Category Archives: Death of Truth

We are Doomed

 

Not every one likes Bill Maher.  I know he is the worst interviewer on television.  Often he does not let his guests speak, but speaks up for them instead.  As well, when he lets them speak, he has some very interesting guests from all ends of the political spectrum from Steve Bannon to Nancy Pelosi.  And he sometimes makes some very interesting points.

For example, he was the first one to predict that Trump would never resign after he was elected president. He said that almost immediately after the election in 2016!  Now every one knows that. But not many said that in 2016. But Maher has also appreciated, as few others do, that this refusal now has important consequences.  Americans seem to be tolerating, if not encouraging,  this refusal even though the peaceful transfer of power has for long been considered the most important characteristic of democracy. It is what distinguishes democracy from autocracy.

And now millions of Americans have demonstrated clearly that they don’t think this element of democracy is important. They don’t care! I have found this astonishing. Many have not. Many shrug their shoulders as if it didn’t matter.

Maher said “Well we had a good run.”  On November 8, 2022 Americans had a chance to vote for democracy. As Joe Biden and many Democrats said, “Democracy is on the ballot.”  And they were right. And it didn’t matter to millions Americans. Inflation was more important than democracy. Bill Maher predicted this 4 days before the election as if it was a foregone conclusion. This is what he said,

“Tuesday is the election and I know I should tell you to vote in the most important election ever. So, O.K., yes. You should vote.  And it should be for the one party that still stands for democracy preservation. But it’s also a waste of breath because anyone who believes that is already voting and anybody who needs to learn that isn’t watching and no one in America can be persuaded about anything anymore anyway.”

On this point Maher is right.  No one will change their mind. Trump was right when he said he could stand in Times Square, murder someone and it wouldn’t make any difference to his supporters. They are that determined to vote for him no matter what he says or does. that gives him a lot of rope.  Look at the mountains of evidence revealing his nefarious deeds. Yet, his supporters are filled with religious devotion that cannot be altered. No one can be convinced out of a theological devotion. That in itself is enough to kill democracy.

Maher gave another pertinent example—the January 6th hearings. Those hearings provided Americans with an overwhelmingly convincing narrative that Donald Trump had no respect for democracy as he led the charge against democracy and his devoted followers followed. As Maher said,

“The January 6th hearings it turned out changed nobody’s mind. Democrat Jamie Raskin said the hearings “will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House.”  No that was Hurricane Ian. Hearings roof not blown. The Committee did a masterful job laying out the case but we live in Partisan American now. So it’s a little like doing stand-up when half the crowd only speaks Mandarin. No matter how good the material is it’s not going to go over. After all the hearings the percentage of Americans who thought Trump did nothing wrong. Went up 3 points! That’s America now.”

 

Again, Maher is right. The truth did not matter! All that mattered was that millions of people are devoted to Trump and nothing—absolutely nothing—will turn them away from their religious leader. The overwhelming narrative is irrelevant.

I am a Canadian; I have no dog in this hunt. But I do. America is the leader of the modern world. Maybe not for much longer, but for now that is true. If America coughs the rest of the world catches a cold.

 I am posting this as the election is drawing to a close. I don’t know any results. I hope Maher is wrong; if fear he is right.

Are we doomed?  Let’s see what happens tonight.

Thoughtlessness

 Hannah Arendt also wrote a book about the trial of Adolf Eichmann. She used that famous expression “the banality of evil” to describe him and his kind.  He was a man who facilitated horrid acts of violence against the Jews.  But Arendt said what set him apart was his “thoughtlessness.” To her he looked and acted like a boring accountant.

She had been shocked by how glib he was in court. He talked about exterminating millions of Jews as if it was nothing. What was there for him to admit to, he asked. He suggested, as did Himmler, that they could be reconciled with the Jews.  They had a sense of elation when they considered this possibility. But the feelings were not real. It was, in Arendt’s phrase, “an outrageous cliché.”  She said, “it was a self-fabricated stock phrase, as devoid of reality as those clichés by which people had lived for twelve years.”  As Carol Brightman said, “Clichés and conventional sentiments functioned as armor blocking the consciousness of the accused at just those painful junctures where painful intrusions of reality threatened.” These are some of the enemies of thought. In fact, during the trial Arendt had noticed how Eichmann was not perturbed by his starling contradictions. He was certainly not engaged in thinking. He was not stupid. He was just completely thoughtless.

Arendt was stunned that such horrific crimes could be committed without consciousness. She said she disagreed with Kant, who, according to her believed that stupidity was caused by a wicked heart. She contended instead that “absence of thought is not stupidity, it can be found in highly intelligent people, and a wicked heart is not its cause, it is probably the other way around, that wickedness may be caused by absence of thought.”

According to her teaching assistant Kohn, Arendt believed, as I believe, that “thinking conditions people to resist evildoing.”  Most ethicists do not accept this, but I find it profoundly compelling. I believe, like the American novelist Henry James, that ethics is high reason. Where there is no reason there is no ethics. this is what the sleep of reason is all about.

Arendt was clear when she said that everyone could think. Of course, that does not mean that everyone will think. You didn’t have to have an education to think. She was not elitist.

Arendt got mad when Jews accused her of being self-hating and anti-Jewish as a result of her book on Eichmann. She said that all she wanted to do was to think about what he had done. She wanted to understand him and that was not the same as forgiving him or being soft on the Nazis. It was her job as a philosopher to think about these things. And she thought that was very important. In the film about her, Arendt summed up her thinking this way,

“Trying to understand is not the same as forgiveness. It is my responsibility to try to understand. It is the responsibility of anyone who tries to put pen to paper on this subject. Since Socrates and Plato we have understood thinking to be a silent dialogue between me and myself. In refusing to be a person Eichmann utterly surrendered that single most defining human quality, that of being able to think. And consequently he was no longer capable of making moral judgments. This inability to think created the possibility for many ordinary men to commit evil deeds on a gigantic scale, the like of which one had never seen before. It is true I have considered these questions in a philosophical way. The manifestation of the mind of thought is not knowledge, but the ability to tell right from wrong; beautiful from ugly. And I hope that thinking gives people the strength to prevent catastrophes in these rare moments when the chips are down.  ”

 

For Hannah Arendt, what thinking meant was to train the mind to go wandering.  I love that concept. It brings me back to my concept of meandering.  I love to meander–physically and mentally. That is the essence of free thinking (and there is really no other kind) to meander through thoughts without regard to preconceived ideas, ideologies, or prejudices. Only the free mind can think. I said that. But that is a concept directly inspired by Arendt.

Arendt’s first major book was On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She thought there was something new or modern about totalitarianism. It was not like anything we had seen before. It presented profound change from everything that preceded it. It was much more than tyranny or dictatorship. It cut at individual will. It cut at our individual identity. In fact, according to one of Arendt’s most profound insights, totalitarianism cuts at our capacity to think.

As always, I ask myself how this is relevant to our times. There are not many totalitarian regimes around right now, but there are movements—various forms of populist movements—that tend in the same direction. I think often of the American near fascists—i.e. the Trumpsters, the insurrectionists on Capitol Hill that were looking to hang Mike Pence only because their leader told them that he had been betrayed by Pence.  That was enough to set off ordinary people looking to hang the vice-president of their country! Had they lost the capacity to think? To me it seemed that way.

The Origins of Totalitarianism: Hannah Arendt and the War on Truth

 

This is what Hannah Arendt said in her magnificent book published in 1951 called the Origins of Totalitarianism:

“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more than adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experience deal to human beings and their expectations. The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda—before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world—lies in the its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.”

 

This is exactly what Hitler did, Putin did, and Trump is trying to do right now. It is interesting to me that National Review the American conservative journal ranked it #15 in the on its list of the greatest non-fiction books of the 20th century.

 

It is astonishingly to me how Arendt could have been writing about Trumpsters in the early 1950s. It is so incredibly prescient. These words can be applied precisely to them decades after the words were written, showing once again that Arendt was the pre-eminent political philosopher of the 20th century.

Hannah Arendt paid attention to the people who supported totalitarian movements. She did not dismiss them like Hillary Clinton did. This is what she said,

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of a common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals.”

 

For example, with Donald Trump many people, like me, were often surprised that the masses would support him because it wasn’t really in their best interests. He obviously didn’t really care about the masses. He carried about his rich buddies (to the extent that he cared about anyone). The masses are the people who don’t fit into any organization. His fans just wanted to join a group that would wreck things. It was the same in Nazi Germany where, we should never forget, Nazis were originally elected to power. Arendt noticed this about Nazi Germans and Communists. As she said,

“It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention.”

 

In other words the Nazis and Communists found supporters among the “basket of deplorables” of Europe. Just like Trump did in the US in 2016. No one paid attention to these people before in Germany, Russia or the US. That made things convenient. These people were never involved in or even cared about politics before. As a result, the demagogues could use entirely new methods of political propaganda. As Arendt, said they had “indifference to the arguments of their opponents.” Just like the Trumpsters.

As a result the mass movements of Europe put themselves out of the political system and against the political system. As a result

“they found a membership that had never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore, they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistent preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

 

Again this could not have described Trump and Trumpsters better. Remember they were equally hostile to Republicans and Democrats. Trump only used the  Republican party  because it was convenient. He was never a Republican. He was never a conservative. His ideology, again to the extent he had one, was fascist racism  (white supremacy) and nationalism. As Arendt said,

“Thus when totalitarian movements invaded Parliament with their contempt for parliamentary government, they merely appeared inconsistent: actually they succeeded in convincing the people at large that parliamentary majorities were spurious and did not necessarily correspond to the realities of the country”…

 

Once again Arendt prophesied Trump and his supporters in astonishingly specific terms.

This is a book worth reading!

Hannah Arendt: Reason and Tyranny

 

I read a number of books by Hannah Arendt about 40 years ago as young lad in university. I continued to read after I left university because I enjoyed her insights so much.  I loved her books then; I love them now. She really understood tyranny, fascism and totalitarianism better than anyone. For quite a few years after that, I thought those issues were behind us. We had solved them. I was wrong. Unfortunately those issues have become important again.

Hannah Arendt was a brilliant political theorist/philosopher, born in Russia and a student of the legendary German philosopher Martin Heidegger. She wrote about what she had learned from the European political tyrants of the 20th century, particularly Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. I particularly enjoyed her book The Origins of Totalitarianism which she wrote in 1951. How could a book on political theory written 70 years ago be relevant to today? I think it is profoundly relevant.

Hannah Arendt understood die-hard fans. She understood fanatical zeal. She understood the followers of totalitarian rulers or populists. As she said, “the ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false no longer exists.”

 

To this the Canadian philosopher Henry Giroux recently said, “Today nothing could be more true than that.” Arendt also said, “thoughtlessness is the essence of fascism.” In a modern America where reason has been abandoned by so many, this is a deeply disturbing thing to consider. Is America on the path to fascism? It may not there yet, but is that where it is headed? More and more of us are convinced that they are well on the way to fascism if they are not there already.

Our species has impressive powers of reasoning. It is what sets us apart from most species. Yet we give up our advantage all the time. Why do we do that? Why do we allow reason to go to sleep? More importantly, why do we do that when it is clearly against our own interests to do that? That is a very big question. One I would like to answer.

It is crucially important not to  abdicate our power of reasoning. If ever we give up our rationale for beliefs we are doomed. In my opinion, we must always insist that all beliefs are based on evidence and reason.

Our reasoning power may be weak. It is certainly far from perfect. For each and every one of us our power of reasoning is flawed, but we never have a better tool to justify belief. Any belief.

Reason goes to sleep whenever we don’t base our beliefs on reason and evidence. For example, the bars to reason are many and varied and include the following among many others: faith substituted for reason, indoctrination, fear, prejudice or bias, laziness, ignorance, herd instinct or wish to conform, wishful thinking, ideological blinkers, and advertising or propaganda.

All of these substitutes for reasoning are dangerous. In politics, as we are finding out now again, as people did in Europe in the 1930s, when we abandon reason we put everything in jeopardy. Abandoning reason is an invitation to tyranny.

Trump trumps truth

 

I don’t know about you but I have been mesmerized by the House Select committee hearings into the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2020. The house committee members have been impressively methodical in their presentation. To me it is like watching a snake.

 

Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr, who had been a loyal Trump supporter right to the end when the lies from Trump became unbearable, said he was personally demoralized by what happened because in the past he had always been able to talk sense into President Trump when he got some crazy ideas. But this time, before January 6th he could not persuade Trump that he was wrong. As he told the House Select Committee, Barr reached the conclusion that Trump was “detached from reality.” Those are pretty strong words about the American president entrusted with the nuclear codes that could set off World War III and lead to the destruction of society. And those are words from one of Trump’s most reliable and loyalty Cabinet ministers!

 

Asha Rangappa is a Senior Lecturer at the Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a former Associate Dean at Yale Law School who served as a Special Agent with the FBI was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, disagreed with Barr, but what she said was perhaps even more alarming.  She said,

“I don’t think he was detached from reality, I think he understood the maxim that a lie can get half way around the world before the truth puts its boots on. His interest was in promoting a narrative as soon as he could, whether or not it was true.”

 

I agree. Trump is not a liar, he is a bullshitter. By that I mean, he actually doesn’t care if a statement is true or not, he just cares if the statement is useful to him. As Rangappa said, “In fact often a lie is more effective that the truth.” Trump has groomed the American public since before the election when he said if he lost the election it was rigged. He wanted the American public to be receptive to his Big Lie. And he was surprisingly effective. Millions of Americans came to believe it not only without evidence but against the evidence. That is why he told Department of Justice officials, ‘Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the other Republicans.” That is why he asked the Secretary of State for Georgia to “just find me 11,870 votes” which was one more than he needed to win the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. Trump didn’t care about fraud, he didn’t care about the truth; he just cared about wining. For Trump it is always about wining. This is the essence of Trump wining at all costs.

 

As Rangappa said, “He is trying to craft a narrative and get it out there, not because he is interested in actual fraud, but he wants to paint the perception of fraud. We have seen this before with Trump. It is very much like his conversation with Ukrainian president Zelensky” that led to the first impeachment trial. He wanted the president to announce that he was investigating Joe Biden or his son to create the perception that there was fraud.

He realized that all he needed was the perception of fraud. Millions of Americans, like Trump himself, did not care about reality either. That is what is really disturbing about the events surrounding January 6th.

 

Ron DeSantis: King of the Kulture War

 

According to Rick Wilson a former Republican strategist who became an anti-Trumpster, “Ron DeSantis (the governor of Florida) is the undisputed king of the culture war in America now.” I find that comment sickeningly shocking. It is sickening because I fear Wilson is right. In addition to advancing his Don’t Say Gay legislation now he is accusing the Disney Corporation, an icon in America and Florida in particular, of being guilty of pedophile grooming. Again this is part of the right-wing hysteria about protecting children from perverts and liberals.   He is making it illegal in Florida to criticize the country for slavery just because it makes some white people uncomfortable, when they ought to be uncomfortable for their country. As if you can pretend that racism–even the most vicious form of racism, namely slavery, never happened. Now he has passed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country.

 

Those are  pretty big pillars in the Kulture war in America.  And according to Wilson that makes DeSantis the king of the war. No other conservative in America, even Donald Trump can claim a collection of scalps like that. He is doing this, says Wilson, because he and his advisors have determined that this is the way to the Republican nomination for President in 2024.  Can he even defeat the Trumpster-in-Chief?

 

As if that is not enough, Wilson says, “The only thing the Republican base now cares about is the Kulture War.” When Wilson was a Republican strategist they did have a coherent ideology whether you agreed with it or not: limited government, individual freedom, free markets, and the rule of law. They were never evenly applied but they were real policies. But as Wilson said,  “at least the principle of the Republican Party wasn’t lets try burn down Walt Disney because they are secretly trying to groom children for a pedophile ring under the Magic Kingdom.” At least in those days, unlike now,  their principle did not require the complete abandonment of reason and truth.

 According to Rick Wilson, “This craziness which has infected the party is very much what Ron DeSantis is running on.”  The base of course loves this.  No doubt many other Republicans will jump on this band wagon for the upcoming mid-term elections.

DeSantis who grew up in Florida, went to the Navy, went to Yale, and became a graduate of Harvard Law School  as a result of which he was viewed as a classic conservative and a serious politician. At least until recently that was true.  Now he has been downing crazy pills. Of course the current Republican Party has very little room for serious conservatives. The current Republican Party is deeply ensconced in FantasyLand.

 

Wilson believes DeSantis has moved so far into LaLaLand because of the influence of Christina Pushaw. She is deep Alt-right and she is very ambitious and influential in the Republican Party in Florida. To her trolling and the social war stuff is all that matters, says Wilson. According to Wilson, she helped transform DeSantis into an “alt-right, trolling, cultural warrior of the first degree.” He is now Trump’s main contender.  There are a number of Republicans who are trying to be “Trump without all the warts. Or Trump without all the moral and cognitive deficits.” A lot of those candidates vying for Trumps leadership position have said they would deliver “Trump without all the crazy stuff, but it turns out many of them want the crazy stuff.”

According to Wilson,

 

“Because of Pushaw in the most distilled and perfect form, the conspiracy theory QAnon aspect of the Republican Party today requires that they be constantly poked and stimulated with terrifying imaginary demons. Whether it’s critical race theory or pedophile groomers or big tech or anything of the things they imagine are going to destroy their lives, he has become incredibly adept at framing these things so that only he can deal with. That is the same thing we heard in 2015 and 2016 from Trump. ‘Only I can fix it…Only I will be the avatar of your rage and anger.”

 

These Kultural War appeals are powerful to the working class of Florida, says Wilson. I think this is what politics is now all about in the US. The Kulture wars are supreme. Nothing else matters (except inflation).

 

Lies, damn lies, and conspiracy theories.

Mark Twain got it only partly right. It is true that there are  lies, damn  lies and statistics, but there are also  lies, damn lies, and conspiracy theories. One of the most horrid conspiracy theories in America history is one spread by the incomparable Alex Jones. And that is saying a lot because there are so many of them!  As Barry Craig said, “Alex Jones is so repugnant he makes Judas Iscariot look good.

 

This is one of Jones’s crimes against humanity: after learning of one of the most horrid mass shootings in American history when a lone gunman entered an elementary school in a quiet town in Connecticut—Newton, he went on a shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook School where he murdered 20 first graders and 6 teachers. Then when the parents of those children were suffering immeasurably, Jones added salt to the wounds, by taking the plain and uncomplicated truth of that well documented series of crimes and challenged those parents that it was all a hoax and that they were paid actors!  Jones spread these outrageous and putrid lies just to gain publicity so he could sell more of his cheap goods online.

Craig was reviewing a book by Elizabeth Williamson, called Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth when he said this:

“Almost as criminal as those killings, says Williamson, was Jones’ unconscionable misuse of his far right and virulent social media platform, Infowars. With the dead children still lying in the schoolyard, he said the shootings were faked and the grieving parents nothing more than actors in a conspiracy staged by government to support the need for more gun control.”

 

In other words, as Craig said, they were “the undeserving people Jones tortured for years.”  It is not surprising that Craig called this a “degenerate reaction.” Craig also wrote this:

“In his trademark bombast, Jones called on his viewers — largely conspiracy believers — to descend on Newtown in outrage to bully and harass the people in this bogus massacre. It not only worked (and terrified the community), it made Jones rich hustling overpriced merchandise on his program.”

 

The  thirst for vile baubles appears endless. I heard he earns about $65 million per year selling lies and junk! But this is not the most astonishing part.  Here is the part that is really difficult to comprehend: Despite the degenerate part Donald Trump the leader of Trumpism declared his approval of Jones shortly after his election and commented how well respected he was! Only among fools and charlatans was he respected, but that did not matter to the Donald. Trump liked Jones because he was so much like himself. Both men have no compunction about spreading lies provided they serve their private purposes.

Williamson made some interesting comments about Jones and conspiracy theories. First, she drew attention to a fascinating statement by columnist Richard Grenier who defined “conspiracy theories as sophistication of the ignorant.” She also pointed out Jones’ conspiracy theories went well beyond harming the families of the victims. As she said,

 “Jones’ success in making lies true and truth lies encouraged conspiracy theorists in every major conflict after Sandy Hook: numerous shootings, the COVID-19 pandemic, the oxymoron of “alternative facts,” Donald Trump’s bogus claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him and last year’s assault on the U.S. Capitol building which he challenged his followers to carry out to “stop the steal.” She says Trump is much like Jones in that he convinces people what they (already) want to believe.”

 

Williamson reported how the hapless parents of murdered elementary students had to put up with angry and aggressive conspiracy theorists harassing them with leers attacking them like “an army of swarming and aggressive news media,” constantly demanding that they relive their nightmare and then spreading lies about them. Finally, they fought back against the malicious lies in court by suing Jones and the manufacturer of the gun. As Craig said,

“While millions of Americans continue to wallow in ludicrous conspiracy theories fanned by liars that make it sound like the truth, Sandy Hook’s victims of this mendacity are also getting back at their perpetrators through court decisions they initiated that are denting their detractors’ bank accounts. By 2018 some 10 Sandy Hook families were suing Jones… He has already admitted he was wrong; the parents recently turned down his first monetary offer to settle their defamation suit against him. In addition, he is being fined by the courts at a daily rate for failing to co-operate. That bill alone is over $500,000 and counting. The parents may well end up with millions, but it’s still in the courts.”

 

Of course, as Craig said,

“(Canada is not immune to the same kind of viral lies. The Senate has been flooded by conspiracy theory claims that changes to basic income legislation is the work of a shady global elite.) It seems not only news travels fast — so does nonsense.”

 

We Canadians have little right to feel superiority to our American neighbours. Conspiracy theories are a plague on us all. One of the things they do is spread mistrust helping to dismantle society which needs trust to survive.

 

 

Confederates

 

Although the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 like the second in 2022, was advertised by the Russians to be  a battle against fascism, as everyone outside of Russia understood, it is interesting how many fascists from the around the world support the Russian fascists. In 2014 The American white supremacists Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, and David Duke celebrated Putin and defended his war. In fact, Russia, borrowed the Confederate battle flag as the basis for their new flag over the occupied territories in Ukraine. The Polish fascist Konrad Rekas also endorsed Putin. The European far right also demonstrated approval of Russia’s actions. Many of these supporters also expressed anti-Semitic tropes. The neo-Nazis of Greece praised Russia for fighting the international Jewish conspiracy. Hungary’s leader, Jobbik invited Dugin to Moscow while he praised Eurasia. The Italian fascist party lauded Putin’s “courageous position against the powerful gay lobby.”

 

In 2022 Russians were supported by Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump who both voiced sympathy or admiration for Putin.

 

In 2014 the array of fascists helped Putin to achieve his goal of dismembering in part Ukraine. As Timothy Snyder said,

“The schizofascist lies displaced the events in Ukraine and the experiences of Ukrainians. Under the weight of all the contradictory concepts and hallucinatory visons of spring 2014, who would see or remember the individual on the Maidan, with his or her facts and passions, his or her desire to be in history and make history.”

 

The lies were meant to spread confusion and they did exactly that. The lies were not expected to convince people, just create enough doubt to give them cover. That’s all fascists need. Confusion is the fertile soil of fascism.

 

Pulverizing Truth

 

The first task of the fascist is to pulverize the truth. That is exactly what Russian did in Ukraine after the war in the Ukraine in 2014.

 

During the Second World War Russian propagandists identified the enemy of Russia as the “fascists.”  That was certainly right in part. Clearly, the Nazis of Germany were fascists as were their Italian allies. The Russians also associated fascism with capitalism, again, not entirely without reason. Later, Brezhnev said that fascism was the eternal threat Russia felt from the west.  As a result, according to Timothy Snyder, “ ‘fascist’ meant anti-Russian.”  Thus by definition, fascists were opposed to Russians so it became impossible to claim, as I claim, that the Russians were fascists.

Russians are the epitome of the modern fascists. They are the ones that the “wanna be” fascists, like Donald Trump, are jealous about. Trump on more than one occasion has pretty well admitted that. He wants to have military parades and he wants everyone in government to do exactly what he wants, whether it is moral, legal, right, or not. That’s a fascist. Putin can do it. Trump had to be satisfied with trying to do it.

 

As Snyder said,

In the Russian language it was practically a grammatical error to imagine that a Russian could be a fascist. In contemporary Russian discourse, it is easier for an actual Russian fascist to call a non-fascist a “fascist” than it is for a non-fascist to call a Russian fascist a “fascist.”

 

For that reason, Russians like alexander Dugin would call Ukrainians who were defending their country “junta mercenaries from the ranks of the Ukrainian swine-fascists.” As well, for that reason, a fascist such as Alexander Prokhanov could describe fascism as something “that spilled in from the West to threaten Russian virginity.” As well he wrote of fascism as being “black sperm” that threatened “the golden goddess of Eurasia.”

Once again note the coupling of racism and sexual anxiety. Together they produce the toxic brew of fascist ideology.

 When they were done the Russian had not only completed an assault on Ukraine, they had completed an assault on truth. That is the modus operandi of fascism.

 

 

 

Schizofascism and The Russian Spring

 

The Russian intervention in the Donbas in 2014 was called “the Russian Spring.” it  was so wildly inappropriate one might have thought George Orwell invented the description.  It was like saying War is Peace. Timothy Snyder in his book The Road to Unfreedom was much more accurate when he said, “It was certainly springtime for Russian fascism.” Russia of course tried to paint it as a liberation as they did again in 2022.

 

The fascist Alexander Dugin was happy for he saw it as the “expansion of liberation (from American’s) ideology into Europe.” Another fascist Alexander Prokhanov called a Ukrainian politician of Jewish origin a “ghoul” and as “bastard.”  He also said chaos in Ukraine was the work of Israel’s Mossad.  As if all that was not enough lies, he also said on TV that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the fault of Ukrainian Jews.

Snyder described this as follows: “This was a new variety of fascism, which could be called schizofascism, actual fascists calling their opponents ‘fascists’, blaming the Holocaust on the Jews, treating the Second World War as an argument for more violence.” The Soviet foreign minister in 2022 echoed this same type of thinking when he said Jews were some of the worst offenders during the Holocaust.  The fascist theory was that Russia was always innocent and thus could never be fascist. Russia’s enemies were always fascists.  Once more, this reminds me of the American proto-fascists who cannot tolerate the idea that America might not be innocent. That is what their fear of critical race theory for example, is all about. That is why they don’t want anything to say anything critical of America. To them, America is by definiiton always right and just.

During the Second World War Soviet propaganda identified the enemy as “fascists” and ever since, it is believed there  that fascists are their enemy. That is one of the reasons Russians in both Ukraine wars in 2014 and again in 2022 were so quick to accept Russian propaganda. They had grown up with such ideas.  During World War II it was of course true that the fascists were their enemy, but in time their own supporters became fascists in all but name. Soviet ideology also held that fascism arose out of capitalism, once again, not entirely without truth. From this beginning, Soviet propaganda turned the permanent enemy from the west into “fascism” even though they became much more fascist than their enemies.  When truth dies, lies become truths.

 That is why the assault on truth is so important and why it is vital to defend truth.

In 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin characterized himself as the Redeemer from beyond history. As Snyder pointed out, Putin characterized the invasion of Ukraine which was led by the “Little Green Men” who wore green uniforms without insignia, as “a spiritual defense against permanent western attack.” Putin sees himself as saving Christianity from Western perversion.  The west wanted to separate what was essentially one nation. This was the same line Putin used again 8 years later, in 2022, when he tried to finish the job he left unfinished in 2014. Malofeev described the Russian invasion as a war against eternal evil: “for those who do battle there, the war looks like a war waged against hordes fighting under the banner of the anti-Christ with Satanic slogans.” What could be more eternal than the campaign against Sodom?” That’s why Snyder refers to Russian fascism as Russian Christian fascism. They claimed to be Christian, but are actually fascists.

When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 they telephoned confederates in the region to help them plan a coups d’état.  They later used the same methods as a template around Ukraine. As Snyder said,

“A crowd would storm the regional state administration building,” and then some new assembly would coerced to declare independence and ask Russia for help. In Kharkiv, a crowd of locals and Russian citizens (brought by bus from Russia) did indeed break into the regional state administration building, after first storming the opera house by mistake. These people beat and humiliated Ukrainian citizens who were seeking to protect the building. The Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan refused to kneel and had his skull broken.”

 

Russian propaganda was so effective that from the 1970s on Russians by and large believed that the word “fascist” meant anti-Russian. As a result they don’t believe it is wrong to think that their enemies are all fascists.

In 2014 the Russian propaganda machine claimed that  the Americans had installed a “Nazi junta” in Ukraine, Just as 8 years later they said they had not invaded Ukraine they performed a special military operation to protect it from fascists.  They claimed that by invading Ukraine they were defeating an American occupation. To do that it was necessary for them to drive out the American ruling elite, as well as European bureaucracy and Ukrainian.  Just add perverts to that list and you have a complete list of “fascist” enemies.