Category Archives: Ideology

Fascism – an ideology a la mode

If there is no indisputable definition of fascism there are anyhow specific characterizations of the phenomenon. The basic one, at the same time the most despicable, is lack of empathy for other human beings (outside a closed circle). Among fascists, the reasons for living are instead Race, Honor, War, Blut und Boden and equivalent concepts. (Empathy is something that a fascist occasionally may feel for animals.)

In line with these characteristics it follows that fascists see as deadly enemies all democratic movements in favor of equality and solidarity, such as labor movements and other associations engaging ordinary human beings. Fascists embrace mainly people and things that are strictly theirs in some sense, such as their ego, their family, their clan, their nation.

Fascism started, and is responsible for, the Second World War. It’s equally true, but nowadays repressed, that the Soviet Union carried by far the heaviest burden to defeat the worst and strongest of the monstrous fascist war machines. Soviet was then considered by many to be a workers’ state, and workers’ unions thus gained a strong position in most of Europe the years after the war.

This period have been called a Golden Age in industrialized countries. Economies flourished with high growth; income distribution was fairly equal (very much so by today’s standards), welfare measures were carried through and ordinary working families could acquire a comfortable life. Fascists were practically non-existent during these optimistic years (we had a few hibernating Nazis in Sweden, but they were commonly regarded as complete dimwits).

The backlash came in the late 1970s, when the capitalist class finally managed to regain political and ideological hegemony by using its economic power. In the name of neoliberalism, they could enable a strong reaction against wage workers’ acquired rights. Pitched as globalism, the new march backwards became international. One instrument of this redistribution of production results to the very rich was deregulation of the financial markets, resulting in repeated financial crashes hitting poor people the hardest.

With this capitalist reaction the groundwork for resurrection of fascism was laid. We had been through it once before in near history and should have learned, but those in real power doesn’t want us to learn. They obviously prefer fascism before progressive development that really deals with people’s grievances. The right wing paves the way for right wing extremism. Their most important objective is to keep progressives away from power.

A more polite term for right-wing extremism is populism, and both have kinship with fascism. The connections are illustrated in a recent article in New York Times dealing with the ideological preferences in the head of Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist in the most powerful administration in the world. He is said to be influenced by, or at least open to, the world of Julius Evola, an extreme traditionalist that inspired Mussolini and now is openly hailed by Alt-right leaders.

Evola himself broke with the Italian Fascists “because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.” (Evola is called an influential “thinker” which is an odd epithet for a man who conspicuously prefer feeling ahead of thinking.)

Evola was Anti everything enlightened, rational, modern, liberal, progressive and humanitarian one can think of. An American scholar has described his ideal order to be based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual”. This points a straight way back to the heart of medieval darkness. A way that Stephen K. Bannon, on the face of it, at least not entirely abstain from recommending.

All while our media are outraged by silly scandals, alleged leaks, fake news (including their own) and above all: The Russians. There is something rotten in the state of affairs, but it’s more dire than the headlines in our newspapers suggest.

Perpetual violence – to be cured by more violence?

Baton Rouge again…

This time it’s said to be retaliation for the last time. In that case it’s how violence works, which is a truism familiar to everyone. Also well-known is that violence easily triggers chain reactions, multiplying the killings.

One reasonable explanation for why the US police use their weapons so readily is that they must expect anyone they confront to have a gun. This excuse was put forward in an American online paper, followed by critique of the generous gun laws. But apart from the abundance of deadly weapons in a society, crazy in itself, there are normally specific reasons to kill before anyone takes that often suicidal step. And the reasons are plenty and obvious.

On the international scene Europeans, and their descendants in America and elsewhere, have subdued large parts of the world with brutal, immeasurable violence for 500 years. If people on the wrong end of the club should do what we do, retaliate on the same scale, we haven’t seen nothing yet… And we have not ended our butchery! By setting the whole Middle East on fire we have implanted the violence, making people in the region kill each other brutally.

Domestically the neoliberal assault by the ruling class against ordinary people has created multiple causes for conflicts. Had we lived in the short period of fairly civilized western life, the one we experienced 1945-75, a strong labor movement would have fought back with peaceful means against the self-indulgent, arrogant and greedy little clique that has been allowed to grab most of our countries’ wealth and power.

But the labor movements have lost much of their territory in the ideological warfare launched by the “elites”. It turned out that the little clique controlled most of the media, which in turn made us believe that they were the truthful and objective media in the world (unlike our enemies’ propaganda outlets).

Our propaganda of all kinds – some of it called advertisment – has been pushed down people’s throats. No surprise that we have been made obedient, and passively led to fulfil our purpose in a society whose main goal is to enrich a miniscule group of unbelievably rich, at the same time probably destroying all prospects for human life in a sinister future, which comes even closer by the day.

Hopefully that future is not inevitable. To turn events in a hopeful direction “just” requires global popular struggle, solidarity, a completely different economic system and rational oversight, among many other things. The key issue is to separate economic power from political might, tough enough.

The concept “property” has to be given a new implication. And a really lasting society in which the human species will survive has certainly to be something radically different than the braindead and consumer-slave herd driven for the main benefit of the super-rich.

Something we could really call Democracy.

Left and Right – once more

In one of Woody Allen’s more casual movies, Everyone Says I Love You, a New York liberal, played by Alan Alda (of course), has a teenage son with reactionary republican ideas, driving his father wild. In a short scene late in the film, almost as slapstick, it’s revealed that the son had an innate illness affecting his brain, and when cured from that he’s converted into a normal liberal, to everyone’s happiness.

Woody Allen is in my view one of the American gifts to the world. In the many of his movies I’ve watched there were, to my recollection, scarcely any outright political themes. So when he in this movie, as script writer, deliberately equates right wing politics with brain injury, it seems as if he just want to state that some kind of liberalism is obvious for “normal” people.

The rift between left and right, liberals and conservatives, workers and bourgeoisie propagates around the globe. It’s like two different worlds each with its own cognition, logic and ethics, making intelligent communication difficult, if not impossible. A recent illustration was given in the reactions to the Greek financial problems and their solutions.

On those articles on the subject in the New York Times where the comment’s section was opened, the readers’ comments where divided into two distinct groups. Around half of the entries pointed (sometimes fiercely) at the Greek’s bad habit too live beyond their means, their governments granting them too generous pensions and allowances, their notorious tax evasions and other misdemeanors. The usual conclusion in those posts was that the Greek had to pay their debts, and if they happened to suffer it was their own fault.

The other group of readers focused instead on the role of the banks that had poured loans over a country that everyone knew was in bad economic shape, and that capitalism requires that banks, like other companies, bear the consequences of their risk-taking, for which they are paid interest. One could often read that the much debated bailouts in fact were the European governments (primarily the German) making their tax payers save their own countries’ banks from losses on Greek loans, and that very little of the bailout money really helped the afflicted Greeks. This group found it unreasonable that the fairly innocent Greek people should be forced to bear the burden of problems caused by others, who enjoyed impunity.

Right and Left are obviously two entirely different ways of viewing human beings and society, naturally based on material interest, social heritage and other such environmental factors, but in part going deeper, so that the divide also has to do with morality and the way we look at other people, factors that probably are engraved in more fundamental biological structures.

Right-wing thinking entails disregarding others, more or less blatantly. It’s everyone for himself, in full compliance with the egoism and even narcissism that is considered a basis for human nature in these circles. Sophisticated studies of things like reciprocal altruism don’t appeal to this group. (It’s not surprising that we often find a capability of utter contempt for human life among right-wing extremists.)

But why care about other people? Noam Chomsky was once asked why he had sacrificed even greater scientific achievements, plus a peaceful family life, to man the barricades in the fight for a better world. He answered that on the day he died he wanted to be able to answer the question: Why did I bother living for at all?

We dwell in a world where right-wing policies has ruined the conditions for the life of millions of people, kept surviving poor in a miserable state, upheld the threat of total destruction through either nuclear weapons or environmental breakdown. There are all reasons in the world to oppose these forces and to fight for human decency aiming at solidarity with others. It’s as simple as that, as I see it.