Dr Simon Elmer trained as an art historian, specialising in the period between the wars when fascism was on the rise in Europe and America. Having left academia, and the demands for self-censorship that beset it, Simon is now an independent researcher with the firm he co-founded, Architects for Social Housing. His research skills, intellectual rigour and intensity have since been employed primarily in fighting the United Kingdom's destructive and exploitative social housing policies.
It is in the realm of social housing that the interview starts, with Simon describing the legal, financial and political forces that are driving demolition and rehousing projects in social housing estates in London. David and Simon discuss the profound social and health effects of communities being dispersed and support networks destroyed. David cites examples from Glasgow, including the wonderful Jeely Piece Song, light-heartedly describing conditions so crowded that a whole tower block's children will fight over a single jam sandwich.
Simon Elmer's notable book on the Covid crisis is entitled The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State (also available as an e-book via the Architects for Social Housing website). The title was inspired by F.A. Hayek's 1940s classic, The Road to Serfdom.
Simon outlines why he considers fascism, so often levelled as an unthinking term of general abuse, to be the correct and most accurate way to describe the developments over the last three years, as lockdowns, mandates and coercive policies have spread—dare we say, virus-like—through Canada, the USA, Europe, Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, the allegedly freedom-loving Western nations. David and Simon explore the nature and identifying features of fascism, and reflect on its symbols and beliefs.
Simon's analysis identifies the features of willing compliance, quasi-religious fervour and the enthusiastic following of orders that characterise both historical fascism and the Covid crisis of our day. The discussion ranges across the political spectrum, examining the twin failures of the conservative churches and the political Left to resist the spreading tyranny.
In identifying the core errors that have allowed our societies to be so quickly overwhelmed by totalitarianism, Simon Elmer arrives at the seminal work of Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). He concludes that the willingness of the masses of men to obey the laws of man and not the laws of God are the core of the problem; that is to say, men have acquiesced to man-made law rather than personally choosing good over evil, truth over falsehood and integrity over corruption. In such surrender, the individual finds ease and comfort in the moment but is swept along to participate in crimes of almost unimaginable gravity.
Simon explores the nature of this compliance with authority and examines its psychological drivers, discussing interactions with heavy-handed policing and a state that could not conceive that it could be in error. David had his own experiences of this as well, which prompted UK Column to examine whether we had any rights.
David and Simon discuss the compliance of the mainstream churches at some length, with a suitable symbol of this capitulation being the Vatican's issue of a commemorative coin to celebrate the Covid jabbing programme.
They also explore the collaboration of the political Left with the Covid policy agenda, Simon identifying the takeover by the inherently fascist woke ideology as a significant part of the problem.
All told, this fascinating discussion illustrates the depths of Simon Elmer's scholarship and his willingness to tackle the really difficult issues—a capacity that has lost him some friends but that has won him many more.