Friday, June 25, 2004

was it the uniforms after all?

Once described by an Independent correspondent as the very young columnist of the year, Johann Hari has some interesting thoughts on the appeal of fascism to certain gay men.

But there’s another important question: will fascist movements inevitably turn on gay people? In the case of the Nazis, it seems to have been fairly arbitrary; Hitler’s main reason for killing Rohm was unrelated to his sexuality. From my perspective as a progressive-minded leftie, all fascism is evil; but should all gay people see it as inimical to their interests? Is it possible to have a gay fascist who wasn’t acting against his own interests? Fascism is often defined as “a political ideology advocating hierarchical government that systematically denies equality to certain groups.” It’s true that this hierarchy could benefit gay people at the expense of, say, black people. But given the prevalence of homophobia, isn’t that – even for people who don’t see fascism as inherently evil – a terrible risk to take? Won’t a culture that turns viciously on one minority get around to gay people in the end? This seems, ultimately, to be the lesson of Ernst Rohm’s pitiful, squalid little life.

Yukio Mishima once argued that gay men should be fascists because they would inevitably face the hostility of the majority and so should support an ideology which promoted the suppression and disciplining of that majority. If the fascist party itself turned on gay people, then you would at least know in which direction oppression was coming from and so stand a chance of being able to get out of the way. This is at least arguably better than walking home through a rough area of town constantly looking over your shoulder.

More generally, I think there is an environmental pre-disposition to be economically right wing amongst gay people, if only for the fact that this is the ground where the rhetoric of of individual choice and freedom has traditionally been located. And it’s easy for someone designated an outsider to feel hostility to the idea of the working classes and to policies which might benefit them collectively. What, put my tax money in the pockets of queer bashers? That line of thinking applies to other minority groups too.

It’s noticeable that the Labour Party has used minority-speak to camouflage its own journey rightwards. Amongst a certain class of activists, it resonates to say that traditional left wing policies are “too white”, “too male” or even heterosexist (whatever happened to heterosexism? Ah, the rhetoric of yesteryear). I certainly recall a meme floating round during the firefighters strike to the effect that they didn’t deserve a pay rise precisely because they were white, male and working class. If the boy columnist really fancies chucking a bomb, gay people and the rightward shift of the Labour Party might be an interesting subject to tackle.

via Harry's Place