5. IX 2021
Identity code has a generally excluding effect capable of mobilizing negative energies and social forces towards those who do not share the same origin, territory or culture. Fascism is the fundamental obsession with identity, origin and belonging. It is a knee-jerk reaction to physical and social displacement. Fascism is generally absorbent, which reflects a fear of small numbers — it likes size because identity robustness had been eroded by the defection and depletion of ranks. It absorbs everyone willing to join in and expresses hostility to outsiders.
While there are many varieties of fascism, they all have one thing in common: Misogyny resides at the origin of each and every one of them – there hasn’t been a fascist movement without it. It’s never been too difficult to mobilize enough male solidarity when it comes to organized misogyny. By questioning the external norms that relate to the position of men and women in society, man has and had nothing to gain and everything to lose: he would lose not only social and economic advantages, but something far more precious, a sense of his own superiority which bolsters his ego both in his public and private life.
The fundamental cohesive force of fascism always begins with a male bonding ritual of masculinization of cultural self-perception. In Italy, for example, early 20th century fascism represented the turning point from feminine self-perception to masculine assertiveness: Erasing feminine quality of its Mediterranean sensitivity – everything that makes life there pleasant and seductive — and affirming a different self-image based on acceleration and male potency (national pride, military aggressivity, industrial growth, etc). German fascism, on the other hand, was not a programmatic cultural defeminization, but rather an establishment of systematic downgrade of femininity to reproductive function as a part of the new nation-serving hierarchization. Its essence was a utilitarian placement of women as birth factories, their subordination to the interests of the National Socialist political agenda (run by men), to serve the numbers.
When seen in the context of the most recent developments, the new intensity of the American misogyny appears less of an anachronistic anomaly and more as a logical consequence of the current political struggles. The debates (and the present escalation) of the Abortion law – the topic that had been put to rest in the remainder of the world a long time ago – is resurfacing now, at this particular moment, not in the light of its renewed relevance or urgency, but as an opening act for the new chapter of fascism. It is showing here in a more convoluted way than it had 100 years ago because the social and cultural displacement of the 21st century Western man has triggered new modes of identity politics.
Modern day misogyny is the ultimate male fantasy of the Western conservatives structured around a nostalgia for the times of lower entropy, a return to the past as a site of coherence, and a relapse to the patriarchal setting when man held their “naturally deserved” upper hand and (a male) God ruled the world. Through misogyny this man articulates the desire to reclaim what he considers his “natural right” to control women and, in that way, take control of his own destiny.
Conservative man’s vision of woman is not objective, but an uneasy combination of what he wishes her to be and what he fears her to be. The masculinization program and return to patriarchal values (the most coveted axiom of any right-wing politics) and assault on women’s rights and their position in society, if they are to be successful, would have to be deeper, gradual, and systematic. This means undoing the women’s emancipation. The tactical approach of conservative politics is that the masculinization program requires a proper framing and subtle maneuvering — women must not be antagonized; they are many and they vote. In their view, the most effective approach is to strike at the root of a woman’s influence.
No one has more influence on a person during their formative age than their mother. As such, she is a constant threat to both the state and to men in general. The decision of life and death has to be taken away from women. Their influence and importance in the life of their children have to be diminished, if not de facto, then, at least, symbolically. Right to life! This is ultimately the question about who has jurisdiction over the life of an individual, their mother/family or the state (ruled by men, of course). With the help of proper framing, this becomes the theme that defines the core of conservative identity politics, an issue slowly hijacked by (predominantly white) men who feel righteous and entitled, and present themselves as defenders of human life while women take a back seat.
 Eva Figes, Patriarchal Attitudes, Persea Books (1986)