Fascism is a profoundly dehumanizing ideology that promotes discrimination and oppression. But, in recent times what is causing Its resurgence and gain in popularity at least in certain political spheres across the world?
The reason is the same as why it emerged in the first place after the first world war- the grievances of some segments of people. They feel oppressed by the elite-class policies or the mainstream political establishments;. they feel left out as the system by design works only for the upper class.
Their psychology of oppression is an opportunity for a dictator to leverage and come to power. These people need a dictator who reflects their thoughts, believes that the establishment is corrupt and wants to usher in a new era where the old elites lose their power. So that the so called oppressed can gain their respect and glory back.
To substantiate this belief, an authoritarian leader spins a story of ‘lost glory’ and their propaganda machinery takes these stories deep into the hearts of their followers. To make them feel respected again.
When these masses encounter a leader whose rhetoric emphasizes on gaining the lost respect they worship them; they oversee their faults, and self-centredness. So, leaders who have the tendency to become a dictator wield the emotions of this segment of the masses.
Respect is key
In his book How to Lose a Country – The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship, Ece Temelkuran quotes that, ‘Respect is something I hear a lot about from Trump voters. The spirit of the sentiment is often: ”Maybe Trump’s a jerk, maybe he won’t do what he says he will, but he acts as if people like me are important and the people who disrespects me aren’t”’. Ece says ‘respect’ is the word
One of Viktor Orban’s right-wing populist party’s slogan for the European Parliament Elections – Our message to Brussels: Respect Hungarians
A similar sentiment among a segment of people in Turkey allowed Erdogan to come to power just one year after his party was founded in 2001.
India’s ruling BJP party also resorts to the resentment of its largely poor population to smear the political opposition and score big in elections.
So what these disgruntled masses want is an authoritarian or a totalitarian government, with restricted freedom of speech, immigration, isolated foreign policy or association with those nations who reflect the populist ideology so that their regained respect is not lost to the elites again.
An authoritarian or a totalitarian state becomes their obvious choice because representative democracy didn’t work in their favor and now is the time to regain and protect their respect with the help of these empathetic authoritarian leaders.
Conventional wisdom asks the next question: Why not fix representative democracy to serve everyone equally? Maybe this is because these segments of the people want a shift in the prevailing zeitgeist in which the right-wing populism remains powerful to compensate for the period elitist ruled over them. Having no desire to reform representative democracy can be seen as an act of counterbalancing what the elitists did to them in the past.
Faith in free world
With the decline of faith in a supreme power, people often seek alternative sources to guide their lives with confidence and dignity. One such source is placing faith in the free world. Even atheists, who do not adhere to religious beliefs, may find solace and inspiration in the concept of faith in the free world as a guiding principle for their lives.
On the other hand, what authoritarian governments have to offer to the world are fear, violence and suppression.
To make a free world where everyone has the right to live their life as they want to without suppressing the values of liberty, it is vital to reform the representative democratic systems rather than opting for authoritarianism.
To be continued…
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