Happy December, readers! As you all may or may not know by now, my home nation is in a spot of trouble. In the immediate aftermath of the election of an evil cyberpunk businessman to the presidency, I responded with a message of unity and hope, which at the time was what I needed and what I thought others might need as well. I’m glad I wrote it, but now, three weeks later, I realize that it can’t tell the whole story. There are people in much more danger from the policies of Lord Business than I am, who won’t be ready for unity and hope for a long while. They have their own voices to make heard, and I’m trying to listen.
Yet, with Martin Niemoller constantly in the back of my mind these days, I need to make sure I am speaking out–however small my platform may be. I want to start by saying this is not, in the end, a post about Donald Trump. Frankly, he’s a backwards little man who isn’t worth my time, and I don’t believe even his cabinet appointments showcase any more “agenda” than a desire to reward his cronies. Why would anybody with a long-term plan seriously consider Ben Carson, the poster child for non-transferable intelligence, for multiple unrelated cabinet positions?
Nor is this a post about the large percentage of his voters who voted so out of a desperation I am unable to understand. They will be severely disappointed, likely soon, but that’s their battle to fight. This is a specific response to the fraction of people who voted for him out of a conscious certainty that pernicious influences–Mexicans, black people, Muslims, homosexuals, feminists, “indecency”–are destroying America in a thousand nebulous ways, and can’t be touched because of political correctness. It is also a response to the movement they emboldened, which goes by “alt-right” because “fascist” is out of style these days. But make no mistake, these people are fascists: subscribers to the most useless, dead-end, reactionary intellectual footnote the 20th century ever had the misfortune to shit out. Stephen Bannon, Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopolous, and all their Nazi friends are spineless, pathetic cowards who deserve our contempt, and–if they ever learn to show remorse–our pity.
Why write all this on the internet? Simple: the radicals get persecuted in an authoritarian regime. On the off-chance American Nazism really is enshrined into government policy, I want to align myself with the opposition early, decisively, and publicly, in order to ensure I’m not resisting from my armchair. It’s not the end of resistance, of course, but it is a beginning. To paraphrase Sir Patrick Stewart, if the only currency of public discourse is to be the rage of straight white men, the straight white men have a responsiblity to speak.
With that in mind, let’s rewind the clock: back to the Golden Age of Athens, where Plato authored the dialogue Gorgias, starring Socrates.
In this scene, Socrates debates strength, weakness, rhetoric, and tyranny with a man of the world named Callicles, a positive Disney villain who that Project Gutenberg link describes as “the spirit of evil against which Socrates is contending, the spirit of the world, the spirit of the many contending against the one wise man.” Callicles believes philosophy is useless, and extends that opinion to all of human law, stating that justice is expressed by the strong taking what they want from the weak.
Socrates disagrees. In a parable, he tells Callicles of two men, one with an intact jar and one with a leaky jar. Once the first man fills his jar, however great the difficulty, he will have it full, but the second man, even if he has streams of milk and honey and wine running right through his house, will be engaged in filling his jars “night and day…and if he pauses for a moment, he is in an agony of pain.” Callicles claims that the first man no longer has any pleasure left in his life, but Socrates argues that pleasure is different from good. Sooner or later, he declares, a person must cease attempting to win out over others and must instead conform his life to some sort of design that does not require constant violence–whether physical, rhetorical, or spiritual.
Socrates and Callicles were arguing about individuals, not nations or races, but the argument is easy to transfer. Look no further than pungent sack of crap Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” to replace “Nazism” because he took a long hard look at Hitler’s ideology and decided the main problem was the title. His recent speech in D.C. described white Europeans as the “children of the sun,” the destined conquerors of the world who have been unfairly maligned and oppressed by…somebody. My best guess is that “somebody” refers to Democratic politicians and college professors proposing settled designs exactly like the ones Socrates requires for a person to live a good life. These are simple designs–educate yourself, seek order and harmony in your soul, practice a reflexive respect for others–but they’re evidently too difficult for puerile grubs like Spencer and his audience.
Just to hammer this point home, let’s look at a few other examples of quotes from modern American fascists:
“What if the people getting shot by the cops did things to deserve it? There are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent.” —Steven Bannon
What if they didn’t? What if the world has passed you by and you’re desperate to reduce millions of people to a single statistic you can feel superior to?
“Is Trump likely to cancel the constitution, declare martial law, declare himself emperor to be succeeded by his children, nationalize the banks and media, hang some of the worst criminal bankers, send the Israelis back to Israel, call the National Guard to roll tanks into Harvard Yard, place all communists and other anti-American elements under house arrest, retire all government employees, replace the USG with the Trump Organization, and begin actually rebuilding America and western civilization?
Short of that, he is simply another phenomenon within the arcane workings of the system, as worthy of support as the ebb and flow of the tides.” —Michael Perilloux
I’d say “there are no words” but there are always words. This guy seems to be one of those people who insist the Roman Empire saved all the other peoples of Europe from themselves. Perilloux’s “rebuilding” of Western civilization takes the form of the fascist’s desperation for his country to be able to compete militarily–if we don’t get them, they’re gonna get us. This is what I mean when I say fascism is a historical footnote. Not only does the United States spend more on its military than the next seven countries, but the era of total war is over. And how have autocratic strongmen worked out throughout history?
The Roman Empire, which a lot of these human mouse droppings hold up as the epitome of strength, was an utter disaster for longer than it was stable. It’s always Augustus with these fascists, never Caligula.
“NO MORE WHITE GUILT! The Alt-right is growing because people are sick of being emotionally manipulated based on them being white.” –r/altright user TopDecking
“And the sickest thing is we are the STRONGEST. We literally built and designed everything you see.” –reply from Americanfight
Let me just get a few things straight here, Americanfight, TopDecking. You two are white, yes? A race category that does not even exist in any genetic sense, yet still gets to be the Chosen People? And you claim that white Europeans are the strongest, smartest, most creative group of people to ever exist? And yet you are both susceptible to emotional manipulation from…who, exactly? If you’re so mighty, why don’t you laugh off whoever is manipulating you and go drink? Or better yet, engage in self-examination to decide whether the charge against you has merits?
Oh, right. Because those would be mature, responsible reactions that would render your default response–gathering together to throw tantrums about how everybody except you is emotionally fragile–kind of nonsensical.
No, the people in that restaurant meeting, on those websites, in those militias, don’t want to live a just, ordered life like Socrates. They want to be Callicles. The color of their skin is their competitive unit, and they feel like their team hasn’t scored enough points recently. It’s easy to see how fascism and racism become entangled: they’re almost identical. The only difference is that the former privileges the state, while the latter privileges the race. In the ideal “nation-state” of the white nationalist, the “almost” is gone. The race is the state, and the state wants to start flexing its muscles.
There are many people who voted for Trump that I don’t want to call stupid or evil–because I haven’t experienced the hardships of the rural poor, because a college degree is not the only indicator of intelligence, and because it’s mostly unhelpful to label people as enemies. But I will say this with certainty: if you believe a nation that had a massive population of enslaved Africans from the moment of its birth can somehow become the flagship of global whiteness, you are stupid. If you believe global whiteness requires a renewed power to exert over its enemies, you are evil. The modern fascist chooses his alignment freely, and I may freely ridicule a person for their choices.
And let’s apply the Socrates argument to these white nationalists: what’s the endgame, exactly? A council of white people ruling the entire world, enslaving everyone browner? All non-whites exterminated? How will you keep slaking your desire for victory once all those others are destroyed, except by redefining your “children of the sun” to an ever-smaller circle of people, until you’re fighting like dogs over the destroyed scraps of a civilization that once aspired to decency? Did Spencer and Bannon and their fascist friends all watch Mad Max: Fury Road, see Immortan Joe come onto the screen, and think, “Finally, leadership I can get behind!”?
Jesus Christ. Witness me, you bloodbags. I think you’re a mob of blubbering cowards desperate for a strongman to come give purpose to your pathetic lives. I think you were the kind of children who picked four-on-one fights and wailed “no fair!” when that one bloodied your nose. I think you lack responsibility, honesty, and basic decency, and if you gain even the slightest influence over the White House, I dare you to drag me or anyone who thinks like me onto the witness stand. We’ve read books. You all don’t appear to have made it through Harry Potter.
If you want proof of what I’m saying, look no further than the new trend of Trump voters throwing public tantrums because they don’t get special treatment for having voted for him. These people joined a white nationalist movement because they wanted victories, but suddenly, the winning has abruptly stopped. It’s all downhill from here. This is the precise moment that anyone who voted for Lord Business because they expected a white uprising starts to learn how much you have to sacrifice to keep that jar filled.
*deep breath* OK. My next post will be about something utterly apolitical. But not before I tweet this at everybody whose name came up (except the Ancient Greeks). They might not see it, but at least it’s evidence they could use against me later.