Paolo Di Canio, who is prone to giving fascist salutes, has taken over at the Sunderland football club. And David Milliband, the Labour politician, is ostensibly so incensed that he has resigned his post at the club. Now there’s a slight problem there.
My Chambers dictionary defines fascism as a combination of different characteristics including “militarism”. And Milliband voted for a military invasion of Iraq for some very dodgy reasons, which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. So I’m not interested I sermons on fascism from Labour or Tory politicians who voted to invade Iraq.
Another element in fascism according to the dictionary is “restrictions on personal freedom”. Well now, a restriction on personal freedom which has now mercifully been removed, no thanks to Labour, is the freedom to insult. Section 5 of the Public Order Act made it illegal (until recently) to insult anyone. Scarcely believable, isn’t it, especially given that politicians all queue up to insult each other at election time? And twice as many Labour politicians wanted Section 5 retained as compared to Tories or LibDems. See this survey of politicians’ views.A third reason I’m not impressed by the contrived outrage coming from the political left is that they use the word fascism so indiscriminately that the word is essentially meaningless. As Prof. Timothy Garton Ash put it in The Guardian, “the label “fascism” has been hollowed-out to mean little more than something the left hates at the moment”.
Or as George Orwell put it, “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies something not desirable".
In contrast to the above contrived outrage, destruction of the English language and general grandstanding, there is an important question as to whether Di Canio is seriously opposed to free speech or democracy or is seriously into “militarism”. If anyone can fill me in on that I’d be grateful.