I haven’t posted in a few days because I’ve been busy on our European vacation. Since Friday night, the GF and I have been in Berlin, and we’ve spent almost all our time in the old GDR section of the city. Staying in a hostel just across the street from Alexanderplatz.
This vacation isn’t just to relax and party, though there’s been plenty of that. Sunday afternoon, we toured the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, which walks you through the genocide with representative stories of families in the installations.
Graphic photos of women who had been forced to strip naked and die in ravines, shot in the head one by one. Families herded into vans and suffocated with carbon monoxide.
As we were on the train from Holland, I’d look out at the fields – bleak, flat, featureless, grey with the rain and clouds. Even the fields that had been converted into wind and solar farms appeared haunted. As if I could see shadows of hundreds of thousands of dead silently screaming between blades of grass.
Your eyes feel the chill when you know what happened in those empty fields decades ago. Grass rippling with spirits.
|A photo of the Jewish cemetery in St Louis where hundreds of gravestones
have been vandalized.
Saturday morning, I read the news and saw that there was a rally against the existence of Islam in Canada. The protesters held signs and chanted slogans that Muslims were all terrorists, rapists, hated women, and held “anti-Canadian values.” Screaming these slogans, they blocked worshipers in their building during Friday prayers.
The protest was organized by such congenial organizations as Rebel Media and Rise Canada, the latter of which is a group that specifically promotes the notion that all Muslims believe in instituting Saudi-style Sharia law across Canada.
When I read this story, I posted a pretty angry note on Facebook. Because despite the explosion of counter-protestors the next day, this is something we should be angry about. I’m here in the country that planned, organized, and led the Holocaust.
After a year of following the rise of Donald Trump, and a year before that of following the rise of alt-right white nationalism, and investigating the ideological and philosophical roots of this new, terrifying movement, I’m prepared to call it what it is.
This is 21st century Nazism.
|America's hikikomori are the nihilistic
vanguard of Trump's revolution, applauding
the mass murder-suicide of the human race. To
them, it's becoming a hero.
As of my writing this, the post is about 50 comments deep, and includes a surprising number of people defending their right to scream acid hate at people while they pray. And I’m not about to debate these people as if their views are reasonable positions.
I’m not about to treat people who call for the entire expulsion of an ethnic-religious group from my country as deserving of my respect. The next time one of these rallies happen and I can physically make it there, I will show up with a Canadian flag screaming “Nazi scum fuck off!”
But I’m not taking some kind of “regressive left” stand against freedom of speech here. For the last week, I’ve been posting about my reading some classic works of John Stuart Mill, one of the founders of liberal free speech values, talking about how he links freedom of speech with the responsibility to build a peaceful society.
As Karl Popper picked up the idea, freedom of speech can’t allow the freedom to advocate shutting down freedom of speech, belief, or expression.
Most people still don’t realize the horrifying roots of the “free speech” rhetoric that racists today use to defend their right to call for mass-deportation and the banning of religious practices.
I hope you’ll read this piece on the history of 4chan culture, the community of people who form the hard core of the modern “free speech” movement online. If I can summarize, they are the wasted of the modern economy.
Unable to build a decent life for themselves according to 20th century standards of success, they’re trapped in a gig economy that keeps them underpaid and impoverished. Socially awkward, they’ve lived in internet forums for literally decades now.
They’ve given up on life in the real world, and support destructive, racist politics because they literally have nothing else to live for. This is a world where suicide and murder-suicide is called “becoming a hero.”
|The 4chan fascists of the 21st century want only to laugh while the
world burns in an orgy of violence, suffering, hatred, and rage. You
know – for the lulz.
They wrote about fascism as the political expression of Freud’s death drive. The militarism of Nazi Germany was a cultural expression of a death wish – murder-suicide on a national, and hopefully global scale.
The Trumpists of 4chan desire the same thing – they want to spur racism, hate crimes, violence, authoritarian clampdowns on democracy and resistance, economic and ecological collapse, the end of human civilization. All because they have no hope left. That’s what it means to live for the lulz.
I will fight this with every ounce of energy I have. Even though I’m not even sure if we can ultimately win. Forces of tolerance, acceptance, and real freedom – the freedom that is bound up in responsibility and ethics – may win some victories.
But it’s entirely possible and quite probable that the destructive processes in Earth’s climate can’t be held back from catastrophe any long. And Trump may still do too much damage to the world with American military and ecological destruction while he’s in power to overcome. We may lose. It may be impossible to win.
But I’d rather go out fighting for what’s right than give in to despair. I’ve fought despair too hard in the last few years to let those forces have that victory over me.
We are one people in all our great human diversity. We can live in a world of peace, brotherhood, and fairness.
And you Nazi punks, fuck off!