Introducing Brownshirt Blues

Neo-Nazis at alt-right rally. Washington, June 2017.

Social media is theirs. Day in, day out, there is not a moment where news media do not remind you of their hegemony. Whether it’s Matteo Salvini or Donald Trump, the extreme right Tweets the hits, and all we can do is wait for them to completely take over. Even though, of course, the far-right is already in charge. It’s as though the press would like them to be more so.

Not a great fantasy, but it’s a common one. Unconscious? Probably. The distance between fascist dupes and actually existing fascists is quite small. Whatever it takes to get there, if we feel impelled to ride all the way, let the spirit of history be our guide. We’ll suffer the consequences later, even if we already know what they are and could have avoided them. Masochism is like that.

The first entry of a brand new column, Brownshirt Blues is the place where Souciant (psycho) analyses fascist media hegemony and why the hegemons lie to the public the way they do.

Transparency is like that. It’s not hard to take a tweet by Marine Le Pen and say, “Wow, she must have had an abusive father if she had to attack Algerian men so profoundly here. (Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, fought in the former French colony.) She just made him into an Arab to objectify his moral failings, as a Muslim anti-Semite is easier to digest than a Catholic fascist one.

That’s why, today, we will start with Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini. Few far-right figures are as successful at using social media to grow their fanbase as effectively as the Lega 2.0 Propagandist in-Chief. He’s so unbelievably good at it, you can probably imagine Salvini is just a front for an American or Russian social media strategist. Probably both, knowing the company he keeps.

Okay, Salvini’s smart, we admit it. So smart, he stole the online savoir-faire of his onetime foes, his tragically stupid coalition partners, the 5 Star Movement, who pioneered digital consensus building, only to offer up its results to a genuine fascist who didn’t do as well as 5 Star did in Italy’s last election, but now has European media crowning him the next Mussolini.

Did we say Mussolini? Whoops. We meant Italy’s next premier, by himself, having destroyed the M5S and absorbing its greater number of voters. What a bummer, particularly for a political party that once held itself above politics. All it took was six months in office to build Salvini into the market force he’s pimped out to be today – a bearded Donald Trump, with a better spellcheck.

If you detect a note of disgust, we freely admit to it. Souciant loathes Salvini, but we are even more contemptuous of 5 Star for getting in bed with him. This was a trainwreck that didn’t need to happen that sacrificed Italy for nought. That’s why we decided to show politicians of Salvini’s ilk our love and dissect their tweets for what they are: propaganda.

Hence, yesterday’s pinned masterpiece:

English: (Courtesy of Microsoft)

Insults, threats, lies… I don’t quit and I keep working, for you and because Italy deserves so much. In fact, everything.

Yes, Salvini’s accusing his critics of libelling him and making him feel vulnerable. But, since he is a selfless and generous guy, Salvini is above it all because we are his number one priority, the people. How cool is that! Someone in power actually cares about us. Granted, if you’re reading this in English, you’re not one of his us. He’s speaking in Italian. But you get the idea.

The bigger problem is that this shit works on people. Italians. Cool people who, unexpectedly, were waiting for a head of state in similar waiting, to touch their hearts and restore their dignity. And show real leadership! Who knew that they wanted a dictator, who insulted and shamed black people and refugees, and gave tax breaks to his rich friends in Milan.

What’s worse, Salvini continues to poll better every day. Even though he hasn’t done anything of consequence in five months, except relentlessly tweet that he’s working oh so hard for you; despite the fact, the Italian economy continues to tank, and the deputy premier repeatedly takes credit for policies and achievements of the centre-left government that preceded his.

It’s enough to make any self-respecting coalition partner want to quit in disgust for destroying their own party, when they could have built a real alternative to the Italian political establishment. But, that’s politics. It’s gotten so bad, everyone blows it except for the far-right, which understands why the present historical juncture is so bad for democracy. But good for Salvini, et al.

Hence, Brownshirt Blues!

Photograph courtesy of Blink O’fanaye. Published under a Creative Commons license.