Editor’s Note: This is part four of a four-part series on the white supremacist text Might Is Right and the history of American fascism. This series looks at how ideas stated outright in that late nineteenth century text have continued to have influence into the present day, from Satanists and Christian fundamentalists to paleoconservatives and right-wing terrorists.
Might Is Right is willing to come right out and say that it doesn’t think all people count as people, which resolves the seeming contradictions of ideologies that are more mealy-mouthed about it but ultimately feel the same way.
In the previous installment, we looked at how that applies to so-called incel or “involuntarily celibate” men, who actively oppose sex workers. It’s not sex they desire so much as they want to remove the sexual agency of women entirely.
But an important contradiction for incels and their cousin fascists does remain, even for those as open-eyed as Might Is Right’s author.
Should a believer start to think about it too much, the central paradox of the fascist would then become inescapable:
1) everything thought unfair by people unlike the fascist is a result of the immutable natural hierarchy of the world, which is good;
2) the fascist is motivated by a deep intuition that the world is unfair to the fascist and must be fixed.
In Might Is Right, there is supposedly no morality beyond taking whatever you’re able to take, and still the author can’t help but complain some people have gone about their theft the wrong way, by convincing people instead of forcing them.
The proximate enemy, then and now, can be many things:
- liberal Christianity,
- anti-racism — even the bankers in capitalism supposedly ruining it.
But if you listen to fascists long enough, they’ll reveal that the ultimate enemy is the Jews. It is always the Jews.
It’s not obvious why antisemitism should have this relationship to fascism. Italian fascism was not built on it, though as associations with the German strain became stronger, Mussolini’s fascism came to target Jews more explicitly as well.
In R.G. Price’s essay, Understanding Fascism and Antisemitism, Price writes:
The charges are that Jews promote liberalism, equality, communism, socialism, secularism, are anti-patriotic, greedy, liars, and thieves, who control banking and finance and have corrupted capitalism.
Price observes that these are all the things fascists oppose, so it might seem to be a natural development. But antisemitism goes back at least to the Greeks of Alexander, and even before, according to the Hebrew Bible’s own stories.
In the story of Esther, it’s enough that Mordecai doesn’t bow to Haman and that Mordecai is of a people set apart who can be targeted.
By virtue of being different in some way, the idea of “the Jew” can be picked out and loaded up with every negative attribute as needed.
That seems to be why the United States’ most notable antisemite Henry Ford was obsessed with Jewish people. In the 1920s, Ford popularized the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a conspiracy and published his 18-month series “The International Jew: The World’s Problem”, which ultimately would also influence the Nazis. Ford decided to blame Jewish people for the First World War and for the degeneracy of his own country. They were the Bolsheviks as well as bankers.
As Umberto Eco observes, the utility of Jews is that the fascist can portray them as a threat both inside and outside of society.
That means any domestic or international issue can be connected as part of a grand plot, a conspiracy that must be rooted out at home and fought aggressively abroad. Communism, in particular, fulfills this same role by being international and is directly counter to fascism by describing history as a struggle of classes rather than immutable biological groups.
New terms like “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) or “Postmodern Neo-Marxism” will work, too, of course, and if you listen long enough, you’ll hear it’s someone like George Soros funding all those college protesters.
Jews are the enemy not just because they exist but because the ideologies supposedly emanating from them have the power of turning strength against itself, infecting our good white children. To the fascist, everything is the way it is supposed to be and could be no other way, but it is in constant danger of all falling apart, and the reason for that is ultimately the Jews.
For Might Is Right, this extends even to Christianity.
I said earlier that Might Is Right does not ever end up saying anything brave, says nothing really surprising, and goes along siding with the powerful at every turn.
There is one exception to this, or at least it would seem so at first.
That apparent exception is the author’s hatred of religion, which for the author is indistinguishable from a hatred of Christianity.
For the author, Christianity, too, is indistinguishable from his hatred of Jews and their conquest of Roman strength with Jewish ideas.
Why it is as childplay to the hysteric Idolatry of to-day — the deification of a Jew. The ‘Divine Democrat’ was executed upon a government gibbet, because the Rulers of Imperial Rome were more powerful men than he was.
His strength, and that of his followers, was not equal to theirs.
He died an abysmal failure — a Redeemer who did not redeem — a Saviour who did not save — a Messiah whipped like a calf — a slave-agitator deservedly destroyed for preaching a Falsehood — the monstrous gospel of Love, Brotherhood, Equality.
Elsewhere, the author says:
Both ancient and modern Christianism and all that has its root therein, is the negation of everything grand, noble, generous, heroic, and the glorification of everything feeble, atrocious, dishonorable, dastardly. The cross is now, and ever has been, an escutcheon of shame. It represents a gallows, and a Semite slave swinging thereon.
You don’t really hear this sort of mockery of Christianity in American society, but note the sort of Christianity being mocked.
The author of Might Is Right is only bothered by the version of Christianity he views as weak, democratic, overly concerned with charity and equity.
He’s not talking about the Christianity of Martin Luther who encouraged German princes to strike down rebellious peasants or Christians to burn, loot, and murder all Jews. This isn’t the Christianity of John Calvin that ruled Geneva by brutal force and justified success as being a sign of God that person was of the elect.
Certainly today, the “Prosperity Gospel” that celebrates the rich for the existence of their wealth, the white evangelicals who worship power to justify their support of venal men, and the dominionists such as Washington State’s own Matt Shea would not be mistaken for those who turn the other cheek or fail to ground their claims of authority in temporal power as well.
The directly violent white supremacist Christianity Identity movement, strongest in rural Idaho, and the respectable political governance of Washingon, D.C.‘s The Family on C‑Street, share a similar fetishization power and hierarchy despite pursuing different means to achieve it.
The latter organization, behind the National Prayer Breakfast, actually started with businessmen in Seattle horrified by the West Coast General Strike of 1934.
What they saw they needed was “totalitarianism for Christ.”
More generally, Pacific Northwest journalist David Neiwert, a good friend of the Northwest Progressive Institute, identified in 2003 the relationship between fundamentalism and pseudo-fascism as one of George W. Bush’s core constituencies, and in a revision of the same material in 2005, Neiwert concluded:
The conservative movement’s straightforward appeal to a dualist and apocalyptic mindset is, in fact, the cornerstone of its drive to create a one-party state – because nurturing such a mindset among the masses is absolutely essential to establishing that kind of totalitarian political control.
That flavor of Christianity has never been the only one extant in America, but perhaps if Might Is Right’s author had been from the U.S., he may have recognized that his own love of slavery paired well with a belief that claimed morality came from God while still allowing the powerful to intuit who God cared most about.
In the final installment of this series, which will be published tomorrow, we’re going to look at the enduring influence of Might Is Right and how its direct influence is alive today on specific organizations and individuals.