Monday, 15 April 2013
1. They love to fight yesterday's battles
The most darkly comic feature of the Thatcher death parties was their bizarre cowardice. As if Thatcher, the week before, was still an intimidating enough presence to stay their hands! People celebrate the death of a tyrant because they are no longer subject to them, and thus have no need to fear their wrath. The Thatcher parties, by contrast, were an expression of contempt, but one they waited until the very moment that it made least sense to give vent to. This was either cowardice, or a display of extreme respect to the woman that negates the whole point of the exercise in the first place. Which is to say, it was cowardice.
Yet this is ever the story. Looking back over their shoulders to the time when they bravely stood up to some existential menace; it's always the past. Ask them to oppose true injustice in the present and their cowardice will sting them so much they'll accuse you of provocation.
2. They need people to hate
It happened to be her. There may or may not have been another suitable candidate had it not been her, but the need precedes the selection, nonetheless.
They are incapable of not reducing politics to personalities. The fact that people who disagree with them are permitted a voice - the cornerstone of an oppositional democracy and the guarantee of their right to hold and express their own views - is intolerable, because people who disagree with them must by definition be malevolent. They are innately totalitarian, and bridle at the charge only because of its popular (if largely fallacious) association with right wing dictatorships. A totalitarian state conducted to their satisfaction wouldn't be oppressive at all in their eyes, because they are self-evidently benevolent and self-evidently right. They love the idea of no opposition, and they love the idea of getting rid of troublemakers.
3. They think of politics as the clash of icons
Whether hero-worshipping or burning-in-effigy, the Left refuses to concentrate on issues and insists upon personalising its hopes and fears in the form of gods and monsters. Witness their toe-curling (and in context rather comic) lapping at the altar of Obama, the flipside of the demonising of Thatcher. Doubtless many of those joining in the frolics over the death of a frail 87 year old woman were also to be counted among the weepers and wailers when their own team lost a former Ku Klux Klan member (see here). To them, our leaders - a dubious enough term in itself - are not extensions of themselves, the voices they have elected to speak for them, but saints to grovel before, or fiends to damn to hellfire.
When a right winger dies, the response is muted, and the emphasis is on their message. (The thought of them celebrating the death of a left-winger is also, of course, unthinkable.) This is healthy, and respectful not merely in the sense of mannered, decent and polite, but respectful of the whole notion of democratic representation and the freedoms guaranteed to all by the democratic system. The Thatcher death parties display more than contempt for a woman, they are also contemptuous of the freedoms and safeguards that make them permissible in the first place.
They are demonstrations not of freedom but of impatience with freedom. They are overtly fascistic.
4. The links between Leftism, Progressivism and Fascism are as strong as ever
At the risk of some smartarse invoking 'Godwin's Law', their newest stupid attempt to close down legitimate debate (a reasonable analogy with Hitler is no more off-limits that a reasonable analogy with anything else, but please, if you must smugly indulge this latest idiocy, at least pay me the compliment of assuming I might have heard it before: it's not so much the inevitable resorting to it that offends me as the presumption that I simultaneously need to be told what the fucking thing means), the similarities between the Thatcher death displays and the similar provocations of Nazism and other fascist intimidation cults are obvious.
Here, plainly, is a woman who is neither tyrant nor dictator, but a three-time democratically elected representative of her people. That she alienated those who did not vote for her is, of course, inevitable, but it is not any kind of injustice. Mass displays of hatred, of the kind we have been seeing, are therefore sinister, because they imply that democratic process can and should be overturned if the need arises (the need to be decided, of course, by them).
This is not merely a classically fascist tactic, it is how fascism actually works, and gains influence and power: a basically minority concern making careful and effective public displays of punching above its weight, coupled with declamations of moral and social fervour, salted with intimidation and threat.
The illusion is therefore created that a small group of people represent a much larger and more important constituency than they in fact do, (just as the fact that Thatcher could only have come to power - and then retained that power in subsequent free elections - because more people wanted her in power than did not becomes mysteriously forgotten in the clamour). The careful appeal to grievance and resentment swells the numbers of course, along with the careful selection of monsters or a monster-class to vent the frustration against. So the voice gets louder, the tone more certain, the demands more insistent, the pretence of victimhood more central to the message.
The ability to make public one's opposition to and dissent from one's government is one of the many great luxuries of a political system that allows you to vote out people you don't want.
Celebrating the death of a leader only even makes sense if that leader is a tyrant or dictator whose death is the only legal means of their being displaced. Even then, such celebrations may be short-lived, because without the right to choose the replacement, there is every reason to think the next in line will be just as unpleasant, if not worse.
The celebration of the death of a former democratic leader is something entirely different. It is a frightening reminder of how strong the siren lure of fascism remains.
Look at the hideous faces of those who took to the streets, the complacent joy, the pantomime sneers, the facile gestures of outrage toward a long-dead consensus of permissible conduct.
How did they get there? They were mobilised, which is to say they were instructed. They are there because they are obeying orders. Few would have done the same alone. Like the happy torturers of the Inquisition, the assurance of a moral justification for their outrages is all the excuse they need to get out the pincers and enjoy themselves. The thrill is of being simultaneously provocative and cosseted, cosseted by numbers, by the assurances of their leaders, by the fact that their friends are all doing the same. Of course they are happy: they have been told they are free. But their job, what they are actually doing, is trying to intimidate the rest of us.
The world is full of people who are happy to do as they are told, and people just waiting for the excuse to do the telling. Nothing demands greater vigilance for those who believe in self-determination, and that vigilance is harder than ever to enforce, now that the willing stooges control the media and popular right-thinking, and social media makes mass-mobilisation so trivially easy that it has become a popular sport.
A whole new age of fascism may be about to dawn.