VE Day – the hearty 75-year commemoration of the obliteration of fascism in Europe. We’ll be celebrating under lockdown because being outside without a reasonable excuse is now a criminal offence. Irony level 10. Naturally, that erosion of liberty will be steadfastly defended as ‘essential support for the NHS’. Mind you, the Nazis could justify their curfews too as ‘effective internal security’, or words to that effect.
In recent weeks, how blithely we have surrendered so many of the freedoms that our forefathers had protected with their very blood. Needless to say, we should not compare apples with apples even if ours have become decidedly pear-shaped. We’ve not yet succumbed to absolute totalitarianism.
Though as we learned with Hitler, dark powers do not stop with the first land grab. Historical opinion berates Chamberlain for his policy of appeasement. I wonder how our descendants will judge our own flaccid accommodation of the current Government’s whims that permitted their annexation of our rights into their coronapolicy?
I have in my hand a piece of paper. Well, I would if those asshat panic buyers hadn’t scooped up the last few rolls with their sausage-digits. In the current predicament, even a busload of that old-school, industrial-strength tracing paper won’t wipe away our deep regret once the economic chickens have come home to roost.
Of course, the next World War won’t be fought on the battlefields. It won’t even be nuclear. But it’s already started via a substratum new order. Our more pertinent failing is that when we reflect on our world, we have abandoned facts and detail because it’s easier to recognise shapes.
If it looks and acts like a fascist, then that’s what it is. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t.
That’s an ignorance that carves out footholds for nefarious agendas before we draw our next breaths. The next war may not even be with a foreign power. It may be with those sharing a set of values and beliefs that transcend national boundaries or with an internal faction. Will it really matter if everything converges on the same results?
Which all drags us back to the big, bad bug. The reaction to coronavirus may seem like the response to a public health crisis, but that’s just the shape of it. It’s what its features appear to define. But actually, we’ve just witnessed a dry run of just how straightforward it now is to cut off whole nations at the knees. It’s never been starker just how vulnerable nation states are. In time, diluted rights will become the new norm. Perhaps that’s already the case when the current anticipation of lockdown relaxation feels like a lottery win.
When the time comes for World War III, the new protagonists won’t be parking their tanks on the lawn, let alone even leaving their desks. They’ll just trigger all their sleepers through the remote introduction of a catalyst. Forget the sleeper agents of Cold War folklore. The new agents of change are layer upon layer of attitudes and beliefs that are being embedded in all aspects of our daily lives, piped freely into our homes via social media. Pumped into processes, language, the way we categorise and experience – every nook and cranny of modern action and interaction is being marinaded. Our whole culture is being cross-stitched with alternative, competing fibres. The shape may remain reassuringly familiar, but the essence will beguile us into whatever direction dominates. In recent years, that’s been to the populist right.
When the time is right, the inequities and injustices of a new fascism will be meted out. It’s likely already started.
Its oppressive reach will extend and be consolidated into every part of our infrastructure way before we have even formulated our first query of its legitimacy. Different means, same end – and with a longevity that traditional insurgence has always struggled to maintain.
So, feel free to raise a glass (or six) to the fallen on Friday 8th May. But the war against oppression never ended 75 years ago. It never went away, you know. The virus just got clever.
They’ll mete again. Don’t know where; don’t know when.unsplash-logoDavid T