Fascism 2.0, A modern day totalitarianism

  • 2023-04-27
  • featuring
  • Pierre Ragois
  • EN / FR

Digital seems to remind us in ever closer echoes of the resemblance between the last two decades and the interwar period. Twenty short years that saw disastrous economic crashes, the emergence of terrifying ideologies and the birth of the most abject humanity has known since slavery. We again hear the sound of marching boots, a noise growing louder as the planetary boundaries shake the techno-capitalist machine. Faced with the systematic destruction of life, the brutal defense of its class interests and the ecocidal crimes that it still seeks as best it can to camouflage, the neoliberal Church is transforming before our eyes into a renewal of the worst, with the bourgeois consent.

Modern fascists wear the tie #

From my point of view, the political curse of man is having to relearn everything with each generation. An apprenticeship which, for our post baby boom generations, is confronted with decades of propaganda and the construction of desire, a globalized market narrative that makes us forget the old world before, or in our case, the world before-before. The fascist label of the thirties no longer exists. It has long been rejected by its modern supporters, knowing it to be infamous and illegitimate. Claiming to belong to the totalitarians of the twentieth century is neither a social luster, nor conducive to giving any power. The difficulty of our generations, then, is to recognize and name fascism, stripped of its brown shirts and swastikas.
Let's not be naive either: fascism did not die with Hitler or Mussolini. The Second World War was not yet over when the worshipers of the radical right, who moreover did not necessarily carry the Führer or the Duce in their hearts, were already seeking to replant the filthy beast and make it germinate in new soil.
George Orwell gratified us in his time with a far-sighted warning, nourished by his sharp analysis and his fight against imperialist and totalitarian regimes. If fascism ever returns to the public square, it might do so wearing a bowler hat and a rolled up umbrella under his arm. He would have, in short, all the attributes of the respectable man of his time. This prophecy was doubly validated by post-war Canadian fascist leader Adrien Arcand, saying that “shaved heads, uniforms and shows of force are a thing of the past”. The whole strategy of the far right, its future and its success, then depended on its ability to dress up in the clothes of respectability. Having successfully achieved this, the modern representatives of the radical right are now asking to be exonerated from the fascist label, on the pretext that they have changed their costume. What they don't make clear, of course, is that their old ideas are still there, hidden behind the three-piece suit and the collectible watch.

If fascism ever returns to the public square, it might do so wearing a bowler hat and a rolled up umbrella under his arm.

Connected authoritarians #

No one in good faith can ignore the authoritarian thrusts, visible all over the world, from Europe to South America, from the USA to Asia. Orban's Hungary, accustomed to violating democratic rights, welcomed the election of Giorgia Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister, head of the radical right with an avowed fascist past. Sweden has an extreme right which obtains scores close to 20% while in Bolsonaro's Brazil, we have witnessed a military dictatorship where the executioners were celebrated as heroes. Vincenzo Sofo, an important figure in Fratelli d'Italia, is the spouse of Marion Maréchal Le Pen, vice-president of Reconquête, the party of French far-right identities and granddaughter of the founder of the Front National. His aunt, Marine Le Pen, has multiplied bows to Putin's authoritarian regime thanks to which his party, the Rassemblement National, has benefited from generous loans of several million euros. All this pretty troop applauded Trump's lies and other undemocratic manipulations. All provide each other with mutual assistance, in a kind of brotherhood of ideas that does not need a concrete structure or organization to materialize. All they need is a single network to achieve this union: the internet.
The digital world, crossed in its beginnings by anarcho-socialist ideals, has evolved in a few decades towards a commercial hell propelled by a series of globalized tools for capturing data without any respect for private life. Often presented as a godsend, inevitable for economic development or fundamental in the “fight against terrorism”, all these infrastructures allow mass surveillance and increasingly precise profiling of individuals. These data are, as many whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have shown, obviously used by States in the context of clandestine surveillance, normalizing the espionage of their own allies, political opponents, activists or ordinary citizens, as well as the defense of private interests in industrial, economic or business competition. These gigantic masses of data embodied by the Big Data have become the unhoped-for dream of any state body resembling closely or remotely the Stasi of the former East Germany.
The Covid crisis has not helped matters since it has provided fertile ground for the emergence of ever more liberticide digital initiatives, acclaimed and operated by States, made compulsory in the context of fear and an existential angst. The digital has been knighted in its own authoritarian logics and now has its plutocratic celebrities. These heroes of the new world join, through censorship, acquisitions and the control of modern communication networks, a global family presenting itself as non-conformist, valiant disruptors defying the established order and rejecting this old elite of which they are, of course, a part of.

From the new world to the world before-before #

These connected neo fascists imagine a new world but defend, again and again, the same old social hierarchy. Inequalities are taken for granted, as a simple reflection of individual merit. In this brutal and Darwinian universe, the law of the strongest reigns. Each person is left at the mercy of their own misfortune, sold to the illusion of survival made possible by generalized competition. Immigrants and the poor are, as always, privileged scapegoats. It does not matter the content of the outrages and the lies as long as these courageous incarnations of the paternalistic order can put an end to the model of the social democracy, unravel public services and favor the taxation of the powerful. The false and xenophobic threat of a "great replacement", the repression of social protests, anarcho-socialist alternatives and the complicity between the traditional right, the extreme center and the extreme right, as well as the fabrication of a demonized left, treated as a vector of intellectual terrorism and calling for a deluge of state propaganda. All these recent examples are just a few drops of water in a sea of horrors distracting attention from the methodical destruction of our planet life.
Faced with growing and popular resentment against those who plunder the planet with impunity, the neo fascists are riding the wave better than anyone. Yet we know their game: on the one hand they blow on the embers of social discontent and an increasingly generalized revolt, on the other hand they never question the economic system and the authority of its masters. There is an obvious reason for this, the objective is and will always remain to take over as the symbol of order, promising to go ever further. The already hegemonic neoliberal system adapts well to these new horses, infusing it with an additional welcome nationalist soul in these times of ecological questioning.

Conclusion #

To return to our introduction, the world of the third millennium that is presented to us so innovative and so futuristic thus resembles to be mistaken for the world before-before, in its most vile depths. Faced with the deep and existential threat embodied by climate change and the chronic inability to imagine a model of society that accommodates planetary limits, in a victimial reversal the neo fascists constantly hammer home their fear of a green dictatorship, of these “Khmer Verts” who would take away this freedom so dear to them. This fantasized and constant fabric of the enemy is a technique as old as the world, making invisible as usual a much more concrete and much more dangerous reality. Fascism is already there, with us, renewed.

Thank you for reading this article, I hope it has given you food for thought. It is the first in a series of three articles and will be followed by "The illusion of global negotiations" and finally "Regenerative imaginaries".

See you soon!

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