Two authoritarians on the far right of the political spectrum.
Apparently the Conservatives are cross about being compared with the Nazis. Mike Sivier at Vox Political wrote about the circumstances of the comparison, which arose on Monday: This ignorant Tory councillor had better try justifying the deaths his party has caused.
Human Rights abuses
This is a government that is currently at the centre of a United Nations inquiry into abuses of the human rights of sick and disabled people, and is also in breach of the rights of women and children, because of their anti-humanist, draconian welfare “reforms”.
While I am very aware that we need take care not to trivialise the terrible events of the Holocaust by making casual comparisons, there are some clear and important parallels with what is happening to sick and disabled people, poor people and those who are unemployed in the UK and the ideological processes in Nazi Germany: events on a political, cultural and a psychosocial level, that I feel are crucially important to recognise.
Conservative policies are entirely ideologically driven. We have a government that frequently uses words like workshy to describe vulnerable social groups. This is a government that is intentionally scapegoating poor, unemployed, disabled people and migrants. A few years ago, a Tory councillor said that “the best thing for disabled children is the guillotine.” More recently, another Tory councillor called for the extermination of gypsies, more than one Tory MP has called for illegal and discriminatory levels of pay for disabled people.
These weren’t “slips”, it’s patently clear that the Tories believe these comments are acceptable, and we need only look at the discriminatory nature of policies such as the legal aid bill, the wider welfare “reforms” and research the consequences of austerity for the poorest and the vulnerable citizens – those with the “least broad shoulders” – to understand that these comments reflect how Conservatives think.
This is a government that is manipulating public prejudice to justify massive socio-economic inequalities and their own policies that are creating a steeply hierarchical society based on social Darwinist survival of the wealthiest libertarian, minarchist principles. Society is being re-arranged by the Conservatives into hierarchies of human worth, based on traditional 19th century notions of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’.
Conservatives have always seen society and human relationships in terms of hierarchies, based on “red in tooth and claw” Darwinist conflict. A hierarchy is any system of persons or things ranked one above the other. The government claim that this kind of inequality and ‘competition’ for scarce resources is somehow ‘good’ for the economy. They say that people who are higher in the hierarchy got there on merit. However, at least a third of wealthy people inhereited their wealth and power. Cameron included.
Hierarchy was originally used to describe the system of church government by priests graded into ranks. Organised religion is very hierarchical. Hierarchical thinking is about seeing the world through systems of domination, ranks and importance. But the central principle of human rights is that we each have equal worth: that we are all equally important. But hierarchies ensure that privilege and decision-making is not socially distributed. Nor is power.
The very way that Tories think leads to a collision between their ideology and our human rights, and is completely incompatible with the principles of equality and democracy. Tories think that some people hold a more important place in society than others. This reduces people – they become inferiors or superiors, and really, that is about unequal distribution of power, subordination and domination – those power relationships are no longer entirely notional, we have moved some distance from being a liberal democracy these past five years – and feudalism and manorialism are very Tory ideals.
To summarise, there are strong links between the right-wing idea of competitive individualism, Social Darwinism, social inequalities, eugenics, nationalism, fascism and authoritarianism. Those ideas are implicit in Tory rhetoric, because they form the very foundations of Tory ideology. A society with inequalities is and always has been the ideologically founded and rationalised product of Conservative Governments.
The creation of scapegoats, categories of others and outgrouping
The malicious creation of socio-economic scapegoats, involving vicious stigmatisation of vulnerable social groups, particularly endorsed by the mainstream media, is simply a means of manipulating public perceptions and securing public acceptance of the increasingly punitive and repressive basis of the Tories’ welfare “reforms”, and the steady stripping away of essential state support and provision. At the same time, wages are depressed, many jobs are insecure, or zero-hour contracts and working conditions are declining.
A coerced labor force is a key feature of most despotic, authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist states and as history has taught us, ALL eugenicist-founded tyrannies.
The political construction of social problems also marks an era of increasing state control of citizens with behaviour modification techniques, (under the guise of “paternalistic libertarianism”) all of which are a part of the process of restricting access rights to welfare provision.
The mainstream media has been complicit in the process of constructing deviant welfare stereotypes and in engaging prejudice and generating moral outrage from the public:
“If working people ever get to discover where their tax money really ends up, at a time when they find it tough enough to feed their own families, let alone those of workshy scroungers, then that’ll be the end of the line for our welfare state gravy train.” James Delingpole 2014
Poverty cannot be explained away by reference to simple narratives of the workshy scrounger as Delingpole claims, no matter how much he would like to apply such simplistic, blunt, stigmatising, dehumanising labels that originated from the Nazis (see arbeitssheu.)
This past five years we have witnessed an extraordinary breakdown of the public/private divide, and a phenomenological intrusion on the part of the state and media into the lives of the poorest members of society. (For example, see: The right-wing moral hobby horse: thrift and self-help, but only for the poor.)
Hannah Arendt wrote extensively about totalitarian regimes, in particular Nazism and Stalinism, which she distinguishes from Italian Fascism, because Hitler and Stalin sought to eliminate all restraints upon the power of the State and furthermore, they sought to dominate and control every aspect of everyone’s life. There are parallels here, especially when one considers the continued attempts at dismantling democratic processes and safeguards since the Coalition first took office. And the quiet editing and steady erosion of our protective laws
Between February 1933 and the start of World War Two, Nazi Germany underwent an economic “recovery” according to the government. Rather like the “recovery” that Osborne and Cameron are currently claiming, which isn’t apparent to the majority of citizens.
This economic miracle, sold to the people of Germany, entailed a huge reduction in unemployment. However, the main reason for this was fear – anyone who was found guilty of being workshy (arbeitssheu) could then be condemned to the concentration camps that were situated throughout Germany. Hitler frequently referred to the economic miracle, whilst people previously employed in what was the professional class were made to undertake manual labour on the autobahns. People didn’t refuse the downgraded status and pay, or complain, lest they became Arbeitsscheu Reich compulsory labor camp prisoners, and awarded a black triangle badge for their perceived mental inferiority and Otherness.
Behaviour can be controlled by manipulating fear, using a pattern of deprivation. Benefit sanctions, for example, leave “workshy”people without the means to meet their basic survival needs and are applied for periods of weeks or months and up to a maximum of 3 years. That the government of a so-called first world liberal democracy is so frankly inflicting such grotesquely cruel punishments on vulnerable citizens is truly horrific. It’s also terrifying that the media and to some extent, the wider British public are complicit in this: they fail to recognise that the Social Darwinism inherent in Tory ideological grammar is being communicated through discourses and policies embodying crude behaviour modification techniques and an implicit eugenics subtext .
There were various rationales for the Nazi Aktion T4 programme, which include eugenics, Social Darwinism, racial hygiene, cost effectiveness and reducing the welfare budget.
The social psychology of eugenics
Gordon Allport studied the psychological and social processes that create a society’s progression from prejudice and discrimination to genocide. In his research of how the Holocaust happened, he describes socio-political processes that foster increasing social prejudice and discrimination and he demonstrates how the unthinkable becomes tenable: it happens incrementally, because of a steady erosion of our moral and rational boundaries, and propaganda-driven changes in our attitudes towards politically defined others, that advances culturally, by almost inscrutable degrees.
The process always begins with political scapegoating of a social group and with ideologies that identify that group as the Other: an “enemy” or a social “burden” in some way. A history of devaluation of the group that becomes the target, authoritarian culture, and the passivity of internal and external witnesses (bystanders) all contribute to the probability that violence against that group will develop, and ultimately, if the process is allowed to continue evolving, extermination of the group being targeted.
Economic recession, uncertainty and authoritarian or totalitarian political systems contribute to shaping the social conditions that seem to trigger Allport’s escalating scale of prejudice.
In the UK, the media is certainly being used by the right-wing as an outlet for blatant political propaganda, and much of it is manifested as a pathological persuasion to hate others. The Conservatives clearly have strong authoritarian tendencies, and that is most evident in their anti-democratic approach to policy, human rights, equality, social inclusion and processes of government accountability.
Vulnerable groups are those which our established principles of social justice demand we intervene to help, support and protect. However, the Conservative’s rhetoric is aimed at a deliberate identification of citizens as having inferior behaviour. The poorest citizens are presented as a problem group because of their individual faulty characteristics, and this is intentionally diverting attention from wider socio-economic and political causes of vulnerability. Individual subjects experiencing hardships have been placed beyond state protection and are now the objects of policies that embody behaviourism, and pathologising, punitive and coercive elements of social control. Vulnerable people are no longer regarded as human subjects, the state is acting upon them, not for or on behalf of them.
People are still debating if Stalin’s Holodomor conforms to a legal definition of genocide, no-one doubts that Hitler’s gas chambers do, though Hitler also killed thousands by starvation.
Our own government have formulated and implemented policies that punish unemployed people for being “workshy” – for failing to meet the never-ending benefit conditionality requirements which entails the use of negative incentives and behaviour modification to “support” a person’s into work – by withdrawing their lifeline benefit. We also know that sanction targets have led to many people losing lifeline benefits for incoherent and grossly unfair reasons that have nothing to do with an unwillingness to cooperate or work.
Since benefits were originally calculated to meet basic living requirements – food, fuel and shelter – it’s inconceivable that the government haven’t already considered the consequences of removing people’s means of meeting these fundamental survival needs. Of course, the Tory claim that this draconian measure is to incentivise people to “find work” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when we consider that there isn’t enough work for everyone, and certainly not enough work around that pays an adequate amount to actually survive on.
Furthermore it flies in the face of long-established and conventional wisdom which informs us that if you reduce people by removing their means of survival, those people cannot be motivated to do anything else but to struggle and survive. Maslow tells us that unless we meet basic survival needs, we cannot be motivated to meet higher level psychosocial ones.
Tory austerity is all about ideology – the dehumanisation of the poor, and the destruction of public services and provisions – state infrastructure – and nothing to do with the state of the economy. It’s also about cutting money from the poorest and handing it to the wealthiest. Many economists agree that austerity is damaging to the economy.
There has been a media complicity with irrational and increasingly punitive Tory policies. But why are the public so compliant?
Decades of research findings in sociology and psychology inform us that as soon as a group can be defined as an outgroup, people will start to view them differently. The very act of demarcating groups begins a process of ostracization.
As well as the political and social definitions of others, there also exists deeper, largely unconscious beliefs that may have even more profound and insidious effects. These are related to whether people claiming benefits are even felt to be truly, properly human in the same way that “we” are.
This is called infrahumanisation. Infra means “below”, as in below or less than fully human. The term was coined by a researcher at the University of Louvain called Jacque-Philippe Leyens to distinguish this form of dehumanisation from the more extreme kind associated with genocide.
However, I don’t regard one form of dehumanisation as being discrete from another, since studies show consistently that it tends to escalate when social prejudice increases. It’s a process involving accumulation.
According to infrahumanisation theory, the denial of uniquely human emotions to the outgroup is reflective of a tacit belief that they are less human than the ingroup.
Poor people, sick and disabled people, homeless people people with mental illness and social security claimants are the most frequently outgrouped. It is these most stigmatised groups that people have the most trouble imagining having the same uniquely human qualities as the rest of us. This removes the “infrahumanised” group from the bonds, moral protection and obligations of our community, because outgrouping de-empathises us.
This would explain why some people attempt to justify the austerity cuts, which clearly fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable. This is probably why fighting the austerity cuts is much more difficult than simply fighting myths and political propaganda. I think the government are very aware of the infrahumanisation tendency amongst social groups and are manipulating it, because growing social inequality generates a political necessity for social prejudices to use as justification narratives.
The linguistic downgrading of human worth
During a debate in the House of Lords, Freud described the changing number of disabled people likely to receive the employment and support allowance as a “bulge of, effectively, stock”. After an outraged response, this was actually transcribed by Hansard as “stopped”, rendering the sentence meaningless. He is not the only person in the Department of Work and Pensions who uses this term. The website describes disabled people entering the government’s work programme for between three and six months as “3/6Mth stock”.
This infrahumanised stock are a source of profit for the companies running the programme. The Department’s delivery plan recommends using “credit reference agency data to cleanse the stock of fraud and error”.
The linguistic downgrading of human life requires dehumanising metaphors: a dehumanising socio-political system using a dehumanising language, and it is becoming familiar and pervasive: it has seeped almost unnoticed into our lives.
Until someone like Freud or Mellins pushes our boundaries of decency a little too far. Then we suddenly see it, and wonder how such prejudiced and discriminatory comments could be deemed acceptable and how anyone could possibly think they would get away with such blatantly offensive comment without being challenged. It’s because they have got away with less blatantly offensive comments previously: it’s just that they pushed more gently and so we didn’t see.
The government also distorts people’s perceptions of the aims of their policies by using techniques of neutralisation. An example of this method of normalising prejudice is the use of the words “incentivise” and “help” in the context of benefit sanctions, which as we know are intentionally extremely punitive, and people have died as a consequence of having their lifeline benefit withdrawn.
As Allport’s scale of prejudice indicates, hate speech and incitement to genocide start from often subliminal expressions of prejudice and subtle dehumanisation, which escalate. Germany didn’t wake up one morning to find Hitler had arranged the murder of millions of people. It happened, as many knew it would, and was happening whilst they knew about it. And many opposed it, too.
The dignity and equal worth of every human being is the axiom of international human rights. International law condemns statements which deny the equality of all human beings.
As a so-called civilised society, so should we.
Much of this was taken from a longer article: Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich, Human Rights and infrahumanisation
I’ve written at length about the link between Conservative policies and premature deaths of ill and disabled people on this site. And the government’s attempts at hiding that information. For example:
A tale of two suicides and a very undemocratic, inconsistent government
Techniques of neutralisation: David Cameron’s excuses for Iain Duncan Smith
The Tories are epistemological fascists: about the DWP’s Mortality Statistics release
The government need to learn about the link between correlation and causality. Denial of culpability is not good enough.
Remembering the Victims of the Government’s Welfare “Reforms”
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31 thoughts on “If the Tories don’t like being compared to the Nazis, they need to stop behaving like despots.”
Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.
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Reblogged this on lawrencerowntree.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x76fmBxKSHU Gross violations of human rights are being commited here today in name of the Bedroom Tax
Adolf Hitler actually looks and less psychopathic than Cameron.
Cameron’s slave trading/owning ancestors have furnished this otherwise talentless toff with the finest education and opportunity money can provide and also their sense of social, racial etc. superiority, the difference is Hitler rose through true talent and ability and leadership.
Nevertheless the Tories have modelled themselves on the Nazis…. seems like a live theatre pantomime. Cameron as Hitler, IDS as Himmler, Boris Johnson as Hermann Goering, The sick disabled and unemployed and working class as the sick disabled unemployed and Jewish class.
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Reblogged this on Fear and loathing in Great Britain.
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Personally, I believe, as you say, there are very valid comparisons with the Nazi regime and didn’t Duncan-Smith not long ago admire the chilling words inscribed above the gates to Auschwitz Death Camp?
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He didn’t only “admire” them: he’s repeated them ever since seeing them.
Reblogged this on obsidianspear.
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Hitler: “economic miracle”. Duncan Smith: “jobs miracle”. Well. No comparison at all there then 🙂
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Reblogged on Online Activist
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Reblogged this on Poppy's Place.
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If the left don’t like being accused of being antisemitic Holocaust deniers, they need to stop applauding overt Holocaust denial like this blog post. Let’s not beat about the bush: conflating things which are not the Holocaust with the Holocaust is just a way of making the Holocaust seem less bad. It’s not clever, it’s not subtle, it’s very far from original, having been a much used tactic of the far right before they went undercover. It’s just naked antisemitism.
Can you point out where I have “denied” the Holocaust, and where I have written anything remotely antisemitic? I have discussed psychosocial and political processes that social psychologist Gordon Allport identified in his account of how the German people permitted the Holocaust to happen. To my knowledge, no-one on the left that I know has denied the Holocaust happened.
I suggest you actually read what the article says
Now… some people in labour have voiced their personal opinions on the crimes of Israel. Nowhere have I seen them attacking Jews or Judaism. Just the crimes of Israel. These were just words, but now, the slimy tories have jumped on it. They’re clearly working for the Zionists. The tories are guilty of much worse. The persecution of people less fortunate than themselves: the poor, the working class, the disabled, the elderly…. tories are no different to the BNP or other right wing extremists. I believe them to be just as evil. Evil is the key word here. Not only do they despise ordinary people, tories are THIEVES. Just like the Nazis. We are paying tax for things which we no longer receive, or will no longer receive in the near future. The tories will get richer off our slavery. What I see right now, is the tories desperately trying to divert attention away from their own ACTUAL crimes (especially after IDS quitting work & pensions) by bleating about some WORDS that Labour have said. Even if those words were anti-semitic (they were not), they were still, just words. Compare that, to the crimes of Israel, & to the crimes of the tory (nazi) party against the British people. I can’t believe people vote for the destruction of the NHS & privatisation of everything that will end up costing them more, & still have to pay taxes for.
It is disgusting that the most EVIL people in the world are now trying to divert attention away from themselves & twist the words of people who are simply speaking out against evil & injustice in the world. I personally believe that democracy is a sham, they just keep the illusion of it in order to keep us in line – but I think that now, the cracks are starting to get to obvious. I believe, that the Zionists rule the world currently, & that NOBODY are allowed to speak out against them, despite their crimes.
The tory party are the worst politicians of Britain. They persecute ordinary people & swindle our tax money for their own personal greed. How much Osborne spends on whores & coke per month I don’t know. Now they work for the zionists their greed is obvious. Pathetic people just following orders of their Zionist puppet masters. Victims of their own vices.
Remember when our army were in Palestine & the Israeli terrorists were bombing us? Yet still we rolled over for them. Give evil people an inch, they will take everything. Now they pull the strings of our pathetic tory politicians. Now the Zionists are at war with ordinary British people by proxy. “We” bail out the banks & give disgraced politicians (& bankers) huge bonuses. It’s the Zionist way.
I can see a WW3 coming… but it won’t be what we’ve been forced to fear thus far… more like, ordinary people against Zionism…. that’s even more worrying as the Zionists have nukes.
“I hope the tories love, their children too”
I agree with some of this, but not all. I don’t think the Zionists rule the world, I think very ruthless, wealthy and powerful people without remorse and conscience do. And that category isn’t dominated by one race or ethnic group. I don’t endorse genocide, no matter who the perpetrators are, ever. But I do think you are right about the words and contexts being twisted out of shape and used to prop up a Tory agenda.
Thankyou, Kitty for speaking out, so eloquently and accurately, about THE TRUTH of what’s actually happening in our country right now. If there were more like you, willing to stand up against this unthinkable horror and venomous cruelty towards the most vulnerable members of our society, then maybe, just maybe, the evil tories wouldn’t get away with this as easily. It’s important they know that we know and are all watching them. That not all are willing to allow it, through sustained silence, but will voluntarily speak out against it, publicly and spread the message that the UK is not safe in their hands and especially the vulnerable people within it and that gradually, the truth is emerging. As I see it, the more who know the truth, the more chance there is that together, somehow, we can stop this mindless murder of defenceless people, in their droves (sound familiar? Yes, it IS a new form of slow holocaust). Thankyou to all who support the move towards truth and enlightenment and ultimately, reclaiming the rights and safety of all vulnerable people, in this, our country. How refreshing to find the truth revealed in such an articulate and well informed manner. Please continue with your campaign to get the truth out there and know that we support you.
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Reblogged this on sideshowtog.
I note with sorrow the way some Tories use the term ‘stock’ to describe their own citizens, which is not unlike ‘Stucke’ or ‘pieces’ which was the term, I think, for the dead bodies of human beings in the camps.
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