At a time, when those British soldiers killed in war are remembered, it is salutary to focus on why many of the WW2 generation are so nervous about the parallels between the 1930s and now.
“What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing to do with knowing one is governing.
What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. …
This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
’They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945′ – Milton Mayer University of Chicago Press. Reissued in paperback, April, 1981.
Does that sound familiar?
Nevertheless, David Malone updates to the current era:
‘Repression is so last century.’
Why repress when you can simply drown it out. All it takes is for the media outlets to be owned by a few powerful and like-minded friends. A few media moguls and corporate giants, whose plastic pundits raise their voices while the dolly bird presenters flash their thighs. It’s all so full throttle and frantic, and charged with desire and greed.
Anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy theorist. Anyone who breaks ranks is a whistleblower and whistleblowers are domestic terrorists, dysfunctional loners with personality problems and axes to grind.
When the truth is vilified, hunted, gagged and goaled, then the State has chosen to go to war with the nation.
Bernadette Meaden agrees:
When the history of this particular period is written, people will marvel at what the Conservatives have achieved. To lose an election, scramble into office, and then go on to change society so significantly in a few short years shows, it has to be said, quite some chutzpah….
It is so much easier for a government when Ministers can tell lies which go unchallenged, become accepted ‘facts’ and are repeated ad nauseam to justify ‘difficult decisions’. Perhaps the classic example of this is Grant Shapps’ widely publicised statement that almost one million disabled people had dropped their benefit claims when tests became tougher. This was completely untrue…There was an effective media blackout on this development.
David Malone adds:
Our ‘Betters’ have found Goebbels was wrong. You don’t have to protect the people from the consequences of the lies you tell them, as long as you can blame those consequences on someone else. On unforeseen global economic forces, on conniving foreigners who devalue their currency, or terrorists or whistleblowers. Or even the people themselves for taking on debts they couldn’t afford or on ‘necessity’ and ‘precedent’ – the bond holders cannot be made to pay – it goes against international precedent.
That certainly sounds like George Osborne’s stranger-to-the-truth explanations.
On top of all this, we have the Big Brother revelations of Edward Snowden about mass surveillance. (Goebbels eat your heart out.) This should have been no surprise. Zbigniew Brzezinski was writing, as long ago as the late 70s, about the problems for the power elite of controlling the masses in an age of information and communication. David Malone again:
In a democracy rule is by consent. In a dictatorship it is by control.
Which do we have in the West? It seems to me, it is no longer clear. We certainly still have the rituals of rule by consent. But behind the elected front men and women is a shadow state. Its people ritually swear allegiance to those we elect. They declare themselves there to serve and protect. But when it is us they spend their time spying on, whose interests are they protecting? Can you really serve those you do not trust?
In 2008 we discovered that behind the banking system we knew about, there was a vast shadow banking system whose size most of us never suspected. In 2013 we have glimpsed not only the scale of the shadow state but the degree to which it, like the shadow banking system, is out of control and not working for us at all.
Chomsky of course has no illusions about our living in a Democracy. He calls the present system RECD – really existing capitalist democracy – pronounced ‘wrecked’. In other words, our ’democracy’ is government by the wealthy for the wealthy, a plutocracy.
In the work that’s essentially the gold standard in the field, it’s concluded that for roughly 70% of the population – the lower 70% on the wealth/income scale – they have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised. As you move up the wealth/income ladder, you get a little bit more influence on policy. When you get to the top, which is maybe a tenth of one percent, people essentially get what they want, i.e. they determine the policy. So the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy….
In fact a number of analyses have identified that it is only a handful of individuals, fewer than 200, that ‘rule the world’. Real News 24 writes:
Some people have started realizing that there are large financial groups that dominate the world. Forget the political intrigues, conflicts, revolutions and wars. It is not pure chance. Everything has been planned for a long time.
… In short, the Federal Reserve is controlled by four large private companies: BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard and Fidelity. These companies control U.S. monetary policy (and world) without any control or “democratic” choice. These companies launched and participated in the current worldwide economic crisis and managed to become even more enriched…. The same “big four” control the vast majority of European companies counted on the stock exchange.
In addition, all these people run the large financial institutions, such as the IMF, the European Central Bank or the World Bank, and were “trained” and remain “employees” of the “big four” that formed them.
Particularly focus on ‘It is not pure chance. Everything has been planned for a long time.’
The release of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet papers from 1983, confirm that all this coalition government’s determination to dismantle and privatise the NHS/ public services, are just the end game that the Conservatives had in mind 30y ago. We are experiencing ‘disaster capitalism’ as described by Naomi Klein. The economic crisis caused by the banks in 2008 is being used to justify implementing IMF-style liberalization of the UK for the benefit of the transnational corporations.
In Europe, the ‘crisis’ is being similarly used to dismantle the welfare net and force through federalization. The Brussels Business Documentary (Corporate Europe Observatory) charts the corporate capture of the EU, initially by the industrialists of the European round Table, and now by the vast body of lobbyists that rival the Washington contingent.
THE BRUSSELS BUSINESS DOCUMENTARY
The next stage of neoliberal/neofeudal corporate supremacy is the rushing through (by 2014) of the US-EU Free Trade Deal, which will allow corporations to force governments to change any of their domestic legislation which is inconsistent with ‘liberalisation’… employment and environmental protection, banning of GM crops, and so on.
Michael Meacher writes:
‘It says a lot about democratic accountability that the most profound and far-reaching issues are not discussed in Parliament. It was true of the decision in the UK to build the first atomic bomb. It was true of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the 2000s which aimed to give the world’s rich countries the right to draft universal investment laws which would guarantee corporations unconditional rights to conduct financial transactions which could not be challenged by governments or citizens. And it is true now of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which US and EU trade negotiators are currently trying to bring to fruition. It too, if carried through, will allow international companies to hold governments to account, rather than the other way round, if they believe that governments are introducing environmental, social or labour standards which unreasonably impinge on their commercial prospects.
Of course in selling the idea to the (gullible) public, not a word is said about this. Instead we are told that it will increase transatlantic economic growth by 1-2% a year and that that will increase incomes by several hundred pounds a year. What is not mentioned, even if you believe the salesman’s patter about the benefits, is that the increased incomes will accrue very largely to the holders of capital, not to ordinary folk to any noticeable degree. But the real impact is felt on democracy. There is a touching faith that everyone in the West accepts that democracy is the foundation stone of our society and culture and the immoveable basis of our rights for justice and redress. But the capital holders, the corporate class, have never accepted this – and nor really have the ideological wing of the Tory party.’
‘Fascism should more appropriately called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power’ – Benito Mussolini
Gramsci, imprisoned by Mussolini, wrote shortly before his death in 1937:
”The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.”
That was true then and is true now.
The academic, Lawrence Britt composed a list of 14 characteristics common to the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and several Latin American regimes. It is a frankly alarming list to read with the Coalition Government in mind. http://rense.com/general37/fascism.htm
See also Think Left’s