Trumph of the Will
Taking Donald Trump's Fascism Seriously
Justin C. Mueller
The GOP presidential candidacy of Donald Trump has been seen by many as a hilarious farce. How could this former reality TV star, a multiply-bankrupt billionaire, an all of a sudden family-values champion with four failed marriages, whose official politics have shifted loudly with the political winds NOT be seen as a ridiculous indictment of the spectacle of American electoral politics? As some have noted, his very appeal to some people is in his willingness to say things that normal politicians just don't usually say… at least, out loud. As several commentators have observed, however, Trump is simply not funny any more. What has changed? Some have alluded to the eerily fascist-like character of his rhetoric and policies. Many people may consider this to be a ridiculous, hyperbolic, or unthinkable comparison. After all, Hitler killed millions. While Trump may have destroyed communities through his business practices, such a comparison must be wildly inappropriate, or even disrespectful to the victims of early 20th century fascism. In internet culture, this common sense manifests itself in the idea of Godwin's Law, which argues that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1". The implication of this is that such comparisons are toxic, abused and overused rhetorically, and intended more to de-legitimize an opponent rather than say anything of worth. While comparisons to fascism can certainly be over-used in rhetoric, they are under-used in actual analysis. Fascism, and Hitler in particular, have generally been treated as exhausted signifiers of the kind described by Roland Barthes - drained of metaphorical, conceptual, and descriptive utility. Simultaneously, Hitler in particular has become too mythical and distant of a figure, ensconced firmly within Western national mythologies regarding the moral status of World War II.
Doing Ferguson and Baltimore at the Intersection of Racial Oppression and Hopelessness
Dr. Jason Michael Williams
This summer I made several trips to Ferguson and Baltimore, not only as one in great solidarity with protesting efforts but as a researcher, too. My several trips to both locations have impacted me tremendously as a criminologist. Though I have had perfect training in critical theory and, not to mention, my biography, which informs me (as it does anyone else), I have been more enriched by stepping into the intersectional realities of others whom are like myself (in racial heritage, etc.), but who exist in different social categories and spaces. While matriculating through these very racially oppressed and hopeless spaces, I was suddenly awakened to my privilege-to the fact that my academic credentials have allowed me to ascend my previous status, which in many ways was akin to what I am now studying in Ferguson and Baltimore. The combination of my experiences and the life-stories of those whom I interviewed have forced me to drift away into a deeply induced state of introspection. At this moment, I was forced to recognize that I was angrier now than I was before-that me being able to achieve self-determination and actualization was not enough so long as others were still being oppressed and left hopeless. I began my research in Ferguson long before I decided to include Baltimore in my study. My first trip to Ferguson was deeply revolutionary. I was amazed at the organizing that had been going on, and the unification (albeit sometimes shaky) that I was observing. A unique caveat, however, was that the organizing was largely being done by millennials, a generation within which I belong. Seeing all of this was deeply revolutionary and impressive to me, as millennials are typically stereotyped as apolitical and unbothered by government and its goings-on. However, in this moment, they were coming together to resist state violence, an undemocratic function of the US government that many of them (and their forebearers) have long had to experience.
OECD's Corporate Takeover of Our Education Systems
Anna Brix Thomsen
A discourse of paranoia is slowly but surely creeping into the core of our education systems and if you are a parent who has a child in school, you will know that education today is not like it was even 10 or 20 years ago and that a significant difference is the increase of standardized testing. What you may not be aware of is that this increase in standardized testing is spearheaded by a private global interest organization called the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) who runs a program called PISA (Program For International Student Assessment). The OECD has with its PISA program become one of the most influential organizations when it comes to setting the agenda for the future of education, and is rapidly working towards standardizing the world's school systems into one streamlined one-size-fits-all model. In mere 20 years the OECD has become one of the world's leading forces with regards to affecting education policies and currently, more than 70 countries solicits OECD to test its students through international comparative tests and accordingly give 'expert advice' based on the results of these test on how each country can optimize its education system. It is for example based on results from the PISA tests that Finland's education system in the early 2000's was glorified and appraised and it is because of their high rankings in PISA that South Korea and Singapore currently are seen as having some of the best education systems in the world, (despite the fact that South Korea for example also have the highest suicide statics amongst young people in the world). How has a private economic interest organization like the OECD been able to penetrate the very fabric of our education systems? There are two ways in which OECD with PISA is slowly but surely monopolizing educational policies all over the world: The first is the seemingly innocuous ways in which our education systems are changing through the ways standardized testing are affecting schools and curricular..
Fragments of a Twenty-First Century Manifesto
These old libertarian socialist maxims have become so cliché that they can be an indicative street sign indicating for you to take a detour around whatever post-left jargon that comes next, but we can try to delve a little deeper. Many people dove into the Occupy Movement with the kind of fervor that can only happen when your politics are validated in an incredibly clear and material way. The financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent housing crisis in 2010, was felt so personally amongst an entire range of people that the waves of deregulated capitalism are splashing hard enough to stop us from finding our heads above water. We were treated to a second collapse when our response, the diversified and shockingly quick faces of Occupy, also crumbled in a pretty predictable fashion. A movement built on anarchist principles and vision fell apart for lack of cohesive structure, as well as a media betrayal and enough liberal guilt to go around. In the shadow of that fallen statue many are looking forward to create an anarchist structure with a little more staying power, which means looking backwards and trying to find a series of patterns that illustrate what success can look like. What this means is a much more intentional project, what Mark Bray calls a more "big A" anarchism as opposed to the "small a" variety that often permeates radical circles. The ideas of solidarity, mutual aid, and direct action have been solidified in the activist mindset and we want to make a step forward with an ideological organization that allows us to both build our own internal world view as well as push these radical ideas in the movements around us. For those inclined towards this "big A" anarchism, the trajectory is usually towards both American and European Platformism and the Latin and South American Especifismo, who bring a generally similar perspective on what it means to have a consistent anarchist organization that can create a revolutionary impulse in working class movements.