Everyone these days is concerned about fascism. The liberal factions have won what was previously thought to be an unthinkable level of obedience to extreme measures by using the fear of fascists, which, without Trump, has had to find new boogeymen. While the FBI has been busy manipulating and bribing poor rednecks into some caricature the media can spin into a fascist threat, it is the phantom virus and the unvaccinated that are now supplying the most effective excuse imaginable for setting up a controlled society.But is this Fascism? What does that word even mean, and why do both sides throw it at each other, seldom addressing the resemblance their own side has to common conceptions of the label?
Well if it is just the merger of the State and Capital, as the original Fascists described it, then that pretty ubiquitously fits the structure of contemporary Capitalism, no matter what the style. Is it just a synonym for totalitarianism? Popular conservatives seem to use it that way, seldom distinguishing between socialism and fascism since all that matters to them is that modern liberals have departed from their fairy tale ideal of classical liberalism and individualism. To the progressive liberal, fascism is all about tone. Not one popular progressive cares that a majority of blacks are about to lose access to most of NYC because the language justifying this appeals to a supposedly neutral system of scientific truth that has nothing to do with values or race.
But to all contemporary liberals, classical/conservative, neo, progressive, or otherwise, fascism is the necessary antagonist liberalism needs to justify the seeming contradiction of anti-populism and supposedly democratic rule, and fulfill its fate as a particular technocratic brand of power. That brand needs to demonize not just the emotional tone of conservative populism, but any philosophy or truth that has not been emptied out of content and turned into an abstract system or data set, to be managed by faceless bureaucrats, but marketed as the one true system that once was, or—one day—will or can be free from power, if we just negate the fascists hard enough.
This brand of power needs us to demonize any actual thinking, or any knowledge or view of knowledge, that would allow it to be understood and critiqued by non-experts, because that would be something like true democracy, because it would have something like true transparency. But having leaders and values you can critique is the opposite of what power wants, so it has you demonize anything that looks like power, because now that it controls society through a system that has successfully distributed itself into opacity, its only challenge is the visible, the understandable, the evaluatable. Only the calculable gets a pass, because it is a pure function of the system.
Some people say our democratic system is morphing into a liberal version of fascism, but this obfuscates important distinctions. There is no equivalency between historical fascism and today’s technocracy. Because, while the frightening dystopia we are descending into is indeed being fueled by a fear of the other, its ideology gains its power from an explicit antifascism.
So any resistance must face the fact that scapegoating is not some eccentric tactic of explicit authoritarians, but the basic structure of propaganda and negative power. It is only challenged by changing this logic—by thinking and critiquing without a naive belief that our position or truth is pure and exempt from the dynamics of value and power, and with the knowledge that any attempt to purify our truth from power, leads us to an even greater enslavement to a truth over which we have no power. Not because we have reached the objectively valid and independently real, but because we have ossified an arbitrary system that negates all non-arbitrary value as well as any attempt at evaluation not determined by the internal conflict within the system.