In Europe and the US, the Far Right is rising. With the backing of the world’s richest old men in the West and Putin in the East, democracy is under attack.
It’s being done skillfully, with methods that served Adolf Hitler well being amplified by the power of bots and trolls on social media.
The wolves have wrapped themselves in our flags and are howling for blood in our name.
In Italy, they call for the street-by-street “cleansing” of foreigners “infesting” the cities. In Hungary, they make it a crime to help refugees. In England, they are selling us the poverty, isolation and hatred that Brexit sows. In the US the President put children in cages.
Reading this kind of news day after day, it’s hard to stay angry. It’s hard not to become afraid. It’s easy to feel powerless. It’s easy to give way to hate.
The thing to remember is that you are not alone.
The Far Right is wrong, has always been wrong, will always be wrong.
We happen to be the unlucky generation that gets to prove that to them. Again.
We don’t do that by becoming like them.
We do that by being brave enough to be ourselves.
We don’t leave the initiative with them by only objecting to what they do. We set the agenda by continuing to celebrate what we believe and acting on those beliefs.
The Far Right knows the power of words to change the climate of a culture, especially when it comes to defining who is US and who is THEM. I think that’s why they’re working so hard to censor the books available to the young.
The Guardian reports that the American Library Association has recorded an increase in ‘direct attacks on the freedom to read’, made by parents objecting to sex, profanity and LGBT characters in YA and children’s books. This is not a spontaneous thing. It is organised and targeted. Letting our young people learn to think, letting them know that they are not alone in the preferences they have or the issues they face, SCARES the Far Right. It challenges their narrative.
So the first action: write, defend and promote books that our young want to read that helps them decide who they are and who they want to become.
The Far Right has always produced some of the best propaganda. They know the power of an image. So the second action: draw, share and promote images that shine a light on the far right. Like this one:
Don’t be afraid to use humour, like this:
I choose to believe that the Far Right offers people the worst versions of themselves. I choose to believe that people are aware of that. They follow the Far Right from fear, from anger and because we haven’t shown them a practical, pragmatic way to be better versions of themselves.
So the third action is to talk to the people you disagree with. Don’t lecture them or disparage them. Don’t fall for the false divisions and echo-chambers of Twitter. Let them talk about their anger and their fear. Give them space to talk through who they are and who they want to become and then try and find common ground to help them on.
The fourth and final action is perhaps the most personal: imagine the world as you want it to be when this darkness has been defeated. Share those images with others.
Le Guin was right in saying that we need “writers who can remember freedom” to act as “realists of a larger reality.”
Here’s my vision of how I want my world to be. How I believe it can become. What we should struggle for, even if it seems likely we’ll fail.
What’s your vision?