The fascist manifesto

In all of these terrible, mawkish, cut-and-paste manifestos, and their comic book 'replacement' theories, what appears to be at stake is a kind of toxicomania

As justifications, they are so feeble as to be barely worth the effort. But there is clearly something addictive about these Marvel fantasies of global mastery. Something both toxic and intoxicating, something that demands an ever greater hit each time, and is always headed for catastrophe. By this, I don't mean to diminish the political dimension of what they're doing; quite the contrary. Thanks to YouTube's algorithms, and the success of far-right microcelebrities, we have some empirical data which shows us how compulsively satisfying this fascist kitsch can be. Why is that? After all, if 'red pilling' is supposed to alert us to uncomfortable truths about our society, why is it so effective? People tend to avoid genuinely uncomfortable truths. 

Why, too, is it such a money-spinner, both for social industry platforms and for rightist 'influencers'? Why do people become so utterly obsessed with it? Why do they develop a relationship to conspiracism that is akin to that with porn: always needing new and more extreme variations on the same thing? Why do a growing number of people get to the point where there is nothing to do but, either confront the truthof the situation, or go on a murdering spree in the full expectation of dying in the effort? There is some obscure, auto-erotic satisfaction lurking there. As there always is with addictions.

Adorno, writing up the empirical findings of Studies of the Authoritarian Personality, saw this addictive pattern in antisemitism, particularly its compulsive escalation. The antisemite cannot sleep "until he has transformed the whole world into the very same paranoid system by which he is beset". He "simply cannot stop", carried away by a logic which begins with the pettiest of grievances and accusations, and escalates by a logic of its own to "the wildest conclusions, tantamount in the last analysis to the pronouncement of death sentences against those whom he literally 'cannot stand'." It was almost a perpetual acceleration machine, accounting for the "fantastic disproportion" between what Jews were alleged to be guilty of, and the extravagant punishments proposed by the antisemite.

It would be tempting to say that the fantasies of 'replacement', of migrant 'invasions', of nefarious overseers, offer the consolation that, at least someone knows what they are doing. However malign the master, at least there is one. However terrifying the world with him in it, at least it makes sense. Today's rightist subcultures would be unrecognisable without their cottage industry of micro-patriarchs (Jordan Peterson, Gavin McInnes, Tommy Robinson) whom followers relate to as embodiments of paternal law. Buck up, tidy your room, don't fap, compliment the ladies. As Tad DeLay suggests, today's alt-right thug is an obsessive posing as a pervert, dressing up his striving to 'know his place' in the idiom of subcultural transgression.

However, in the context of these 'lone wolf' killings, something else is going on. The "beat my score" logic of first-person-shooter lulz, is not trying to restore the paternal superego. It has given up on that. Tellingly, for Adorno, a decisive step in the antisemite's addictive escalation is the usurpation of the place of conscience, or superego, by "punitive moralism". Here, punitive moralism masquerading as trolling irony is not trying to repair a patriarchal social order, it is relishing the jouissance of collapse. It is the enjoyment of someone about to liquidate himself as a subject, and take flight from the world in which he is a subject. These manifestos, these masturbatory texts, are not really supposed to constitute some sort of social link. Their only truly 'social' dimension is that they perpetuate the addiction for their peers.

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