The Corporate Road to Fascism in the UK
Most people associate Fascism with jackboots, secret police and concentration camps, but I would argue there is another more insidious and potentially far more damaging (in the long term) form of Fascism that we are seeing fast developing in the UK.
All Fascist states run and are dependent on the co-operation and willing participation of big business. But I would argue that instead of the traditional Fascist eugenic ideology of the past the driving force behind this new form or totalitarianism is the absolute Corporate State.
In his study: Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined fascist and found 14 defining characteristics common to each
I used this list to compare where we currently stand in UK:
1.\tPowerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
The flag may not have been flown everywhere in the run up to the EU referendum but politicians on the Leave side never missed an opportunity to wave it. And it would now seem all many politicians have to do is wave the flag to make people side with everything they say. From Boris Johnson’s ridiculous zip wire stunt to incorporating the union flag into a reworked Conservative Party logo, there are few opportunities missed to associate the Conservative Party with the national flag and the rhetoric to match. I would add that I have no problem with the display of the nation’s flag wherever people choose to fly it, but it is the cynical exploitation of it by Conservative politicians that I see as the problem.
2.\tDisdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
This is self-evident as Theresa May has long stated that she wanted to scap the 1998 Human Rights Act and will do so shortly. In her recent speech to conference she made reference to stopping ‘left wing human rights lawyers’.
3.\tIdentification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; socialists, etc.
Again, self-evident the government uses the media to scapegoat immigrants, the EU, ‘lefties’. It has got to the point where any voices of opposition to this government are painted almost as an enemies of the state by the media. We even had the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson directing the people of the UK to demonstrate outside the Russian Embassy this week – something I’m sure British Embassy staff in Moscow welcomed with shrieks of ‘delight’.
4.\tSupremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
Apart from the fact that UK defence spending is disproportionate, I feel this is one of the few points where the UK doesn’t fit the traditional Fascist model. But I would argue that in the corporate form of Fascism there is less need for a regime to impose its will on the people through physical means as the control comes via other means i.e. the media, personalised domestic debt and consumerism.
5.\tRampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
Again a point I feel is not particularly true in the UK when compared to other developed nations. In fact I would suggest that the previous government used the legalisation of same sex marriage as a liberal façade to allow them to bring in far more hard right policies such as Workfare. In fact one could argue the Corporate Fascist State would welcome the ‘Pink Pound’. The right have long made use of the word family and how they are the ones who will represent their interests and also tried to dictate what a family should be. I am not denying there are problems with sexism, homophobia etc. just that it is not particularly a national identifier, internationally.
6.\tControlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
For me this is the most telling and important tranche of Corporate Fascism, where all control of the masses emanates from - if you control the message, you control the people. There is now no popular national daily that does not side, by default, with the government against the official opposition, with the possible exception of The Independent, which since the 2015 General Election (where it told it’s readership to vote Conservative) has remained fairly impartial. UK national newspapers are almost entirely owned by five men and one corporation, all of whom have close connections with the Conservative Party. The national broadcaster, the BBC, which we are all forced to pay for, is staffed to hilt with Conservative supporting front men and even Channel 4 News is now losing its way by introducing Daily Telegraph columnists as presenters.
7.\tObsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Another self-evident point – we hear from government all the time about the potential threat we face in our everyday lives. From international terrorism to the need for Trident, the government uses fear to force its will on us.
8.\tReligion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
We may not immediately see the connection here, but how often do you hear a Conservative leader talk about the party being ‘a broad church’, not necessarily making a direct religious link, but certainly suggesting their party is the party of the ‘decent’ church going public. And how often have we heard the expression to describe the Church of England as ‘the Conservative Party at prayer’?
9.\tCorporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
There is absolutely no denying that this government and previous ones have been and are guilty of this, always putting business interests ahead of the people of this country. From the cutting of ‘red tape’ i.e. axing the regulations that protect us, to big business being allowed to pay almost no tax in this country. 37 years of anti-society / pro-business government have delivered an economy for the rich and powerful at the expense of the average person and their families.
10.\tLabor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
Over the past 37 years the UK has seen the systematic dismantling of all union power by successive right wing regimes that convinced the public that unionised workers were the enemy. Even now with unions having virtually no power the media still speak of union barons dictating to business. And even the BMA, the union representing the most trusted workers in the country, has been painted as extremists by Jeremy Hunt and the media.
11.\tDisdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. With prominent hard right politicians like Michael Gove spinning the line that 'people in this country have had enough of experts,” and the truth being portrayed as some kind of moveable feast, anti-itellictualism is rife in the UK.
In her speech to conference Theresa May described the people who oppose the UK leaving the EU as ‘the liberal elite’ sneering at those who voted for Brexit. So the Prime Minister of this country condemns 48% of the country, just because they don’t agree with her stance. But surely as someone who purportedly supported the Remain campaign – then surely she is also part of the ‘liberal elite’ she herself sneered at. How often do we hear right wing politicians attack arts education and demand we only teach economically useful subjects such as sciences and engineering. In the news this morning further attacks on the teaching of the arts in school have been reported with the removal of many arts based A levels from our schools.
12.\tObsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
I will avoid all the usual accusations of the government using the police as their bully boys to quell protests and instead point out how many police are able to turn out to anti-fracking demonstrations. There is never any physical trouble reported at these events and yet the police, we all pay for, turn out often in larger numbers than protestors, to side with private businesses against the people who actually pay their taxes that go in some part to pay for the police force.
13.\tRampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Yet another self-evident point this government is guilty of, there are far too many examples to choose from, but one current example would be the Government anti-democratically forcing the people of Lancashire to accept fracking. George Osborne, as Chancellor demanded fracking in the UK be ‘fast tracked’. Osborne’s father in law, Lord Howell is a highly paid fracking lobbyist.
14.\tFraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
This government has recently gerrymandered boundary changes meaning that up to 85% of Labour seats could be affected.
I therefore feel, using these parameters, the case is made: the UK is a Corporate Fascist State and I welcome reasoned comment.