Patriarchy and Ur-Fascism on Holocaust Memorial Day

c3itnhsxaaa71ooIt’s Holocaust Memorial Day January 27, 2017, and all the people who smugly derided anyone pointing out that the coming to power of the far-right in the west would be curtailed by ‘checks and balances’ are a fair bit quieter now.

On the day the Prime Minister Nobody Elected goes to fawn over the American advocate for torture, were not hearing so much from those (same) people who chided us against using the word ‘fascist’.

On this day, President Trump has ordered his new administration to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants. The President’s sweeping new executive order includes a paragraph mandating the Secretary for Homeland Security to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens” in the US.

As we’ve said before: “These people’s language isn’t coarse, it’s fascist.”

In understanding this it’s worth returning to Umberto Eco’s Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism – in which he identifies fourteen features of fascist ideology which are constant across time. Here’s three that jump out:

“To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged.”

“Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.”

“Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons—doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.”

All of these features heavily in Trump’s language and actions. But this last observation on the misogyny of fascism is key.

As Suzanne Morre writes (“Patriarchy is the sea in which Trump and his sharks gather”):

“Patriarchy is not some men-only affair. Many women play a role in sustaining it. The far right, by the way, is not afraid of using this word. It claims it as the basis for all that is good in western civilisation. The elevation of Trump is absolutely patriarchal fundamentalism. He has swept up a lot of the Christian vote because of it. The adulation of Putin is the worship of another white power based on patriarchal rule: unapologetically anti-women, anti-gay, anti-black and anti-Muslim. It is obsessed with displays of masculinity to the point of fascist camp. The right promises the restoration of a time when men were men and women were sanctified mothers or whores. Such authoritarianism may be delivered by both men and women. As the American author and feminist bell hooks says, patriarchy has no gender. It is not situated only within the individual – which is why screaming “Sexist!” at someone only gets you so far. Were the women who voted for Trump furthering patriarchy? Yes, obviously. They may believe it can protect them. The dismantling of this power cannot possibly come from those who won’t name it and spend the entire time shoring it up, largely reaping its benefits: that is, much of the liberal establishment. By assuming the culture war had been won, the myths of impartiality and neutrality have allowed far–right voices to go unchallenged. Patriarchal power asserts itself through cultural as well as economic resentment. And that is everywhere. The oft-repeated sentiment that feminism is itself an extreme movement is evidence of how liberalism bows down to authoritarianism.”

On this day it’s been revealed that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met this month with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, more here – and this week has seen the newly elected President threaten to send the army into American cities ‘convulsed’ with crime.

All of this is the calculated normalisation of the abnormal. It is the repeat language to normalise the violence of authoritarianism. It may come across as the random moronic out of control spams of narcissism, but it is the controlled and channelled process of the gleeful unbridled proto-fascist.

If the Women’s March represents a potential vast part to the resistance to all of this – other contradictions abound, one is the enthusiastic backing of the state of Israel in terrifyingly new aggressive foreign policy that is about to be unleashed, alongside the blatant anti-semitism of some of Trump’s core team.

c3iynd6vcaaig-iOn this day, as journalist Sarah Kenzidor writes: “(Steve) Bannon is a white supremacist who wanted to segregate his children from Jewish kids” (more here)  .

I have no idea how this resolves itself – the contradictions of the far-right seem to be able to be glossed-over in the march towards endless power-grabbing.

Hyper-nationalism, hyper-machismo, overt racism, a language of, and deification of violence, and a hatred of the weak whilst masquerading as populist, all are present and correct in the man that Theresa May is visiting on our behalf today. Her speech was instantly described as ‘desperate and slavish’).

Unexpected alliances, real-life solidarity and collaboration are going to be key to resisting the politics that is being celebrated and sanctified by ‘our’ leaders today.

The liberal voices that stood back and assured us that Trump would ‘not be as bad as he appeared on the campaign trail’, or that ‘Brexit would never really happen’ or that Scotland would ‘have its place in discussions’, all are part of a continuum of nonsense and denial, a sort of belief in moderation when none is visible, an outdated belief in a system and a culture that doesn’t exist any more.  These are the stenographers that are just repeating a sort of folk-memory of a Britain or America that has been swept away.



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  1. Doubting Thomas says:

    How depressing!
    One senses a self perpetuating descent into a very dark place all because electorates don’t deliver results in keeping with your views.
    For some, believe it or not, the continuum of nonsense and denial is happening right in front of our very eyes.
    All the legal advice Salmond was supposed to have taken and which he spent fortunes of taxpayers money trying to prevent being made public, because in reality it did not exist must be a good start.
    Then there are the talks Russell has had with Spain which he cannot or will not provide any detail on which have been categorically denied by the Spanish Government and who continually say they will use their veto to prevent any danger of a separate EU membership for Scotland.
    Somewhere in there will be the currency issue, the central bank problem, the budget deficit and many other issues which are currently being swept under the carpet in favour of a mendacious attempt to deny democracy for the people of Scotland.
    What I have never understood is the constant assertion that Scotland can maintain membership of either the EU or the single market.
    It is a blatant lie.
    The powers that be in Europe have told us that.
    The need for a 100% approval in the voting process tells us that and yet this lie is constantly purveyed as being why we need to leave the UK.
    For my own part I have always questioned why we the taxpayer should need to pay billions into the EU just to allow us to sell our high quality products ( which actually they want ) to them.
    It opens the door for tax dodging multi nationals to evade paying here tax by domiciling themselves in places like Luxembourg.
    Yet wee Nicola thinks that’s ok.
    That seems to me to be a very Tory thing to do.
    The continuum of nonsense and denial seems to me more like the nonsense currently emanating form the minority that we are being denied our rights.
    That will only happen when there is a majority in favour in independence which given the current financial situation and the total mismanagement by the SNP wont be anytime soon.

    1. It would be great if you responded to actual facts or statements in the article

    2. James Mills says:

      ”Doubting Thomas ” ? Hiding behind an alias .

    3. Doubting Thomas says:

      Actually I thought I had demonstrated a calculated normalisation of the abnormal and a continuum of nonsense and denial.
      All right here on our own doorstep.
      I followed your theme but changed the subjects involved.
      Seems logical to me.

  2. c rober says:

    Still we have the media that come out with Trumps not that bad – look at the employment he will be creating , well the same can be Said of Peter Sutcliff for getting prostitution of the streets. Its all a matter of Spin.

    Just how often soon after election has presidents signed executive orders for skirmish and war – I dont think Trump will be any different , perhaps it will be Mexico , it certainly wont be in Europes eastern border , or in Africa or Arabian lands.

    SO where will that war be? On Americans themselves then? Or Another War on terror?

    Perhaps though the war is on TRADE – seeing as how protectionism is ramping up , and it never has went away? On China , unless it buys up more American Debt in order to import , or making them produce in America for the American market , just like they did with Japanese car makers?

    America and UK , well WM and its wealthy elites , are looking for biased trade deals – I hope its not just the EU that rejects it. Protectionism wont help USA , if its people wont be able to afford the shit they will be making – low wages in order to compete on the global market is not compatible with protectionism , this is why American made has never been successful outside of America…. yet products like Apple sells are , but are foreign made.

    He is strangely quiet on the repatriation of the Apple dollars , last I heard their tax on it moving back to America was 12 percent , rather than tarrifs for Chinese manufacturing and imports of their products , which will be seen on its competitors – as well as the norm of corporation tax and so on denied of Apple.

    Detroit will still be empty , mining towns will still be empty , farming will still be subject to drought and without borderline new slavery of illegal immigrants to keep costs low – for the low waged American to eat , while complaining about immigrants taking jobs they wont do.

    Still the tax payer funded subs trough will be open , its people elect a billionaire , whom in turn hires more of the same in order to drain the swamp – and heres me thinking the snake oil salesmen are long gone just like voter stupidity with education of the masses themselves.

    The American rise of Nationalism , if it means fascism , protectionism , and a backwards move towards intolerance , then the Scottish version of Nationalism , without the same , is somehow abhorrent… So it needs more scrutiny as to why the rise in English nationalism , portrayed as British nationalism , is somehow more palatable to the Scots wishing to remain in a Union for over half of its population.

    If the Scots in a majority dont wish to “break free” of its maisters , then it is FEAR pure and simple of the unknown – thus the only deliverers of the power to remove that fear are the parties that supposedly wish for independence.

    So should they be like Trump promising the undeliverable , or offering a more darker populist form of Nationalism- ie eject the immigrants , close the borders , and drain its swamp? I dont think so , well other than draining the swamp and ejecting the “right immigrants” installed as our hidden governors.

  3. Gaga Glasgow says:

    Great piece but I don’t think you can explain Trump, or May & Brexit, without looking at the alternatives voters were offered.

    I am not sure if I would be more worried and dejected right now if Hillary was President — she had all the hallmarks of a vicious hawk on foreign policy matters. In fact, we don’t need to guess at that; history records her misadventures in places like Libya.

    Based on what Hillary said, If she had won, we would be watching a military and naval build up in the Middle East right now, with tensions sky high as she faced down Putin in Syria…

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it looks like the Syrian conflict is over and that’s down to Trump.

    After the Brexit vote, who were the alternatives to Theresa May and do you think we’d be any more comforted by someone like Boris in Downing Street? There’s worse than him too that might have took over.

    So, bleak as it all seems, I think it could be worse.

    (Incidentally, if the Trump administration has anti-Semitic elements in it, you could probably argue [although I wouldn’t] that they provide some much needed balance in respect of the anti-Islamism they’ve been accused of.)

    1. Oh dear Gaga – I really don’t think anti-Semitism ‘balances out’ anti-Islamisism. The idea that Clinton would be have been worse than Trump is just a lazy slur repeated ad nauseam.

      Sure she was useless in many respects, sure she was a hawk, sure she was the establishment candidate (blah blah blah) but beyond that its just people churning out off-cuts of drivel about her off of the inter web whilst facing fascism square in the face.

      1. Gaga Glasgow says:

        Actually, Bella, I half agree with you on the laziness of anti-Hillary slurs. I also think the debate about who would be worse or better, Hillary or Trump, is a pointless intellectual game.

        We should really be looking at the systemic core of issues that facilitated Trump and Hillary, the widespread sense of disaffection in the west generally amongst voters, the failures of seemingly left-leaning politicians, and a bunch of associated social issues.

        Personally, I blame the middle classes who for decades have sat back and enjoyed the high life at the expense of those further down the food chain.

        It was the middle classes that insisted, for example, that The UK Labour Party abandon the working classes to the free market. There’s a similar dynamic in US politics.

        The upshot of it all is that the poor have to shut up and suffer. Same with foreign policy, wars, geopolitics etc.

        There’s a price to be paid for vetoing progressive policies and politics as the middle classes have done for decades.

        Iraq, Trump, Brexit, the migrant crisis, poverty, unemployment, etc., etc., its all on the middle classes.

        You reap what you sow, even if you drive a Volvo estate.

      2. Jo says:

        @ Mike

        “Oh dear Gaga – I really don’t think anti-Semitism ‘balances out’ anti-Islamisism. The idea that Clinton would be have been worse than Trump is just a lazy slur repeated ad nauseam.”

        I think that’s a very unfair assertion against those who are unwilling to present Hillary as the answer but who want to be accurate about who and what she is. It isn’t lazy to point that out. I am in no doubt that if Hillary had made it to the White House it would have been a disaster. I hope the Democrats have learned a bitter, bitter lesson over the decision to pander to her ego and let her stand. It was dumber than dumb and it was clear that even many on their own side would not give her their vote.

        Gaga is right about Hillary’s plans. She made it clear during the campaign that her first priority was to confront Russia by imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, a country over which she had no authority! A country where her own government (and ours) had been funding groups linked to ISIS in order to bring forward their main aim which was to topple yet another legitimate leader with their usual “regime change” games.

        It is up to the people of Syria to decide who will lead them, not us, not the US, not France. We don’t have the right to say to Assad, “You can’t be in the talks, you must stand down!”

        The truth is that our media too often act like a propaganda machine when it comes to issues like Syria. We don’t get the facts. We hear about “western values”, “British values”. Well, I’m sorry, I don’t like what passes for “values” to many politicians especially when, in so many countries, so many innocent civilians pay the ultimate price for our twisted values.

        1. Gaga Glasgow says:

          You know what though, Jo, if you are honest and living here in Scotland, as I do, I really doubt that it’s likely to make much difference who is in the Whitehouse.

          There isn’t one single president in all US history that I’d describe as a good person. Seems childish to say that but it’s probably worth considering that the political system there is sort of designed to thwart progress which means you’re always going to get certain types in the Whitehouse.

          The choice isn’t between good or bad in presidential races, it’s always between bad and worse. Was Trump a worse choice than Hillary, who knows? Too close to call, I’d say.

          I’m glad I’m not an American who had to choose between Trump and Hillary but, then, we have our own dilemmas and problems to face.

          1. Jo says:

            @ Gaga

            “Seems childish to say that but it’s probably worth considering that the political system there is sort of designed to thwart progress….”

            It’s a crazy system. I thought ours was bad! Could never understand how someone could win the race to be president but then be unable to do anything because Congress could block him.

            Bad and worse is a good description of Hillary and Trump. As for deciding who was the worst option I wasn’t in any doubt. For me it was Hillary. I think she’s the most dishonest woman on the planet personally. If I’d had a vote I’d probably have stayed home. As you say, what a choice the American people had.

            Tell you what tho’. I hadn’t realised that a state visit by a POTUS wasn’t usually organised this early as May has done for Trump. Both Obama and Bush were well into their terms before that happened. What possessed her to issue such an invitation within ten days of Trump’s inauguration?

  4. tartanfever says:

    So Tulsi Gabbard goes to Syria to find out whats happening herself, on the ground, meets with various groups.

    She comes back and starts making comments like , ‘ hey, you do realise there are no moderates fighting Assad, they’re Jihadists from Nusra front and Al Zinki (thats Al Qaeda to you and me), maybe we should stop arming them, it’s counterproductive. They are our enemies’

    Now she’s tagged in gutter journalism and portrayed as some kind of rogue element at best, traitor at worst.

    Does this mean Bella condemns her visiting Syria and her calls for the west to stop arming Al Qaeda offshoots or does it support the continued arming of these extremist groups by both the UK and US governments ?

    1. I am not in favour of arming Al Qaeda I am condemning meeting with Bashar Assad.

      I am endlessly bemused by the people that assume that if a) American leadership and foreign policy is woeful dire and destructive then, by some magic process Putin and Assad are good and great. Its banal and binary and moronic.

      1. tartanfever says:

        I re-read my text, I’m sure I wasn’t praising Assad nor Putin. Hey, but if calling people Kremlin stooges is your bag, then just who is the moron ?

        1. florian albert says:

          Alistair Dutton, director of the Catholic aid agency, SCIAF, on his return from Syria recently, wrote in favour of ‘a peace agreement that will allow the Assad regime to reassert control and the rule of law throughout the country.’
          He viewed this as a lesser evil and hoped that it would then lead to free elections.
          He was particularly critical of the British government for backing Islamist groups about which they knew little.

  5. Alf Baird says:

    A positive start by Trump which will please the (extra)ordinary folks who voted for him. Lets see how this goes.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        As it happens I was refused a visa to enter Iran, the downside of UK nationality; my Norwegian research colleagues got a visa no problem. But essentially, visa refusal is nothing new, so I don’t get the big stushie.

        Maybe the said vet student’s principal can spare some loose change from his outrageous £400,000 salary. Not unconnected to the matter of ‘top’ academics pay, Scotland’s ‘elite’ uni’s do of course push the visa boat out to attract students from anywhere provided they can pay the higher fees, despite the fact this inevitably puts the squeeze on places available for lower fee paying Scots. That can make a big difference to the ‘intellectual capacity’ of a wee nation, especially after 50+ years cumulative effect. Hence today less than half of Scots have a degree.

  6. nationa says:

    A man..a pompous nationalist man.. who clearly hasn’t read Eco or and certainly not those he referenced – historically (he was way smarter than you). Eco wasn’t talking about left or right he was talking about systemics, about ASSHOLES with ‘nationalistic imagery’ and ‘dogmatic polemics’, ‘a binary way of thinking’ like eeeeeeeerrrrrrrmmmm???? this site.

  7. Redgauntlet says:

    Trump is a disaster. May is a disaster. Johnson is a disaster. Corbyn is an idiot, which is a disaster.

    How could things be any worse? I predict a disastrous few years ahead.

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