I wrote an article last year objectively comparing the economic policies of fascism and those of the Conservative party. My conclusion: that if you followed the '30s definition of fascism, today's Conservatives would be considered economic fascists.
With the sudden rise of UKIP, it is a good time to look objectively at their economic positioning, as well as their policies and social agenda. I looked at an excellent article by Peter Hoskin assessing the main policies of UKIP, and this brought me back to the economic definition of fascism. To borrow the previous analogy, if the Conservatives are only "Fascism-lite", then UKIP represent something much closer to the real deal, albeit without much of the old-style prejudice, washed of it's Second World War-era nastiness.
UKIP's agenda is, to paraphrase, "Fascism with a human face"; a sanitized form of Fascism (or "Fascism with British characteristics", to paraphrase another famous expression).
Fascism as an economic idea is when the government is utilised as a cash-cow for big business, at the expense of public finances. The rights of the workforce are made subject to the primary aim of wealth-creation for the rich elite, who own all the main businesses and have a controlling stake over the government. The line between government and the rich elite becomes almost indistinguishable. This is "Socialism For The Rich", and a tyranny of poverty for everyone else, where the poor pay taxes to pay for the mistakes and errors of their rich masters (more about this here and here). As I said in a previous article about fascism, where the profit becomes private, and debt becomes public: bailing out the banks, and sending the bill the taxpayer while the banks kept the later profits while remaining virtually unchecked is a prime example of economic fascism.
Corruption, nepotism, inefficiency and incompetence are all allies of fascism, because under a fascist government, accountability becomes difficult to manage. When those in power have all the cards, and have developed the tax system for their benefit (while using the "trickle-down theory" so popular with economic Libertarians), the poor become stuck in a vicious circle of grinding poverty matched with powerlessness. In an economically-fascist state, where money (and having the right connections) is king, the poor are "the slaves".
But back to UKIP. Fascism has historically been an ideology more popular with the working class, and has always been most popular during times of economic crisis and political disillusionment. The atmosphere in the UK, particularly England, explains a lot about why UKIP is so popular. The historical parallels with the political and economic situation of the 1930s in Germany (or Italy in the early '20s) are now clear, albeit with some 21st century British idiosyncrasies. Fascism only becomes popular under a very unusual set of circumstances, but those circumstances are clearly evident in the UK today.
UKIP claim to be a Libertarian party more than anything else, but few of their policies are truly Libertarian. While having a low-tax economy (as UKIP want) may be Libertarian, UKIP want to have their cake and eat it: a low-tax, high-spend economy. This is a common characteristic of Fascist economics: a child-like wish to throw economic sanity out of the window. While economic conservatives applaud low taxes and low spending, and socialists applaud high taxes and high spending, Fascists applaud low taxes and high spending.
And this economic model, whenever implemented, has resulted in complete economic failure in a very short space of time, resulting in the government having to be more and more authoritarian towards its hard-pressed (and increasingly taxed) masses, to cover over the gross inefficiency and corruption at the top.
Peter Hoskin's article points out, especially in the second half, how UKIP's economic policies don't add up - as I have said, the economic insanity of them is more reminiscent of Fascist economics.
Blaming foreigners for unemployment may well have some aspect of truth to it, but not the major part, as UKIP implies.
Blaming Muslims for the destruction of British culture may have some (very) small element of truth to it, but not the major part.
Building more prisons; increasing spending on police and defence; reducing employees' rights to "help" companies; getting out of the foreign and intrusive institutions like the EU; reducing government help for the poor and vulnerable (because "we can't afford it" and "they don't deserve it") - these sentiments are all close to a Fascist's heart.
The world of the Fascist is one of predators and prey; it's the Darwinian jungle, "the survival of the fittest"; "strivers and scroungers", "them" and "us".
The great trick about Fascism is how it appears as an anti-establishment, primarily working-class movement, while in reality it works in favour of a rich elite against the interests of the poor, working classes.
UKIP is carrying out the same trick on the country. Nigel Farage is a former broker; a City Of London man. He is in favour of the financial interests of London, whose economic policies will most benefit the mega-rich financial sector. Making the UK a much more difficult place for foreigners to come to (let alone work in) may be of some short-term benefit to lower-skilled British workers (who won't have to compete with so many foreigners for the jobs), but when those workers have fewer rights than before after, it would make them simply economic slaves - in a job, but poorer than before, and with nowhere to go. The City Of London is only a tiny part of the country, yet Farage would have us think that it alone can sustain and expand our economy, as though all factories and other industries up and down the country were incidental.
There is also the social agenda of UKIP; call it the "PC backlash" against the socially-heterogeneous orthodoxy of Blairite Britain. It is another historical truism of Fascism that when a nation's hearts become hardened by poverty and instability, and broken by the failings of their political masters, they come more socially reactionary and conservative. The "them" and "us" mentality seeps into social judgments: foreigners become more distrusted; non-Christians become seen as a "fifth column" designed to destroy the identity of the country; alternative lifestyles seen as examples of moral degradation.
The backlash against the government's gay marriage legislation is emblematic of this point; the growth of anti-Muslim feeling and actual violence is another; as are things like the protests against HS2 and wind farms, that UKIP are keen to take advantage of. While these last two are not truly social issues, the reaction against them is. It is emblematic of a reaction against the threat of modernity on the physical landscape of Britain. In a crude sense, this is a British "blood and soil" issue, as a Fascist would see it: where the physical land itself become a part of the social and moral fabric of the person.
Almost everything about Fascism is based on the irrational and contradictory: economic insanity that is supported by working-class people who become poorer from it; the heart ruling over the head over social and moral issues, but a heartlessness when it comes to social awareness.
Is this where Britain, especially England, is headed?
Then again, maybe Britain needs to teach itself a lesson; you only know how awful Fascism is when you've lived through it yourself.
After that, people might finally remember what Britain needs to be a civilised country.