To combat extremism, there is no need to ban them: Thatcher’s forgotten lesson

A civilized and democratic country allows everyone to express themselves and become fully legitimate representatives if the voters deem it appropriate. This also includes those political formations light years away from us, even those that are undemocratic and which, for obvious reasons, we fear.

Let it be clear that those who commit crimes such as those we witnessed last Saturday must be unequivocally punished according to the law. And it is imperative that the democratic right distance itself completely from a world it should never draw from.

However, what raises significant doubts is the motion that the Democratic Party and the 5 Star Movement would like Parliament to approve for the dissolution of Forza Nuova , the extremist formation at the center of today's debate. The liberal approach to radicalisms, however, is not to ban or prevent the existence of any political idea, even the most detestable one.

And, once again, it helps to go back to Margaret Thatcher. Among the many lessons he left us as an inheritance, there is one that is perhaps forgotten. The extreme fringes of the political landscape, whether they tend towards Nazi-Fascism or Communism, should not be coercively rejected by a state law. Mrs. Thatcher taught us that the worst way to combat an unhealthy idea is to prohibit it, as it would have the opposite effect. We face a thought far from our own on the level of the arguments and therefore, in the electoral round, we witness the results. It is therefore only right to quote his words directly:

“I despise any kind of extremism. The Communists and the National Front both seek to achieve the rule of the state over the individual. Both, in my opinion, want to destroy individual rights. For me they started the same type. All my life, however, I have been opposed to banning communism or extremist organizations: if you do that, they become clandestine and this gives them an excitement they would not have if they could pursue their goals out in the open. We will beat them in the field of debate. The National Front is a Socialist Front ”.

As it turned out, despite the concerns of the time, in the 1979 elections the National Front took 0.6 percent and the four main Communist formations 0.4. In this 1978 speech, Mrs. Thatcher touches on the two focal points of the question. First of all, the necessary equation between ideologies which by many are still considered two opposite extremes. It is quite incorrect to think that Nazi-Fascism and Communism are at the antipodes of the political spectrum. They are very similar, despite having historically waged war. They pursue the same objectives and therefore are on the same side: their true opposite is democracy and freedom.

In both cases, the state prevails over the individual, there is no room for opposition of thought and civil and economic life in its entirety is subjected to the ideology of the party. This belief is well known across the Channel where, given the robust antibodies of the oldest liberal democracy in the West, a totalitarian dictatorship has never taken hold.

Too bad we cannot say the same about Italy, not only because we have lived a dictatorship, but also because, as we know, today there is still a good part of the intellectual and parliamentary left that, in the end, finds the ideological equation between the two totalitarianisms of the last century.

The second question, mentioned above, is that of the method. How do you approach movements of this type? Certainly by force when the aforementioned extremists arrive at committing crimes that damage the freedom and safety of citizens. In this case it is sacrosanct to intervene to punish the attacks, as we have seen in recent days. But it is quite unhealthy and authoritarian to think of banning a political formation. How can a parliamentary chamber claim the right to ban it?

In a true democracy, as far as possible, we "clash" on the terrain of ideas. Violence must always be prosecuted criminally and in any case, but be careful to ask the state to arbitrarily decide who can engage in politics and who cannot. The boundaries of these measures are often not clear and the colors they take are dark. Margaret Thatcher knew it well: responding harshly to the street violence of the dangerous fringes is essential; banning an idea is quite another thing. And to say it was the one who, on October 12, 1984, exactly 37 years ago, was attacked by the extremists of the IRA who wanted her out of the game. But after all, we know that iron does not break easily.

The post No need to banish extremism: Thatcher's forgotten lesson appeared first on Atlantico Quotidiano .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Thu, 14 Oct 2021 03:55:00 +0000.