The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State (6. From Kitsch to Woke: The Aesthetics of Totalitarianism)

‘There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministeries of propaganda, newspaper editors and school-teachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific. The love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies.’

— Aldous Huxley, Foreword to Brave New World, 1946

Table of Contents

  1. The Return of Fascism
  2. Eternal Fascism
  3. The Fascist State and Human Rights
  4. Fascism and the Decay of Capitalism
  5. The Psychological Structure of Fascism
  6. From Kitsch to Woke: The Aesthetics of Totalitarianism
  7. Fascism and the Left
  8. The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the State
  9. For a Popular Front Against Fascism
  10. On Humanity in Dark Times

6. From Kitsch to Woke: The Aesthetics of Totalitarianism

In the Western world there is a common misperception, for which the ‘Holocaust’ industry is largely responsible, that the aesthetics of fascism is one of hyper-masculinity — the figures of Mussolini and Hitler gesticulating like marionettes, the serried ranks of soldiers lined up in the Piazza Venezia in Rome or goose-stepping across the stadium at Nuremberg, the regimented austerity of Guiseppi Terragni’s neo-classical buildings and the bulging muscles of Josef Thorak’s statues of the ideal man. And undoubtedly this is partly true. But we view these spectacles through the lens of a history that has turned Hitler into Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, the Nuremberg Rallies into George Lucas’s Star Wars, and Arno Breker’s Aryan Übermenschen into Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo. By turns comic ridicule, monstrous caricature or phallic absurdity, it’s as if we were looking back on the shambling Boris Johnson, villainous Klaus Schwab or preening Donald Trump in 50 years’ time. What we have missed — more accurately, what has been made transparent by the appropriation of fascist politics to the spectacle of post-war capitalism — is the heightened emotion and unity that was created around these spectacles. What we respond to today as sinister or comic or sentimental was experienced at the time — and there are ample testimonies to these effects — as willing submission to a leader, the joyous unity of a people, the aesthetic ideal to which a national art should aspire.

Honour Temple in Munich, Germany, 1935, subsequently destroyed by the US military in 1947.

As the symbolism of the fasces makes clear, this is the aesthetics of fascism, perhaps best expressed in the National Socialist motto of ‘Strength through Joy [Kraft durch Freude]’. Behind the fascist salute, the SS uniform and the neo-classical memorial there was the ideal state, the dream of a unified people, the commemoration of fallen heroes — like the Honour Temples built in Munich in 1935 to house the sarcophagi of the sixteen members of the then nascent National Socialist German Workers Party who were killed in the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. While the National Socialist Government that was formed in 1933 embraced the industrial and technological advances of modernity to construct the totalitarian state of the Third Reich, National Socialist art, which had its roots in nineteenth-century German Romanticism, was a violently anti-modernist and conservative aesthetic. At once sentimental and maudlin, it was perhaps best represented by paintings such as Adolf Wissel’s Kalenberg Peasant Family (1939) — which was personally purchased by Adolf Hitler — than the Aryan musclemen that stood outside his chancellery.

Adolf Wissel, Kalenberg Peasant Family, in the private collection of Adolf Hitler, 1939.

This aesthetics, however, was not limited to fascism but characterises all totalitarian states, then and now. A corrective to the West’s Hollywood-constructed perception of what lay behind the Iron Curtain was provided in the 1980s by the translation and sudden popularity of the books of the Czech writer, Milan Kundera. Set in and around Prague, his novels provided an insight into daily life in a totalitarian society; and while they contained the tropes familiar to readers of John le Carre and other spy novels that Western ideologues were happy to promote, they also painted a picture of totalitarianism that at once looked back to historical fascism and forward to our present. His breakthrough novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, first published from Kundera’s enforced exile in France in 1979 and translated into English in 1980, contained a scene set in June 1950, two years after the Communists had come to power in what was then Czechoslovakia. The day before, Milada Horáková, a National Assembly representative of the Socialist Party, had been executed together with the Czech surrealist and historical materialist, Záviš Kalandra, for the crime of plotting to overthrow the state. André Breton, the French poet and leader of Surrealism, had written an open letter condemning the accusations against his old friend, and Kundera was appalled to see the former surrealist poet, Paul Éluard, dancing in the street at some state-sanctioned celebration. Although estranged from Éluard, who had joined the French Communist Party in 1942 and after the war emerged as the celebrated poet of Stalinism, Breton had asked him to intercede in and condemn the judgement against Kalandra. ‘But Éluard’, wrote Kundera, ‘was too busy dancing in the gigantic ring encircling Paris, Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Sofia and Athens, encircling all the socialist countries and all the Communist parties of the world.’

Romuald Iodko, Children’s Round Dance, Barmaley Fountain, Stalingrad, photographed in 1942.

In an interview with the US novelist, Philip Roth, published in The New York Times Review of Books in November 1980, Kundera revealed that this scene of Éluard dancing in Praque had actually taken place; but he might have been thinking too — the passage has always raised in my mind — of the famous photograph of the Barmaley Fountain taken by Emmanuil Evzerikhin in 1942 during the siege of Stalingrad. This shows the statues of six children — they wear the neckties of Soviet Young Pioneers — holding hands and dancing in a circle around a crocodile, set against the burning wreck of the city. For most cultures the ring is a symbol of unity, but for Kundera the structure of a ring embodies the condition on which all totalitarianisms are formed. Unlike a row of dancers, which is open to entry from new members joining at either end, the ring is a closed formation, and once you leave it there is no return. The integrity and purity of its form, therefore, is only achieved on the condition of the exclusion of those outside its circle. As every wallflower sittting on the edge of a dance-floor knows, you’re either in the ring of dancers or you’re on the outside. And for the strength of the unity and the bond of its joy to be sustained, the dancers must justify and explain — at least to themselves — the exclusion of those on the outside. The ring of dancers, therefore, is the expression of totalitarian society, in which everyone must demonstrate their belonging, their belief, their unity, at every moment and joyfully. As Kundera told Roth:

‘Totalitarianism deprives people of memory and thus retools them into a nation of children. All totalitarianisms do this. And perhaps our entire technical age does this, with its cult of the future, its cult of youth and childhood, its indifference to the past and mistrust of thought.’

Norman Rockwell, Christmas Homecoming, cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, 1948.

This is the aesthetics of kitsch as defined by the US art critic, Clement Greenberg, in his 1939 article, ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’. Greenberg’s concern was to distinguish the art of the avant-garde — Pablo Picasso, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce — he wanted to promote from the mass-produced culture of industrial societies, which he called ‘kitsch’, and which he equates with ‘vicarious experience and faked sensations’. Examples of kitsch, Greenberg said, are the illustrations for covers of The Saturday Evening Post by the American illustrator, Norman Rockwell — whose heir in the US culture industry of today is Steven Spielberg — and, in the Soviet Union, the art of socialist realism, which had been made the official culture under Stalin since 1934. Although Greenberg doesn’t cite him individually, therefore, kitsch includes the public works of the Soviet sculptor, Romuald Iodko, who designed the Barmaley fountain in Stalingrad that survived the assaults of the German Wehrmacht.

Dorothea Hauer, We Want to See Our Leader, 1939.

Kitsch, therefore, was not particular to fascism, but a product of the expanded role of culture in the modern state. When that state was totalitarian, however — and in this respect Greenberg, like Friedrich Hayek, didn’t distinguish between Stalinism, Nazism and fascism — the always tenuous distinction between culture and propaganda dissolved. Like most apologists for US imperialism, however, Greenberg remained blind to the political function of US culture, which after the Second World War went on to dominate the world we live in now. But if we expand his reference to totalitarianism to encompass the most totalitarian culture ever created — the mass culture of US consumerism since the Great War, which colonised the Western world during the Cold War and has achieved almost total dominance since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 — his description of its political function is as true today as it was then. ‘The encouragement of kitsch’, Greenberg wrote, ‘is merely another of the inexpensive ways in which totalitarian regimes seek to ingratiate themselves with their subjects’.

Facade of Mussolini’s headquarters on the Palazzo Braschi before the Italian referendum, 1934.

All of which brings us down to the present, in which kitsch defines what passes for culture in a UK suddenly devoid of art and culture, and nowhere more so than in the construction of the ideological superstructure of the biosecurity state over the past two years. As an example of which, The National Covid Memorial Wall on London’s South Bank is state-sanctioned kitsch. Produced by street-art activists Led by Donkeys, it has been described by The Guardian newspaper — perhaps the most unstinting national advocate of biosecurity programmes, lockdown and ‘vaccine’ mandates and denouncer of protesters as ‘right-wing conspiracy theorists’ — as ‘a memorial to the UK’s largest peacetime mass trauma event in more than a century’. The wall is in the ownership of St. Thomas’ Hospital and under the jurisdiction of Lambeth Council, one of the most corrupt local authorities in London and like the London Mayor run by the Labour Party. Begun in March 2021, the wall’s by now 150,000 hearts, painted uniformly under directions displayed on permanent plaques, are meant to represent the officially enshrined number of deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Sadiq Khan at the National Covid Memorial Wall in April 2021, a month before his re-election as Mayor.

Of course, we now know — and many of us have suspected since this lie was first told — that the actual number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in the UK is far lower than this grossly inflated figure. On 16 December, 2021, the Office for National Statistics grudgingly revealed that, between March 2020 and September 2021, deaths attributed to COVID-19 in England and Wales in which the deceased had no pre-existing health conditions numbered 17,371, of which 13,597 (78 per cent) were 65 years of age or older; while in Scotland, between March 2020 and November 2021, there had been just 884 such deaths, 585 of which (66 per cent) were 70 or over. Then a day later, the Office for National Statistics revealed that, between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2021, just 6,183 deaths in England and Wales had COVID-19 listed as the only cause on the death certificate. 4,596 of these deaths (75 per cent of the total) were of people 70 years of age or older, and 3,388 (55 per cent) were 80 or older, roughly the average life expectancy in the UK. Just 1,587 people under 70 died with COVID-19 as the only cause of death. 3 of them were under 20.

Equally clearly, COVID-19 can be responsible for precipitating the death of someone who is already suffering from cancer or heart disease or some other fatal health condition — over all of which, under changes to the certification of deaths in the UK, COVID-19 always takes precedence in identifying the ‘underlying cause’; so the latter figure of just over 6,000 deaths is not the definitive count over this period. But it and the former figure of around 18,000 deaths in two years point toward the actual impact of COVID-19 on overall mortality in the UK over the past two years, which is nowhere near the 150,000 hearts on the National Covid Memorial Wall. They also show that, even among those with no pre-existing health conditions or other listed cause of death, COVID-19 is still overwhelmingly a danger to the elderly, and has never constituted a threat to the health of the general public.

It’s also neceassary, if we are to understand the ideological role of such memorials, to put these figures into context. In 2019, the year before the ‘pandemic’ was declared, there were 1,752 reported deaths on UK roads, which is similar to the level seen every year since 2012. That’s more than the number of people under 70 who died of COVID-19 alone in two years. Each year in the UK, around 6,000 people die following an accident at home, and falls are the largest cause of accidental death among over-65s. That’s more than the 4,994 people over 65 who died from COVID-19 alone in two years. Also in 2019, there were 5,691 registered deaths by suicide in England and Wales, which is nearly as many as died from COVID-19 alone in 2020 and 2021 combined. In comparison, in 2018, the most recent year for which the ONS has published the figures, 40,214 people died from heart disease in the UK, 26,579 from dementia, 18,587 from lung cancer, and 14,708 from influenza and pneumonia.

I’ve written previously, in Manufacturing Consent: The Registering of COVID-19 Deaths in the UK, which I published in May 2020, and in Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: Manufacturing the Crisis, published in January 2021, about how the coronavirus ‘crisis’ has been manufactured through changes to disease taxonomy, changes to the medical criteria and procedures for attributing the cause of death, data manipulation and a lack of context in publishing it, and above all of the effects of lockdown itself on the health and lives of the nation. Even the corporate media, earlier this year, belatedly admitted that the official figures are far too high; although, as the Government threatens us with lockdown again, there is already a backlash of new wildly increased estimates.

The truth is, we’ll never know how many people died of COVID-19, because the bodies have been cremated and autopsies were not conducted under changes to the law made by The Coronavirus Act 2020. But the Government’s claim of nearly 150,000 deaths ‘with’ COVID-19 in two years — raised to an even more improbable 193,500 by May 2022 — is clearly a product of criteria designed to terrorise the population into compliance with the construction of the global biosecurity state around, between and within us over the past two years. It’s a principle of quantum physics that the observed is a product of the conditions of observation, and this manufactured ‘crisis’ has been a demonstration of the truism that what we call ‘facts’ are a product of the discursive procedures designed to produce them. However, although we’ll never know the truth, we can still identify a lie when we see one, and the coronavirus ‘crisis’ is a lie — one of the biggest in modern history, if not the biggest: a unique product of our global political economy and the power of digital technology to manufacture a virtual reality more convincing than the evidence of our own experience. In this respect, as in the immense economic and human cost of the lockdowns it justified and which are far from over, it belongs in the long line of crimes against humanity and the lies invented to conceal them by totalitarian regimes, from the gulag of the Soviet Union to the US invasion of Iraq.

By any measure, for the World Health Organisation to designate a virus with an infection fatality rate comparable to seasonal influenza and to which most of the population was statistically immune as a ‘pandemic’ was as politically motivated as the decision of our Government to declare an ‘emergency period’ that justified it removing our rights and freedoms for two years; but to commemorate this period in a 500-metre long wall of pink hearts is kitsch. We might ask where the equivalent wall is for the far more numerous deaths of people at the same age from the major killers in the UK, which are mourned by their family and friends but pass without a public memorial year after year? Where is the commemoration of the tens of thousands who will die from the cancer and heart disease undiagnosed and untreated during the reduction of healthcare under lockdown? Where is the memorial to the tens of thousands of elderly citizens suffering from dementia who were left to die in care homes under ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ orders while the state banned them from treatment in our emptied hospitals? Since COVID-19 is not a pandemic and hasn’t been experienced as such by the British people outside the propaganda with which we continue to be indoctrinated, from where do these red hearts come? The answer is: from the enshrinement of kitsch as the official culture of the biosecurity state.

What Greenberg called ‘kitsch’, a loanword from the German language, is today called ‘woke’, which comes from African-American vernacular English. Like kitsch, behind the sentimentality and diversity of woke culture there lies the force of the totalitarian state. As Greenberg wrote in 1939: ‘If kitsch is the official tendency of culture in Germany, Italy and Russia, it is not because their respective governments are controlled by philistines, but because kitsch is the culture of the masses in these countries, as it is elsewhere.’ The same can be said of today. It would be politically naive in the extreme to believe that the Government of Boris Johnson cares about the proclaimed values of woke; yet it is on the hegemony of this culture that the erasure of our democracy, our rights, our freedoms and our politics is being justified by the UK biosecurity state.

British Transport Police sexual harassment poster campaign, 2022.

To take just one example, in anticipation of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which was made into UK law on 28 April, National Rail and London Underground now display notices by the British Transport Police informing passengers that ‘touching someone inappropriately’, ‘making unsolicited remarks’ and ‘staring at someone in a sexual way’ now constitutes ‘sexual harassment’, and encourages the victims of such touching, speaking and staring — or, crucially, those who claim to have witnessed such acts — to report the incident to the British Transport Police. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to an epidemic of denunciations from a righteous public empowered to enact vengeance against the non-compliant. But just as, over the past two years, the rights and freedoms of the entire population were removed on the justification of protecting us from a virus that constituted a threat almost exclusively to the elderly and already seriously ill, so now, on the justification of reducing the harassment of women in public, more and more of our behaviour, our speech and our actions are being subjected, under primary legislation, to surveillance, monitoring, control and punishment. To state the obvious, the intrusive staring, physical abuse and verbal harassment we need protecting from is that of the biosecurity state, whose powers of digital surveillance, media propaganda, facial recognition technology, private data storage, and police assault, arrest and punishment have increased beyond measure or justification over the past two years. Indeed, some of the transport posters are illustrated with staring eyes, representing both the eyes of the public on which the state has placed its prohibition, and the eyes of the state monitoring us for non-compliance. As he has been for some time now, Big Brother is watching us.

The National Covid Memorial Wall is only one example of kitsch being used to entrench the new ways of thinking and feeling, the new meanings and values, the new social practices and behaviours of the global biosecurity state in UK society. The clap for the NHS was one of the first rituals to encourage public collaboration by ‘outing’ non-compliance through a sort of aural panopticon — and a realisation, significantly, of the Black Lives Matter slogan that ‘silence is violence’. But other cultural forms include the manipulative and shaming NHS posters challenging us not to comply with, obey or believe the Government’s justifications for lockdown restrictions. Another was the bullying and assault of citizens in the public realm by police officers acting far beyond any legislative basis, and which, documented and reported across both social and corporate media, served to dissuade similar lack of compliance from the general public. Perhaps most ubiquitous were the infantilising ‘Thank you/We Love You’ NHS rainbow posters imitating the drawing of a child that became almost obligatory in the window of every pub, shop or home under lockdown — and which, as Kundera said, sought to turn us into a nation of children.

NHS window poster campaign, 2020.

As examples of the UK biosecurity state trying — with generally overwhelming success — to ingratiate itself with its citizens, these all rely on what we today take as given and therefore do not see, which is the introduction of aesthetics into politics. As I discussed in the previous section, as early as 1935 the German cultural critic, Walter Benjamin, identified the aestheticisation of politics that has become so ubiquitous in the former neoliberal democracies of the West as a product of fascism. But over the past two years it has become not only all pervasive and unrelenting, but now has at its service all the forces of the state and the private sector. This includes the almost weekly spectacle of protests by the mostly urban, white, middle-class acolytes of woke ideology that represent the ideal citizen of the global biosecurity state — masked at all times, tracked by their own smart phones, tested regularly and at their own cost, injected as many times as they’re told to, compliant with whatever regulations the Government imposes. Obedient.

Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, UK, June 2020.

More recently, we’ve had the ritual of ‘taking the knee’ as a protest against ‘any form of discrimination’, and which has been extended from sportsmen and pro-woke politicians to, at the recent League Cup final, the UK military. Proscribed discrimination presumably excludes that authorised by Western governments’ ‘vaccine’ mandates, or committed by the governments or companies or sovereign investment funds that own the English Premier League’s clubs, whether that’s the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China, Thailand, the USA or, indeed, the UK itself. As an example of sport being used to wash the dirty reputations of investors, ‘taking the knee’ has turned the disruptive gesture of the American footballer, Colin Kaepernick, who has been blacklisted from playing professional football in the US for his protest, into another example of the obligatory virtue signalling by which woke ideology exerts its cultural influence and, increasingly, its legislative authority over us.

UK military personnel ‘taking the knee’ at the Football League Cup final, Wembley Stadium, 2022.

The universal compliance of every media, sporting, cultural and artistic institution in the West with the vilification of everything Russian, and the virtue signalling of compliance through the display of Ukrainian flags, is a demonstration and continuation of the unprecedented political consensus created by the global biosecurity state over the past two years. Quite apart from the political naivety of participating in such public displays, none of these cultural spectacles would look out of place in a fascist state. None of them do look out of place according to the fascist aesthetics of the UK biosecurity state. If we weren’t certain already, the farcical willingness with which the UK population has responded to the Government’s suggestion to either take up arms against Russia or open their homes to Ukrainian refugees shows just how susceptible the population is to state propaganda. Indeed, we are reaching such a state of compliance — a genuinely fascist state of citizenship — that there is almost nothing that, as a nation, we won’t believe, obey or do.

In the course of writing these articles I watched a discussion titled ‘What is fascism?’ that was held in October 2017 at the Battle of Ideas, a forum at which I  have spoken on a couple of occasions, but which is liberal in its political orientation. On the panel were three academics: Kevin Passmore, Professor of History at Cardiff University; Roger Griffin, Professor of Modern History at Oxford Brookes University; and Jane Caplan, Professor Emeritus of Modern European History at Oxford University and Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University College London —  all of whom took refuge in problematising the term fascism as a description of a single and unified ideology, political movement or government — plus a journalist, Bruno Waterfield, the Brussels Correspondent for The Times newspaper. All unreservedly confined the accusation of fascism to the usual suspects — Russia and far-right groups in Europe and the USA — without once addressing whether fascism is a term that can be applied to the neoliberal democracies of the West. The most the Chair, Jacob Furedi, a journalist for The Daily Mail, would concede is that the Brexit referendum signalled a return of nationalism to the political agenda of the UK. But it never occurred to any of the panel that the Government that had Julian Assange under lock and key for five years in the Ecuadorian Embassy, that imprisons refugees from war and political oppression in immigration camps, that the previous year had passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 into law, could for a moment be described as ‘fascist’. The audience, however, wasn’t dissatisfied with the panel’s sophistry, and demanded a definition of fascism. In response, Professor Griffin offered an example of the political naivety of middle-class liberalism.

‘I can understand the nostalgia for a homogeneous thought. On the other hand, I celebrate and love the fact that I’m living in such an atomised and pluralistic society that I can sit here and spout off and be denigrated, and it really doesn’t matter, because it’s the absolute plurality of the sort of society that I’m living in, which I love, and allows me intellectual freedom, and means that I can deliver lectures at Oxford Brookes without fear of the Gestapo coming in. And I would say that there is a very real threat to the understanding that what makes this possible historically is a celebration of difference and a celebration of tolerance . . . which means that we do not resort to violence and slogans in order to reduce the complexity of the world and the infinite chaos of our inner selves to some sort of marching simulacrum of a human being.’

This tub-thumping declaration of the virtues of Western liberalism, which would be risible in The Guardian but is unforgivable in a Professor of Modern History, was met with applause and self-congratulatory calls of ‘hear-hear!’ It had apparently never occurred to Professor Griffin that the reason he is allowed to mouth such platitudes without interference from the state is because nothing he says presents a threat to the latter, and that, if anything he said ever did so, he would find his ‘pluralist’, ‘tolerant’, ‘intellectually free’ society as subjected to corporate censorship, state violence and visits from the police as those who have opposed the implementation of the global biosecurity state over the past two years.

Finally, Bruno Waterfield concluded the proceedings with a bullish call to maintain trust in people, apparently because that is what maintains the democratic order, and a warning against what he called ‘ideologies of mistrust’.

‘Politics increasingly today is not seen as the rationality of autonomous individuals pursuing conscious interests, but based much more on the idea that humans are motivated by deeper, irrational identification with certain political or racial groupings, for example. If the true motives of people are beyond the power of reason, then liberal democracy is a lie, a joke, less than a veneer. . . . You need to maintain that optimistic sense, which is a historical reality, that human beings are constructive, that they are not irrational creatures who are driven by passions and dark irrational impulses.’

It’s difficult to know on what historical evidence this statement could be made with any veracity in 2017. Five years later, in 2022, it’s hard to hear it as anything other than an example of the bad faith with which middle-class liberals live their increasingly illusory relation to finance capitalism. Asserting as much, however, already says too little and too much: too little, in that it psychologises a class attitude that is also a product of a political ideology that has been long in the formation and which the coronavirus ‘crisis’ has allowed to assume its official status; and too much, because it risks dismissing what must be understood if we are to understand and change how highly-educated, politically-interested professionals who see themselves as opposed to fascism have become the facilitators and apologists for its return. I agree with Waterfield that liberal democracy is a lie and less than a veneer, although hardly a joke; but in the face of his reaffirmation of Enlightenment rationalism, the coronavirus ‘crisis’, to the contrary, has shown that the citizens of neoliberal democracies are, incontrovertibly, driven by the dark, irrational impulses he describes — though not, as we have seen, beyond the power of reason to direct their fears and hatreds to political ends.

National Health Service COVID-19 poster campaign, 2021.

This is why woke, which likes to present itself as a counter culture speaking for the marginalised and oppressed, is now the official ideology of the global biosecurity state, justifying mass surveillance of the population, censorship of dissent, and the expansion of state control over biological life. When trans-activists, for example, declare that any male who declares himself to be female should be treated in every aspect as a female, and that anyone who questions this orthodoxy endangers the lives of transsexuals and should therefore be censored, they contribute to and share in the culture of enforced orthodoxies by which the biosecurity state has declared that anyone questioning the COVID-19 ‘vaccine’ programme is endangering the lives of those who may think twice before being injected, and should therefore be censored. In both these examples, whether its trolls on Twitter or the UK Goverment, those making the declaration have decided, unilaterally, on the desired outcome (separation of sexual difference from biology and mass compliance with the ‘vaccination’ programme), and are ready to use the force of the state to enforce compliance, even if that means destroying the reputations and livelihoods of individuals or fining and arresting them.

The possible consequences of such censorship include, in the example of unexamined trans-orthodoxies being enforced through policy, the biological and emotional development of children being chemically suppressed through so-called ‘puberty blockers’; irreversible sex changes performed on the judgement of adolescents and in some cases as a form of self-harming; the dangers of adult males having access to female-only areas and forms of social practice; mysogyny disguised as trans-rights; the erasure of female identity as a form of charade; and, more generally, the normalisation of a trans-humanist agenda at the heart of the Great Reset; and, in the example of ‘vaccine’ mandates, the adverse drug reactions, including damages to the immune system, heart inflamation and deaths, following injection with experimental bio-technology; the normalisation of discrimination against, and interference with the human rights of, the non-compliant; and, on the justification of enforcing such mandates, the implementation of Universal Digital Identity, Central Bank Digital Currency, Social Credit, and all the other programmes of the global biosecurity state. And yet, in both these examples, which are also models of how woke ideology will serve to implement biosecurity programmes in the future, none of these consequences have ever been publicly examined or debated, and those calling loudest for and enforcing censorship of that absent debate have never been required to argue or provide evidence for their claims.

It’s for this reason alone that trans-rights — which, even after the huge institutional support and financial backing this movement has received, still apply to only a fraction of a percentage of the population — have become so central to the global biosecurity state. Under the colonisation of the West’s media, cultural and education institutions by woke, the subjective experience of race, of colour, of ethnicity, most recently of sexual difference and above all of the reviled and unrelentingly attacked working class, is being erased beneath the totalising homogeneity of positive discrimination, enforced diversity training, representational quotas and all the other programmes of social homogenisation. Just as the neoliberal ideology of multiculturalism created a global monoculture, so the government funding and institutional hegemony of woke ideology has subsumed contrary social and political practices within the homogeneity created by monopolised cultural markets. No other movement since fascism has been as adept as woke at creating a nexus for cultural, legal and political change to shore up a failing capitalism, or has more rapidly attained ideological hegemony in the West.

Counter-demonstration against the protest against ‘vaccine’ mandates in Ottawa, Canada, February 2022.

A far cruder use of woke ideology was demonstrated to the world when Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada and global champion of neoliberal diversity and inclusivity who in June 2020 had ‘taken the knee’ at a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, variously described protesters in the same city against his ‘vaccine’ mandates in January 2022 as ‘right-wing’, ‘violent’, ‘hate-filled’, ‘disgusting’, ‘extremists’, ‘vandals’, ‘thieves’, ‘abusive’, ‘intimidatory’, ‘anti-vaxx’, ‘anti-science’, ‘racist’, ‘anti-black’, ‘anti-Semitic’, ‘Islamophobic’, ‘homophobic’, ‘transphobic’, ‘misogynistic’ an ‘insult to truth’, a ‘fringe minority’ with ‘unacceptable views’ who should ‘not be tolerated’. As confirmation of which, he threatened protesters’ families before sending in armed and armoured mounted police and counter-terrorist paramilitaries supported by armoured cars armed with heat weapons to assault, arrest and imprison them. Later, he declared to the Canadian Parliament that any MP who stood with the truckers was ‘standing with the swastika’. Trudeau then evoked emergency powers to freeze the bank accounts of anyone who supported the protest.

Riot police armed with clubs in Ottawa, Canada, February 2022.

What Trudeau didn’t address was the legality of the mandates against which the protesters were demonstrating, their rights to bodily autonomy under Canadian and international law, the efficacy and dangers of the still experimental ‘vaccines’, or the economic consequences for the non-compliant of being discriminated against according to their ‘vaccination’ status. Instead, the Canadian citizens who had elected him to office were first insulted, then assaulted and finally arrested and in many cases imprisoned for standing up for their human rights. This is woke ideology in power, and why it has been adopted by the global biosecurity state to justify the current revolution into a totalitarian society administered by fascist nation states and governed by a global technocracy.

Finally, beyond the economic sanctions placed on Russia by the West — which mirror the trade embargo the US Empire has inflicted on Cuba for the past 60 years and are just as political in their motivations and useless in their impact beyond impoverishing the Cuban and now the Russian people — we are now expected to applaud the disgraceful spectacles of Russian and Belarusian tennis players being banned from competing in the Wimbledon tennis championships; of a Russian conductor being fired from his honorary presidency of the Edinburgh Festival; of a programme of Tchaikovsky’s music being pulled from a concert by the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra; of the cancellation of the residency of the Bolshoi Ballet by the Royal Opera House; of the cancellation of the license to broadcast in the UK of RT News and the blocking of all Russian news channels by Sky, Freesat, Freeview, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook and Google; of the removal of Russian-brewed beers and vodkas from English pubs and bars; and of a Russian oligarch ordered by the Premier League to sell the football club he has owned since 2003, not because of the history of violence and corruption by which he made his billions from the expropriation of the Russian people, but because of his nationality.

Cancellation of RT News reports in the UK by YouTube, 2022.

This is not only the liberal hypocrisy, virtue signalling, cancel culture and identity politics of woke ideology operating on the world stage, but demonstrates that the historical forces that gave rise to the scapegoating of foreigners and the show trials in National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1930s — or, closer in time, to the USA in the 1950s — has reared its ugly head once more in the West. All these are, quite evidently, the actions of a fascist state — or, more accurately, of a satellite fascist state obeying the dictates of the US Empire, much as Austria did those of the Third Reich. Indeed, the geopolitical manoeuvring of the US in the Ukraine repeats that in Czechoslovakia in the years leading up to the Second World War. In April 1933, Hitler has loudly proclaimed that Czechs were slaughtering Sudeten Germans and threatened to intervene. That September, the Munich Agreement with Britain and France conceded the annexation of the Sudetenland to the Third Reich. The following month, both Hungary and Poland annexed parts of Slovakia, and Carpatho-Ukraine proclaimed itself an independent republic. During the occupation, the Nazi authorities banned Russian ballet. Of course, in an era in which the UK population can barely recall the lies on which the invasion of Iraq was justified less than two decades ago, one can’t expect anyone to recall the history of fascism. Yet following a decade of woke ideology and our habituation to the increased degree and incidence of censorship over the past two years, the populations of the West’s former liberal democracies, rather than condemning these actions for what they are, are collaborating in their implementation with all the unthinking obedience and righteous hate they brought to the creation of the global biosecurity state.

Project Servator, police surveillance poster campaign, 2021-2022.

Meanwhile, neither the totalitarian Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor the apartheid and fascist State of Israel, despite committing some of the greatest crimes against humanity and violations of human rights of any nation state since the Second World War, attract none of the condemnation or concerted sanctions Western governments are inflicting on Russia. Indeed, the governments and companies in both the UK and the US continue to arm, train, trade with and give their political support to Saudi Arabia in its violent oppression and execution of its own people and its genocidal war on the people of Yemen, as they do Israel in its 75-year illegal occupation of Palestine, whose people it continues to oppress, starve, imprison, torture and kill with impunity. The ideologues of woke ‘standing with Ukraine’ while ordering everyone else onto their knees have nothing to say about this silence or the hypocrisy of their collusion with their own governments in the geopolitical manoeuvrings of the West. In this respect, woke ideology functions as more than simply a comfort blanket for liberal inertia, and becomes the means by which the violence of the global biosecurity state is justified.

Rainbow Cars, police campaign launched in August 2021.

Indeed, what the current revolution from neoliberalism into biosecurity is demonstrating is that, far from being opposed to fascism — as it has depicted itself in the culture wars of the past twenty years — woke, with its cult of youth, its saccharine sentimentality, its suppression of memory, its embrace of mob rule, its kitsch aesthetics, its regression to cultural conservatism, its adherence to identity politics, its hatred of the working class, its allegiance to the market as the only framework for change, its addiction to surveillance technology, its extolling of reform over revolution, its suppression of intellectual, cultural and political debate, its normalisation of censorship as the default response to disagreement, its culture of no-platforming those who do not share its principles, its ban on books and authors that do not adhere to its ideology, its organised campaigns to socially ostracise and professionally ruin the uncompliant, the violence with which it demands allegiance to its orthodoxies, the adolescent puritanism of its sexual politics, its creation of ideological hegemony through indoctrination programmes such as ‘diversity training’, its hierarchy of obedience established by public demonstrations of virtue, its almost universal adoption by our media, police forces, education and cultural institutions, its enforcement by repressive legislation removing our rights and freedoms on the justification of protecting us from the heterogeneous elements of society, and above all the ease with which it has been employed by national governments, international corporations and the global technocracy they form to increase and expand their political, economic and cultural power — in short, by its facilitation of capitalism’s construction of the totalitarianism of the global biosecurity state — woke is not liberal, and it certainly isn’t socialist: woke is fascist.

Simon Elmer
Architects for Social Housing

In the next section, ‘Fascism and the Left’, I’ll look at the failure of the Left to combat the rise of fascism, both historically and today; and discuss why the neoliberal equation of socialism with fascism, which has led to statements that the coronavirus ‘crisis’ is a communist coup, is refuted by the capitalist infrastructure of the global biosecurity state, and that what we are experiencing is the return of fascism to the West.

Collections of articles by the same author about the UK biosecurity state :

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10 thoughts on “The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State (6. From Kitsch to Woke: The Aesthetics of Totalitarianism)

  1. These are the finest articles I have yet read on the fascist turn that started in spring 2020 – although clearly its roots go way back and the programme of emergence (so to speak) had been planned a long time in advance.

    I am looking forward to the next instalment ‘Fascism and the Left’, though I don’t think “the neoliberal equation of socialism with fascism”, specifically “led to statements that the coronavirus ‘crisis’ is a communist coup”. This equation may have been a contributory factor but the notion that the covid programme was a “communist” matter is something that was encouraged by a tactic of information management that sprang into operation the moment Event Covid began.

    What I noticed is that the media coalescence into the monolithic covid juggernaut only had one deviation in mainstream discourse – and that was a matter of rumblings which invariably came from the Right whilst the Left relentlessly pushed embodied the most belligerent covid fearmongering.

    Thus the entire “fight against covid” was portrayed as a “leap to the Left” in which four decades of neoliberalism had finally submitted to revolutionary cheers from the dissidents. Ludicrously, the lockdowns, the distancing, the masks, even the “race against time” to developed a vaccine were all portrayed as something forced on the ruling class. Boris Johnson had been “dragged kicking and screaming” into these measures. “Wildcat strikes” across Europe had, within a matter of weeks at the most, forced governments to shut down entire economies.

    And all previous well-deserved cynicism shown by the Left towards the media suddenly disappeared. Indeed it was implied that this media itself was now speaking up for the masses – “People before profits” etc.

    This lockstep formation was clearly planned. All official Left sites were fully on board and their followers eagerly swallowed the Good News: capitalism was on the run and it automatically followed that anyone who expressed any reservations must be “reactionary”, “libertarian”, “on the Right” and ultimately “fascist”, “white supremacist” and guilty of any number of the labels of Left invective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the Left relentlessly pushed embodied the most belligerent covid fearmongering.

      should be

      the Left relentlessly pushed the most belligerent covid fearmongering.

      Like

    2. Thank you, George. I’ll keep your comments in mind in trying to address why the Left is so unreservedly complicit in this authoritarian takeover. The response you mention (according to Zizek: ‘furlough is communism!’) is almost too stupid to believe; but then, the boundaries of stupidity are pushed back on a daily basis by the Left.

      Like

  2. In your analysis you are still neglecting what is going on in China at this very moment. I also detect in you a reluctance to publish critical remarks.

    Like

    1. I’m not neglecting it, I hope. If you’d read these articles in sequence, you’ll know my focus is on the return of fascism to the former neoliberal democracies of the West. As I’ve commented several times, China has provided the model for aspects of the global biosecurity state, most obviously for lockdown and, in the future, for social credit; but the state capitalism of its infrastructure is different to the neoliberal capitalism in the West. The financial crisis of September 2019 that occasioned the lockdown of the West obviously has a lot to do with the inability of the US economy and the West in general to address the forces identified by the Bank of International Payments the previous June, and I’ve looked at that in the fourth of my articles on Fascism and the Decay of Capitalism. I have no reluctance to criticise China, if that’s what you’re implying, simply because it calls itself communist. If you’d read my previous article, on the Psychological Structure of Fascism, you’d know how little purchase I think the division into Left and Right has on the political paradigm of the global biosecurity state. But I’ll take your criticism on, and try to attend to the role China is playing in the Great Reset. Undoubtedly, the zero-COVID policy and the effects that is having on imports to the West is having a compound effect on the immiseration of Western workers by two years of lockdown followed by spiralling inflation as the trillions of dollars printed by the central banks flows into the real economy. I guess the question is, to what extent are China and Russia complicit in the Great Reset of Western capitalism or in geopolitical competition with the US and Europe. I think and hope it’s the latter, or we really are in trouble!

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  3. I echo the first comment from georgemci, this is the latest in a very fine series placing a historic context as well as, a contemporary interpretation of perceptions, to a bewildering sequence of events over the past 2 years or so.
    This article from 2016 .
    http://www.defenddemocracy.press/president-belgian-magistrates-neoliberalism-form-fascism/
    Neoliberalism is a species of fascism
    By Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates’ Union of Belgium
    Was an early bellwether, to me at least, that the response to the Electorate’s non-compliance manifested as Brexit and MAGA required a tightening of the degrees of freedom of expression allowable on Line. The idea that “On-Line” still retains any veracity for effecting real change, 6 years and 3 Internet purges later, is more than absurd, and yet blindness to the absurdities of the new Totalitarian Charge seems to come packaged in the cognitive dissonance of a curious will to believe the abusive state spectacle.

    “woke, with its cult of youth, its saccharine sentimentality, its suppression of memory, its embrace of mob rule, its kitsch aesthetics, its regression to cultural conservatism, its adherence to identity politics, its hatred of the working class, its allegiance to the market as the only framework for change, its addiction to surveillance technology, its extolling of reform over revolution, its suppression of intellectual, cultural and political debate, its normalisation of censorship as the default response to disagreement, its culture of no-platforming those who do not share its principles, its ban on books and authors that do not adhere to its ideology, its organised campaigns to socially ostracise and professionally ruin the uncompliant, the violence with which it demands allegiance to its orthodoxies, the adolescent puritanism of its sexual politics, its creation of ideological hegemony through indoctrination programmes such as ‘diversity training’, its hierarchy of obedience established by public demonstrations of virtue, its almost universal adoption by our media, police forces, education and cultural institutions, its enforcement by repressive legislation removing our rights and freedoms on the justification of protecting us from the heterogeneous elements of society, and above all the ease with which it has been employed by national governments, international corporations and the global technocracy they form to increase and expand their political, economic and cultural power — in short, by its facilitation of capitalism’s construction of the totalitarianism of the global biosecurity state — woke is not liberal, and it certainly isn’t socialist: woke is fascist.”

    ” its extolling of reform over revolution,”

    https://notthegrubstreetjournal.com/2017/04/27/neo-liberalism-now-with-overt-fascism-macron-pot-kettle-black-shirt/

    Like

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