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Read the oth­er arti­cles in the series The Vile Beast

The char­ac­ter born of Brecht’s “beast” seems to have cloned over the decades. Bol­sonaro, Orban, Salvi­ni, Turmp, Duterte, Erdoğan, the list could go on for a long time still.

And all, or almost, were des­ig­nat­ed by the “peo­ple” fol­low­ing a so-called “demo­c­ra­t­ic” insti­tu­tion­al elec­toral process, occur­ring on a back­ground of loss of con­fi­dence in pol­i­tics, fla­grant eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ties,  all fac­tors lead­ing to pop­ulist swellings with a strong iden­ti­tar­i­an focus. In each case, scape­goats were tar­get­ed in order to gal­va­nize the nation­al­ists with the assis­tance of dis­crim­i­na­to­ry words and actions.

Infor­ma­tion and enter­tain­ment media, often con­trolled by finan­cial groups favor­ing busi­ness and the mar­kets, fol­low suite while pour­ing out the best and the worst on the big wide dig­i­tal world of inter­net, now orga­nized in silos dom­i­nat­ed by hege­mon­ic groups pros­per­ing on “infor­ma­tion and data” pro­vid­ed by trapped con­sumers. The inter­net pipe is now pinched in  sev­er­al places and entire­ly col­o­nized by colos­sal finan­cial own­er­ship groups.

The appar­ent free­dom to inform on social net­works is noth­ing but the bind­ing ele­ment in dis­in­for­ma­tion and major mar­ket ori­en­ta­tions, just as insti­tu­tion­al elec­tions are the safe­ty valves for reg­u­lar  defus­ing of crises, or pro­vid­ing them with a escape hatch­es… None of these are the “great con­spir­a­cy” at work, nor are there pup­pets pulling strings, but rather a coag­u­la­tion of  con­verg­ing inter­ests in a world of pre­da­tion and accu­mu­la­tion, each ele­ment reac­tions depend­ing on the posi­tion it occu­pies in the system.

Is the rise irre­versible of extreme right-wing move­ments, of “the beast”, in this last quar­ter of the cen­tu­ry, with its major aspects such as racism, the pho­bia of the “great replace­ment”, “on loss of val­ues”?

Some are wont to ana­lyze the rel­a­tive fail­ure of “Trump­ism” as a pos­si­ble sign of resilience of lib­er­al cap­i­tal­ism in the face of obscu­ran­tist forces and choic­es that would unbal­ance it in a per­ma­nent way — and the glob­al econ­o­my along with it — throw­ing it open to the work­ings of forces devoid of mul­ti­lat­er­al “reg­u­la­tions”. In oth­er words, the cli­mate threat, short-term unbal­ances,  pan­demics, eco­nom­ic con­se­quences of forced glob­al­iza­tion and  new play­ers in the pow­er strug­gles  demand greater con­cert­ed reg­u­la­tion for the mar­ket rather than sov­er­eignist retrenchem­nts lead­ing to gen­er­al­ized confrontations.

Con­cen­tra­tion of Cap­i­tal does not accom­mo­date itself well of retrench­ment since its field of action is now a world-wide glob­al one, exploit­ing as it does devel­op­men­tal dif­fer­en­tials on a plan­e­tary scale. Thus a Trump did not suc­cess in graft­ing a lib­er­tar­i­an onto a basi­cal­ly fascis­tic pop­ulist ide­ol­o­gy. A Bol­sonaro appears as if he will also be reject­ed even­tu­al­ly, although he did not put for­ward a “Brazil First” mod­el  but chose instead a full-scale open­ing to cap­i­tal, par­tic­u­lar­ly to the agro-food busi­ness as pil­lagers of resources, aid­ed in their work by an author­i­tar­i­an cen­tral government.

The notion of fan­ning the fires of wild cap­i­tal­ism, every­one on his own turf, sup­port­ed by local total­i­tar­i­anisms in tune with exac­er­bat­ed bouts of pop­u­lar nation­al­ism wil always  be up against the glob­al­iza­tion of finance which is the only life saver for main­tain­ing the prof­it rates soar­ing; this requires a total dis­re­gard for bor­ders. This was not yet entire­ly the case  in the mid 20th cen­tu­ry, as it is now.

Every­thing indi­cates that these iden­ti­tar­i­an pop­ulisms, “the beast” are incit­ed to always express them­selves with the major­i­ty “there is no alter­na­tive” of the moment decree­ing “the end of his­to­ry”. A few sam­ples of of “counter lib­er­al democ­ra­cy” may be tol­er­at­ed here and there as the sys­tem’s use­ful idiots car­ried along by pop­ulist upsurges. Whether this has any­thing to do with our for­mer notions of fas­cism remains to be seen.

To be continued…

And if you still have a bit of time to spare, a few images on the top­ic. The com­men­tary is in French but there is quite a bit of footage in Eng­lish. The basic ques­tions raised in the video: what is fas­cism and why has it not tri­umphed yet in the Unit­ed States? The basic answer being: as long as the “nor­mal work­ings of the sys­tem” pro­tect the inter­ests of cap­i­tal­ism and as long as the “nor­mal man­age­ment tools” –laws, police, army – keep the lid on extrem­ists, cap­i­tal­ism prefers not hav­ing to deal with the bar­barous vio­lence of it’s weapon of last resort – fascism.

Read the oth­er arti­cles in the series The Vile Beast

Image : CC Lila Mon­tana sol­idary photographer-journalist

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…