What populism really is

Fascism has failed. As an ideology it has been totally rejected in the political discourse as humanity has embraced liberal, tolerant ideals. The vast majority of us now find fascism utterly repugnant. Yet it took a foothold again this year in the only way it could: by disguising itself as something else, called populism. These populists parade theirselves in front of us, drinking beer and wearing baseball caps, claiming to be men of the people, railing against ‘elites’ who they say run everything. In truth, they are the elitist people of them all – white, male and vastly wealthy – and seek to demonise an intelligencia which has rejected them. These are people who would like nothing better than to see state mechanisms designed to make society fairer decimated, the welfare state torn to shreds, high-rate tax slashed and to ensure power stays in the hands of the privileged few. They don’t want people to trust those who advise against the folly of what they say, so they call them elitest and claim to speak for ‘the common people’. This is the only way they can sneak their essentially fascist views back into the political discourse without them being totally rejected. And as more and more people are fooled by this rhetorical con trick, all we who value equality, tolerance and international cooperation can do is despair.

As a community humanity had been slowly coming together. Relishing cultural differences, but gradually learning to work as one. We were beginning to accept the idea that a border is but a line on a map; and that to solve our problems we must work as one. But this year those steps toward a brighter future have been undone by dissembling populists; fools clinging to concepts like sovereignty, which ultimately mire humanity in an ‘us and them’ mindset. We had been functioning as part of a bigger economic bloc which allowed this country to punch above our weight, and hold our own against china and America; but now that is lost. we are alone – a petty, inward-looking island nation whose citizens were duped by populists armed with slogans about ‘taking back control’, and spinning yarns about giving more money to the NHS.

Thus a form of fascist nationalism returned to the world this year, not just in this country but elsewhere. We thought it had been banished, and that people were wise enough to recognise it – how wrong we were.

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