As Fascist normalcy brute forces its way into everyday life, liberal opportunism is settling into more and more obvious patterns of behavior that are worth noting as the election spectacle re-emerges in political discourse. These are patterns that have been identified decade after decade by those of us who have always been the primary targets of ableism, mass abuse apologism, hatred of trans people, capitalism, and fascism at large. Despite the demoralizing fact that uncontested violence continues to broaden its power and influence, there is still significant value in taking note of how these oppressive strategies cycle through patterns we’ve seen before.
Since electoral politics are a capitalist industry, nonprofits, workplaces, and organizations that depend on having a proximity to capital are beginning to show their priorities more explicitly. The insidiously premature declarations that the pandemic has ended; the fascist scapegoating of trans people, the anti-blackness of police reform, and of course the pro-abuse anti-survivor rhetoric being leveraged to maintain patriarchal violence. Where capitalism mobilized co-optation as a counter-insurgent tactic, it now must grapple with the consequences of co-optation tactics becoming more commonly understood.
This means that abuse apologists must sink to ever newer lows for the chance to pass as an effective prison abolitionist. Event organizers have to be ever flexible in their mental gymnastics to keep up the veneer of “accessibility” that disguises a flagrant lack of effective covid protocols. Opportunists must tirelessly co-opt radical rhetoric to maintain any hope of relevance to future political discourses. Crowdfunding strategies that once led to quickly met goals when there was a ubiquity of white guilt and institutions looking to save face are now getting less visibility on social media platforms and are far less likely to receive enough donations. Wealth is reconsolidating and preparing to fund the next election cycle.
While the 2020 uprisings made radical political networks more visible to the american public than they have been in decades, they are now more isolated than before thanks to a hefty increase in police spending and enthusiastic counter-insurgent collaborations between liberals and the state. Many non-profits, institutions, and organizations believed they stood to gain waves of new recruits from everyone radicalized in 2020, but that chance for rapid growth came with the challenge of pacifying people who want to end oppressive power dynamics for good. This steep cost of opportunism has led the managerial class to now re-direct their resources and attention towards the everyday liberal who lacks the analysis or connections to marginalized communities to push back against today's neoliberal fascist normalcy.
As more and more people feel forced to expose themselves to covid in order to survive capitalism, the managerial class sees a new opportunity in americans looking to keep their heads down in exchange for a wage. Similarly, the cadre of organizations that’ve gone through a series of internal conflicts in recent years are desperate for a break from accountability theater they’ve had to keep up in order to disarm community attempts to end oppressive interpersonal and organizational power dynamics. In this way, the managerial class and cadre alike are all gradually concluding that collecting marginalized radicals for the chance of having underground credibility isn’t worth the effort.
With this shift in strategy, we are seeing more and more unapologetic willingness to defend abusers, ignore covid protocols, settle for recruits from academia, engage in respectability politics, and cater to institutions that have the most relevance to the election cycle. Because of these conscious choices from those who possess the most individual decision-making power, many groups, institutions, and formations will likely appear more noticeably cult-like. Obedience and uncritical support are becoming more desirable traits because they fit more easily in the neoliberal fascist push for normalcy. Under these circumstances, abuses of power, both interpersonal and organizational, will be much harder to successfully contest.
Paired with this shift in group dynamics is the demonization of disability justice, self-defense, and pro-survivor networks who are all valuing safety and care above business-as-usual attitudes pushing for a return to capitalist normalcy. Combing through the pages of the co-optation handbook, reactionaries are boldly clinging to lines of argumentation that make clear discernment a difficult chore. By raising the bar of discernment necessary to parse through who is and who isn’t a bad actor, reactionaries buy themselves more time to amass power uncontested while simultaneously making it more difficult for marginalized folks to access care and safety.
This strategy is deliberately devious because it gestures at having genuine concern for people that live at the intersection of race and gender, but when you examine claims made by this reactionary strategy you find that they are completely uninvolved in any efforts to create safety and care for said marginalized groups. Indeed, fomenting animosity towards survivors, immunocompromised people, and trans folks simply makes collective care less accessible for all of these groups, including those who belong to all of these groups at the same time.
Capitalism has very loudly rewarded political opponents of so-called “cancel-culture” with wealth and strategies for criminalizing survivorship. Yet, in the fantasy world constructed by mass abuse apologism, its survivor-support networks that supposedly hoard the material resources and means to lift survivors out of poverty and grant them a life of luxury. In this twisted last-ditch effort, reactionaries peddle the idea that survivors must be opposed in order to fund Black and trans people’s survival and protect them from fascism. And it's only when we stop to entertain these bad faith arguments that we are then met with silence on how to best end antiblackness and hatred of trans people.
Protecting abusers from facing consequences does nothing to change the material conditions of Black and trans people, nor does it move us towards a world where prisons are obsolete. Experiencing abuse is not future permission to abuse others. Abuse apologism simply makes it easier to abuse people. The fact that we are living through a fascist period means that we will continue to see ableism, transphobia, antiblackness, opportunism, and relational violence mobilized to protect the state. If we want to see the end of fascism in our lifetimes, we will have to strive to be vigilant in our discernment and militant in our care work.
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