Pagan Federation International Pagan Federation International Forum Index Wiccan Rede Magazine

The future is fascist

New topic   Reply to topic Pagan Federation International Forum Index => People & Society
Previous :: Next  
Author Message
ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25466 Posted: 2nd March 2019     Subject: The future is fascist
View user's profile

The abrupt appearance of fascist, ultranationalist, racial separatist, and authoritarian movements throughout the world in the last five years—and their success in coming to power through “democratic” electoral processes—is truly terrifying. At no time since the 1930’s have we seen not only a comfort but a deep lust for authoritarianism in so many people: closed borders, immigration raids, direct and brutal violence against political opposition, flagrant displays of racism and male chauvinism, popular referendums towards national separatism, and an almost jubilant erosion and revocation of civil protections for minorities.


For instance, most explanations of this rise of fascism assert that the Liberal Democracies of the world have finally reached a point where equality for racial minorities, for women, for people with variant gender and sexual expressions, or others who have been “locked out” of access to wealth and political power is finally obtainable. In this view, fascism is a “reaction” to this progress by those who will lose privileged access to wealth and power as others finally get theirs. Thus, increased violence against gays, or Black people, or women in these societies is their reaction to these changes, a brutal but futile attempt to claw back democratic “Progress. ”

It’s no mistake that this is the dominant theory on fascism amongst leftists and liberals in the United States and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom. We can easily see why this is the case: it allows the election of Trump in the US and the passage of the “Brexit” referendum in the UK to be described as sudden “interruptions” to what otherwise seemed progressive nations. In the US particularly, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and many apparent expansions of Liberal Democratic rights (gay marriage, affordable health care, proposed paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, amongst many others) gave the sense that things were “getting better” and would continue to do so. Donald Trump’s election thus seemed particularly shocking to those who’d been convinced of this narrative, a sudden interruption or step backward in the steady march towards eventual equality.

So in this view, Trump (and Brexit), as well as the many increasing instances of street violence by nationalists and racists and explicit hatred for trans, queer, immigrant, and other vulnerable groups are all last-ditch efforts from people who have realized they were losing. These fascists then are counter-revolutionaries attempting to stop the slow but inevitable march of progress towards liberal utopia. They are people looking backwards towards an imagined past because they refuse to learn someone’s pronouns or not sexually-harass women. They’ve seen the writing on the wall, the prophetic end to patriarchy, white supremacy, and all the other systems which privileged them over all others, and they’re trying to stop their downfall.

The Myth of Social ProgresS

If this has been your view of fascism, I apologize for the rest of this essay. Yet I suspect you, as I have, possess a felt sense that the engineers don’t have the current “interruption” as under control as much as they suggest, that there is no regularly-scheduled programming to which we can return.

Fascism is the new normal.

The dominant view of fascism—that these explosions of nationalist and racist acts and political wins are mere “reactions” —relies on a highly-selective conception of the recent histories of Liberal Democracies such as the United States. This conception filters out the actual material conditions of our societies (that is, it does not look at access to wealth, stagnation of wages, accessibility of housing and other resources, nor the conditions of the environment itself) and instead narrates our lives according to what social rights we perceive ourselves to have.

To put this a simpler way, while a gay person can get married in the United States in 2019 but could not in the year 2000, that same gay person’s ability to support themselves (get housing, healthcare, eat, etc) has not gotten easier. In fact, in most places in the United States, especially for those working for minimum or low wages, their lives have gotten much harder despite receiving “rights” and “protections” from the government. The same is true for every other group that the dominant narrative claims fascists are “reacting” against.

Not convinced? Go ask a trans person, a Black mother, or undocumented immigrant friend how easy it was for them to pay their rent in the US in 2016, just before this supposed fascist “interruption” began. And if they’re old enough, ask them if it was really all that easier than it was in 2000.

Taking a longer view of history and refusing to ignore the material conditions which affect people reveals a different narrative than the one we’ve generally come to accept about fascism as interruption to progress. Looking at these conditions, over multiple nations and over a longer term, shows that the general state of Liberal Democracies has been a slow, creeping crisis. Wealth has become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people each year, while the greater portions of these societies struggle harder to survive, work longer hours, get themselves into deeper debt, live in increasingly dense and suffocating cities, and find themselves renting out parts of their lives through “sharing economy” apps or engaging in relentless “crowd-funding” social media campaigns to pay rent, buy groceries, pay for necessary surgeries and even to afford funerals for loved-ones.

The Rise of the Authoritarian Surveillance State

When the state appears in most theories about fascism, it’s seen as a passive actor. Like a parent attempting to intervene between siblings, our way of looking at the state’s role in the rise of fascism presumes it to be a neutral tool the fascists wish to seize for their own will. As with other aspects of this narrative, this view ignores the profound increase in police and surveillance powers that the governments of the world have enacted for the last several decades.

These increases have occurred as much (and sometimes more) under centrist, liberal, and even “leftist” governments as they have under conservative or right-wing governments, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany since 2000. For instance, the longest state of emergency in France was declared (and extended 6 times) by a socialist president, François Hollande. Gerhard Schröder in Germany and Tony Blair in the UK also implemented significant expansions on security and surveillance powers for their respective governments, and President Barack Obama in the United States not only failed to dismantle the massive power-grab implemented by the Patriot Act, but he expanded many of its internal and external policies (including an increase in drone warfare and the legalization of “extra-judicial” killings of American citizens abroad).

We should note that these were all leaders generally seen as champions of civil rights. Both Hollande and Obama presided over governments that allowed same-sex marriage, for instance (while in the United Kingdom and Germany this was done during conservative governments). That is to say, that while the state appeared to be doling out freedoms, it was simultaneously taking away many more by accumulating surveillance and policing powers we usually associate with authoritarian regimes.

In fact, if we take this accumulation into account, we get a completely different picture of what has been occurring. The state which the fascists seem to want to seize is far from neutral. The governments of the world have become increasingly authoritarian and increasingly powerful, reducing the overall freedoms of the people they rule despite offering up a few new freedoms to select minorities.

Besides completely undermining the basis for the theory that fascism is a reaction to progress, this forces us to ask whether fascism is actually a “reaction” in the first place. That is, rather than being backwards and regressive, what if the demands for tougher controls on the movements of people (immigration laws, border walls, deportations, etc), the popular support for far-right political leaders, and the increase in racist, nationalist, and other identity-based violence is actually the true “progress? ”


At least for the previous twenty years, but arguably for the last forty, the general movement of governments and societies has been one of increased control, not of increased freedom. It has also been a movement towards increased concentration of wealth for the rich and increased debt and poverty for an ever-expanding base of the poor whose material conditions only get worse, never better.

More terrifyingly, the very resources upon which our existences rely have become increasingly scare. Catastrophic climate change isn’t stopping or even slowing—it’s accelerating. More species die each year than the previous, CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to climb, disruptions to major weather patterns trigger increasing heat waves, storms, and floods: all this puts additional pressure upon the poor across the earth, creating food, water, and energy crises that threaten the stability of governments everywhere.
Fascism and the Climate Crisis

Therein, though, is the hint as to what is actually behind the increasing authoritarian trends, whether those be state-led or populist. Because fascism is a reaction after all, but not a reaction against an aesthetic increase in social rights for select minorities. Instead, it is a reaction to an emergency.

Fascism—by which I also mean authoritarianism—is a way of managing civilizations during emergencies. Laws against dissent or political opposition during war time, for example, are justified as necessary because the very existence of the government is under threat from foreign powers (real, or as in the cast of the “wars against terrorism, ” mostly manufactured and imaginary).

So if this increasing trend towards authoritarianism throughout the world is a reaction to an emergency, we must ask ourselves what that emergency is. Here we need to drop all pretenses that our Liberal Democracies are marching towards some utopian future of equality, or that there is any real progress being made to better our material conditions. Instead, we are forced to look at those very material conditions themselves and realize that they actually cannot get better.

But here we are now, having reached the limits of earth’s resiliency and the resources used to build our civilizations—especially oil. There are no other easily-available energy sources to maintain—let alone expand—modern society, and anyways the time to have transitioned to more sustainable methods was several decades ago. So now every people group in the world sees the certainty of impending scarcity and in some cases genocide through starvation, flooding, drought, or war.

Every government of the world is now facing the undeniable question: how do we hold on to power in the face of catastrophic climate change? China has already found its answer, through increased surveillance and management of its people through a “social credit” system. In that system, every individual will eventually be tracked according to social, financial, legal, and commercial data and scored accordingly, with a low score (including political dissent or jay-walking too often) barring you from international flights and economic assistance.

While easy to dismiss from an orientalist standpoint as a dystopian project that cannot happen in the “enlightened West, ” we must remember that such a system doesn’t arise out of nothing, nor is it meant merely to punish. The purpose of the social credit system in China is to manage resource availability: people who do not conform to the system lose access to economic goods and mobility itself, and access is granted only to those who do conform.

Here we can see that China is responding to the same emergency (dwindling resources) to which Emmanuel Macron was responding when he implemented his highly unpopular diesel tax. This tax was born not from a mere desire to punish people but to avoid an impending petroleum crisis by discouraging people from driving. While the Gillets Jaunes protesters in France have many justifiable reasons to criticize Macron’s introduction of the “environmental measure, ” the problem remains that France both continues to pump out absurd amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, and also faces potential fuel shortages in the next few years. These are far greater crises than an increase in diesel costs.
The situation we are in can perhaps best be seen with Trump’s proposed border-wall between the United States and Mexico. As awful as Trump is and as racist as the wall will be, it’s too easy to forget the actual logic behind the thing. The point of the wall isn’t to keep people out now, it’s to keep out the millions of people fleeing drought and starvation due to catastrophic climate change later. It is not about a racist present, but about a fascist future.

With this lens we can also look at other changes in the way the United States has been governed before the current president and see that there’s been no interruption at all, only a continuation. President Obama, for all his charming aesthetics of progress, continued and expanded military occupations in the Middle East while increasing the militarization of police within the United States. The answer as to why someone supposedly so committed to equality would do such a thing should now be obvious: the military actions were necessary to ensure the United States had continued access to oil reserves, and the militarization of police was to ensure the government could withstand internal challenges to its sovereignty…including by poor Black people.

In Our Past Is Our Future

By now perhaps you’re wondering why such a longer view isn’t included in many of the dominant theories about fascism. In fact, such a view might also strike you as a little too apologetic for these authoritarian impulses. To both of these points I can only answer by invoking the legacy of two anti-fascist thinkers from the middle of last century, Georges Bataille and Walter Benjamin.

Their ideas point to an awful truth: it is no co-incidence that the authoritarian impulses of governments and people are exploding around us at the very same time that catastrophic climate change has begun manifesting itself. In fact, the racist, nationalist, and fascist movements that arise everywhere now are a response to the impending resource crises caused by that climate change.

Though this is not the future we were promised nor the progress we were hoping for, this was always the only future that was ever possible for our industrialized civilizations.

Rhyd is a druid and writer, as well as a co-founder of Gods&Radicals Press. You can learn more about him here, or support him directly on Patreon.

Rhyd Wildermuth

https://abeautifulresis ... e-is-fascist

Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
New topic    Reply to topic Pagan Federation International Forum Index => People & Society
Show YouTube films

All times are GMT + 1 hour
  New posts :: Recent posts :: 24 hour digest :: Search

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum



phpBB 2.0.23 © 2001-2008 phpBB group