Pegida
Supporters of the Pegida movement march with German flags at another of their weekly gatherings in DresdenGetty

The Paris shootings reflect a new form of Fascism threatening modern Europe, a leading UK social affairs think-tank chairman has claimed.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, social futurist and 2020Plus chair Mal Fletcher said this type of fascism had to be met with the same bold resolve our forefathers demonstrated in their battles during the 20th century.

mal fletcher
Mal Fletcher

But he states this new brand of fascism is not so much based on political ideology, as in the past.

In fact, he claims it is now marred to religious extremism, taking a "myopic view of the world" that does not just threaten freedom of speech or expression but human life itself - as we have seen in the ruthless killings of 10 journalists at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and two police officers in Paris.

But unfortunately it is a reality already known to millions in Syria and Iraq. Here, Fletcher shares his take on the fascism rise.

So how should nations tackle it?

First of all, political and civic leaders need to abandon what we used to call political correctness as a default form of public discourse. Churchill was very good at showing us fascism can't be made less than a threat by convincing ourselves that it deserves a fair hearing.

Fascism of any kind is at its strongest when people refuse to see it for what it is has to be met with a resoluteness and defiance, a strong and fair stand based on proven values and ethics.

The second is more obvious but religious leaders, particularly in this case, in some parts of the Muslim community need to be able to invest proactively in re-education programmes for vulnerable young people, men and women who might otherwise be radicalised.

The majority of Muslims in Europe are looking to lead successful, peaceful lives like everybody else but the fact remains some recruits to this new form of fascism are drawn from Muslim communities.

This fact has to be addressed. Recognising the problem is not assigning blame or creating victims or being racist but a necessary step towards finding solutions.

We also need a much more honest approach to immigration. We become almost afraid to talk about it. It's easier to fall into one or two extreme camps on immigration. The biggest policies of the old fascists or far-right political groups wanted strict limits or a ban on immigration but we know we need immigration.

We need it in Europe as our population is shrinking. Birth rates are going down. The population of Germany will shrink from about 87 million today estimated to 70 million by 2050. That's a big decline.

We also have an ageing population that's going to give us challenges with unemployment, availability of housing and cost of health care.

The question for us is not whether we allow immigration but how do we manage it better. How do we make sure we are inviting people who can help fill the skills gaps that are opening up right now? How can we make sure new arrivals are giving proper help to integrate with their communities?

Also, how we can guarantee people a place of safety for those who are genuine refugees?

That's not to do with racism but has to do with sensible management. I think it is a factor when it comes to talking about this new form of fascism, as it seems there are a number of people who are disenfranchised or alienated from the system.

And what about the other traditional forms of fascism emerging and driving demonstrations against the Islamification of Europe? Will they fade out?

I don't think they will disappear, they are of enough concern to be talked about in high levels of political circles in Europe, notably in the German government. But it has to be said they are very localised demonstrations and not widespread caused by issues such as urbanisation and the lack of integration people feel in their communities.

There are also socioeconomic reasons, such as the automation of the workplace, meaning certain workers are being put out of a job.

In Germany for example, where the Islamfication rallies are taking place, there is an emerging underclass of people, who are industrial workers, highly trained, on middle-class incomes, being laid off their work because of automation and robotisation.

When you consider these factors behind the demonstrations, it's not as simple as people getting upset about foreigners moving in.

I also attribute the issue to declining birth rates, that people feel like they are becoming a smaller part of the wider community because foreigners have higher birth rates. After one generation, the birth rates of immigrants tend to slip back into the norm anyway. It's the perception that's not always accurate.

How can we tackle fear in light of the Paris shootings?

In the Western world, we tend to live with a false sense of security. There has never been a time in history when there has been a prolonged time of peace as we have seen over the last 60 or 70 years in the West.

My generation hasn't known a world war or anything approaching it, which does tend to lull us into a sense it will also be this way and we start to become quite shocked by things that are latent and have never gone away, which in part is a wrong expression of human nature.

But we have to resist the temptation to respond in abject fear, which just leads to a loss of perspective. We have to avoid hatred on the other hand, which just erodes the whole soul of a society. And we need to avoid apathy that allows wickedness to go unaddressed. All three - fear, hatred and apathy - are all things we have to be wary of as we try to deal with this problem.