Last week, former Keating Minister Gary Johns wrote a piece for ruling class vanity zine The Australian in which he argued that people on the dole should under no condition be allowed to reproduce. “Potential parents of poor means, poor skills or bad character will choose to have children. So be it.” lamented the Labor MP turned IPA Nazgul as he lazily kicked his bootblack in the head, “But… if a person’s sole source of income is the taxpayer, the person, as a condition of benefit, must have contraception. No contraception, no benefit.”
I’ve know of dynastic multimillionaires who referred to the great unwashed as “rats and mice.” Those rats and mice are the kind of scourge Mr Johns hopes to gently cull if they can’t be starved into virtue. The festering underclass vermin who lounge about in gutters, drunk off their shard-shriveled nubbins, popping out genetically inferior parasites like unemployed Pez dispensers. And although Johns’ argument is sound – humans who don’t serve an economic purpose have no right to live, let alone reproduce – some might say he goes too far in his No Pill, No Protein campaign when he explicitly targets indigenous Australians. “Such a measure will undoubtedly affect strugglers, it undoubtedly will affect Aboriginal and Islander people in great proportions, but the idea that someone can have the taxpayer, as of right, fund the choice to have a child is repugnant.” “REPUGNANT!”, he cries, caressing the gleaming spaying instruments on the wall with his dead and piscene eyes.
Now, like a number of hysterical pinko types I can be a little liberal with the F-word. A quick scan of this very blog reveals posts as diverse as:
• Why Anzac Day is a fascist construct
• Why the Olympics is a fascist construct
• Why the Palmer United Party is a fascist construct
• Why Sam Kekovich is a fascist construct
• Why Mouse Trap is a fascist construct
• A weird, long, boring rant about the Silent Generation
• Why Lady Gaga is a fascist construct
So you can imagine my embarrassment when a former politician calls for mass eugenics in a public forum and I’m left red-faced like the boy who cried Wolfenstein. I’ve had this humiliation a lot lately, as über right-wing groups and ideas have jackbooted into prominence across the globe. After yesterday’s horrific murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists (while the publishers of Fred Basset tragically live on unscathed) it’s going to get a lot worse.
Let’s take, for instance, the whited sepulcher of Europe, where a recession not used as an excuse to brutalise gypsies is considered a bit of a waste. The French National Front, headed by the sinister collaborationist La Pen dynasty, has doubled its membership since 2012 and won 26% of the French vote in the last European election. After the Paris attacks, there is a palpable chance that they could win government. Last week over 15,000 people attended an anti-Islamic protests in Germany, and polls said one in eight Germans were willing to join the rallies. After yesterday’s events that figure will be astronomical, and if I know anything about history that’s nothing to worry about at all.
In ‘ol Blighty the English Defence League terrorise minorities like Blackshirts in beaters and the the populist anti-immigration UK Independence Party hovers around 18% of the vote. They’re lead by Nigel Farage, an elbow-padded amalgam of Oswald Mosley and Mr Bean who said that he would be uncomfortable if his neighbours were Romanian. UKIP (who are basically the villagers from Hot Fuzz) have formed allegiances with other far-right parties across the continent, including Poland’s terrifying MEP, whose leader is a Holocaust Denier publicly in favour of domestic violence – a winning Tindr combo if ever I’ve seen one. The Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party are still percolating in Greece, and though they’ve been marginalized in the last year or two thanks to a fierce anti-fascist campaign, the fact that they won a huge percentage of the police vote at the last election isn’t super reassuring.
Even in nominally mainstream politics the flashy power couple of tyranny and bigotry are taking nations by sturm. Putin is moving away from the excesses of Russia’s past with a soothing cocktail of Tsarist and Stalinist policies. India has elected a Hindu Nationalist Government lead by Narendra Modi, a man who permitted an anti-Muslim pogrom where over 800 people were killed and children were sexually abused in the street. President Obama has arrested more whistle-blowers than all of his predecessors combined and overseen an accelerated militarisation of American society that would make Dick Cheney blush from his pate to his hooves.
Down under, our overt white supremacist fringe is a small weed with deep roots. (If you’re interested in updates on their machinations, my one one-stop antifascist shop is Inglourious Basterd Andy Fleming.) Although these groups tend to be quieter between their occasional Pauline and Cronulla-shaped peaks, they can still be lethally dangerous and seemlessly mesh with institutions of power, as the recent Liberal preselection of Neo-Nazi Scott Harrison shows. Recently, the Australian Defence League attempted to plan a Sydney anti-Muslim riot in a Facebook post that got over 1,000 likes, and hate crimes in public spaces are on the rise. This all followed from the events of last month, when a deranged Sydney man held innocent people hostage to flatter his megalomaniacal agenda. But that’s enough about Scott Morrison.
|1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
5. Rampant sexism
Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
6. A controlled mass media
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
7. Obsession with national security
Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
9. Power of corporations protected
Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
14. Fraudulent elections
Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
So that’s reassuring. We sally forth into 2015 led by a government whose most competent ministers are a woman who has overseen the extraction of billions of dollars from foreign aid, killing literally thousands of people; and a man who cut his ministerial teeth mismanaging borderline concentration camps and celebrated his new portfolio by cutting funding to Australia’s three peak homelessness advocacy bodies a few days before Christmas, thereby acting not so much as a Grinch as a Herod. Sorry, I mentioned him again.