Saturday 13 June 2020

Fascism as the Politics of Decay

It is a truth universally acknowledged that social movements provoke into being their countermovements. The labour movement and fascism. The third and fourth waves of feminism, and the so-called alt-right. Black Lives Matter and a disturbing, gibbering menagerie of violent cop stans, the KKK, and every two-bit racist from society's effluent pipe. Here, last weekend's welcome action against Edward Colston's likeness has provided the far right a new cause to latch onto. Casting themselves protectors of our precious heritage, a few hardy souls camped out overnight to guard Robert Baden-Powell and Capt. James Cook from the left-wing threats existing in their minds. Hope they didn't get a chill.

And then there was London, today. The fighting with the cops, the racist chants, the seig heils by the Cenotaph, the harassment and attacks on anyone who wasn't white, this didn't drop from nowhere. It didn't happen because Black Lives Matter happened. The far right are a persistent feature of British politics, and in recent years there has been much to encourage them. Since the beginning of last decade, hate crimes have more than doubled, with a marked acceleration between 2015-16 and 16-17. What on earth might have happened then? *innocent face* Since, nationalist rhetoric has ramped up, along with overt state racism, scapegoating has become official policy in the Tory manifesto, a uniformly racist Tory press carrying on being racist, a subset of celebrity for whom fame is inseparable from racism and so-called anti-woke politics, and the utter demonisation of parliament's most consistently anti-racist figure by an establishment for whom a poisoned politics and the hardest of exits from the European Union is preferable to a mild redistribution of wealth. As much as the establishment protests their innocence and liberally condemns a white riot, they can't fling their plague seeds hither and thither and not expect them to sprout.

The mainstream then have emboldened the far right, and the Conservative Party continues to do so. Why else were the far right, in-between swigging beer, shouting Nazi slogans, and pissing on memorials to dead coppers, voicing their support for Boris Johnson? Why do they think they're on the same side? Johnson overcame his customary torpor to fire off a speedy denunciation, but polarising the electorate and pushing Brexit as an explicitly nationalist project (so much for "Out of Europe and into the world!") has got us to this situation. As recently noted, fascism in the 21st century turns towards identity politics. It offers a performative masculine violence against despised others, a studied and contrived attempt to shock with anti-social behaviour, vandalism and physical assaults, and glories in war, past atrocities committed against subject populations, and a sense of grievance to "the traitors" who condemn this rancid heritage. The fascism of the street is episodic and opportunist, and is the perfect foil for violent men who have something to prove. Theirs is a power politics of destruction, a nihilistic desire to destroy for its own sake. And, as a current on the fringes, it's dying.

As Paul Mason reported earlier, those getting beery in Parliament Square were the usual suspects: ageing hooligans, some of whom were likely veterans of the English Defence League travelling circus, a couple of younger footy firms, and the usual fascist riff raff, including Anne-Marie Waters and Paul Golding. What he witnessed, he said, was the outpouring of rage for a world view that is fast evaporating. Considering all that is said about the far right getting enabled by the mainstream, this might seem like a curious point to make, but it is true. The rising tide of hate crime is precisely because society as a whole is slowly growing more intolerant of intolerance, not least thanks to the efforts of comrades like Black Lives Matter and their forebears in the anti-racist and anti-fascist movements. The social cost of prejudice, on the whole, is increasing and they know, every thug who ran amok today knows the game, in the long-term, is up. This is why they lash out, why they attack the defenceless, desecrate the monuments they affect to protect, and find a kindred spirit in a Prime Minister who offers them new wine in reassuringly familiar bottles. Their precious characteristics, their illusory sense of superiority bound to the intertwining of pale and male no longer guarantees them anything. And where does this leave them? Nowhere.

Fascism, the postmodern fascism Toni Negri wrote about, is therefore a politics of decay. As masculine and racial privilege carries on evaporating, the residue left is concentrated and poisonous. We need to protect ourselves when coming into contact, but it too dessicates and becomes dust. And it isn't long until the air carries its flecks away.


Shai Masot said...

Tom Watson's got a lot to answer for.

gastrogeorge said...

Yes, but without the Paul Mason.

Boffy said...

What was also apparent was the total incapacity of either the liberal media or social democrats like Starmer to have any effective response to the far-right.

As with Covid the response has been founded on opportunism. Instead of dealing with the politics of the far-right, we have cheap politics based upon a pissed bloke taking a piss in the street - not because he was dissing a fallen copper, but because public toilets have been closed down, which has also caused people to act like bears and shit in the woods of public parks.

And, the Tories strategy of telling us that we are "all in it together", and must show that by getting behind "Our NHS", just as in wartime we get behind "our armies" has worked because Labour has no political ground to stand on against the government in relation to COVID, because the government followed its calls for the introduction of authoritarian and illiberal methods of removing workers liberty, leaving Labour with the invidious option of only being able to attack the government for not being authoritarian and illiberal enough - though that undoubtedly suits all of the Stalinists.

So, with no political ground to stand on, we then see Starmer himself now talking not just about "Our NHS" but "Our Police", the same racist police of course that are responsible for attacks on black people, and on the working-class!

So, we now have the ridiculous position whereby the Left has supported a course of action where workers are told to stay at home whilst the government actually requires that the vast majority of them work, because otherwise society would collapse. It means that workers going to work have to be hidden from view, because we are to beleive it really isn't happening because there is a lockdown, even though the GDP figures show that 80% of new labour continues to occur. What the lockdown really amounts to is a lockdown of workers social activity - if you are a univserity Professor who came up with this nonsense, or a government advisor you can of course ignore all that - so that all though you can congregate with other workes at work so as to produce, you cannot congregate with those workers at your union or LP meeting. You can be beaten up by racist cops on your way to and from work, but cannot meet with your fellow workers to protest the action of the racist cops.

What a pathetic state the Left has fallen into in its opportunist and moralistic politics.

david walsh said...

110 arrests in London yesterday, and today the guy in the pic who turned himself in. For a sociologist, surely a good sample (when the cases come to court) on things like background, gender, occupational status and suchlike ?

Dipper said...

The small group of demonstrators who turned up in London represent themselves and no-one else. It is a mistake to think they represent the majority of people who think the BLM protest was a disgrace. The 'Far Right' is going absolutely nowhere in this country. They have no support beyond them and their drinking mates. The millions of people who voted Brexit and Johnson and who are now wondering why on earth a self-appointed mob are being allowed to wreck the country are not interested in the Far Right and hence are not in the slightest interest in your articles taking them on.

Andre Surkis said...

That's really a hundred times I asked myself the same question:" Why else were the far right, in-between swigging beer, shouting Nazi slogans, and pissing on memorials to dead coppers, voicing their support for Boris Johnson? Why do they think they're on the same side?"