The Cultural Jihad

by Alex Fontana

There has been uproar in rightist circles – with some spillover into the mainstream media – over the transfiguration of pop culture characters of White identity to minority identity. There is certainly an agenda at work here, perhaps driven by the liberal proclivities of comic book creators, many of whom were and are Jewish, an agenda that interestingly rubs up against the "pop fascism" element in comic books sagaciously identified by Jonathan Bowden.

As leftist journalist Richard Cooper put it in an article entitled Superheroes are a Bunch of Fascists:
"The main problem is force: sheer physical force, which lies at the heart of the superhero myth…
I was reminded of this by Jor-El’s speech in Man of Steel: 'You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.'
How, though? Those watching him can’t fly, topple buildings or fire heat rays from their eyes. What else does Superman do other than these purely physical feats?"
Cooper misses the point completely in two regards. First, he assumes that violence is a characteristic of fascism and fascism only. Georges Sorel’s Reflections on Violence (1908) arguably inspired more left-wing violence than right-wing, and when it did inspire right-wing violence, through Benito Mussolini, it was his fluency with leftist discourse that precipitated it.

The second aspect which is problematic in Cooper's assessment is his ignorance of the way in which physical strength and courage in battle can be a vehicle for spiritual evolution. Evola refers to this as "the truth professed by those who uphold the higher right of a warrior view of life, which has its own spirituality, values and ethics"[1], and elsewhere as a vehicle for realization of the higher jihad – the metaphysics of war. This was why Ernst Junger's account of his experiences of trench warfare during WWI, Storm of Steel, could easily be recodifed into the fascist ideological spectrum as the concept of the spiritually elevated warrior-elite.

The Stormtrooper
This elevating process, whereby virile and heroic qualities would transform the compliant bourgeoisie-merchant state into one professing higher values, was nowhere more prevalent than in the formation of the Schutzstaffel (the SS) by "Hitler’s Ignatius of Loyola," Heinrich Himmler, and in Mussolini's call for a trenchocracy – that is "the aristocracy of the trenches"[2], whereby men who had proved themselves through feats of courage and loss of blood would lead the way towards the idea of a better state.

While the adoration given to the physical act of violence is sometimes misread, as in Cooper's case, and in the notion of violence for the sake of transgression and sadism, G.K. Chesterton describes the spiritual ascension inherent in the act in his depiction of Joan of Arc. She stands above both the pacifist Tolstoy and the bloodthirsty Nietzsche, simply because she "did not praise fighting, but fought."[3] This is a finely balanced concept of the ideal warrior.

Superman in Man of Steel inspires not by ceding his power to others, as Cooper’s radical egalitarian critique suggests he should, but by protecting civilization, by performing his duty, and by using those same powers to not enslave humanity, but to lead it as a symbol and ideal; hence the not-so-subtle Christ references throughout the film. Cooper, like most leftists, is appalled by the idea that "people are sheep, who need Strong Shepherds." Probably not coincidental is the profile picture on Cooper's twitter account, which reveals the self-professed intellectual to be a pudgy dough boy who couldn't lead a column of potatoes chips out of a Pringles box without causing a mess.

Chris Yogerst, writing for The Atlantic, responded to Cooper in an article entitled Stop Calling Superheroes Fascist. Yogerst gets it, at least more than Cooper does, when he writes, "We want to see good triumph over evil, and 'good' in this case means more than just defeating the bad guy—it means handling power responsibly," hereby invoking the immortal words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, "with great power, comes great responsibility."

But although superheroes tend to veer towards the Left, as in the case of Captain America, who was specifically developed as a propaganda tool to fight "evil" European fascism, it is ironic that no other political system speaks of responsibility more highly than fascism, which talked "of duties when everyone talked of rights, of discipline when everyone dedicated themselves to license…" [4]

When critics today speak of the irresponsibility of Wall Street, what they mean is the irresponsibility of liberal democracy, but they are reluctant to affirm that economics and politics are intricately linked in this way, because a call to curtail Wall Street is also inherently a call to curtail their own democratic rights, thus their criticism is neutered. Today "human rights" function as the safeguard of the global financial status quo: If we regulate the markets, you lose your freedoms!

Cooper's conclusion is glaringly wrong in that it conflates fascism with its polar opposite of hypercapitalism:
"Maybe one day we will see a superhero movie championing something other than fascist or hypercapitalist values."
This is the sort of confused leftist narrative that passes for critical inquiry today. It betrays a poor reading of fascist economic policy and an inability to understand how "rights" function in contemporary politics.

Super-Black Power

Eartha: all kitted-out as Catwoman.
Superheroes are the mythological basis of Americana. Throw out Paul Bunyan and Appalachian ghost stories! Most teenagers do not even know they exist, but they do know Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, etc. I grew up reading comic books, which played an active role in nurturing my imagination, so when Captain America becomes a Black man you know there is "something rotten" in the state of Washington.

The Greeks made their gods in their own image because identity is grounded in symbolic identifications. America, in the flux of its demographic transition from a white country to a mixed bag with the Negro as the symbolic leader, can only deal with this process psychologically by changing its myths to correspond to this changing social dynamic.

The Left, drawing from the rationalism of the enlightenment, categorically denies myths their central function as the symbolic narrative and effective fiction of societies, but strangely acts as if it didn't. While Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in the 1960s may have foreshadowed the increasing trend towards the negrofication of superheroes – here is an incomplete list of recent white superheroes turned black – it is supremely ironic that minorities have stood up for White superheroes:
"Surprisingly, African-American fantasy author Charles Saunders, creator of the Sub-Saharan sword and sorcery hero Imaro, weighs in on the side of those who want to keep Heimdall white. 'The internal integrity of those mythologies should be acknowledged and respected." ("The Misguided "Thor" Race Controversy," Salon, 21st April, 2011)
There's the rub. While the internal integrity of these mythologies is capable of being acknowledged and respected, what is not being respected is the internal integrity of the societies themselves. The racial integration and disintegration of white America continues, either at the barrel of a gun, through urban renewal (see E. Michael Jones, The Slaughter of Cities; Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing), or by the mendacious left-wing policy of multiculturalism.

The integrity of a society is reflected in its myths, which, even when the myths are imported, become a product of its folk. For example, in Nordic countries you have traditionally had the phenomenon of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus, while in Southern Europe he is depicted as a Mediterranean type. In Columbia I witnessed my first representation of a Negro Christ.

One is reminded of the ancient Greek philosopher Xenophanes of Colophon who acknowledged the subjective and identitarian element in religious projection:
"But if cattle and horses and lions had hands
or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do,
horses like horses and cattle like cattle
also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies
of such a sort as the form they themselves have."
In this vein, Michael Jordan had more than a little insight when he referred to himself as Black Jesus, as it was probably with Jordan’s ascension onto the bedroom walls of adolescents of all stripes that moderate black power morphed into super-black power. Jordan’s defiance of gravity, his domination on the basketball court, and his status as "near superhuman" – represented on screen in Space Jam (1996) where he actually saves the world – ensured the evolution of what Norman Mailer alluded to in his essay The White Negro: Whites were no longer content to only appropriate Black culture as the hipsters had done. What they wanted now was to become Blacks themselves. The reasons for this are manifold but Osama bin Laden, said it best “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”

But the deeper significance of the symbol is the Black male as the progenitor of the "Love Religion – good times, fun, smiles, sexualized modernity. The noble Black who has been dethroned from "kingdoms in Africa," by evil white colonialists – that noble Black who captured their own for that selfsame slavery. That noble black who's intrinsic human dignity is withheld from him because of white achievement, civilization, and culture – all nefarious forms of oppression.

Blacks in Ancient Egypt (shortly after they arrived there in spaceships).
As modernity slides deeper and deeper into the vacant idolatry of celebrity, it requires more images and spectacle to sustain itself, more vacant gods for the Hollywood pantheon to draw upon. After all, diversified elites function better than non-diversified ones (see Walter Benn Michaels, The Trouble with Diversity). And within this pantheon of hollow idols is the Black, manifested in various forms as the true nobility of the universal human soul – Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Obama, even Will Smith, Morgan Freeman and Tiger Woods. All these people are symbols of the tolerance of America; in this respect they are supra-individuals, they transcend their own identities and personalities to become a symbol for something further, something bordering on the realm of the mythic.

This was why Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay, called himself a "black ikon," when he was exalted by the Soviet Union in 1922. [6]
"McKay was expected to criticize the United States in an attempt to entice the Negro to the cause of communism." [7]
This was the proto-Cold War of the "Roaring Twenties," when nations would try to "out-liberate" each other with Potemkinist posturings of carnivalesque freedom rather than the arms race mania that was to follow WWII. Neither reaction was sustainable.

McKay addressing his rapt comrades at the Comintern in 1922.
It was the same avant-garde in which Duchamp was signing urinals and Josephine Baker shaking her derrière at the Folies Bergère in Paris, while in Berlin the Kabarets were swinging with the exhibitionism, prostitution, and degenerative art that a gay young Englishman would later embody in the character of Sally Bowles.

The Bolsheviks in Russia had already out-expressed the world with Kandinsky’s abstract works and by welcoming the token Negro, in the image of McKay, into the ranks of the inner party in solidarity with the abstract ideal of the "workers of the world." McKay, as the descendant of slaves, was a powerful image of Red tolerance to project to the world. Along with McKay, the Harlem Renaissance artist du jour was Aaron Douglas, who would plaster jazz on his canvases in imitation of Picasso's cubism and Africana. But Douglas did not find the ground in the U.S. as fertile as in Europe.

The U.S. did not understand the stakes of the game being played until the 1950s and 60s when in a radical turn the CIA began to fund abstract art as a cultural weapon. It was now the Eastern Bloc that was oppressive, and America that had become decadently "liberated" and progressive:
"Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.” ("Modern art was CIA weapon," The Independent)
Within this context, the symbolism of the personality cult of Obama becomes clearer, as does his excessive pandering to the mythology of Black victimization and the notion of racial replacement implied in the "Change" PR campaign. The mythology of his rule can only be represented symbolically through black racial over-representation and cultural appropriation. In the case of superheroes, this manifests as a kind of pop cultural "affirmative action," aimed at displacing the formerly dominant White male, and ushering in the rise of a super-black-power.


[1] Evola, Julius, Guido Stucco, and Michael Moynihan. Men Among the Ruins: Post-war Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, Inner Traditions, 2002, p.195.
[2] Griffin, Roger, Fascism, Oxford University Press, 1995, p.28.
[3] Chesterton, G. K. Orthodoxy, Image Books, 1959, p.41.
[4] Griffin, Roger, Fascism, Oxford University Press, 1995, p.55.
[5] The Misguided "Thor" Race Controversy, Salon, 21 April, 2011
[6] Jones, E M. Libido Dominandi: Sexual: Liberation and Political Control, St. Augustine's Press, 2005, p.222.
[7] Ibid, p. 223.

Connected Articles:
The Superhero as a Reactionary Archetype
Judge Dredd: Hero of the Anti-Civilization
Orphan "Annie" and the Cultural Welfarism of Black America

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