Fascist politics on our streets and in speaking tours
Over this last weekend, the latest American CPAC convention took place in Maryland. This one did not host the autocrat Viktor Orban, CPAC’s poster fascist. Instead it gave an anti-electoral integrity microphone to Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s defeated autocrat in the making. And two long hours were dominated by aspiring-autocrat Donald Trump.
Maryland featured a series of speakers attacking trans existence in lurid terms. The worst propaganda is the lie that trans people (and LGBTQI+ people in general) are intrinsically child predators. The ugliest such speaker pontificated that transgenderism must be eliminated. To make that clear, he was speaking of the elimination – or extermination – of trans people.
This was just the clearest statement of an agenda by the Religious Right in America to return “traditional” sex roles as part of returning America to purity and greatness. No LGBTQI+ existence will be tolerated. Currently it is only outlier preachers calling for the death penalty or lynching of LGBTQI+ people, but the threats are made on the street: “I can’t wait til I’m legally able to hunt you down.”
Note the overlap with Putin’s grotesque homophobic rhetoric about his motivations for invading Ukraine. Eastern European “traditionalists” have been working with regressive “family values” activists from the American Religious Right since the end of the Cold War, and disinformation sources on the internet promote these prejudices.
The religious objection to LGBTQI+ existence which has largely overwhelmed the American Right is met and matched in the UK by a normalising of ghastly rhetoric about trans existence. “Gender critical” (GC) thinkers, styling themselves as feminists, declaim variations on the idea that there are only two sexes and they must stay put. In denial of the history of humanity, cultural variety and scientific evidence that these binaries are culturally created and imposed, “feminists” claim that women must be women in the manifestations these bigots designate. One ugly result is women-born who reject feminine trappings being chased out of women’s public bathrooms, just in case. These ideologues believe they can call themselves feminists despite this patriarchal outcome.
According to these “thought” leaders, people born as women who transition are mentally ill. In this disinformation, men who reject their birth designation are predators or deceivers and intolerable.
It has just been revealed that the Australian “Let Women Speak” tour, featuring a leading GC propagandist from the UK is being part funded by Australian CPAC. This tour is largely an effort by Feminism-Appropriating Radical Transphobes (FARTs) to spread the toxic British message that to be pro-woman is to be virulently anti-trans.
The fact that CPAC Australia is willing to fund the tour underlines the fact that, while many GC thinkers believe themselves to be progressive, they are actually no more progressive than the fascist ecological movement. Both have, incidentally, roots in fascist Europe from the mid-20th century.
It is a classic strategy of the deeply racist and generally bigoted far right movement to use previously more progressive people to assist in disguising the minority nature of their hateful position. These including journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, and women (as with Pastel QAnon) to make their talking points acceptable to a broader coalition of the public.
Australians might be tempted to think that British FARTism is the only threat to our LGBTQI+ community. We already have FARTs here in the Greens, as well as the Victorian Liberal Party cohort, as well as in academia. We also tend to think of ourselves as more laissez faire and secular than America.
Over this last weekend, however, a bunch of thugs in black hoodies rather than brown shirts marched through Newtown to disturb World Pride celebrations, intimidating LGBTQI+ people, all the while incongruously waving their rosaries around. The man credited with promoting it is a Maronite Christian, but it is uncertain which denominations accompanied him.
Non-denominational Christians (whom we deride as happy-clappers) tend to be firmly in the LGBTQI-exterminationist contingent, promoting the eradication of “non-traditional” roles as an impediment to the return of Christ in End Times. Your personal immoralities prevent their religious rapture. This cult-offshoot of Christianity is arguably taking over the world, including Australia.
This weekend’s “prayerful” intimidation of LGBTQI+ Australians compounds several Neo-Nazi intimidations of Queer events in Australia already.
In America, the minority is imposing its harsh morality on the majority. The majority is struggling to protect its freedoms, rights, universities and schools, its very existence from the militant Christian fascists. It is barely worth debating whether British “feminists” spouting anti-trans bile were more responsible than manosphere influencer Andrew Tate and his various bigotries, for the murder of 15 year old trans girl Brianna Ghey in the UK.
There is no separating the risk posed by the various factions of the radical Right in Australia, as well as internationally. Whether they are cynical culture war mouthpieces, dupes, or messianic preachers of the existential threat of (ostensibly) non-traditional roles, they are here. Brought through the internet to echo America’s groypers, or on speaking tours, they are here.
We cannot ignore them: they are here and coming for people you know.
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If you wish to use shortenings, please explain what you mean. I have googled it and I still have no idea what FARTism is. CPAC is also not explained. LGBTQI+ could mean anything to some Australians. We are not all up with the latest and using these shortenings keeps us behind. When I was taught to write news stories, it was emphasized that the first time you use a shortening you should put the full name in brackets after it.
Dear Gary, I have raced back from my other day’s activities to assist you with your delightful query/grumble. I feel LGBTQI+ is self-explanatory and one would have to be rather permanently closeted in heterosexual darkness to miss it. FART was indeed glossed as requested the first time I used it here, but I have added a link for you to see that it exists outside my usage.
CPAC is a phenomenon beyond its initials. It would serve as a severe disruption to the opening of the piece to set it out, and mislead as to the nature of the organisation and its missions. I have added a (slightly dated) link instead for those who have only just begun to read my writing, which you will find dwells repeatedly on those topics and acronyms at this site. While it calls itself a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), it is not conservative by the longest shot. It now functions as a home of trashy, Trump-supporting far Right conspiracy and bigotry-purveying nonsense. It unites international speakers and promotes authoritarianism and the Christian nationalist project in America. I have linked to one of my essays about the Australian offshoot in the piece itself.
I apologise for the inconvenience to your reading pleasure.
Dear Lucy, We indeed live in troubling times. I’m bemused by the fact that these so call xtians are able to work themselves into a lather over a very small proportion of the population who cause the rest of us no concern whatsoever. The idea of the ‘West” being taken over by bible weilding xtians and converting us all to the idea of a theocratic state under the leadership of an extreme right dictator somehow serves their purpose is beyond me and at the same time makes me want to undertake some summary justice of my own a la the Ceausescu’s
Like a cancer, these terrorists need to be treated. Surgery to the frontal lobe, perhaps.
Dear Lucy, please don’t think I was demeaning your work, it was an excellent article. I agree with LGBQI+ as you would have to be deep in the cupboard if you didn’t know it. I did have a general idea with CPAC but FART completely bamboozled me. When I was trained to write articles, admittedly a long time ago, it was drummed into us very strongly that abbreviations were fine provided you explained the first time you used it. It does make life easier for the reader. Please keep up the good work.
Turf the TERFs and FARTs
Again good article and related few points inc. PJ O’Rourke, ageing democracies and global networks.
The ‘Republican reptile’ but social/economic ‘libertarian’ PJ O’Rourke always complained, especially decades ago, that the GOP and/or politics were being taken over by irrelevant sociocultural (wedge) issues that were none of the government’s or state’s business.
Became important in tandem with targeting ageing, less educated, less diverse and regional voters including this demand of adoption white Christian nationalist (corrupt) authoritarian ‘identitarianism’; described by some as ‘pensioner populism’.
Case in point, popular with Oz grifters, is Hungary’s PM ‘mini Putin’ Orban who was not only advised by former GOP operator (gay, married & Jewish) Finkelstein (on Netanyahu’s suggestion) to promote the ‘great replacement’ and/or ‘Soros conspiracy’, and the white Christian nationalist ‘identity’, but Hungarians are in fact mostly swarthy/brown, low/no church attendance, patriotism translates into permanent emigration, leaving hollowed out ageing regional electorates, to be gamed.
While this follows similar modus operandi of the GOP, LNP, Tories, etc. plus Orban, Putin et al. being informed, seemingly by each other transnationally, some academic writers are ringing alarm bells. The latter run across the political spectrum include Anne Applebaum, Slavoj Zizek, Sarah Kendzior et al. who highlight these negative influencers and bad actors whether individuals, think tanks, parties or leaders, and how they appear to be linked by ‘ultraconservative’ &/or authoritarian networks; trying to intimidate their own citizens through various and often nefarious means.
Where this ends up, who knows, but a symptom of this appears to be a need for increasing authoritarianism to enforce bad policies e.g. Tories now using Oz refugee tactics?
In the dream of survival rights comes the yin and yang of eternal desire … seems that those with no idea about themselves or anything coalesce in fear and revenge to attack those seeking understanding and acceptance … what a nightmare. An ever growing blessing on the calculus of despots.
Fascism & politics? Speaking tours and cancel culture?
We are already living the dream of fascism if fascism is defined as the merging of govt and corporate interests, crony capitalism. The public don’t get a look in. People might vote in a particular political party but the chances of politicians following through on pre-election promises drops to about zero within a year. Big businesses will get looked after, but not you.
As for cancel culture and speaking tours, this area of freedom of speech has become increasingly weaponized. It is subject to politically correct restrictions triggered by either a vocal minority or some politician(s) covertly supporting a bigger agenda.
Will we have a Marie Antonette moment surrounding the topic of freedom of speech, dissed In her word ‘Let them eat shortcake’.
By Farrah Fazal, journalist and war correspondent (on Spoutible):