Yeah, we probably are fascists now…

Is Gary Lineker right to say that UK government rhetoric is similar to Nazi Germany of the 30s?

Well, I don’t want to go nuts deep into the collection of Nazi propaganda (again) but… in a technical sense probably not. We’re not at ‘Triumph of the Will’ just yet (cf Dan Olson).

Nazism is a specific ideology that makes value statements on a range of issues from architecture and art to racial hierarchies. They combined this together in a very specific way to spread their rhetoric and propaganda to the People. The overlap with Conservative Party rhetoric is not that strong. For the moment, at least. Though put a pin in “Aktion T4” and the “60,000 Reichmarks” poster. Focusing on how much “undesirables” cost us is very Conservative, and has Nazi precedent.

The complicating factor in judging Lineker’s statement is that because (a limited and dumbed-down version of) WWII acts as a foundational mythos for the United Kingdom, Nazi Germany of the late-30s and 40s is the only widely-known cultural touchstone we have for what fascism looks like.

We saw this when people reacted to the design of the US Space Force uniforms. Everyone just jumped to “fascist”, when really the overlap was “they’re grey”. Years of war movies encoding “good guys wear the green helmets, the bad guys wear the grey ones” has eroded most peoples’ ability to spot far deeper problems.

So, naturally, anyone making comparisons off the cuff without having done some pre-requisite reading on the subject that isn’t titled “Harry Potter and the…” will probably jump to “Nazi” and be kinda half-right/half-wrong, but at least understandably so. We should really be looking at Franco and Mussolini for comparison. Or at least late-Weimar Germany. We could get very bogged down in that last one if we talked about the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft…

Anyway, the point is that there are wider things to learn from history than just the jackboots, marching and occult symbolism of Nazism.

So, let’s just look at one Conservative statement for a moment. Just in isolation, as a piece of rhetoric because it’s very recent, and prominent, and the start of a bigger speech from Suella ‘Only Following Orders’ Braverman.

The law abiding patriotic majority have said enough is enough. This Conservative gov will act now…

Curella Braverman

So that’s some opening rhetoric that says they, the Leaders, should Do Something, and Act, and Act immediately, because the People said so.

At which point, obviously, I’m going to direct you to my boy Umberto, and one of the most famous essays on the subject.

Specifically, point 3 on the ‘cult of action’ — action for action’s sake, to be seen doing something without necessary reflection and, in fact, deriding and looking down on any intellectual analysis of the course of action — and also point 13, on the use of the public as a rhetorical device to prop up and manufacture consent for the cult of action:

“For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction.”

Umberto Eco

[as an aside, if you’re confused by the idea “no large quantity of human beings can have a common will”, I recommend Jordan Ellenberg’s ‘How Not to be Wrong’, which demonstrates this principle mathematically]

Actually, let’s not undersell it with just two of Eco’s points.

Going back to Braverman, she specifically says “law abiding patriotic” people have said something. Which immediately makes the implication that anyone disagreeing with the action for actions sake is both unpatriotic, and non-law-abiding. Now, any dweeb who read a book on skeptical inquiry in the ’00s will spot ‘No True Scotsman’ there, but this one also falls under Eco’s 7th bullet point on Ur-Fascists feeling besieged by a plot, particularly from enemies within. Basically, this sets up the idea that dissent makes you an “enemy of the people”. Which was also an infamous and relatively recent Daily Mail headline. Also, you can easily illustrate all of Eco’s 14 points with Daily Mail headlines. Make of that what you will.

Did I mention that this was written in 1995 about living under Mussolini and not in 2016 about the Vote Leave campaign? Wild stuff.

Dear Mr Cameron

Dear David Cameron, you right-wing fucktard (no, wait, a bit harsh)

Cameron! How, man, ye little radgey!! (no, bit too Tyne and Wear, they’ll assume I’m stupid)

Dear David Cameron, (alleged) quasi human,

I read with a combination of bafflement and alarm (that’s suitably middle class, right?) of your proposals to solve All The Problems In The World by attacking that horrid beast known as Internet Pornography. I would like to express my disagreement (read; am about to shred your entire argument into small chunks and pass them through my digestive system) with your proposals and your motive.

Firstly, I must question your choice of target. Creating an opt-out only filter for all pornographic images and video at the ISP level is tantamount to the old idiom of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (or perhaps using the UK’s stock of atomic weapons on Belfast in order to deal with the IRA). It sets a dangerous precedent for a government enforced, high level censorship campaign against content generators on the Internet. This is something we expect from China and North Korea, but not the United Kingdom. I fear that this is the thinner end of a wedge that will seek to remove the online presence of any dissidence once the precedent and infrastructure for such a move is in place.

You aim to clamp down on pornography depicting child abuse, yet there is already sufficient momentum across the internet to deal with this. The Internet Watch Foundation, for instance, is remarkably zealous in policing the internet (well, blacklisting the cover of Virgin Killer was fucking hilarious, at least) and can be very effective (when it’s not making a cunting balls up censoring Wikipedia, of course). Google, which despite its flaws (Evil. Evil bastards) deals with indecent images of children very effectively by taking a zero-tolerance approach. Further, being one of the leaders in internet technology, it is undoubtedly better equipped to deal effectively with the cited problem of illegal images and acts (Google is scary-fucking-good at what it does) than any government endorsed filter. Content hosting websites also police themselves effectively, and always report as much detail as possible about offenders to the relevant authorities – those that don’t are usually dealt with by the search engines and ISPs that do deal with it effectively. If this is somehow insufficient, then how would making further amendments to the law without further provisions for enforcement, as was the case with The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, improve the situation? (Let me answer that one for you; it won’t, you stupid piece of shit)  There is very little evidence available that current laws and practices are not sufficient to deal with a problem that will only be driven more underground, and become more subversive, should we attempt to take broad (and stupid) actions against it online.

We all know this will be ineffective (that is, it won’t do jack shit) overall. Anyone who has used the internet for any length of time will quickly come to a few conclusions on the subject. Firstly; internet porn isn’t as easy to merely “stumble” across as is widely advertised (if you stick Google’s safe search on, and look up “Disney Princess”, you’re not going to be immediately met with one of the countless pieces of “fan art” depicting Jasmine riding Aladdin’s rock-hard and oversized cock) and simple precautions are already widely and freely available for responsible adults and parents to use. Secondly; where generic web filters are in place (Fucking Scunthorpe!), they usually don’t work. Trying to instigate an opt-in policy for indecent images will likely create a false sense of security for parents, leading them to avoid the basic courses of action they should be taking when raising children in the internet age. (but, hey, it’s just too much fucking effort to supervise Little Timmy’s internet usage. He’s just fucking fine having a DeviantART account age 8.) There are many problems with attempting to block “pornography”; how to define it, for one, is a major hurdle. What about, say, DeviantART, where the line between “smut” and “artistic nudes” is blurred, or YouTube, where people post explicit material daily, but only just get through by making sure nipples are sufficiently covered? The line needs to be drawn somewhere for such a hard-and-fast (hurr hurr) approach, and it is almost certain that innocent material will be taken offline while offending material gets through. Normally, it would be fallacious to say that less-than-100% effectiveness means we should avoid attempting a reduction in harm, but here we are talking about state-wide censorship based on zero evidence that harm will actually be reduced. In this case, such a problem is not a fallacious one, but a serious issue that casts doubt over whether such a proposal is anything more than a complete waste of our collective time. (Also, Cameron, don’t lie; I bet you’ve tossed one off to a pair of barely-18 tits in your time. Though, back when you had a functioning sex drive we were probably all still on 28k dial-up)

What is most disturbing, however, is the targeting of “extreme” pornography in the 2008 act and the current focus on depictions and simulations of rape. Not rape. Depictions and simulations of rape (see, you’re not going to get a fucking heading saying you want to ban rape, as that was dealt with nicely in the Sexual Offences Act years ago).  “Depiction” and “simulation” notably implying that consent was exchanged prior to the act; what does this sort of message send to the population, and our children, about the nature of consent in sexual activity?

Let’s be frank here (i.e., the sexually repressed should skip to the next paragraph). “Extreme” pornography is, by and large, not a problem. Because laws against rape and child abuse, as well as physical abuse to adults, are already in effect, producers of “extreme” pornography (“BDSM” if you want the actual factual technical term) have to tread very careful grounds in order for their material to be sold; yes, it’s also policed effectively by credit card processors (often, the adults involved will happily go way further than they do, with full consent, but the legal eagles working for the payment processing companies say “no”).  This started a movement towards what is known as “ethical” pornography; a move towards business transparency, codes of conduct, fundamental rights for the talent and more openness about how what was occurring was simply fantasy. This often includes bookending scenes with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to underscore both the fantasy and consensual aspects of the scenes being produced (for those interpreting this as “porn addict”, this sort of information is readily available online to research and is basic and fundamental knowledge for anyone who is not a complete fuckwit expressing an informed opinion regarding online censorship). Contrast this to the experiences in so-called vanilla pornography, where fewer legal restrictions are in place. Women rail-roaded into the business, underpaid, overworked, forced onto drugs, controlled by pimps, taken in, chewed up and spat out, and regularly beaten and abused by directors; all of this stems from “normal” pornography rather than its “more interesting” sub-genres. So, indeed, this extreme form of pornography that you personally find most sickening is the most ethical, consensual and progressive of all pornography (admit it, it’s all just right-wing squeamishness about the sick fact that people fuck and dare to enjoy it).

As for the choice of motive, this is also questionable (read; royally fucktarded). How can someone, with a straight face, declare that they’re taking a decision to protect children (a decision that won’t actually protect children) while simultaneously dismantling the welfare state and taking country-wide financial decisions that are actively driving people into poverty? (Really, how the fuck do you sleep at night?)

Statistically, the greatest potential harm to a child is its own parents, whether it be physical or psychological abuse, or simple neglect. Being exposed to a pair of naked breasts (or even a pair of massive quintuple Ds getting splashed by 6 ball-sack’s worth of salty Man Juice at the same time) is unlikely to lead to everlasting trauma. You know what does cause harm? It’s assertions such as the fact that girls can only wear pink, or that boys must play with cars rather than dolls. It’s the idea that we should never discuss issues such as consent and personal agency with young children because that would “destroy their innocence” (I mean, for fucksake, most sex education has pretty diagrams of internal reproductive organs, but the first time a young boy might see the outside of a growling vagina is when, aged 16 he awkwardly tries to stick his cock in her bellybutton).

In short, what is being proposed is the perfect combination of ineffective and pointless, headline-grabbing but meaningless, and needlessly oppressive to free expression. It serves to undermine legitimate, consensual activity, while generating some air of useless complacency amongst the “concerned” and those easily susceptible to such scaremongering.  But most of all, it sets a dangerous precedent for how a government can control the content communicated between its citizens.