“YOU’RE a fascist” shouts the teenager at her mother before slamming the door and storming off to her room. In this and myriad other everyday contexts the insult ‘fascist’ has become pretty devalued.
And when compared to the original Italian and German political background of the word, its common use could be seen to be in bad taste.
So when the term “health fascists” is used in the current furore over the smoking ban in pubs, many people raise their eyes to heaven, smack their tongues against the top of their mouths and brand the user a petty extremist.
However, I think that while the supporters of this ban may not be the real black and brown-shirted, goose-stepping, stiff-armed progenitors of the F-word, they are nonetheless (perhaps unwittingly) buying into a fascist ideology.
It might also be said that they are also buying into the Marxist-Leninist milieu as well.
For what distinguished these two twin ideologies (apart from the tens of millions of dead) was their original pursuit of perfection. The perfect human on the one hand, and the perfect society on the other. Before them we had Catholicism and Protestantism in pursuit of the perfect religion. Now we have Islamists pursuing the perfect caliphate on Earth. The US pursues the perfect world (with it in charge). Nationalists all over the world pursue the perfect nation, with the perfect border, made up of the perfect national population. And so on.
Suffice to say that all this pursuing ends up with many dead bodies and many broken lives.
The ideology we are confronted with here in the smoking ban is a health and safety ideology. The pursuit of perfect safety.
In this case the idea is to trade personal autonomy for a statistical reduction in death rates. The modus operandi is not to target those at risk in any particular safety scenario. Instead, blanket laws are brought in to cover everyone, whether they want to be saved or not.
If you were to be kind to the protagonists in this debate, you could say that, at least, they are well motivated.
But there is steel behind the velvet. At the time of writing the smoking regulations have not been published. However, they will undoubtedly relieve any recalcitrant publican of their livelihood if compliance is not forthcoming. Similarly, any worker not in agreement with the new dispensation will have to submit or find alternative work.
Unfortunately, this health and safety ideology is not event, it is a process. Regulations are never relaxed, they are always tightened. Any area of life that offers up a few saved lives is fair game for laws that affect the whole population. This process will continue until every bit of autonomy is stripped of the population so that we will be unable to harm ourselves.
If any of the pro-ban proponents could say to me: “This is it. This is the last restriction on your freedom” perhaps I could stomach it. But that’s not going to happen.
I as an individual, don’t count. And that’s fascism.