GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

August 16, 2017

Brief Remark on Recent Event

Filed under: GA — adam @ 9:35 am

It’s never been more obvious that mainstream conservatives take the moral superiority of communism over fascism as a sacred principle.

This observation, from Nick Land’s “Outsideness” twitter feed, holds the key to all political rhetoric in the US. The framing of every single issue, every discussion, in the US, takes the moral superiority of communism over fascism for granted, and this is one of the few things American mainstream conservatives actually want to conserve. All American, perhaps all liberal, political discourse also takes for granted, even more latently, that all political questions can ultimately be reduced to the epic communism vs. fascism struggle—“mainstream” liberals are never more animated than when defending some brand of communist against someone vulnerable to being labeled “fascist.” What this also means is that breaking this “inequivalence” is the key, at least on the rhetorical level, for those who engage “mainstream” discourse, to making anything outside of that mainstream thinkable. President Trump’s magnificent performance at the press conference yesterday was probably the first breach of this “sacred principle” since it became a sacred principle. Yes, he felt it necessary to condemn “white nationalism” in order to establish a communism/fascism equivalence, but I think he tilted things ever so slightly towards an inequivalence favoring “fascism” by making an argument I haven’t ever heard an American politician make. I happened to be listening to talk radio in my car and the host was playing the press conference live and I was stunned to hear Trump lay out the annihilatory logic of communism—who’s next? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Exactly right—at the end of it lies endless cultural revolution, Mao-style. Dunce caps for professors teaching Shakespeare, some kind of collective punishment for “traditional” professionals, the whole thing. Even more remarkable is what started Trump on the path of these reflections—a defense of the “innocent” (Trump’s word), law abiding protestors who want to preserve the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee/Emancipation park. The left—including all the reporters baying and snarling at the press conference—insist that anyone who wants to commemorate some part of their tradition considered “triggering” in the present year be indelibly stamped as a “Nazi.” Rhetorically, then (and that’s all I’m really talking about here), it seems that the way to not only make communism the most horrible thing ever but also to make it possible to stain everyone who puts in a good word for it with its horribleness is to frame things as follows: we want to preserve this one thing (which isn’t hurting anyone), they want to destroy everything (including things anyone listening to this loves). Trump’s question is really the way to do this: who/what are you coming for next? And after that? This resets things very effectively, because what the alt-right and white nationalists want to do is mostly stop things: stop immigration, stop quotas, stop foreign wars, stop attacking whites and whiteness. Sure, they may want some rollback, but you would satisfy a large part of the alt-rightists by simply stopping these things and enforcing the law. In other words, the question can’t be turned around very effectively. Also, if you’re engaging them, they’re coming for you right now, so the question always has some referential grounding. The left cannot help presenting itself as on the attack—they are coming after all kinds of things, ultimately everyone (even their own future selves). So: who and what are you coming for next? It would be very interesting to see what addressing anarchist ontologists every single time with this question would yield. (And, by the way, for rhetorical purposes no one should say “communist” or, even less, “anarchist ontologist”—the latter is too technical, the former completely played out. The name they have given themselves, “Antifa,” is perfect—perhaps Trump will start referring to the “antifa media.” [To concede the initiative to Trump, himself, though, the term “alt-left” should certainly be given a fair try.])


  1. I think we agree that communism is always fascist in practice, and more or less in theory too, if we view fascism as a variety of totalitarianism. So I’m not sure why conservatives would grant the moral superiority of communism, and what exactly communism means in this context.

    Comment by Q — August 20, 2017 @ 8:58 am

  2. You’d have to ask Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, John McCain and, it seems, many other Republican/conservatives why they object to Trump’s criticism of both Antifa (communism) and Neo-Nazis/white supremacy (fascism). Insisting “there is only one side” grants moral superiority to Communism.

    Comment by adam — August 20, 2017 @ 9:07 am

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