Photo by Gakuto Ochi

Darkest Before the Dawn

Responding to the rise of American Fascism

When I was in my mid 20s, I realized I was suicidal and that it was ok. In a way, the act of recognizing it and accepting it was the first step to overcoming it. Nothing held joy for me, the world looked grey, I didn’t want to live. And… that’s just how things were. So long as I tortured myself about how horrible it was and how broken I was, the more my suicidal ideations deepened.

But, the rational acceptance of my state opened up new avenues. I started meditating and going to the zen center, I started therapy. And it took a long, long time — but about one year later I wasn’t suicidal anymore, and about 5 years later I wasn’t depressed anymore.

Life was ok.

So here we are — in America — and we seem to be the national equivalent of suicidal. And, it’s ok. Just accept it. We are a nation on the brink of something, and that something isn’t good. That something looks a lot like self annihilation. And it’s ok.

There are steps we should start taking, but they are long and slow and we will need to conserve our energy to get through them all.

Another thing I realized as I was going from suicidal to happy, was that even when you’re miserable, you still have good days. You still have good moments, if you can learn to look for them and appreciate them. We’re on a long road back to functionality in the United States, but there will still be nice things. There will still be good times, and when they come, you it’s ok to appreciate them wholeheartedly.

But, we also need to recognize the situation for what is going on:

  • America is descending into fascism under Donald Trump. It is a very American type of fascism, so some people may object to the word, but what I mean is that Trump is seeking to access levels of power that transcend the levels of power legally granted to an American president. I also mean, he has enough support from the population to potentially make this a reality, and as he continues to gain more power, we descend deeper into fascism.
  • Trumpian fascism idealizes killing. This is a particularly American kind of idealization, one borne of the American mythology that glorifies war and genocide — most especially, the American war of independence, the civil war, World War 2, and the American Indian¹ genocide. Now, the American idealization of killing is not limited to the right (many leftists fantasize about “justified” murder also— think Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-killing scene in Inglorious Bastards) but one jump the right has recently made is they have begun to glorify actual murder that has happened in real life. Ann Coulter, for instance, recently tweeted that she wanted Kyle Rittenhouse (recent mass shooter at a protest) to be her president. Even if we are to take the right’s claim that Rittenhouse was acting in self defense so his behavior was excusable (which I don’t — I believe Rittenhouse to be a teenage boy in possession of an illegal weapon who travelled across state lines with the intention to kill) the fact that killing someone is seen as a praiseworthy act really tells you something about the right’s operating morality right now. At best, I hope killing in self defense would be portrayed as a regrettable act forced upon someone by circumstance.

Anyway. I’m not really going to argue this position too much; people are in the throws or authoritarianism on both sides, but the right I believe is far more dangerous due to their idealization of murder culture. However, the left has remained fairly delusional about the state of America for decades — and I lay much of the blame for our horrific state of wealth inequality at the feet of Bill Clinton and Obama; Clinton for undoing many of the historical safety mechanisms, and Obama for bailing out the banks rather than the population during the housing crisis. And, it is this growing wealth inequality that inevitably drove us toward fascism.

As Umar Haque said in his piece I Have a Bad Feeling About This Election:

There’s one single force that foretells the rise of authoritarian-fascism in a nation: fresh, growing poverty, which breeds discontentment, anger, and eventually, hate. That hate is channeled by demagogues, targeted at long-hated minorities, who are blamed for all a society’s ills — which, in truth, they have nothing to do with.

And, the blame for that wealth inequality falls equally at the feet of the republicans and the democrats. Our politicians have ransacked our economy for their own personal gain, and have set our hatred against each other to solidify their own power. Right now, I believe Trump is more dangerous than Biden because Trump is looking to undo the mechanisms of democracy, but the left is dangerous as well — especially when it has come to protecting the special interests of big tech and industry over individual citizens.

So — ok. Things are bad. Where are we, what do we do?

Honestly, I don’t know. I think personally I am going to try to commit to writing my blog (somewhat) more regularly. I think being honest and aware of the situation is important, but not panicking about it, because panic doesn’t help solve problems. I believe Trump will win the next election, though I will be voting for Biden and I hope Biden wins — but even if Biden does win, we have a long way to go until we’re out of this shitshow.

But, you also have to remember, we’ve done a lot of things that look impossible. We overturned slavery, we got all citizens the vote, we got gay people the right to marriage — at the time, all these things seemed like they would never happen. But they did. So, I don’t know how this all ends, but ultimately it will (at the very least, Trump and many of his followers don’t seem like they’re long for this earth anyway) and we’ll have to figure out a way to put it all back together. So, keep yourself safe, see what’s happening around you, but keep an open mind — see what problems could be solved, or what steps may help. And, I’ll keep thinking about it too.

  1. I’m using the term American Indian because I’m referencing historical events where the term “Indian” would have been in usage, and because I read “Indigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider “Indian” a slur.” in the introduction of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History.)