Absurdities, atrocities, and the murder-clowns of fascism

The fact that I’m writing this is, in itself, evidence that things are not going well in the United States. Nick Fuentes is a despicable fascist weirdo who, ideally, none of you would ever have heard about. He’s a holocaust denier, a white supremacist, calls openly for dictatorship, all that jazz. I’ve been aware of him for a while because a few youtubers I follow have talked about him on occasion, but he never seemed worth my writing about. In most ways, he’s still not worth writing about, except for the fact that he’s managed to attach himself to someone far more famous.

I think one thing I never realized about fascist leaders, growing up, was how deeply strange they all are. I suppose that’s partly my fault, given that they’re famous for murdering people over absurd lies, but I think some of it also has to do with the mythologizing of Nazis in U.S. media. They’re portrayed as relentlessly competent, caring only about efficiency and results, capable of great feats of engineering and blah blah blah. The reality is that many of their so-called accomplishments were little more than propaganda. The Autobahn, for example, existed before Hitler rose to power, and he just claimed credit for it.

If I had to guess why this propaganda persists in our society, I’d say it’s probably because of how close fascism is to capitalism in general, and neoliberalism in particular. I might have felt a need to explain that statement a decade ago, but now I feel I can just point to the GOP. They’re not much different from how they’ve been for my whole life, which is why they’ve been able to go so far, with so much support. Likewise, the Democrats aren’t much different from the Republicans, with their efforts to create the mass incarceration crisis, their opposition to universal healthcare, and their habit of going far harder against the left than the right. And that’s ignoring the decades of U.S. support for fascism abroad.

There’s just a little too much coziness there for anyone in power to want the public to have a clear idea who and what fascists are.

For those who are somehow unaware, Kanye West has started openly peddling anti-Semitic and other right-wing propaganda, and in turn has been warmly embraced by a succession of odious people. The two most recent are Milo Yiannopolis (also a fascist – has been filmed singing with saluting neo-Nazis, had a password referring to The Night of the Long Knives, and the list goes on), and Nick Fuentes.

The three of them just had dinner with Donald Trump, and while it apparently didn’t go well, Trump was supposedly very impressed with Fuentes. To me, that means that we’re likely to see more of that piece of shit, so it’s worth knowing who he is. I’m sharing two videos today, because I don’t particularly want to write about him, specifically, again. I feel that these do a good job of covering who he is, who he appeals to, and why it’s not good to have him closer to the halls of power.

I have a bit of a confession to make. During my time as a lurker around the periphery of the New Atheist movement, I frequently heard a Voltaire quote – perhaps you’re familiar:

Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

Until the last few years, I didn’t really get that. I knew that a great many horrible acts had been committed in the name of beliefs I considered absurd, but the same is true of good acts. I still think society would be better if religion was entirely removed from governance, but I think I now have a more complete idea of what that quote’s about. Fascism arose from liberal democracy, and both systems came centuries after Voltaire, but looking at what they believe right at this moment, I’ve gotten a bit more perspective on the scale of absurdity that’s available. These are deeply silly people, who will happily justify torture, murder, terrorism, and genocide.

Fascists are the killer clowns that keep showing up in pop culture. I don’t like the trope, because I’ve known a number of professional clowns in my life, and they’ve all been wonderful people, but I think it’s the best illustration of the problem. Trump, Fuentes, Yiannapolis, Kanye – fascists, including their leaders, tend to be deeply ridiculous people. In some ways, that’s their superpower, not just because it means they’re not taken seriously at first, but also because they seem to be fueled by humiliation. They attract ridicule to themselves like flies to a pile of shit, and they can’t handle even the smallest amount of it. They cannot function in a world where people make fun of them, so they want to murder everyone who does, rather than considering why they might come across that way.

They believe absurdities – more and more of them every year, it seems – and based on those absurdities, they want to murder or enslave most of humanity. As with everything else they do, it might be funny, if our political and economic system didn’t keep giving these people the power to ruin lives.

I don’t think Kanye will ever be president, but this does seem like a way into more “mainstream” politics for those who’ve attached themselves to him, as someone who will reliably get press attention. The GOP’s big divide isn’t between fascism and fash-adjacent neoliberalism, but between which brand of fascism they think will get them into power. By all accounts, Trump loves sycophants, and that seems to be consistent among authoritarians. For those of you who knew nothing about this douchebag when you started reading this post, I’m sorry to have inflicted him upon you. Unfortunately, it’s likely that he and other bozos like him will remain a mutual affliction for as long as fascism is viable in the United States.


“When a movement is selling an image of exceptionalism and strength, their design is to attract patrons who are unexceptional and weak.”


  1. JM says

    They’re portrayed as relentlessly competent, caring only about efficiency and results, and capable of great feats of engineering and blah blah blah.

    Another reason for the myth of Fascist ability comes from the German military in WWII. This is a misunderstanding of history. The German military set out to win the next war as soon as WWI ended. They developed entirely independent of the Nazi party. The Nazi party coming to power lifted the caps on military size and spending but it also brought political meddling to the table. The German military was very good in WWII despite the Nazi party not because of it.

  2. KG says

    Abe Drayton@2,
    The book to read on the Nazi economy is Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy. Economic pressures (basically, a balance of payments deficit leading to a shortage of foreign currency) forced a slowing of planned armaments production in 1938-9, and in turn led to the huge gamble of starting the war in September 1939, before the likely enemies caught up, but also before Germany had anything like enough planes and submarines to force Britain out of the war, or even enough tanks – there were no Panzer reserves if the initial assault on France had been checked, as it should have been. Later, even at Hitler’s empire’s maximum extent, it was short of food, coal (and hence steel) and oil. Tooze also demolishes the myth of Speer’s organizational genius (which was almost entirely due to Speer’s own post-war propaganda).

  3. says

    Thanks for the book rec. It seems unlikely I’ll read it, but I appreciate knowing about it in case I need to.

    On an unrelated note, I feel like the title of this post is better than the post itself, so I might have to recycle it for a deeper dive into the bloodthirsty absurdity of fascists

  4. StevoR says

    I don’t really want an introduction to Nick Fuentes – but thankyou for this one. To be forewarned here is definitely a good thing.

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