Saying ‘No’ to Fashionable Fascism
I recently saw the newest installment of Stars Wars, and my issues with the Disney movie are different from most fans: it was far too real. The film is about a galaxy that, rather than being open to the fleets of the Trade Federation, has collapsed into disorder, leading many of its inhabitants to actively seek the reestablishment of the Galactic Empire. As a kid I rooted for the Empire (admit it, you did too). They wore dashing uniforms, rode cooler space ships, spoke in articulate British accents, stood up to pesky aliens, and, overall, Made the Galaxy Great Again by ruthlessly crushing any foe. I’m not that concerned by children running around in Darth Vader and storm trooper helmets, as the Empire is still sexier than the Rebellion. Who wants to be a Jedi when you can be a Sith Lord?
What I’m worried about is that the ruthless mentality of the Empire and the New Order from the films, the philosophy that order and safety can only emerge through militarized collectivization, that building walls and Death Stars is the only option, is being accepted in real life. That narrative can get us nowhere in this politically correct culture, and what we need is strong cruel fearless leaders that will bully and strike fear into that sinister foreign element that is corroding our society. This idea is not only fashionable in America, but globally, and it has even infiltrated our own movement! If 2015 was anything, it was the year fascism became fashionable.
Every Salon blogger and edgy comedian living in Brooklyn with a nose ring has made the profound observation on twitter that Trump will act like Idi Amin if elected President. He is the Mussolini of the Rustbelt, a man who charms the crowd with statements that make Archie Bunker seem like an articulate William F. Buckley. Trump’s solutions are as simplistic as ‘bomb the hell out of the contagious others’, build a wall to keep them out, and then rip them off in trade. To Trump’s supporters, foreigners have nothing to offer, and those talented people who come from all over the world to work or start new lives are merely robbing the opportunity from the real Americans. The problems facing America are not caused by us, well, except for the shadowy elites like that secret Muslim Obama and his puppet media that asks Trump basic questions. Trump won’t win precisely because he doesn’t have the support of the so-called elites (aka the people who read) that want detailed policies, not stream of conscious reality TV camera rants crafted at the podium that only lure the type of rubes dumb enough to play slots at his casinos. But his popularity should concern us because he is likely to breed tons of spinoffs.
China, which is being vilified by Trump, also suffers from the same anxiety about external threats. Feeling slighted by foreigners too, not from their best and brightest, and the spoiled children of millionaire Communist aristocrats that are being ripped off by our overpriced diploma mills American universities. Rather, they feel anxiety from the slowdown in their economic growth and their lack of allies in the Pacific. President Xi Jingping can’t blame Mexico, but does claim that his population of two billion people is threatened by an island nation of 120 million, and most of them nearing retirement. The Japanese menace that Xi fears has a draftable male population made up of hermit samurai who, secluded in their parents’ basements, are secretly studying the martial philosophy of Gundum, Sailor Moon and the Pokémon masters plotting to take on a nuclear armed nation of two billion people. This is comical, but as the generation of Japanese who experienced the deprivations of US firebombing and famine are dying off, in its place are the generations that can recall distantly fantastic years of growth then followed by two decades of almost none and a ticking population bomb. The new generation of Japanese don’t remember the horrors of war and fear that their nation is going extinct and there are many politicians selling the glorious past of the Shogunate to the electorate. Shinzo Abe, whose economic policies have failed to revitalize Japan into the economic giant it was in the 1980s, is almost following Xi’s script and urging Japan to rearm. Now the two most economically powerful nations in Asian are threating war over uninhabitable islands. The Pacific, a region which has seen the most dramatic economic growth in human history within the past thirty years because of free trade, could possibly start passing trade embargos. Most people reading this blog know the famous aphorism attributed to Bastiat, “when goods don’t cross borders, armies will.” The scary thing is that many people in the region don’t care. In both single-party state China and democratic Japan, people want to hear that those devils across the water are causing their problems, and they want the nobility of bombing cities rather than the mundane existence of building weakly performing portfolios.
Russia, which many educated pundits said last year would waver under sanctions, is still politically united, the strongman Putin is now more popular than ever by playing up to his nation’s old grand narrative that dates from the time when it was a Byzantine outpost protecting Orthodox Christianity, to the lone Bolshevik fortress nation surrounded by plotting capitalist imperialists. Putin has made military gains and from the punitive sanctions have made Russia’s oligarchies even more dependent on his patronage. Russia is in a state of fear and has cracked down mercilessly on dissidents, and created such an environment of fear that the government doesn’t even need to persecute them, the crowds will. Russia is probably the premier fascist nation. What’s most scary about him is that he is encouraging others. Putin is even more popular in China and Jinping wants to emulate him, Trump has praised Putin and Vladimir has returned the favor with an endorsement. The strongman Putin, who has irked Angela Markel, is seen sympathetically by many anti-EU populists, both right and left.
Russia has not only gained bases in Crimea, but has secured its only naval base on the Mediterranean in Syria by propping up the dictator Bashar al-Assad. Assad is unusual in that he, unlike all the others mentioned, is openly fascist… well, Baathist at least. His forces are responsible for nearly 80% of the civilian casualties in the Civil War, with all the cities that have risen up being declared traitorous and barrel bombed to rubble, civilians and all. Assad claims that his nation’s problem didn’t arise from his dynasty’s political practices or the concentration of wealth and power to the minority Alwaits while suppressing the majority Sunni population. Assad isn’t fully wrong in his 2011 claim that most of the Jihadists that have poured in are foreign-backed, but he like all successful men has played a part in making his prophecy a reality by targeting the more moderate Syrian rebels rather than fighting the more radical Islamists. Still many of the Syrian Sunni population would rather be ruled by the brutal Islamic regimes of al-Nusra and ISIS. The Syrian Civil War is a mess, but it seems that many in D.C. are willing to accept some sort of concession with al-Assad; something unheard of just three years ago.
It interesting that Bush promoted the idea of a democratic Middle East, but across the aisle we have accepted that it’s not only impossible, but it’s better for the US to be allied with dictators. If there is any state deserving more condemnation other than the Islamic State of the Levant, it is Saudi Arabia. It is the fountainhead of radical Islam. Saudi Arabia is home of 15 out of the 19 September 11 hijackers, and the money source of nearly every radical mosque and imam that has inspired lone wolf terrorism in the West, as seen in Paris, London, Madrid, and in San Bernardino. Now the feudalist state of Saudi Arabia, where slavery is legal, geocentrism rather than a revolving earth is in their official text books, and where atheists and homosexuals face the same punishment as they would in lands controlled by ISIS; this barbaric land is now trying to create a united coalition against ISIS. This political farce will probably receive American military assistance even though their main goal is to target Iran. They don’t want to destroy ISIS as it is a movement they created, and one that makes this feudalistic theocracy seem moderate in the eyes of the United States which because of the Saudi lobby will continue to give them billions of dollars and weapons.
Across the Atlantic, the Europeans aren’t laughing at our politics as much as they normally do. The USA may have elected Bush twice, but France could within the coming years elect Marie Le Pen, a member of a strange far-right French party that was created by sympathizers of the Vichy Nazi puppet state and esoteric academics who, in witnessing the withering away of the French Empire in Africa, saw salvation in recreating the Ancient Regime. The party has grown to include the unemployed of France’s rustbelts who hate that their jobs are being shipped to Germany, people who do have legitimate concerns about the rise of radical Islam within France and politically incorrect holocaust deniers that call themselves comedians.
The EU has lost its legitimacy, rightfully in my opinion; it was always a centralist organization run by Davos Men, bureaucrats and businessmen whose visions of a globalized London and Brussels that didn’t include the proud provincials that speak only in their native tongues. These provincials who don’t feel inconvenienced by their neighbors having different currencies and accounting rules, and who don’t understand why they are bailing out one capital, or having their savings accounts frozen because of treaties made by out-of-touch elites a generation ago. The hatred of out-of-touch elites has also bread leftwing populism. While France may be moving to the far-right, the far-left gained power in Greece, promising its bag of simple fixes, with Alexis Tsipras playing the part of the Donald promising to make bold new deals with Berlin. Tsipras has found out that not only does he hold a smaller hand at the table, but that the world was more complex than he realized – the Greek Crisis is far from over. England still has the moderate Conservative David Cameron as Prime Minister, but leftists from around the world are enamored with the socialist-populist Jeremy Corbyn, who has purged many moderates from the Labour Party. Though not in power now, it is possible that Corbyn or a leftwing Labour politician will come to power in the United Kingdom in the next several years.
The world is pretty bleak, but even within the libertarian movement there is reason to be disappointed. Libertarianism has often had the problem of giving into the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Murray Rothbard, while calling the government of the United States a “gang of thieves writ large,” went out of his way to praise both the Mafia and the dictator Lenin. It is shocking how many self-proclaimed anarchists are apologists for the worst crimes of Putin, but then again while Murray Rothbard was an anti-communist at home he had no problems with their genocidal regimes abroad, and at times went out of his way to court Marxist favor. The hatred of the centralization of the federal government that happened under Lincoln led to Rothbard and other libertarians to not simply defend the idea that secession can be legitimate but to defend the idea that the Confederacy as the Jeffersonian ideal. The praise of the Confederacy, a feudalist state that in the words of its Vice President Alexander Stevens that the Confederacy’s “corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition” has led to the movement attracting the worst sorts of reactionaries.
A poll by the Reddit Anarcho-Capitalism Page indicated that 10% of their posters considered themselves apart of the Alternative Right/Dark Enlightenment. The Dark Enlightenment is what Isaiah Berlin would have described as the Counter-Enlightenment, people who, like us, may oppose the ideas of Rousseau, but instead of embracing Locke or even Burke are instead the proponents of Joseph de Maistre, Carlyle and proto-fascist Romantic Reactionaries of the Sturm and Drang. These fascists and neo-monarchists have been popularized within the movement by a certain group of Rothbardians, notably Hans-Hermann Hoppe who wants the Tsar put back on the throne, after libertarianism smashes the socialist state. Most libertarians accept that egalitarianism is an impossible idea, contrary to human nature because every individual is different and has a different set of skills. Instead of embracing the idea of an order that allows individuals of different tastes and talents to pursue their own lives without the threat of force, the wannabe Sith Lords of Dark Enlightenment deduce that because egalitarianism is impossible, then conclude that feudalism, in their mind a system of virtuous (white) aristocrats ruling over the ignorant masses, is the desirable and ideal system to order a society. Instead of a society of free people interacting these supposed libertarians are willing to settle for a strongman, and warlord cronies ruling over fiefdoms of desperate people. North Korea, the hermit kingdom which has for over sixty years been ruled by a familial dynasty with a cabal of enlightened Communist Junche priests and ennobled commissars and generals, should be praiseworthy to this confederacy of dunces within the libertarian movement.
2015 has been the year of fascism’s ascendency. Mises, Hayek and Ayn Rand fled the collectivist red flag dictatorships of mid-20th century and enough time has passed that some idiots on the internet who dare call themselves libertarians are looking on tyranny with nostalgia. If libertarianism is to win the intellectual war it needs to be defined not as simply anti-egalitarian, anti-political correctness or anti-federalist. Libertarianism must be defined as a system that promotes individual rights! If libertarianism becomes so obsessed with tearing down the elites and creating disorder to purge our society of political correctness and statists, we will not create minarchy, or a just ordered anarchy, but instead recreate the anarchy of Dark Ages, the tyrannical and predatory world of kings, and their murdering bastards they give titles to who will rule over serf populations for their supposed good, to protect against that insidious rival foreign element… the world that exists within North Korea in the 21st Century.
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