Much wisdom here from economist, journalist Umair Haque on Medium.com as folks head to the polls. You must first know that the British economy is currently in crisis, some of which you can read about here in this piece titled, "EXPLAINER: What caused UK’s economic crisis and what’s next?" He makes a connection to our midterm elections that folks should care deeply about. For example, he states herein:
"The midterms are...not just about moral objections to fascism — ideal-state of democracy stuff, or even January 6th-was-a-coup. All true, and that all matters intensely. They’re also about, though, the central truth fascism confronts us with. It’s a vicious cycle that does something paradoxical, strange, weird — it at once accelerates itself, sustains itself, by never solving the problems it purports to solve. It claims to end economic stagnation and decline — but all it really does is accelerate them. And by doing so, its fire keeps raging hotter and hotter. Britain exemplifies all that perfectly, and it’s not even fascist — just ultra nationalist. Where it ends up though, is anybody’s guess. America shouldn’t want to find out. It should learn the lesson of Britain in time for the midterms — and run away screaming from becoming a failed state like that, one that puts xenophobically finding someone new to hate every month, day, hour, a little more obsessively, over actually being a functioning modern society."
In short, we're not going to hate our own Black and Brown community, women, transgender kids, and immigrants—to prosperity. It simply doesn't work that way. The opposite is what is predictable, meaning ever more hatred and violence motivates a downward economic spiral where Medicare and social security are at significant risk, as President Biden recently expressed.
No, the British case fully exemplifies a very real possibility of a downward economic spiral with austerity becoming the norm. It becomes a state that hollows itself out for survival while unjustifiably lashing out against vulnerable people. Forget about a state that seeks to invest in affordable health care, clean energy, college for all, and other progressive policies that put people over profits.
The solution? Everybody must get out and vote. Doing nothing WILL make it worse. Do read the piece. Haque breaks it all down in simple terms.
#Vote #Vote2022 #SayNoToFascism #Fascism
Why British Collapse Should Be a Warning to Americans to Vote Like Hell in the Midterms
If you want to know why the next six days of American democracy matter so much, well…just look at Britain. Americans of a certain kind — educated, civilized, cultured — are used to thinking of Britain as a wiser, genteel older brother, more European, less brutish, cloddish, more sophisticated and thoughtful. But now? Three letters sum it up: “LOL.”
The midterms are coming up. And on one level, Americans have begun to understand — thankfully, despite huge resistance from the very institutions which should have warned of it, like the media, news, intellectuals — that what’s at stake really is fascism versus democracy. But that distinction goes much deeper still than even those Americans, rightly fired up, yet think. And what’s become of Britain — it’s stunning descent into global laughingstock, pariah, and failed state — is probably a very good analogue for what could become of America if Republicans take over.
Let me explain, but first you have to clear your head of the notion that Britain’s the land of 007 and Mary Poppins and Harry Potter. Britain does a sterling job of public relations, with such cultural fictions — but the dismal fact is that today’s Britain is a far-right wing failed state. I’ll come back to that. First let’s talk about fascism — which is what America faces.
What is fascism, really? Where does it come from? The sadistic wish to annihilate — where does it even come from? Normal people don’t have one after all — they don’t want to break anyone’s kneecaps and torture them — but fascists do.
Fascism is ultimately a way to ration economic decline. This is going to be important, and it matters that Americans understand it. When does fascism occur? When times are good? When economies are booming? Of course not — when economies stagnate and decline to a certain critical point: middle and working classes implode. When that line is crossed, expect fascism. It happened in Weimar Germany — and it happened in America, too, around 2010 or so, hence figures like me and Sarah Kendzior began to predict a wave of real-deal fascism.
You should know this by now, but let quickly recap it. As working and middle classes plunge into despair — which really happened, and is happening in America, not to mention Europe, Britain, and even places like South Korea — they look for someone to blame. And demagogues, seizing the moment, point the finger at scapegoats. On and on it goes. Now. What does this vicious cycle mean fascism is?
Fascism is a system that can’t solve the very problems which give rise to it. In other words, it’s a vicious spiral. I don’t know if Americans really get that yet. So let me make it crystal clear. Fascists come along when times are bad — during Great Depressions and historic Stagnations and so forth. They point the finger at already marginalized groups, and say, if we just hate them enough to annihilate them, cleanse our society of them, all our problems will be fixed.
Which problems? Problems like falling real incomes, like a lack of savings, like a loss of optimism in the future, collapsing trust in institutions to provide one, widespread poverty, downward mobility. Fascism’s central claim is that it can fix those problems. Through the mechanism of just hating enough — to the point of very real violence, like torturing hated figures, breaking their kneecaps.
The real problem, though, is, that none of this works. Just hating some poor marginalized group — what does it fix? Does it create jobs for anyone? Lift incomes? Produce upwards mobility? Does it repair decrepit infrastructure or build schools and universities and factories? Of course not.
So stagnation only deepens, and decline only accelerates.
This is one of the things about fascism that’s genuinely hard for normal people to understand. Most ideologies, most systems, at least make some effort to fix the problems they purport to solve. None are perfect, but few ideologies operate in total, absolute bad faith. As in, they don’t just make no attempt to solve the problems they claim to, but do the very opposite.
So what happens when a nation enters this vicious spiral? Well, scapegoating this group or that group isn’t solving any real problem. It’s not building, like I said, a factory to create jobs, or hospitals, to raise life expectancy, or schools, so that kids grow up and become more productive. It’s not lifting living standards — which is the crux of the matter — so that people feel secure and optimistic and confident again. It’s just…producing more stagnation and decline. It’s making people even poorer.
And that just makes them even more vulnerable, susceptible, to tomorrow’s round of scapegoating and finger pointing.
See the real problem? Fascism is a self-sustaining, self-accelerating vicious cycle of ruin. Once you enter it, it’s really, really hard to break free, short of total ruin. Weimar Germany learned this the hard way. Russia’s learning it, too. America’s about to choose — and to really see where it leads, like I said, just look at Britain.
Now, Britain’s not a “fascist country” — but it has fallen into a period of ultra-hardcore nationalism, which, sad to say, is the precursor. What has all that done to Britain? Has it solved any of Britain’s problems?
Let’s go through what happened to poor, stupid Britain so that Americans really understand it. After the financial crisis of ‘08, British living standards began to fall, because bad bank debts were absorbed by the nation, which meant less investment and economic activity. Foolishly, Brits voted for conservatives to solve this problem — who began to blame scapegoats.
The first scapegoat to be found? In America, it was Mexicans. In Britain, it was Europeans. “Real” Brits were taught to hate Europeans the same way that “real” Americans were taught to hate Mexicans and Latinos — they were the cause of all the problems. “Build the wall!” They took the jobs and places in school, they lived on welfare, the dirty, rotten scrounges, they were lazy and indolent, they were criminals, they weren’t “like us,” the pure and true.
And so all Brits had to do was to get rid of them. Brits, astonishingly, fell for this Big Lies. Astonishingly to the kind of American who thinks of Brits as gentle, wiser, sophisticated cousins. Were they? Brits fell for this Big Lie so hard that they suddenly left the European Union — which meant, among other things, that Brits gave up their rights to live and work in Europe. How foolish is that?
Now. What happened next? Did any of this solve Britain’s problems? Any of them? Nope. It just made them worse. The real problems began to accelerate out of control. Now, without the army of Europeans who’d formerly worked in the NHS, Brits themselves were unable to get medical care. Labour shortages began to cripple the economy, from fruit-pickers to doctors and nurses to drivers. The economy began to crater, and British living standards fell faster and faster.
A lot of Americans probably think that Brits live better lives than them. That used to be true, not so long ago — but now? The situation has changed head-spinningly fast, in shocking ways. Americans have an average of $4.5K in their bank accounts — that’s not a lot, but Brits have an average of £500 in theirs. That’s an order of magnitude difference. Imagine having just $500 in your bank account. In America, healthcare costs a packet, true — yet if you’re insured, by and large, you can get it. In Britain? Good luck getting any anymore — you can’t see a doctor in person, and waiting lists are years long. I could go on with the mega-failure, but those two facts alone point to a dismal conclusion: Brits are way worse off than Americans at this juncture — though not so long ago, they were far better off. They enjoyed some of the world’s best healthcare, food, rights, living standards.
How did Britain collapse to this point? Because it entered the vicious cycle of ultra-nationalism. You see, the scapegoating that began with Europeans never stopped. It just keeps going on and on. And in Britain, there seems to be no future but this vicious cycle. Here, let me give you an example of the last few days.
Britain’s latest government — its fifth one in six years — cooked up a fake “refugee crisis.” It said that refugees were launching an “invasion.” Those are serious words for a government to use, and words have meanings — “invasion” usually means “army with guns and tanks,” not desperately poor people who own nothing in the entire world arriving half-drowned with nothing more than the shirts on their backs. Stoking the flames of violence?
Sorry, this came a day or two after a right-wing fanatic bombed a refugee center. Think about that for a second. Just after a fascist lunatic bomber tried to blow up a refugee center…the government called it an “invasion.” By the refugees. What’s happening in Ukraine is an invasion. This…isn’t one.
To its credit, the BBC tried to debunk all this. It pointed out that Britain has one of Europe’s lowest rates of asylum applications and refugee landings and so forth. But it didn’t matter. By now, the country was whipped up. All over again. Into a xenophobic frenzy. There’s an invasion. Quick, Nigel — to the gunboats!! Someone, resurrect Lord Trafalgar!! The Spanish are coming!!
Now. What does all this mean? Well, Britain has real problems. Huge ones, and a lot of them. Just last week, a baby died because you can’t get an ambulance anymore. That’s about as hardcore an indicator of social collapse as there could be. Meanwhile, Brits have just £500 in their bank accounts, a meagre amount that’s not going to pay the bills, which are rising swiftly, for much longer. From money to healthcare, from education to finance, Britain is in a complete state of failure, aka, it’s a failing state, a nation unable to deliver basic levels of public service provision anymore. Hence, Britain’s living standards cratered in about a decade or so, from being way better than America’s, to being below even those.
But you wouldn’t know it. Because what Britain’s power figures have become expert at isn’t solving its real problems. Any of them. What they’re really good at? The only thing they’re really good at? Stoking xenophobic frenzies. That’s it. And I’m not kidding, so let me continue my story.
The scapegoating began with Europeans, and that accelerated Britain’s shocking decline. Hating Europeans, it turned out, even cleansing society of them — it didn’t solve a single problem. Instead, now, Brits couldn’t get things like healthcare, because, well, the doctors and nurses were gone. That’s how living standards began to plummet below even America’s dismal levels.
But the scapegoating never ended. It went from Europeans to all immigrants. From all immigrants to everyone who wasn’t “really” British. Which is how you end with a government stoking a xenophobic frenzy after a far right wing suicide bomber just tried to blow up a refugee center. Not the opposite — which is what we expect from modern democracies — not disavowing the violence and hate, but stoking it.
While all this was going on, who was solving any real problem? Nobody. So Brits just kept on…not begin able to get doctors, and now the waiting lists are years. Who was making a plan for the future — like Biden’s, which is about America becoming a world leader in supplying things the worlds desperately needs, like microchips and clean energy — a real national strategy to revive a moribund economy? Nobody. Who wanted to invest in a nation without a strategy for the future? As it turned out, not too many people — so the pound began a long, slow-motion crash, the nations’ fiscal balances blew apart, and good jobs were few and far between, all of which meant British living standards went into free-fall.
Now. Americans see a certain view of fascism, which goes like this. The bad guys tried to burn down democracy on January 6th, and we’ve got to stop them. They’re religious fanatics and gun nuts and believers in Big Lies. They’re radicalized lunatics. We can’t turn over the levers of power to them, because who knows what they’ll do. All that’s true, but there’s an deeper, and simpler truth, at work here.
If you want to see where it all ends, just look at Britain. If the GOP takes control, something very much like modern day Britain is on the cards. Huge, pulsating waves of hate will sweep the country, and obsess people with the sense of persecution and existential danger — there’s an “invasion”!! My God!! In the end, Americans will come to believe what Brits did — a thing that never quite fully happened during the Trump years — that society has to be cleansed of all foreign bodies to be “pure” again, and that will become the only project in society, just as it’s the only thing modern Britain’s capable of now — not providing healthcare, jobs, money, public services, building schools, hospitals, roads, factories, having a plan for the future — just finding someone even more powerless to demonize for the woes of the pure and true.
And that, in turn, solves nothing. Which is why Brits went in a decade and a half or so from enjoying living standards far superior to Americans, to suffering ones even below those. Americans think things can’t get worse. They’re wrong — they very much can. Americans have $5K in their bank accounts, not a lot, but try living British style, with just £500 — $577. America’s gone through some rough times, but even during Trumpism it wasn’t foolish enough to break up with its biggest trading partners and oldest friends like Britain did. Americans pay dearly for basics like healthcare, true — but at least they can get them, whereas in Britain, the social contract’s failed so spectacularly you can’t. In America, conservatives believe the Big Lies that the election was stolen — in Britain, they don’t have to, because they’ve been in power three times as long as the Trump years, thanks to a far more vicious, obsessive, and obsessive brand of xenophobia and hatred still. There is a long way down yet for Americans — and the parlous, shocking state of Britain exemplifies it best.
The midterms are about all that. They’re not just about moral objections to fascism — ideal-state of democracy stuff, or even January 6th-was-a-coup. All true, and that all matters intensely. They’re also about, though, the central truth fascism confronts us with. It’s a vicious cycle that does something paradoxical, strange, weird — it at once accelerates itself, sustains itself, by never solving the problems it purports to solve. It claims to end economic stagnation and decline — but all it really does is accelerate them. And by doing so, its fire keeps raging hotter and hotter. Britain exemplifies all that perfectly, and it’s not even fascist — just ultra nationalist. Where it ends up though, is anybody’s guess. America shouldn’t want to find out. It should learn the lesson of Britain in time for the midterms — and run away screaming from becoming a failed state like that, one that puts xenophobically finding someone new to hate every month, day, hour, a little more obsessively, over actually being a functioning modern society.
Nobody should make that mistake — and yet even a nation as once-wise as Britain can. And that should teach us just how seductive the power of hate, of xenophobia, of ignorance, really is. So much easier to believe the fools’ fairy tale that you can hate, demonize, and rage your way to a better future — instead of doing the hard work of building one, by linking hands together.