Gary Younge and Paul Mason: Rise of the Far Right and How to Stop It, 27 May

Paul Mason Gary Younge

The School of Arts have teamed up with WoWFest2021, with students from across the School previewing events from this festival of radical writing, taking place throughout May. 

Liam Mclaughlan (year 2, English) previews Gary Younge and Paul Mason: Rise of the Far Right and How to Stop It, Tuesday 27 May, 7.30 pm. Tickets £10/£5 concessions.

The 2010s saw a rising populist challenge to the broad (neo)liberal consensus built up over the late 1990s and 2000s. With Donald Trump’s reign of terror concluding at the end of last year, notwithstanding its aftershocks on Capitol Hill, are we beginning to see an end to this trend?

The rise of the Far Right over the last ten years has been troubling, to say the least. The Far Right has continued to make further inroads into the hearts of our governmental institutions, serving the Left with a series of defeats, some more crushing than others. Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory was just the tip of the iceberg. His election, amongst others, such as Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Andrzej Duda of Poland, have enabled and emboldened an influx of right-wing activists. People like Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder reach millions of people online, normalising the extremist fascistic beliefs they hold. 

The Right has been highly competent at using news and social media networks to spread their message through the online sphere. The Right has figured out how to fire-up their base of supporters and keep them coming back: appealing to them through simple, effective messaging playing on the insecurities of the masses. Trump popularised the concept of ‘fake news’ and ran with it, labelling any piece of news that depicts him in a negative light (and let’s face it, there’s a lot of that) to discredit it. AND IT WORKED!

Were it not for the pandemic that is crippling the world right now, Trump’s messages of distrust and ‘anti-establishment’ would likely have seen him easily steamroll to another term in the White House. The fact it took a global pandemic to make the people see through Trump’s phony persona is terrifying. The Right has, as ever, sought to create cults of personality around their figureheads, enabling them to win their battles and stamp their dominance on society. 

So what can the Left do? 

Luckily for the Left, we have the same access to the internet that the Right do to spread our own messages. As hard as it is to admit, there is something to learn from these right-wing personalities. We need to devise our own clear and effective messages that cut through the lies that pervade our society. It is about mobilising our already impassioned supporters to turn up and fight for what we believe in. It is about promoting hope, and not fear. It is about giving a voice to those who were never given one. 

Paul Mason and Gary Younge are two examples of the strong voices who are here fighting for these causes. These two people are figureheads within the British Left and are trying to help lead the way to a brighter future; albeit one that will have to negotiate various social, economic and ecological challenges. Paul Mason’s strong leftist and post-capitalist views provide us with intellectual context and critical focus right now, in a society that is being ravaged by the 1% more and more each day. And in a society that has consistently marginalised the voices of its BAME community and fermented institutional racism for centuries, Gary Younge has long been pivotal in uncovering uncomfortable truths about our society.

Better days are ahead for the Left. Nothing lasts forever, and the same applies to the Far-Right dominance we have been subjected to for the last 10 years. The voice of communal hope is strong enough to drown out populist toxicity. It is about time we unleashed it. 

Part of WoWFest21: celebrating 21 years of radical writing. Check out the full programme here