Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Pink Star of the East: Two films about homosexuality in the Eastern Block

Gay rights and Queer issues have become something of a point scoring trick in political forums today. Depending on the region or website "Leftists" either smugly tut tut at backward Conservative types with their family values crusades or fume that the workers movement has been high jacked by a rainbow coalition of western puppets/bourgeois decadence.

The treatment of homosexuals in "Socialist states" is rather poor, the regimes substituted religious dogmatism for  a more "rational" dogmatism about bourgeois relationships and proletarian relationships. A number of states like the Soviet Union and Romania where incredibly harsh in punishing those who didn't fit their very narrowly definition of behaviour. Others like East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary had abolished their legal objections to same sex relationships in the 60's. Famously the DDR beat West Germany to it by a year (1968 in the East, 1969 in the West). And curiously Yugoslavia in the 70's had some of its states repeal their laws on homosexuality while others kept them on the books until after Yugoslavia collapsed.

An important thing to keep in mind is that legal tolerance doesn't automatically mean acceptance or even social tolerance.

To date their have been some official state sanctioned works about being Gay under "actually existing socialism" a total of two as far as I can tell. One comes from East Germany (Coming Out)and premièred the day the Berlin Wall fell, and one from 1982 in Hungary (Another Way).  Both have been commercially released but information about them both is hard to come by. Fortunately youtube user Infamous Sphere has uploaded detailed reviews of both so we can see some of them.

Interesting to note that the DDR also follows the tradition of making Queer films look
 like porno's

Coming Out

Another Way

Note: If you ever have problems with out of sync subtitles there is an easy fix, watch the video in VLC media player and then click on this link 

An additional note, most if not all of the cast of Another Way where played by Polish Actors and then dubbed into Hungarian. The reason for this is that no Hungarian actor would work on the project, whether because of the fear of being associated with homosexuality or because the film was very critical of the regime in the 50's or both is debatable. But fortunately for the film a crackdown on civil liberties (such as they were) in the People's Republic of Poland (The country had been under martial law since 1981) lead to a massive protest and boycott by the Polish entertainment industry. Meaning that there were many out of work actors in Poland willing to take a chance on any project that would hire them, this is what Polish Wikipedia has to say on the subject, (Translated by user Madaffi)

No Hungarian actress dared to play in this film. At the time (1982), Poland was under martial law (since December 13, 1981) and Polish actors and actresses were boycotting state television (and there was no non-state television so they played in foreign films). Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieślak, who played Eva, was a part of a theatre group that was dissolved because her international success which came from this film didn't sit well with Communists that ruled Poland at the time. Furthermore, after she got a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the only polish state run film production organisation that was allowed to deliver messages between foreign and domestic producers was flooded with calls and letters, but they were ordered by Communist Party of Poland to not pass it along to the actress - she received none and thought no-one was interested in hiring her for roles.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Electoral Theatre: Tragedy and Farce

Elections are often accused of being a distraction. The choices offered are superficial and it doesn't really matter too much which political faction gets the majority and who gets the top spot. Society will continue ticking over, the powerful as a group (the capitalists since this is the 21st century) will still be dominant in society (though to be honest a few will lose out) and we'll get to go through it all again in a few years.

It looks like 2016 will be a more transparent example of this then we usually get. Remember how Trump portrayed himself as an outsider and vowed not to be beholden to lobbyists?

“I don’t want any strings attached,” Trump said. “I turned down $5 million last week from a very important lobbyist because there are total strings attached to a thing like that.
 “He’s going to come to me in a year or two years,” he added. “And he’s going to want something for a country that he represents or a company that he represents. That’s the kind of money I won’t take.”
That was on the 23rd August 2015.

Well, guess Trump did what Americans call a pivot because his transition team is stacked with corporate lobbyists.

But the Trump transition team is a who’s who of influence peddlers, including: energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company; adviser Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs; and Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger, and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort.
Looks like big business is back in business already.

And looks like we can forget about the banning of Muslims

Before: Mr Trump initially promised to ban all Muslims entering the US, but switched to "extreme vetting" after he became the party's presidential candidate.
In a campaign statement in December 2015, he said a "total and complete" shutdown should remain until the US authorities "can figure out" Muslim attitudes to the US.
In August 2016, he said he would enact "extreme vetting" of immigrants.
After: The immigration section of Mr Trump's website makes no mention of this pledge.

Oh an remember how pundits and journalists in the UK and the USA, (and probably elsewhere, I'm sure I saw a few German and French magazine covers on the same lines) were calling this the most bitter and acrimonious Presidential election campaign in history? With Clinton calling Trump un fit to be President and his supporters were `a basket of deplorables`

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."
And of course Trump wasn't shy in dishing out the insults, I honestly lost count of the times Trump publicly called Clinton corrupt and threatened to put her in jail so here's just a random example from their second debate.

Trump, embracing the spirit of the “lock her up” mob chants at his rallies, threatened: “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation – there has never been so many lies and so much deception,” he threatened.
Clinton said it was “awfully good” that someone with the temperament of Trump was not in charge of the law in the country, provoking another Trump jab: “Because you’d be in jail.”
“She got caught in a total lie and now she is blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln,” added Trump as Clinton attempted to defend leaked Wall Street speech transcripts.

And of course current President Obama waded in saying;

“I think I was right and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong on certain policy issues but I never thought that they couldn’t do the job. And had they won, I would have been disappointed but I would have said to all Americans: this is our president and I know they’re going to abide by certain norms and rules and common sense, will observe basic decency, will have enough knowledge about economic policy and foreign policy and our constitutional traditions and rule of law that our government will work and then we’ll compete four years from now to try and win an election.
“But that’s not the situation here. And that’s not just my opinion. That is the opinion of many prominent Republicans. There has to come a point at which you say enough. The alternative is that the entire party, the Republican party, effectively endorses and validates the positions that are being articulated by Mr Trump. And as I said in my speech last week, I don’t think that actually represents the views of a whole lot of Republicans.”
Emphasis added.

These are all just a few examples I skimmed from memory, and as someone who doesn't live in America I was thankfully spared the constantly hourly barrage of election coverage of the past year, so this is really just the tip of the bickering ice berg.

But that was a pre November 8th world, after the election things are very different. After Clinton conceded this is what President Elect Donald Trump had to say

I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us. It’s about us. On our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign.
I mean, she fought very hard. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.
I mean that very sincerely. Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
Emphasis added

And this wasn't a one off attempt to appear gracious in victory, a few days later in an interview Trump continued dishing out the compliments.

“It was a lovely call and it was a tough call for her,” Trump said in the interview, that will air Sunday. “I can imagine. Tougher for her than it would have been for me.”
“I mean, for me, it would have been very, very difficult,” he continued. “She couldn’t have been nicer. She just said, ‘Congratulations, Donald, well done.'”
Trump revealed that former President Bill Clinton called him on Thursday night to offer his congratulations.
“He couldn’t have been more gracious,” the president-elect said. “He said it was an amazing run. One of the most amazing he’s ever seen.”
And I've had a look at Trump's proposal for his first one hundred as a full fledged President, and so far I've not been able to find any reference to locking up Hillary Clinton, or even run her out of DC on a rail. It's almost like he's forgotten one of the main reason he argued the American people should vote for him over her.

And again Trump is not an exception her, indeed the spirit of peace seems to be catching like a winter flu. Clinton is now calling for unity under President Trump.

Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.
Remember during the campaign trail she sad that Trump was the head of a movement that had empowered "The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it." now though she's prepared to work with deplorable coalition?

And Obama the man Trump is replacing in January had this to say

"We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.
"Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember we're actually all on one team. We're Americans first, we're patriots first, we all want what's best for this country." 

What happened to you thinking Trump was worse than Romney and McCain, and how you'd be prepared to work with them (whatever that means) but not Trump?

Now this may seem a bit small given that Trump's election win has spurred on an increase in hate crimes since he broke the 270 threshold. But its worth bringing up because this a pretty transparent case of the big three politicians in the United States lying. They lied to their base, they lied to the poor sods who put time effort and money into their campaigns, they lied to the US public, and they lied to the world.

If Obama and Clinton were being sincere before the elections then what they're doing is capitulation to the greatest threat to American democracy they've ever seen. If they're being sincere now after the election than they were deliberately smearing an opponent in a divisive and potentially dangerous fashion.

On the other hand if  Trump was being honest before the election than his inviting of lobbyists into his inner circle and lack of interest in locking up Clinton (a woman who he said repeatedly was the greatest threat to America at present) is just an early sign of his capitulation to the status quo. Making his populist outsider status void after two days (at best) of celebrating, and two months before he's even in the job proper.

Or alternatively his post election moderation is closer to how he really feels, and like the Democrats he's guilty of the same under handed scaremongering and manipulation of his own support base. People who dedicated a significant portion of their time energy and money into getting him a lucrative and powerful new job.

 Still there is something of a silver lining in all this. This additional example of politicians being slippery then a barrel full of jellied eels seems to be a case of diminishing returns. The overall number of votes cast was slightly higher than in 2012, but turnout was down, and both the Republican and Democratic vote dropped, with the Democrats plummeting losing around 6 million votes.

It should be kept in mind that this was an election where both sides were painting the other as an inherent danger to the Republic and practically the antichrist. Hell some in the Republican party went a step further and said Hillary Clinton was literally the antichrist.

That provocative question headlines a new Jennifer LeClaire column for Charisma, which promotes what she calls a “documentary” titled “Hillary Clinton – The Antichrist Or the Illuminati Witch?”
 So for so the lack of response by so many people to these tactics is kind of surprising. Whether this is evidence of trend leading towards a rupture between the people and the political machines that run America remains to be seen. Though another more encouraging sign is the response of ordinary citizens.

Currently much of the news coverage from the USA has been dominated by the Anti-Trump protests that have erupted all over the country.

The protests have clearly rejected the conciliatory overtures of the Democratic establishment and its reassuring to see that the rise of a man like Trump isn't going unopposed. In many countries elected governments have been brought down or forced to shelve key policy ideas in the face of such opposition. It's often said that Richard Nixon the most hated President in American history(so far anyway) went from the most Conservative President ever to the most liberal because the domestic opposition was so severe he was forced to attempt to break by making multiple concessions (ending the Draft, forming the Environmental Protection Agency, détente with the Soviet Union and reconciliation with China etc.) and Trump has already indicated that he's abandoning or at least watering down a number of his key platform pledges without any opposition at all.

I think overall the lesson of 2016 with examples from France, Poland and now the USA is that workers have a lot more power than they realise and its a mistake to leave it to professional politicians, even the ones telling you what you wanted to hear when touting for votes.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

2016 = 1933?

The new German Chancellor addresses a crowd in January 1933

In the run up to November I kept stumbling upon antsy Democrats trying to drum up support, though weirdly this tailed off the closer we got to the 8th of November. One popular tactic was to remind everyone about a little nation called Germany and the year of our lord Nineteen Hundred and Thirty Three. Basically comparing the United States Presidential elections of 2016 to the German Federal elections of 1933. The message being only a united vote can stop Fascism.

This argument has been used in the UK in the early to mid 2000's when the BNP vote was on the rise and they got a few council seats too.

The Election of 1933

This argument is simply false, the rise of Nazism in Germany really had little to do with the elections of 1933. At best NSDAP's vote share help cement an already established government. The elections were held on the 5th of March 1933 and here's the results.


Votes % Seats +/–
National Socialist German Workers Party 17,277,180 43.91 288 +92
Social Democratic Party of Germany 7,181,629 18.25 120 –1
Communist Party of Germany 4,848,058 12.32 81 –19
Centre Party 4,424,905 11.25 73 +3
Black-White-Red Struggle Front (DNVP)[a] 3,136,760 7.97 52 +1
Bavarian People's Party 1,073,552 2.73 19 –1
German People's Party 432,312 1.10 2 –9
Christian Social People's Service 383,999 0.98 4 –1
German State Party 334,242 0.85 5 +3
German Farmers' Party 114,048 0.29 2 –1
Agricultural League 83,839 0.21 1 –1
German-Hanoverian Party 47,743 0.12 0 –1
Socialist Struggle Community 3,954 0.01 0 New
Workers' and Farmers' Struggle Community 1,110 0.00 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 311,698
Total 39,655,029 100 647 +63
Registered voters/turnout 44,685,764 88.74

So yes the Nazi's did very well staying the largest party and increasing their vote share. However as you can see they didn't get an outright majority and the second and third parties the Social Democrats (SPD) and Communists (KPD) were in vehement opposition. But really it didn't matter much either way, since Hitler had already been Chancellor since the 30th of January that year, and already begun co-opting the German state machinery by staffing it with Nazi members and sympathisers, and had already launched a campaign of terror and repression throughout the nation against his enemies.

Ernst Thalmann the leader of the KPD was already under arrest as were around 4,000 senior party members including the Reichstag members. The Reichstag Fire Decree passed six days before the election had effectively made the party virtually illegal, and Hitler's large army of SA storm troopers (Over two million members by 1932) had been hard at work with the assistance of the German police the elections were no barrier to the Nazi regime.

In addition to direct collaboration from some police forces, Hitler had appointed 50,000 SA members as "Hilfspolizei" ("Auxiliary Police") officers who worked with regular police.
In Prussia Herman Goring had become Interior Minister giving the Nazi party direct control over the largest police force in the country and he wasted no time turning the territory into a police state smashing all public opposition to the Nazi party.

 In keeping with the purpose and aim of the decree the additional measures … will be directed against the Communists in the first instance, but then also against those who co-operate with the Communists and who support or encourage their criminal aims… I would point out that any necessary measures against members or establishments of other than Communist, anarchist or Social Democratic parties can only be justified by the decree … if they serve to help the defense against such Communist activities in the widest sense.
Within the next two weeks (so before, during and after the March 33 elections) the Nazi party moved to replace the interior ministers of the other German states with party members and Prussian style repression was quickly repeated throughout the nation. The main target was the KPD but as Goring made clear in his instructions to the Prussian police the entire German labour movement was also a target.

And of course all newspapers supporting the KPD and its "allies" like the SPD Vorwärts or the pro Trotsky Permanente Revolution newspapers were banned.

The Enabling Act

The focus of some who raise the spectre of 33 isn't the election itself but on the vote for the Enabling Act amendment to the Weimar Constitution. The act helpfully made much of what Hitler wanted to do legal, and therefore further consolidation of his power. Though it should be kept in mind that Hitler was a man in charge of a party that embarked on an armed uprising in 1928, and had carried assault, murder and intimidation on a national scale for years, so clearly legalism wasn't a deal breaker for him and his mates.

But Hitler did consider the passage of the act important enough to negotiate with others, so let's assume defeat in the hall would have been a concrete blow to the Nazi's. How likely was such and even with a united SPD/KPD opposition slate?

Hitler needed a super majority or two thirds of the new Reichstag, and as we've seen from the vote table above, they didn't get that many seats. But here's the problem, the Nazi's were not alone. NSDAP had entered into a coalition with Conservative DNVP giving it roughly 51% of the seats. It then entered into agreements with all the other parties in Reichstag including the fourth largest Catholic Centre party to get the votes needed to pass the act. So could a united Left part block this coaliton?

The answer is no, assuming like the Nazi's did that a vote for the SPD would go to the KPD or vice versa if one of the parties wasn't on the ballot and the two parties vote share's would be combined totally in this united front, (kinda unlikely given the two parties history of hostility) their vote and seat share would have been less one third at around 30%. Of course that's assuming all these elected members would have been allowed in. In reality no KPD members were allowed there to vote, they were busy fleeing or being arrested. The only party that opposed the act was the SPD and not all of their 120 members voted against it either, the vote was 444 in favour and 94 (all SPD members)  against. The over 26 members were in the chamber because they were also being targeted by the Nazi's for repression.

And to refer briefly to 2016, this hypothetical argument is the one thing that 2016 and 1933 have in common. There was a de facto united front against Donald Trump even numbers of Republicans broke ranks to side with the Democrats who had the support of the CPUSA. And it still didn't matter, this united electoral front failed miserably.  And in 1936 the Popular Front slate in Spain successfully defeated the right wing parties in the elections and all that happened was that the right wing launched a coup attempt and when that failed resorted to launching a full scale civil war.

So if we were to travel to another dimension where the only difference was in Weimar Germany the SPD and KPD formed an electoral coalition nothing much would've changed. If anything it would've been worse as both parties would have been repressed far more quickly and the vote on the Enabling Act would have been 444 in favour versus 0 against. But lets again for the sake of argument assume that somehow the Enabling Act was defeated, why would this mean the defeat of Hitler? It mess his plans up that's true but he survived the humiliation of the crushing defeat of his Putsch in Munich when the Party was practically non existent. In 1933 he was already Chancellor and also in charge of the German police force and was using it and his private army to destroy his enemies. Why would he stop doing this, is it not more logical to assume that in order to ensure his party remains in power that the repression against his enemies would increase?

The Nazi party didn't come to power due to lefty infighting, it came to power because the German state preferred Fascist thugs to the possibility of  socialism. The Nazi's didn't get to make their seizure of power constitutional because the German worker had to choose between two parties, but because all other major political factions in Germany preferred militaristic nationalism to pro Moscow Commissars and lefty reformers. And that all feared the power of the German working class which for better or worse was represented by these two organisations, at least in the state and federal legislatures.

The real lesson to be taken away from 1933 is that voting is not an effective weapon to fight Fascism. In pre Fascist Italy, Mussolini only four seats in the parliament before and yet he managed to seize power too. The same thing occurred in Spain, the Popular Front won the elections and yet by 1939 the Fascists were in power.

The Lesson that Should be Learned from 1933

There is however an important lesson to be learned from the rise of the Nazi party and its fellow travellers, and that is what actually is an effective way to fight Fascism. The Nazi's didn't officially ban the KPD from standing in the March 1933 elections, instead it focused on attacking its physical structure. It didn't view KPD as an electoral threat but a physical one, and indeed street fighting between the KPD and the Nazi's was a cause for concern for the Nazi party. In addition to the KPD and SPD the Nazi's were quick to target groups that didn't even stand in the elections. The Freie Arbeiter Union (FAUD) an Anarcho-syndicalist union that had already gone underground in 1932 was also targeted for repression with its leading members imprisoned or driven out of the country by the Gestapo. The FAUD believed the best way to stop the Nazi's was to mobilise a general strike, a tactic which did succeed in defeating the Right wing Kapp Putsch in 1920.

Up to the rise to power of the
Nazis, the worker Franz Bungert
was a leading member of the
Duisberg FAUD. Without even
the pretence of a trial, he was
interned in the concentration
camp of Boegermoor in 1933. After a year he was freed but was put under perma-
nent surveillance. His successor was Julius Nolden, a metalworker then unemployed
and treasurer of the Labour Exchange for th
e Rhineland. He was also arrested by the
Gestapo, who suspected that his activity in a Society for the Right to Cremation(!) hid
illegal relations with other members of the FAUD.

In addition Hitler also moved to smash the German Trade Union movement. By May 2nd Trade Unions ceased to exist in Germany. 

Hitler proclaimed May Day, 1933, as a national holiday and arranged to celebrate it as it had never been celebrated before. Trade union leaders were flown to Berlin from all parts of Germany. Joseph Goebbels staged the greatest mass demonstration Germany had ever seen. Hitler told the workers' delegates: "You will see how untrue and unjust is the statement that the revolution is directed against the German workers." Later that day Hitler told a meeting of more than 100,000 workers that "reestablishing social peace in the world of labour" would soon begin. (19)
The next day, Hitler ordered the Sturm Abteilung (SA) to destroy the trade union movement. Their headquarters throughout the country were occupied, union funds confiscated, the unions dissolved and the leaders arrested. Large numbers were sent to concentration camps. Within a few days 169 different trade unions were under Nazi control. (20)

 Again the emphasis of the Nazi's was to attack and disrupt and destroy the enemies physical organisations. The main concern of Fascist movements is their opponents ideological opposition and physical abilities. The FAUD was small and weak by 1933 and it was still hunted down and destroyed by the Nazi state. The Trade Unions were broken up because they represented a potential obstacle to Hitler's restructuring of the German state and economy.

And this wasn't a quirk of the Nazi's either, over in Italy in the 20's similar events were happening.

  It was from this moment onwards that the state moved on the offensive and Mussolini’s ‘revolutionary action’ squads were supplied with enough arms to take to the streets.
Until the formation of the AdP, the fascists had things mostly their own way. Starting off with an attack on the town hall in Bologna, the fascist squads swept through the countryside like a scythe, undertaking ‘punitive expeditions’ against the ‘red’ villages. Following their success there, they began attacking the cities. Labour unions, the offices of co-operatives and leftist papers were destroyed in Trieste, Modena, and Florence within the first few months of 1921. As Rossi writes, they had “an immense advantage over the labour movement in its facilities for transportation and concentration…The fascists are generally without ties…they can live anywhere…The workers, on the contrary, are bound to their homes…This system gives the enemy every advantage: that of the offensive over the defensive, and that of mobile warfare over a war of position.”**

 It is in physical confrontation and mobilisation by the labour movement that the key to the defeat of Fascism lies. A general strike brought down Kapp's nationalist putsch in 1920. The arming of the Spanish working class delayed the rise of Fascism for three years, and in Italy the only effective opposition to Mussolini's mobilisation of the Black shirts was the Arditi del Popolo. And the isolation and rejection of the AdP in favour of electoral schemes was the leading cause of the victory of the Fascists in Italy.

However, just as the AdP was building up the momentum on the streets, they were betrayed by the PSI who were more interested in signing a pact of non-aggression with the fascists; this at a time when the fascists were at their most vulnerable. Socialist militants were forced by their leadership to withdraw from the AdP, while the CGL union ordered its members to leave the organisation.
One union leader, Matteotti, confirmed the sell out in the union paper Battaglia Sindicale: “Stay at home: do not respond to provocations. Even silence, even cowardice, are sometimes heroic.”
The communists went one step further by forming their own pure ‘class conscious’ squadrons thus decimating the movement further. According to Gramsci, “the tactic…corresponded to the need to prevent the party membership being controlled by a leadership that was not the party leadership”. Quite soon, only 50 sections of 6,000 members remained, supported both by the anarcho-syndicalist Unione Sindicale Italiana (USI) and the anarchist Unione Anarchica Italiana (UAI).
A number of these sections went into action again in September in Piombino when the fascists, who had burned down the offices of the PSI (the same organisation that had sold them out a month before), were intercepted by an anarchist patrol and forced to flee. Piombino was soon to become the nerve centre of the defence against fascism, defending itself a further fascist onslaught in April 1922, before finally succumbing after one and a half days of fierce fighting, when the fascists, aided by the Royal Guard, were able to capture the offices of the USI.
In July 1922, the reformist general strike to defend ‘civil liberties and the constitution’ marked the final disaster for the labour movement, as the work stoppages were not, and could not be, accompanied by aggressive direct action. The fascists simply ran public services with scabs and made themselves masters of the streets. With the strike’s collapse, the fascists mustered their forces to deal with the last remaining outposts of resistance, one of which, Livorno, succumbed to a force of 2,000 squadristi.
If 2016 in the US of A has any connection to Germany 1933 or Italy 1922 etc Its  as yet another example of the futility of ballots in opposing reactionary movements. Fascists  and their fellow travellers are dangerous people, and we owe those who have already fallen fighting them to stop repeating the mistakes of the past.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Post Election MAGAPOST

Well it looks like that glass ceiling will remain intact for awhile at least. Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the USA. I'm not happy, but honestly I wouldn't be happy if Hillary Clinton had it in the bag.

I'd like to say I'm not surprised and pretend to cleverer than thousands of career politicians but there were a few times like Donald Trump's insulting of the grieving family of a dead serviceman or his "grab em by the pussy" line and his generally very sketchy behaviour regarding women and the allegations of sexual harassment would tank him. The religious right is a big part of the modern Republican party and I couldn't see them supporting such an open womaniser. These are the same folks who made married couples on TV shows sleep in separate beds, for fear that such racy imagery as a couple tucked up in a kingsize duvet  would plunge the nation into Godless hedonism, and then finally Communism. And to be fair a few of them didn't support him.

In the months since Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed him, Donald Trump has been inexorably associated with Liberty University. We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history. Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him.A majority of Liberty students, faculty, and staff feel as we do. Donald Trump received a pitiful 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia’s primary election, a colossal rejection of his campaign. Nevertheless, President Falwell eagerly uses his national platform to advocate for Donald Trump. While he occasionally clarifies that supporting Trump is not the official position of Liberty University, he knows it is his title of president of the largest Christian university in the world that gives him political credentials. Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose
But by and large that vote block seems to have remained strong. I guess the lesson here is that moral guardian movements are more interested in power than purity.

But even in the moments where I thought for certain Trump was a chump I never got the bizarre sense of self assurance of the Democrats. I saw polls and talking heads saying there would be landslide, and that Hillary would take Florida and crack the deep south by taking a few states and coming close to the others, and the Senate and House were up for grabs. Yesterday (in the UK time zone) the radio news headline program was repeating every hour a brief chat with a Clinton campaign aide saying she was going to win, the only question was by how much, either she'd have a landslide or it'd come down to one state and one county. Those were the only possible results he predicted.

If I were a gambler I would of put money on the Democrats remaining in the White House but by a pretty slim margin. So never take betting tips from me is what I'm trying to say here I guess. But at least I wasn't off the mark by a country mile.

Given how toxic Donald Trump is and how quick he was to alienate, and then insult and anger large demographics of the US population we can forgive the Democrats for a little optimism. But spending a few minutes on American left of centre websites and forums and you'd think they had nominated some sort of clone hybrid of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, when in reality it was the worst candidate they could've picked  There candidate has been a target for hate and fear since 1992 at the latest. 24 years of constant negative associations is quite a handicap even if your a saint, and no one with a snowballs chance in hell of becoming President of the United States is spotless. And while much of the allegations and smears trumpeted by the `lock her up` crowd were grossly exaggerated if not completely made up, Hillary Clinton was more than a bit mucky.

Her allies in the Democratic party hierarchy like disgraced former DNC Chairwoman Schultz were undermining her Primary opponent Bernie Sanders and had cultivated extensive covert links with members of the American media and given favours to wealthy donors.  Its a bit hard to write off accusations of vote rigging, media bias and corruption -your opponents main points of attack-  when people close to you have been caught out doing just that. And in a way that was to your benefits you to boot.

I can also only assume that many American democrats lived in bubbles, because they completely misread the mood of the country. This is a period where belief in the American system and its institutions is at an all time low,

that is why Donald Trump did so well against the Republican also rans and ultimately why he won today. He ran as an outsider on a populist anti-establishment platform and against this the Democratic party in its wisdom put up the person most closely linked to the political establishment, and ran largely on that connection. Thus reinforcing the arguments levelled against her. Indeed she had a lot of trouble beating Bernie Sanders to the nomination, her own establishment credentials and record alienated a very large segment of her own party. The internal opposition was so large that I remember some Democrats were worried that the nomination fight would jeopardise the election campaign.

Multiple Democrats talked at length at how Trump had no experience while Clinton had decades of it. The problem here is that's a double edged sword, lack of political experience is strange as it may seem is a positive with many people, it makes a candidate look more down to earth and in touch with the people. Now admittedly its strange how a millionaire who inherited his wealth, has managed to come across as a champion of the common man, but I suspect his campaign team(s) advised him on how to tap into it*.

Though once again the Democrats seem to have helped him out here, by picking someone even more associated and tied with the established and discredited order than him. 
For many Hillary with her decades in DC and exclusive talks with wealthy business interests and foreign capital for very high fees just makes her seem aloof and corrupt. And they didn't even try to lessen the damage with a "radical" new policy platform.  Honestly I'd prefer to live in a country with her platform over Trump's but there isn't much in the way of a break with the status quo that could counter the criticism or energise their voters.  Though in retrospect I think the Democrats were relying on the fear of a Trump Presidency to motivated the masses instead.

It worked for Chirac I guess.

Going Forward

So what can we learn from today? Apart from the obvious don't put a person already hated for over 20 years as your candidate for a popularity contest. Well I think this election is a very good example of how fragile and useful voting as a mechanism for social change really is.  We had a man championed by racist militia's and open Fascists, and the best opposition that could be put up against him thanks to vested interests and the party system was the very embodiment of what he was mobilising against and was already hated and feared since 1992**.

And with Congress under the control of the Republicans, and some Supreme Court judges nearing retirement it looks like his first term will have no effective official opposition. For Americans the choice is now just hang on, take your lumps and wait four years to try again, or build alternative support networks and structures for resistance. Its sink or swim time, America's vaunted checks and balances no longer apply the country is under the control of open reactionaries. Violence against minority groups is only going to continue and I honestly doubt Trump will make good on any of his vague promises to ease the burden on the working class.

But on the other hand this would have been the case if Hillary's cheerleaders had been correct too. And also if the US government remained split, however in that case electoralists would have an easy scapegoat in the party their sad loathes the most.

Governments that won election have been defeated by protests and strike action, in some cases they've even brought the government down. Casting ballots is not a substitute for political or economic activism, even if your Trump supporter and pleased as punch for today's result its only a matter of time before another political gang gets in and starts undoing your hard work.

Basically what I'm trying to say is don't mourn organise, but by organise I don't mean canvass for the democrats in the mid terms.

*Though now that I think about it many populist leaders claiming to be concerned with the plight of the down trodden have come from upper income brackets, like Napoleon who was from one of the wealthiest families in Corsica, or FDR.

** Yes I keep saying this, because it deserves to be repeated, the Democratic party was so out of touch it didn't see a problem with choosing a woman who'd been a figure of hate on a national level since 1992 if not a bit earlier.

Friday, 28 October 2016

The Illegalists: Anarchism, Banditry and Automobiles

A while back I backed a project on kickstarter. The project was about getting a comic book made about an interesting chapter in French history, 1911-12 when the headlines of all the major French newspapers were dominated by lurid tales of a gang of Anarchistic bandits striking fear into the hearts of the wealthy  and humiliating the police. Dubbed the Bonnot Gang after one of their more prominent members Jules Bonnot the mixed group would raid jewellery stores, banks, armouries and mansions, and one of the first to use the automobile as a getaway car.

Jules and his mates have since become a part of French folklore, a sort of 20th century Robin Hood with his band of merry men. The truth is bit more complex and a lot more bloodier of course. But I was intrigued and the sample sketches provided by the artist Attila Futaki looked great so I stumped up some money and hoped for the best. The book made its goals and earlier this year was published, and I received my copy a few months ago. I've read it a few times and really like it.

The book isn't an in depth look at the Bonnot gang, or French  Anarchism at the time or the concept of Illegalism, it also takes quite a few liberties with the story, though the historical account of what happened with the group and the police. One version of Bonnot's end not used in the book involves a brawl between the police and the army over perceived lack of support in the operation. A lot of accounts by members, supporters and opponents are mutually contradictory too, so I don't really blame the writer for going in a streamlined direction.

This book by Richard Parry* goes into extensive detail into the Bonnot Gang and the author goes to great lengths to make the reader aware of how hard it is to get completely accurate information on anything about the Gang.

Here, the question of 'historical truth' rears its ugly head: some of
the story remains very obscure for several reasons. To begin with, none
of the surviving participants admitted their guilt, at least until after the
end of the subsequent mass trial. It was part of the anarchist code never
to admit to anything or give information to the authorities. Equally, it

was almost a duty to help other comrades in need, and if this meant
perjury to save them from bourgeois justice, then so be it. Hence the
difficulty in knowing who was telling 'the truth'. Those who afterwards
wrote short 'memoirs' often glamorized or ridiculed persons or events,
partly to satisfy their own egos and partly at the behest of gutter-press
In the trial itself there were over 200 witnesses, mainly anarchists for
the defence, and presumably law-abiding citizens for the prosecution.
Much evidence from the latter was contradictory. While most were
probably telling the truth as far as they could remember, others had
told an inaccurate version so many times that either they believed it
themselves, or, under police pressure, they found it too late and too

embarrassing to withdraw it. A few were certainly motivated either by
private, or a sense of social, revenge.
But the changes made are such that many parts of the story are completely fictive, Jules Bonnot is a hardworking family man who wants to keep his head down and provide for his wife and son, and is practically pushed into criminality and rebellion. The real Jules Bonnot while caring deeply for his son at least (he fought hard for custody, even crossing the border to Switzerland) was already an experienced thief and had already been familiar with Anarchism and even met and worked with some of the gang that appear in the comic later. His love interest Judith while real was not a prostitute, though she was married. Palatano was a close associate of Bonnot but their parting of the ways was very different. Its possible that Bonnot may have murdered him, or Bonnot accidentally shot him in the head, we'll never know for sure.

Basically what I'm trying to say is don't use this comic book as a source on a school assignment, or a research project. Its like Blade Runner and Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the characters have the same names and the setting is correct but both have diverged too far and rarely meet in the middle.

On the other hand, the book does do a very good job of showing instead of telling. We don't get any expository lectures on the ideology of illegalism and reappropriation, but we do see it in action with the heists by the group being motivated mainly by the concept. And the author put in a few comments by the gang to help make this clear.  And throughout there's a not so subtle tone of individualistic defiance and a few introspective passages about society and the prospects for building a better world. So it isn't devoid of political content its just made to work with the story and leaves a lot to the readers imagination.
We also spend time with Dubois and his Anarchist workmates who are trying to build a revolutionary union, and while we don't get a page and a half tract about the importance of anarcho-syndicalism (sadly) we do see the opposition they face, the importance of solidarity and being ready and willing to meet violence with violence and how fearful the capitalists and police are of such a strategy.

In this hostile atmosphere the police and secret services were used aggressively to attack demonstrations and break picket lines. In 1891 twelve workers died in clashes with the police at Fourmies, in 1900 strikers were shot dead at Chalon-sur-Saone (on the orders of the France's first socialist- minister Alexandre Millerrand), three separate strikes and demonstrations ended in murder in 1907 and in 1908 the deaths of two striking quarrymen at Draveil were followed days later by the murder of six construction workers protesting in solidarity. The Interior Ministry had a dedicated 'political brigade' responsible directly to the minister and agent provocateurs and spies infested the CGT. When protest could not be contained by aggressive union-busting employers or the machinations of the security services, the government would typically turn to the army. When more than 200,000 workers walked out in strikes for an 8 hour day on May 1st 1906, the government brought 50,000 troops to the capital and arrested 700 strike leaders. On other occasions they used conscription as a weapon against workers, calling-up striking railmen to force them back to work in 1910 on pain of execution, jailing 200 strike leaders.
They also mention the Anarchist press and name L'Anarchie newspaper, but aside from mentioning police interference and suspicion, it amounts to a cameo.

The main educational strength of the comic is its communicating the hypocrisy and brutality of life in the Third French Republic for workers. The police are shown to be brutal in dealing with the poor, strikes are repressed by armed force, union meetings are raided and participants but in jail for weeks, Devil's Island a penal colony where many reformers and militants were exiled for advocating strike action is named several times as a potential punishment for any crime, be it armed robbery or advocating a pay rise. We also see the police execute by guillotine an innocent man.

Business is also depicted as being callous and willing to support if not push the police and army to keep taking a hardline against the unions and workplace agitators and Anarchist newspapers.

Bonnot's personal plight though romanticised is shown to be driven by a desire for payback, and a strong will to get revenge on the society that has made life hell for him and his friends. As a story its very interesting, a romantic tale of rebellion against all the odds and learning to live in those brief moments of calm during the struggle.

Its a bit thin on factual information or criticism,  but it is a comic book, and as an introduction to Bonnot (the myth of Jules Bonnot), early 20th century France and Anarchism as a political force I think it does its job well. I hope the graphic novel will spark some interest in readers to go further, but I'm happy this project got off the ground and wish its creators, Futaki, Pierce and Vogel well in their future works.

Edit from the future: Activedistributions sells copies if you're curious, haven't seen the book available elsewhere which is a shame.

* Richard Parry is listed under the special thanks credit so the authors of the graphic novel were aware of his work.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Jackboots and Phasers

It seems like we have another theory about the sinister message behind Star Trek, this time from the other side. Unlike that weird essay on Star I think this is mainly tongue in cheek, its a youtube video on a channel called Film Theory. But I honestly struggle to tell, I have seen people with similar presentations and styles say even more ridiculous things only to find out they were being sincere. I mean I thought that Star Destroyer guy was having a joke before I read the whole thing and realised they were being 100% genuine, and I have seen both being used by other people on the internet as the crux of a serious argument, so I think its worth taking sometime to dissect it.

We don't get off to a great start this fellow doesn't seem to understand what Fascism is. He gives a brief introduction on Fascism but aside from name checking Hitler and Mussolini there's nothing really in it that's unique to Fascism. It's just generic authoritarianism. Fascism is a word that's become incredibly overused and misused over time, probably more so then Communism. It refers to a specific ideology but most times when you see or hear the F word its used to describe a thing the person using it doesn't like. Pinochet's regime in Chile was often described as a Fascist regime and while its true the regime was brutal and relied on the police and military for its survival, it can't really be described as Fascist because its economic foundation was unrestricted capitalism (well until they needed the state to prop them up) and that's pretty much the opposite of Fascist economics. And later on the author (video star?) claims that Fascism hated capitalism, this ahistorical nonsense. His only support for this assertion is one quote from Hitler.

Now there are a number of problems with this, its considered bad practice to rely on quotations devoid of context. Especially when dealing with politicians who lie, exaggerate and in some cases are being sincere in their wishes but find once their in power will have to make some sort of compromise. A good example of this is President Nixon. Nixon is remembered as a war monger and a lying crook but in the 1968 election where he became president he ran on a fairly peacenik friendly campaign, well friendly compared to his image anyway. He claimed he would end the draft (which he did, but in 1973 during his second term) and be a better negotiator then LBJ and Hubert Humphrey.

''Every American wants peace in Viet Nam. The question is what kind of peace. The war must be ended, but in a way that does not encourage aggression and thereby sow the seeds of future wars.
''Beyond this, we need a new diplomacy -- one that looks past Viet Nam to the prevention of future wars, and one that enlists other nations more fully in their own defense.
"In Korea, and again in Viet Nam, America furnished most of the money and most of the arms -- and most of the men.
"America is a big country. But there are only 200 million Americans, and there are more than 2 billion people who live in the free world. We need a new diplomacy that will get other nations with a stake in the defense of peace and freedom to bear their share of the burden. And we need a new diplomacy that will insure that, if the people of a friendly nation again are threatened, we help them fight the war but we don't fight the war for them."
 Of course Nixon didn't really end on his watch, if anything the war escalated and spilled over into neighbouring countries. Nixon did eventually make good on his promises to pull US troops out of Vietnam and set up negotiations but most of that happened in his second term after his creditability on the war was already wrecked.

Now what's the relevance here? Well its because the evidence in the video is far from compelling. Hitler and the Nazi party did indeed criticise capitalism (the Nazi version of Titanic film blames British Capitalists for the disaster to pick a random example) but the context gives a different picture. Many of the disparaging comments directed at capitalism by Hitler and his gang revolved around the perceived damaging effects to the nation inflicted by self interested businessmen.

The video actually quotes Hitler's speech in 1927 were he declares the Nazi party to be socialists. Though thankfully he's only interested in the bit at the very end of the passage were he talks about his determination to destroy capitalism under all conditions. This speech is actually quite well known it gets used a lot by right wing types all over the internet to paint the Nazi's as socialists. And it's understandable if your naive enough to take a politician at his word. Remember Hitler also publicly  stated that he wished to be a man of peace, and allied with the Soviet Union for a couple of years after murdering German communists and spending decades warning anyone who would listen that the USSR was a direct threat to the Western world and the German race.

But this particular case is quite egregious, you see the date of the speech was 1927 when the Nazi party was doing rather badly, but the Social Democrats and the Communist party were both on the up. The mid to late 20's are seen as a period of desperation by the Nazi party as it struggled to stay relevant and break out of its 2-3% vote share. Part of this strategy was to try an nick some members from the SPD and KPD which didn't really work, of the three they always came a distant third amongst working class Germans. Another part was to provoke the other two into violent outbursts and frame the Nazi party as the only real opposition to the Reds, which did work, after the press reported the street fighting membership applications went up. But it's important to remember that even when Hitler and Goebbels tried to appeal to the left that they never deviated from their racist core.

For example the "We are socialists" speech was actually about how important Lebensraum, the colonisation of the East was to German survival.

And later on when the Nazi party lost its interest in attracting German workers to it, Hitler made multiple speeches and paragraphs in Mein Kampf talking about a need for a disciplined capitalism.

“We concede that capitalism itself is not the enemy; but rather it is capitalist excess and irresponsibility, such as Jewish Finance Capitalism and the destruction of profiteering from interest, that we must strive ruthlessly against....We do not seek to replace the capitalist system, but to harness its productive capacity for the betterment of the German Nation."

There was also another factor, Hitler believed very strongly that financial and international capitalism was dominated by the Jews, and was one of the two means the Jews had for attacking and dominating the human race, the other being of course "Bolshevism".

The Jewish train of thought is, moreover, clear. The 
bolshevization of Germany, i.e., the extermination of the 
national folkish intelligentsia and the exploitation of Ger- 
man labor power in the yoke of world Jewish finance facili- 
tated thereby, is thought of solely as a preliminary to a 
further extension of this Jewish tendency to conquer the 
Indeed he was so focussed on resisting Jewish financial capitalism that he dedicated one of the later chapters of Mein Kampf "The Will to destruction of Jewish Finance" to the subject.

But beyond speeches, the reality of the Fascist regimes shows how shallow the anti-capitalism of big business really is. See Fascist economics in theory is based on class collaboration and mediation. Labour and Capital are viewed as competing, sectional and at times selfish interests and if the two are in open conflict or one side dominates completely the nation in its entirety suffers. So in order to balance the two, the Fascist party (representing the entire national community) will act as a mediator and moderating force on the two to ensure the best possible outcome for both sides. The Deustche Arbeits Front (DAF) the main organisation for German labour would support wage increases and holidays and other benefits on occasion, in order to ensure high productivity. But on others they would support employers in preventing wages from rising beyond a certain point, make sure the workers would work long shifts, and assisted in the transfers of workers to strategic industries.

In addition the Nazi party provided German industry with thousands of slave labourers. Even in the concentration camps factories and workshops owned by private companies could be found. IG Farben the chemical giant that produced the pesticide Zyklon B operated in Auschwitz

The history of the founding of the camp is connected with the initiative by the German chemical concern IG Farbenindustrie A.G. to build its third large plant for synthetic rubber and liquid fuels. The new camp was to be located in Silesia, beyond the range of Allied bombers at the time. Among the several sites proposed in December 1940/January 1941, the final choice fell on the flat land between the eastern part of Oświęcim and the villages of Dwory and Monowice. The decision was justified by the favorable geological conditions, access to railroad lines, water supply (the Vistula), and the availability of raw materials: coal (the mines in Libiąż, Jawiszowice, and Jaworzno), lime (Krzeszowice), and salt (Wieliczka). Furthermore, the belief that it would be possible for the firm to employ prisoners from the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp was by no means a trivial consideration, and may in fact have been decisive in the choice of the project.

IG Farben put the pieces of the deal in place between February and April 1941. The company bought the land from the treasury for a knock-down price, after it had been seized from its Polish owners without compensation; their houses were vacated and demolished. At the same time, the German authorities expelled the Jews from Oświęcim (resettling them in Sosnowiec and Chrzanów), confiscated their homes, and sold them to IG Farben as housing for company employees brought in from Germany. Some local Polish residents were dispossessed in the same way. Finally, IG Farben officials reached an agreement with the concentration camp commandant on hiring prisoners at a preferential rate of 3 to 4 marks per day for the labor of auxiliary and skilled construction workers. In a letter to his colleagues about the negotiations, IG Farben director Otto Ambros wrote that “our new friendship with the SS is very fruitful.”

And this is just one example, a far more complete list of German firms taking advantage of slave labour in the camps can be found here.

So no matter what Hitler thought about the pursuit of money, the reality is that his Fascist regime was heavily dependent on capitalist enterprises to function, and it worked to support them to ensure the needs of both state and capital were met.

But let's move on now, what about the rest of his statements? Do his other claims about the Federation stand the test of scrutiny? Well not really.


The viewer is told that we only ever see the viewpoint of the Federation, and that just isn't true. Throughout the franchise we get alternative views. DS9 is the best in this regard, by the time season seven ends we know just as much about the Ferengi, Bajorans and Cardassians as we do the Federation, if not more. We also see different points of view from within the Federation, that's actually an important subplot in early DS9, the Maquis are group of extremely disgruntled colonists are highly critical of the Federation.

But its not just DS9, in TNG and TOS we do get the Klingon and Romulan side of the story in several episodes. Even Voyager tried to do this with its long running villains the Kazon, Hirogen and Borg. Its just that they weren't very good at it.

Conquest and colonisation:

He also says the Federation is a colonising power, which it undeniably is, we spend many episodes at Federation colonies. But then he links it to human colonisation on earth. The destruction of the American Indian societies, the scramble for Africa etc. That is in a word bizarre, see all those colonies are on worlds that had no intelligent life, and the only way to join the Federation is through mutual consent. We see episodes were the Enterprise encounters primitive planets and the crew is supposed to leave them alone. But if they were only interested in empire building and resource gobbling they would love these planets, they would be very easy to dominate and exploit.

The Prime Directive, Star Fleets most important rule, so important that we're told that a Captain is prepared to give his life and the lives of his entire crew to uphold, states this, civilisations that don't have warp technology are to be left alone.

I can think only one episode where the Federation tried colonising a planet that was already inhabited by intelligent creatures (TNG Home Soil). But that was because they didn't know it was there. The species was a form of intelligent crystal,  and once they find out the crystals are intelligent and alive they call the operation off.


Now we getting into familiar ground, much is made of how we don't see ships that don't belong to Star Fleet even though we do. Remember the Maquis? Well they were so critical of the Federations policy that they went rogue and started turning their own ships into a sort of attack fleet. Also Sisko dates and marries and independent freighter captain. There is also quite a few references to individual Federation planets having their own fleets and ship designations.

A combat vessel knocked up by farmers

Communications, its often brought up that the Federation owns a monopoly on interstellar communications. Every time I hear this I think do they? Because there doesn't really appear to be any difference which communicator you other then the prop frame. You can ring up Romulus or use a Klingon hand communicator to hail the Enterprise, the only restrictions seem to be on whether the bad guys can track the signal or if the person your calling is out of range or in some space anomaly that interferes with communications.

Basically what I'm getting at is that they don't really develop their communications technology on the show. Like the transporters its just a means of plot convenience. You can use something the size of a smart phone to alert the flagship of an alien plot with little issue, unless the episode is about the crew overcoming whatever was preventing them from making a call.

A bit later on the author gets back to the point by taking Trek philosophy "The needs of the many" and mirroring it to what he claims are Fascist philosophical pillars, but are mostly just generic collectivist sayings. Like Hitlers "Society's needs come before the individuals'" though to be fair in this section he does get the Fascist idolisation of the state right. And he is correct with  the Italian Fascist symbol being a bundle of sticks with an axe blade. However that was the symbol for ancient Rome, from the time of Roman kings to the Republic era and survived into the Imperial period. Mussolini talk a lot about rebuilding the Roman Empire apart from deliberate evoking of Roman imagery the two societies simply aren't comparable.

 However he draws the connection by linking it to the bundle of sticks proverb and not a representation of the Fasces. The problem here is that the Fasces were a direct reference to the proverb which comes from one of Aesop's fables,

An old man had a set of quarrelsome sons, always fighting with one another.  On the point of death, summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a bundle of sticks wrapped together. To his eldest son, he commanded, "Break it." The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the bundle. Each son in turn tried, but none of them was successful. "Untie the bundle," said the father, "and each of you take a stick." When they had done so, he called out to them: "Now, break," and each stick was easily broken. "You see my meaning," said their father. "Individually, you can easily be conquered, but together, you are invincible. Union gives strength."
There's also a similar story about the Bulgar king Khan Kubrat, the Bulgarian national motto (Union gives strength) is a reference to that tale.

 And the proverb was used by the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh while he rallied his people to fight in the war of 1812. So what's happened here is a case of disingenuous, the author has taken something Fascists use to argue that the source they  used and by definition all other usage and allusions by others is automatically  fascist. This would be like claiming Hindu religious rituals are fascist because a lot of them involve drawing some form of Swastika.

That's really the crux of his argument, what's left is a bit where he uses Kirk being punished for mutiny as an example, but unless he's claiming military discipline is inherently Fascist as too, is just another out of context fallacy. He ends comparing the relationship between the Federation and the Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians etc to the Holocaust (no seriously its at 12:10 in the video). Not only is that in very poor taste, it's not remotely true. The Federation doesn't demonise its enemies, at every turn it tries to make peace. They never conquer any of their major enemies, they turn the Klingons into allies, and gave up settlements in disputed space with the Cardassians, and agreed to neutral zone between them and the Romulans, and promised not to build cloaking devices.

The only time we ever encounter a Federation member demonise and entire species, like Captain Maxwell in TNG's the Wounded, or Picard and the Borg, or Section 31 in Deep Space Nine, their shown negatively, with their motives being challenged and explained. Maxwell lost his family in the war with the Cardassians and couldn't let go. Picard also had trouble putting what happened to him at the hands of the borg, but in the episode I Borg he realises he has issues and works to overcome, them. And Section 31, well their incredibly paranoid and have their plans to commit genocide thwarted by the series main cast.

Point is, as a joke this video isn't funny, as a serious argument its a joke.

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