Defining characteristics of fascism and how it’s presenting in modern Britain:
1. Powerful & Continuing Nationalism pic.twitter.com/hOguf5Qzew
— Black Lives Matter (@HeronChe) March 16, 2021
Newton’s second example was:
Disregard for human rights: people are more likely to approve of longer incarcerations of prisoners, look the other way
She gave the example of the current furore of the so-called ‘Police Bill’. But the degradation of UK human rights has been ongoing for a long time. Back in 2016, the UN accused successive Tory-led governments of “grave” and “systematic” violations of sick and disabled people’s human rights. With the UK’s potential withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, things will only get worse.
The arts and crime
Heron’s third point was:
Disrespect towards intellectuals & the arts
Tory attempts to clamp-down on universities ‘cancelling‘ far-right bigots from speaking forms part of this. Or, as The Canary‘s Maryam Jameela put it, the Tories attempt to ” quash dissent”. Then, you have the Tories’ attacks on “lefty lawyers” doing human rights work. Meanwhile, in recent years, they’ve also cut public arts funding by 35%.
Finally, Heron said:
Obsession with crime & punishment
The recent Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (the ‘Police Bill’) is a case in point. As Liberty said, it includes:
dangerous measures including restrictions on protest, new stop and search powers, a “Prevent-style” duty on knife crime, and a move to criminalise trespass.
Also, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill allows intelligence services to break the law on UK soil.
Picking apart his remaining ten points, how does the UK look?
Scapegoats and sexism
Identification of enemies/scape-goats as a unifying cause.
From immigrants to Muslims via disabled people, the UK establishment has always had “enemies” and “scape-goats”. Now, we’re seeing left-wing activists, Black Lives Matter and the “woke” being the target.
Another point Britt said was:
The recent clamping-down on vigils and protests in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder is a chilling sign. Not that Tory misogyny is anything new. For example, just in the social security system you had the so-called ‘rape clause‘ and the benefit cap hitting lone mothers the hardest.
The mass media and national security
Britt also listed:
A controlled mass media.
The UK media is already controlled by a handful of right-wing billionaires. Now, with GB News, Rupert Murdoch’s News UK TV, former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre potentially heading-up the media regulator Ofcom, and a Tory donor being put in charge of the BBC – it’s going to get even more dystopian.
Obsession with national security.
The Tories’ upping the cap on the number of nuclear weapons the UK can have is one example. Its review looking at left-wing “extremism” is another. Amnesty called the Investigatory Powers Act (which allowed mass surveillance) “among the most draconian in the EU”.
The new religion and corporations
Another marker of Britt’s was:
Religion and ruling elite tied together.
Flip this into capitalism being the new religion – the mantra that guides how we all live our lives – and it fits with Britt’s description of fascism being marked by a ‘manufactured perception’ “that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion”. The Tories blocking of anti-capitalist teaching in schools sums this up.
A crucial point of Britt’s was also:
Power of corporations protected.
This has been ongoing for decades. But it has reached a crescendo in recent years. The Tories allow big companies to pay tiny amounts of tax. Also, the revolving door between big business and big government is constantly open. As the Week wrote last year:
Facebook has hired ten former UK government policy officials with insider knowledge of regulatory processes since the beginning of 2020, an investigation has found. …
The new claims about the so-called “revolving door” between politics and the private sector come just a week after J.P. Morgan announced that former chancellor Sajid Javid has been appointed as a senior advisor to the banking giant.
Suppressing labour and cronyism
Britt then moved on to:
Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
The Tories moves to restrict protest is a current example. And in 2015, The Tories put in place what the Guardian called the “biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years”. The gig economy helps this. And the consistently low minimum wage puts the power in the hands of the bosses.
Perhaps Britt’s most recognisable point was:
Rampant cronyism and corruption.
This is the Tories all over; not least during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. As Byline Times wrote on 16 March:
A company owned by a Conservative Party donor has surpassed £200 million worth of Government contracts during the Coronavirus pandemic
Finally, Britt noted:
The 2015 election was marred by allegations of Tory election fraud. So was the EU referendum. The establishment corporate press helped get Boris Johnson into power in 2019. But the Tories are taking their election rigging agenda further. Our First Past The Post voting system has consolidated their power. And now, they’ll be rolling it out to all English elections. As City A.M. reported, in London Assembly elections this:
would “wipe out” many smaller parties like the Liberal Democrats and The Green Party
So, is all this truly fascism? On paper, the signs are there. But there’s probably a better name for it. And that is “corporate fascism”.
As Johanna Drucker wrote for Riot Material on the US under then-president Donald Trump:
Fascism is defined as the alignment of power, nationalism, and authoritarian government. We are there. The power is capital linked to politics. Capital is not merely the currency of money, but a force with nearly animate capacity for agency. The nationalism is an inflammatory rhetoric that galvanizes affect from responses to actual conditions (the real erosion of social infrastructure) in combination with a fantasy of entitlement grounded in long-standing myths of American exceptionalism. And the authoritarianism is an increasingly evident fulfilment of the worst fears of the founding designers of Democracy, as its checks and balances are put aside in favor of the interests of corporate wealth and its beneficiaries as a grotesque populism feeds on lifestyle fantasies and delusional identification.
Corporate fascism is wanton, virulent, and unregulated. Wanton because it has no regard for consequences (psycho-socio-political pathology is without constraints). Virulent because the full force of inflamed populism is fuelled by self-justified rage and unbounded triumphalism. Unregulated because the capital is now amassed in extreme concentrations of wealth without any controls. Corporate because Citizens United created the legal foundation for corporations to act with the same rights, privileges, and protections accorded to individuals, thus sanctifying the role of disproportionate power within a mythic construct of corporate entities.
Johnson’s government is also using that MO. It’s no exaggeration to say that corporate fascism has been creeping into the UK for decades. And it now appears the situation is only going to get worse.
Featured image via 10 Downing Street – YouTube