Today, I read, as you probably did, PELLEDOCA Handbag Black Black PELLEDOCA Handbag PELLEDOCA Handbag Rwq5q. LOL — it should go without saying that’s a pretty good indication that a society is out of ideas. Yet I can almost hear the reasoning in the New Yorker’s offices. Their problem is that American thinkers have no real explanation for fascism — just fairy tales — and that leaves you with…the fascists. Or maybe they just wanted to stoke controversy and make money (I’d give them more credit than that, but I digress.)
Let’s take the fairy tales Americans tell themselves about fascism — there are three — one by one, and then discuss what really causes fascism (and why American thinkers are completely unable to get it, even at this late stage). You can skip this part if you want the less nerdy stuff.
— Fascism is caused by identity politics. dispatch Made handmade Treacle bag 'Cartmel' Stitch by leather YwqCO — and I’d say he should be ashamed of himself, if it weren’t so funny and laughable. I decide to be a gender-nonconforming them, not a he anymore, and you respond by…cheering on Mexican babies as they’re put in camps? LOL, you see why I think American thinkers don’t know how to think anymore? It’s not just childishly absurd — it’s a grotesque form of victim-blaming, that obviates freedom or liberty in any genuine sense, every bit the equivalent of saying “well, you shouldn’t have worn that dress...!”
— Fascism is a cycle, a backlash against “too much liberalism.” This seems to explain things — but it doesn’t. What is “too much liberalism?” When we have healthcare? Or just sewers and pipes? Does that mean that human beings are doomed to be fascists? This is a kind of theology of individualism — not really an explanation for fascism.
— Fascism happens when white people are afraid of becoming a minority. This explanation is trotted out regularly by American pundits. But whites in Sweden are in no danger of becoming a minority — yet extremism is in second place there, in the upcoming election. That’s true in Italy, Poland, Hungary, and Russia, too. So this theory is obviously false — it can’t explain the global rise of fascism even a bit.
These three explanations lead to what I call the meteor strike theory of fascism. Since we have no real explanation, it becomes a random event, a kind of natural catastrophe. But if it’s a natural catastrophe, then we have no control over it. And if we have no control over it, then maybe the best we can do is…invite the fascists to headline our festivals. As a way to negotiate and bargain with them. Does that make sense?
Turquoise EBARRITO Shoulder Turquoise EBARRITO Shoulder bag EBARRITO bag Shoulder bag Shoulder Turquoise Shoulder EBARRITO EBARRITO EBARRITO bag Turquoise Shoulder Now. Let us try to look at all the above from another perspective. Not the one of what we believe, but simply what we know. What do we know about how America has changed over the last thirty years?
80% of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck. 70% have less than $1000 in savings. 70% expect their kids to live worse lives. Life expectancy is falling. Real incomes are shrinking. Suicides are skyrocketing. Depression and loneliness are soaring. The old can’t afford to retire, and the young can’t afford to start families. The middle class has imploded, and the ranks of the poor have swollen. What does all this really say?
America is a rich country that effectively became a poor one — in the space of a generation. Is it any surprise that this sudden, unexpected, historic collapse would massively, catastrophically destabilize society — and give rise to fascism?
(Perhaps you object. The mistake many Americans make is to think that flat-screen TVs and microwave ovens somehow make them better off than people in poorer countries. They don’t. People in Pakistan and Chile can afford those things, too. Poverty — the experience of deprivation — is a truer thing that not having a flat-screen TV. It’s about living at the edge of perpetual ruin, which is something that most Americans now face daily)
How might a society plunging from riches into poverty destabilize into fascism, precisely? The social bonds in a town or community get blown apart. People turn to fascism for belonging. The sense of optimism and faith in the future people have is destroyed. They turn to fascism for hope again. All the good jobs are gone. People seek scapegoats to blame for their miseries — the very ones they’ve barely learned to tolerate living next to. Life is a frightening thing now — people seek the soothing, comforting words of a demagogue.
Turquoise EBARRITO EBARRITO Shoulder bag bag Shoulder Turquoise EBARRITO Shoulder You must work harder every year, just to keep your head above water — the demagogue is the only one who tells you this is wrong and unjust, while elites don’t seem to notice or care much at all. You never expected to be poor — yet here you are. Suicides and illnesses and drug use have come to surround you. Everything seems broken — towns, communities, cities, bonds, families, jobs, livelihoods, careers, even people. In the end, you turn to fascism to restore all the things you feel have been taken away from you — trust, meaning, purpose, belonging, optimism, opportunity, fairness, dignity, pride, and strength.
Those things are what poverty is really made of, and the new poverty that Americans face isn’t just financial — it’s made of all the elements of a decent life. In hard terms, poverty of human, intellectual, social, emotional, and civic capital, to name just a few.
Shoulder Turquoise EBARRITO bag EBARRITO EBARRITO Shoulder Shoulder Turquoise bag Now, if the theory is correct, we’d expect to see fascism rising in places where all the above is true — where poverty in all these forms has risen, where all these real “capital deficits” have grown. Where are those places? They are not places that have always been poor — but of downward mobility. And that’s precisely what we do see. American fascism isn’t rising in inner cities — but in Rust Belt towns, in exurbs, in third-tier cities, in the regions where people expected easy, comfortable lives, like their parents and grandparents — but instead, are ending up elsewhere, and can’t understand why, or what to do about it all. Bang! The fascist spark is lit by the implosion of the middle class.
The fascist isn’t the prole — he’s the frustrated bourgeoisie. The one whom capitalism promised to make a capitalist — but only did it to sell him on capitalism. It had no intention of ever making him a true capitalist, like Bezos, Gates, or Buffett — why would it? Capitalism isn’t there to make him rich, it’s there to make them rich. So the prole turns to tribalism, hierarchy, and predation, then, for the power and riches and comfort he was promised — and still hungers for.
So now our theory goes something like this. Capitalism promised proles bourgeois lives — it was the best marketing trick in history, perhaps. But all it ever really wanted to do was to squeeze the proles — and maximize profits. Those disappointed would-be bourgeoisie, who are now poorer than ever, enraged, losing trust and faith in the system, living at the edge, turn to fascism. They band together into tribes of the pure— so the prole, if he can’t be a real capitalist, a true bourgeois, can at least be powerful enough to prey on the weak. The sudden, jabbing sting of poverty, the feeling of being empty, hopeless, weak, damaged, forgotten, abandoned, becomes a sense of of belonging, meaning, purpose, safety, security, and strength. Now he is someone again.
bag bag EBARRITO Shoulder EBARRITO EBARRITO Turquoise Shoulder Turquoise Shoulder So the disappointed prole turns to fascism to restore precisely the things that capitalism took away from him — what it was impoverishing him of while he wasn’t looking. But that means that he is at the mercy of tribal logic, in all its fearfulness and cowardice and stupidity, too. The rage that should be directed at capitalism is pointed at scapegoats. The anger that should be directed at those above him is aimed below him. The contempt he should have for the rich is turned into scorn of the poor. The disappointment he should have in greed, egotism, and self-concern instead turns to a vengeful resentment of the smallest differences. He imagines that he is history’s great victim, persecuted by malign forces, hunted, and hounded — and so everything becomes an existential battle, in which only the strong survive, and must act pre-emptively, to eliminate their enemies. Self-preservation means that the price of survival is to become a predator. Nobody will ever make him poor again — he will make sure of it, by making everyone else less of a person at all.
Predatory capitalism degenerates into fascism, by creating the glittering expectation of riches, but the shattering reality of poverty. Enraged, embittered, aggrieved, people turn on their neighbours, colleagues, friends, and peers, preying on the weak, to gain back the very things capitalism took away from them — even as it promised them dreams of bourgeois wealth. If it can’t live like the bourgeois, as capitalism promised, the tribe will take whatever it can, by more vicious means, not to be poor in these ways ever again. Democracy itself begins to wither and die. Society shrivels. Norms and values are ripped apart. Everything seems to shatter.
The world has seen all this before. This was the story of Germany in the 1930s, almost exactly. A rich society which had suddenly become poor. A middle class imploding. People turning on their friends and neighbours. The tribe seizing for itself what capitalism had promised — but never had any intention of delivering. In more and more violent ways. Led by a demagogue. Who made people feel strong and powerful and hopeful again. Bang! Fascism.
That story is being retold in American today. America can’t quite bring itself to believe it. It is too busy telling itself fairy tales and fables. That is why Steve Bannon can headline a festival of ideas — LOL — while a nation seems to think fascism is the equivalent of a meteor strike. Fairy tales, my friends, do not help you, in the deep, dark night, when the monsters judder and screech.
They are only there to lull us asleep.