There is a reason for this article being titled the way it is and the reason, as most reasons tend to be, is personal. A little while back I participated in a Palestine-solidarity event at the University of Toronto. Someone extremely dear to me was one of the main organizers of the event, which was a launch for the Graduate Students Union campaign to divest from three companies benefiting from the continued Israeli occupation, apartheid, and colonization of Palestinians. It was rather violently disrupted by this group calling itself the Jewish Defense League who, with their penchant for dehumanizing themselves, proceeded to use their usual cache of racist, Islamophobic, and misogynistic expletives. Campus police, instead of throwing them out, decided to cancel the event (apparently they were ordered to by the administration, something that happens regularly to Palestine-solidarity events on university campuses). This got the resolute organizers to merely shift the event to another location and keep on trucking.
Interestingly enough, I saw this entire episode as a positive thing. It was ultimately an example of the increasing fear and frustration felt by Zionists as their virulent project slowly comes apart at the seams due to the indomitable Palestinian liberation struggle and those in solidarity with them. When fascists fight you, you know you’re on the right track. During the disruption, I was advised, in the loudest way possible, by various JDL activists to blow myself up, behead someone, ride a camel, fuck a goat, and go back to my “Muslim shithole country in fucking Iran or whatever…”
I hail from a rather benign Hindu family in Southern India, but that’s unimportant. The one thing I am grateful to dehumanizing bigots for is always reminding me that, for better or for worse, those of us facing and/or resisting dehumanization need to stick together…preferably with sufficient quantities of herb to go around (helps deal with the rage).
As they displayed their very focused misanthropy, in my head I went, “Wow…these people really are pieces of shit…” which is an oft-used and admittedly crude paraphrase for people we find odious, but also a useful one on occasion. You see, something happened when those words formed in my head – a crystal clear realization that summed up everything about the virulence of those Jewish fascists and that of their counterparts in other religions, nationalities, and ethnicities:
These people really are the refuse of humanity.
This helped a great deal, because picturing them as walking turds did wonders for my soul, which has been in a permanent state of stress after what we’ve seen this year.
Two momentous geopolitical events occurred in 2014 that much of the world might not be attuned to or care about, but both impacted me quite significantly, in a muscle-seizing, aneurism-inducing, rage-unshackling kind of way.
In July we witnessed the brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza by Israel to the macabre cheering and posturing by right-wing Zionists, who seem to now be an ascendant majority in Israeli society. They’re also forcing moderates within the Jewish community worldwide to choose between justice and Israel…two entities that have stayed away from each other for a long, long time now. Only a couple of months earlier we saw the gleeful acceptance of and applause for the newly minted fascist-in-chief by large sections of the upwardly mobile classes of India, who for the most part are upwardly mobile, upper-caste Hindus, many of whom have turned into Hindu fascists, either ideological or by default due to their love affair with predatory capitalism. Their diasporic members seem to be following the playbook of their Jewish counterparts in riding the coattails of imperialism. (If you are unaware of what I mean by the “fascist-in-chief” in India, it will be explained soon enough…but feel free to let your imagination go wild.)
These two events are of course joined by the ever-present and continued brutality of the American empire buttressed by the All-White, All-American, Flag-Waving, Christian Right and the latest mutation of this multi-headed hydra in the form of the astoundingly cruel and morbidly brutal Islamic State (which seems to want their membership resembling the caricaturized villains of a Chuck Norris movie). While acknowledging vast power differences locally and globally, all these examples ultimately crystallize into one inviolable truism that all of us know only too well: fascist scum are all the same (certainly for the purposes of poking fun at them).
Thus, I have decided to vent my helpless horror and tragically disillusioned anger with some rambling, self-indulgent, bellyaching, and no small amount of cynical sermonizing (aided by some images from the web with captions in italics to keep it interesting). I do this in the form of a Cracked style list article (one likely too lefty for their site) that provides a very cursory glance at fascism across the globe.
(To those who actually give a shit about copyright issues with images lifted from the web for an article on a freely available blog post read by, with luck, a dozen people, I have the following disclaimer:
All pictures are used under the Fair Use Doctrine as well as the doctrine of go fuck yourself.)
I dedicate this 2-part article to fascists – religious, ethnic, national or otherwise – wherever they may be. Know this – No matter how many people you kill, marginalize, brutalize, convince and/or brainwash with your virulence, you are and always will be a bowel in humanity’s digestive tract…one movement away from being flushed down history’s toilet bowl.
The newly elected fascist-in-chief in India and the new Nazis of Israel:
Recently, on May 16th this year, in the world’s largest elections, India elected this man to be their Prime Minister.
“The eye of Sauron was modelled after my left one”
His name is Narendra Modi. Now, traditionally the leaders of India have generally portrayed a rather beatific, kinda pacifist (i.e. boring as fuck) image to the world…quite possibly due to the ever-present Gandhian hangover. For instance, check out the virile pomp and chutzpah projected below by the faces of Messrs Manmohan Singh and A.B. Vajpayee, the two previous Prime Ministers of India. In the picture, Mr. Singh is presenting a bouquet of delicately arranged red roses to Mr. Vajpayee on the latter’s 82nd birthday…which is a sentence I bet the overwhelming majority of you didn’t imagine reading in this article.
“I hate your guts, but my wife will kill me if I don’t do this”
Regardless of where you might stand on their politics, I’m sure we can agree that they’re not likely to appeal to much of the lay public that has been culturally hegemonized to admire hyper-masculine world leaders. Them former premieres of India don’t exactly evoke much aggressive fear or manly awe which, for some inexplicable reason, is a trait many people would like to see in their leaders. I’m not one of those people, primarily because I’d prefer that elected officials not scare the crap out of their citizenry, and also because uber-masculine men at the helm of affairs hasn’t exactly worked wonders for humanity.
Putin didn’t know this but the photographer was actually shooting for a very tastefully produced gay porno.
Now, India has never had anyone with even the slightest claims to badassery, at the helm of affairs. Corrupt? Yes. Starkly lacking in charisma and most scientifically proven signs of life? Most definitely. But never badass or openly malevolent towards a large swathe of the Indian population. It’s different now. Despite a vaguely Santa Clausian countenance and a curiously stoner-like smile (see picture of Mr. Modi above for further reference), make no mistake…the current Indian Prime Minister is a very evil, dangerous man. Like, genocidey (genocidesque?) evil and dangerous. You see, over a dozen years ago in 2002 when he was just a mere Chief Minister of this north Indian state called Gujarat (in India, the Prime Minister has powers akin to the President of the US, while the Chief Minister is like a Governor), Mr. Modi orchestrated a Hindu fascist pogrom of Muslim and Christian minorities in Gujarat that left thousands dead or maimed, and many more brutally suppressed.
He is now one of the most powerful men in the world, heading the 4th largest, nuclear-armed military.
One of the most revealing responses to Modi being elected came from Mr. Netanyahu, the head of very, very fascist Israel and bum-chum of American Empire. Speaking in dangerously ethnocentric terms and happy at the apparent landslide victory of the Hindu nationalists (which, in a gargantuan parliamentary democracy like India, requires around 35% of the popular vote) Netanyahu along with other leaders of Israel, including even more virulent right-wingers like Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet, tumbled over each other to court their new transnational, ethno-fascist, best bud.
This is independent of, but remarkably consistent with, the rapidly rising culture of right-wing, anti-Arab, fascist hate brewing in Israel…to the point where they’re alienating and scaring even hardcore, pro-Israeli folk who might be just a little less overtly fascist, such as liberal Zionists (which is kinda like saying “moderate Nazis” or “feminist Boko Haram members” but whatever…).
Among the multitude of examples of this latest culture of hatred embedding itself in Israeli society include mobs of right-wing Israelis laughing and chanting that there wasn’t a need for schools in Gaza anymore since there weren’t any children there (you know, because out of the 2000+ Palestinians massacred in Gaza recently, over 500 were children…and that’s a good thing to them), or Netanyahu (ably supported by the entire US political elite, including Democratic Party stalwarts like Hillary Clinton) lamenting about the “telegenically dead” children in Gaza being shown in the world media, that was just such a pesky distraction from celebrating Israel’s existence. Netanyahu and his party btw can be considered moderate compared to the fast-rising Yisrael Beiteinu or The Jewish Home party, both of whom advocate even more vociferously for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and whose respective leaders currently hold ministerial positions just below that of the Prime Minister. Avigdor Liebrman is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Naftali Bennet holds the twin positions of Minister of Economy and Minister of Religious Services (go figure). Bennet was quoted last year saying: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life and there’s no problem with that.”
Subtlety or refinement is not exactly a forte for most fascists. You remember the JDL I spoke of earlier? Below is some of their artwork in Palestine (where they, alongside other Zionist groups, routinely harass, intimidate, even kill Palestinian men, women and children…usually during breaks from building settlements and pushing Israel ever further towards naked fascism and military brutality against Palestinians).
“We must never forget what the Nazis did to us!”
*Sigh* We live in difficult times…which is something everyone across time has probably said about the times they lived in. But one thing that is rather unique about the times we live in is the amazing access that people, middle-class people at least, have to voluminous amounts of information, all readily available with nary a click of yet another link online. This presents itself as useful and useless at the same time. As a form of political masochism and insanity-inducement (not to mention time-wasting), during breaks in my day-job I tend to peruse articles about fascism, religious fundamentalism, and right-wing nationalism. I also peruse articles and papers about a variety of other topics too, but fascism is of particular interest to me because apparently it’s fascinating to bang your head against a wall wondering how so many people can so passionately and so fervently believe in so much shit. It’s kind of a hobby of mine, in a let-me-count-the-ways-animals-are-better-than-humans kind of way. From right-wing Christian fundamentalist or ethno-fascist movements in the West, to Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and South Asia, to the afore mentioned Hindu fascism in India, and Jewish fascism in Israel and America, even Buddhist fascism in places like Sri Lanka (no kidding).
So I thought I’d write about the commonalities in this 2-part article. For instance, almost all fascist movements…
- Tend to either be religious or nationalist or a combination of both: We’ve all heard about some fascist movement or the other, and by fascist I mean the way the term is generally used in this day and age; i.e. an oppressive, tyrannical movement/government of a far-right-wing ideological persuasion, usually based on religious fundamentalism, ethnocentric nationalism, racism, or some combination thereof (as opposed to the way the term was conceived of originally to mean the complete merger of the state and hegemonic private corporations which we now tend to think of as corporatism or Texas). At the very least we might remember the Nazi regime, white supremacy in the United States, and the apartheid regime in South Africa. Most of us know that pretty much every religious practice and form of nationalism has its fascist underbelly, some might even say fascist core. This isn’t surprising when you think about it. Getting people riled up over an exclusive identity tends to be faster than getting people to support a program that provides grounded, incremental, positive change. Shouting “India is for Hindus!” or “America is a Christian country!” or “All non-Muslims are infidels!” or “Jewish people are the chosen ones!” or some such counter-humanist catchphrase from a community’s socio-cultural rooftops can become far more impassioned rallying cries than, say, your local social democrat stating, with rigorous reason and admirable equanimity, something like: “You know, one of the root causes for hatred and violence is social marginalization and poverty so we really should be advocating for secure jobs with proper labour rights and a strong system of social assistance as a safety net in addition to social programs that ensure everyone’s basic human rights are protected.”
“Care to sign a petition? It’s for poor, brown kids in some poor, brown part of the world. The petition magically makes you believe that you care about them.”
Most would tune out by the time the words “root cause” were uttered and get back to their beer pong and pay-per-view porn (because I apparently hold discussions on these issues in local frat houses). Thus it becomes substantially easier to rally people based on an exclusive identity. And religious, nationalist, and ethnic identities tend to be the ones most easily combustible in terms of fostering divisions and rallying people with fiery rhetoric, ultimately resulting in the dehumanization of others who are considered a threat to that identity. But how does said dehumanization happen? Humans aren’t born to hate each other. We’re born to depend on each other for survival, sustenance, and care, very occasionally leading to a wholesome, loving, and completely liberating orgy. We learn to dehumanize one another from our socialization. And one of the ways in which fascists are able to inculcate the dehumanization of another community into a society’s DNA is to…
- Play up their own community’s victimhood: It is possible that, upon starting this article, among the many analytical critiques and rational thoughts that swirled around in your head when you first read the term “Hindu fascism” was:
(Unless you’re South Asian of course.)
I don’t blame you, generic person I made up in order to contrive a kooky way to start this point. Yes, a Hindu fascist movement. The same body of philosophy and faith that gave the world a certain someone by the name of Gandhi and produced those beatific-looking, orange-robed “Hare Krishna” chanters in San Francisco communes, has a homegrown fascist movement (one of the largest in the world) that is now heading the fucking Government of India. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise, not because Indians are any more or less prone to becoming right-wing nut jobs than the rest of humanity, but because Indians are just as gullible. The way fascists gain power, quite possibly the single biggest reason is playing up the victimhood of their own community, which is almost always a community that generally tends to have the odds in their favor, with exceptions of course, over other more historically oppressed communities.
“I’m a middle-class, straight white man…it’s time to stop those damn illegals and welfare queens from getting all the benefits”
That last bit is crucial because they prey on the fears of traditionally more privileged communities (such as Jews in Israel, upper-caste Hindus in India, white Christians in the US, Shia Muslims in Iran, Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, upper-class Han Chinese in China etc…maybe Mormons in Utah and Red Sox fans in Boston too, who the fuck knows). And they do this in order to sell themselves as the saviors of that community. Thus the Hindu fascists in India sell themselves as the saviors of Hindus from being victimized by, first and foremost, Muslims (because, well, who doesn’t hate the Muslims these days), followed by Christians, Communists, Socialists, Feminists, and progressive Hindus who don’t buy into their bullshit. This is not unlike other fascist movements – from the NPD in Germany and Golden Dawn in Greece to the afore mentioned Israel Beiteinu and Jewish Home in Israel or the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and various Tea Party stars across our land, and countless others across the globe. Because when you successfully play up your own false victimhood, you can then move on to the next step which is to…
- Have an “other” as an enemy: Quick…imagine someone selling themselves as the savior of, well, you.
“We have cake at our church. It’s our prophet’s personal recipe.”
Maybe you’re really, really lonely, or maybe you’re just having one of those days when you feel like you need a good savin’, so you actually decide to consider this person’s offer. In that case, first off, please accept a remote hug from me, and secondly my hope is that at some point in time you would feel the need to ask said savior what or who exactly you need to be saved from.
That is where the “other” comes in. Fascists prey on the baser instincts of humanity, and one of the ways to do that is to have some clearly demarcated community as the enemy…whether it’s African immigrants in current day Greece and Russia, or Jews in Nazi Germany, Shia Muslims in the territories controlled by Islamic State, or Palestinians in Israel, far-right wing extremists have always needed a well-defined “other” to fear, hate, and eventually kill. Of course, this is accompanied by a wilful whitewashing of all the horrible things that are done in mongering that fear and hatred. For instance, one of the favorite lines of the fascist acolytes of the aforementioned Modi is for the rest of us to “move on” from the brutality of Gujarat 2002, in the interests of India’s economic development (you know, why bring up pesky little market-downers like human rights and restorative justice). Yet, we are told not to forget the Muslim Mughal empire that destroyed Hindu temples and oppressed many Hindu communities in the subcontinent, 500 years ago, which is the basis for Muslim-hatred among the Hindu fascists.
In fact, I wonder why they don’t just go a step further and blame the Africans for everything since Africa was the cradle of humanity tens of thousands of years ago…or better yet, blame the protozoa from whence we were forged millions of years ago.
“Single-celled organisms are a drain on the system, kick ’em out for ‘murica!”
Please note: I don’t for a second believe that past historical oppressions should ever be forgotten. Let me repeat that because whenever someone starts a sentence with “Please note” it bears reiteration to wriggle oneself out of a potential ideologically defensive corner those two words can put one in. So here goes: I don’t for a second believe that past historical oppressions should ever be forgotten. But there is a difference between genuine claims for restorative justice (such as reparations for slavery, or getting back land stolen by a military occupation or historical colonialism) and an already privileged community claiming victimhood from a highly oppressed community (Muslims in India are discriminated in every way possible and rank among the lowest in Human Development Indices among the various demographic groups in India, primarily due to rampant discrimination and bigotry)…and oppressing an already oppressed community tends to be the case with pretty much every other fascist movement across the globe. They do this because they can then…
- Use fear, anger and hatred (often in that order) to evoke support: In general people get riled up faster with negative emotions and feelings than positive ones. Like other tricks in the fascist playbook, it works only for a relatively short period of time, but for that time it can work quite devastatingly. Take the afore mentioned fascists in Israel as an example. Pretty much all the political parties that are in the ascendancy there are using the kind of rhetoric that evokes fear, anger and hatred (in fact, occasionally skipping the fear part…because what the fuck do you need to be scared about when you are an imperialism-supported, technologically advanced, nuclear armed military and your “enemy” consists of a ragtag bunch of freedom fighters with rusty Kalashnikovs and rocket-launchers).
One of the main reasons they’re doing this, apart from ideological motivations, is that it actually works. To be openly anti-Zionist in Israel, for instance, is utter social, economic, and political suicide. However, being bloodthirsty is apparently quite alright, even if you’re an MP. In fact it might just be quite a positive check mark to have on your CV. Witness the cold shark eyes beset in the Este Lauder face of Ayelet Shaked.
Stare at her eyes for more than 5 seconds and your brain slowly but surely starts liquefying.
Ms. Shaked had no problem posting this quote on her facebook page: “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
She also happens to be one of Israel’s rising political stars (of none other than the Jewish Home Party, you know, led by the dude who’s just fine and dandy with slaughtering Arabs). Contrary to what people might think, this is actually quite normal in a state and society where fascism has taken over. The reason it might seem abnormal to most Western eyes and ears is likely because of grand narratives of Israel’s spurious claims to democracy and human rights. Akin to many other political movements, fascists are interested in gaining power. Negative feelings like fear, anger, and hatred are often very successful motivators for people to support fascist or right-wing political movements.
We have experienced this all too well, in a different kind of way, in this part of the world during the presidential elections in 2008, when we all realized that America was actually ready for a black man to be president, (a man blessed, anointed, and made ready by the capitalist elite to “lead” America, no doubt, but a chunk of the public still kinda, sorta had to be ok with it). Nevertheless, there was a whole host of far right-wing nut jobs who went absolutely ballistic. Many Republicans used fear, anger, and outright racist hate when the possibility of Obama becoming President emerged as a very real possibility and more than just the wishful glint in a guilty white liberal’s eye.
I feel compelled to clarify that by no means am I suggesting that the Republican party is homogenously fascist. Not by any stretch. Indeed, I think it is lazy politics and useless polemic to do what many progressives do, which is to label all right-wingers as fascists. I think the Republican party has many racists in it (by admission of their own members no less), as does the Democratic party, but the Republican party itself is not wholly fascist, at least not quite yet. Fascism, the way I deploy the term here, is a specific, far-right ideological persuasion based on a hyper-aggressive religious, ethnocentric or nationalist fundamentalism. It is an extreme version of right-wing politics. There are many people holding conservative positions that are based on –and I have to really psych myself up to say this while preventing the gag reflex – rational thought and reason. I might not agree with them, but an intelligent, judicious conversation can be had, and we can agree to disagree, following which we can partake in intellectual activities that really matter such as figuring out the best beer chaser after a shot of Jack or discerning the best fried food to satisfy the munchies. I have had conversations in grad school (often drunk and high) with neoclassical economists for instance that were quite productive and in no way exhibiting dehumanizing hatred.
Because I think dehumanizing hatred needs something else. It’s got to do with dicks. More precisely it’s about the hell brought about by a sub-section of humanity possessing them. And we’ll explore that delightful topic and others in Part 2 of this article. Stay tuned and all…