Tag Archives: Fascism

The State of the Revolution

Well comrades, it’s that time of year again! Deck your union halls with black and crimson bunting and gather around the tree for the redistribution of wealth! It’s May at last, and revolution is in the air!

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Image retrieved via Tumblr, fair use

Or is it?

The seeds that were planted during the Arab Spring are far from dead, but no one can say that they’re flourishing. Europe has seen (as predicted by yours truly) a massive rise in openly Fascist parties, rising to power on a tide of xenophobia and racism. A similarly ugly nationalist movement has catapulted Donald Trump to the forefront of the Republican party- and lest anyone think that he’s an insane outlier, second in the race is Tea-Party darling Ted Cruz, another depraved bigot who’s even been called “Lucifer in the flesh” by high-ranking members of his own party.

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Which I will never not find funny

And that’s accompanied by a nationwide assault on the BDS Movement, with universities across the country making a concerted push to ban the organization under flimsy (and utterly false) accusations of antisemitism.

So yeah, things could be better.

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“But what about Sanders?”, you ask.

Sanders isn’t a socialist.

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“…by which I mean heavy state subsidies of public services and increased regulation, but let’s not go crazy here.” | image retrieved via giphy, fair use

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Clarifying Charlie Hebdo

Let’s face it- there’s no way to avoid this topic. At this point, I don’t know that there’s anything I can say that hasn’t already been said in the past few days. What I’d like to do, if I can’t offer anything new, is at least offer some clarity. Here are the facts, folks:

On the 7th of this month Sayeed and Shareef Kouachi attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for running cartoons deemed “insulting to Islam”. The Kouachi brothers, armed with AK-47s, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher, killed 12 individuals- most of them magazine staff and cartoonists- in addition to wounding several others. Two days later the Kouachis would be killed by French police after a protracted siege in a warehouse. Other suspects involved in the attack are currently being hunted down.

Since the 7th, we’ve seen an outpouring of indignant outrage over the killings, as well as solidarity marches, both for France and for freedom of speech. Despite the near universal solidarity behind Charlie Hebdo, a myriad of differing conclusions have been voiced in the past few days- some good, some bad, and many missing the point entirely (in spite of genuinely good intentions). Let me try to address a few of these below.

Not All Muslims Are Terrorists/Not All Terrorists Are Muslim

…But I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

At this point, parroting that line is starting to feel almost patronizing. It’s an obvious truth, and it shouldn’t need me to defend it. There are millions upon millions of Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than to live their lives in peace- among them, Ahmed Merabet, a police officer and the first of the Kouachis victims. Whether the infamous 9/11 attacks (in which American Muslim Mohammad Hamdani died attempting to rescue people from the North Tower) or the thousands of Muslim Arabs and Kurds fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Muslims shouldn’t have to be “rescued”. From Abdul Haji to Aitazaz Hassan Bangash to Malala Yousafzai– there are just as many heroic actions from Muslims as their are heinous ones.

But this is, again, obvious to anyone actually interested. I don’t know that there’s anybody out there who hasn’t already made up their mind about it (for better or for worse). Continue reading

Europe and Racism

I’ve mentioned on more than a few occasions that Europe is grappling with issues of racism, which is something of a euphemism for “full fledged white supremacy movements.” What with my repeated references and the major role that this obviously plays on a cultural and political field, I figured it’s high time I actually break it down for ya.

The UK

You’d think that a nation that’s invaded all but 22 countries, maintained the largest empire of all time, and started multiple wars with underdeveloped nations to force them to buy drugs would be a bit more understanding when the people from those countries tried moving to the UK to build better lives for themselves. Instead, the flow of immigrants into Britain has resulted in a massive backlash from the “native” English (you know- the ones descended from Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Norman immigrants). United under the fear that the empty house next door might be rented out by a family with brown skin and funny accents instead of a family with white skin and funny accents, Britain has seen the rise of bigoted groups in both the forms of political parties, such as the “British Nationalist Party” [BNP], to straight up gangs of violent racist thugs, such as the self-proclaimed “English Defense League” or “EDL”. But hey- we’ve got similar problems across the pond- what’s the big deal (other than, you know, the attempts to turn Britain into a whites-only nation, through violence and intimidation if necessary)? Continue reading

Shame Day: Zionism

This hasn’t been a great week.

My pick for the Zimbabwe elections lost to a 90-year old autocrat, white nose syndrome is devastating the American bat population, and the recent attempt to defund the NSA’s domestic spying programs has failed in Congress.

And in spite of all that, I’m going to be discussing issue I’ve been wanting to take an axe to for quite some time now.

Yep- Zionism. Continue reading

Go Rewatch The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

If you’ve heard of this series (in either its film or book form), there’s a good chance it’s because David Fincher of Fight Club/Se7en/The Social Network fame directed the American remake. Even if you’ve heard of it, there’s a also a good chance you haven’t seen it- Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo did only so-so at the box-office, not quite tanking, but also not becoming as popular as many were speculating it would be. And that’s a real tragedy, because the story, in spite of its flaws, is a really good one- you’re just going to have to make a few adjustments in how you see it.

I. Watch the Swedish Version Instead

In my post about the differences between British and American television, I pointed out that American film typically physically glamorizes each and every character- no matter how minor- while the Brits are comfortable with their protagonists actually looking like people you’d meet on the street. While not quite to on the level of the British (from what little I have seen of Swedish film), the Swedes do seem to lean more towards the Brits when it comes to this, and while it doesn’t like it’s all that important, “humanizing” the characters a bit more by making them look like people you’d actually know gives all that more grittiness and clout to the issues the story grapples with.

Beyond that, there’s the issue of casting for Lisbeth Salander. Now I’m not going to knock either Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara, partly because they’re both terrifying…

But I do nevertheless have to address the eyebrows.

More specifically, the fact that Mara’s Lisbeth doesn’t have any.

Ok, that’s not entirely fair- Mara’s version does have eyebrows- they’re just wispy blonde and really hard to see. And that’s something that’s pretty dang unsettling- heck, it’s downright terrifying.

I know it’s probably petty, but Rapace’s Salander, having eyebrows we can actually see, makes it that much easier to watch an already tough movie.

II. Watch the Second Movie First (Then the First, Then the Third)

Not having had any background knowledge of the series, I accidentally wound up watching the second part of the trilogy (The Girl Who Played With Fire) instead of the first segment (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). As confusing as it was, I think that this is the best way to do it. While it’s a good movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo really is something of a stand-alone piece, often accused of being pretty linear and slow. The subsequent stories, filled with high stakes of human trafficking and political intrigue, are a lot faster and more action-packed, but really depart from the general style of the first segment. By starting with The Girl Who Played With Fire, you get to be dropped right into the action and have a relaxing “flashback” with TGWTDT that fills in all the blanks and builds up tension and momentum for the final film, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Give it a shot- I promise it’ll pay off.

IV. Cut Steig Larsson Some Slack

A lot of critics of both the film and the books have pointed out that the male protagonist in the stories, Mikael Blomkvist, is essentially author Steig Larsson’s literary avatar. As a result, plenty of people blow off the films and books as just being Larsson’s own little fantasy in which he, the last honest journalist teams up with a goth-punk hacker to solve mysteries together. The fact that Fincher chose Daniel Craig (a.k.a. James ****ing Bond) to play Blomkvist probably didn’t do anything to assuage those accusations.

But here’s the thing- Larsson can’t be accused of writing a fantasized version himself into his books because the real Steig Larsson is way more badass!

As a boy, Larsson witnessed the rape of a woman, and so wracked with guilt at not having been able to do anything, wound up dedicating the rest of his life to fighting for justice and equality. In the 70s, he traveled to Eritrea to train an all-female squad in the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. He returned to Sweden to found a watchdog journalist group and investigate and combat neo-nazism and white supremacy, despite continually receiving death-threats.

Yeah, that’s not so much a biography as it is a superhero origin story. That’s enough right there to make Jack London and Ernest Hemingway look like pansies. If anything, Blomkvist is a version of Larsson nerfed for the sake of believability. Let’s cut the guy some slack.

IV. Understand a Bit About What’s Being Addressed

Part of the issue with the series is that it’s a commentary in no small part on Swedish social and political issues. I only recall it being hinted at in the American version, but the Swedish version of the film spent a bit more time touching on the Wennerstrom family’s (and the entire country’s) shameful flirtation with Nazism in the 30s and 40s, as well as the ongoing issues of xenophobia and racism in contemporary Sweden. Beyond that the series tries to address issues of corruption within the state, as well as the ugly reality of human trafficking (which despite growing awareness, might not quite strike home with American audiences). You don’t need to have a detailed understanding of the intricacies of State-Capitalist governance and Scandinavian history, but knowing a bit about the very real issues of fascism and racism in Europe does add a whole lot.

So what are you waiting for? Go watch ’em!

Is Batman a Fascist?

Earlier today, I came across this article over at Kasama and I felt that the subject material was topical enough for me to put the difficult issue of violence in media (which I had promised to write on earlier this week) on the back burner.

Is Batman a Fascist?

It’s not the first time the question has come up regarding superheros- in fact, it’s the idea has been around for a while, but with the popularity of Nolan’s trilogy, the debate has again found itself in the mainstream- or at least, as mainstream as comics get.

Of course you could approach this whole debate with some skepticism- with every major event, there’s always some stylishly iconoclastic deviation, like the argument that the Civil War wasn’t actually about slavery, or the like. The critique of superheroes as being responsible for supervillains (see the “escalation” conversation at the end of Batman Begins) could be argued to be the latest soapbox for contrarians. That said, it can’t be denied that the arguments against Batman have some really solid points (just look at anything on him over at Cracked.com)

Let me break the argument down to it’s basic points:

  • Batman is just an out-of-touch, or straight up disturbed, rich kid who uses his wealth to nurse pathological guilt over his parent’s death. Had he been poor, he probably would’ve wound up being the kind of petty criminal Batman typically takes out.
  • Batman’s very existence creates a cycle of escalation- in response to his extreme vigilantism, extreme criminality is created.
  • Batman acts outside the law, respecting no privacy, due process, or legal rights of any kind. He uses force to try to create a world compliant with his own personal morality.

That’s all pretty hard to argue with, but I’m going to try it anyways. Continue reading