Do antifascists really understand the fascism of the ordinary? (Or care?)
As I see it, the hypernormalization is the actual real fascism happening around us. Of course there's no denying of the sick cultist hatred and violence of neofascist fringe groups, but it isn't as dangerous as a mass-based culture and dynamics of extensive and UNchallenged conformity to the same old social institutions that anarchists -before the age of millenials at least- have been pitted against.
These days I'm seeing far too many younger people around getting married and making babies -like a huge collectivized baby factory, proven to be the biggest since the '40s- being headstrong and proud of it, and my impression is that since this is a mass effect (hey there's even a series of video games named like this!). But who's questioning the very practice of marrying and making babies? Or gimme any fucking damn reason to fuck, marry, and fuck again to make babies. Or not fuck but get babies through in-vitro process. I don't see, especially in today's world, any logical reason to produce more babies, beyond subconscious reasoning like prolonging the lineage, or worse, the race, or nation. Not that there's anything wrong, inherently, with having babies... but big fucking "why?".
Saying that, I’m sure to be sounding like some retrograde pastor of the Deep South talking about how drugs and rock and roll corrupting the kids, but now through some funny reversal. There might be also my irritation at the social pressure put over my shoulders, of having failed, after roughly 20 years of adulthood, to «find love» and then build a nice yuppie family, as if these were system commands issued by some cybernetic, invisible directorate...
It’s somewhat understandable for me to feel sick when looking at this, as my "youth" was in the '80s and '90s, where having kids and marrying was seen as a quite dumb and burdensome practice and pattern. The stats related to divorce and single families were tremendous, and I don't recall having seen a gen-X family not having broke up at some point. And perhaps that's also what's in store for the millenials for whom apparently the world has been starting anew, where they falsely believe to have invented "nobody cares" (lol), doing this amnesiac tabula rasa with all the contradictions and insanity of the past (FAIL).
Yet the liberal reformists pushing for legal acceptance of gay marriage in some parts of the West has greatly helped in "saving the boat" of these institutions, whereas all the people with this paper-thin values and worldview tend to be suddenly seeing marriage as politically correct, instead of some old retrograde institution.
But how is this relating to fascism, or its many weird contemporary iterations? Well, I think what we have here is a kind of social fascism (as opposed to the much-abhorred political fascism), or a "shadow fascism". Consisting of a mass culture that is over-formatting our behaviors through new grand schemes of mindless subservience to the traditional authorities, hierarchies and dominant institutions, yet those that have shifted their power to a more global and lesser democratic power. à
(Read "Empire" by Negri/Hardt for a better explanation of this new, reified global State, especially the parts on sovereignty and administrative power)
The problem in mass culture is, as always, rooted in people who don't question themselves but rather are following bandwagons as a cheap excuse for critical thinking. And there's also the aspect of influence through cohesion, or influence through peers. You can have people who enthusiastically voted for Trudeau, for instance, that you're finding really nice and end up having as good friend/lovers in your daily life. But what is the end result of this? More people crowding up on the State's side, as the authentically antiauthoritarians are staying or getting lonely, and radical groups are eroding/disbanding.
It's quite clear, with a good look at the social landscape of your liberal city, that the common people are winning (once again). Stuff that the commies would be cheering and having toasts over... but as we all know the wine in their glasses is poisoned. You know it's actually not the people themselves who're winning... Humans are losers against their own social machinery more than ever. They're just expendable workforce serving a system they don't really understand (like you know... supporters of past fascist regimes, and their wars, among other despotic rules of history), and still can't be distinguishing from "life" or "human nature".
Part of our failure to powerfully assert anarchy in today's world has to do with us being maybe too nice and flattened by the daily interactions and relations. Understand that the anarchy insurrection cannot just be about broken windows and casual stick-fights with a bunch of boneheads from the social fringe.
The insurrection has to be everywhere I am (you are?). Not just in obvious conflict with that is widely recognized as conservative culture, but more importantly with what made conservatism into being the dominant culture... now reformed under "better", "nicer", "more diverse" definitions; thus making something way tougher and pervasive in the minds of people than the more traditional racist and machist configuration (that’s been in no way taken down, but only added to, accumulated upon).
There is the massification of hypernormalization mechanisms, brought to you by the onslaughts of social media and internet TV (how to NOT think of Game of Thrones as sheer neoliberal, also crypto-fascistic capitalist propaganda?), the phenomena that is even scarier -while also related in some way- to the rise of the so-called alt-right, an amalgamation of the liberal and the conservative values and views, or shall I say an historical reunification of these. Not completed, but rather a still-ongoing process.
So for how it seems to be putting people into molds that are reformatting and flattening decades of counterculture in a whim -the only aspect that’s significantly new here, beyond technological evolution- there's something to question about what is and will be the place of the individual in an evermore hypernormalizing social reality, or how can we be different -and more importantly «ourselves» - any longer, without falling in one of the false "differences" now endorsed by the State institutions. The existence of the person -as opposed to the imperson created by these social dynamics- is an ever greater enigma. How can you be a person, in a world so heavily dominated, from all sides, by those manufactured, reified, social-political identities?
...but I feel that it's not even the more pressing question to this problem.
You're not forced to read beyond that... but the more urgent question here was nicely represented in the Formula E championship, that took over a vast portion of Montreal's downtown very recently. The event was both promoted through social media and mainstream State media, being mostly located at the very foot of the Radio-Canada/CBC compound. The event was, of course, for the hordes of bored, clueless tourists and locals, an attraction as big as any other summer festival. Masses of people far greater than most protests that happened downtown over the recent years... Mass, mindless procession not unlike the ultra-dumb traditional Catholic Easter processions I had the displeasure of having to go through when I was in Granada, Spain.
The events of mass ritual has always been powerful in wiping critical thinking and questioning. Of making them seem boring or useless, when they are not see as outright disturbing, offensive or "triggering". Like I attempted to talk with my new roommate from Spain about the nonsense of having a car racing event in the middle of downtown area over a busy summer weekend. If you know Spain, especially the south, you'd know it's still somewhat of a developing country. The car industry is pretty new over there, just like other industries.
So to him, this sounded like promoting a kind of social progress over the destructive oil industry that is contaminating the Earth, and causing climate change. To me, the dindon de la farce was the irony of having a supposedly "green" car racing championship to be actually causing MORE car pollution and noise in the city by blocking the traffic on several main streets. Ideally, I'd like roads everywhere to be deprived of cars and trucks, but that's not what the mainstream (mass-driven) discourse is about these days. There's still no consideration in anybody's newspeak about how cars and trucks will remain destructive even when electric-powered... how many lives -mostly non-human- they'll keep destroying under their wheels. But as you're guessing, even that is liberal talk. The car industry is a big part of capitalist industry, but it ain't capitalism; only is low-hanging fruit. There's also still no consideration of how cars as commodity fetish are typically part of this dumb old macho subculture like celebrated on/around Crescent St early June.
Any despotism thrives on the abolition of critical thinking. Not only thriving, it NEEDS it. Authoritarian relations are always undermined by people asking the "wrong" questions, or behaving "disorderly", especially in contradiction with some alleged consensus, or status quo, or both.
My point here is that through the ever-evolving mass media schemes, the hypernormalization it creates, it is being wiped and swapped out, just as in traditional fascism, by a renewed system of morals and ideology that works in a way as to be the only way to think and behave, the only "cool" and likeable. It defines ethics by enforcing the aesthetics and cosmetics. This is the dark side of consensus... the part where thinking rationally and questioning no longer is repressed through guns, hangings, torture and gas chambers, but made uninteresting, dislikeable, even repulsive or distasteful to the senses of the many. You are only expected to discuss and agree. Or be nothing. Or be non-existent. Or be a quidam. This is the "soft fascism" of the ordinary, in a neoliberal capitalist society.