The Malta Independent 5 December 2021, Sunday

How fascism works

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 21 November 2021, 10:30 Last update: about 14 days ago

"No single book is as relevant to the present moment," the New York Times commented about 'How fascism works' by Jason Stanley, the Jacob Urowsky professor of philosophy at Yale University.

Stanley has a deep understanding of democratic societies' vulnerability to fascism.  Nations don't have to be fascist to suffer from fascist politics. The renowned philosopher and propaganda scholar documented the pervasive rise of fascist tactics around the world. In his book he outlined the ten pillars of fascist politics.  He reveals how liberties enjoyed by people wither when voters embrace politicians who promote the divisive politics of us versus them, while denigrating compromise and respect for others.


Stanley provides a critical framework through which to analyse the insidious mechanisms employed by Malta's Labour 'movement' to threaten democracy and consolidate power.

He defines fascism as an ideology based on power, loyalty and fear of the other. He described how Brazil, the Philippines, India, Hungary and Poland descended down that path.

Stanley did not study Malta. Had he done so he would have been impressed with the speed and ease with which a European Union state was so radically transformed through application of the pillars he described so eloquently in his book. These include exploiting a mythic version of the past, propaganda that twists the language of democratic ideals, anti-intellectualism and the diversion of law enforcement for their nefarious purposes. Above all it is epitomized by the promotion of family members, friends, business associates to positions of power based not on merit but on loyalty to the oligarchy. Persons of integrity are considered a threat and are removed from positions of responsibility.

The central core of democracy is truth. You cannot be free if you're continually lied to.  Nobody thinks the people of North Korea are free. They vote for dear Leader every time.  But they don't have access to the truth. Their vote is not a free vote. The most effective way of undermining democracy is by demolishing truth. Stanley highlighted propaganda as one of the ten core fascist tactics.  Labour understands the power of propaganda. That's why it squanders millions of our taxes in manipulating the narrative. Almost 500,000 euro were spent in propaganda on the budget alone. Millions more will be spent before the next election.

Labour knows that the core of democracy is that when somebody really powerful is caught lying, they are humiliated. Labour ripped the core out of democracy by getting the public so used to lies that none of the countless ministers and MPs caught lying suffer any humiliation. Through their shameless behaviour, they have transformed the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. Stanley argues that through this normalistation process "it makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been".

Nobody bats an eyelid when another MP is exposed to have shared inside information with the man who owned 17 Black. Nobody is outraged when the prime minister himself invites him to his private birthday party and accepts his gifts. Nobody is concerned that sensitive state secrets were shared with him. It is normal for millions in direct orders to be awarded to friends, daughters of canvassers, business associates, party loyalists, ex MPs, and party donors. Nobody expects Labour to provide information about the appointment of hundreds of persons of trust. Nobody is bothered by the secrecy surrounding Joseph Muscat's 120,000 euro gift. Or the obscene appointment of Edward Scicluna as central bank governor while under investigation by a magisterial inquiry. Not even damning NAO reports into Labour's mega deals - Electrogas, Vitals, ITS DB - raise any protest. Konrad Mizzi still walks free.

Labour worked hard to get the public used to its lies.  Karl Stagno Navarra, Labour's eminent propagandist, diligently lies so frequently, so persistently and so brazenly that lies are normalised. He repeats his government's lies and invents some of his own - usually about critics like Tim Diacono, who Stagno Navarra falsely claimed was part of an anti-Labour establishment with the Church, PN, and Repubblika.

What is most shocking is not that Stagno Navarra lies.  It's that Prime Minister Abela pretends to condemn him but conveniently provides him with the platform to continue to harass, intimidate and lie about Abela's critics. This is a standard tactic - appearing to do the right thing, Abela ensures nothing changes. He commented that Konrad Mizzi should testify before the PAC, but directed his MPs on that committee to shield Mizzi. When the Caruana Galizia report was published he promised there would be public consultations regarding implementation of its recommendations - four months later, he's done nothing.

Labour's propaganda is based on a friend and enemy dichotomy.  The political opponent is not an adversary worthy of respect but a merciless threat.  The "other" is fundamentally opposed to the nation. They are traitors, haters of their own country. "They are more interested in their repugnance for their country than in finding those criminally responsible for the assassination" Robert Abela commented about Caruana Galizia's children.  The Facebook group Laburisti sal-mewt, called David Casa "a snake" and "a traitor" and for his elimination. The Daphne crowd, the snobs, elitists, intellectuals, the Church, Repubblika, the independent media are all painted as part of a conspiracy to bring down Labour. In comments redolent of the Nazi "Leben unwertes leben" (life not worthy of life), Tony Zarb maintained that "the important thing for our Malta is that Caruana Galizia is not coming back". Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba accused PN MEPs of "focusing on damaging Malta's reputation".

Labour's propaganda is promoted not only by ONE but by TVM through biased reporting, under the direction of Labour's Norma Saliba. By actively censoring opposition statements and civil society protests , TVM does the leader's bidding. Only the leader decides what is true or false.  Any kind of reality is a challenge to his authority and is ruthlessly quashed. No wonder Malta votes for dear leader.


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