Wednesday, May 9, 2012

you, too, are a fascist

In the elections in Greece a couple days ago, the Golden Dawn party garnered roughly seven percent of the popular vote - enough to win them their first seats in parliament (21, in total). Although this far-Right party officially rejects the labels "fascist" and "neo-Nazi," their policies are brutish and ugly; and their use of the swastika-esque logo (pictured left) is suspect, at best. They are a violent, racist, homophobic organization, and until recently sat mostly on the fringes of Greek society.

Why the change? Well, because contrary to popular opinion, human beings are actually kind of sucky. In times of crisis, their choices are driven primarily by fear; and no amount of "proper education," or carefully-constructed, well-reasoned arguments will sway them.

In crisis, especially, the still small voices of Grace and Love seem ridiculous: Love your enemies? Do good to those who persecute you? This is obviously insane. You gotta hit 'em before they even think about hitting you.

And lest you think yourself immune to this Greco-Nazi-Hutu-Janjaweed way of thinking, consider this: after September 11, 2001, the American government rode rough-shod over the human rights of countless individuals, and sought out a war on foreign soil on dubious (and, it seems, duplicitous) grounds, ignoring anyone who dared suggest that this was unconstitutional and immoral. Some stood loudly against the tide. But most either agreed, or agreed by omission as thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraquis were killed, and thousands of fellow human beings were tortured.

It made sense, too. I mean, somebody hurt us, right? We had to strike back, before they had a chance to do it again.

Injustice, cruelty and hatred always loom large in human experience; but when primal things like sustenance, comfort and safety are threatened, fear reaches a fever pitch and love is completely drowned out.

In Greece, recently - with the economy crashing all around them - a great many people chose to vote from their fear, fabricating a million justifications to convince themselves this choice was reasonable. Will this happen here in America, if/when the Empire at last falls (as all empires do)? I hope not. I hope to God not. But if you think it's impossible, I suggest you check out The Wave, by Todd Strasser, a novelette based on a real-life fascism-experiment in a California high school that went horribly, horribly awry.

But for the staying power of Grace and Love, we are all - all of us - willing fascists.

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