Guest Post: Fascism and political correctness – some parallels

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“Fascism” or one of  its derivatives  is a word much used by the left about those of us on the right. Most often, it is used as an ill chosen insult demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the meaning of the  word, its origins, and its many connotations.

Fascism and communism were arguably the two most dominant failed political  philosophies of the 20th century – certainly in terms of their impact on geopolitics and the shape of the world we now all  inhabit. Most of the loony lefties throwing the word about probably don’t know that fascism began not with Hitler, but with Mussolini, in the early 1920’s. The term is derived from a symbol of ancient Rome – the “fasces” – and it is important to understand that prior to the Second World War it carried no more sinister connotations than Conservatism, Liberalism,  Socialism and many other descriptors of political philosophies and parties.

While every student of modern European history knows about the sycophantic fawning over the Nazis by members of the British establishment in the early 1930’s, it is  less well known that in the late 1920’s  no lesser statesman than Winston Churchill spoke approvingly of Mussolini’s fascist regime, and said that had he been an Italian politician, he would have voted for it.

Setting to one side the legions of  black shirted followers, and the later violence and horrors which came to be indelibly linked with the word, fascism – most notably the German version – also consisted of a firm set of beliefs and rules which must be followed without question. The Jews were responsible for all of Germany’s economic woes. Ethnic Germans were superior to the untermenschen – the lesser races and sub-humans – who inhabited the lebensraum located to the East.

To think in certain ways was “un-Germanic”, and to voice certain proscribed opinions was to attract the attention of the authorities, and perhaps even result in a trip to a concentration camp for “re-education” in how to think, and what to believe. Many people assume that this order was imposed and maintained by a massive state security apparatus. This is quite untrue – the relatively small Gestapo  or state police was in fact fed information by a myriad of informers: ordinary Germans who denounced their neighbours, their fellow workers, and even their parents for expressing opinions which were contrary to the party line. Does this sound faintly familiar?

emerged in the mid 1980’s as a set of rules about what things were called, and how opinions should “properly” be expressed. I have always found it odd that those who began this philosophy – for what else could you call it? – could not see that the very term “politically correct” was not a million miles from the prescription of  “korrekt” things Germans in the 1930’s were taught to think and to believe – certainly to express publicly.

Early politically correct euphemisms were innocuous enough – “disabled” or even “differently abled” instead of “crippled’; “learning difficulties” instead of “retarded” or “simple”; “sex worker” for “prostitute”; “person of colour” for “black”. The last mentioned is particularly risible for me. African Americans – as they were once called – themselves  proudly adopted “black” as a description of their ethnicity during the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s. “Black” morphed into “coloured person”, and now the latest version, “people of colour”. No doubt the mandarins of political correctness will have a new version sometime soon.

From more “correct” labels for people and things, the politically correct movement developed rules about our very thoughts,  and began to prescribe a never increasing list of facts which could not be highlighted: that young Maori males were more likely to be violent offenders than whites for example; indeed any kind of racial stereotyping became verboten, no matter how well grounded in fact. We could not even make the self evident observation that the children of 

Asian immigrants frequently achieve at very high levels in our universities – and almost never featured in the court reports. At least  not until relatively recently. We are now not allowed to observe that, based on overseas experience, we will inevitably experience Muslim terrorism, and that it will happen sooner rather than later if we keep allowing people whose entire way of life is the antithesis of our own to come and live here.

Who remembers the strife the former Speaker of the House Sir Lockwood Smith got into by opining that Asians have small hands, which made them more productive in orchards? What about the feeding frenzy which erupted when the former Chairman – sorry “Chair” – of the Employers’ Federation pointed out that some women suffer considerable pain and suffering from their menstrual periods, and that consequently, women in some workplaces tended to take more sick days than men. No matter how much the poor bastard prostrated himself and apologized,  and pointed to evidence to support his argument, the jackals of political correctness howled ever louder until Alistair Thompson resigned his post in ignominy.

Which brings me to Donald Trump, and one of the myriad explanations for his unexpected victory. In a very thoughtful piece in the once great Herald, Heather Du Plessis-Allan argued that people like her, the enforcers of political correctness, were at least partly responsible for Trump’s success. Ms. Du-Plessis Allan opines in the HoS:

His victory is not about racism – 29 per cent of Latinos voted him in and 29 per cent of Asians voted him in.

It’s not about putting women in their place – 45 per cent of women voted for him.

It’s not stupid people voting for him – 45 per cent of college graduates gave him their vote

Du Plessis-Allan comes close to agreeing with Winston Peters that the Trump phenomenon is nothing short of a social revolution – a revolution that could easily come here because:

For years we’ve ignored the talkback callers who, one after another, complained of PC gone mad. We’ve written them off as rednecks who will eventually catch up with 2016. We told ourselves they’ll eventually get used to the rules of correctness we’ve imposed on them…

This is familiar territory for me. For years a small minority of us who, despite having what the Americans call “a college education”, have been ridiculed because  we not only understand where the “rednecks” are coming from, we agree with them – at least on some things. We think recidivist violent criminals should be locked up for lengthy periods and not have earnest apologists like Kim Workman “explain” why they are not responsible for what they do. We don’t believe patently unfit mothers should be allowed to go on breeding without restriction because “women should be allowed to control their own fertility”. We believe – based on clear evidence – that children are best raised in two parent families, preferably where Mum and Dad are married to each other, and not some ever changing arrangement where the latest “partner” – of whatever sex – becomes jointly responsible for the child’s upbringing “and that’s perfectly OK”.

Had I been an American, I probably wouldn’t have voted for Trump. He has no experience in government – and unlike some of the “rednecks” I sometimes agree with, I don’t  see that as an advantage. While I am a great believer in calling a spade a bloody shovel, I don’t believe it’s right to talk about “grabbing women by the pussy” or “moving in on them like a bitch” as  seduction techniques. I have too much intelligence to believe that he can possibly build a wall along the US-Mexican border, and get the Mexicans to pay for it. And even if that was possible, I recognise that the economy of California would go into a tailspin without the flow of illegal workers upon which it runs.

But based on the inadequate knowledge I have of her, I wouldn’t have voted for Clinton either – there are too many unanswered questions about her past dealings, and I don’t believe we should put “breaking the glass ceiling” for women in positions of power above questions of their competence and suitability for the job.

We tend to follow trends in the US, albeit 10 or 20 years later. In my own area of special interest  for example, our tightening of bail laws, recognition that habitual offenders probably can’t be rehabilitated, and that some sex offenders actually do  need to be confined for what they might do rather than what they have already done comes 20 years or so after the Americans  came to the same conclusions.

The next four years in American politics will be fascinating for a whole host of reasons. I shall be fascinated to see whether – as Heather Du Plessis-Allan opines – Trump’s rise will be seen, at least in part, as a rebellion against the strictures of the fascists of political correctness in that country. It will be even more interesting to see whether signs of such a rebellion start to take hold here, beyond forums like Kiwiblog. 

While she has no doubt been subjected to howls of derision from her friends in the chattering classes, I applaud Heather Du Plessis-Allan’s contribution to the aftermath of the accession of “The Donald” . We do indeed live in interesting times when Heather Du Plessis-Allan and me are on the same page.

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