Christmas, or how I learnt to love the fascists

Photo by Kieran White on Unsplash

For the first time in my life, I could enjoy Christmas without being in absolute agony. The pain of living with Crohn’s Disease had rendered it impossible for me to enjoy my Mum’s Christmas dinner, the plethora of cheeses on Boxing Day, and even sitting and watching a film was difficult as I felt my bowel slowly die, right there, within me. This agony I lived with, thinking it just how life was, just what it meant to have a body; and it made me a little cruel, a little bitter, and quite a fair bit suicidal.

But this Christmas, I have had the part of my bowel removed that was diseased, and now live with an ileostomy stoma, and although it is strange half way through watching La La Land to feel yourself pooping involuntarily into a bag, I wouldn’t have it any other way, because now I feel like I can love those around me again.

And yet, whilst I watched Bill Bailey win Strictly Come Dancing with the family, a new pain entered my mind which warped the thoughts. As I watched Millie spin around, I thought to myself “I wonder if we dance the Salsa because we stole it with colonialism”; or, as I watch a show about how to cheaply buy Christmas presents with Philip Schofield, I consider “are all these presents cheap because we use forced labour camps of Chinese orphans”. And as I walk around my village with a limp, by gammy leg replete with blood clot from when the bowel really tried to knock me out of this mortal coil, I think to myself, “if I could walk faster, I’d be rioting, so why is no one else. They were going to starve your children. They have cancelled Christmas. And yet you sit at home and do nothing.”

These thoughts culminated with me putting on facebook the day before Christmas that if you vote Conservative ever again, you are a fascist, and in the words of Eltahawy, “if you go low, I will come for you.” My Christmas message, before I shared a rather good Jethro Tull album, was in rage. This has never been my message at Yule, even when I was in agony, so why now, am I being so furious?

It isn’t that I disagree with my sentiment. If you vote for a party that celebrates the drowning of children in the sea, then you are a fascist. The Daily Star told British people that, during WWII, the “jews” would be invading. It may not be World War Two any more, but we still hate immigrants escaping war-torn strife. Nothing really changes, apart from the names. My message at Christmas was warranted, and I am tired of being civil to those who planned to starve our children, and kept people from their families simply out of a prideful attempt at invading Europe without any comprehension as to what that entails, thinking we can play chicken with trade deals and gunboats, and leaving drivers to starve and piss themselves all because of Brexit. Of course, my rage is justified. We should be rioting. This is not the time to be polite to people who won’t do the bare minimum to be kind to their fellow man. If someone won’t accept your humanity, why on earth should you be civil towards them.

But a post on facebook saying something we all know doesn’t actually alter the state of play. By this point, there is no educating Tory-voters. If someone, by this point in history, with the overwhelming evidence, still thinks ‘Boris Johnson’ is doing a good job, then they are a lost cause. Our efforts, entirely, should be put into creating communities extraneous to the state, which can challenge a socialist government we can implement, not because it will save us, but because at least it isn’t Alexander DePfeffel, because at least it isn’t Jacob Rees-Mogg with the most twisted Christian values any human has ever seen. Jesus would be spinning on his crucifix like a Catherine Wheel.

All my post accomplished was exactly how I felt watching Strictly. I wanted to enjoy the dancing, the joy of it all, these people who had come together to bring us something enjoyable at a time of crisis (ignoring, of course, the North Korean styled propaganda of the Home Secretary in the first few episodes) — but exactly thus, I don’t want to vomit when I see Anton du Beke dancing with a politician to try and make them “seem human”, I want to enjoy the dancing! And people will want to enjoy Christmas without my little, albeit cathartic, outburst, aimed specifically at people I know who still think the Tories are good people, who shared memes of black people being the real slave owners in the lead up to this terrible time. My civility no longer extends to you. But my incivility does not need to manifest as petty remarks on a social media website that is very much a part of the same problem of fascism being on the rise.

But my incivility cannot manifest in the only two ways that are useful. I cannot riot, and upset the status quo in this directly violent manner, a method which historically has worked every single time (near enough). And I cannot create anarchistic communities within my city, which I don’t even live in currently; I cannot form counter-state communities which are designed to support the most vulnerable, and unionise in a manner that protects workers in the most basic and kind of means. I could, perhaps when COVID ends in 2067, create a gathering in this village, for poetry, chaos magick, and/or anarchism, but I hasten to think the people of Barnetby-le-Wold will even understand what I present to them, and I do not have the time to educate from the ground up. Theory can only get the individual so far; we need praxis, material action, to really teach those what the world could be; people understand when they can see it happening, rather than just throwing Bakunin and Malatesta at them from a passing speed train. In my current state I cannot engage with these two paths, and instead I chose a blunt force third option, that just felt like farting into a hurricane, where any who smelt it probably thought less of me, even if I am right.

Why do we still not riot? The English spirit is thwart with underdoggedness, so you’d think we’d rise to the challenge like any French Fireman, and yet we sip our tea; is it simply our privilege, that even the most left-minded of us are comfortable in the apocalypse even if we hate it, or is there another factor? Doubt. We daren’t rebel because we still fear we are in the wrong. When we read of the notion of being un-civil — a notion invented entirely by white Englishmen to control the people they colonised — we have none of the schema to even comprehend how to put that into action without thinking ourselves the villain. Even if I say “fuck you if you’re a fascist” a part of us balks at the use of the word “fuck”. Although Mona Eltahawy speaks specifically from a feminist perspective, citing women who were imprisoned and tortured for using such language, which makes my cishet white punishment (a twitter ban) seem almost laughable that I am chastising my own behaviour, it is this notion that incivility is wrong that perpetuates our position; we daren’t rebel, even as white men, because it’s just gauche.

So when I say I want to love the fascists, what I mean is that there are other methods of incivility which are more palatable to the cishet white perspective, or rather, the English demeanour. We will never convince swaths of the population to truly riot — although, this should always be our primary and common goal — because it requires so much unlearning from the state. We don’t want to become the very thing that we are fighting, and yet it is this reaction in the face of injustice that is necessary for our survival. The key part of this however, the bit that we can educate and spread throughout the population, is that incivility, for the white man especially, is merely absurdism. The state constructs paradigms which we deem true, facts and figures and behaviours that if challenged would dismantle civilisation as we know it, which from an anarchist (and some socialist) perspectives is exactly what we wish to accomplish.

Take the twitter argument. Invariably, both sides end up name-calling, and the discussion ceases. The right-winger acts like they were not respected, even though they presented nothing even remotely true. The left-winger merely enjoys laughing at someone they deem stupid. Both result in nothing of note. The problem is that the right-winger expects certain aspects in the conversation to arise, so their high-horse is already saddled and waiting their charge before the conversation has even begun. The civility in online discourse — unlike actual material society — is argumentative, rude, and brash. It is antithetical to what we deem civil, where civil here now takes on the role of “status quo”.

I began to test sickening politeness, and found that even if I ended up agreeing wholeheartedly with someone — not because I personally did agree, but because I wanted to know if faking common ground might gently open the conversational doorways — they would start calling me names, before realising I hadn’t disagreed with them, apologise, try again, get confused, block me. Even if I was sickeningly lovely to them — thanking them profusely for engaging with me; asking how they came to such REMARKABLE facts about QAnon; sincerely wishing them well on their journey through this world — they became angry, but this anger came from a very different place to the original sense of the word found in twitter rage-feeds. What had happened is the status quo — or rather, the civility of social media — had been disrupted.

People remark that we must love our enemy. Even Mario Puzo, who wrote The Godfather, stated “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” If even the Mafia think you should “love thy Neighbour” to quote Jacob Rees-Mogg when he’s at Church of a Sunday, does that not also include us, the uncivil rabble-rousers?

How does one conflate the torture of women for expressing an incivility with a sugar-topped politeness that breaks the cycle? How does one love the fascist? We think of love as an agreement, we see it as this essential attribute of community and coming together. But anyone who has been in love will know that it is often crazed, psychotic, dangerous. Love can also be telling your child fifty times not to put their hand in the fire, and knowing that when they do finally burn themselves, that is the lesson. The 51st time would have taught them nothing. Sometimes love is uncivil. I prefer this word uncivil, rather than incivility, for the latter implies a negative behaviour within a system; the former implies a deconstruction of norms to something brighter, more useful — more loving?

The Tories have not just taken away my humanity, but they have also taken away, almost synonymously, my ability to love. I want to sit with my enemy and find common-ground so we can advance the world. When twats like Laurence Fox talk of being apolitical, that Dawn French shouldn’t break-up with people for how they vote, that we could all just get along if these damn loony lefties just accepted people had different points of view, they actually mean they just want people to let them continue being horrible people; but in saying this they took away my ability to do the very thing I do take pride in, the ability to do this very act of kindness that Fox&Co say the loony left inviolate. Of being able to sit alongside someone truly evil, and try, and try, and try to learn, grow, for the benefit of the future. I think the Salsa may be colonial not because of my left-wing philosophies, but as a kind of automatic retaliation to right-wingers who just want us all to “get along”. In a kind of perverse paradoxical counter-intuitiveness, I end up becoming the very thing that right-wingers despise not out of good will, but simply to not ‘be like them’, and even if that leads me to the same moral conclusion, it doesn’t allow me to actually live my philosophies. Tory voters have taken away my ability to enjoy the inherent fire — or Agni — in the world. The Buddhist proverb goes “we do not plant the acorn to sit under the shade of the tree”, so I must try and be kind, not because it succeeds, but because it may plant the seed for future generations? Surely?

I question this because I could never ask a black woman to sit with a Conservative MP and find ‘common ground’. I question this because I could never ask a rape victim to forgive their attacker. It would be unconscionable. But if we, as the English nation, are not going to riot even for the white lower classes (not even for our own children!) I have to find other ways of utilising my activism, my rebelliousness, my love. I cannot have the Conservative party take away my dignity, my humanity, but also my ability to be kind! I will not become that person. That facebook message, that all Tories are fascists, although true, persists a divide. I hate myself for even typing that, sounding like I’m trying to get a slot on Jeremy Vine.

I implore people, who can, to let loose the dogs of war upon Alexander DePfeffel, protected with another name like a crass witch (which offends my own chaotic magickal sensibilities). I implore those who can organise, to do so. Corporations and buildings are not people. A building can be fixed. We cannot bring back the children we let drown because “England is too full”. I suggest we riot.

But that rioting is to break a status quo, to reformat the expected values of what is around us. It is a process of rewilding, smashing windows, and stealing bread. But along with reclaiming the city as merely matter, we must also impart a new soul into the world, a process of rëenchantment. Both destruction and creation can behave uncivilly, and both can contain love. A riot is the love of a child we let burn its wrist to teach it fire is hot. Rëenchantment is the love of a child who has bullied their peers, who we sit with, and give time to, because we want to know why they needed to punch the Ginger kid on the arm at breaktime.

We must sit with fascists with love, both kinds. We must let them get burned on our rage, but also we must break what they expect of us. They expect to be called racist. They expect to be called fascists. They expect to be called unempathetic, and violent, and cruel, and inhuman. If they expect it, they won’t listen, in the exact same way we don’t listen to them because we expect the very things they invariably always end up doing. They are naïve, of course, but like all lost souls they just need to be guided back to the path. Some people won’t take it, they like being lost, we have to try, right?

I repeat, again, that I do not wish you to feel that I am giving fascists the benefit of the doubt, per se. I do not want you to think that I will one day think that Major Tom should never have fought the Nazis, or that being polite and listening is more important than putting on your Doc Marten’s and stamping on those who wish to cause genocides in our country (and I count the irresponsibility around COVID as one such genocide, a word not used enough during this crisis). What I instead endeavour to say is that when presented with individuals who are lost, and scared, and frightened — which all fascists are, it is why they pick the paths they do: the world terrifies them — to embrace your love. Do not let our enemy make us unkind, because that is what they want of us. They believe we’re banning God Save The Queen or whatever bollocks, and when we are unkind, they can go “a-ha! See I told you!” They want to diminish our love to embers, and we need a fire if we want to combat the iniquities in this world. Love does not have to be kind, but it does have to be love.

I only ask, and I aim this more at myself, as a trainee counsellor, to use that empathy. As counsellors, we are taught to leave our politics and empathy at the door, and this is beneficial to the client in as much as it stops us from judging them before we understand the world that they inhabit; but this can also be utilised to examine our environment and how people end up in the places they do, whether that is homelessness or a top banker embezzling taxes from the people. Both need help. Don’t let capitalism teach you one is the better than the other.

It is the job of the counsellor — and furthermore, the witch (why do you think they slaughtered so many women running small businesses) — to tackle the status quo of the individual, of the client. The riot is a social change, but when arguing with that one racist down the pub, a riot won’t stop that one individual. You need love. That one racist exists in a status quo of both social and individual making, and it can only be deconstructed with the abilities of incivility and absurdity. Do what is unexpected. A woman is not expected to swear. An activist is not expected to listen to a Nazi tell their story. It is this rejection of normativity that will save us, and allow our love to blossom, and it comes in more formats that we can imagine.

I was not wrong to post my message at Christmas that if you vote Tory you are a fascist. But it did nothing but ruffle some feathers on a day that should have been about mince-pies, rather than those damned fools in Parliament. We must not forget our rage, but also our love. Riot, if you can. But also be kind, because they won’t see it coming.

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Absurdist | Chaos Witch | Denizen of Perfidious Albion | Anarchic Author | Trainee Counsellor | Wannabe Bon Vivant | he/him | https://linktr.ee/NathanTDean

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Nathan T. Dean

Nathan T. Dean

Absurdist | Chaos Witch | Denizen of Perfidious Albion | Anarchic Author | Trainee Counsellor | Wannabe Bon Vivant | he/him | https://linktr.ee/NathanTDean

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