Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson is a peace activist and historian. For many years an academic, she was Head of Social and Policy Studies at London South Bank University from 2000−2010, and is author of a number of books including, on the European Left, Yugoslavia, and the history of the peace movement. Since 2001 she has been active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, elected as Chair in 2003, and appointed as General Secretary in 2010. She is also a national officer of Left Unity, a left UK party, affiliated to the European Left.
On this 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, we pay tribute to the immense courage and sacrifice of the Red Army and the Soviet people; we honour their herculean endeavours which brought about the turning point in that terrible war, ensuring the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. The war-time alliance between the Soviet Union, the United States of America and the UK, was crucial to the victory over Nazism, and shows how a common will and unity of purpose can help overcome the most extraordinary dangers. Today, such common purpose and cooperation is essential in meeting the huge global challenges we all face — most particularly of climate change and pandemics, as we are seeing currently, at great human cost. We understand that these are not national problems and they cannot be solved on a national basis; they require international solutions and we must strive together as a global community, to meet these challenges for the sake of the future of all humanity.

Yet at the very time we most need international cooperation and solidarity, we are seeing the rise of political forces that militate against this approach — the re-emergence of far right nationalist forces which for decades following the Second World War had been forced to the very fringes of our societies. It was hard to imagine these forces would re-emerge on a mass scale in the XXI century, to blight our lives and sow hatred in our communities.

Nevertheless, that is precisely what has happened, and what is obstructing collective efforts to deal with existential threats such as climate change. The last few years have seen the far-right on the rise for the first time since the 1930s, both across Europe and internationally.
The presence of Donald Trump in the US White House, with his nativist and reactionary views, gives succour to the far right wherever it is to be found. Of course, Britain has not been immune to this political development
The Brexit referendum in 2016 moved British politics to the right and laid the foundations for the emergence of a far-right nationalist movement in Britain. The Conservative Party under the leadership of Boris Johnson, has moved to the right and its liberal pro-European wing has been purged. In effect, the Conservative Party, now in government, has adopted much of the rhetoric of the far-right, thereby ensuring the exclusion of far right party representatives from parliament, whilst bringing their ideology of racism and intolerance into the mainstream.

The Conservative Party has won support from working class voters, falsely laying the blame for the hardship which many former industrial communities have experienced on immigrants, when in reality the responsibility lies with forty years of neo-liberal economics, reaching new levels of brutality under Conservative-led austerity policies since the economic crisis of 2007−8. Understanding politics and economics since that crisis is fundamental to understanding why the far right are rising again; and that understanding is vital to challenging them effectively.

The 2007−2008 financial crisis sent shock waves through world politics, exposing starkly the insanity of a system creating huge wealth for a tiny minority, on top of a situation of permanent insecurity and growing inequality for the many, forced to rely on a mountain of debt to keep their heads above water.

The responsibility for this lies with the harsh neo-liberal regime put in place across much of the world since the 1980s, spearheaded by Thatcherism in Britain and Reaganism in the United States.
This assault on the mixed economy-welfare state consensus put in place after World War II, created the basis for soaring incomes for the rich, growing inequality and hardship for the poor, and crucially mass disillusionment with mainstream politicians
Social democratic parties also embraced neoliberalism, which weakened the left and labour movement — a situation exploited by the hard right after the 2008 crisis.

In response to the financial crash, a series of movements emerged to fight back against austerity — repeated general strikes organised by the unions in Greece, the Indignados in Spain, anti-austerity mobilisations in Portugal, the Gezi Park conflict which mobilised millions in Turkey, and anti-austerity movement in European states. In some countries the anti-austerity movement led directly to the creation of political parties on the left, notably Podemos in Spain, and facilitated a forward surge by some established small left groupings like Syriza in Greece. Simultaneously, but with roots that long preceded the financial crash, anti-neo-liberal mobilisations in Latin America had brought to power left governments in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

This period, roughly 2009−2014, can be seen now as one of generalised fightback against neo-liberalism and a period which frightened right-wing politicians and the capitalist class. Since that time capitalist leaders have done everything possible to smash up and defeat the Left and anti-austerity movements. International capitalism, led by the United States, has waged a massive offensive against the 'pink tide' in Latin America, backing right-wing and extreme right domestic opposition. In Europe the EU leaders sabotaged the attempt by Syriza in Greece to chart an anti-austerity alternative, fearing that if Syriza carried through pro-working-class reforms, it would empower similar parties, notably Podemos in Spain and the left in Portugal.

Sections of the working class and oppressed began to seek more principled alternatives in major capitalist countries, for example the campaign in support of Bernie Sanders in the United States and the rise of Corbynism in Britain.

But the experience of the 20th century shows that in times of major capitalist crisis, the door is opened for the radical right and fascists and well as the radical Left. As Karl Polanyi pointed out in his classic work The Great Transformation, important sections of the capitalist class will back the extreme right. This has happened in the United States and Britain already and is underway in many other countries.
Blocking the road to the far right in the medium and long term is inconceivable without addressing the economic and political conditions — austerity and its consequences — which have enabled it
The irony today is that while the far-right has become stronger, they and their ideas are not the majority. There are huge political reserves of support for multi-racialism and social solidarity, in Britain and on an international scale. The defensive struggle against racism and the far-right has to be turned into an offensive also against the neo-liberal right.

The situation is dark and the road back will be hard and difficult but with unity, solidarity and cooperation across communities and across borders, the forces of progress, peace and democracy can prevail, as they did in 1945.
On the use of information

All materials on this website are available under license from Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International and may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.

Demonstration of Nazi and fascist paraphernalia or symbols on this resource is related only to the description of the historical context of the events of the 1930−1940s, is not its propaganda and does not justify the crimes of fascist Germany.