Sunday, 9 October 2016

Be very afraid.

The current affairs and news website buzzfeed published the findings of a europe wide yougov poll on friday - and the poll's findings were both startling and disturbing.The Buzzfeed report stated

"Almost half of the adults in 12 European countries now hold anti-immigrant, nationalist views, according to major new research that reveals the spread of fringe political views into the mainstream. BuzzFeed News has been given exclusive access to new data from YouGov, which polled more than 12,000 people across the continent to measure the extent of what it termed “authoritarian populist” opinions – a combination of anti-immigration sentiments, strong foreign policy views, and opposition to human rights laws, EU institutions, and European integration policies".

"In Britain, the poll found authoritarian populist attitudes were shared by 48% of adults, despite less than 20% of the population identifying itself as right-wing. Three months on from the EU referendum, prime minister Theresa May has responded this week by appealing directly to disaffected working-class voters with a promise to crackdown on immigration and reassert British sovereignty".

"In France, a clear majority of people surveyed – 63% – held authoritarian populist views, while in Italy the figure was 47%. In Germany, it was 18%, which appears low by comparison but, given the country’s history and the extreme nature of its far-right groups, is regarded by analysts as surprisingly high. The highest levels of authoritarian populist views were recorded in Romania and Poland, where they were held by 82% and 78% of adults respectively".

Of course we've seen the rise of right wing populism and support for anti-immigrant, nationalist, and authoritarian parties in Europe once before in the 1930s - and we know how that turned out. As George Santayana famously warned us many years ago "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And when surveying post brexit UK and the rest of Europe in late 2016 it looks like a growing number of people have certainly forgotten what happened in the 1930s - or maybe it's just that they dont care? 

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels opened the Communist Manifesto with the memorable line "a spectre is haunting Europe" and for Marx and Engels of course that spectre was a socialist revolution that would sweep away the old corrupt monarchies and wealthy ruling elites and establish socialist societies controlled by Europe's working classes. But looking at the contemporary European political scene the spectre which appears to haunt Europe today is fascism.

And there was a very timely screening of the 1972 film Cabaret on BBC2 on Saturday night. A musical centering on the chaotic lives of 3 twenty something bohemians and set in early 1930s Berlin against the backdrop of the collapse of the Weimar republic and the emergence of Hitler and the far right in Germany. Most of the film's musical sequences take place in a berlin burlesque theatre the Kit Kat club, a raucous and liberal venue where crossdressers performed dance and jazz numbers and gay and straight patrons mingled openly and freely - needless to say all things that were detested by Hitler and his fascist thugs. And it was no surprise that soon after the Nazis took power in Germany in 1933 that so called 'degenerate' forms of music like jazz were banned, gay venues were shut down and gay people were forced to go underground. And tens of thousands of gay people would later perish in the concentration camps along with the jews, socialists and others.

We should all surely be very concerned then with the news tonite that homophobic attacks have risen by a massive 147 pecent since June 23rd And when set alongside the big increase in racially motivated hate crimes since June 23rd there's clearly something going on in contemporay Britain  - something very nasty and very right wing.

Probably Cabaret's most memorable scene occurs when the film's central characters stop off for some refreshments at a rural beer garden while out on a country drive and this is the rest of the scene as described by wikipedia

"In a sunlit outdoor setting a boy - only his face seen - sings to a relaxed audience of all ages what at first seem innocent lyrics ("Tomorrow Belongs To Me") about the beauties of nature and youth. The camera shifts to show that the singer is wearing a brown Hitler Youth  uniform. He lifts his hand in the Nazi salute as the accompanying music becomes strident. One by one, nearly all the adults and young people watching are caught up in the hysteria and rise to join in the singing and saluting".
Let's face it with the way everything is going in the UK and Europe at the moment you dont have to be Mystic Meg to see how things might turn out if we are not vigilant.

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