Fascism is back, Mason argues. In January 2021, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington. Right-wing populism was supposed to be a firewall against far-right extremism – but the firewall is on fire. From Brazil to India to Sweden the far right is on the rise across the world.
Fascism is not a horror that we have left in the past; it is a recurring nightmare that is happening again – and we need to find a better way to fight it. The new far right is organisationally small, but its ideologies and symbols are proliferating across networks and social media, into the lives of many ordinary people. Fascism, Mason says, is a symptom of capitalist failure, one that has haunted us throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
The new far right is being driven by climate change, economic stagnation but above all by the collapse of free market ideology, and the disorientation of the self-image millions of people created around it. The left and centre, Mason believes, should unite in a defence of democracy, creating – as in the 1930s – an antifascist ethos that can defeat the mythologies of ethnic conflict being propagated by the right.
In conversation with Bristol Ideas director Andrew Kelly.