The term “fascist” brings to mind Nazi’s, but that was just one manifestation of this political ideology. Mussolini was a fascist and supported Nazi’s, but his version of fascism was different from Hitlers. Sir Oswald Mosley was a British fascist whose version of fascism was different from both Mussolini and Hitlers. So what is fascism?
Fascism is a political ideology and form of government which has been seen to have several key components: (a) opposition to Marxism and socialism; (b) opposition to democracy and a preference for autocracy; (c) a commitment to conservative economic programs which favour the wealthy over the poor and a reduction in the rights of labour and the power of unions; (d) a strong sense of nationalism and a rejection of inter-nationalism; (e) mixture of church and state and the blurring of the separation of these two institutions, which church meaning Christian church; (f) education as being in the service of the state and the development of character; (g) scapegoating – blaming certain groups for the failures of the system; (h) populism coupled with an anti-intellectualism; (h) sexism and misogyny; (i) a disdain of human rights, unless they relate to the wealthy and privileged; and (j) fraudulent election practices to secure and retain power.
We can look at Alberta in the light of these ten features and see that:
1. The current party in power is subject to investigation over its creation and election practices, with fraud being the key charge. The RCMP continue to investigate and fines have been levied.
2. The party in power is clearly opposed to any form of socialism or liberalism – just listen to speeches and read statements about their view of “liberals” and “the NDP” and socialist regimes.
3. There is a clear and explicit commitment to demonstrable failing conservative economic policies – trickle down economics (tax cuts), wage reductions for those on the lowest wages; denuding and reducing the public service; privatization of education and health.
4. Erosion of democracy has already occurred in Acts of the legislature which give hitherto exceptional powers to government Minsters to legislate and regulate without reference to the legislature.
5. The anti-intellectualism is demonstrated by cuts made to university and college budgets and decisions made about the innovation eco-system in Alberta and the lack of attention to science in policies related to re-opening Alberta in the midst of a pandemic or to the re-opening of schools.
6. The Alberta nationalism is evident in many statements made by the Premier about Alberta separatism, an Alberta pension, an Alberta police force and the need for Alberta to have a greater role in confederation. The hypocrisy of comments made by the Premier about federal transfer payments which he approved when a member of the federal cabinet is further evidence of the “new” Alberta nationalism he is courting.
7. The curriculum review, changes to the way schools are funded and the focus from K-PhD on “job ready” skills tells us that education is an instrument of the state and is intended to serve the economy.
8. The recent changes in labour laws coupled with the treatment of doctors and teachers shows us the disdain the UCP has for organized labour and its preference for “divide and rule” and rule by dictat. The inability to negotiate either contracts of employment in good faith or pension management are further examples of their conservative ideology.
9. Scapegoating began on day one of the UCP government with the establishment of the “war room” and the pointless pursuit of the enemies of oil and gas through an inquiry into the funding of opposition to the sector (based on the disproven conspiracy theories of a blogger).
10. The introduction of the choice in education bill shows the beginning of the conflation of church and state, with its intention to enable the creation of more charter schools, many of which will be religious.
So when some say that Alberta is headed down the fascist road they are not wrong. They are not suggesting that Kenney is behaving like Hitler, Mussolini or Sir Oswald Mosley. They are making the simple observation that, when we look at the ten key components of fascism, they are evident in the words and actions of our current Alberta government.