The world is becoming hostage to fascism. Those who – in word and deed – destroy democracy are gaining ground in the U.S., France, Russia, Turkey, Poland, and Hungary. They desire to have our desire in thrall. Not just economy, but libidinal economy, rules supreme.
Obviously, the discontent of the dispossessed pushes you toward fascism (a similar hypothesis of the rage of the lower middle class has been propounded to explain the 1930s), but a majoritarian sexualized paramilitarization with strong leaders (Führerprinzip) is emerging. Bromancers Trump and Putin disrespect diversity and exude machismo – alongside fascism, a historically spent force.
In France, it’s a Belle Dame Sans Merci on Russian loans, Marine le Pen. The leader of the Front National, a bleached gargoyle (who clearly fancies herself) has banished her anti-Semitic King Lear father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. His granddaughter Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is winning popularity by going to the extreme of the extreme right. She revels in the anti-LGBTQ Manif pour tous, uses integrist religion, and follows the fascist tradition of the Action française.
Erdoğan’s Turkey has taken a fascist turn, as analyzed by political scientist Cihan Tugal. His book, The Fall of the Turkish Model, is an insighful interpretation of the current regime. Finland’s foremost novelist and poet Helena Sinervo, with whom I studied in Paris with Julia Kristeva, has written a bitter limerick on the dictator:
There was a horny guy from Istanbul
who loved to screw his pet bull.
He took his pleasure from torture and rape
until poor critter managed to escape.
What he told about it was also bull.
In Poland it’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski: p’tit, rotund, and spiteful. His speeches are of Hitlerite character: doctrinaire, termagant, noxious, hostile to the Other. Fromm could write a chapter on him in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Kaczynski is queer and anti-queer à la fois, a homophobe and homosexual in one, who has no respect for minorities and migrants whatsoever. He has dubbed refugees “parasites” – not just metaphorically: Poland’s leader has accused them of spreading parasitical diseases. Accordingly, this nation-state keeps denying entry to asylum-seekers. At the Polish border in the city of Brest, Chechens fleeing the war trauma, are camping in their thousands, refused by my country.
Under Kaczynski’s leadership, Poland has purged the media. Now it is cleansing Berlin’s Polish Institute: Die Tageszeitung has reported how the Ministry of Culture scolded the Institute for too much attention to Jewish themes (eine zu große Aufmerksamkeit für jüdische Themen vorgeworfen).
The Institute’s director Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska must go …
From the U.S. to Turkey to Poland – political life is cruel; prejudices aggravate; minorities and migrants are jeopardized. Hungary’s Orbán did away with the designation of “republic “ for Hungary – and a general denigration of democracy is deepening. Trump-and-Putin, Turkey’s AKP, Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS), Britain’s UKIP and nowadays Boris Johnson, as well as le Front National join the planetary brutalization (I hark back to George L. Mosse’s diagnosis of fascism), its anti-democratism and autocracy. That’s why we need anti-fascist glocal initiatives!
“We’re all women,” chanted Democracy & Diversity Institute alumnus, activist, and filmmaker Piotr Brozek at a Lublin’s massive rally against the proposed total abortion ban in Poland. The demonstrations, called the #black protest, against the tightening of the 1993 delegalization of abortion were held across Poland. Indeed we’re all women, Jews, and LGBTQ in this country right now. That’s why we coordinated the Transeuropa Festival in Lublin with a series of Jewish, Green, queer, and feminist workshops, It was important to hold a meeting with Irena Grudzinska-Gross, who (with Jan T. Gross) co-authored a book, Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust.
We’ve also invited refugees. Too little. Too late?
Where is charity? Public sociologists Izabela Wagner and Philippe Saffray are absolutely accurate when they entitle their study of Poland: Quand agape est en Train de Mourrir… Fanaticism reigns. This is not a matter of religiosities, inner life, spiritualities, but of intolerance and power struggle. Where is mercy? Where is hospitality? For the time being, fascism is our daily bread.
While Italy’s referendum sees far-right forces strengthened, German-speaking countries seem to save human honor. Germany is accepting refugees (operation hospitality!) and Austria has just rejected the far-right presidential candidate. Touch on wood. May the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Freedom Party diminish. Following World War Two, Germanophone nation-states underwent enough re-education to oppose today’s hatreds, whereas Poland, for instance, has never admitted its guilt in the Holocaust. Only such eminent and honest scholars as Irena Grudzinska-Gross, Jan T. Gross, Maria Janion, Dariusz Libionka admit our culpability.
Putin’s Russia locked performance artists Pussy Riot up.
Activist and artist Petr Pavlensky was sent to a mental institution.
Born into a Muslim family hiv-positive gay artist Demir Demirov is being denied treatment in Russia, At the same time, Putin celebrates his own nudity! Sometimes the tsar has no clothes: Putin strips to the waist and emerges as a gym queen. Ain’t she a strong gal, a diva of self-styled power? Fred Turner of Stanford argues that fascism is about “A celebration of heterosexual masculinity. You could think of Vladimir Putin’s need to take off his shirt or Donald Trump’s obsession with the size of his hands.”
Pussy Riot have a new song against Trump’s sexism Straight Outta Vagina. As The Guardian reports, its leader, Nadya “Tolokonnikova said the spread of “patriarchal and misogynist ideas” was akin to sexually transmitted disease. “Politicians are praising ‘strong leadership’. Trump openly supports the authoritarian methods of Vladimir Putin. And it’s scary. It’s not the world in which I want to live.”
If we don’t want to live in such a totalitarian world, let’s unite – against fascists, the impotent leaders of the world! They completely and violently reject so-called Others. Inviting, welcoming, and hosting strangers has been promulgated by epics of numerous cultures, religions, and atheisms. Hospitality to the Other will bring forth a remedy; we need it in our here and now.
Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit