The Changing Face of Fascism
Why it failed in Britain in the past, but still exists within society today
Throughout the course of history, fascism has reared its ugly head to risk the freedom and integrity of a society. The method of drumming up nationalist support and controlling society with far right rhetoric has enabled many dictators to brainwash populations.
Unfortunately, fascism is not resigned to the history books; it is still a scourge on society. So much so that, in recent days, the flag of the British Union of Fascists has been spotted in London.
In the 1930s, fascism swept across several European countries. General Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Germany all used ultra-nationalistic ideas to allow themselves to be given controlling power.
Perhaps the clearest example of this was Hitler. He did not seize power through a bloody coup, he did it democratically. By capitalising on a weary nation, desperate for someone to blame for defeat in the First World War and economic depression, Hitler’s rise to power was made simple. He turned the people against foreigners and his own political rivals. By the middle of the decade he had total power and had his eyes set on expanding the German Empire.
Whether he was genuinely adored by the people or he used his state police to terrify individuals into submission, Hitler was able to light the fire of nationalism in Germany.
Fascism has always brought out the worst in society, and in the not so distant past it was a notable problem in the UK. The 1930s and 1940s saw Oswald Mosley and the black shirts attempt to persuade the public into supporting authoritarian politics.
Other than the groups’ incompetent leaders, British fascism failed in comparison to Nazism because of the difference in societies. The UK was hit badly by the First World War, but ultimately it was on the winning side. In Germany, there were several social and political problems which needed solutions. Fascism may have been the worse solution to Germany’s problems, but at the time it was one which had the quickest results for the people.
One of the biggest failures of the BUF was their attempted radicalisation of the town of Stockton in the North East of England in September 1933. The group planned on capitalising the poor economic situation of the town. They had seen that areas of Germany, similar to Stockton, fall swiftly to Nazism in the wake of the Great Depression. As a result, the BUF thought they would be welcomed with open arms in the town. However, this wasn’t to be the case. The people of Stockton refused fascism, and sent Oswald and his followers packing.
Yet after the last 90 years, after the failures of British Fascism in the past, it is still remnant in society. An anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square brought together conspiracy theorists, virus deniers and symbols of fascism.
The appearance of the lightning bolt flag of the BUF in London is a stark reminder that the political ideology which resulted in the death and suffering of millions of people less than a century ago is still alive and kicking in a country which helped to defeat it in a foreign land.
Time may have moved on, but any notion that fascism was defeated with the fall of the Third Reich is nothing more than myth. The sight of a flag of fascism in the UK in 2020 needs to be an isolated affair; but even the most optimistic of political observers have cause for concern.