Before addressing Victoria’s video, for the purposes of full transparency, it is only right that I acknowledge my own positionality. Victoria Johnson is someone with whom I have worked with on a number of projects in the past. My concern for her wellbeing and that of her young family has not changed, and I still consider her a personal friend. My sincere hope, if she takes the time to read this, is that she will read it as the words of a friend and not an enemy. But it would not be right to simply ignore the statement she has made – and for many reasons.
In fewer than fifty words he had tied in all the themes of the right-wing threat narrative – everything from terrorism to xenophobia and white genocide – and was leaping on this awful and as yet largely unreported tragedy. So much credit has to be given to the people of Glasgow – well, people make Glasgow – and the whole of Scotland; they didn’t buy his obvious race baiting comment, and in short order told him what to do with his pathetic racist opinions. But, then, this tweet wasn’t directed at Scotland. Farage knows how poorly he’s thought of in our country.
Right-wing populist governments with designs on capturing the state and fascism, such as Donald Trump’s and Boris Johnson’s are, are bringing home the shock doctrine consecutive US and British governments have employed on their foreign interventionist adventures since the US-backed coup and military takeover of Chile in 1973. This is the neoliberal dream; to see powerful and cohesive democracies softened up by truncheons, rent asunder by socio-economic division, and fractured into thousands of squabbling factions of the oppressed.
Boris Johnson, our new Prime Minister, is a man who shamelessly stood in front of a bus during the Brexit referendum campaign and told voters that leaving the European Union would return £350 million every week to essential public services like the NHS; all the while knowing this was untrue. Since moving into Number 10 he has repeated over and again that his government is engaged in ongoing negotiations with its European partners, when the European parliament and commission have unequivocally stated this is not the case.
This is not what should happen in a free and democratic society. Our leaders have power only because we consent to be governed. They press the flesh of police officers and soldiers at photo-ops, they do not use them as witting or unwitting props in a campaign of intimidation. Democratic leaders do not politicise the police and the army and otherwise make their members instruments in a partisan conflict in which it is likely some level of force will be used. This is an upsetting development and one we must now all watch closely.
Steve Bannon is a Nazi. Let’s not beat about the bush or be overly cautious about saying this; he is a Nazi. The moment we say this there will always be some quasi-intellectual objection to the use of this descriptor, invariably demanding that we do not use “Nazi” as a lazy catch-all term for people on the right with whom we disagree. The objection will also come with the insistence that Nazis must be accompanied by jack boots, repression, and death camps, and the criticism that its use disrespects the victims of the “real Nazis.” Let’s put that to bed right now.
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.
Everyone is talking about “dark money.” The revelations that right-wing political parties and campaigns have been flooded with massive amounts of money originating in Russia have been topping the news cycle around the world. This hasn’t been off the front pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Guardian since the story broke – weeks ago. Dark money has everything; spies, money, politics, sex tapes, laundering, compromised politicians, a Saudi prince, the works. Bestsellers and blockbusters will be produced on the back of this story.