Before I start I’d like to say that I’m vehemently opposed to the B N P, and racism in all forms. I’m more or less in favour of the “no platform” approach to the B N P , and don’t think he should be appearing on Question Time.
I was interested to read in the days leading to the programme, this article on the BBC website Magazine : What is a fascist?
Blatant self advertising I thought. I wasn’t initially too impressed. Actually though this was a very interesting article. I learned quite a bit from it –
“Fascism in Italy … had corporatism ingrained in is political make-up. … The corporatist model emphasises co-operation over competition”
That section came as quite a surprise – I expected it all to be about individuals and the survival of the fittest. Much as what we tend to call the “far right” in the modern day political arena.
The article doesn’t actually shed much more light on what fascism is, but it does throw up for me a big issue.
Fascism – Racism – Call it what you will – is so far beyond the pale in this country, that we can’t easily discuss the politics behind it. In a way I’m as guilty as anyone – I’m intolerant of those politics – and resist them and shout them down if I possibly can. But it does get in the way of looking at the darker periods of world history and finding out about the reasons behind some of the most painful chapters of our story.
In Germany for example it’s pretty much taboo, possibly illegal, to debate the holocaust (A point which Nick Griffin, gibbering fool that he is, has actually made). So how will we understand what drove a nation to indulge in such an inhuman industry as that – effectively murder factories.
Personally I find it hard to distinguish a Jew from a Goy, so quite how anyone could view jewish people as so inhuman as to be unconcerned at their deaths is unimaginable. So how do I imagine it ? How do I research it ?
We all tend to know how authoritarian Governments keep a hold on their power – using fear and terror to stifle criticism and dissent and clamp down on any opposition – but do we know how regimes like Mussolini’s fascists, and Hitler’s came to power in the first place – because make no mistake : they had massive popularity in their own countries – far more popular than the rag tag minorities that support the likes of Nick Griffin now.
What was it that made all of those people support an outrageously hateful regime ? How can we learn from that to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
We have a difficulty though because the moment we try to “enquire” about these outrages from history, then others – the hatemongers, the holocaust deniers, the racists, and the “fascists” start to “question” them. Not asking questions about them, but questioning whether they ever occurred. Not seeking to illuminate our understanding, but seeking to twist and warp our understanding of history to their own perverse viewpoints.
On issues such as this I can’t pretend to have any answers, but having just watched the odious Mr Griffin bumble his way through Question Time, I can just say that while ever I have breath in my body I will do all I can to oppose racism, and to prevent any chance of the holocaust and similar crimes against humanity ever happening again.
(NB – I’ve shifted the situation around slightly here to protect the identities of the people involved)
Some people just don’t understand Twitter. Hardly a week goes by without some MP having a swipe at Twitter and its users. The usual lines are “I don’t want to know when some total stranger has a cup of tea” ( which usually prompts Twitterers to let the world have a picture of their Marmite on toast – Twitter humour’s like that ! )
Or we get – “you can’t possibly say anything sensible in 140 characters” , which is not only untrue but misses one of the main purposes of Twitter – that of publicising blogs – where you can use as many characters as you like
Twitterers love this though, because we understand that Twitter offers such a powerful means of mass communication in ways that have never been available before. The Jan Moir episode last week was a prime example of this – Ms Moir’s comment about there being “a highly orchestrated campaign” particularly highlighting her misunderstanding – the whole point of the response was that it was entirely spontaneous – there was no orchestration.
Few twitter users would claim it was perfect though and many look forward to new and even more powerful communication tools arising out of it. We don’t also often publicise the down side – like the tendency to spread the news of celebrity deaths around the globe in seconds – when they’re still alive, or the preponderance of automated spam bots, or Britneys as they are sometimes called (if you don’t know already, you don’t want to)
The “Twitter Conversation” also tends be one that many of us have at work – where people tend to trot out the same type of stuff. Just yesterday I was in a meeting with a number of professionals from external agencies. During a break we managed to get on to talking about twitter. Amongst the usual comments that were trotted out :
“What a waste of time – they should get a life”
“What could I possibly want to know that only takes up 140 characters” – (he said 130 actually but I wouldn’t want him to appear ignorant.
“It’s just like CB radio : ‘Hello where are you ? ‘I’m here in the kitchen – where are you ?’ ‘ I’m in the living room’ “
So I countered with :
“Well how else would I get the secretary of state to read my blog ?”
A short pause.
“Well not of all of us have ego’s so big that we’d want him to”
(Hmm maybe not. I’m pretty sure my colleague has though.)
“Any way you don’t think he sends the tweets himself do you ?”
Er, yes he does actually.
Any way faced with not winning the argument, and nearing the end of the break, my colleague gave his argument ending coup de grace :
“There is absolutely nothing that could possibly be of interest or use to me that I could possibly gain from Twitter !”
Punkt. Schluss !
Except that some people he used to work with are a little more fond of twitter. And I know what he was doing last weekend, and who he was with. I also have a reasonable thumbnail of his CV and an idea of how I can expect him to work. All through twitter.
I let it pass. For he does make exceedingly good cakes !