We are – we are constantly being told – living in ‘unprecedented times’, facing ‘unprecedented circumstances’ requiring ‘unprecedented measures’ for which there is no historical precedent and because of which – is the unstated implication – those in power cannot be held to account for the consequences of their actions. ‘Unprecedented’, however, is one of those words that should set alarm-bells ringing, implying, as it does, that we are in a moment about which history can teach us nothing. History tells us that we should always be suspicious when those in power start claiming we are in a moment about which history can tell us nothing. The call to forget the past is always made in the service of power; but there are very few things that history cannot teach us. Once upon a time, we studied history precisely in order to learn from it, rather than stumbling around without memory in the apparently unprecedented newness of the present. Whether that present is a product of ignorance or deceit, the past inevitably has a lot to tell us about supposedly ‘unprecedented’ moments, and so it is with the coronavirus ‘crisis’.
The two years between March 2020, when the ‘pandemic’ was officially declared by the World Health Organisation and the U.K. Parliament passed the Coronavirus Act 2020, and March 2022, when the date set for the expiry of the Coronavirus Act was reached and the last of the 582 coronavirus-justified Statutory Instruments made into law were revoked, have left us now, six months later, in our own re-enactment of that ‘phoney war’ that stretched for eight months between the U.K.’s declaration of war against Germany in September 1939 and Germany’s invasion of France in May 1940. With the lifting of the thousands of regulations by which our lives were ruled for two long years there has been an understandable desire to believe that the coronavirus ‘crisis’ is over and we will return to something like an albeit ‘new’ normal. But as new crises have sprung up to take its place – war in Ukraine, monkeypox, the so-called ‘cost of living crisis’ and the return of the environmental crisis – it has become increasingly difficult not to look back on ‘lockdown’ as only the first campaign in a war that has not been declared by any government but is no less real for that. Waged by the international technocracies of global governance that, under the cloak of the ‘pandemic’, have assumed increasing power over our lives since March 2020, this war is not being fought against foreign countries but against the populations of their member states. Trialled for compliance under lockdown, the weapons of this war are Digital Identity, Central Bank Digital Currency, Universal Basic Income, Social Credit, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, Sustainable Development Goals, and all the other programmes instrumental to the United Nation’s Agenda 2030. If they haven’t been already, these look likely to be launched in a Blitzkrieg campaign, possibly this winter, with the World Health Organisation advising European countries to reimpose mandatory masking and vaccination. Just like the winter of 1939-1940, now is the deep breath before the storm.
My comparison with the opening of the Second World War, however, is not merely an analogy. I am not alone in thinking that the willingness of our governments to use the forces of the state against their own populations during the ‘pandemic’ on the justification of protecting us from ourselves signals a new level of authoritarianism – and something like the return of fascism – to the governmental, juridical and cultural forms of the formerly neoliberal democracies of the West, and one of the aims of my book is to examine the validity of this thesis. My purpose in doing so, however, it not to pursue an academic question about the meaning and historicity of the term ‘fascism’, but rather to interrogate how and why the general and widespread moral collapse in the West since March 2020 – another indicator of fascism – has been effected with such rapidity and ease, and to examine to what ends that moral collapse is being used. It is here, I believe, that history can tell us something about these supposedly ‘unprecedented’ circumstances and measures.
Something, but not everything. For while historical fascism arose in the context of the imperialism of European nation states and their struggle for power, a hundred years later that struggle has been reduced to their united and virtually unopposed ‘roll-out’ of the programmes, technologies and regulations of what has been hailed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And while our economic, security and military alliances are dividing the globe into new axes of geopolitical influence, in the West – by which I mean Europe, North America and Australasia – the war we face is not between nation states but a civil war waged against our institutions of democratic governance and the division of powers between executive, legislature and judiciary. Insofar as these institutions and this division are being dismantled and replaced by the rule of international technocracies composed of the board members of private corporations and the unelected representatives of national governments, this ‘war’, more accurately described, represents a revolution in Western capitalism from the neoliberalism under which we have lived for the past 40 years. What it is revolving into, and the conclusion my thesis on fascism will seek to demonstrate, is the new totalitarianism of the Global Biosecurity State.
This book was preceded by 18 months of research and writing between March 2020 and October 2021, during which I published more than two dozen articles about the coronavirus ‘crisis’. So when, in February 2022, I started writing the current book, which I conceived as a single work rather than a collection of articles, I took as given the major conclusions I had reached from this research. Although, by now, the same or similar conclusions have been reached by many others, these are still sharply at odds with the official narrative about the coronavirus ‘crisis’ that many more continue to believe in or at least to obey. It is not necessary, however, for the reader to accept every one of these conclusions in order to derive some benefit from the current work. Part of the object of this study is to sketch the larger context in which to understand how what for two years were contemptuously dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories’ now constitute the reality in which our immediate future is about to unfold with terrifying speed and finality. The question confronting us now is not one of doubt or belief in the reality that is all around us, but of how to oppose it before we are submerged into the new totalitarianism.
Since the revocation of coronavirus-justified regulations in the U.K., much of the resistance to the various programmes and technologies of biosecurity has become bogged down in challenging the justification for the lockdowns and demonstrating the injurious and fatal effects of the vaccination programme. And while there is value and importance in this work – particularly in halting the criminal injection and indoctrination of the young – it has been accompanied by a reluctance to look at what these programmes have prepared our compliance for in the next stage of the Global Biosecurity State. Although implemented on the various justifications of convenience of access and movement within the Global Biosecurity State, national security against present and future biological, cyber or military threats now all placed in the in-tray marked ‘terrorist’, and, of course, the great environmental catch-all of ‘saving the planet’ from global warming, these programmes will be implemented outside of any immediate threat such as that represented by the coronavirus ‘pandemic’, and can expect less compliance, perhaps, than that which met the restrictions on our human rights and freedoms under lockdown. For this reason, they are likely to be implemented quickly and all at once, with Digital Identity holding our biometric data made a condition of numerous freedoms, cash withdrawn from circulation and replaced by Digital Currency controlled and programmed by central banks, and a Social Credit system of compliance monitored by artificial intelligence and policed by facial recognition technology all a reality to which we will wake up one day with no choice but compliance or having our access to the rights of citizenship removed by default.
This is the context in which I have written my book, which is neither an academic study of the history of fascism nor a journalistic account of the past two-and-a-half years, but a work of political theory. Some of the chapters are written around the work of other writers on different aspects of fascism and totalitarianism, including the Italian semiotician and cultural critic, Umberto Eco, the Italian critical theorist, Fabio Vighi, the French sociologist and philosopher, Georges Bataille, the German literary critic, Walter Benjamin, the Austrian economist, Friedrich Hayek, the English novelist and journalist, George Orwell, the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, and the German political theorist, Hannah Arendt. And although the book has been written for a popular rather than a scholarly readership, I haven’t shied away from addressing the political, legal, economic, cultural, philosophical, psychological and moral issues raised by the Global Biosecurity State. The positive response to my articles that preceded this study have encouraged me to think that there is a wider readership in the U.K. for this level of analysis than we are made to believe by our rigorously anti-intellectual culture. In this respect, I hope my book will provide a more historical and practical framework in which to understand and respond to the past two-and-a-half years than the vituperative, sectarian, authoritarian and politically naïve character of what debate there is in Parliament, the mainstream media or on social media platforms.
As readers familiar with the work of Hayek will recognise, my title is taken from his enormously influential book, The Road to Serfdom, which was published in the U.K. in 1944 during the Second World War. Intent as he was on refuting the Marxist argument that fascism was the reaction of a decaying capitalism to the rising threat of socialism, Hayek argued that Italian fascism, German National Socialism and Soviet communism all had common roots in central economic planning and the resulting power of the state over the individual. He therefore opposed the U.K. following the model of socialism that had been laid out in the hugely popular Beveridge Report in 1942, and which the post-war Labour Government would fail to implement fully in the creation of the Welfare State. In doing so, he also laid the grounds for the neoliberal revolution in the late 1970s that conquered the West and which has brought us to this point. So although I share neither Hayek’s equation of fascism with socialism nor his championing of liberalism and capitalism as defenders of the rights of the individual – both of which have been refuted by the return of fascism in the political, juridical and cultural forms of the most advanced capitalist economies over the past two-and-a-half years – Hayek’s fears and warnings about the threat of the state to the freedom of the individual are even more relevant today than they were 80 years ago. If 350 million Europeans had lived under fascist governments for a decade and more when Hayek was writing, how should we describe the digital serfdom to which the Global Biosecurity State is reducing the more than 900 million people living in the former neoliberal democracies of the West today? It’s under the banner of this warning, therefore, that I’m publishing The Road to Fascism.
Simon Elmer is the author of The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State, from which this article is an excerpt.
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