Trump Appoints New Secretary of National Security

The sudden firing/resignation of National Security Adviser John Bolton marks the third person in this role in as many years. Seeking a more consistent and stable approach to the role, the President has sought to appoint the well known political commentator and publishing guru, Timothy the Talking Cat.

Once tipped as a possible Vice Presidential running mate for Hillary Clinton, Mr The Talking Cat sees no conflict in his new appointment.

“Really all I have to do is stand around at meetings and occasionally vandalise graphs. Frankly I was made for this job. I already know how to ignore advice and scrawl all over important documents.”

When quizzed whether he has sufficient experience for the role Mr The Talking Cat responded:

“John Bolton left me the ceremonial moustache of the war-hawk-in-chief that has been handed on to overly belligerent politicians since Theodore Roosevelt. I’ve already had a go drawing with the Presidential Sharpie and have made some significant improvements to the GDP forecasts with it.”

Update: Since going to air Donald Trump has published this tweet:

Mr The Talking Cat could not be reached for comment.

Some definitions of fascism

As the question of whether some historical figures were or were not fascists is in debate here is a variety of definitions. They vary primarily in the extent to which they aim to described specific similarities with Italian fascism of the 1930s or wider movements of a similar character. For reference and use later.

fascism noun mass noun
1 An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
View synonyms: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, autocracy, absolute rule, Nazism, rightism, militarism
1.1(in general use) extreme authoritarian, oppressive, or intolerant views or practices.

fascism noun
fas·​cism | \ ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\ Definition of fascism
1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control early instances of army fascism and brutality— J. W. Aldridge

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy[3] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[4] The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before spreading to other European countries.[4] Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[4][5]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[8] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[8] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[9][10] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[11]

fascism noun [ U ] politics (also Fascism) uk ​ /ˈfæʃ.ɪ.zəm/ us ​ /ˈfæʃ.ɪ.zəm/
​a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control, and being extremely proud of country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed

Political scientists have agonised over whether there could be a “fascist minimum”. This would be some set of features that define a political agent, regime or movement as fascist. One feature of fascism, as opposed to the other great modern “isms”, as author Anthony Paxton contends with others, is its ideological fluidity or hybridity. Yet certain things should be ventured, lest this “F-word” degenerates into nothing more than an angry label that every party uses to name their enemies, of whatever political stripe.
Fascisms are political movements that aim to take over the state, destroying liberal institutions like an independent media, and individual rights. But not all movements that aim to do this are fascist. Fascists feel licensed to use fraud (“fake news”, propaganda) and, if need be, force in order to achieve this revolutionary aim. Yet again, not all movements that aim to do this are fascist.
To fascists, all life is kampf
One step further, fascists embrace the view that all life is struggle (kampf) or war: between the strong and the weak, within nations, and between the nations, races or peoples. Politics is a continuation of war by other means. Ideals like equality, tolerance, progress, and pity are the ideological rationalisations of weakness. Many fascists, including leading Nazis, are thus deeply opposed to the values enshrined by the biblical prophets and Christianity, seeing in them (following Nietzsche) the product of a regrettable “slave revolt” against the masters in antiquity. For the fascist, we should embrace hierarchies within nations, based on strength and “selections”, to use a chilling National Socialist word. We should accept differences between peoples — so long as groups, “in essence” different, are kept separated by fences and borders. Many forms of fascism thus base their ideologies on pseudo-biological doctrines concerning race, like the Nazis. But not all fascists are biological essentialists. The cultural specificity and history of a group, nation, or “People” (Volk) might be what is being idealised and fought for.

Political ideology that imposes strict social and economical measures as a method of empowering the government and stripping citizens of rights. This authoritative system of government is usually headed by an absolute dictator who keeps citizens suppressed via acts of violence and strict laws that govern the people. The most noted form of Fascism was implemented under Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, who both stripped citizens of their rights and maintained strict regimes that resulted in the deaths of thousands of humans. Some of the defining characteristics of fascism are: (1) racism, (2) militarism, (3) dictatorship, and (4) destructive nationalistic policies.

Fascism, Paxton says, is a dynamic process, rather than a fixed ideology like socialism or communism. There are five steps on Paxton’s road to hell, and not all fascist parties made it past the second step:

  • Ideological formation and the creation of a party with quasi-military cadres. Talk of national humiliation, lost vigor, and the failures of liberalism and democracy.
  • Entry of the party into national politics. Intimidation of rivals, and planned acts of “redemptive violence” against suspect minorities and radical rivals.
  • Arrival in government, often in alliance with conservatives.
  • Exercise of power, in concert with institutions and business. The regime expands its control at home: restricting the press and democratic processes, corporatizing business, and collectivizing the people. Abroad, it asserts itself militarily.
  • Radicalization or entropy: Some fascists go down in a Götterdämmerung, but most die of boredom.

Elements of Paxton’s early stages appear in the angry populism that is gaining ground in modern Western democracies, especially in hostility toward Muslim immigrants and the austerity measures of the post-2008 eurozone. There are politicians whose parties are of fascist extraction, like the National Front in France, whose Catholic-tinged identity politics can be traced back to proto-fascists like the early 20th century Action Francaise. Some of these politicians and parties, like Norbert Hofer’s Freedom Party in Austria, remain closer to their roots than others, and might merit the name neofascist. Others are doing their best to shed the worst of these associations as they enter mainstream politics; the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, for example, is no longer on speaking terms with her father Jean-Marie, the National Front’s founding ideologue. But only one Western democracy, Greece, has a fascist party like Golden Dawn, which possesses both uniformed street fighters and members of the national parliament. When Europe’s “New Right” leaders are called fascists in suits, it’s an acknowledgment that they are not fully fascist. Real fascists wore uniforms.

Fascism From Latin: fasces, the bundle of rodswith a projecting axe-head, carried before the consuls as a sign of the state authority of Rome, and adopted as a symbol of social unity (the bundle)under political leadership (the axe).The name was given by Mussolini tothe movement which he led to powerin Italy in 1922, but is now used more widely, to include German *Nazism, and Spanish *falangism, on the basis more of a common *ethos than a common *doctrine. Fascism is characterized by the following features (not all of which need be present in any of its recognized instances): *corporatism; *nationalism; hostility to *democracy, to *egalitarianism, and tot he values of liberal *enlightenment; the cult of the *leader, and admiration for his special qualities; a respect for collective organization, and a love of the symbols associated with it, such as uniforms, parades and army discipline.In Germany the cult of *violence, together with a violent *anti-semitism, were added to these features, with notorious results. The anti-communist and anti-liberal stance of fascis tmovements, together with the loathsomeness of many actual examples, have made the fight against fascism a rallying point for left and liberal causes, so that the label ‘fascist’ may often be applied very loosely, to denote almost any doctrine that conflicts with left-liberal ideology. In this expletive use the term conveys no very clear idea, a fact which perhaps explains its popularity. From the intellectual point of view fascism remains an amalgam of disparate conceptions, often ill-under-stood, often bizarre. It is more notable as a political phenomenon on which diverse intellectual influences converge than as a distinct idea; as apolitical phenomenon, one of its most remarkable features has been the ability to win massive popular support for ideas that are expressly anti-egalitarian(seeReich). Mussolini’s own ideas were derived from a heady mixture of popular science, *Marx, *Sorel and*Nietzsche. He advocated regeneration through conquest and perpetual struggle, and spoke, in speeches seething with sexual imagery, of the need to overcome degeneracy and impotence, to make sacrifices for the nation, and to connect to the great ‘dynamo’ of fascism. Fascists are ‘not republicans, socialists, democrats, conservatives or nationalists. They represent a synthesis of all the negations and the affirmations.’ In other words, the ultimate doctrine contains little that is specific, beyond an appeal to energy and action: it is, one might say, the form of an *ideology, but without specific content (other than can be provided by admiration towards the leader).This perhaps explains some of its appeal; it seemed to make no demand other than those which the individual himself would make had he the energy. It then provided the energy.

The Palgrave MacmillanDictionary of PoliticalThought 3rd edition by Roger Scruton

Ur fascism

  • The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  • The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  • The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  • Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  • Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  • Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  • The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
  • The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  • Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  • Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  • Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  • Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  • Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  • Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Umberto Eco

“Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism.”
The palingenetic core of generic fascist ideology

Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community. Fascist nationalism is reactionary in that it entails implacable hostility to socialism and feminism, for they are seen as prioritizing class or gender rather than nation. This is why fascism is a movement of the extreme right. Fascism is also a movement of the radical right because the defeat of socialism and feminism and the creation of the mobilized nation are held to depend upon the advent to power of a new elite acting in the name of the people, headed by a charismatic leader, and embodied in a mass, militarized party. Fascists are pushed towards conservatism by common hatred of socialism and feminism, but are prepared to override conservative interests – family, property, religion, the universities, the civil service – where the interests of the nation are considered to require it. Fascist radicalism also derives from a desire to assuage discontent by accepting specific demands of the labour and women’s movements, so long as these demands accord with the national priority. Fascists seek to ensure the harmonization of workers’ and women’s interests with those of the nation by mobilizing them within special sections of the party and/or within a corporate system. Access to these organizations and to the benefits they confer upon members depends on the individual’s national, political, and/or racial characteristics. All aspects of fascist policy are suffused with ultranationalism.

Passmore, Kevin,Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Hugosauriad 4.7: Extinction event 3 – Vox Day, Alien Strippers and Voting Reform

Of all the stories I’ve covered in this series, this chapter has the most inconsequential. A story of little merit and no lasting impact, it exists simply to mark an end-point. It’s presence on the Hugo ballot was as a doomed attempt to repeat a prank that had already badly backfired on its perpetrator.

When last we met Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies in 2016 they were being mocked as losers by a performance artist/erotic novelist famed for unfeasible book titles. We will never know whether Vox had sufficiently mindless followers that they were wasting their own money on Worldcon memberships or whether many of the Rabid Puppy votes were fake accounts. Whether sock-puppets or meat-puppets, the exercise in ballot vandalism was not cheap.

Beyond the confines of fandom though, Vox Day could enjoy the electoral victory of Donald Trump. The so-called “alt-right” was in ascendence and Vox’s brand of extreme nationalism was drawing interest by news media.

Meanwhile the Hugo Awards had changed. The Sad/Rabid Puppy success at storming the ballot in 2015 had led to voting reforms designed to limit the impact of slate voting. One was a very simple change: in the first stage nomination vote, members would continue to nominate five works per category but the set of finalists would be six works. This change would ensure that a simple slate of five works would still leave one work as a finalist which would hopefully give voters at least one non-slated work to vote for.

The other reform was a new voting method called EPH. This system involved ordering nominees by number of votes but then eliminating lower scoring nominees in pairs by comparing the number of points each nominee had. The points were based on similarities between ballots in a way that would also reduce the impact of slates without having anybody ever have to decide whether something was a slate or not.

Day reduced the number of works on the Rabid Puppy slate hoping that would result in a greater impact. Indeed, in principle EPH would even give his nominees an advantage as they would unlikely to have much in common with other voter’s set of nomination. In at least one case (Fanwriter) the Rabid Puppy nominee became a finalist on points rather than raw votes, ironically beating a blogger who had been a very vocal advocate for the wonders of EPH (and who has a passing resemblance to the person writing this).

In the Best Novelette Category there were six finalists, five of which were non-Rabid nominees. The sixth was Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock. It doesn’t really need explaining that this was an attempt to try to make the same joke again after the previous attempt had headed off in to its own tingelverse.

Stix Hiscock was a pseudonym of course but at least one media outlet managed to interview her:

“”Alien Stripper was written as a lark,” Hiscock said. “I actually think it’s quite good, and published it not expecting anything to come of it. I just wanted to add shock and a little comedy to people’s day. Plus, making the cover was incredibly rewarding.”

The cover of the book does not quite match the contents. The stripper in the story is a green alien woman with three breasts who crash landed on Earth. She has taken up stripping to earn money to repair her space ship. The stripper partly shown on the cover isn’t green and appears to have only two breasts. Five minutes in photoshop with the hue-saturation settings and the clone tool and both those issues could have been rectified but perhaps I’m asking too much of disposable ebooks.

There are flashes of comedy in the story but you have to pick through the bits about laser nipples.

“The man turned to Tyrone, his hand still on me, smoldering. “Well now, I don’t think this is any of your goddamn business, now is it you fucking large theropod? Is it true you people only have a brain the size of a walnut? That’s what I fucking heard…” “You’re thinking of stegosauruses, buddy, and some of my best friends back in the day happened to be stegosauruses…” This he said through gritted teeth, and I tried to back away, knowing what was coming, seeing it in his eyes, but the man’s grip continued to tighten around me like a vice.

Hiscock, Stix. Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex . Stix Hiscock. Kindle Edition.

Or this moment later in the book where the two characters are sharing photos of their former loved ones:

“What happened to her?” I asked, walking on eggshells here, knowing it was likely a sensitive subject for him, yet I nonetheless felt as though I needed desperately to know. “A, um… A meteor got her… And my family… And friends… My neighbors… My church group… My dentist… My weed dealer… Pretty much everyone I knew, actually…” “Oh… God…” I said, feeling as though I’d just touched on a very bad subject that I shouldn’t have. “Yeah… It was a pretty shitty week,” said Tyrone, shrugging, and we continued in silence for a while. Eventually, just to put an end to the oppressive quietness and get his mind off of the mass extinction of everyone he knew and loved, I reached into my purse and pulled out a photograph of my own. “This is Charlie,” I said, and Tyrone lifted the picture to his eyes, studying it closely. Charlie was a tentacle monster, and pretty much just looked like a living bowl of spaghetti

Hiscock, Stix. Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex . Stix Hiscock. Kindle Edition.

And that’s about it for the story.

Porn and science fiction aren’t so very far apart. They both have sides with literary aspirations (in the case of porn, ‘erotica’) and both have histories in disposable literature. Science fiction writers such as Robert Silverberg have written softcore pornography to maintain an income. I don’t think Ray Bradbury ever wrote any porn as such but he was the subject of comedian Rachel Bloom’s sexually explicit song “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” – itself a Hugo Award finalist in 2011. Fans and fandom are not easily shocked or perhaps they are easily shocked but not simply by verbal descriptions of sex.

Of the 2,057 votes cast in the Novelette category only 45 went to Alien Stripper which was eliminated in the first round having been beaten by No Award by 31 votes. In the end the erotic tale of dino-romance would finish seventh out of six, which is an impressive result in some ways. Notably the story got fewer votes in the finalist ballot (45) than it did in the nomination stage (77). Members of the previous Worldcon have nomination rights in the Hugos for the next Worldcon. The drop in votes indicated that the number of Rabid Puppy members of Worldcon had declined even further in the previous months.

The Hugo Awards had met their end of an epoch extinction event and…had adapted and survived.

Next time: The rise of Uncanny and “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat”

Hey, Phantom’s back!

Happy news for one and all! He’s got his knickers in a twist about my post on Sarah Hoyt jumping full on to the Trump train and endorsing his attack on four US politicians:

“For a camel who prides himself on logic, he consistently fails to make logical distinctions between things like legitimate immigrants and ILLEGAL migrants.”

Hmmm. Yeah about that. The confused Canadian appears to have forgotten that Trump was attacking four *US CITIZENS* not ‘illegal immigrants’. Of the four ONLY ONE was not born in the USA (Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia, emigrated legally and is now not just a US citizen but an elected representative of the US people). Of course “it’s just illegals we object to” was always a lie but it’s become automatic so that even when right wing extremists are demanding citizens be deported they still chant it like a mantra.

While I’m on that point, let’s circle back to the post that Hoyt originally put up on her blog (written by Thomas Kendall):

“And Ocasio-Cortez is the daughter of a Puerto Rican [Sure, it’s a “territory” so she was technically born American. Have you ever been there? Looked at how people live there? Look at what she IDENTIFIES with? Yeah.] She is, in fact, a second-generation immigrant [Very Latin. Much minority. What she never identifies as is… one of us]. “

I always fail to estimate how supposed patriotic Americans are about their own country. Puerto Ricans ARE AMERICAN CITIZENS. A person born is Puerto Rico is American by law. It is part of America. Good grief, do some basic reading or you know, just learn something about the country you claim to love so much:

All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899, and prior to January 13, 1941, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, residing on January 13, 1941, in Puerto Rico or other territory over which the United States exercises rights of sovereignty and not citizens of the United States under any other Act, are declared to be citizens of the United States as of January 13, 1941. All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, are citizens of the United States at birth. (June 27, 1952, ch. 477, title III, ch. 1, § 302, 66 Stat. 236.)

Puerto Ricans don’t have to give up being “Very Latin” to be American.

Libertarian Embraces the Authoritarianism (again…)

Which in principle should be shocking news but we are up to who knows how many entries now in documented cases of supposed libertarians embracing the ideas and principles of the authoritarian right.

This time we have Donald Trump using the rhetoric of the overt racist demanding that “If you’re not happy here, then you can leave” and “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime[-]infested places from which they came”.

This shouldn’t be a tricky one and it should be a simple matter to see that whatever your political views are (short of overt racism and ethnic nationalism) that a president that demands ideological tests of who gets to live in America is very, very bad news. In this case, attacking undisputedly American citizens as somehow being un-genuine, demonstrates exactly how the rhetoric against “illegals” is the thin of a wedge of political oppression. First strip “foreigners” of their rights and then decide by fiat who is and isn’t a “foreigner”. You shouldn’t even have to like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, or Ilhan Omar or agree with their views to see that this is a very, very dangerous turn for US politics.

If you are a regular reader then you will probably already have guessed which science-fiction writer has jumped in feet first to support Trump’s statement: Sarah Hoyt. Hoyt is an American and an immigrant to America, however she feels her bona-fides are stronger than the above four women because she thinks the right thoughts. She finishes her opening thoughts with “Fit in or Fck off. I’ll help you pack your bags. – SAH

Yup, the message of supposed libertarians and free-speech absolutists in the era of Trump is think-the-right-thoughts-or-leave. Short of literally using the term “thought crime” is couldn’t be a clearer endorsement of authoritarianism.

To be clear, this streak within libertarianism has always been there. The idea that effectively left wing politics should be forbidden from government has always been implied but in the past, they danced around the implications of how they would stop people electing left wing governments. What has been less obvious from the rhetoric but manifest in their practice, is how the sanctity of free speech was something that is used very selectively for the far right. Yes, it is turkeys voting for Christmas but it always has been.