Are we sleepwalking into modern day fascism?


If history has taught us anything we should unequivocally understand that when our societies become utterly barbaric and inhumane they have done so only after a long gestation period of hate.

Modern day Europe has never seen the political creep of far Right, authoritarian, anti-immigrant leaders hold such much power and influence over many millions of people. In Hungary, Austria, and Italy, for example, racial hatred is being fuelled from the very top of Government.

Only a few days ago, the Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Silvani stated that he wanted to rid Italy of its second largest ethnic population; the Roma people. In an astonishing outburst, which has the support of many Italians, he said, there are Italian Roma who, “unfortunately, you have to keep in Italy" because they have Italian citizenship, but he went to say there are many undocumented Roma, that he will seek to expel from Italy.

In recent months this type of dangerous rhetoric has led some hate filled and bigoted Italians to seek out and murder both Roma, and African people.

In Hungary, President Viktor Orban has recently passed a law that criminalises individuals of organisations - who have 25% of their income from outside the country - who fight for the rights of migrants and those most vulnerable in Hungary. Orban’s regime which almost prides itself in its Islamaphobic and anti-Roma stance, calls the new law, the ‘Anti- Soros law’ which is a direct attack towards the billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his ‘Open Society Foundation’, a foundation that seeks to help the most vulnerable and persecuted in society, whilst simultaneously challenging authoritarian regimes.

And it’s not just the smaller EU countries that have been subject to the dramatic rise of ‘popular nationalist’ political leaders. German's Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a crisis of confidence because her Right wing coalition partners demand that Germany begins to expel migrants - African’s and/or Muslims - the very people it sought to give a safe haven to in moments of global crisis.

This phenomenon also goes way beyond Europe. President Donald Trump has been using language and his Executive power to both demonise and persecute Muslims and Latinos, first with this travel ban, and the criminalisation of migrants crossing borders.

When he describes human beings crossing the border as an infestation, he’s not calling Latin Americans vermin, but its classic 'dog whistling' language that his audience understand. And in that discourse Trump then paves the way for worse to come, which in this case begins by implementing inhumane policies such as removing women from their very young children and putting them in cages.

Whether it’s Europe or America a chilling factor that is difficult to ignore is that those on the receiving end are often not white - Roma, Africans, Latinos. Furthermore, in this time where we desperately need moral political leadership, the UK has by leaving the EU not only abdicated its global responsibility, but is also playing a default role in legitimising the minority voices of racial hatred.

Looking to the immediate future, there are a number of dates that might exacerbate this very real problem.

First, the UK having a hard Brexit that will convulse UK and European economies, which in turn will fuel extremism. Secondly, and perhaps even more problematic than Brexit, will be the EU elections in 2019. If, for example, the Italian elections are replicated across Europe in the proportional representation voting system, the far Right vote could dramatically challenge European political hegemony, bring the European Union crashing down, and return once cooperative nations, to first turn on their weakest citizens - someone has to be blamed - then on each other.

We must wake up from this slumber before the  nightmare scenerio becomes a  shocking reality.

Simon Woolley