Postmodern fascism is a natural extension of economic sea change and cultural relativism. Something I did not expect to see emerge during my lifetime. But it has.
My New Year’s resolution was to stop watching cable news. Or at least cut down. That ended on January 6th as I watched in horror the rise of postmodern fascism.
For all of my life to date, fascism had remained an intellectual curiosity in history books. An ultra-right cultural artifact arising from grievance and fear, and fed by the big lie. You will find the expression “the big lie” was coined by Hitler in Mein Kampf (1925) about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”.
I have always wondered how the German nation a century ago could appease and then accept fascism as a way of life. Until now.
As with Germany, many Americans hold grievance about the loss of a way of life, and fear that their birthright is being stolen. Germany was treated terribly after World War I. America is reeling under the global economic shift towards Asia. Hitler’s big lie was that Germany had not actually lost World War 1 and that the apparent loss was a Jewish scheme. Trump’s big lie was about the 2020 election being stolen.
No one can deny that the United States came within minutes of having its executive line of succession removed or taken hostage on January 6th. But the real question now is where to from here?
Postmodern Fascism Considered
Previously, I considered that a personality cult requires a paramilitary arm to take power. Turns out Trump can turn out a paramilitary arm in large numbers. By some estimates, you can find as many people wearing “red hats” today as belonged to the brown shirts (Sturmabteilung or “storm detachment”) in late 1920’s Germany.
I realize that fascism is a natural reaction to modernity’s norms not serving well enough for many people. It is a reaction to postmodern cultural relativism which removes the white Christian right from its priviliged position. Don’t believe me? Just listen to American talk radio some evening.
On the positive side, one of the largest right-leaning talk show broadcasters (400+ outlets) Cumulus Media just told its radio hosts to stop lying about the election or get fired. Let’s see if Rupert Murdoch has the courage to step up, as well.
Cultural relativism allows, perhaps even encourages everyone to create their own facts. Will we be able to disassemble the big lie in time?