Thursday, September 24, 2020

Homework Assignment 4: Fascism, White Nationalism and American Values


Editor's note: as I briefly mentioned at the start of this series, I've decided to engage in an ongoing series of (typically) brief discussions about modern (mostly American) fascism that center around recommended reading links and some of my own decolonization theory, for what I hope are educational purposes; today we're back with Part Four of those discussions. 

Please note this post represents new content and has never before appeared on the internet.

In Homework Assignment 2 "But He's Not Hitler..." I explored some of the reasons why I believe Americans and many Western Europeans struggle to identify fascism and fascist ideology at home (even if they're quite eager to apply the label to those deemed from abroad somehow.) Obviously the focus of that discussion was the fact that Trump himself didn't have to be exactly like Adolph Hitler to be a fascist; indeed, the argument itself is pretty ridiculous because not even other contemporary fascists leaders in the 1930's were exactly like Hitler. Today we're going to switch gears slightly and talk about the distinct individual characteristics of fascist and reactionary ultra-nationalist movements or perhaps more specifically, where those individual characteristics come from

First let's look at localized fascist movements inside nation states, in our case this primarily means examining American fascism. I think there is an unfortunate tendency among novice observers to get bogged down in what I've been calling "fascist scrabble" - the myriad of terms, titles and variations on the eliminationist, reactionary ultranationalism that forms the heart of all fascist movements; be they ethno-nationalist, religious nationalism or cultural nationalism. The truth however is that much of this nazi word-salad is about obfuscation and bad faith argumentation for the fascist movements that adopt this lexicon, and can thus be safely ignored by anyone who isn't devoting time and energy to an extremely granular study of violent, right wing extremist politics.

Are there minor differences among various fascist movements inside a given state? Well, yes, at least in terms of organizational structure, tactics and even ideological justification for the violent suppression of their political and racial enemies. At the end of the day however, they all believe in strict legal enforcement of unequal hierarchies, they all share an intense antipathy towards the left, or even milquetoast liberal social justice initiatives and they're all prepared to commit unimaginable violence against their societal enemies to protect their own personalized concept of the nation and the people "who matter." Whatever inter-squad disagreements the violent reactionary right may have, they are united in their loathing, hatred and desire to destroy the left such as they see it.   

Why don't fascists just call themselves fascists? Frankly the historical track record of fascism suggests its adherents will probably end up bleeding to death in the mud and it's pretty hard to sell new converts on the upside of "rotting in prison for the rest of your life" or "swinging by your neck until you expire" like the boys at Nuremberg did. Furthermore, running around openly preaching eliminationism and antidemocratic rhetoric has a way of alarming voters and political opponents, although curiously (or perhaps, revealingly), aggressive nativism does not, even though it certainly should. Naturally, post-War fascist movements have solved these problems the same way their ideological ancestors solved societal reluctance to adopt open fascism; by lying and as such it's a really bad idea to take a fascist's word for it when he says he's not a fascist - they have after all, been known to bullsh*t.

Even despite all of this however, and if you step back from the minutiae of the American fascist quilt in particular, there are readily apparent differences between fascist movements across time and especially across the state borders that define "the volk" for most nationalist ideologies. As Eco touched on and a cursory examination of history demonstrates, there were significant differences (particularly in terms of organizational philosophy and animating myths) between Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Spain under Franco; let alone the vast differences between these movements and the Reich's allies in Imperial Japan - which despite the trappings of the Emperor, was unquestionably an entho-nationalist military cult that at least functioned exactly like fascism.

Turning towards more contemporary "fascist-movements-in-progress" we also see significant purposeful differentiation in the animating myths and rhetorical forms of modern ultranationalist reactionary movements. For example, in Brazil Jair Bolsonaro has built a fascist political machine based on exulting latent anti-Indigenous racism and a loving embrace of the country's 1964 - 1985 (fascist) military dictatorship. By contrast, Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in India have achieved much the same results by embracing portions of the ongoing political legacy of its extremist (and openly fascist) ideological progenitor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and embracing the Hidutva ideology of a (mythical) patriarchal, sexually chaste and culturally pure Hindu nation corrupted by decadent Muslims and eventually Christians

On the surface these two movements, and Trumpism for that matter, may seem very different (at least at times) and thus capable of defying a fair classification as "fascist." As illustrated at length in Professor Jason Stanley's recent book "How Fascism Works" however, the only functional understanding of fascism that is not vulnerable to fascist lies and fascist word salad is one that defines fascist movements as those that practice fascist politics. Still, while that insight is extremely useful for identifying "fascist-movements-in-progress" it still does little to explain why fascist movements evolve differently, in different times and places.

Naturally, some of this differentiation will be structural and dictated by the material and social conditions in nations that birth fascist movements; it would after all be extremely difficult to sell a wholly racialized Aryan-supremacist ideology fueled by a debunked antisemitic conspiracy theory in a racially diverse, largely non-white country like India. It's not just a matter of flopping the names around either; the animating powers of Nazi race science and its associated conspiracies (which are increasingly making a comeback in America and Europe) simply don't pack the same punch where preexisting nationalist sentiments and animosities revolve around religion and culture instead of purely race.

After spending much of the past five years actively studying and writing about fascism however, I think I've stumbled on two (interrelated) seemingly universal similarities shared by fascist movements that, perhaps perversely, function to make each new fascist movement at least appear unique.

First and most obviously, fascist movements invariably work to actively exploit preexisting societal divisions, prejudices and nationalist sentiments along racial, religious or cultural fault lines. The Nazis certainly didn't invent antisemitism, Social Darwinism or attitudes of militant German superiority, even if they did work extremely hard to encapsulate all of these concepts into the (still preexisting and altogether fabricated) construct of a fictional "Aryan" race. These hateful ideas were already well represented in Germany and ultimately helped serve as a vehicle to power for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party; just as the hateful ideas, sentiments and enthusiasms that propelled Bolsonaro and Modi to power were already deeply established before their elections in Brazil and India respectively.

Indeed after studying a wide variety of fascist movements the past few years, I've largely come to the conclusion that they don't really create anything, even ideas, so much as loot, appropriate and re-purpose them; which fits in well with the popular theory that fascism is at its root a kind of death cult

This brings me to the second similarity, the fact that all fascists seem to borrow their myths, political ideology and conspiracy theories from preexisting reactionary movements in a given society of origin. To once again turn towards the most infamous fascists in history - the Nazi Party ideology originally formed out of the reactionary volkisch movement in Germany, grew its influence by exploiting the right wing "stabbed in the back" myth popularized after the Kaiser's defeat in World War I, and finally vaulted Hitler to absolute power primarily on the back of a decades old, thoroughly debunked antisemitic conspiracy theory originally forged by Tsarist Russians; the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Without belaboring the point and while recognizing that the pattern match is (as of yet) imperfect, you can easily see echoes of this same appropriation in Modi's co-option of his former party's (RSS) platform and Hidutva ideology, as well as Bolsonaro's repeated association with the Brazilian military dictatorship and comparable fascist leaders in the region, like Agusto Pinochet.

All of which brings us to a fairly obvious and important question; if Trump is a fascist and his administration is openly employing fascist politics, what are the preexisting ideologies, conspiracies and animating myths this movement is employing to sell Downmarket Mussolini's fascist agenda? To answer that question we turn to today's reading assignment, an April 2019 article in the Atlantic by Adam Serwer that explores White Nationalism, the white genocide conspiracy theory and the ideological progenitor of the hateful beliefs Trump is capitalizing on to seize total power - check it out by clicking on the link below: 

White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots

- nina illingworth

Independent writer, critic and analyst with a left focus. Please help me fight corporate censorship by sharing my articles with your friends online!

You can find my work at ninaillingworth.comCan’t You ReadMedia Madness and my Patreon Blog

Updates available on TwitterMastodon and Facebook. Podcast at “No Fugazi” on Soundcloud.

Inquiries and requests to speak to the manager @ASNinaWrites

Chat with fellow readers online at Anarcho Nina Writes on Discord!

“It’s ok Willie; swing heil, swing heil…”

Friday, September 11, 2020

Article Analysis: Law and (the Fascist) Order

Editor's note: this article represents completely new content and has never before appeared elsewhere on the internet. Please also note that I didn't cram just under a hundred hyperlinks in this article to argue about whether or not I know what fascism is with alt-right trolls; click on the links and stop wasting my time.

At this point dear readers, I must confess to having become utterly exasperated with the cowardly and mendacious members of mainstream American society who utterly refuse to acknowledge even the existence, let alone the terrifying progress of the Trump-led fascist creep in America. I certainly don't think it takes a fortune teller to realize that when the President is signalling his open support for a deranged reactionary conspiracy theory that argues all of his political opponents are satanist pedophiles working with George Soros, Black Lives Matter and "Antifa" to conduct a coup against the rightful Furher, Donald Trump - we've gone a little bit past "dog-whistle" politics in America.

In particular however I have grown exceptionally weary of hearing about how Trump and his Pork Reich administration cannot represent an all-American form of fascism because "you can still say he's a fascist" - while the president actively conflates First Amendment protected protest with terrorism, unaccountable cracker murderpigs are taking head shots at journalists during riots started by the police and the administration is threatening to pull broadcast licences from media outlets that don't treat the President "fairly."

This argument is to say the least unsupported by an increasingly growing pile of evidence and perhaps more accurately represents a mendacious call for civility designed to attack the left, in the middle of a fascist takeover by the right. In recent days however, the objectively fascist Trump administration added two more pieces of damning evidence to the pile and disturbingly, the mass media at large hasn't really taken much notice yet. Let's start with this short piece from Vanity Fair's Caleb Ecarma on September 1st, 2020:

DHS Says It's "Working On" a Black Lives Matter Crackdown

First of all, I'd like to point out how completely dysfunctional the American corporate media has become if I'm seriously offering backhanded praise to Vanity Fair for having the balls to publish this story in any sort of context; other outlets that bothered to at least mention the fascist or authoritarian nature of Wolf's comments include the Daily Beast and Esquire, but all in all I think it's fair to say the American media basically sh*t its pants on this incredibly important story.

Why is it important? Well let's see, here we have the fascist head of the Department of Homeland Security (a man appropriately named Chad Wolf) telling noted fascist commentator Tucker Carlson, on national television, about another potential mass arrest plan to round up "the leaders" of "Antifa" and Black Lives Matter the Department of Justice (under noted fundie fascist William Barr, more on him in a minute) is "working on." Just so you don't think I'm f*cking with you, let's grab a screenshot:

Again, please keep in mind that this is the guy currently running the Department of Homeland Security and conducting an objectively fascist paramilitary "policing" war against protesters in Portland and other (primarily Democrat-led) American cities. In other words, when Chad Wolf threatens to do fascism against protesters, there's a fairly recent precedent that suggests you should take him seriously. As you'll see below however, I'm definitely not sure this author, Vanity Fair or the larger American media grasps that concept as of yet. 

After our quoted passage, the article then goes on to offer up some halfhearted, milquetoast push-back on some, but not all, of Wolf's outrageous statements and the conspiracy theories it implicitly supports:

"It’s unclear exactly who the DOJ views as the leaders of nebulous political movements like antifa and Black Lives Matter, as the past few months of nationwide protests sparked by police shootings of Black Americans are largely grassroots, often spontaneous demonstrations organized at local levels."

These are of course fairly logical counter-points to Wolf's argument but to say they leave a lot of important information out would be a bit of a mild understatement. 

What about the fact that Americans have a legal right to protest? What about the fact that a protest movement isn't the f*cking Mafia and trying to use RICO charges to silence antifascists and African Americans exercising their First Amendment rights is in fact, fascist? Should I applaud Ecarma for vaguely hinting at the idea Trump is wrong for suggesting simply protesting his Junta is "terrorism" at the top of the article, or would now maybe be a good time to expect our media to be a little more explicit about why that's textbook fascism? 

The article then goes on to tie-in Tucker Carlson's sympathetic coverage of far right vigilante murderer Kyle Rittenhouse, the growing (and open) GOP conspiracy that protesters are being flown around the country to conduct riots and finally Rand Paul's bizarre claim that protesters who targeted him near the White House after the Republican National Convention are “interstate criminal traffic being paid.” 

What it doesn't do at any point in time however is offer up any sort of righteous indignation, urgency or alarm at the fact that the f*cking head of Homeland Security is openly talking about "working with" the Attorney General on a plan to "round up" protesters like mobsters or terrorists based on the unhinged and objectively false conspiracy theories of the American far-right and their swine emperor, Donald Trump; conspiracy theories happily supported by fascists in US corporate media, might I add. 

This then brings us to our second and perhaps even more terrifying article of evidence that we are indeed roiling in the throes of an all-American fascist creep; let's start with this September 4th, 2020 article from Christina Carrega at CNN:

Barr says streets are 'safer' after killing of an alleged Antifa member

So for starters, just let me say here "holy f*ck" are you folks at CNN kidding me? The fundie fascist Attorney General cuts an objectively unhinged statement justifying the extrajudicial murder of a supposed member of a completely fictional organization, on the Friday before a holiday weekend no less - and the best you mendacious minions can come up with is a 281 word blurb treating Barr's assertions at face value, that somehow doesn't contain a printed copy of the (now repeatedly altered) statement? Let's take a look at that full statement below:

Okay so did the US Attorney General, the de-facto head of the U.S. Department of Justice just describe an extrajudicial execution (without evidence, a trial or any judicial process whatsoever) of someone suspected of a crime as a triumph for justice, while effectively signalling to law enforcement that the government will have their back if they kill anarchists or members of "Antifa?" You betcha; that is exactly what just happened - but don't tell CNN or the rest of mainstream "liberal" media in America, they clearly don't consider it very important that the President just put a hit out on a man (who might have acted in self defense) for political purposes, or that his fixer Attorney General then justified that revenge killing as necessary to maintain public safety

Naturally, CNN wasn't the only outlet to accept Barr's blatantly politically motivated arguments in favor of Michael Reinoehl's execution as gospel truth, they're just the ones that did so with the least amount of effort to do anything resembling journalism. There is of course just one problem, well aside from the fact that this isn't how the rule of law works at all; namely that it's increasingly looking like Barr straight up lied about Reinoehl pulling a gun on the fugitive task force that was trying to "apprehend" him by... shooting at him before they even uttered any commands

Now look, I might not have a fancy journalism degree from Columbia but I think it's safe to say that when protesting against the government is terrorism, it's worse in the eyes of the state to be antifascist than a violent nazi terrorist, and murderpigs are coordinating with far right extremists to exterminate the left, it's pretty f*cking obtuse to be quibbling about definitions of the word fascism. We're here, even if our media establishment is still too terrified to say it out loud.

So what pray tell has the stalwart opposition in the Democratic Party been up to while all of this is going on? Actually, it's probably for the best that you don't ask.

- nina illingworth

Independent writer, critic and analyst with a left focus. Please help me fight corporate censorship by sharing my articles with your friends online!

You can find my work at ninaillingworth.comCan’t You ReadMedia Madness and my Patreon Blog

Updates available on TwitterMastodon and Facebook. Podcast at “No Fugazi” on Soundcloud.

Inquiries and requests to speak to the manager @ASNinaWrites

Chat with fellow readers online at Anarcho Nina Writes on Discord!

“It’s ok Willie; swing heil, swing heil…”

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Article Analysis: On Warren's Cracker Gambit from the Indigenous Perspective (Re-Post)


Editor's note: as I mentioned in our previous post, Facebook's fash-appeasing and nonsensical false balance policy has forced me to migrate a bunch of content off my Facebook blog and onto other sites; because re-posts are annoying, Sunday morning is one of the best times to do that. Today's post originally appeared on October 1st, 2019 and looks at how Native Americans view Elizabeth Warren's false claims of Indigenous heritage.

The white supremacy of Elizabeth Warren

In today's article analysis I'd like to go back and look at this March 4th piece from earlier this year by Twila Barnes and Cole DeLaune over at Indian Country Today.

I don't imagine that a lot of liberals who're going to vote in the Democratic primary read this meticulously-sourced article back in March and I suspect that if you showed it to them today, they would blithely dismiss it out of hand. From the classic "white moderate" perspective the title (The white supremacy of Elizabeth Warren) will likely seem offensively hyperbolic and modern liberal decorum doesn't leave a lot of room for indigenous people who self identify as "Indians." The last uptight Democrat I tried to share it with immediately dismissed it as "just some blog."

Perhaps it really is too much to expect some light search engine operation from your average liberal at this point, but to paraphrase the good doctor "we're made of sterner stuff than that" here on the left. I don't profess to be an expert on indigenous online media but a little poking around on the internet revealed that Indian Country Today is indeed a popular and reputable indigenous news organization with a wide reach and a proud history - currently being operated by the National Congress of American Indians, which itself was founded in 1944 and represents a large number of federally and state recognized Native American tribes (see link below.) Presumably the purely subjective complaint that "this looks like a blog" can be answered by the site's forward-thinking design which ICT notes is optimized for delivery to your mobile phone.

Okay now that we've established that liberals should be reading it (we we're going to read it anyway) because it's a credible news site that both reaches and represents perhaps millions of Native Americans, what does it say? Spoilers: not great things about who Liz Warren is and how this next election might go if she's the eventual Democratic Party nominee.

I really do encourage you to read the full article but the short, short version is that Liz Warren is absolutely not indigenous, there is almost a zero percent chance she's simply been innocently repeating false "family lore" and that Warren has apparently been outright lying about her heritage for a variety of political and career-orientated advantageous. 

The authors also note the blatantly racist overtones of Warren's decision to use a flawed genetic test to prove native ancestry, her repeated trafficking in native stereotypes (high cheekbones) and that both "phenotypically and culturally", Liz Warren is objectively a (rich) white woman.

Perhaps the harshest words of critique against Warren however are reserved for describing her repeated failure to support native causes in government, address indigenous concerns about Liz's "professional native" cosplay and apologize honestly for the damage her yarn-spinning has done to native communities. 

The authors accuse Warren of refusing to meet native activists to discuss the issue, allowing her campaign to malign them as pawns of "right-wing extremists" and stonewalling interview requests with Indian Country Today.

This isn't random malingering here; there is real (and longstanding) anger in this article - in the words of the authors themselves:

"In summary: when confronted with Indigenous perspectives that posed an obstacle to her personal advancement, Warren’s carefully calculated response was to pretend that we didn’t exist."

"Eventually, of course, the DNA debacle of her own making forced Warren to deliver a qualified mea culpa. But she has never acknowledged – much less apologized for – her active hostility toward the Indigenous critics who first tried to reach out to her and then strived to hold her to account. She has unequivocally failed in the most foundational moral duties of her position: to listen, to engage, and to represent. For almost six years, she intentionally did what colonialism has always done to people of Indigenous origin: she has erased us from our own story."

This is of course the "elephant in the room" of the Liz Warren campaign and the evidence is clear that the mainstream Democrats and media minions flocking to her banner absolutely know it - once again I quote directly from the article:

"And the fallout is real and concrete. Right now, left-leaning media reeks with the condescension of nominal white progressives – numerous prominent pundits and reporters among them – all too willing to dismiss and demean the insights of their Indigenous counterparts. Because of their Twitter commentary on the subject, Ryan Grim, DC bureau chief of The Intercept, accused Cherokees of “doing Trump’s work” and “enabling his abject racism.”[20] Reporter Thor Benson of The Rolling Stone and The Daily Beast sneered at the “virtue signaling” of critiques about Warren by a Dine/Inhanktowan Dakota author.[21] In an article denounced by the Native American Journalists Association[22], The Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery minimized the chorus of Native qualms on the matter (even from the Cherokee Nation Secretary of State) as “crickets.”[23] Bill Maher lectured his television viewers, “If you think this stupid, blown-out-of-proportion Indian controversy makes her inauthentic, you’re the phony.”[24]

Naturally that elite liberal media establishment backlash will sound awfully similar to DACA and immigration activists, young climate protestors and anti-mass incarcerations advocates who have spoken out against a Democratic Party power structure that's happy to have them for the photo-op, but doesn't stand up for marginalized people. It will also sound awful familiar to left wing LGBTQ people, Medicare for All advocates and members of the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally of course most supporters of Senator and 2020 Democratic Party nomination contest candidate Bernie Sanders will be *also* be quite familiar with this bizarro-world application of weaponized identity politics that suggests that those who are oppressed, are actually the oppressors because simply mentioning your problems somehow counts as "racist" or "bigoted" in its own right - an argument that might I add is both absurd and obscene when deployed against full-tribe Native American activists and journalists on behalf of a seventy year old, rich, white Harvard Law school professor.

Therein of course lays the crux of the problem for both Liz Warren and the Democratic Party at large: 
Angry leftists and outraged indigenous people might not cost Liz Warren the nomination contest; especially if the media continues to abuse, shame and malign anyone who speaks up about it - but then what?  

While it's certainly possible that through attacks against marginalized people, smearing lies or falsehoods and hyper-aggressive tone shaming you can keep anyone on the left from mentioning that Warren is a rich old white lady who faked being indigenous to further he own career; what happens if she wins? 

When you're surrounded by leftists and liberals, you can get away with saying Sanders supporters who don't like her are just sexist, you can pull off spouting that indigenous people who are outraged at Warren wearing their culture like a hall pass are just "virtual signaling" and you can arrogantly dismiss the largest online Native news source as "just a blog." Do the Democrats sincerely believe that calling Trump racist is going to stop him from bringing all of this up when the cameras are rolling?

The answer is of course no and the sad truth is that rich liberals don't care - they would rather lose a culture war election about "affirmative action" to nazis with Liz Warren, than risk surrendering one inch of power to the labor class and marginalized people by nominating Bernie Sanders.

And if that's starting to sound a lot like how they lost to a reality TV show pederast rapey fascist in 2016 to you, please know that you aren't the only one.

Please dear god, save us all from bougie white moderates.

- nina illingworth

Independent writer, critic and analyst with a left focus. Please help me fight corporate censorship by sharing my articles with your friends online!

You can find my work at ninaillingworth.comCan’t You ReadMedia Madness and my Patreon Blog

Updates available on TwitterMastodon and Facebook. Podcast at “No Fugazi” on Soundcloud.

Inquiries and requests to speak to the manager @ASNinaWrites

Chat with fellow readers online at Anarcho Nina Writes on Discord!

“It’s ok Willie; swing heil, swing heil…”