One would think that the bloodiest century in history, the twentieth, would have taught us a lesson.
When thugs become a viable political force in Western countries, they always take ‘civilised’ out of ‘politics’. Always – not sometimes or occasionally.
And when a country’s politics isn’t civilised, neither is the country – it’s as simple as that.
Allowing thugs to enter the political mainstream, even at its margins, is bound to have the same effect as adding a spoonful of vinegar to a glass of wine.
You’ll no longer taste the wine, even though there’s more of it in the glass. All you’ll taste is vinegar.
For thugs are by definition more dynamic and violent than either end of mainstream politics. Open the door ajar, and they’ll kick it in, chain and all.
Thus it’s impossible to win a political victory in alliance with thugs. Such a victory is always illusory. In reality it’s a defeat.
That’s why social democratic parties must never enter into coalitions with communists – the communists will eventually take over. A short-term political gain will turn into a long-term loss, possibly a catastrophe.
Just look at the alliance between soft-left Labour and hard-left, mostly Trotskyist Momentum in Britain. It has taken the Trots thugs a while, but they’ve eventually gained control.
Now the thugs are jettisoning the softies, giving the formerly respectable (if severely misguided) party a distinctly thuggish character. Labour now has a lethal case of the Trots.
It’s true that without the support of the hard left, or rather of the unions behind it, Labour would find it harder to win political office. And of course one would have to be terminally naïve to believe that any modern political party is capable of thinking beyond the next election.
But if Labour really cared about the good of the country, it would have consigned the Trotskyist thugs to what their spiritual father used to call ‘the garbage heap of history’.
UKIP are no better than Labour at learning from history. But one hopes they are still capable of learning from Labour, as it has become.
An alliance with thugs is tantamount to losing the last vestiges of civility, thereby compromising our whole civilisation. If that’s what it takes to win an election or a referendum, I’d rather lose.
There’s always a comeback after a lost election. There’s none after a lost civilisation.
Thugs don’t necessarily say wrong things or propose bad policies. In fact, if you look at groups going by the misnomer ‘far right’, they often pursue ends that appear sensible to any civilised conservative.
They want to leave the EU – so do we. They’d like to dismantle that contrivance altogether – we would too. They say mass Muslim immigration is socially, culturally, demographically and economically suicidal – we nod our agreement.
Then what? Let’s assume we’ve left the EU, with most other members following suit. The EU is no more. We’ve stopped Islamic immigration and even deported many Muslims whose presence here is illegal or dangerous. What happens then?
More precisely, who’ll munch the fruits of such a political victory? If thugs were the main driving force in the triumph, they’ll gorge on such fruits and regurgitate them into a society made in their own image.
Drawing historical parallels, the alliance between democratic socialists and Bolsheviks against the Russian monarchy produced a Bolshevik society. And when German conservatives joined forces with the Nazis to defeat Weimar, what emerged wasn’t a decent, conservative Germany. It was the Third Reich.
That’s why I don’t cheer electoral advances gained by fascisoid groups in countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary and Sweden. I do like what they say about the EU and Islamic immigration. I just don’t like them.
And when I read about German thugs beating up an elderly Jewish woman to the accompaniment of a mighty choir yelling Judensau (Jew pig – a popular term of endearment in Nazi Germany), I don’t just feel outrage. I feel the taste of things to come.
Politics isn’t a force majeure or a natural science. It’s a result of human action, and what it ultimately achieves depends on what kind of humans do the acting. This is a crude rephrasing of a passage from a book that used to be quite popular:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits… A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
That’s why, for example, I’ll never be an admirer of Trump, even if he’s exonerated from collusion with Putin. This although I like most of Trump’s policies, especially domestic ones.
I don’t like him because he has spent his whole career walking, talking and acting like a thug – mostly in company with other thugs. Those gurning facial expressions Trump habitually wears are the biographic imprint of lifelong thuggery.
And thugs are those corrupt trees that bring forth evil fruit – even if until then they produce a decent impersonation of a good tree.
American political conservatives, if such a thing can exist in a country that started life as a revolutionary republic, swear by Trump because they, like me, approve of many of his policies.
What they don’t realise is that style, decorum, probity, nuance matter more than today’s policies in the long run. A great country shouldn’t allow thugs to be at the helm. If it does, it’ll stop being a great country – sooner rather than later.
As I write, UKIP is getting close to admitting our own thug, a different genus naturally, into the party. Tommy Robinson, a convicted felon, has been closely associated with such fascisoid groups as the BNP, British Freedom Party and English Defence League, having held high positions in some of them.
If an odious figure like Robinson joins UKIP, the party will have blown any chance of ever becoming a serious, mainstream opposition to our spivocratic, Europhile establishment, rather than a marginal heterogeneous group brought together by a shared hatred of the EU and Muslims.
And it’ll certainly lose my vote which it attracted in every election where UKIP was on the ballot. Now if that isn’t a deadly threat, I don’t know what is.