Even among historians, apparently – as the conservative British writer Niall Ferguson condescended to tell Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis – analogies with the 1930s are made only by the easily confused.
And amid the disbelief, heartbreak, and protest, centre-right politicians and commentators seek to normalise and reassure. They dismiss “whingers” and “moaners”. They tell us to “get over it” and brush off talk of a new fascism as unfounded scaremongering.
The shock felt by status-quo liberals and the anguish experienced on the left are matched only by the satisfaction of those on the extreme right that finally they are winning. The so-called “mature” liberal democracies have long managed to marginalise them. They have long seen themselves as vilified for speaking the common man’s unpalatable truths to out-of-touch elites. Now their champions are taking the political mainstream by storm.
The centre right is doing the same today. Brexit, Trump and the far right ascendant across Europe indicate that talk of a right-wing revolutionary moment is not exaggerated. And the French presidential election could be next on the calendar.
The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it.