Remember appeasement? Neville Chamberlain who believed Adolf Hitler's falsehoods and promised "peace in our time"? Or more recently Tony Blair's undertaking that he would absolutely support George W Bush's wars?

Both men have been much reviled for kowtowing to hard men and big power. That was back then. Appeasement is now the "new norm", pragmatism, realpolitik. Judgement and moral principles are just so 2016. With Trump in power and hard Brexit revving up, only utopians and fools struggle against the inevitable. The rest are smarter, more strategic.

Friends of Michael Gove – incredibly, he still has plenty – as well as his staunch wife, columnist Sarah Vine, are ecstatic. Their man got to meet Donald Trump before our PM or European leaders did! They discussed world affairs! Had splendid pics taken, both grinning and with thumbs up! A triumph!

Oh, no it wasn't. This was a toady sucking up to an unstable narcissist, sexist and white supremacist, a leader who has called women "fat pigs", "dogs" and "disgusting animals", who seems hell-bent on provoking perpetual internal and external discord and conflict.

Almost as scandalous as this hideous Gove performance are the hacks and commentators who claim his critics were just jealous that he got to kiss the Trump ring first. Actually, he was second. For many months, Nigel Farage has been oiling and a**e-licking his way through the golden court of Mr Trump.

This has intensified Farage's mythological power in the UK. Even ardent left-wingers now find his tactics awesome because he led the charge against the EU and won (such sycophants gathered around Blair too and made him feel invincible).

So Farage gets his own radio show on LBC, total respect from most of the media, including the BBC, which has given him more air time than any other politician outside government, and so brought Ukip from the margins to the centre.

Like Trump, Farage has used and exploited bigotry and xenophobia, nativism, nasty nationalism, and isolationism. It worked. It worked brilliantly. And so the two men are well nigh invincible. Or are seen as unbeatable.

What most shocks and upsets me is the fading courage and commitment of good liberals, minorities, feminists, public intellectuals, and activists who should be regrouping and resisting these frightening developments. Maybe they are tired and disheartened. Or maybe they just want to fall in with winners not losers.

Appeasement now is even more treacherous than it was in the late 1930s because it comes from the most unexpected people. In the US, the venerated journalist Bob Woodward, with Carl Bernstein, exposed the Watergate scandal in 1972 which brought down Richard Nixon.

Now he appears on Fox News, yes Fox News, to defend Trump against the dirty dossier that was recently released. The allegations were "garbage" opined Woodward. Trump tweeted to thank him profusely for his support. Just as inexplicable was Martin Luther King III's decision to go and see Trump on Monday and describing the meeting as "constructive".

Trump and Farage
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage with Donald Trump at Jackson, Mississippi, in August 2016 while the president-elect was on the election trailJonathan Bachman/Getty Images

I met Indians and Pakistanis in America last autumn who supported Trump. One was an old school friend. They were hedging their bets: "If he wins, I want to be with him, not against him. The man can take revenge."

The same accommodation is evident in the UK. Businessman Arron Banks, who has offshore companies, donated millions to the Leave.EU campaign and has funded a website which maligned people of colour and international organisations such as Amnesty.

This man has, in effect, became the biggest shareholder in our democracy. Last year, he tweeted some nonsense about how the fall of Rome was caused by immigration. Much admired historian Mary Beard boldly took him on. Yet last week, they had lunch to discuss their differences and there was Beard being flirty, merry, with a man who thinks facts and truths don't matter a bit.

There are other dispiriting examples. As soon as Theresa May had delivered her hard Brexit speech, there they were, lefties, centrists and pro-EU Tories, falling over themselves to show they were on side.

Not one national politician from the main parties – not even those who are the children of migrants – dares to stand up for immigration or to say that this nation owes migrants a huge debt. Or that the EU dream was as evocative as the American dream, both now shattered.

Whatever spin they now put on it, not all, but a good proportion of Brexiters want all "foreignness" out. That is what they voted for. Only the Lib Dems now dare to speak up against these pernicious longings and Mrs May's disquieting exit plans.

In this pre-fascist age, it is the hard rights versus the rest of us. It is a grave war of ideas. The New Appeasers are irrationally sanguine and full of wishful thinking. So was Chamberlain. If the worst happens and our liberal democracy falls, if elected dictatorships take over, the folk who rolled over will never be forgiven by future generations.