Britain has entered the worst recession since records began. This crisis comes at a time when we see fascistic rhetoric aimed at migrants deployed by the UK government. The inevitable recession that COVID-19 was going to bring has arrived. The conditions are a perfect storm for fascist movements to gather pace and strength. Fascism thrives on the results of economic inequality- this is clear from an historical and global perspective. From Hitler’s rise from the ashes of economically decimated post-WWI Germany, to the contemporary examples of Greece’s Golden Dawn movement borne from the 2008 global recession. Fascists will always peddle their myths to explain away crises and recruit whoever they can to their cause. In the UK, the stage is set, and the players are already warming up.
We have seen the petty statue defenders attack those protesting for migrants’ rights, exposing themselves not as patriots, but as far-right foot soldiers. While society suffers from the current crisis, only the fascist has cause for celebration. They use this climate to convince those with this least that they have nothing to lose. The left must take note of this failure to articulate clear solutions to the problems caused by inequality. Capitalism and its discontents are feeding the far-right, the most vulnerable are falling into their ranks.
How can we prevent this? Firstly, we need a strong, united left-wing movement. Not only an organised left-wing movement, but a broad coalition which commonly oppose both fascism and capitalism. Capitalism cannot help us to overcome the Coronavirus crisis. We cannot accept another generation of austerity with decimated public services. Fascists will only try to look after their own and punish whichever section of society they deem unworthy. Secondly, we need to present folk with a definite alternative to capitalism and fascism. This should be done through direct action and mutual aid rather than by utopianism or rhetoric. If we can create or strengthen social programs which house, feed, and clothe people, taking note from the historical examples where this has worked, then we will succeed. Migrants will also need protecting during this time, as fascists will target them. The left needs to work hard not on behalf of migrant communities, but in cooperation with them to achieve the broad aims of combating fascism and providing a shelter from capitalism. The present crisis will be difficult to overcome. If we can present a radical alternative to despair, hatred, and poverty through our deeds, not our words then we have a chance to truly change society.