With impeccable timing The Economist has splashed its front cover today with the headline: “The threat from the illiberal left”.

Sure, in Texas, they just cancelled abortion rights and set bounty hunters to round up health workers. Sure, last night in Budapest, a wall of uniformed fascists hurled missiles at England’s multi-ethnic football team.

But what’s important right now is to attack wokeness. For that’s what the associated leader column does.

An unwary reader might have assumed this was going to be a polemic on radical leftists like Corbyn, Lula, Melenchon or Ocasio-Cortes. But the target is closer to home.

“I celebrate every time the gay American regime is embarassed,” wrote the US far-right activist Vincent James last week, adding: “You should too.”

There’s an obvious reason why the far-right extremists in the USA are celebrating the Taliban’s victory. It has punctured a hole in the credibility of the Biden administration and seriously damaged Western belief in a rules-based global order.

With 18 American states passing voter suppression laws since January, and the Republican right falling over themselves to exonerate the Capitol Hill insurrection, US fascism can see a path back to its preferred “new normal”: right-wing populism in control…

The UK government has briefed the Times that it will extend the evacuation from Kabul, that it will press the US to abandon the 31 August deadline and expand its list of evacuees beyond the UK’s immediate allies to civil society groups in danger.

This is late but welcome. It is also a reflection of the scale of failure. The announcement of “hubs” in neighbouring countries, where those escaping overland can be processed, is a tacit admission that the Kabul operation is failing.

The underlying reality is that the British state is paralysed over the Afghan withdrawal. MPs on all…

I spent much of yesterday in London, in a transnational communications loop with Afghans trying to flee via Kabul Airport. Some were beaten, some were crushed. None got into the airport — despite being in real-time comms with senior US officials and the military.

We all failed — and will fail again unless something changes. As a result, right now, the whole of geopolitics is balanced on the pinhead of Kabul.

As Joe Biden said yesterday: no country but the USA could project force with the precision that’s being shown in the Kabul airlift. But it is still failing.


As I write, the BBC is reporting the Taliban are “entering Kabul from all sides”. Fourteen provincial capitals are in the hands of Taliban fighters, the 300,000 strong Afghan army in headlong retreat and Western diplomats scrambling to get out of the country.

Maybe the people of Kabul will do what Joe Biden has urged them to do — “fight”: leftists with contacts in Afghanistan have reported groups of women arming themselves in self defence since July. Maybe the West will pull together a last-minute “humanitarian” intervention. Maybe Ashraf Ghani will resign and negotiations begin. …

Boris Johnson’s ex spindoctor takes the knee on Britain’s cutprice version of Fox News. Can it get weirder?

When you watch a mass cultural event build, take place, reach a critical crescendo — and then re-stabilise, into a new and scratchy disequilibrium — you need a specific language to describe it.

Since most of the British press have never read Hegel their ability to grasp what just happened is reduced to a series of garbled exclamations.

So thank f**k for the dialectic. What’s happened was a classic example of what the antifascist poet John Cornford once called “the dialectic’s point of change” — the sudden shattering of a political glacier, under severe geomorphic forces.

It was tragic, it…

Georgian far right activists storm and destroy Pride HQ

As proof copies of How To Stop Fascism hit the doorsteps of reviewers, there’s been a predictable reaction, exemplified by Ed West’s article for Unherd, entitled “Fascism isn’t coming”.

In it, myself and the antifascist academics Tim Snyder and Jason Stanley are accused of crying wolf over the far-right danger.

The fascist groups are small, says West. Trump is merely a “national populist” and has left the scene. Fascism was expansionist, violent and youthful, while modern right-wing populism is the opposite — defensive, democratic and prevalent among the elderly.

Echoing Francis Fukuyama, West attributes progressive concern over the far right…

The historian Timothy Mason once described the Nazi regime as “politics without administration”. For Hitler’s inner circle, he wrote, the traits of systemisation, regularity, and calculability in government were seen as limiting their ability to wield power.

The regime “characteristically produced both non-policies or evasions… or sudden and drastic decisions in the government machine”. By the end, the Third Reich disintegrated into an aggregation of unco-ordinated task forces and political responsibility became “increasingly blurred”. (1)

Reading Michael Wolff’s account of Trump’s role in the insurrection of 6 January 2021, published yesterday by New York Magazine, we are immediately plunged back…

Gen. Mark Milley confronts matt Gaetz in Congress

“He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid,” said far-right FOX News host Tucker Carlson. The target was not some hapless liberal commentator, lured on to the channel for entertainment value. It was General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and America’s most senior officer.

The trigger for Carlson’s spite was something we’re all going to have to get our heads around, even in Europe where it’s little discussed and has so far provoked little far right vitriol: Critical Race Theory.

The sequence of events: for weeks FOX news has been stirring up a parents’ revolt against the…

Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Former economics editor at BBC Newsnight. Author of How To Stop Fascism, published May 2021.

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