I’ve seen a lot of whining about how we shouldn’t throw milkshakes at fascists, and I can understand their reluctance. I’ll leave it to Greta Christina to explain why it’s necessary and reasonable.
You might think leftists need to stop painting conservatives as heartless bigots and stop painting the Republican Party as the Evil Empire. You might think punching Nazis or throwing milkshakes at fascists is unacceptable violence. You might think the word “fascist” is leftist hyperbole.
How bad do things have to get before you’ll change your mind?
Fascism typically turns the heat up a little at a time. “First they came for the socialists,” and all that. Each new horror is just a little bit worse than the last, normalizing the ones that came before it and numbing people to ones that are coming. It’s easy to see in retrospect that strong action should have been taken earlier — but when it’s happening, it’s easy to convince yourself that it isn’t really that bad. Especially if you’re not one of the main targets. Yet.
So how bad does it have to get? We already have concentration camps. We already have a sharp rise in violence against people of color, trans people, immigrants or people perceived to be immigrants. We already have an executive leader blatantly ignoring the Constitution and saying the law doesn’t apply to him. We already have the executive branch, the judiciary branch, and half the legislative branch corrupted and useless as a check on power. We already have serious rollbacks on women’s bodily autonomy. We already have white supremacist culture permeating police departments and widespread in the military. We already have historians who study fascism saying that yes, fascism is on the rise in the United States.
It doesn’t bode well for the future when people are aghast that we might respond to a betrayal of the rule of law or outright murder with hurled dairy products, but here we are, cowering in terror behind our so-called principles, afraid to trigger change for the better because there’s too much change for the worse going on.
Last week on Facebook I saw that Greta recommended this book, Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World, so I ordered it and read it. It’s good! The author is an organizer who has taught activists living under various fascist regimes how to resist, and it’s definitely not a handbook for terrorists. It explains how to undermine tyrants with little non-violent actions that diminish and weaken them — it’s also realistic about how difficult the process is, and how there are multiple potential points of failure. You won’t make any progress if you refuse to start, though, and over and over again, it emphasizes how important it is to find ways to laugh at the ruling regime.