Among signs of fascist tendencies in an elected government’s behaviour are direct instructions for manipulation and censorship in political education in schools, colleges and universities.
Betsy Davos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, ordered USA public (that is, the equivalent of UK state) schools to present biased versions of the country’s history, and similar instructions were issued to universities with a penalty of reduced or cancelled funding for those that refused to comply.
In Britain continuous campaigns by far-right protagonists attack places of education for not favouring worship of extreme free-market ideology. For the usual gang of “classical liberals” – Toby Young, David Starkey, etc. – criticism of fair and balanced education is their vocation; it is also their grift. Young’s latest cock-eyed nonsense is The Free Speech Union that seeks to impose platforms for far-right voices onto universities with a threat of legal action if they refuse.
The Tory government is not willing to rely on harassment from freelance grifting bigots to achieve the aims of censorship and manipulation. In a government document giving guidance to teachers on presenting relationship education there is a section on using external agencies and within that there are instructions on what not to use. Out of context of the document’s topic, the instructions include the following.
“Schools should not under any circumstances work with external agencies that take or promote extreme positions or use materials produced by such agencies. Examples of extreme positions include, but are not limited to:
- promoting non-democratic political systems rather than those based on democracy, whether for political or religious reasons or otherwise (1)
- promoting divisive or victim narratives that are harmful to British society (2)
- selecting and presenting information to make unsubstantiated accusations against state institutions” (3)
(1) Democracy is one option for a system of government. The Tories are demanding that no advice should be taken from any organisation, whether affiliated to a government or not, that supports, willingly or otherwise, governments of China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc. That demand ignores the high standard of education in China and Cuba and it is hypocritical given the many business relationships the government encourages with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain including brokerage of lucrative arms deals.
(2) What is a “victim narrative?” The Tories mean valid complaints made about prejudiced behaviour where the prejudice is against people because of their ethnicity, heritage, creed, sexuality or class. The government wants to erase the nature of such bigotry by attempting to recast it as personal; it wants to remove systemic causes by pretending they don’t exist.
(3) How are the Tories defining “unsubstantiated” here? There is nothing unsubstantiated about describing the Tories as intrinsically venal, or describing the judicial system as favouring the wealthiest, or describing the royal family as a worthless parasitical drain, or describing the Department Of Work And Pensions as a practitioner of Social Murder, or describing Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs as corrupt puppets of wealthy corporate tax avoiders, or describing GCHQ as a gang of curtain twitchers and law-dodgers. Protection of “state institutions” from investigation and criticism is Fascism: Page 1.
In the section choosing resources the document states
“Schools should not under any circumstances use resources produced by organisations that take extreme political stances on matters. This is the case even if the material itself is not extreme, as the use of it could imply endorsement or support of the organisation. Examples of extreme political stances include, but are not limited to:
- a publicly stated desire to abolish or overthrow democracy, capitalism, or to end free and fair elections” (4)
(4) So, according to the Tories’ instruction to teachers, “a publicly stated desire to abolish or overthrow capitalism” is an “extreme political stance” that “should not under any circumstances” be allowed near children. That instruction disallows criticism and understanding of capitalism and is blatant unashamed political propaganda indoctrinated upon children. It elevates capitalism beyond its true status as a (corrupt and unfair) system of management of the common economy to a status of deification, without reproach, ineluctable and sacred.
The “guidance” from the Tories to teachers described above is a display of Tory fear. Formal education in schools, colleges and universities is supposed to focus on facts and the students are supposed to query, investigate, analyse and deduce. That is the nature of education and of intellectual development. Knowledgeable young people with astute enquiring minds are a threat to Tory power because the latter’s control has foundations built with lies, fraud and confidence trickery.
Most of the tactics of fascism are inspired by fear.
James Finlayson for Dorset Eye