Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Everything old is new again, as the saying goes. Whitey is back, have you noticed? Not the word, the guy. Whitey. The guy who went to the Moon while Gil Scott Heron’s sister Nell done got bit by a rat. Whitey, rapey, assassinatey, pollutey, corrupty, flag-wavy, and Nazi. The seven warpeds. They’re all back. It’s almost like they never left.
Ever since their crushing defeat in WWII (Francisco Franco a notable exception), fascists have been on what the English call, “the back foot.” Governments from 1945 onwards have been dominated by non-fascists and crypto-fascists, in numbers far greater than their percentage in the population at large, if recent exercise of the public franchise in the West is any indication. What qualifies non-fascists and crypto-fascists to take such an outsize chunk of the pie of governance? Have you seen how they’ve mismanaged things so far? The Western democracies today suffer from shaky currencies, inter-cultural strife, municipalities hamstrung by austerity caused by corporate corruption and justified by false shortages, and the icing on the cake, a sure sign of decaying social cohesion and the failure of the ruling class: these nations are all teetering on the brink of fascism!
So maybe it’s time to give fascism another look. If the best the current non-fascist and crypto- fascist rulers can deliver, at the end of three quarters of a century of having it their way, is a collapse into fascism, why not give fascism a try? Fascism has been in remission for longer than anyone expected. Like a case of shingles, why not just accept it and try to make the best of it? When life gives you shingles, or fascism, surely there’s lemonade to be manufactured. That’s what the fascists would have done. Or would have had some prisoners do for them.
Fascism clearly has some very attractive qualities. Rigid, brutally-enforced order, for one. It kept the trains running on time, the streets clean (when they weren’t coursing with blood or littered with broken glass), and the working class in an appropriately terrorized, or “eager to please,” condition.
Fear was the great motivating force. You could always tell where you were in the social order by who it was you were afraid of. The ambitious aspired to rise from fearing the bureaucrat immediately above them to being intimidated only by the cream of the crop. On the bottom rungs, you were simply afraid of suffering the fate of those pushed completely outside the social order: removal, mass incarceration, forced labor, and extermination. Being a worker under fascism was not unlike it is today. We could call the condition, “precarity.”
But more than a precarious working class terrorized into obedience, the fascists brought clarity. A man was a man, a woman was a woman, and everyone else was erased. Even a hint of gender fluidity marked a person for destruction. “Gender fluid” wasn’t even a term at the time, but if it had been, it would have meant semen, if anything. But the fascists didn’t talk about secretions, they spent most of their time sublimating their ferocious heterosexuality, and their repressed homosexuality, as well as other, more esoterica urges, into athletic contests, military parades, and corporal punishment.
By the mid-1930s it was clear that the horrors of the Great War, which the fascists considered so great that they wanted another one, had left artists and writers in a state of deranged modernism. The fascists preferred tidy modernism: art deco eagles, leather boots, bundled sticks, lightning bolts, and stylized skulls, much of which was adopted decades later by bondage and fetish culture, fortified as it was with “subliminal” sexuality we would now consider ridiculously overt.
And yet, somehow, fascists considered it all so clear and orderly. It’s that kind triumph of the will, the will to turn chaos into order, simply through coerced belief, to turn shingles into lemonade through angry, violently-enforced lies, that the fascists could bring to us once more.
Can fascism tackle global warming? That depends. Is the American public ready for Green Fascism? Like the Planetary Management Authority science historian James Burke predicted in his overly optimistic 2-part speculative mockumentary, After The Warming, from 1989, in which a benevolent dictatorship forces humanity to adopt sustainable living choices? Or can the regular white fascism do the job? Can plain old, run-of-the-mill white fascism lie climate chaos away?
It’s trying to lie racism away. How is that going? The answer you get depends on who you ask. If you ask a racist, there is no racism.
Ask a polluter, there is no pollution, that’s the fascist way to fix things.
Another fascist solution to racism, in addition to lying about it, is to exterminate the other races. There are advantages to this, except to the races in question: other races are the real racists. Just ask a racist! And extermination opens up job opportunities. There are the jobs of leading people to extermination, carrying out the exterminations, and of course, disposing of the bodies. But in the aftermath, so many millions will have been killed, presumably, that housing will be abundant, and jobs will be vacant for the taking. Ask the non-Jews playing klezmer music in Germany! Somebody’s gotta do it! The point is, mass murder and war involving armies of millions, that’s like economic rocket fuel. By which understanding, fascism is nothing if not a job creator. Like the Great Plague! Talk about an economy firing on all cylinders!
We are plagued by artificial shortages, engineered by capitalists to keep commodities profitable, including arms, never mind the resultant starving and bloodshed. But one thing you can’t fake a shortage of is alive people. Too few workers to exploit is the only pressure to raise wages to which capitalism responds. Therefore, unchecked, bellicose, nationalistic fascism is sure to work in the workers’ favor. The workers lucky enough to survive, that is.
In summation, we have a choice to make. We can choose to choose fascism, or we can choose to let it happen to us. Let me put it this way: as a free people living in the freest nation on Earth, albeit with the largest incarcerated population (though admittedly that’s not really a gauge of anything besides how many people we have locked up), don’t we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to take something like control over our inevitable future? What good is all this freedom if we can’t use it to freely choose inevitable tyranny?
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!