Wednesday, 28 September 2011

CHECK THE BADGES



There's a great sketch by the British comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, where they play two members of an SS division. During a lull in the fighting on the Eastern Front, the Mitchell Nazi turns to the Webb Nazi and says, "Have you looked at the badges on our caps recently?" before announcing, "They’ve got skulls on them!!!" I was reminded of this scene when I read Alex Kurtagic's otherwise excellent article Women on the Left and saw that his composite photo of female right-wing paragons included an undue amount of Nazi eye candy.

Of the 16, I estimate that at least five—Hannah, Magda, Leni, and the Mitfords—were there as totems of the Third Reich, while a large proportion of the others, were peripherally connected with that political movement, either as contemporaneous fellow travelers or connected to the holocaust revisionism that continues to the present day. In other words, whatever one's view of the Nazis, the list was swastika-shaped and definitely had skulls adorning its cap.

Just for the record, my view of Nazism is that it as just another form of post-Christian, totalitarian reductionism along with Communism and the Neo-Cons, and so the movement had its roots in the religion of the very people it was persecuting.

Anyway, compared to the leather-faced, estrogen-deficient list of leftist hags provided as a counterpoint, beauties like Diana Mitford, Masha Scream, and Brigitte Bardot are a joy to behold, although it might also be questionable to what degree these three at least are part of the same movement.

I know that the aesthetic beauty of Alex's choices is in accord with one of the strands of thought on Alternative Right, namely that political movements don't progress through being right but by being attractive, cool, and trendy, something the Left seems to have managed because they are so obviously wrong on almost every issue.

This emphasis on being cool n' trendy is no doubt also aimed at rebooting and rebalancing the right-wing demographic— currently made up of angry men in their forties—with a younger, cooler, hip, more gender-diverse demographic. For easy reference I would call this the Club Med version of Alternative Right.

In this sense, just possibly having skulls on caps might prove something of a draw, as teens and twenteens do seem to go through something of a dark, gothic night of the soul in which anything heavy, nasty, sinister, and death-enshrouded has a strong glamour; and Nazism, whatever its merits in building autobahns and solving unemployment for a few years, definitely has this resonance in our contemporary culture.

The Left is effortlessly able to score coolness points with the iconography and paraphernalia of its thugs and mass murderers, so why not the right?

Not that long ago I reported on an exhibition of early Soviet Art which was treated by most concerned as a perfectly respectable part of the avant-garde—and no need to mention the forced starvation of millions of Ukrainian peasants, etc., which of course I did; while recently at a gallery opening here in Tokyo a well-known architect strutted around in a Mao suit.

It all seems so unfair! But on this issue, too, Mitchell and Webb have not been silent. In their comedy sitcom, The Peep Show, Mitchell’s character Mark Corrigan goes shopping with his fiancée Sophie, who pulls out a T-shirt with Chairman Mao's face on it. Mark reacts by pointing out the fact that Mao was responsible for the deaths of more people than Stalin (and by implication Hitler), by which Sophie seems vaguely impressed, prompting the response "It's not a competition."



That phrase "it's not a competition" has a resonance in this context, as one of the main dangers the Right constantly faces is becoming an echo and mirror image of its antithesis. Essentially this is much deeper problem of a post-Christian intellectual culture that sees things in terms of symmetric dualism. Just as God has his Heaven and his army of angels, so Satan has his Hell and his legions of devils.

In the past a classic definition of right-winger was 'reactionary,' which meant the right was cast as a political movement defined by symmetrical negatives of the movement to which it was opposed. Such a symmetrical approach—and I detect a little of it in Alex's article—will damn the Right to be the female partner in a dance forever led by the Left.

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