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Authoritarianism, Fascism Are Unfortunately the Most Likely Outcomes

Authoritarianism, Fascism Are Unfortunately the Most Likely Outcomes

Wednesday, 1 April, 2020 - 10:15

A phrase is being repeated in several languages today: Corona will bring down capitalism and injustice, allowing for a new system to emerge or for the establishment of a socialism that benefits from past shortcomings and from the progress that has been made since then and from the progress made concerning the environment, social issues and gender relations. It is a new kind of socialism that enters society as it opens the door for people's will.


This discourse is a small step away before it's said that justice will be brought to earth after it was full of misery.


If only!


Trying to explicate the obscure future is not practical, and the “march of history” is not in anyone’s pocket. However, today's indications suggest that the possibility referred to the above is the least probable. They also suggest that the likelihood of the emergence of authoritarianism, maybe fascism, could be, unfortunately, and horrifyingly, the greatest.


The economic decline that is quietly gaining strength will explode as the epidemic recedes, and at that point, it will likely be thunderous and overwhelming. This is not meant to spread panic or despondency.


These claims are based on the numbers and estimates put out by economists of all stripes. Our situation is now more analogous to the 1929 depression than it is to the 2008 recession, and the resemblance does not stem only from the unprecedented swing in the stock market. Growth rates will drastically decline all over the world, and unemployment numbers will increase by millions…


However, an explosion of the most extreme forms of conservatism will accompany this crisis. The indications for such a transformation are staring us in the eyes: Hostility against others and and fear them, aggressive stereotyping and depriving him or her of diminishing resources and benefits, especially if he or she is an immigrant, a refugee or a foreign. The likelihood of decreasing immigration is high. Tightening border controls is certain. National "solutions" will become the trend. In countries where the national fabric and states are weaker than sectarian and ethnic institutions and modes of identification, we may see something different but no less dangerous: A proliferation of fanatic forces that establish parallel organizations, and may require, or impose, forms of autonomous security, as there is also a possibility for sects managing their economic affairs, and perhaps their educational affairs as well. In other words, instead of classical fascism, nationalist and statist, we could live under fractious neo-fascisms of various kinds that balance each other out and keep us on the brink of civil war. The depletion of resources and greater competition for them multiplies the likelihood of this happening and makes it more intense.


Cruelty is another sign. Coronavirus has reinvigorated the culture of acutely distinguishing between healthy youths and the sick and elderly. This is accompanied by a culture of isolation, "social distancing" and putting homes at the center of our lives; these may be suitable as temporary technical solutions, but this is not an ideal model for life (even as technical antidotes, the provision of the economic assistance needed to stay at home must supplement them).


Another indication: some regimes are tracking individual movement through phones and emails and the collection of all of past data to curtail citizens’ mobility …


The declining confidence in science and progress is a push in this direction as well. A mythical and conspiratorial consciousness is expanding in “analyses”. The role of culture is largely debilitated. Means for the discharge of violence, whether through politics and elections, or sports, are out of reach.


Furthermore, social, syndicalist, liberal, and social democrat movements which should act and influence things seem unable to make an impact. On the public policy front, it is evident that Sanders' luck in America is likely to be the same as that of his colleague, Corbyn, in Britain.


As for models, it is worrying to see demands for strong states, the admiration for China’s actions while the European Union faces its worst moments. For this admiration also pushes in the same direction, especially given the liberal model's degradation into a neglectful and careless neo-liberal one, while protest movements in all their forms atrophied, and what remains of them is directed against "corrupt regimes" and "ineffective governments" and are thereby susceptible to being rehashed into demands for "stronger" regimes. We thus supplement neo-liberalism with tyranny and "efficiency.''


On top of that: this position, along with its populism and hostility to the west and its other characteristics, was not weak when coronavirus took us by storm. It was strong in the first place.


So, the critique of authoritarianism and authoritarians remained very timid, Bashar al-Assad has banished millions of people who cannot find homes to hide in from the new pandemic. Vladimir Putin is preparing for constitutional amendments that extend his stay in the Kremlin until 2036. The infallible leaders who have multiplied in the past few years are likely to increase further.


Indeed, authoritarianism and fascism are scarier than coronavirus, and they are more lethal. As for the salvation that apocalyptic scenarios tell us will spring up from disaster, it is most likely a myth. It is difficult to see how such a mother could give birth to this kind of daughter.


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