Why Masks and the Sacred Word are the Panics du Jour

I’ve been studying fascism for longer than I have studied most other things. My life-long commitment to libertarian principles periodically forces the problem of authoritarianism front-and-center in my thinking. Especially lately. It’s no fantastical worry; the objective and reactionary character of the current period should alarm all rational persons. What I have learned over these many years of study is that the core emotional and psychical preconditions for the development or manifestation of the authoritarian personality are fear, hate, and resentment. However, these do not also manifest in the same obvious ways. So, in the same way the critique of political economy must be renewed in light of changing appearances, so must the analysis of fascism. Indeed, these are inextricably linked. Fascism is a superstructure.

The tyranny of ideological narrative

Fascists seek power and control—and to be controlled—because the inevitable perils of life terrify them and because they possess a deep-seated misanthropy, the latter deceptively coded as humanitarianism. They are especially fearful of those who lie outside of the the tribe with which they identity, which need not necessarily be based on race. The fascist who has climbed into their head instructs them to see their fellow human beings as threats to health and safety, especially as disease vectors, even with ideas a contagion. It is not that health and safety are rational concerns; they are highly selective in predictable ways. Violence, for example, is not objectionable from the standpoint of an ideology that seeks to limit autonomy. Indeed, in this case, it is righteous.

In a recent podcast, I discussed how Whoopi Goldberg got into trouble by suggesting that the Holocaust wasn’t about race. Of course, she was wrong. At the same time, the Holocaust wasn’t only about race. When people center the Judeocide exclusively a myopia is obtained that obscures the pathological obsession with hygiene that marks Nazi ideology. Indeed, this bears on an intrinsic piece of the deeper motivational character behind the Judeocide. Jews and Gypsies, who were white, were seen by ethic Germans and other whites as the bearers of disease, and this was translated into racial terms (this is actually why Goldberg was suspended). But don’t forget about Aktion T4, the Nazi program of involuntary euthanasia of the aged, the incurably sick, and the mentally and physically defective. Don’t forget about the persecution of religious, political, and sexual deviants and “special treatment.” Remember the medical experiments, the Nazi doctors at Nuremberg.

Nazism was in its day the apogee of the biosecurity state. With a deadly fetish for hygiene, every individual was put under the administrative control of the public health apparatus. Every individual was required to accept the terms of health from standpoint of the regime or suffer the consequences. Sometimes submission wasn’t even good enough. Jimmy Dore is incredulous that he was so hated after being injured by the Pfizer shot. There is a reason for that. Dore and the scores of other injured persons contradict the narrative. They are the worst. (See Biden’s Biofascist Regime; Fascism Becoming Under Cover of COVID-19 Hysteria.)

This pathology—an instantiation of mass formation psychosis—redirects the angst and anxiety felt at the conditions of alienation, anomie, depersonalization, and disenchantment that come about as loss of control in a class-segmented society, manifest as trepidation of disease, death, and deviation, by identifying concrete manifestations of manufactured concerns by selectively targeting concrete individuals. Classes of people are invented and labeled (“unvaccinated,” “domestic terrorist”) and subjected to marginalization in order to generate popular support for state control. Rather than blame the powerful entities that actually control their lives, namely the corporation and the state and technocracy it directs, a segment of the population is instead induced to blame those who are like themselves but who have been separated from them and marked as different. The blame game prepares obedient for integration with the corporate state. (A version of this is seen in the Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a fascistic moment in what would become a corporate state.)

The authoritarian personality finds especially loathsome the unafraid, those who are calm, rational, and self-assured, because such persons represent the antithesis to the neuroticism of the fascist mind—the latter that is the actual object of their loathing (more on this in a moment). The fascist sees those outside the tribal boundaries, the bearers of disease and chaos (not their chaos, of course) as their enemy, as pariah, witches and racists, and deploy with little or no prompting the politics of personal destruction and reputational ruination. They poison the well by accusing those who expose corporate state propaganda and machinations as themselves spreading disinformation and misinformation and disorder. They accuse them of “putting lives at risk,” while at the same time rationalizing extreme impositions on freedom as necessary and trivial. The fascist personality is at once an inquisitorial mentality, always searching out those who deviate from prevailing doctrine and narrative, using persecution of others to signal virtue. This is the character of modern-day progressivism.

Nazi era propaganda poster: “Jews are Lice: They Cause Typhus.”

It is crucial to recognize that fascism is in its emotional and psychical elements, certainly among the masses, but often even among the leaders of the countermovement (fascism is always moving counter to autonomy, democracy, liberty, and personal sovereignty), ultimately an expression of self-loathing. One sees this in in the way the white progressive eagerly steps up to the altar of social justice to confess her racism and seek atonement for her sins—even as she later screams at the unmasked (and presumably unvaccinated) black man on the elevator or the poor Hispanic man at the supermarket. Fascism conveys the circumstances of a people having fallen from grace, an existential condition for which redemption is sought albeit never consistently. Redemptive desire always finds its satisfaction in an escape from freedom, as it always misspecifies the problem. It is a false consciousness. Thus the tribal identity for progressive whites involves a rhetorical subordination to the myth of black subjection, a ritual that drags into its vortex the many blacks who object to being used by elites in this manner. (See why it is so important to renew the analysis from time-to-time?)

This is why the sacred word has become the moral panic of the moment. It is no coincidence that those with Black Lives Matter yard signs are the same people who live in terror of one of the dozens of cold virus that circulate the planet every year, who see children as such a grave threat to their health that they mask them up, put them in plexiglass boxes, and beg the state to let them inject into their little bodies gene therapies for a disease that presents no reasonable threat to them—therapies that ultimately won’t protect the adults from the disease anyway. It’s no coincidence that such a countermovement would reimagine an external cultural imposition as an internal and essentialist force requiring the modifications of bodies with immature and still plastic minds. Don’t bother pointing out the contradictions. Fascism is not rational. As political scientist Michael Parenti told us years go, fascism is the rational manipulation of irrationality. 

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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