earlier version printed in issue 402 of Fifth Estate
What is it that people are viscerally drawn to and simultaneously repulsed by in fascism—as it takes on its strange character in this second (digital) mass iteration?
Is it a sort of mass masochism, mass schadenfreude? This seems to apply to the dynamics of its [fascism’s] coming-into-existence. The same spirit that blandly fetishizes fascism enjoys liberalism’s tepid rebuttals: op-eds in the New York Times, John Oliver bits, the Democrats’ self-flaggelation. Is this merely thanatos, the death drive? Certainly it is a manifestation of the guilt within the liberal complex.
What are people drawn to in fascism? Is it its unbridled expression of the ethos underlying this civilization? Is this too much of a blanket statement? I wouldn’t think so. Its plain crudity, its so absurd, obvious, ultimate and base vulgarity—(here in America, the bastion of ‘plain-talk’—albeit a ‘common-man’ mentality by no means unique to here—manifested in this most American of cartoon villains: DT.)
What underlies our civilization?
Domination of the natural world & life in general, stratification of wealth & resources, militarism, classed and racial hierarchies, submission of women, environmental degradation; the list goes on. Is this not what is unabashedly signified by Trump and his cadre, indeed manifests in the most chilling & intense ways in the most diehard of his followers? They at least have the temerity to see this for what it is—but then again, maybe liberals do too, and maybe the horror and fascination of this slow fall into post-postmodern dystopianism are one and the same—maybe we are willing it to happen, along with everyone else.