Friday, March 7, 2014

Danzig & Sartwell on Fashionable Fascism

It's fascism, fascism, fascism time, everybody! Yaaaaaayyyyyyyy!

One of my favorite contemporary political philosophers, Crispin Sartwell, wrote a quick blog post yesterday on Cheese It, The Cops! with his typical anarchist wit. The topic? Fascism. He makes a solid and valid point. No one knows what the fuck a fascist is for sure. But ain't it fun to use the word! It's like living in Vegas for an indefinite vacation from reality and fornicating with a new prostitute every night of the week: they're all different gals, and yet, somehow, they're all the same. What gives! Well, Sartwell argues, effectively, that these girls don't have anything in common, despite how cheaply they're used, tossed around and abused universally. My argument, against Sartwell's claim, is that the confusion regarding the soiled nature of our lovely dark whore, Miss Fasces Fuhrer, arises when one fails to decipher the difference between fascist aesthetics and fascist politics (a misunderstanding analogous to confusing Fascism Proper with Default Fascism). (Even more puzzling questions arise from the grave of uncertainty when we consider that there were some, if not many, aesthetic and political differences among Mussolini's Italian Fascism, Hitler's National Socialism, Vichy's Voulez Vous Couchez Avec Frenchy Fascism, Franco's Fun Y Fabuloso Falangism, and so on. For example, now we may ask a confusing question to demonstrate the point: do the former US Dictators FDR and Abraham Lincoln count as fascists?)

(That would be a "yes".) So, here's Crispin's blog post from yesterday, March 5, 2014:

choose: fascists or assholes

while people lob little hitlers at each other and casually call one another fascists, try this thought experiment: quick, without looking something up, sketch out the basic positions of fascism. oops you don't know what it means. now look it up, guess what, you still don't know what it means. as a real historical political ideology it was just a grab-bag of random elements, completely incoherent, and at this point it has no more content than "asshole" or whatever. ok ok! i've done it too.
He then links to a post he wrote back in 2005 regarding the last Progressive President who exercised dictatorial executive powers prior to Obama (no, not FDR):

american fascism

this thread on daily kos already has 217 comments (when i was there a minute ago). and i think it is not a far-fetched assertion that there is an american fascism, represented by the bush administration, or at least its most rabid supporters. let me try to substantiate this with a definition of "fascism." it's a difficult word because, unlike communism or even democracy, fascism does not come complete with canonical texts. in fact, it may be less a coherent political philosophy than an amalgam of historically-condititioned emergent beliefs. but here are what seems to me the essential elements:
(1) hyper-nationalism
(2) racialism (though not necessarily of a genocidal variety: someone like franco is a case in point).
(3) militarism of a "romantic" variety: centered around uniforms, insignia etc.
(4) totalitarianism: a movement to consolidate as much power as possible in the hands of the state bureaucracy.
(5) industrialism: rapid economic growth, but in particular this is required to equip the emerging war machine.
(6) messianism: the vaguely religious (in the case of the classical european fascisms, explicitly christian) sense of grand national voctorious destiny).
(7) cult of personality
(8) a neo-classical or at least anti-modernist aesthetic extending to every aspect of the state's self-presentation: stage sets, news events, architecture, military parades etc etc. kitsch, in the hands of the average hack: a soaring beautiful brutality in the hands of a master like leni riefenstahl.
i would never have accused the american conservative movement of being fascistic until the present administration. my leftist friends or whomever would call reagan a fascist and i would just laugh in their faces: fascists just don't think government is the problem. reagan was more or less the opposite of a fascist. but here, now, the right has a fascist problem.
(1) hyper-nationalism: no leaders of this country in its history have been as nationalistic: rarely has the mood of the nation been so nationalistic.
(2) racialism: it's hard to miss the anti-arab and extremely anti-islamic tone of this moment. most of the humiliations to which our prisoners have been subjected are explicitly attempts to shame or destroy their religion.
(3) we are in an orgy of romantic militarism, driven by political leaders.
(4) we do not live in a totalitarian state. but the use of the terrorist threat to dramtically increase the size and power of the state is hard to miss.
(5) the economic strategies, while complex, fit the model fairly comfortably, and the tendency to enrich defense contractors like halliburton (thin "krupp") is identical.
(6) messianism is suddenly everywhere. really, people think that bush has been sent by god to destroy homosexuals (also a favorite target of hitler) and redeem the world.
(7) still, we don't yet see huge portraits of our looming leader everywhere etc. this is still lacking, i think.
(8) the aesthetic is in development, but conspicuous enough: the inaugural, for example, was generating and making use of an kitsch iconography of "freedom" etc. hitler's word was "peace," believe it or not.

"Fascist just don't think government is the problem. Reagan was more or less the opposite of a fascist." I love that. But the thing is, Reagan, like all patriotic politicians, did exude a kind of fascist Americana aesthetic that symbolized some of the values of Fascism Proper: love of country (blood and soil); spiritual rebirth of the homeland (it's morning in the fatherland); and traditional values (Western Civilization as we knew it from Homer and ancient Greece to Alexander the Great to the Roman Imperium to the Middle Ages and the rise of Christianity to Chaucer and Shakespeare and the Renaissance to the Reformation, the "Enlightenment," the American Revolution, the Bill of Rights, the Industrial Revolution, and Western or American literature and art spawned in the 19th century created by the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, Melville, Poe and Hawthorne--all of which is dismissed by Progressives, our current rulers, as evil, racist, sexist, homophobic, patriarchal garbage created by dead, white, heterosexual male slave-owners who exploited the Indians, raped the earth and pillaged the rest of mankind.)

Like my Obama Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet, my argument gets hairier as we water it with more evidence. But doubt not! For a hairy argument is a dynamic argument, one so thick with lathery green substance you can stick a comb in it as you bust out the jams and, yet, the hair abides, dude. Because, get this, Ronald Reagan and Glenn Danzig both share fascistic aesthetics, of different kinds, contexts and degrees, you might also find this fact interesting: they share similar political orientations. It just so happens that Glenn Danzig called Obama and the Democrats a bunch of fascists! (Way to go, Glenn!)

Glenn was reminiscing on the good ol' days twenty-some years ago when our contemporary Puritans, as represented most notably by the Progressive cult leaders Tipper and Al Gore, were busybodying away in an attempt to censor and ban "bad" music in early '90s. Glenn said, There was going to be an organization that would tell you what you could and couldn’t record...And certainly if you couldn’t record it, you couldn’t put it out. It was really fascist...My view on Democrats is that they’re fascists disguised as liberals, or liberal moderates. You’re not allowed to say anything that they don’t agree with. You’re not allowed to do anything." 

Until we see any evidence to the contrary of Glenn's assertions here (and I've never seen such evidence in my entire life), we can safely presume that he's correct. But recall that he's using "fascist" here in the Default Fascist sense of the word, that is, as a synonym for authoritarian or totalitarian. Neither the Gores nor Obama excrete fascist aesthetics. They're total pussies. Like Pajamaboy--the little bitch at Christmas who wants to force everyone to buy health insurance--Democrats (Progressives) are Default Fascists because, though their political ideas are authoritarian, intolerant and totalitarian to the core, they aesthetically express said ideas while crossing their legs, sipping hot cocoa (sugar free!), and wearing colorful polkadot sweaters or jammies. As the cliche goes: they're wolves in sheep's clothing. Sure, they look effete, soft, weak, stupid and harmless. But they're really vicious, ruthless, merciless killers. (On the flip side of that, we have the Republican Party, which refuses to heed the lessons of political reality and consists of many clownish poseurs, acting tough, grunting, bearing their teeth, only to clip their own balls with the sado-masochistic consistency of your average LGBT freak.)

So, what are Fascist aesthetics? They can vary. (We've already covered the politician variety a la Reagan, and we haven't even touched Ayn Rand yet. Also, anyone ever notice how strange it is that the classical colors of Anarchism share the same colors with Fascism: Red and Black?) I know. That doesn't help, but here's a quick list of concepts and images I'll roll off my tongue that might: the occult, strength, vigor, muscles, masculinity, (anti) patriotism, aggression, violence, working class, white trash, skulls, blood, soil, semen, paganism, demonism, satanism, horror rock (horror movies), axes, black shirts, rising suns, the dawn of day, the folks, agriculture and traditional, agrarian culture, the future as a rebirth of classical Western antiquity, hammers, Thor, thunder, lightning, fire, iron, steel, warriors, gods, mohawks, arrows, spearheads, shaved heads, brown shirts, Sparta, the uncanny, war, struggle, pain, eagles, serpents, (Nietzsche!), the rejection of Christianity and Christian values--including the idea that we're all "equal"--and yet, a Dionysian affirmation of suffering, life and reality--Amor Fati, bitches!--mosh pits, black metal, death metal, heavy metal, and Punk Rock on steroids.

In other words, Fascist aesthetics can be, well, bad-ass. (Of course, it's not like any one of those things listed above is necessarily fascistic in and of itself--"Hey, honey! I just read on some retarded blog that my semen is fascist.") Of course, Fascist aesthetics can also be ugly, as is the case with websites like Stormfront or some Nazi Punk bands and the skinhead subcultures that follow them; they can be powerful, hostile and vulgar, as is the case with Pantera's "Vulgar Display of Power," they can be beautiful, as is the case with the art of Leni Riefenstahl and her "Triumph of the Will"; they can be post-modernly futuristic, as was the case with the futurist artists of the early 20th century; they can be as eerie and ghostly as Joy Division's Ian Curtis or as technological and poppy as New Order (gotta love that band name!); and they can be heroic, Homeric, and mythological as is the case with Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". Don't believe me about how cool and spooky Fascist aesthetics can be? Check out this video (also, read the lyrics):

And what do we have here? Below we can sadly see that Glenn has not aged well. But, it's not 1993 anymore, so we can cut him some slack. Despite his shitty attempt to carry a note here, take some time to consider the aesthetics of this set. Check out those lightning bolts! Can someone say...Fascist!

Indeed, Fascist aesthetics can freakin' rock if you're into that sort of thing. Moreover, aside from our wincing at poor Glenn's abusive vocal chords, fascist aesthetics are fucking harmless. Does it offend you? Then grow a pair and get over it. Just like "second-hand" smoke, phonemes, signs, symbols and HD internet porn, art can't harm anyone. It's fascist political policies of Default Fascism that should be worrisome, the kind of state policies that call for the censorship of ideas, art, beliefs or behaviors that one finds "offensive" or vulgar or racist or whatever, just like the Gores did in the '90s, and just as innumerable Progressives do today. The strange thing about Default Fascism is that, in terms of policy and administration, we find little difference from it and state Communism. And I think, if not now, then soon, very soon, we could say the same thing for Progressivism. The authoritarian pathology of Progressivism, coupled with an insatiable savior complex and the control of state power, will lead to nothing less than horror and tragedy. Like a cancerous tumor, Progress always marches on, spreading throughout its host till its dead. Glenn Danzig expressed as much when he stepped into Fox News studio recently as a guest on Red Eye, hosted by Greg Gutfield. When Greg asked Glenn if he would ever do an album on "puppies and rainbows," Glenn replied, "No, maybe I'll do a real horror record and talk about the Obama administration." Exactly. 

Aesthetics confuses people. It's the surface matter that mixes everyone and everything up, which is a damn shame, because if more people could see past the veneer of false smiles and the posturing to save the earth, the animals, the environment, the middle class, the poor, and the children, we could see the substance of real fascists, the inner core of who they are: authoritarians. 

As for the wide and varied cultural and artistic manifestations of Fascist aesthetics and Fascism Proper...psshh. Don't be such a pussy. 

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