We are to believe that this swine flu will kill us all. We are to believe that migrant workers will take our jobs. We are to believe that a mosque will become a terrorist recruitment centre. We are to believe that we, people who earn money and create added value should pay for irresponsible behaviour of those who lived off the interest and other people’s money, otherwise we will all perish. In short, we are to believe and to be afraid.
As some of you know, right-wing and neo-Nazi groups scheduled an anti-mosque demonstration which was to take place on Monday, 27 April. The date was carefully chosen as they wanted to depict Muslims as the new occupators. As a reaction, a number of centre-to-left wing organisation organised a counter-rally, which aimed to confront the rise of neo-Nazism in Slovenia. Pengovsky was there in his professional capacity and had a look around.
This was not your usual anti-globalisation rally. People from around the world came to protest the fact that Fascism is again becoming a viable option, even though Europe (and especially this part of the world) took the full brunt of this silly little ideology which somehow seemed appealing to a disillusioned people. However, according to dr. Rastko Močnik, Fascism today is not the same as in 1930s. He said that what we are witnessing today is actually post-Fascism (a term coined by Tonči Kuzmanić), which on the surface dithced is romantic, Hitleresque ideas of racial superiority and seems to accept the concept of human rights. On the operational level, however, it still resorts to the same ideas and principles than it did eighty years ago.
In the end neo-Nazis didn’t even stage a rally. Offically it was rescheduled “until further notice” due to the fact that they did not get a permit. According to my information, however, they didn’t even apply for it, which shows that they are a bunch of big-mouthed inept bozos. Pengovsky already warned against stupid people in large groups. On Monday Aleš Gulič, former MP echoed that, saying that “in 1920’s no one took those clowns seriously and as a result we had to start from scratch in 1945”
However, the rise of Fascism today is connected to one other phenomenon. The Culture of Fear.
Did you notice that all of the sudden economic crisis is no longer top issue? Turn to any news channel and you’ll see a 24/7 live reporting on swine flu. The fact that so far it killed less people than your average flu does every year is not important. What is important is what it could do. The fact that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction was not important. What was important was that it could have had them. It is also very important that certain corporations make a lot of money in such cases.
Fear keeps people docile and looking for leadership. Fear makes people forget that their governments are accountable to them (and not the other way around). Fear keeps people apart from one another, because in the final analysis everyone is a potential threat to everyone else. Fear destroys two-way communication and creates a one-way highway for propaganda. Fear is an ideal tool for governments to divert attention from their ineptitude and lack of ideas. It is, however, also an ideal breeding ground for Fascism.
And the worst thing is that those who use and create this culture of fear probably don’t do that with malice. I don’t believe there is a dark, smoke-filled room somewhere, where a bunch of sinister-looking people with dark glasses manipulate the society. There is, rather, a reactionary reflex within all of us, aimed at protecting our position within the society. In short, they promise a return to business as usual. But challenges of today are – this must be said – a tall order for anyone who dares to tackle them, the authority of those in charge is being questioned. But rather than answering those questions, short cuts are being taken. Ways to eschew difficult questions. Decoys. Manoeuvres which give those in charge time to breathe. But it is a vicious cycle. Pauses between challenges are ever more rare and ever shorter. And soon a society will find itself plunging from crisis to crisis.
And then a leader will appear, who will claim to have all the answers. And everyone will believe him.