I actually understand the far-right more than I understand ‘centrist’ liberals. People are the center seem to want to remain in this shit, while people at the right at least want to get away. In the wrong direction, but I understand the motivation. This to me is the appeal of fascist leaders. They at least admit that something is terribly wrong.
Hence when Italy’s new supposedly fascist leader Giorgia Meloni says:
Why is the family an enemy?… Because it is our identity… so they attack national identity, they attack religious identity, they attack gender identity, they attack family identity. I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother. No. I must be citizen x, gender x, parent 1, parent 2. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators. The perfect consumer.
I understand. She is at least talking about the problem of the destruction of family, of community, of faith, of meaning, all sacrificed on the altar of consumerism. The fundamentally unsatisfying existence of an atomized wage slave, opiated with consumer goods. I vehemently disagree with where she goes with this (trans people and Muslims are not the problem) but I understand where she’s coming from.
As Hannah Arendt said in her book about (primarily) fascism:
“What the spokesmen of humanism and liberalism usually overlook, in their bitter disappointment and their unfamiliarity with the more general experiences of the time, is that an atmosphere in which all traditional values and propositions had evaporated (after the nineteenth-century ideologies had refuted each other and exhausted their vital appeal) in a sense made it easier to accept patently absurd propositions than the old truths which had become pious banalities”
The idea that trans people are at the head of a powerful movement to destroy the family is just absurd, but today the state and corporations increasingly hide behind diversity. It certainly looks like the face of power is browning, gaying, and feminizing. And so the most marginalized people end up as cannon fodder in the culture wars, trotted out by both sides to be slaughtered in the media circus.
American Democrats will kneel for Black Lives Matters and then give even more money to the police state. They’ll talk about taking COVID seriously and then kill even more people. It’s all just pious banalities. That’s why it’s refreshing for so many people to see someone like Trump come and ‘trigger’ liberals. As Arendt said:
“Since the bourgeoisie claimed to be the guardian of Western traditions and confounded all moral issues by parading publicly virtues which it not only did not possess in private and business life, but actually held in contempt, it seemed revolutionary to admit cruelty, disregard of human values, and general amorality, because this at least destroyed the duplicity upon which the existing society seemed to rest.”
The constant refrain among liberals is to defend democracy, to defend institutions, to defend the existing order. What they really mean is defend themselves. As Arendt continued:
“The bourgeois class, having made its way through social pressure and, frequently, through an economic blackmail of political institutions, always believed that the public and visible organs of power were directed by their own secret, nonpublic interests and influence. In this sense, the bourgeoisie’s political philosophy was always “totalitarian”; it always assumed an identity of politics, economics and society, in which political institutions served only as the façade for private interests.”
This is what modern centrists overlook. They think that people want to be in the middle of this shit, and not completely GTFO. Today—all over the world—people's material conditions are increasingly shit. Democracy is already failing them, institutions are already useless or hostile to them, the existing order is infuriating. Preserve these things? Preserve the corrupt elites getting fatter and more complacent as people starve? Fuck them. That’s why people are attracted to anybody that speaks to their anger. And it’s not irrational. These people at least recognize that something is terribly wrong. To me, it’s the conservative liberals who are the most delusional.
This is what all the well-meaning advocates of liberalism and democracy overlook, in their “bitter disappointment and their unfamiliarity with the more general experiences of the time.” The economic Ponzi scheme called globalism (née colonialism) is crashing down and their only answer is to get more people in on the con. Colored people and women are being included in the elite ranks just in time to take the fall. We’re becoming the face of corporate stock photography and pious government programs, putting us right in the firing line of all the justifiable rage to come.
The real problem is globalized elites and corporations looting the whole world (re: colonialism), not someone else’s headscarf or genitalia. This is of course where fascists miss the point. They attack only the face of liberalism, targeting national origin or gender, while money has no nation or gender at all. While liberals misunderstand the solution to collapse (more diversity!) fascists misunderstand the problem (too much diversity!). They’re two sides of the same coin.
The truth is that fascism emerges quite naturally from liberal democracy.Liberal democracy is defined by the exclusion of ‘illegal’ people who don’t have full rights because paperwork. Liberal democracy is defined by the primacy of property rights over human rights. It is defined by political symbolism over actual economic power. As Wang Huning wrote, “the equality guaranteed by the Western system is only formal political equality, not social or economic equality.”This wretched system gets deified through simple hypocrisy and symbolism, but when people's material conditions get wretched, the whole facade comesdown.
The heirs to the Roman Empire follow the whole bread and circuses model, except increasingly without the bread. Given that the structure of liberal democracy is a media circus, it inevitably rewards the biggest clown. It’s no accident that Trump cut his teeth on World Wrestling Entertainment. He understands the crowd, how to play to the crowd, and how to play the heel. American voters know that they’re not going to get shit from either national party. With Trump, they were at least entertained.
Within liberal democracies, all the parties brutalize, demonize, exploit and kill migrants. All give a fuck about other countries, minorities, and the poor. Trump just came out and said it. What he expressed was, as Arendt said, “actually the attitudes and convictions of the bourgeoisie cleansed of hypocrisy.” All he did was “shock society with an ironically exaggerated picture of its own behavior.”
In America, they reacted to Trump by just changing appearances. Under Biden more people have been killed by COVID, cost of living has only increased, and he’s actually started World War III. The door for fascism is still wide open. And you have to understand the appeal. Fascists have no solution, but they at least acknowledge that something is wrong.