Fighting Nazis in the 21st century

In the US right now there’s a load of actual real Nazis meeting and marching in Charlottesville with actual real life armed militia marching with them. It is by any stretch of the imagination an ostentatious display by white supremacists that’s resulted in one anti-Nazi protester being killed so far. I say ‘so far’ because I’m astonished more people haven’t been killed.

Terms like ‘alt-right’ are essentially meaningless. They’re Nazis. Call them that. Groups like the National Vanguard are just Nazis and here’s where we have to stop agonising about how to deal with them. We don’t tolerate them. We fight them, and we don’t sit around like some of the ‘radical’ left agonising about whether violence is wrong or how much guilt we should have for the situaton getting here. We know Donald Trump encourages these people and has made it easier for them to grow in his short time so far as president and we know good people have died while the far-right grow and become empowered, and this is what we’ve got to remember: Trump has empowered them, just as Brexit & it’s cheerleaders like Nigel Farage have over here.

At this point people should read Umberto Eco’s essay titled Ur-Fascism, because we’re living in the age where it has finally become real again and not something of Eco’s childhood. What we’re seeing in the US and UK is Eco’s Ur-Fascism, and that scares me that we’ve let it get to a point where we need to fight not just a bunch of National Front arseholes, but vast swathes of the country who are turning to a form of fascism that is endorsed by those in power.

Back in the early 90’s the NF tried to make one last push to start the race war they were wanting. Groups like the Anti Nazi League stopped them because black, white, whatever race, religion, background united to fight them; often literally. I myself carry scars from those fights back in the days when I lived in Nottingham and we’d have to stand our ground against them. We beat them. Sadly the job now is harder and it won’t help if people aren’t prepared to perhaps get their hands a bit dirty because I look at pictures like the one below and think the young folk surrounded by actual armed Nazis are among the bravest people I’ve seen.

Those people standing in the middle of a crowd are amazing.That’s who we need to be in the days.months and years to come because sitting in Byres Road cafes worrying about the structrual problems of racism isn’t going to stop the prick with a Union Jack tattooed on his arm from beating up Asian shopkeepers. Let’s be blunt, we’re in a fight and the time for polite discussion is gone.

And the problem is the same over here in the UK. We know Neo Nazis pose a larger threat than Islamists because this is what the authorities tells us, but it barely gets reported outwith of the odd mention. If we don’t actually stop this by fighting the Nazis where we can, and making an argument for a multicultural, progressive society (and those on the left leaping on the Brexit bandwagon to get Labour into power aren’t helping one bit) we’re fucked. So lets take it back to basics, unite, argue, fight and win together and remember, punching Nazis is good for the soul.

Lets all have a thermonuclear war!

Seeing as Donald Trump is now running his foreign policy as if it was a clip from Robocop, it seems that those of you under 35 or so now have a wee snifter of what those of us slightly older put up for most of our lives. Welcome to the fear and tension of a potential nuclear war.

These days Millennials will Tweet and maybe write an angry blog about how nuclear war is a sign of the patriarchy while sipping a craft beer, but back in the day we had art like this.

Or we’d confront the fear in comics such as this Marvelman tale..

But until the Netflix generation does their own version of Threads they won’t experience the cold sweats of waking up thinking the streetlight is a nuclear blast. That was fun back in the 80’s.

So for those of you not familar with this fear; welcome to the party. For those of us who’d forgotten it, time to dust off your Protect and Survive tips to pass down to the younger generations as we all unite in fear that a pair of cunts could doom the world before we even get to the end of the new Twin Peaks.

Now that would be the end of the world!

Götterdämmerung

In Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Götterdämmerung, is the final act. It means ‘Twilight of the Gods’. That’s relevant because on Saturday morning I went through to Edinburgh and the news-stands were full of papers heaving with the threat of war, in particular the nuclear kind, or the realisation one gets at 8am in the morning when your brain processes the reality of what’s going on which is something like this train of thought; ‘ohmyfuckinggodtheresaloonintheWhitehousewhomightactuallyfuckingdoit!’ . Or to put it more succinctly…

So what the fuck is going on? Is Donald Trump mad enough to actually use nuclear weapons and will North Korea be mad enough to push a madman far enough to do it? Will Putin step in and what about the wave of far right authoritarians in Europe from Erdoğan in Turkey through to Le Pen in France and Farage and May here in the UK?  Where does Brexit fit into what’s going on? Is there a grassy knoll I can hide behind?

It does feel like it’s either a massive series of unconnected events which makes me a paranoid conspiracy theorist (which means I should move into a basement somewhere and live in my own filth) or there’s a load of stuff going on and various people/groups are taking advantage of what is a breakdown of the old social and economic order which has placed us in a time of chaos. So a twilight of the old ways as it were. Whatever is going on one thing is clear; we’re living in a future dystopia that if this had been written about in the 90’s would have been dismissed as bollocks. Trump in the Whitehouse? Aye, right. UKIP a powerful force? Oh fuck off. The far right on the rise across Europe? Oh fuck…

As future dystopias go this is more the 1984 type than the Threads type, but it doesn’t seem it’ll take much to push it towards that which as someone who lived through the 1980’s scares the crap out of me. See, we went to sleep with nightmares of nuclear wars which bled into every aspect of 80’s culture from film to comics to music which at times was positively Wagnerian in its scope.

We’re never going to grasp what’s going on because everything is just too huge and our minds aren’t built to process the scale of it in the same way that we can never see the entirely of a fractal shape or all of our life at once. We can only pick and choose what it is we want to see and how we want to interpret it, but either consciously or unconsciously we dismiss the scale of what we’re looking at. The reason I’m probably more scared now than I was in the 80’s is there’s too many wild cards out there and there’s a lunatic in the Whitehouse, the Kremlin, North Korea and smaller (but no less worrying) lunatics across the world, including our own Theresa May, who are driven by ideology, faith and an uncritical way of thinking. Reagan and Gorbachev look like giants compared to these people who seem to be intent on taking us down a path where we end up in caves drinking our own urine as it’s the least radioactive liquid available.

This is an unstable time where we’re governed/ruled by unstable people influenced by populist, hard/far right religious views from all the faiths you’d like to imagine.If this is the twilight of an age then lets make it the end of these people rather than us or democracy. We have to ensure things like Brexit, and people like Trump and Putin don’t walk us into the end unchallenged. We’re in a fight and it won’t be nice, easy or simple and it will involve many on the left, especially the liberal-left pulling themselves out of their echo chambers too. Because the stakes here are massive and quite frankly I’m not keen in spending my remaining decades on this planet living in fear of what may happen if one of these lunatics goes that step too far that takes us beyond the twilight and into the night.

At this time of strife, we can all agree Piers Morgan is a cock

Donald Trump in the White House. A hard Brexit coming. The rise of the far right across Europe. We are truly in hard days as we wade our way through a variety of bastards and pricks, but step forth Piers Morgan, the biggest prick of them all to proclaim himself as the man who will stand up for racist, bigots and the sort of people that would paint swastikas on doors for a laugh.

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To be fair it isn’t a revelation that Piers Morgan is a cock. Those of us who have had to see the wee shite on British media for years realised it the moment he opened his mouth or hacked his first phone. However this new phase of arseholery is about him being at the centre of attention as Donald Trump’s familiar.This is the man who tells people to ‘get over it’ and then spends days whining about Ewan McGregor refusing to appear on TV with him, or indeed, anyone who’s managed to get through his paper-thin skin just as comedian Jim Jeffries did.

So as we enter the dark times remember that what unites us all is that Piers Morgan is someone who is the biggest cock you’ll ever see in your life. That will keep us all warm as the lights go out across the world…

Should superhero comics be political?

A comic shop chain Coliseum Of Comics,  in America released this statement by their owner Phil Boyle the other day via Bleeding Cool in regards ‘political comics’.

Publishers, get your politics out of my stores!

We live in a climate of polarity, with people being violently opposed to issues and events. Note the word “violently” and then think about what you’re bringing to our stores.  With every new proclamation from either the White House or CNN we have a new round of vitriol coming from the opposing side. 

I’ve always told my staff that we are the safe zone from what’s outside our doors.  I’ve been touting this policy before safe spaces were a thing, not because we need to be protected but because we provide entertainment. To be crystal clear, we provide entertainment. We are not mouthpieces for any polarizing cause nor is our shelf space for rent to any organization, left, right, or center.  If you want to support fighting cancer or bullying, all good. No one is fighting for worse cancers or more bullying.  If you want to put Planned Parenthood or the NRA on my stands, you’re getting no traction in my stores.  We are not for sale and we’re not going to undermine our store’s tranquility for your cause-of-the-month.

Get your politics off my stands.  Get political figures off the covers.  Get poorly disguised villains out of your books.  Get back to telling stories that don’t remind people of the vitriol and bile being spewed from every direction; we have enough outlets for that. You’re not being clever.  You’re not being altruistic.  You’re costing me the carefully built atmosphere that has allowed me to sell your books over the last 3+ decades to people of all races, creeds, genders, and sexual orientation as well as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and no doubt a few anarchists as well.

Don’t screw that up.

It is frankly, a childish inane statement which is me being nice. The idea that the medium of comics is to purely ‘provide entertainment’ isn’t just restrictive on the medium itself, but it’s actively restricting your business by just having comics which meet your restricted world-view.

Now it is entirely down to Boyle as to what he sells as after all it is his business, but stripping politics from art, any sort of art, is just an attempt to sterilise art. From looking at his website, it is clear he’s focusing on superheroes and fantasy, which as said is fine, escapism is a glorious thing but you can’t live in a world of escapism and you can’t cut politics out of the superhero as the superhero’s origins are rooted in politics.

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Take Superman for example. In his early years he’d fight crooked landlords, corrupt politicians and generally act like a socialist working class hero fighting for the common man. Another example is Captain America who was designed as a propaganda tool to help fight the Nazis. The X-Men were a metaphor for any persecuted minority. Early Marvel comics in the early 1960’s pumped out anti-Communist propaganda so characters like Iron Man and The Hulk are rooted in politics. In the 1960’s Marvel and DC published comics which tried to deal with the issues of the time to draw people in and reflect the world they live in.

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In fact the drug awareness comics DC and Marvel did in the 1960’s were widely praised at the time, if however they seem somewhat clunky to a modern eye.

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Then there’s the link between costumed crime fighters and the Ku Klux Klan. Superheroes are inherently political; not to mention powerful, fantasy figures that can provide people with entertainment but underneath all that spandex is a seething mass of politics to be used by creators as they wish, and consumed by readers accordingly.

What Boyle seems to be doing is calling for his shops to be a ‘safe space‘. Now Boyle is quite clearly coming at this from an American right wing point of view, but the idea that someone can demand creators cut politics out of superhero comics is as said at the start of this; painfully childish. I’d wonder what the likes of Boyle would say if for example, Batman started cheering on Donald Trump and beating up Mexicans for a laugh, but the point is that superhero comics are just fine doing politics of any political slant.

The only thing that matters is whether the comic is good and it is perfectly possible to do a massively entertaining comic with a serious political slant. Not every comic has to be serious, but the fact we’re seeing cries for a genre of comics to be turned into mindless pap (well, beyond what they are right now) is just depressing but I suppose a sign of how fucked as a culture we seem to be when people demand a genre rooted in politics denies itself a chance to express itself beyond childish power fantasies for teenage boys.

This machine kills fascists

”This machine kills fascists’ is a phrase Woody Guthrie had on his guitar. It’s a fantastic phrase that’s been going through my head of late.

This is mainly due to the inauguration of Donald Trump, not to mention the rise of neo-Nazism which calls itself ‘alt-right’, though watching that movement’s leader, Richard Spencer, being punched is a thing of beauty.

There’s been much talk at to how to fight what we’re seeing over in America, or here with the far right in the shape of UKIP with the gurning horror of Nigel Farage latching limpet-like to Trump’s pallid nether regions an almost daily thing. There’s some liberal hand-wringing going on which is predictable, but how we got here isn’t the issue for now, though I do recommend reading this splendid Yanis Varoufakis article for a bit of a history lesson in how neoliberalism led us to the point where we have a dangerous narcissist in the White House.

What needs to happen now is a realisation that we can’t rely upon liberals to lead the fight because they’re partly the reason why we’re facing actual full on fascists and actual fucking Nazis in positions of power in the year 2017. We do however need to unite, and as the Women’s March showed, the numbers are there to oppose this new form of fascism though we need to understand why people voted for Trump and Brexit so real alternatives to not just the new fascism can be sought, but also to a status quo that in many cases left Trump and Brexit as the only thing left in people’s armoury to be heard, or to hope that some positive change may come to areas destroyed by globalisation and neoliberalism.

We’ve got to create something new as Yanis Varoufakis has said that takes the best of liberal democracy while tempering it with socially democratic left wing egalitarianism so all can benefit, rather than a few. People like Trump and Farage  give exactly zero fucks about those destroyed by globalisation and neoliberalism as they’re just pawns to be used and abused. They’re trying to redefine things in their images which is grotesque.

Once the narrative is ripped from these people’s hands and we unite against them there’s only one possible outcome for the likes of Farage and Trump so I leave it to Woody Guthrie to make it clear what the outcome will be…

Hitting Nazis in the face is good for us all

At Donald Trump’s inauguration the ”Alt-Right” leader (or Neo-Nazi to decent people) Richard Spencer took a smack in the face. Here it is.

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Now some people think it’s an awful thing; that in fact, it makes us as bad as the neo-Nazis Spencer represents. We should be better than cheering on someone being punched; even someone as clearly and obviously abhorrent as Spencer is while Trump supporters/Neo-Nazis are just angry with anyone that isn’t them.

So should we cheer on Spencer getting punched?

Oh fuck yes. We should be grinning like loons.

I don’t think violence works as a political weapon, but there is a line. When you out yourself as basically, a fucking Nazi, then we make sure you aren’t treated as normal. That in fact, you were firmly beaten decades ago and you won’t be tolerated as you’re a fucking Nazi! But ‘it makes us as bad as them’ say the sort of liberals used to re-Tweeting a harsh hashtag. No, it doesn’t. Again, once you out yourself to the world as a Nazi and you hide behind Donald Trump’s coattails in the hope of garnering some sympathy for taking a punch, then remember, this is what Spencer is about.

The far right re empowered like never before. They’re crawling out the woodwork and you can’t hide in safe spaces when that happens so you either fight back or tolerate it, and I’m not going to tolerate it as after all, there’s a rich tradition of smacking Nazis in the face.

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I’m not saying violence is always the solution; it isn’t. I’m saying that if a Nazi like Spencer takes a hit in the side of the face then it follows a long tradition of hitting Nazis, and worse, since 1939, or 1941 if you’re from America.

Make no bones about this though, the time for tutting liberals are over, and we either take the fight up as the millions across the world did with the Woman’s March, or we give ground to the far right because if we don’t they’ll try to normalise what they are and that can never, ever happen as we know what happens when far right authoritarians gain control of power and of course, countries.