Tuesday 2 July 2024

Zizek seeing Fascists under the bed

The always silly Slavoj Zizek writes in Project Syndicate
With mainstream parties and politicians already preparing to accommodate the far right following this month's European Parliament election, the axiom of post-World War II European democracy has been quietly abandoned. “No collaboration with fascists" is being replaced by a tacit acceptance of them.

There was never any such axiom. At one time the German Communists thought their real enemy was the Social Democrats whom they labeled 'Social Fascists' and that sense persisted on the Far Left even into my own youth. True, after the War, there was a brief period when there was talk of boycotting Franco and excluding all pro-Axis elements from administrations across the Continent. But this didn't last. In Italy, the MSI reorganized itself quickly and supported the Christian Democrats. It's lineal descendants were part of Berlusconi's coalition. The current Italian PM is of pure MSI pedigree. In other words, it could be seen as the senior partner in a coalition with Christian Democrats. Thus, in the country which invented the term 'Fascist', there has been almost continuous collaboration with Fascists. 

Something similar, but more tacit, happened in West Germany. Certain Nazis rose under Christian Democratic administrations.  Hans Globke was the most notorious example.  Under Hitler, he was high up in the 'Office of Jewish Affairs'. After the War he became chief of Adenaeur's Federal Chancery. Another example was the Christian Democrat Kurt Georg Kiesinger - a Nazi Party member who began his rise in the bureaucracy under Gobbels and Ribbentrop. He became Chancellor in 1966 after entering into an alliance with the Socialist Willy Brandt. According to the German Government records, by the end of the 1950s, 77 per cent of staff of the Ministry of Defense were former NSDAP members, 50 per cent in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and one-third of the Foreign Office. A total of twenty-seven
Chancellors and federal ministers had been members of NSDAP, Sturmabteilung (SA) or SS. An example is the long serving Vice Chancellor & Minister of the Exterior Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

In France, there is a line of descent from Doriot's collaborationist PFF through Poujade to Le Pen. Interestingly, Mitterrand fondled Poujade who turned against Le Pen. But then Mitterrand had started off on the far-Right and had worked for the Vichy while also being part of the Resistance. He came to power in alliance with the Communists. It seems everybody was collaborating with everybody else save those whom they were supposed to be collaborating with. 

LJUBLJANA – The surprise in this month’s European Parliament elections was that the outcome everyone expected really did come to pass. To paraphrase a classic scene from the Marx Brothers: Europe may be talking and acting like it is moving to the radical right, but don’t let that fool you; Europe really is moving to the radical right.

The Left shat the bed. The Center had to bunk-up with the Right. Maybe the Right can reduce the Center to a junior partner. What is more likely is that it too will shit the bed. The trouble is that everybody now thinks the bed is a toilet. Collaboration is about rolling around in each others shit. 

Why should we insist on this interpretation? Because most of the mainstream media has sought to downplay it. The message we keep hearing is: “Sure, Marine Le Pen, Giorgia Meloni, and Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) occasionally flirt with fascist motifs, but there is no reason to panic, because they still respect democratic rules and institutions once in power.”

So, there are no genuine Fascists around. Immigration can be curbed and borders sealed without a fucking Fuhrer. True, the virtue signalers may howl, but the truth is they aren't too keen on the good folk from Boko Haram moving in next door.  

Yet this domestication of the radical right should trouble us all, because it signals a readiness by traditional conservative parties to go along with the new movement.

Traditional conservative parties implode when they do stupid shit- e.g. the British Tory party- in an attempt to outflank 'insurgent' populist leaders like Farage. Will Europe clamp down on immigration? To some extent sure. But there are plenty of other economic and environmental challenges to worry about. I suppose we will have to import lots of smart Taiwanese people or whatever to fix things.  

The message of this election is clear. The political divide in most EU countries is no longer between the moderate right and the moderate left,

That isn't a divide. That is the definition of centrism. 

but between the conventional right, embodied by the big winner, the European People’s Party (comprising Christian democrats, liberal-conservatives, and traditional conservatives)

which had been happy to be in bed with Orban till about five years ago 

and the neo-fascist right represented by Le Pen, Meloni, AfD, and others.

The solution is for everybody to agree to get tough on immigration. The big question is whether Europe can put together an effective army and seal its borders.  

The question now is whether the EPP will collaborate with neo-fascists.

Sure. Why not? After the War, the ex-Fascists were a junior partner in an anti-Commie coalition. But the Left declined all by itself. The Berlin Wall fell by itself. There was a period of rising affluence but then there was a disastrous anti-Muslim war which itself has fueled immigration into a Continent fearful of recession, climate change, terrorism, and its own shadow.  

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is spinning the outcome as a triumph of the EPP against both “extremes,” yet the new parliament will include no left-wing parties whose extremism is even distantly comparable to that of the far right.

Curbing immigration is doable. Woke shite isn't. As for doctrinaire Stalinists, they serve but to remind us of stand up routines by Alexei Sayle back in the Eighties.  

Such a “balanced” view from the EU’s top official sends an ominous signal.

No. It is reassuring. There aren't really any Fascists goose-stepping around hailing some Fuhrer or Il Duce. In Italy there is a nice blonde lady. In France, as Premier, there may be handsome young fellow, with some Algerian but mostly Italian heritage. These aren't really scary figures. 

When we talk about fascism today, we should not confine ourselves to the developed West. A similar kind of politics has been ascendant in much of the Global South as well. In his study of China’s development, the Italian Marxist historian Domenico Losurdo (also known for his rehabilitation of Stalin) stresses the distinction between economic and political power. In pursuing his “reforms,” Deng Xiaoping knew that elements of capitalism are necessary to unleash a society’s productive forces; but he insisted that political power should remain firmly in the hands of the Communist Party of China (as the self-proclaimed representative of the workers and farmers).

The Chinese saw what happened when Gorby surrendered Party control of the economy. It was obvious there would be a 'scissors crisis'. This had nothing to do with Fascism, Nazism or the Spanish fucking Inquisition.  

This approach has deep historical roots.

No. China adopted a strategy which had worked for the previous two decades in places like Taiwan and South Korea. These were shallow historical roots.  

For over a century, China has embraced the “pan-Asianism”

No. Japan proclaimed that shite. What they meant was that they should conquer Korea, China, Indo-China, India etc. to create a 'Co-Prosperity sphere' where they would become prosperous and everbody else would be used as slave labor.  

that emerged toward the end of the nineteenth century as a reaction against Western imperialist domination and exploitation. As historian Viren Murthy explains, this project has always been driven by a rejection not of Western capitalism, but of Western liberal individualism and imperialism.

Sun Yat Sen was liberal enough. The problem was that the Army Chief quickly grabbed power and declared himself Emperor. The only way to rule China was to fucking conquer it. Elections had no magic power.  

By drawing on pre-modern traditions and institutions, pan-Asianists argued, Asian societies could organize their own modernization to achieve even greater dynamism than the West.

No. By working harder and doing lots of scientific research any country can overtake any other country. Bleating about Fascism or Democracy or whatever is a fucking waste of time.  

While Hegel himself

was a deeply ignorant cunt 

saw Asia as a domain of rigid order that does not allow for individualism (free subjectivity), pan-Asianists proposed a new Hegelian conceptual framework.

Nonsense! Okakura was Fenelossa's student. Hegel had been translated but he was received through the filter of Herbert Spencer. The Manchus followed Tibetan Buddhism. The Japanese started studying Sanskrit and Kawi so as to use a different strain of Buddhism- maybe the Olcott kind revived in India by the Theosophists- to gain hegemony. Indeed, this is how Nishida and the Kyoto School were first received in the West. However, it was Okakura's 'Book of Tea' which came out a few years earlier, which became a best seller. But Japan already had its own mystique based on its painters and samurais and jiu jitsu- which even Sherlock Holmes learned- and, for vegans, tofu.  

Since the freedom offered by Western individualism

American individualism- maybe. Europe was either regimented or as poor as shit. Still, the Japs did model their Parliament on European models.  

ultimately negates order and leads to social disintegration, they argued, the only way to preserve freedom is to channel it into a new collective agency.

National agencies. A national army and national bureaucracy rather than feudal lords with their own armies and bureaucracies.  

One early example of this model can be found in Japan’s militarization and colonialist expansion before WWII.

There was none after it. Militarization and colonization goes back to the late Nineteenth Century.  

But historical lessons are soon forgotten. In the search for solutions to big problems, many in the West could be newly attracted to the Asian model of subsuming individualistic drives and the longing for meaning in a collective project.

India is in Asia. Just as nobody in the West is dressing up as Samurai, so too, nobody is putting on a dhoti and wandering around with a milch goat.  

Pan-Asianism tended to oscillate between its socialist and fascist versions (with the line between the two not always clear), reminding us that “anti-imperialism” is not as innocent as it may appear.

No. Asians of all types wanted the Europeans to fuck the fuck off. Anti-imperialism is as innocent as telling foreigners to stop ruling your country and to fuck the fuck off.  

In the first half of the twentieth century, Japanese and German fascists regularly presented themselves as defenders against American, British, and French imperialism,

No. They presented themselves as deserving of an equal place in the Sun. It is a different matter that they might give some money to revolutionaries in British India, etc. Vichy regimes in French Indo-China collaborated with the Japanese. The Dutch, in Indonesia, did not.  

and one now finds far-right nationalist politicians taking similar positions vis-à-vis the European Union.

Nonsense! Far-right politicians are neither clamoring for colonies in Africa nor promising to help the indigenous people of Kilburn to throw out their cruel Anglo Saxon rulers.  

The same tendency is discernible in post-Deng China, which political scientist A. James Gregor classifies as “a variant of contemporary fascism”:

There is no contemporary Fascism. Why not say it is a variant on contemporary Zoroastrianism?  

a capitalist economy controlled and regulated by an authoritarian state whose legitimacy is framed in the terms of ethnic tradition and national heritage.

China imitated South Korea and Taiwan. Their affluence, however, meant they seemed to be becoming more like other OECD countries.  

That is why Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a point of referring to China’s long, continuous history stretching back to antiquity.

So did Nixon. China has a very very fucking long history.  

Harnessing economic impulses for the sake of nationalistic projects is the very definition of fascism,

No. It is the definition of Nationalism. Fascists have a duty to beat Commies- which is why they were once found useful.  

and similar political dynamics can also be found in India, Russia, Turkey, and other countries.

like Canada and Norway.  

It is not hard to see why this model has gained traction.

A model which fits every fucking polity in existence isn't a model. It has no explanatory or predictive power. Why not just say 'Fascists breathe. Guess who else breathes? Chairman Xi! Xi is a Fascist though he is a Communist. But Biden too breathes. He too is a Fascist. Why is Fascism gaining so much traction?'  

While the Soviet Union suffered a chaotic disintegration, the CPC pursued economic liberalization but still maintained tight control. Thus, leftists who are sympathetic toward China praise it for keeping capital subordinated, in contrast to the US and European systems, where capital reigns supreme.

Who gives a fuck what 'leftists' or other lunatics are sympathetic to? They have no power.  

But the new fascism is also supported by more recent trends. Beyond Le Pen, another big winner of the European elections is Fidias Panayiotou, a Cypriot YouTube personality who previously gained attention for his efforts to hug Elon Musk.

The man does not matter in the slightest. Neither does his country- unless Turkey invades again.  The question is, will Europe help Cyprus with its refugee problem? 

While waiting outside Twitter’s headquarters for his target, he encouraged his followers to “spam” Musk’s mother with his request. Eventually, Musk did meet and hug Panayiotou, who went on to announce his candidacy to the European Parliament. Running on an anti-partisan platform, he won 19.4% of the popular vote and secured himself a seat.

Hugging is Fascist. Did you know that Mussolini used to hug his Mummy? Ban hugging immediately! 

Similar figures have also cropped up in France, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, and elsewhere, all justifying their candidacies with the “leftist” argument that since democratic politics has become a joke, clowns might as well run for office.

An actual clown, Beppe Grillo, led the 5 Star Movement which formed an administration in Italy. Zelensky too is a comedian. 

This is a dangerous game.

Dangerous for Putin. Don't think a witty Jew can't fight.  

If enough people despair of emancipatory politics

because it is stupid shit 

and accept the withdrawal into buffoonery, the political space for neo-fascism widens.

Only because 'emancipatory politics' thinks everybody and his cat is a Fascist.  

Reclaiming that space requires serious, authentic action.

You can't reclaim what you never had. 

For all my disagreements with French President Emmanuel Macron,

What would worry us is if he agreed with Macron on anything 

I think he was correct to respond to the French far right’s victory by dissolving the National Assembly and calling for new legislative elections.

A case in point.  

His announcement caught almost everyone off guard, and it is certainly risky. But it is a risk worth taking. Even if Le Pen wins and decides who will be the next prime minister, Macron, as president, will retain the ability to mobilize a new majority against the government.

No. He will be a lame duck if Le Pen's party gets a big enough majority.  

We must take the fight to the new fascism as forcefully and as fast as possible.

Back in 1956, Sir Anthony Eden, the British Prime Minister, convinced himself that Nasser was actually Hitler. So, together with the French and the Israeli's Eden launched an invasion of the Canal Zone. Both the Soviets and the Americans gave Eden a good scolding and so the three aggressors had to return home with their tail between their legs. 

Macron isn't Eden. He is young. He doesn't have a foot in the grave. He isn't going to start seeing Nazis under the bed and Fascists in the coal cellar. 

Europe needs France to take the lead in creating a European Army. But, if Europe can't seal its borders what is the point of such an Army? The Americans may give you weapons to repel invaders. Who will help you against immigrants who may have very good historical reasons for hating you?  

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