“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it has been faced. History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we literally are criminals.”

– James Baldwin

By Henry Giroux, CounterPunch

The long shadow of domestic fascism, defined as a project of racial and cultural cleansing, is with us once again. Americans have seen the ghosts of fascism before in acts of savage colonialism and dispossession, in an era of slavery marked by the brutality of whippings and neck irons, and in a Jim Crow age most obvious in the spectacularized horror of murderous lynchings. More recently we have viewed fascist acts of terror in a politics of disappearances and genocidal erasures under the dictatorships of Adolf Hitler, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and others. And in each case, history has given us a glimpse of what the end of humanity would look like.[1]

jan 6 congress rioters and trump supporters

An upgraded form of fascism with its rabid nativism and hatred of racial mixing is currently at the center of politics in the United States. Traditional liberal values of equality, social justice, dissent, and freedom are now considered a threat to a Republican Party supportive of staggering levels of inequality, white Christian nationalism, and racial purity. Yet the lessons of history with its death camps, machineries of torture, and embrace of murderous violence as a political tool are too often ignored–though its mobilizing fascist passions are once again on the horizon.[2] This politics of numbness and denial is not only true of the mainstream press but also applies to many liberal and left-oriented academics.[3]

America’s slide into a fascist politics demands a revitalized understanding of the historical moment in which we find ourselves, along with a systemic critical analysis of the new political formations that mark this period. This is especially true as neoliberalism can no longer defend itself. The destabilizing conditions of global capitalism with its mix of savage inequalities and expanding methods of control and repression point to both a legitimation crisis and a turn towards an upgraded form of fascism.  This neo-fascist resurgence is part of a counter-revolution waged against the student revolts of the sixties, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and a range of resistance insurgencies that have gained force over the last sixty years.[4]

Confronting this fascist counter-revolutionary movement necessitates creating a new language and the building of a mass social movement in order to construct empowering terrains of education, politics, justice, culture, and power that challenge existing systems of white supremacy, white nationalism, manufactured ignorance, and economic oppression.

Read More