Wednesday, October 3, 2018

On Supermen: Fascism and Vigilantism

Been thinking a bit about this snippet of an article I wrote for Public Seminar last summer:

What we see then in the use of “violence” is really a distinction between who gets to lay a claim to legitimate public coercion. The police are expected to use extraordinary measures to prevent any social disruption — from physical altercations to feeding the homeless in a public park. Doing so as a lay citizen, even through the consent of a larger community body, is seen as an ex ante violation of a higher natural law (even if not a violation of the actual law) of the distribution of legitimate physical coercion.

Transgression of this principle provides the basis for most superhero franchises. These characters, by virtue of centering the rationale for their righteous vigilantism, occupy a liminal space between guardian of the peace and social menace. Such a moral system is only sustainable through the artifice of the story’s narrator who ultimately wants readers to see the hero as good and thus constructs conflict resolution to support that. In reality, this moral system is where we locate fascist ideologies.

Fascist ideologies are like superheroism in that they take self-righteousness to be equivalent to general righteousness so long as vigilantism proves successful. More successful is the vigilante whose success accords him a loyal following. Unlike most superhero stories, real-life humans are prone to error without a sufficient social basis to check their hypotheses. This is evident in the proliferation of peer-review in academic literature; executive boards in corporate and non-profit enterprises; and of course the deliberative form of government that has become increasingly the norm since the eighteenth century.
Perhaps there is a little fascist in all of us. That voice that would make everything as it should be if not for societal strictures. That sense of moral indignation that one is prepared to do what society needs but does not want.

This is the locus of fascism. The executive sweeping away the degeneracy without sentiment. Disconnected from society as a true elite he grants no special favors. He perceives the social moral matrix and applies it ruthlessly, transgressing against that same moral matrix to do so.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Nazi in Hiding Disavows Nazis in Public

After a brief honeymoon of solidarity between The Daily Stormer's Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer's wing of the alt-right, it seems that Anglin is once again a negative nancy. Today Anglin published a blog post entitled "Official Daily Stormer Position: Don't Go to 'Unite the Right 2' - We Disavow" which self-explanatory as the title is, the reasoning is revealing.

Anglin give three major reasons: the doxxing is dangerous, the numbers are embarrassing, and the violence is off-putting. Rather than attempting to gather in public, Anglin advocates a retreat to the internet and underground organizing.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Stupid Things About Holocaust Denial On Facebook

So Mark Zuckerberg stepped in it, this time seeming to insist that Holocaust denial not be removed from Facebook despite how personally detestable it is to him. For Zuckerberg, what matters is intent to denigrate rather than merely spreading misinformation. However, Holocaust denial is part of a long-term strategy to recruit people to national socialism.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A comment on the Raworth-Milanovic debate

A friendly critique of Kate Raworth's book Doughtnut Economics by Branko Milanovic on the Brave New Europe blog has locked the two in a heated debate. One point of contention, has the two in a war of art references, Giotto's "St. Francis" versus Rodin's "Gates of Hell." This rhetorical sticking point appears to be a debate over nature versus nurture. While Raworth appears to regard such a debate sufficient to prove her point, Milanovic appears to take a more structural view. However, in his rejoinder to Raworth's reply, Milanovic plays to Raworth's critique on the question of human nature rather than reasserting his own.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Who Will Disrupt the Disruptors? A Review of Live Work Work Work Die

The final words of Corey Pein's Live Work Work Work Die are, "Off with their heads." In an engaging, hilarious, and gutwrenching first person account of the netherworld of Silicon Valley startup culture, Pein implores the reader to consider seriously the titans of tech are leading us into. By his account, it is a highly stratified society in which the toiling masses take turns pretending that they are among the tech elite.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

13 Reasons Why You're Probably Annoying Your Suicidal Friend

As someone who has been suicidal as long as they remember having emotions, I'm plenty familiar with the sorts of things wanting-to-live people think are helpful for suicidal people to hear. Turns out those things are actually just helpful for life-lovers to hear themselves say. Here's a list of 13 such pre-mortem faux pas and how to avoid them.

Monday, June 11, 2018

PE of Fash Week VI: Fake News and Mutual Aid (Reading List)

This last class in the political economy of fascism minicourse is meant to emulate the periodic "debriefs" I have programmed into the full-semester version of the course. I believe it is extremely important that, after rendering the coherence of fascism on its own terms, one take the time to debunk its central claims. Although I do this throughout the course during the lecture/discussion, designating an entire week's readings to such an exercise is, in my view, crucial in distinguishing this course from one of simple fascist indoctrination.

As I repeatedly say, fascism is disturbingly compelling. When one takes the time to piece it together into its coherent esoteric ideology, one is engaged in the exact game that draws people into fascism -- a game driven by curiosity and the self-satisfaction of figuring it out. In addition, fascism does point out valid contradictions about the way society operates (largely borrowing from leftist rhetoric). These critiques are then used to leverage a political race to the bottom, justifying underhandedness on the basis of a perceived supernatural enemy's underhandedness.