“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Pity the poor fascist

Back in the day, fascists were loud and proud. They formed parties that called themselves fascist. They enthused about Mussolini, and Hitler. They enthused about their own leaders, who they usually called “leader” – in Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Latvian, upper class English or what have you. They had a trade mark, of sorts, on a brand – fascism.

Now, of course, fascism has become an open source kind of thing. Sure, there is a party that calls itself fascist in Italy, but that is the little toe of fascism nowadays. Fascism has become an honorific bestowed by others. You have Islamofascism (or the new variety, Sunni fascism, coined by that facisto-brander extraordinaire, Chris Hitchens), you have Christian fascism, you have Bush as a fascist and Osama as a fascist and my Uncle Dick as a fascist and Donald Duck as one too.

Oddly, as the brand has exploded, it has also become a secret vice, like eating clay is in certain counties in the Southern U.S.A. Nobody wants to be a loud and proud fascist, and usually the response to being called a fascist is to call the person calling one a fascist a fascist. As Machiavelli once put it (talking to Leo Strauss), “I’m rubber and your glue/whatever you say bounces off me/ and sticks to you” – a principle exhaustively analyzed in Schmitt’s Grundlegung des Gummi-Prinzip, an indispensable guide to political philosophy, as all us fascist anti-fascists well know.

Not that I’m a fascist, mind you. Say that again to me and I’ll hit you with my police baton.

This pullulation of fascism is a little unexpected, especially as its principle architects – those many, many fascists of today – can be said, like Christ's executioners, to know not what they do. Osama, looking at what Mussolini wrought in Libya, for instance, might not recognize that as just what he is aiming at – but don’t we know better? And Bush, a man who operates, it has become pretty clear, in the traditional mode of the Southern politician – a species that has been known to seize a capital or two (vide Herman Talmadge) to cap a corrupt victory “gained’ at the polls, turns out to be a fascist too. Well, shit, seems there is a perfect fit between today’s brand fascism and today’s mock heroic ethos – we are in the post Third Way age, the age of the long long long long war on terrorism itself, or World War IV as its fans like to call it. Genocide, it turns out, doesn’t consist of people butchering people in heaps (when that happens, we immediately look for errors in random samples, happily dispute about them, and are able, presto-chango, not to think about stinky dead bodies and such) -- but of the President of Iran holding a holocaust denier conference. Who knew that, in order to save the honor of the holocaust victims, we would have to systematically lower the standards of genocide to a verbal act? Soon bumping your funny bone in the shower will just be a pinprick away from being sent to the oven in Auschwitz. Such are the speeded up delights of insta-history.

Bruno tells the story of two blind beggars at the door of the archbishopric of Naples who started beating each other with sticks, the one claiming to be a Guelph, the other a Ghibelline, although when they were separated neither could say what they meant by those terms.

That is what it was like back in those primitive times. Now, of course, those blind beggars toss aside their sticks to become political pundits, and we all join in the melee, in which every bruise turns out to be a word.

PS - LI is no Schmitt, admittedly, but we do think the sweet clarity and distinctness of political discoursing would be immeasurably elevated if, instead of using the term, fascist, one simply used the more comprehensive and all purpose term, motherfucker.

1 comment:

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

"Say that again to me and I’ll hit you with my police baton"

We're all using telescoping steel batons these days, but the principle is the same. Oh, and we don't use cod liver oil anymore. Nope. We try to move with the times, Roger, as you no doubt will one day, and we've opted for olestra.