Whilst reading for the purpose of a future blog I came across something that struck a cord. Fascism is a word that gets bandied about by both sides of the political divide without much thought with regards to its accuracy or suitability. It more often than not is used as an insult, normally when somebody’s opinions or actions meet resistance. I stumbled upon a set of criteria offered by Robert Paxton, a political scientist and historian specialising in fascism. It’s comprehensive yet simple, and point by point the parallels with a notorious ‘human rights organisation’ dear to us all became clearer to see.
From Professor Robert Paxton’s 2004 book, `The Anatomy of Fascism.’
1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions;
2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits;
3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts;
4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint;
5. fear of foreign `contamination.’
Applied to my observations on the EDL:
1. The EDL see the Islamification of the UK as inevitable and the perception that they are the only ones who can see this happening fuels a desperate paranoia. This manifests itself occasionally through violence and vandalism, and an increasingly violent rhetoric.
2. There is an overwhelming feeling within the EDL that white, working class Britons are being treated as second class citizens while Muslims and immigrants receive beneficial treatment from the government and liberal elite. They also feel that the EDL suffer from harsh treatment from the authorities and bad press because of this.
3. Tommy Robinson has earned an almost cult like adoration from EDL members who see him as a freedom fighter willing to sacrifice his family’s security and safety, and his own liberty for the ’cause’. They believe he is the victim of continued persecution from the authorities despite constant law breaking, and subsequent breaching of various conditions placed on him.
4. The EDL are a nationalistic, nativist organisation. They claim to accept anyone on the condition that they assimilate and don’t impose alien cultures or values on their adopted home. They believe, as the ‘indigenous’ population, that they are naturally deserving and entitled, as evinced by their favoured chants ‘who’s streets, our streets’ and ‘we want our country back’.
5. The EDL see Islam as a threat being spread through creeping sharia and stealth jihad. They constantly refer to Islam as a cancer, plague, disease or poison and Muslims as vermin.
Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.
The EDL have an obsession with military imagery and terminology. They display an undignified sycophancy towards ‘our boys’, and an unhealthy need to mourn our ‘fallen heroes’ at any opportunity, hijacking processions and funerals and adopting numerous military charities. Anyone who doesn’t share their fervent pride in the armed forces is labelled as anti-British.
Off the top of my head we can add the suppression and censorship of internal dissent on social networking sites, the targeting of left wing groups and events (the Newcastle UAF meeting and recent anti-racism gig in Leeds) and the dissemination of dehumanising propaganda to the list. All classic tactics of fascist organisations.