Who Are “They”?
If you look at Congressional hearings lately, it doesn’t take long to see a couple of black people proudly waving Oreos (because they’re white on the inside, get it?) and calling people who call racists racist racists. The double speak is exhausting, yes. If it tires you out, this post is not for you because we’ve only just scratched the surface.
White nationalist allies such as these are given a pass from extrajudicial killings that appear to be on the rise, and other actions of neo-Nazis in the United States. The staggered-speed erosion of democracy to plutocracy and authoritarianism, in America especially, is being sped up by the alt-right’s fake videos, fake Facebook users, and fake news. However, this may end up being the case elsewhere if it is not treated as the malady it is.
This sort of far-right religious and populist nationalist extremism is not solely an American issue, and has even arose out of what most would consider to be have been a peaceful religion or spirituality: Buddhism.
Looking at leaders alone, it’s clear that separatist and supremacist ideologies go far beyond being white and Christian. Similar to how the alt-right in the United States call multiculturalism and diversity “cultural Marxism“, these fascists use the same outline in their respective nations to call for violence against “the other.” It’s us-versus-them that is possibly the crux of the issue internationally.
It may be the root issue because as democratic countries reach to uplift particular groups of individuals and identities, they give the appearance of preference. However, it is just a struggle of currency and funding than one of ideological supremacy. A real solution would be to go full democratic socialist, not, as we’ve seen happen, lean into far-right populist nationalism, which truly supports a single identity above others.
Examples of the leadership behind this spike in fascism around the world, not including what was the National Front in France:
- Donald Trump of the Republican Party in the United States
- Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party in Brazil
- Nigel Farage of the Brexit Party in the UK
- Marcel de Graaff of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands
- Jörg Meuthen, Alice Elisabeth Weidel, and Alexander Gauland of the AFD Party in Germany
- Viktor Orbán of the Fidesz Party in Hungary
- Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the Law and Justice Party in Poland
- Vladimir Putin of the All-Russia People’s Front in Russia
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey
- Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party in Israel-held Palestine
- Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party in India
- Rodrigo Duterte of the Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod party in Philippines
- Kim Jong-un of the Workers’ Party of Korea in North Korea
- Ashin Wirathu is a Burmese Buddhist monk and leader of the anti-Muslim movement in Myanmar/Burma
Why Are They?
Most notably among the list above, although not is the latter, Buddhist Monk, Ashin Wirathu. When people think of Buddhism, they think of non-violence, and Wirathu in an interview even claimed to be non-violent, however in that same interview he did not decry the violence of Buddhists in Burma. The issue of nationalism versus immigrants and refugees, as the Muslims in Myanmar are, is well described in a post from the Buddhist online magazine, Lion’s Roar; excerpt below on the connection between Buddhists and genocide.
To understand the issue more fully, we must first start with the narrative of Buddhist nationalism — the driving ideological force behind the Islamophobia fueling the violence against the Rohingya. From the perspective of a Buddhist nationalist, the story goes like this: Over the course of decades, Muslim Rohingya slipped over the border from Bangladesh at the point where it meets Rakhine State, and settled on Rakhine land. They grew in number and diluted the Buddhist population, forming the vanguard of a crusade to turn Myanmar into a Muslim country. Therefore, unlike other Muslims in Myanmar, such as the Kaman people, the Rohingya have never been Burmese citizens and do not deserve citizenship status. ….
This narrative — that the Burmese people need to protect Buddhism from enemy foreign invaders — has persisted for over a century, though the perceived enemy has changed from British to Muslim.Randy Rosenthal, Lion’s Roar. November 13, 2018
The above exampled purism, or bigotry, is leading to populist nationalism, fascism and authoritarian regimes, as well as jingoism, violence, murder, and even genocide. Democracy, by nature, and surprisingly the system in most of these nations, is for everybody regardless of who they are, and arguably a democracy should be willing to take in immigrants based on that principle, especially refugees. However, around the world, leaders such as the above are feeding or even creating fascist cultures within their politics and democracies.
This begs the question: How does it serve them?
What Do They Say?
Their words won’t sound like hate. At least, not to those that they’re speaking for. And they’re not speaking for who you may think.
The list of individuals and parties above may not be complete or perfect. It certainly won’t give you an idea of what connects these individuals. Also, “Why They Are,” above, won’t give you a complete image of How They Are.
Firstly, they don’t come wearing fancy outfits. Sure, maybe some Saffron robes or red baseball caps, or something that hearkens to “the good ol’ days. Ultimately though, a national identity gets lured in through this pretty image, that somehow looks like you in some way.
Thus the base is called in. This is what keeps that base close:
They restore your honor, make you feel proud, seem to protect your house, give you a job, clean up your parks – but not your environment, remind you how great you once were, help you vote out the most obviously corrupt, and helps you remove anyone that isn’t just like you and doesn’t pay you lip service just as much as they do.
They don’t take the stage, usually, announcing their plans for militias killing militias, or mass imprisonment of dissenters and just about anyone they can turn into free labor. They don’t, most of the time, come down an escalator and call for mass deportations and transporting people to particular places against their will. Nor do they often immediately or overtly call for ceaseless war and persecution.
Why would they? They need as wide a base as possible to seem legitimate. They aren’t, and here’s how they came to be, with a particular focus on Donald Trump, the Republican Party, complicit establishment Democrats, and who these fascist leaders are truly speaking to, not with their mouths, but with their policies.
How Are They?
While, I’m sure this is nothing new to most people, the reality of these regimes, and unfortunately the United States if we don’t take some progressive action massively and quickly, is that they are all plutocracies.
Trump’s policies, besides his attacks on immigrants and the transgender community, have no advances for his base, who already know that he’s racist. So no clarification required there. While yes, there are surely the small minority of them that are inspired to violence by these actions, most of it is symbolic virtue signaling and dog whistle politics, both terms I cover here.
The policies that are truly insidious in this administration are those that are not getting as much play in publishers making the bucks from the controversies. Papers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, as well as mainstream media purveyors of right-centrist “neutrality.” When it’s a social issue, it becomes hot button and something Trump can run on, just as he had opened his 2016 campaign.
These media outlets, have done little for the public. Even worse yet, they’ve done even less for the truth, and objectivity. By taking cues from the conservative GOP-media, “alternate fact” machine, FOX News, other media organizations such as CNN and MSNBC, as well as the two papers aforementioned and others, perhaps such as Politico, fall prey to actual fake news.
Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.Noam Chomsky
While the American people are sovereign, this is how they become the governed truly. Through a series of attacks on health, namely sugar, and the dissolution of activity in democratic environments, most notably unions, town halls, and newspapers, it has become possible to truly train particular classes.
Perhaps, Upton Sinclair is rolling in his grave at what we are seeing almost a 120 years later. While corporations at the size they are, are no longer called “trusts, nor CEO’s, “robber barons” American billionaires have extended their proboscises into the very roots of society. They have their influence around the world, creating systems of self-ingratiating political theory as represented by Trump. Now they even look upwards towards space as their next conquest.
In order to understand how businesses, mostly their unethical leadership, found loopholes to roll-back some of the advancements made in social responsibility, one can look at two things: labor unions, and location. Regarding both of those, here’s a deeper understanding of them, as well, from almost 120 years ago, and yet somehow still relevant today:
“They said that with enough hard work anybody could make it to the top. Although free-market rhetoric was plentiful in those days, free markets were hard to find. Almost every sector of the American economy was controlled by a handful of corporations whose executives met in secret, set prices, determined wages and conspired to destroy labor unions. These interlocking corporate and financial monopolies had a pleasant, innocent-sounding name: trusts. There was a steel trust, a sugar trust and a coal trust, among others. The markets weren’t free, but the trusts were – free to employ children in factories, free to make people work 60 or 70 hours a week, free to pollute rivers and streams, to hire private armies, to bribe state legislators and members of Congress, to sell what they wanted at whatever price they liked.”
“The states’ rights argument was especially appealing to the trusts, since state legislators were much less expensive to bribe than members of Congress. A handful of companies supported [Theodore] Roosevelt’s legislation [ the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act]. In their view the absence of government regulation punished firms that tried to behave responsibly and helped those that cut corners, misled consumers, and sold dangerous goods.”
“Things got better because labor unions fought to make them better. It took years of patient organizing and a great deal of struggle.”
“It is no fault of [Sinclair’s] that the old lies have lately been repeated, that important lessons have been forgotten, and that somehow we now find ourselves back in the jungle, with an odd feeling of deja vu.”Chicago Tribune. May 21, 2006.
The world feels like a jungle now. We’re brought closer together by technology, yet somehow, as soon as we began self-organizing, we saw those networks become resistant. The friction is felt everywhere. Especially in places like the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to the International Trade Union Confederation.
States’ rights are still used today as the cudgel to the working-class in order to force individuals to pay more in taxes than companies, make cuts in safety, and of course, pay their people less without benefits.
For instance, LegalZoom says it best, “Delaware is a tiny state, but it has an outsized importance in the world of corporations. Nearly half of the nation’s publicly traded companies, including giants like Apple, Coca-Cola, Google and Wal-Mart, are incorporated in Delaware. Delaware has a long history of corporation-friendly laws.” Chief among them, as many know, is that Delaware serves as a domestic tax haven, similar to Panama (as in the Papers) is an offshore, foreign tax haven, which offers corporations running shell companies there, or are incorporated there, tax avoidance.
In Delaware, the tax savings are permanent. And that’s just taxes, I won’t even get into Right to Work states. The Economic Policy Institute breaks down how the Trump administration has cut safety regulations and endangered workers across the country. And of course, perhaps no source is needed as we all know that it is nearly impossible to find decent healthcare plans and benefits under any employer, but especially one that is paying a minimum wage that they’re keeping down.
According to Bernie Sanders in a tweet last week, referencing inflation, “The minimum wage would be $33 today if it had increased as quickly as the average Wall Street bonus since 1985. Instead, millions of people are trying to survive on poverty wages, while Wall Street executives get richer.”
Many of these issues would not solely effect a single identity among populations. They effect everybody. However, with white nationalism still being an issue, it becomes conflated with this. Simply: “d’ery terk er jerbs!”
So How Did the U.S. Get Trump?
Well, here was a candidate that looked good to corporations, and he knew how to dog whistle and virtue signal the base that existed, a base that had often put up candidates that were detestable following Bush II, who was a shoein’ (pun so intended) following Nixon’s resignation, a slew of Republican corporate-cronies, Reagan, Bush I, and then the failed Presidency of Bill Clinton.
The base for Trump was made up of those from Nixon’s Southern Strategy (or Switch). Especially the Northern Catholics and Southern Evangelicals that were both opposed to abortion. A hot topic at the time of Nixon. Remember: Roe v. Wade was codified in 1973 by the Supreme Court, which was conservative at the time, so even then the Republican party was hypocritical in order to serve their rich millionaire donor constituents.
By the time Reagan left office, with all of his racism and bigotry, the Overton Window was shifted rightwards as the Republican Party became the far-right movements that we see mutated today. Gun rights, abortion, immigration, transgender folx. All of these became cultural issues to run on for an easy win.
However, following what was a fairly disappointing Presidency for these issues, in the eyes of this extreme religious far-right base, they were divided again on their candidate. Some may have even voted for Barack Obama, because they saw their man in his Vice President, Joe Biden. Meanwhile, other corporate representatives had far less of a struggle maintaining their seats using these dark money funds, much like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan.
So What Do We Do?
In the United States, the Democratic party, was once the party of the democratic-socialist labor unions and fought for their rights. That is until the post-war era, as it is ironically colloquially known as. That’s when corporations were able to manufacture a blurring of lines between communism in the East and democratic socialism back home.
As the Red Scare caught on, more anti-Communist Democrats became elected and the Overton window began to shift to the right. Not only that, but these anti-socialist Democrats were taking bribes again from corporations. This continued in this vein for some time.
After several various events we have arrived to this point in time. Hopefully, most of our past, a lesson for the future. Dare I even say? Hindsight is 2020.