Ideology | Fascist feminism
The forgotten links between feminism and fascism.
She took a cigarette to the girl’s arm. The pleasure in making her wince was sensual.
This describes a scene from C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength (1945). In a lightly disguised Oxford, the hero’s girlfriend has been taken prisoner by the head of the local security police, Miss Hardcastle.
Hardcastle is a lesbian with sadistic tendencies.
And there you were thinking that Lewis just produced wholesome Christian allegories where Jesus is a cuddly ol’ lion.
Strength describes a world where Oxford has been taken over by the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiment (NICE). This technocratic organisation seeks eternal life through scientific experiment.
This just happens to require the blotting out all other liberties and human peculiarities. Hence the need for Miss Hardcastle’s security police. In reality, the experiments of NICE have opened a portal to demonic power.
The pursuit of reason has led only to the gates of hell.
We actually have a real NICE in the UK now. This is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
It is responsible for the ‘rational’ rationing of medicine in line with our technocratic health service. This organisation helps decide whether or not your grandmother is given the latest drugs to control her cancer, with help from suitably massaged statistics.
Those of us who do not believe in co-incidence. Those of us who believe that fiction is prophecy.
Well, we are not surprised.
Whether our NICE is opening a portal to demonic forces is beside the point. It is, as with so much else in our country, merely another manifestation of the soulless operation of the technocratic state.
It is this state that seeks the same goals as Lewis’s NICE: the complete subjection of mankind to technology and ‘reason’. The Hardcastle character is significant in this regard. She is, in a sense, a liberated woman. She is the embodiment of what contemporary feminists admire.
She is strong like a man. She heads a traditionally male operation, a police force – a security police at that. She is sexually fluid. She is not bound to the much reviled heterosexual male. She is hardheaded (the clue is in the name, reader. Lewis was never subtle). She is scientific. She uses violence with relish.
She will not become mushy when she sees a baby.
“What a curious agglomeration of cells,” she would say.
Indeed, do we not say the same when we advocate for abortion?
Hardcastle is, in a way, a counterpart to Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the leftist series The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005).
Tattoo celebrates what Strength reviles.
Hardcastle is also, quite clearly, a fascist. What gives? How is it possible that an embodiment of fascism can also contain the values celebrated by contemporary liberal feminism. This is easier than you can imagine. The links between fascism and feminism are tight.
There was once a trend to talk about ‘femi-Nazis’ on the American right. It’s an inelegant phrase, probably coined by a radio presenter like Rush Limbaugh. The point was to mock the feminist scolds and schoolmarms. It was probably successful enough with its audience, though the progress of feminism as an idea has not been arrested at all.
This is not directly relevant, but I raise it because this is the most likely connection that will form when ‘feminism’ and ‘fascism’ are mentioned together. Our perception is that feminism shares association with the politics of the left. Socialists, Marxists, and liberals are all keen to advertise their commitment to feminist causes.
The animating spirit of feminism would seem to be a move towards equality and social change. Feminists seek, at root, to expand activities formerly reserved for one sex to another sex. This means eliminating pre-existing hierarchies, institutions, and practices that supposedly artificially prevent equality between the sexes.
It is the same impulse that drives the liberal and socialist quest for equality in economic, religious, racial, and ethnic terms. This would seem to place feminism on the left.
Feminism stands in the same relation to the politics of the far right as homosexuality. The post-war political left has monopolised the way we speak about sexuality. In doing so, it has erased the way rightists think about sex and sexuality. The public are generally inducted into a leftist understanding of our sex and sexuality. This account naturally presents a rightist description of these human aspects as incorrect.
The reality is that feminism is closely associated with the far right, the far left, and every ideology. This is because these ideologies represent different faces of the same historical moment.
The association between feminism and the far right is well exemplified by the lives of two women who embodied the independence of action and androgyny that feminists celebrate.
Margaret Damer Dawson founded the first British female police units during the First World War. It was a project she collaborated on with high profile suffragette and women’s rights activist Nina Boyle.
This was a classical development of feminist aspirations. It was a development that prepared the ground for women to enter frontline combat in the 21st century Western militaries. Damer Dawson’s photographs show a typical butch-type lesbian or all round general tomboy.
I think her monocle is quite a superb touch.
The Damer Dawson look, though she died in 1920, was proto-fascist. The early feminists involved in the first female British police units were keen to develop the right uniform. Fascism’s appeal lies very much in its aesthetics. The passion for a uniform is very much a fascist passion.
Her policing activities also matched fascist concerns. She was interested in ‘the white slave trade’, a rather quaint term for prostitution. The regulation of prostitutes was to be the priority for the women’s police units. Damer Dawson’s police work chiefly concerned the blood purity of women; it was, in other words, a fascist-type concern for controlling and protecting a woman’s sexuality in order to preserve purity.
When the First World War ended, she continued her own female police unit despite the government withdrawing approval. She was creating her own female equivalent of Mussolini’s fascisti and the later brown shirts.
Damer Dawson was also interested in the anti-vivisection movement, which was one of Hitler’s pet subjects. This may seem tangential to fascism, but the concern for animal welfare represents the fascist preoccupation with the bloody animal realm over the new mechanical civilization that arose in the 19th century.
Her lover, Mary Allen, carried on Damer Dawson’s work with women in the police service. Allen adored her police uniform so much that she never took it off. She went on to be associated with Oswald Mosley’s blackshirt movement. Allen was, according to some sources, the model for Miss Hardcastle.
Another example of fascist feminism comes from France.
Violette Morris was an athlete and racing car driver. She played football, water polo, and took part in the shot put. She smoked like a chimney and swore like a sailor. There should be less hackneyed words for the sake of description, but sometimes there’s nothing better than the classics.
Morris went so far as to have a mastectomy to make it easier to drive her racing cars. She was, in a sense, transsexual – or rather perhaps androgynous – before the term was popularised. She was also a bisexual. She, like Damer Dawson, embodied the essence of the feminist woman.
She inhabited the male sex role. She confounded tradition.
Her interest in intense, masculine sporting physical activities chimed with the fascist and Nazi affection for an aesthetically pure and sculptured body.
She threw her lot in with the Nazis in the Second World War. Her actions were not idle. She delivered plans for France’s defensive Maginot Line into Hitler’s hands. The French Resistance killed her for collaborating with the German occupation.
The shared territory with fascism and Nazism are noticeable in these feminist women. Nazism is often associated with Kinder, Küche, Kirche when it comes to women. But this belies the revolutionary aspects of Nazism.
The existence of organisations, such the Bund Deutscher Mädel, dragooned women into quasi-military formations. This was not strictly a conservative move, though the girls were taught to revel in motherhood and other traditional female pursuits.
But they also actually exalted in being inducted into paramilitary activities that were previously a semi-masculine preserve. The BDM was as revolutionary as the communist Young Pioneers. This is no surprise, fascism and Nazism were revolutionary movements.
This must not be forgotten.
Fascism sought to defend hierarchies, but the hierarchies it sought to defend were to be based on quasi-scientific and mystical ideas. The old hierarchies of aristocracy and custom were not respected by fascism.
The ties of family would be uprooted to serve the goals of the Nazi state.
Notably, the Nazis endorsed the idea that their ‘prime specimens’ should breed with as many women as possible in order to improve German blood stock. This is anti-conservatism. It demanded the abolition of the family unit as surely as Pol Pot’s communism.
This explains why there was room for tomboyish-type women in the fascist movements. There was scope for a feminism that confounded tradition sex roles.
It was not the model everyone should follow.
The fascist feminist would always be exceptional rather than normative, but fascism itself was not opposed to rearranging sex relations – even giving women a masculine-type role – providing it served the wider revolutionary project.
The point was that female involvement had to point away from degeneracy. A woman in uniform, even if this was typically masculine, was better than the Weimar good-time gal sipping champagne, listening to jazz, and snorting cocaine.
These were two different routes to changing how women acted in society, with both involving a repudiation of Victorian mores.
The women of fascism tend to instantiate the values of the ideal fascist or Nazi man. There was even a tradition, dredged from an imagined pagan and Aryan past, that held women could fight alongside men.
Leni Riefenstahl was another figure of significance in this respect. She was a ‘strong, independent’ woman who cast her lot with the Nazi regime. She was permitted a significant role in forming the very aesthetics of the regime, although Goebbels, the propagandist-in-chief, detested her.
What the fascists objected to principally – as with homosexuality – was the idea that what they regarded as a quirk could become normative. There was a degree of tolerance for deviation in so far as it accorded to the demands of the ideology.
The right has, after all, always and everywhere been comfortable with hypocrisy. It believes hypocrisy is essential and unavoidable. The attitude is similar to the demand of the Islamic Republic of Iran that homosexuals should have sex change operations. A woman who acted in a typically masculine way should conform to the demands of the movement for men.
These women would always be exceptional. It was, I think, a question of accommodation. The fascists recognised the innate character of humanity, either rooted in biology or spirituality. It was conceivable, in their terms, for the androgynous woman to be an enduring human type that could be dealt with through giving her a masculine role.
When fascism was less tolerant, its thoughts turned to simple extermination of supposedly deviant types. Eugenic thought has become a dirty word since the Second World War. It has come to be seen as the sole property of fascism and Nazism.
But eugenic thought was never solely the property of the fascists or the Nazis.
The excessive and criminal nature of the eugenics programs undertaken by these regimes discredited eugenic thought more generally, but it was never the preserve of the fascists. Britain’s technocratic, gradualist socialists – the Fabians – included enthusiastic eugenists.
Those feminists most closely associated with the birth control movement, Margret Sanger and Mare Stopes, were also in favour of eugenics.
The birth control movement also contained a racial element: a fear of other races outbreeding white people. This legacy hangs over the birth control movement to this day, with mention of birth control in the developing world being extremely sensitive.
These facts must not be mentioned because they resurrect historical memories of the birth control movement, feminism, and fascism being in political alignment. Sweden, the queen of social democracy, continued actions against dysgenic tendencies in its population through the sterilisation of ‘unfit’ women into the 1970s.
It was only after the Second World War that liberalism, feminism, and socialism decided to disassociate with eugenics – even then the disassociation was partial.
Concern for the global environment, often intertwined with third wave feminism’s concern for ‘Mother Earth’, also unites the feminist sensibility with fascism, which sought to resurrect a form of nature worship in place of Christianity.
Eugenics, flexibility in sex roles, a quasi-pagan worldview, an interest in tomboyishness, support for a virile and independent type woman who could possibly fight with her man, and opposition to the traditional family in certain circumstances actually provide a wide field for overlap between feminism and fascism.
The larger picture at play here is the prison of modernity. It is a prison that is devoted to the destruction of the human condition. The prison has many names: fascism, communism, socialism, Nazism, liberalism, feminism, Islamism, and on.
These various -isms, what Orwell referred to as the ‘smelly orthodoxies’, have come to dominate our world. This is why, when we look closely, intersections emerge between apparently opposed movements.
The competition between communism, fascism, Islamism, liberalism, socialism, and feminism is so much bluster. It is the bluster that emerges when brothers fight, and when children defy their parents. It is the Freudian narcissism of minor differences, and it is the Jungian impulse to differentiate ourselves from what we love through hate.
Without this effort, we lose our sense of individual self. In reality, the systems of control and thought embodied in the -isms are the same. Technocratic state coordination is the same under liberalism, fascism, or communism.
There are only matters of degree and utility.
Orwell noticed this in 1984 (1949).
Despite the claims of Oceania to ideological rectitude in its struggle with Eurasia, the truth does not matter. The world states all operate on roughly the same principle; it is only the propaganda content produced for the intellectual classes that differs in each dominion.
This has been noted and popularised in the last decade by figures such as Mencius Moldbug, and the wider neo-reactionary movement. The real, hard opposition to fascism and Nazism does not come from the socialists, liberals, and communists.
Fascism and Nazism merely mirror communism. The socialists would have an international brotherhood of class. The fascists an international brotherhood of race. Fascism was an attempt to turn to techniques of Bolshevism against Bolshevism.
Achieving these goals, note well, required the destruction of everything prior, localised, and traditional in people and nations.
There will only be class comrades or race comrades.
There will be no chaps anymore.
The Islamists play the same role today in regards to liberalism. The Islamists wish to construct a global Islam detached from any local roots, traditions, and particularities. When the jihadi arrives in a locality, he stamps his brand of Islam over the local traditions.
The erstwhile jihadi may have grown up in the UK. He may have grown up in a nominally Christian or secular family. But he has been fed on the deracinated form of Islam that haunts chat rooms, YouTube, or is cultivated to meet the demands of the Saudi state.
This point is ably made by the political theorist John Gray.
The jihadi thinks that he knows the religion better than the local whose family goes back in the faith seven generations or more. Technocratic liberalism has the same arrogance as Islamism. It believes that Islam can be repurposed for its ends just as the Islamists do.
Islamism merely mirrors the arrogance of global technocratic liberalism, which seeks to impose gay rights, feminism, secularism, diversity, liberal democracy and other confections upon every society on Earth.
The real opponents of Nazism were conservative figures like Ernst Jünger. These men recognised the deadness of the technological total state that was absorbing the world.
The Nazis claimed to be resisting this technocratic state with their sentimental affection for the peasantry, but in reality they were subordinated to it.
They worshipped the Volksempfänger, Volkswagen, and autobahn.
The much trumpeted anti-fascists, the communists, were prepared to enter alliance with the Nazi regime. The liberals also admitted a sneaking admiration for communism and fascism.
The liberal democratic state that occupied West Germany in the post-war period was less adversarial to the so-called German Democratic Republic than we imagine.
There was much in common in the management techniques and concerns of both Cold War factions.
This was so much the case that the most optimistic intellectuals during the détente period in the 1970s hoped that there would be a convergence between the communist and liberal democratic states.
This is why the fiction of Philip K. Dick has proved so resonant for people over the last few decades.
Dick perceived himself as being trapped in a psychic prison. This prison, which he likened to the Gnostic Demiurge – the false god who deceives man with material reality – was the technocratic and ideological social form that now straddles the globe.
Books and films based on Dick’s works speak to us strongly because people are aware, on a low level, that there is something ‘wrong’ with the way we live. Dick gives words to the ‘wrongness’ that people feel but cannot describe.
These are the words that our social order denies us.
We have, like the replicants in Blade Runner (1982), one of many films based on Dick’s work, become unhuman in human form. We are no longer sure if the people around us are human. We suspect that we may not be human ourselves.
The constant changes in ideological orientation required under our system are analogous to the false memory implant that allow the masters of the replicants to control their creations in the film.
Our histories and identities are rewritten at will.
Our contemporary social order seeks to control our words.
The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany developed neologisms and inserted blanks into language so that people could not even describe what was being done to them.
Those who cannot describe cannot resist.
We have a similar system. It is called ‘political correctness’ by its detractors.
Those who wield it as a weapon will not name it. They know that to name this political technology would allow people to resist it. We have a similar system because liberalism, Nazism, fascism, and Soviet communism are a common disorder. They are the ‘black iron prison’ that Dick described in his wilder moments.
Dick was a schizophrenic, but it was only his radical estrangement from the system that allowed him to describe it. This is why shamans and schizophrenic are related, although not synonymous. They carry strong perceptual knowledge denied to other tribe members.
Dick identities the same system that was described by William S. Burroughs and the psychologist R.D. Laing.
The development of the Internet represents the global triumph of this thought world.
But it has also unleashed language.
Our language has become like Africa, a land where immense genetic diversity throws up unpredictable and wild viruses. The Internet encompasses everything that is disgusting, humorous, touching, sentimental, kind, evil, mendacious, meretricious, and on.
All human life really is here.
This is why the world has entered a period of unreality. The Internet has penetrated almost all sectors of society, except for the very old. Under conditions of anonymity, our language has been unleashed.
The act of describing the condition of the world is causing huge political changes. For many people it feels as if ‘reality’ has collapsed. What has collapsed, or is collapsing, is the iron prison described by Dick.
The mass media is discredited.
The BBC was once the voice of authority. Now it is just another website. Those who have held power and are invested in the world of ‘-isms’ tremble. They try to silence the Internet.
I do not know if they will succeed.
The frankness and anarchic language does not herald a utopia. There is much ugliness in the act of discovery.
When the Russian people were freed from Soviet communism, the result was not instant utopia. It was radical dislocation, chaos, and confusion.
People were at last allowed to freely criticise the system. More simple than that: They were allowed to say what they saw, and describe how they felt.
The process of recovery was slow. There are those who still will not talk about the Gulags.
It cannot be mentioned.
Therefore, it cannot exist.
This persists despite liberation from the staleness of the Soviet thought world.
I knew a Russian who was in primary school at the time of the Soviet collapse. One morning, the teacher walked into class and said, “All that stuff about communism. Forget it.” This was a liberation, but it was also a disorientation for the awakening Russian people.
The world they awoke into was rotting, collapsing, and a complete confusion. There were those who rushed into pyramid schemes and cults.
The false guide dead. The true guide was nowhere to be found.
There is a tendency to believe that if the official version is untrue then the opposing force must be true. This partially explains why bewildered Americans and Europeans are running into the arms of the alt-right, neo-communism, Islamism, and identity movements.
They merely run into the arms of other -isms.
The roots of the -isms lie in the changes occasioned by the Enlightenment, but the corruption goes deeper into the tangle of Christian theology and beyond into our primal state.
Lewis would, perhaps, say that these ideologies have sprung from the sin of pride. It is the belief that the world can be remade and perfected that has spread universal corruption and despair.
This conviction goes, in turn, deeper than Christianity. The Ancient Greeks warned against hubris. Those who defy fate and the will of the gods are destroyed.
Can there be any other words for our current conditions?
The ranting Hitler sought to build a race of supermen.
The silent butchery of Stalin sought to re-engineer the human soul.
The arrogance of contemporary America wishes to remake the Muslim world in its corrupted image as its debauched entertainment-industrial complex destroys the eternal categories of male and female. The common theme here is a denial of truth and a lack of awe.
There is another word still for the plague of -isms: evil.