(Caution – this post deals with today’s upheaval in US Politics. Normal service on this blog will be resumed when possible.)
Do people have to hit the bottom of the tank before they realise they are drowning?
Back in 1933, a few years after the Wall Street Crash, Hitler rose to power against a background of fascist sympathy that extended way beyond the boundaries of Germany. And for a while – until the horrors of the second world war finally woke the civilised world up to where it could lead, it was surprisingly popular. It seemed to offer solutions to the world’s problems that were simple, workable and emotionally appealing to those who felt dispossessed or powerless. Scapegoats are useful and fascism’s tenets and prejudices provided them in droves: the disabled, the sick, the weak, the black, the poor, the homosexual, the gypsy, the Jew. But Fascism never delivered on its promises – Germany’s experiment ended in many millions dead and a country split in half – the east ruled by Stalin’s Russia. I suppose in a country – any country – where these lessons are not taught, they will not be learned. Perhaps the right wing of the USA (and the UK, under its current leaders) thinks that because Fascism is a thing that happened somewhere else, and took one particular, militaristic form, it cannot be happening in 2016. Perhaps they really cannot see that although history does not repeat itself, as such – because circumstances are never identical – it does reflect. Now I have a serious interest in history. Sometimes I feel that I am much, much older than I seem to be. I remember – perhaps in the way that some tribal peoples do – things that happened a long, long time before I was born. And it is beyond astonishing to me that in a world where we are supposedly so much better informed than ever, so much more connected, that other people do not recognise the death spiral we are now in, and – worse – seem to want to increase its spin. We have all been here before, and we must know the direction in which the spin is going.
And it is worse this time, though people don’t realise that, on the whole, either. The world has never been threatened by so much – climate change, nuclear war, overpopulation, mass extinction, to name but a few. A fall into a fascist death spiral, right here, right now, will – can only – make this already catastrophic situation worse. In four years, Trump and his so-called Republicans (I fear Republicans no longer) are likely to increase global carbon emissions on purpose, simply because they can and want to make more money for themselves out of the business. Trump has bleated about pulling out of Nato, destabilising eastern Europe; he’s tweeted about striking first with nuclear weapons.
God, I feel for the American people – for my intelligent, educated, liberal friends who are now quaking in their shoes and wondering what the hell is going to happen next. They will suffer immensely at home – women, gay people, Muslims, you name them, if he can’t use them, Trump will hurt them – and then he’ll hurt the people he can use, the people who did support him. Because that is what fascists do. It’s what Hitler did, it’s what Mugabe did, and Duterte is doing. But the rest of the world will suffer too – if not immediately, then later, when the effects have had time to sink in and the damage is done and irreparable. How many of my grandchildren died today because of this? How long do I even have, in a world becoming so terribly, terrifyingly filled with hate? How will I die? Will it be through lack of healthcare (in post-Brexit UK, how long does anybody really give the NHS?), homelessness, or hypothermia? Will I be murdered for being one of those outsiders that fascism loathes? The intellectual liberal, the environmentalist leftie, the transman not-quite-ex-dyke, the Jew. I am all of these and I thank God that I am not in America today, thank God that the rule of law in the UK still stands – *just* – against tyranny and demagoguery. But for how long? In this terrifying, warming world, where millions will soon be crossing the Med as parts of northern Africa and the middle east become uninhabitable, where hundreds of thousands are already fleeing terrorism and tyranny – both religious and secular – how long will the rule of law last? How long will it be until this modern form of fascism, which operates through business interests and manipulation of the electorate, moves to the next stage?
I don’t know and I have no answers. I’m just scribbling thoughts on FB for my echo-chamber to read, scribbling without even really thinking – because, God, this is not the time for analysis. It’s the time to mourn.
I’m so sorry, America. So, bloody, bloody, sorry.