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By Jason Michael

DEMOCRACY IS ONLY EVER as strong as the social will to protect it. In optimum condition, when the majority of citizens both understand the importance of democratic government and the need to protect it, there is no government quite so powerful as government of the people, for the people, and by the people. But when these essential prerequisites are weak or lacking democracy is fragile. It quickly becomes brittle, susceptible to manipulation and corruption, and ineffective. As was known in Ancient Greece in the earliest democracy, popular government is forever plagued by the shadow of populism and demagoguery. Unguarded, democracy sows the seeds of its own destruction.

It would certainly seem to be the case that the tide of democratic health, like the economy, moves in cycles; oscillating always between the vibrance of a common and shared sense of its importance and value and the rot of disengagement, populism, and the lurch into authoritarianism. After the threat to democracy presented by European fascism in the 1930s and 40s democracy in Europe and North America moved to a high water mark through the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Our parents and grandparents knew the value and the cost of the vote. They had fought to preserve it. They were part of a generation that looked totalitarianism in the eye. They saw Nazism defeated, the failure of Stalinism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and watched as mass murderers were brought to justice. Democracy was not an abstract notion to them. It meant something.

Our generation – my generation – has taken what was purchased at such a high price for granted. We don’t vote. We don’t see the point. We assume politicians are “all the same” – liars. Our voluntary disenfranchisement bit us in the arse in Scotland in 2014. The under 65s voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence, but they didn’t vote in the same numbers the over 65s did – who overwhelmingly opted for dependence. Independence was defeated by the frightened and conservative “grey vote.” Close to a million registered voters in Scotland never showed up to the polling station on the day, and these were voters of my generation – “Generation ‘X’” ironically enough.

This apathetic trend is taking us somewhere we have been before – somewhere truly dark, somewhere we really don’t want to be going. Once again we are seeing the phenomena of the professional politician and the seeking of power within democracy for power’s own sake. Careerists are perhaps just as inimical to democracy as apathy and popular indifference. The career politician doesn’t do politics for the good of his or her constituents. In a diseased democracy they can secure the votes they need by appealing to the lowest common denominator. People like Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Corbyn will secure their seats in parliament by giving enough of the electorate what it wants and by appealing to the basest demands of the mob.

In this broken democracy – which is no democracy at all – seats are won and power secured in a loop; the media manufactures fears and blames powerless, invariably foreign, scapegoats and the careerists bang the drum of security and ethno-nationalism. This is the state of politics in the United Kingdom today. It is much the same across Europe and even more so over the Atlantic in the United States. Democracy in any meaningful sense has died and we are right now in the rapid descent into the abyss of totalitarianism and fascism – both coming a-creeping like saviours.

Londoner Sasha Simic is not wrong in describing the relationship between Johnson and US alt-right strategist and former Trump puppeteer Steve Bannon:

Boris Johnson has just exhibited what he has learned at the feet of Bannon by making a filthy attack on women who chose to wear the burqua, comparing them to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.”

Since the 9/11 terror attacks in the US it has become normal in political discourse to blame Muslim women for Islamist terrorism despite the fact no women were involved and no terrorist attack has been perpetrated by a Muslim woman in a burqa. Muslim women are of course, on account of their religious-cultural dress, more visibly Muslim. Muslim men are more difficult to identify without the possibility of making an embarrassing mistake. So the eyes of the racists and the populists (as if there’s a distinction) are on women.

In every part of Europe – in every corner of the West in fact – it has become politically useful to be against the hijab, the niqab, and the burqa. The rhetoric is always the same: Fighting for the freedom and equality of Muslim women – saving brown women from brown men. But no one cares to ask Muslim women what they want. No one asks because no one cares. It’s not really about Muslim women (Shh 🤫). It’s about finding anything – anything at all – that will do as an expedient political and social weapon against all Muslims. By forcing Muslim women to dress the way we want them to we get to show them who’s boss and reinforce the hostile environment. In following this simple recipe the professional politician completes the loop and wins votes.

This may not always be rooted in racism. This may be seen as nothing other than a vote winner. Once Boris Johnson voiced disgust at the politics of Donald Trump. Not now. But this vote-winning tactic is dangerous. It confirms the racist sentiment that has been stoked up by the right-wing media and it emboldens real racists. Before we know where the hell we are the tail is wagging the dog and career politicians are trapped in a death spiral of feeding evil to secure a pay cheque.

The writing is on the wall. It is my belief that we have already crossed the Rubicon, that we are heading headlong into an inferno – a glut of violence, yet another de-civilisational bloodshed moment. But, even if I am correct, this does not mean we cannot derail the inevitable. We can, but we have to act now. We must act with force and determination. We have to resist this with everything we have got. Our failure to check this cascade to hell leads to catastrophe for us all.

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Boris Johnson’s burka jibe: Discussion


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3 thoughts on “The Road to Hell

  1. As an English born 65 year old Scottish woman(I fulfill all the demographics for the No voter) who voted YES in 2014 and has two daughters in Generation X who have never missed a chance to vote, maybe it is the offspring of the disinterested older generation who do not vote. Just wondering.

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