In Part 1 of this Cracked-style article I explored a few commonalities to fascists across the globe and the manner in which they’re hellspawned from some common venomous goo. It was basically an angry rant taking the slightly more accessible form of irreverent, bullet-pointed scorn. I will continue to do the same here in Part 2. However if you haven’t read Part 1, you might enjoy Part 2 more if you do so, but don’t feel obligated or anything. Here’s the link just in case.
In Part 1, following a rambling introduction, I amateurishly discussed the ways in which fascists are united by some form of religious and/or nationalist chauvinism, playing up their own community’s victimhood, and focusing on some designated “other” as the enemy to evoke support from a highly disillusioned population of salivating morons by generating fear, anger and, eventually, dehumanizing hatred. In Part 2, I’d like to continue the rant by pointing to some more fascist commonalities, like how they generate that dehumanizing hatred because they…
Are hyper-masculine, sexist and homophobic: Here’s an example of how Hindu fascists in India trumped up their leader, Mr. Modi, in the recently concluded Indian parliamentary elections – they often spoke about how he possessed a 56 inch chest. I kid you not my fine, non-Indophile friends. They would announce it before political rallies. An objective, completely non-hyperbolic, translated paraphrase of such an announcement would go something like: “Here comes our great leader, a lion among men, bearing a 56-inch chest!” and then the acolytes presumably genuflected in gluteus romance as he strode on stage. For the sake of clarity, this is what Modi looks like.
“I bench-pressed four clay-idols of Krishna today!”
And this is approximately what a 56 inch chest looks like.
“I have issues…serious issues”
Judge for yourselves the amount of delusion that Modi’s supporters would apparently need to live their lives.
But size doesn’t matter here (Get it? My humor is all risqué and understated like that). What matters to them is that he is portrayed as a man’s man. Hyper-masculinity tends to veer in the general direction of sexism and homophobia, with women in the community being burdened with the responsibility of maintaining purity. Indeed, quite possibly the biggest source of rage and anger for racists, right-wing nationalists, and religious fundamentalists alike is “their” women getting stolen by “those” boys who are from the community on the receiving end of that fascist hate. My partner and I face variations of this on a regular basis. She’s a white American woman and I’m a dark-skinned South Asian man. We get stared at in the US and Canada all the time, especially in more homogenously white spaces, and periodically with hostility. Indeed, I’d be willing to bet our life savings that there are quite a few people across America, mostly disgruntled men, who would get really, really angry if that little innocuous titbit of information was conveyed to them. To them I suggest a strong dose of the most difficult plant to hate and a true internalization of its all-mellowing properties.
“Contrary to popular belief, when you’re stoned, you tend to refrain from stoning other people”
This specific kind of hatred is not just a product of racism or religious fundamentalism, but equally so a manifestation of hyper-masculinity and sexism (I’m in the mood for doling out sermonizing truisms today). The idea that men have some sort of ownership over the women in their communities, and that men can determine who those women ought to fall in love with or their preconceived roles, has always gone hand-in-hand with racism, ethno-nationalism, and religious fundamentalism. It ultimately boils down to the fact that “their” women aren’t reproducing “their” people, and that is often why fascists are virulently homophobic and transphobic too, because that is also a threat to their hyper-masculinity and their fucked up frameworks for human reproduction. All that macho hatred within fascist movements can only lead to a state of mind that is…
Violent or dangerously prone to violence: Here’s an exercise for you. Let us say some guy announces to the rest of the world that you, your friends and your family are the enemy of their fascist movement. What is your reaction likely to be? Let’s say that this man is dressed in a very well-crafted aluminum hat tastefully ordained with dry cheese from a leftover slice of pizza and a dapper cape made of torn polyester that smells like pee. Regardless of who you are, I am going to assume that your reaction is a combination of incredulity, revulsion, humor, voyeuristic curiosity, and some version of “Okaaay then…I have to see someone about my need to not be uncomfortable.” You are unlikely to feel fear though. Now let’s assume there are thousands like him. All the aluminum foil in the land has been retrieved for headgear and the country’s polyester has been seized for cloaking needs. And they’re armed with actual weapons, guns, knives, the whole shebang. What’s your reaction likely to be now? If it doesn’t have a modicum of fear, then I truly do worry about you because you should always fear an army of aluminum-hat-wearing, pee-stained-cape-adorned men with dangerous weapons who think you’re the enemy.
This example might seem silly, but the fact is that fascists across the world are on the same scale of crazy as weapon-wielding men in cheese-stained aluminum hats and wee wee capes. (Not to mention the same sense of fashion…check out a young and dapper Mr. Franco below)
“My fellow nationals and patriots – never again will we tolerate the scourge of unassuming nuance and subtlety!”
And the only way such levels of insane batshittery can be taken seriously is via violence, or at least projecting violence.
This ensures that those with the guns control the narrative.
There is probably no better example than the state of Israel and its brutalization of Palestinians. Whether it be the periodic massacres that Israel conducts in Gaza, the ever-increasing settlements as part of their ongoing colonization of Palestinian land that are always accompanied by violence towards Palestinians in the West Bank, the house demolitions, the extra-judicial killings or any other form of violence, one thing is clear: violence is how Israel gets its way.
The mere fact that Israel is one of the most powerful militaries in the world, and easily the most powerful in the Middle East, testifies to this. It has gunships, assault boats, armored personnel carriers, advanced fighter jets, tanks, nuclear weapons, missiles, attack helicopters, unmanned aerial drones, and even military robots; all operated by soldiers armed to the teeth and clad in multiple layers of armor with some of the best communication equipment in the world. This war machine does periodic battle with a ragtag bunch of militants armed with rusty Kalashnikovs, hand-me-down rocket launchers, and checkered scarves around their faces, living amongst a mass of civilians who have nothing but a prayer to protect themselves with. Regardless of where one stands on this issue and even stepping away from the politics of it all completely, I’m sure most would agree that it’s not a fair fight.
The point that is often missed is that it’s not meant to be.
It’s like America’s many, many ethno-fascist wars of imperialism at the behest of the political-economic elite of the country. Iraq, Afghanistan, Central America, Somalia and countless others…all unlikely to put up much of a fight against the American military. Military violence is then glorified and converted into martial valor, highly spurious martial valor, that draws in even supposed progressives (for example, the big-business unions in the US). And that’s how the narrative is controlled.
I for one have never understood what exactly is so brave about an armed-to-the-teeth military butchering swathes of civilians and a smattering of poorly-armed militants…but those are concerns that will not pass through the mighty din of anthems, the heavy fluttering of flags, and the loud polemics of ethno-national pride, often in the form of martial chauvinism.
“They kill the oppressed so you don’t have to”
And this is the case across the world. China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Colombia…pick a point on the globe and there are some fascist fuckers out there with control over militaries of varying strengths oppressing the fuck out of a mass of civilians under a facade of martial valor. But there’s another side to it. There might be brutal violence meted out by the fascist powers-that-be…
Yet many of their supporters are actually quite benign and can be quite underprivileged themselves: The picture’s a little fuzzy, but do try to have a little visual gander at these lovely flag-bearers of humanity doing their bit by mercilessly beating up impoverished immigrant workers and destroying their market stands.
“Could you be a dear, and maybe not bleed so much on me while I club you? I’m skyping in for a meeting with our New York branch today evening.”
Who do you think supports them? If you thought, teeth-gnashing, violent racists, think again. Yes, they do exist, sometimes in large numbers, but the brutally violence fascists are in reality a small percentage of the likely membership of any fascist movement. Most of the numbers are actually made up of mom-and-pop types, who might barely be able to kill an annoying fly. For instance, I am absolutely certain that I have relatives and friends in India who voted for Modi in the recent, May 2014 parliamentary elections.
Among all the points made in this article, this is the one that has convinced me that those of us who believe in things like equality, justice, and peace need to always be vigilant. There is nothing to prevent what happened on the streets of Athens, Greece from happening on the streets of, say, Athens, Georgia (See what I did there? I’m all into witty word play like that). Most protests staged by right-wingers against undocumented immigrants tend to have some of the most vile and racist language, such as the lady with the below placard protesting against undocumented women and children with a placard that says “Protect your kids from diseases.”
“I’m doing this for our kids! Kick those damn illegal children out of here!”
Now, I’m not one of those progressives who calls every right-wing group fascist, because I think it dilutes the term. And I don’t believe the groups shown above are necessarily full-blown fascist either, though I do think they’re getting there. Readers of this article might have a variety of positions on immigration, amnesty etc. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, I argue that it’s not too much of a stretch to see such reactions exploding into violence, sporadic or organized. Think about it. This is the reaction in parts of the US to undocumented Latino immigrants, by people far more privileged and materially well-off, when unemployment is less than 6%. That’s the lowest it’s been in years (by comparison Greece’s unemployment is around 20%…which is depression-era unemployment levels). I’m not saying that, economy-wise, things are great in the US (and by extension in Canada too). I’m saying things could be worse, a lot worse. And when that happens, we could have a home grown fascist movement in the US or Canada not unlike the Golden Dawn in Greece. And then, not only will we have to deal with that…but also *shudder* the getup.
*sigh* “The sacrifices I make for my country”
How do these groups get their message across to people in as quick and explosive a way as possible. Well, among other things, they…
Communicate primarily in harsh, hateful polemics: There is a political party in Switzerland called the Swiss People’s Party. They along with parties like Golden Dawn in Greece, the UK Independence Party in the UK, the National Front in France, the FP in Austria and a host of others have come to prominence on a wave of support for far-right-wing parties across Europe (which is difficult to imagine as anything but scary) mostly establishing themselves on a highly aggressive form of ethno-nationalism (the monocle-wearing, snooty, rich alter ego of “violent racism”). This manifests, for the most part, in two ways – hatred for immigrants and hatred for Muslims, which in some parts of Europe can overlap a fair bit (they’re not the European Union for nothing folks). The Swiss People’s Party is currently the largest party in the Swiss Federal Assembly, riding on a wave of anti-African, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric. This was one of their national campaign posters.
“I tell you what, the Alps don’t go down easy”
If you wonder whether I’m inferring too much here with those black birds. Am I one of those bleeding-heart progressives who just sees racism in everything? Then accept my apologies for not providing an explicit enough example. I guess the poster could be interpreted as their way of communicating that the Beatles were wrong and that those winged critters don’t take broken wings and sunken eyes to learn to fly and sing, but actually to snack on Switzerland. Ok, here’s another one for you.
“Look, it’s not because you’re black, really…we would just really like our country to be all white, is all.”
Looks like subtlety is dying a rather quick death as far as the far-right in Europe are concerned. And that’s what makes them so popular. They work primarily through harsh, hateful polemics that rile people up without making them go through the laborious process of applying a modicum of thought or rationality. It is the reason why they get strong support in a really short time. Fear of an already oppressed community and a loud group with a one-line, hateful slogan that can tap into that fear is a vicious cocktail. Also, they often tend to be starkly lacking in any form of creativity or originality.
One day while sitting on the toilet, enjoying a luxurious lightening of the load, the Honorable Chairman of the European Coalition of Ethno-Nationalist Parties and Institutes of Focused Misanthropy thought to himself “You know, those Swiss could be on to something with that poster…” and from that little burst of brain cell activity sprouted yet another example of European efficiency.
This just makes me believe all the more that the tactics of the far right haven’t evolved much since the time some random cave man decided to hate (and therefore proceed to kill) another cave man simply because they preferred a different kind of mammoth for dinner, thereby launching the foundation for future fascists across the globe. Despite their obvious insane batshittery and virulence, they still get massive support because they…
Loudly claim to have all the answers, and that no one else does (and should therefore be killed/hurt/removed): Real socioeconomic problems such as inequality and poverty are not easy to solve. No one has all the answers (at least not ones that can be implemented in real life and not, you know, in your latest version of SimCity or that irritating Facebook game your lonely 6-cat-raising aunty plays). And no one should claim to have all the answers because it’s just insulting to humanity in general to be that Also I think your vital organs implode or something. In any case, despite humanity being generally clueless, there are many people trying to deal with these fucked up problems in a variety of ways that doesn’t involve blaming communities who are often the worst affected by those problems in the first place.
“Even if our protests don’t work, at least we made cool friends.”
Most people doing good work understand how difficult it is and therefore how time-consuming/laborious it can be in order to, for example, work on multi-decade struggles to raise the minimum wage, or unionize precarious workers, or fight for a borderless world, or protect the rights and liberties of undocumented immigrants, or abolish the prison-industrial complex, all of which would actually go some distance in addressing inequality and poverty. But humanity in general has a short attention span, something we’re altogether familiar with in America. Why bother with a lengthy social justice campaign when we can just blame the Mexicans? It takes way less time to explain, plus we get to brandish our guns while anticipating ourselves, in Rambo-like headgear, defending the land of the free and the home of the brave from becoming Aztlan. The best way to make this happen is to claim to have all the answers…and do so loudly.
What is interesting, and occasionally heartening, is that fascists…
Often hate each other as much as the rest of the world hates them: I believe that ultimately ideologies/philosophies that stand the test of time are based on love for humanity, warts and all, rather than hatred.
“I’m tired of being accepted by the Western imperialists.”
But that’s only in the long haul. Hatred tends to work faster in motivating people to violent action that is fiery for a while and then burns out within a relatively short period of time, but not before conducting unimaginable evil. For instance, in the US and Canada over the last 2 centuries, I would argue that systems of racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression have slowly but surely weakened as more and more people struggle against them. Those systems of oppression have not completely disappeared of course, not by a long short, and there’s always the danger of society regressing. But as a brown-skinned immigrant, despite the racism and xenophobia I have faced on multiple occasions, I would still contend that it’s much better now than it was 50 years back, based on stories I’ve heard from older brown-skinned immigrants (we all get together as part of an underground cabal intent on taking over America…it’s nice, usually we have cake at the meetings). Hell, I’ve been in the US and Canada for the last 12 years, and I’ve seen an improvement in that time alone. When Obama gave his speech at the 2004 DNC, my friend who was a huge Obama-supporter at the time, said with sadness that she felt it would be almost impossible for Obama to one day become president, that America didn’t seem ready. And yet, despite there being very real concerns that Obama’s race would cause him to lose votes that, all things being equal, a white man wouldn’t have lost, i.e. the racist vote, this happened…
“My fellow Americans (especially white ones) – I’m proud to wash away your guilt and boldly ensure that the prison industrial complex and racist immigration system become stronger than ever!”
This doesn’t mean things are perfect (as the above caption suggests with such delicate subtlety). Indeed, Obama himself has had to face unprecedented levels of hate and bigotry for a US President, both in the first term and the second, culminating in the unabashed, gutless, but ultimately unsurprising abandonment of him by the Democratic Party.
As already mentioned, I’m one of those irritating progressives who believes that the Obama administration has done all of jack shit for oppressed communities, but despite all that, overall I do believe things are getting better than they used to be in many ways. I mentioned earlier that my partner is white, and as an inter-racial couple we’ve faced our fair shares of looks, stares, comments, and malice. But I’ve listened to stories of older inter-racial couples who faced far worse, including violence and intimidation. However, and this is the sobering part, this slow trajectory towards social progress has always, and I mean always, been interspersed by episodes of shameful and gratuitous violence against racial minorities, immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ community. And that is because I believe hatred and division might lose out to love and humanity in the long run, but can always get the upper hand for a brief while (with a flexible understanding of “brief” to mean a few years to a few decades, occasionally longer).
However, and in my mind this is a vicariously sinful silver lining, the funny thing is that this hatred among fascist groups also manifests itself in a hatred for each other. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could just leave us alone and duke it out with each other on an island appropriately stocked with a variety their favorite weapons…swords for beheading, drones for bombing out of sight, a bunch of guns to blow each other up, and of course a host of corporations to engage in speculative finance.
Despite their hatred however, they…
Can be surprisingly popular and democratic: A friend of mine once said that Germany had been a democracy ever since WW2 ended, and I had to remind him of the fact that it was actually a democracy for much longer than that. “But before that time was Hitler, remember?” he said, in a tone that barely concealed his sense of victory at having reminded me of the most famous man of the 20th century. I asked him, “How do you think Hitler came to power?” And then I whacked him over the head with a rotten codfish. At least that’s how I remember the interaction. Piscine resolutions to lively discussions apart, what was particularly interesting about the conversation is that he immediately ascribed a lack of democracy to Germany before WW2, and while Germany wasn’t a democracy during and just before WW2, it was one when the Nazi party came to power, and remained so for a while after. And my friend is not alone in thinking like this (but fuck him nevertheless). Many people ascribe democracy as being essentially good, or at least goodish, on the scale of good to evil, but most don’t realize that democracy is not inherently good or bad, it is merely a form of political governance and representation where people theoretically choose their leaders via a fair voting process (which generally translates to choosing leaders anointed by the capitalist powers-that-be…but that’s another article). Well, what if people decide they want a mass-murderer,
or a goofy mass-murderer,
or want to experience what it would be like to do exactly what the world’s only superpower did to great regret, possibly in the hope that being on a different hemisphere reversed the polarity of that part of the brain responsible for qualities of statesmanship,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Tony Abbot, Prime Minister of Australia
When such events happen, as they do all the time, does it suddenly mean that the system was less democratic? It’s possible that said lunatic-in-chief might institute legislation that makes the system less democratic, but the process itself that brought him into power was no more or less democratic than when a less-James-Bond-villainy type person was elected. Remember that what is popular is not always right, political philosophies based on love and humanity are often not very popular, while those based on hatred and division can often invoke great mass-support and that is how many fascist movements in the world today are able to wield sizeable power via the ballot. But there is always a silver lining because they tend to…
Rise quickly and (thankfully) die ignominiously: As sappy as it may sound, the idea that that the arc of the moral universe, while long, bends ever so slightly towards justice is, in my not so humble opinion, ultimately true. (I apologise for the mush. Here’s a picture of Turkish oil wrestlers to get your mind back in the right place.)
Turkey apparently has very evolved frameworks for masculinity.
Extremist movements that are based on religious or ethnocentric nationalism might get a lot of support very rapidly, but it tends to be short lived and soon the leaders are either dealing with some system of restorative justice (either in their own countries, or elsewhere).
“We will punish war criminals from the least powerful countries by questioning them very thoroughly and imprisoning them in a guest house of your choosing – this is the solemn promise of European justice.”
Or maybe they end up batshit insane in their mother’s basement. Right? Ha! More soberingly often than not, they just end up living somewhere in fairly decent luxury, but hopefully in morbid fear of appropriate comeuppance played out in their heads.
(A little side note: As you can probably gather, I’m not a follower of any organized religion or spiritual practice, but I am a believer in a vaguely metaphysical human spirit, like a soul or something…not because of some cheesy notion of inherent human goodness or spiritual purity, but because I’d like to think that the souls of evil people eventually get processed in some cosmic meat plant into cosmic hotdogs eaten by other cosmic spirits who then proceed to pass it through their cosmic digestive tracts very, very slowly, breaking cosmic wind while doing so. Like I said – a bowel in humanity’s digestive tract. A spiritual practice that believes evil people will face cosmic retribution in the form of cosmic shits and farts is a spiritual practice that truly deserves a tax break.)
No fascist or right-wing extremist movement has been able to hold on to power for a significantly long period of time. People eventually wake up to the evil they’ve been supporting, and even if they are slow to the task, there are ways of helping them hesitantly see the light. However, even as fascist parties and movements tend to have a short half-life, there will usually be some members, new converts, fresh acolytes, and lunatic diehards who will linger on beyond their expiration date, eventually becoming the ideologues and leaders of the newly reborn and repackaged forms of fascism. (It is probably the reason you can pick up their putrid stench a mile away. That, and the voluminous amounts of bile they generate…enough to dissolve a large box of Labrador puppies.) Thus the cycle begins anew with fresh types of crazy, regenerated ways to hate, exciting new forms of historical oppressions, and, of course, absolutely flaming hot lines of couture.