Wednesday, May 01, 2002

5 years of Tony Blair, as of today, and 50 years of QE2. To show that British politics are no less dysfunctional than Lizzie’s family, there were endless difficulties in working up a seating chart that accommodated the 4 living former prime ministers (primes minister?), who all hate each other.

A Sunday Times poll suggested that if Britain had a party like the French Front Nationale, anti-immigrant and anti-Europe, 22% would vote for it. The suggestion is that if fascist parties weren’t unrespectable, there would be a major constituency for them. I picture it like a junior high dance, with all the guys hanging out at one end of the gym, waiting for one or two of them to cross over and make it ok. And this is everywhere. The support for the old parties and support for representative democracy, is growing thinner and thinner. Where it was never that strong, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, say, we’ve seen unsubtle parodies of the democratic process (the US says of Pakistan’s referendum today, in which anyone could vote anywhere as many times as they wished and counting was done centrally with no oversight, that it was Pakistan’s internal affair.) Hugo Chavez led a failed coup and then was actually elected, which means no one could expect that he’d necessarily leave when his term was up. But in the last decade, we’ve seen support for old ruling parties literally evaporate in Italy, Canada. Italy’s ruling party is named after a football team. 1/3 of electors in France’s presidential election voted for fascist or trotskyite candidates. A wrestler is governor of Minnesota, and the cuteness of that has rather worn off. I’m telling you, if a fascist party could get itself that first 20% of the vote in most countries of the world including this one, the next 20% would just roll in. The continuing debate on how to handle Le Pen in today’s Guardian ( is instructive: do you debate him, do you go out in the streets yelling No passaran, do you ignore him? There is no consensus on how to make it clear that fascism is unacceptable to an electorate that doesn’t understand that already.

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