I ran across this repost on Reddit. Somehow, among all the frightening stupidities of the day and week and month — the Qonvoy Qlownshow on the Canada/US border, the on-going tragic drip-drip-drip of antivaxxers dying slowly in ICUs because they trusted some sociopathic grifter on Youtube, the uncertain (or do I mean certain) fate of Ukraine — this photo haunted me, it stood out from the background noise. It haunted me so uncomfortably that I had to write something about it.
These guys, these white faces in the black lookalike hoodies… they send a shiver down my spine. They are birds of ill omen, the carrion crows circling over a civilisation in trouble. They are the same loyal dog-pack who came running when Hitler whistled, and Mussolini, and Franco… and heck, why stop at the 20th century?
They signed up with the Conquistadores and the Crusaders and the Cossacks and Alexander, swore their blood oath to any charismatic leader who would tell them what they wanted to hear: that they’re inherently superior to other people, and that violence is virtue. That they have a god-given right to whatever they can take and hold by force.
Just some yahoos on a bridge in Boston, but also the survival of antique barbarism into a modern era, the ape that would rather drag all angels down and hack off their wings than try to ascend. Their ilk followed every flag of every army in history, flexing and boasting and looting and slaughtering and enslaving other people; and all the while they were the tools of cleverer men, the spear- and cannon-fodder on whose piled bones dynasties are built.
They’re the muscle behind the dictator, the stormtroopers, the brownshirts and blackshirts, the cartel lord’s enforcers, the don’s soldiers. In the Anglosphere they dream about the “great days” of Viking longships and Teutonic knighthood, i.e. the days when bully-boys in plate armour ruled the earth. They dream of Great Leaders, of Blond Beasts, of kings and warlords, the rule of strongmen rather than the rule of law. They dream of race and caste, of a social hierarchy with them at the top and a neverending supply of punching bags and scapegoats beneath.
Every era sows and reaps a fresh crop of them. They’re career haters of the Other, breakers of the peace, burners of libraries and witches — vandals, gangsters, a plague upon our human house throughout our sorry, tear-soaked history. They are the useful idiots, loyal enablers of every tyrant. They will kiss the ring of anyone who lets them put their boots on someone else’s neck. They will howl for the blood of anyone who makes them take their boots off other people’s necks.
They’re panicking and whining and howling now, in the Anglosphere in the early 21st century. They snarl and strike threatening poses because their “right” to the things they always take by force — land, slaves, wealth, power, privilege— has been questioned and challenged, even a little bit eroded, by strong social/historical currents of democracy and egalitarianism. Their entitlement has been questioned; their “superiority” has been undermined.
Furriners and blackamoors and bitches and queers have got uppity — and many are more successful in a modern cosmopolitan society than mediocre white men. Yet in the bathroom mirror they so need to see the lord of creation, natural ruler of the realm. They live in a society increasingly (if imperfectly) governed by law, not by strongmen with charisma-plus-enforcers, a society where brains are more adaptive than muscle. A society of research, debate, and voting, not duelling and king-making. A society loosely based on science and pragmatic cosmopolitanism, not tribal mythologies and rigid, murderous dogmata.
And they hate it. They want the good old days back.
And to be quite honest, I hate and fear them — and all that they signify. In this random still-shot from the streets of America today, I see the sprouting seeds of the Einsatzgruppen … and it is not such a far journey from here to there, or from now to then.
Other stuff by me, if you’re interested…