Sunday, April 19, 2015
Proper, British fascism posted by Richard Seymour
What is more, it is ostentatiously the language of the BNP, self-consciously pushing buttons, soliciting disgust. If it sounds like a classically fascist form of racial othering, that's because it is intended to be. Of course, Katie Hopkins qua Katie Hopkins is not to be 'taken seriously'. But as a concentrated expression of contemporary British anti-immigrant racism, as an argument for the 'Australian model' that Nigel Farage champions, and as an attempt to push it further and popularise the most sadistic version of it (and note the enjoyment wrapped up in 'taking the emotion out of this'), it constitutes an appropriate point of intervention.
Of course it is a mistake to play the game of being investedly 'outraged' at the latest garbled atrocity from Hopkins's mouth or pen. There's no way to play that game and win. Her presentation, her 'crazy' opinions, her posh twittery, are intended to infuriate and keep you watching. There is a libidinal economy here. As with Ann Coulter, Boris Johnson and 'Foxy Knoxy', there is a strange sexual fascination in our culture with blonde psychopaths. One need only wade through a few inches of the acres of coverage of Hopkins's various outrages, to stumble over embedded video footage which purports to be Hopkins 'getting naked'. The 'outrage' is much too invested in this to be productive.
But we are not at liberty to somehow stand outside the media, as if we have clean hands and pure souls, and it has nothing to do with us. We live in and through the media, we are part of its political economy, we supply the eyeball attention and the profits. What we know of the world, what we're aware of in terms of the political spectrum, what issues matter to us, are all heavily dependent on mass state-corporate media. This is how we are ideologically dominated. The only question is when and how we 'intervene', not whether we do so. I think we do so not on the basis of when we are 'outraged', which is all the time if we're paying attention, but on the basis of when there is an opportunity to shift the balance of ideological forces, to put the other side on the defensive and strengthen our own position. And this is such a situation.
The point of provocateurs like Hopkins, beyond the marketing strategy in which we are perpetually reacting to an infuriating persona, is to function as a kind of ideological pathfinder, and push at the boundaries of acceptable reactionary discourse. For a long time, they have done so without any serious challenge from the "political class and their mates in the media". The "politically correct Westminster village" has put up surprisingly little resistance to Farageism. In fact, if truth be told, they have provided all of the ideological talking points of UKIP, especially when it comes to immigration. The BBC and New Labour intellectuals were mourning the abandoned 'white working class' before UKIP found its way onto this territory. It is important to recognise this, as there is barely a day that Labour doesn't spend bashing immigrants from a new angle, and the excuse is always the fear of UKIP.
However, Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett have shown that even in mainstream, parliamentary politics, the anti-racist argument can be articulated and can win support in the UK. It isn't as difficult as one would have thought to isolate the UKIPers and make them look like the shifty, twitchy, paranoid racists that they are. It is not that UKIP doesn't have a popular base. It does, largely among older, whiter, generally male racists in areas which haven't seen much immigration. But what the polls have told us, and what we have now seen demonstrated is that there is a very big section of the population, much larger than the number of people who will vote UKIP, who despise what Farage stands for. And, as soon as that becomes clear, he loses his cool. He loses his cool, because his entire persona is based on being the guy who heroically states the 'common sense' views that are excluded from the politically correct Westminster village debates. If it's clear that he isn't articulating a 'common sense' view, but the views of a cranky, racist minority, he isn't sure how to deal with it.
The racist Right are on much shakier ground than they, or the parliamentary-media elites, seem to realise. And it should be possible to make an example of Hopkins and The Sun over this, and to use this to spearhead a backlash, already incipient, against an increasingly brutal, racist culture.