Farage, Trump, Mussolini, Hitler? Careful! The 30s were different.
And terrifyingly similar.
Why does the privileged, shameless demagogue, Trump, attract such worshipping support from millions of poor white men and women of all ages? He lives in opulence in Manhattan but as his private jet lands, the low paid, the unemployed, the ones who have lost hope, applaud. Are they stupid? No. That patronising insult was also levelled at Brexit voters. It tells us more about the stupidity of the accusers.
Trump’s snake oil speaks of genuine, felt needs. Of a class of people impoverished, ignored and insulted for over a generation. Of people who have had enough and now turn to anyone who says he is against “them”. It is an act of despair. A wild scream. Not ugly humanity, but humanity turned ugly by the very people now patronising them.
Why do so many traditional Labour supporters vote UKIP?
Why is the Hard Right sweeping Europe, even gaining alarmingly in Germany?
We are told it is immigration, sheer racism. But to think immigrants are the cause is like thinking the Jews caused Fascism and WW2. A gross error.
Immigrants are the innocent means, not the fundamental reason.
Let’s call this phenomenon Trumpism.
The causes of this suffering are twofold.
The democratic socialist Left is at the margin and not even a player, so there is no impediment, no political movement wanting to defend workers’ rights. The reformists on the soft Left have been colonised by an alien ideology: Labour in Britain, the Democrats in America and the Social Democrats in Europe all kneel before market fundamentalism as if it is the true religion. They believe in untempered globalisation and the free movement of labour and capital. Free trade. The State exists to lubricate its employer, the private international corporation. So the creative destruction of capitalism has been unleashed globally.
True, Bill Clinton, followed by Tony Blair, tried to “triangulate”, but it wasn’t an equilateral triangle. It was PR.
So when the poor workers in the West were stirred into revolt, who was there to listen? Those they thought of as their leaders and protectors had joined the enemy. In fact these leaders had been betraying their constituencies for a long time, using sympathy and empty promises to buy votes and then running to the capital ( or Capitol ) to mix with the rich and powerful. So the political system did not respond.
Is it any surprise that people turned to Right Wing demagogues who told them what they wanted to hear?
This is not just Hitler resonating down the years. True, he occupied a space created by poverty, unemployment and the loss of self respect, after international bank defaults and the criminal excesses of an unregulated capitalist system. Remind you of anything? But it could be any demagogue opportunistically filling a vacuum, seducing the oppressed with magical thinking.
In post WW1 Germany the Communists like Rosa Luxembourg had to be defeated and with the help of Stalin they were. That created space for the Hitler/Junker dictatorship. Mussolini’s corporate state settled into a cruel dictatorship. Franco, in a military coup and a brutal civil war, defeated the elected government and ruled as a dictator.
The Left was defeated everywhere. We know what happened next.
A world wide blood bath.
Roosevelt’s New Deal, opposed by much of the Washington Establishment, especially Republicans, dragged America back from the brink, but to no avail.
A world wide blood bath, ten years after the the ’29 bust and twenty years after the end of WW1.
America’s fear of Communism after 1945 made it invest in Europe. That saved it from a repeat of the 30s.
In post WW2 Britain reformist Keynesian Labour propped up the capitalist system.
In America, Democrats kept alive the New Deal.
For a generation it was all kept motoring by issuing debt. The almighty dollar protected everyone and allowed America to dominate the world. Until it didn’t.
That game is long over. The world is crippled by public and private debt; financialisation is sucking the life out of communities; the class war is nakedly revealed once more.
There is nowhere to hide.
Sanders’ function is to drag Hilary Clinton a little to the left and Theresa May has also seen the danger, if her first remarks as PM are any guide.
The Labour civil war is the ideological fight against Blairism. People are waking up to its true nature.
The system usually has enough flexibility to save itself.
Trump is not Hitler and America now is not early 30s Germany. Fascism is not about to be repeated. It’s important to resist the loose rhetorical use of language.
But politics is on the move again. The gloves are off. The phoney war is over.
We’d better combine together and get fighting.
The Day the Music Died is the memoir of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett. For the first time, Tony shares exclusive details from his childhood in working-class and war torn Birmingham. He takes readers behind the scenes of a selection of his more famous productions, offering secrets and anecdotes. Some moving and some amusing. Now available to buy on Amazon.