Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Democratic Fascism

Karl Popper wrote: You can choose whatever name you like for the two types of government. I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence "democracy", and the other "tyranny".

In a free state, any individual can vote according to their choice. But what mechanisms, if any, exist to stop a democracy devolving into the tyranny of a fascist state?

During elections, people are subjected to by the rhetoric of parties, individuals, or the media, to choose one way or another. It is not inconceivable for a majority to be persuaded towards a single party, as happened with Blair’s New Labour. When a sweeping majority occurs, there is usually a combination of motivations, typically the unpopularity of one party in conjunction with the perceived ‘changed for the better’ of the remaining party; we could call this the collapse of the opposition, which leaves an effective one party state by default.

There is no inherent reason for a people to avoid voting for fascism; after all, Hitler was voted for with sufficient number to cause the incumbent parties to form a coalition. In times of fear or threat, real or perceived, the people’s politics may coalesce to form a strong unified body of like spirit, whereby they yield their individual aspects from easier times in a Procrustean manner, to fit that of the common ‘greater good’. This after all is the purpose of the party politic, to present a winning unification at the expense of the individual.

Fear is the clue, during happier times people are more inclined to be cussed, to maintain their individuality when unthreatened in rude health. The notion of forming gangs and cliques are for those that feel insecure, or worse, for those who want to amplify their impositions upon others, by wielding the chorus. Notice how the clique will invariably revolve around central characters, who will maintain coalescence by finding victims to target; usually the loners, whose independence threatens to up-stage the clique captains; the lieutenants of the clique meanwhile, get an object lesson in the consequence of straying from the fold.

Fascism then, is the greater coalescence of the clique mentality, including captains and lieutenants; it is an extreme socially synchronized reaction of democracy, when the group feels threatened and allows itself, quite democratically, to be herded to a conforming mass. The greater the coalition, the greater the Procrustean compromises, and the consequent simplification of ideals; the only difference between the small town clique and the fascist state is that the state attacks ideas rather than mere individuals. The individual in turn devolves to a non-entity, becoming either friend or foe of the orthodoxy, which itself is sustained by the bigotry of the utopians, on behalf of the greater good.

“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” [Karl Popper]

When we compromise our individual principles to gain even a moments safety, or relent from agreeing to differ, but defer in order to agree, then we are prone to comply with our own subjugation by that tyranny and fascism that begs our vote.

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