This was written to be a short facebook status as a follow-on from an earlier blogpost – Lessons from Berlin//Be Vigilant – but ended up being a bit longer. It wasn’t planned or structured much, as blog posts usually are for me, more a stream-of-consciousness reaction. Hence the personal narrative where I go on about how I write blog posts, which is irrelevant. As it turned out being a bit longer, I thought I would put in on here to make saving and sharing easier.
Given some recent news things, this earlier blog post warrants another share: Lessons from Berlin//Be Vigilant.
I have follow-on posts ready to write, and would love to write a couple more today, but no time (because being a student and not being paid for it and so on). So instead, just a facebook status.
A year ago I, I had the idea for a blog post about how our country has become extremist, is edging towards fascism and even has totalitarian tendencies. There is ample evidence for this – though it had to be dug a bit deeper to find: the way the state is anti-protest; the claim of a monopoly on correctness, as seen in the label of “extremism” including “not thinking what we think”, including a lot of legitimate non-violent political protests; the racist anti-immigrant rhetoric.
And in general, the way that an ideology – not even based on actual value, and certainly not based on evidence – had been dominating, not challenged by the (morally) corrupt media that we have (see eg Media Lens or Off-Guardian for documenting this).
Anti-immigration has not been based on any sort of theory or evidence, it has never been explained why immigration is bad. It is just assumed. Austerity has never had an economic basis – and the economics is clearly against it, from economists and international institutions to figures that prove it to be false – borrowing and debt having increased more since 2010, and the myth about ‘labour overspending’ being nonsense. Neoliberalism – the dominant political-economic position that encompasses a smaller state and a trust in market forces – is similarly ideological, without sensible theory. Each of these ideologies is used without reason or rational discussion, without being adapted as would be proper to when they are proven to be wrong. Now, even the NHS, which had been untouched due to popular support, is being attacked for being ‘radical’ and for containing foreign people. There is no mention that perhaps immigration might even occasionally – not even generally! – be a good thing, even when it saves lives! Nor that the reasons the NHS is struggling is due to underfunding, not a public sector issue. Disabled people are left to die because of some absurd notion that leaving them to starve will encourage them to work, which is seen as the most important societal value.
So we see a government who are strongly against foreigners and strongly against human rights. Without reason – the human rights ones are all nonsense too. The follow-on from the ‘Lessons from Berlin//Be Vigilant’ post is: it is now abundantly clear that we have an extremist government, to use their own term against them. Far more dangerous than the danger we face from pro-democracy protestors. Far more dangerous even than any sort of ‘terrorism’ we currently face: our government wants to hack away democratic and liberal values and is far more capable of it than ISIS!
A couple more comments on the context.
One is that this is not a ‘post-Brexit’ thing. I wanted to write about this already, but again didn’t get the time for it. Brexit wasn’t the change, as such – it made it more obvious and emboldened people, but we have had racist governments for a long time. The conservatives have been taking an anti-immigration line – a racist one, because it is based not on any evidence or reason but by a blind ideology (against all of the claims that ‘it isn’t racist to be anti-immigration: the point is that it isn’t IF there is a justification; when their isn’t, it is racism.). Even the (new) labour party was somewhat anti-immigration, and from 2010 never did anything to stand up for foreigners (or Human Rights, for that matter). Ukip and other racist tendencies have been rising long before the Brexit vote – that’s part of how the vote happened! Brexit wasn’t the turning point, it didn’t start the fire, it’s been burning for awhile.
A second is that this is a political emergency. It is no longer a ‘worry about the future’. This is the time when it is crucial to rise up and make a fight back. We can’t trust our party-political system, we as people and citizens have to do something. Hate crimes are already happening in a huge amount. This is well beyond the ‘uh-oh, keep and eye out and be vigilant’, this is clearly in the ‘red alert, we need a serious resistance’. We’re sliding down the slope, not far from a free-fall where it will be even more difficult to stop.
Exactly what to do – I’m not sure. We’ve needed a massive change for awhile – it is clear our society is not working as it should or could, there are many better ways and improvements that can be made. And these changes don’t come via the established power structures – who are trapped somewhat in that. We need voting reform, for example, to have something that is properly democratic – but Parliament isn’t going to deliver that, when the only reason they have so many seats is due to voting control! To improve quality of life against labour-force exploitation, the powers of business aren’t going to go willingly. When the very planet we live on is being destroyed by our destructive tendencies, we can’t appeal to the better nature of all the different industries (and societies, including almost all of us) who are part of that – it must be changed. Almost all meaningful changes of this sort have come from popular action outside the system: abolishing slavery, welfare reform, union rights, voting reforms, independence of countries, and many more.
It isn’t a bright day. But there is hope. Change like this doesn’t come in small shifts; there are currents beneath the surface that shift, before a quake-like radical change follows. We don’t see these until they happen. The example in Poland today, where women united to fight against draconian anti-abortion laws and the government withdrew them, is an example. Another wonderful example – which shows the failure of a great many others – was how the Danish people, during German occupation in World War 2, united to protect jews from their Nazi occupiers. Other countries did not, and allowed the jews to be killed, but Denmark showed what could be possible.
But we MUST ACT.