Thursday, 3 December 2015

Fascism, sometimes but rarely a useful word

in the early 1970s Tony Benn's son Hilary, as a teenager, pushed his father, who did not want to be outflanked by his son, to the hard left. Now grown to mature years, Hilary Benn turned out not share his father's barmy extremism and be fairly moderate. He has thrilled his party and the British left by describing ISIS last night, in the House of Commons, as fascist. Martin Kettle, in the Guardian, gushed.
Fascism was the pivotal word in Benn’s speech, held back until nearly the end, as a great conductor does with the climax of a symphonic argument. Fascism is still a morally and historically charged word unlike any others, especially in a chamber where Churchill’s ghost still lurks on occasions such as these. Yet Benn’s final sentences skilfully invoked other traditions too – not least the plain, unvarnished English dissenting culture from which he himself springs.
It was a good, persuasive speech - click here to watch it. Though, in my opinion, the Labour party's internationalism is one of its worse and most dangerous features, not as Mr. Benn said, its best feature. And he was utterly, unpardonably wrong when he said all refugees wanted to return to Syria. 

I am guilty of bandying the word fascism around - I have described England as increasingly fascist - but what is the point of using the word to blacken Saudi Arabia or ISIS, etc? They are not remotely fascist, if by fascist you mean resembling Mussolini's system and they are quite as bad or in fact much worse. And if Assad is a fascist, and ISIS are fascists and for sure the non-ISIS allegedly moderate rebels are fascists it seems Syria has three fascist choices and a negligible number of democrats. And a democratic election would be a disaster anyway as it would bring to power Sunni Islamists and for sure they are not democrats.

Fascism is not a problem any more but everyone wants to prepare for the last war. Evil morphs. Atheistic ideologies and racism gave rise to much evil in my father's day - now Islam and anti-racism are the problem.

Note. Historian Niall Ferguson rightly pointed out today [Sunday 6 December] that fascism was hierarchical in structure, as well as national in appeal, but today's Islamism is both [a] a network in structure, as well as [b] International in appeal. Quite.


  1. People are almost honored when you call them Communists or Marxists.

  2. Yes, I agree with this. Calling Islamic extremists "fascists" is ridiculous. We might as well call them Puritans or Mafiosi.

  3. England definitely is becoming fascist. Only 40 years ago you couldn't find a policeman carrying anything more than a truncheon. And you were allowed to speak your mind. Christian

  4. We are getting a much better definition of fascism these days, as we see it in its various forms: From Mussolini's vision, the pure corporatism we see in the US, its totalitarian element in the Police State in England, France and the US and the Nazi-style socialist element that psychologically restrict the boundaries of thought to approved views with Political Correctness.