Tom Collins: Forces of the right must be seen off

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom Collins is an Irish News columnist and former editor of the newspaper.

Donald Trump himself has said that if elected US President again, he will use the office to settle old scores
Donald Trump himself has said that if elected US President again, he will use the office to settle old scores Donald Trump himself has said that if elected US President again, he will use the office to settle old scores

FROM ancient times there have been those who see the future in apocalyptic terms. Sadly many have been proved right.

As individuals, human beings can be remarkable: creative, visionary, caring; putting the interests of others above their own; making the world in which we live an immeasurably better place.

But collectively, our IQ plummets. As a species, we are one of the most destructive on the planet. Nothing is safe from us – not one another, not the environment, not long-term peace and security.

I am not being a catastrophist when I say we are at one of those points in history when our world is teetering on the brink. There have always been bad actors. But the weapons they wield now are more lethal than ever – and not just armaments.

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Armies of bots on social media, the malign mis-use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, and the exploitation of our weakness for conspiracy theories, have each been used to destabilise public discourse, undermine democracy, and ensure the corrupt become more powerful still.

I am not blind to the deficiencies of the left: Stalin’s purges and subjugation of most of Eastern Europe, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the genocide of the Uyghur people in China rank among the most heinous crimes against humanity.

But history shows us that we have more to fear from the extreme right. The extermination of six million people – Jews, Romanies, gays and lesbians, and the disabled – in Nazi death camps is a permanent stain on our species.

On a lesser scale, but no less deadly, we have seen the brutality of fascist dictatorships in South America – most notably Chile and Argentina; and in mainland Europe where once fascists held sway in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The plight of Palestinians is due, in no short measure, to the exploitation of coalition politics by the Israeli right who have steered the country away from peace. Benjamin Netanyahu does not command the support of the Israeli people as a whole but he is PM.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Almost invariably normal democratic processes are the route to power. Hitler and Mussolini were both elected to office. Victor Orban in Hungary too was put in office through the ballot box.

It may be that Britain will see off the Conservatives over the next year. But as the scenes in London at the weekend demonstrated, they have corroded democracy and given new impetus to the English hard right. Elements of the media no longer report the news, but make it up; and the state broadcaster is too timid at times to confront realities.

In the United States half the country is in thrall to a narcissist who has already had one attempt at a coup, and who leads a party which has totally debased itself.

Commentators are seriously predicting that Donald Trump will be elected to a second term in office. And Trump himself has already said that if elected he will use the office of president to settle old scores.

Unbelievably, Trump has been enabled by many in society who should know better – some in the media, in business and in his own party; but more worrying by many in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America who have decided that it is better to sup with the devil than minister to their flock. It is no surprise that they are in the forefront of the campaign to undermine the current pope who has decidedly put himself on the side of people, not power.

Francis’s decision to sack Bishop Joseph’s Strickland, one of the US’s wayward prelates, should be an encouragement to us all to challenge those who use division to open a path to power for those intent on making us slaves to their twisted view of the world.

Edmund Burke, regarded as the father of Conservatism, would not have recognised today’s distortion of it. We’d do well to heed his warning that for evil to succeed it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.