Active History is celebrating its tenth anniversary! As part of our anniversary celebrations we are sharing glimpses of how Active History developed and showcasing our favourite and most popular posts from the past ten years.
In 2014 our longest running series, “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on ActiveHistory.ca”, a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War launched. We also ran a number of shorter series in 2014 including The Home Archivist, and Anishinaabeg in the War of 1812.
One of the most discussed and read posts in 2014 was Valerie Deacon’s “Love it or hate it: Stephen Harper’s Government is not Fascist.”
No matter which way you spin it, Stephen Harper’s government is not fascist and making comparisons between the current Canadian government and fascism in the 1930s is both disingenuous and dangerous. This Huffington Post article about the government’s decision to close major scientific and environmental libraries and destroy much of the data contained therein was weakened by the rather ludicrous claim that the Harper government might be akin to the fascist regimes of the 1930s. The article noted that:
“Many scientists have compared the war on environmental science to the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe. Hutchings muses, “you look at the rise of certain political parties in the 1930s and have to ask how could that happen and how did they adopt such extreme ideologies so quickly, and how could that happen in a democracy today?”
These questions are still very important to ask, because fascism most certainly is still a danger. And the decisions that Harper’s government are making – particularly with regard to science and the environment – are also dangerous. But the dangers are not the same. As I have written elsewhere on Active History, the overuse of the term “fascist” to identify our political enemies actually has the unintended effect of blinding us to the true dangers they represent. In our current political climate, the real danger comes when movements or political parties of the extreme right legitimize their ideology to the point where it seems anodyne to a large section of the population. This leads to electoral victories and then to the manipulation of civil society that has the potential to be irreparable. But perhaps that is a post for another day. Today I want to dig a little deeper into why the Canadian Conservatives are not fascists, as much as we might disagree with their ideology, actions, or governance. Continue reading