Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fascism at a Hairpin Turn

The undercut was an Edwardian haircut which remained popular through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It became the iconic male haircut of Nazi fascism. It did not become widely popular again until the 2010s. Today, it is sported in different variations by hipster urbanites on the left and the right, with only some individuals aware of the hairstyle's political message. Image Source: The Bold Italic.

Social control. Censorship. Totalitarianism. They won't arrive in the 20th century varieties we expect. Nouveau Nazis have appeared in dozens of movies, including Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984); V for Vendetta (2005); The Man in the High Castle (2015-present); The Handmaid's Tale (2017-present), and Fahrenheit 451 (2018).

Greater Germanic Reich | Man in the High Castle (5 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

An alt-historical adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle (1962), produced by Ridley Scott, considers what America would be like if the Axis Powers won World War II. The new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) depicts fascists as rigid, hypocritical, psycho-Christians, who impose a violent, patriarchal and puritanical monoculture, viciously suppress women's rights, and divide American society into uniformed, hierarchical, militaristic-gender castes.

The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer (Official) (26 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Elisabeth Moss Describes A 'Fictional' Totalitarian, Right-Wing Regime (21 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Because of these cultural representations, we expect totalitarianism to dress itself in brownshirts and jack boots. The subtext in liberal adaptations is that Donald Trump's America is an alt-right neo-Nazi régime.

Neo-Nazis have certainly reemerged during Trump's administration more boldly than they have in the previous sixty years. Yet fascism is also exploding into the mainstream from other political quarters. It must be combated at all costs, but to do that, you have to understand what fascism is and how it works. That requires recognizing the menace you can't see coming, as much as the threat you're sure you know.

Fascism's Appeal to the Inner Shadow

Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945), head of the SS, wearing a sideswept undercut hairstyle. Image Source: Men's Hair Forum.

Hitler (1889-1945) wearing an undercut haircut. Image Source: History on the Net.

A fade hairstyle: Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942). Image Source: Nara Archives/Shutterstock via Daily Mail.

On the left, today's bastion against fascism is the open society, evident chiefly in creativity, education, intellectualism, the arts, and technology. Social innovation represents the liberal mind at play, which challenges restrictions, rigid social mores, and prejudices.

On the right, personal wealth and property ownership are still believed to be the main characteristics which make one a responsible, independent, and dedicated stakeholder in society and guardian of its most stable traditions. Conservatives regard these attitudes to be anti-fascist.

These assumptions are both completely mistaken, because under fascist conditions, neither set of virtues will automatically save you. The confidence and resilience they bestow contribute to the fascist's sense of certainty and infallibility, which hastens personal delusion and downfall. Left and right politics burn away in the fascist crucible, where there are other values at work.

Case in point: the notorious Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, had both arts and money. And he, not Hitler, is widely considered to have been the most terrifying among the mid-20th century German fascist leaders. Third in command in the Third Reich, Heydrich proved that growing up in a cultured, loving, well-born, and wealthy family is no safeguard against fascism. His father founded a musical conservatory, and he himself was an accomplished student of the piano and violin. He could be as cold as ice; but when he wanted to be, he was a master of etiquette and a charming conversationalist.

Heydrich spied on his fellow Nazis and became a fearsome figure to them as well as everyone else. He was the principal architect of the Holocaust and set out to destroy Poland as a nation. The Nazis considered him the darkest figure among their élite and Hitler called him "the man with the iron heart." Hitler concluded that Heydrich was "a highly gifted but also very dangerous man, whose gifts ... [make him] extremely useful; for he would ... obey [us] blindly."

After observing Heydrich's killing sprees by the first Einsatz groups of the Schutzstaffel (SS), Heinrich Himmler invented the horrifying gas vans, painted with Red Cross insignia, as a more humane alternative method for genocide. I have written about that here. In a world of vicious extremes, Heydrich reached the greatest depths of perdition and depredation. To this day, historians puzzle over how a civilized man came to embody the most evil expression of fascism.

A 2016 film chronicled Heydrich's assassination by Czech soldier Jan Kubiš and Slovak solider Jozef Gabčík in Operation Anthropoid. Anthropoid Official Trailer #1 (2016) (17 June 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Heydrich was assassinated in Operation Anthropoid by agents of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. The Nazi's car was ambushed at a hairpin turn at the corner of Kirchmayerova třída and V Holešovičkách avenues in Prague in 1942. You can see the fatal turn in Google Street View, below. There is now a war memorial built at the location. I am grateful to my friend, -V., who took me to the spot one day and explained its significance.

It is easy to review Heydrich's background and speculate on his motivations. Perhaps it was ambition, or an early, shameful discharge from the navy. But there must have been something more to the way fascism seduced and transformed Heydrich beyond recognition. Maybe it was his inner demons. It could have been the fact that Heydrich was a purist and idealist, who would one-up anyone to demonstrate the intensity of his conviction and absolute dedication to Nazism.

Heydrich's example provides a warning. The Nazis we think we know are a problem, but they are not the only problem.

Obvious and Less Obvious Fascist References

Swedish election: Nationalists gain traction, but criticised for racism (1 September 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

‘Migrants out, support for Hitler’: Outrage at group running for election in Sweden (25 August 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Of course, there are real neo-Nazis who mimic the now-kitsch 1940s' fascist style. Neo-Nazis look almost like cartoon versions of the original Nazis. In the upcoming Swedish general election on 9 September 2018, there is a surge in obvious neo-Nazis and real far-right actors, intermingled with conservatives who may be anti-immigration, but are not fascists.

Two views of the Millennial Swedish leader of the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement, Simon Lindberg (centre, bottom photo). The images resemble depictions of the German Nazis in the 1940s on the formal political stage and in studied social settings. Images Sources: Youtube and expressen.se/Sven Lindwall.

There are also Internet trolls who mimic Nazi styles and symbols either seriously or ironically, as I described in my post, Red Pill, Blue Pill, Green Pill, Black Pill. Some trolls are true neo-Nazis. Some are using Nazi symbols because they want to offend members of the establishment. In that sense, they are using Nazi symbols as Internet memes to provoke uproar and turn the tables on authority figures. This does not excuse their behaviour, but it explains what is happening.

Beards and styling gel camouflage revivals of the undercut, the definitive fascist hairstyle. This is the high taper fade with spiky hair. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

There is another Millennial fascism, which is not the Nazism we know. As with the male hairstyle, the undercut, this reference to Nazism is not as easily recognizable. The undercut is everywhere now, and has gained new names: the faux hawk (fohawk), the fade. Not everyone with an undercut is a fascist, of course. Rather, people have adopted the iconic male hairstyle of Nazism simply because it is fashionable. Most men (and women) currently wearing the cut might argue that in today's context, the haircut has nothing to do with Nazism.

They would be wrong. There is a continuity there. Just because the wearer self-identifies as a non-fascist and does not recognize the authority of the symbol used, engagement with the symbol still carries historical power. The Nazis provided fascism with an aesthetic of faux historicism, as though fascism drew from the nation's blood of ages. The style blends the false medieval warrior with the modern thug, now mixed with the café- or Internet-bound hipster.

Millennial dramatic depictions in the popular television series, Vikings (2013-2018; get a taste of it here), anachronistically give Vikings undercuts, undercut-fades, and undercut-mohawks which have reappeared in men's hair salons. Image Source: Men Hairstyles World.

Again, I am not saying that having an undercut haircut makes you a fascist. Rather, the most dangerous use of symbols and sigils is that which goes unrecognized, unacknowledged, wherein the user adopts signs and images semi- or unconsciously, in ignorance of their meaning.

To make the implications clearer, you wouldn't wear a swastika on your head, would you? That's how emblematic this haircut is of 1940s' German fascism, and no amount of gel or beards or artful shaving will erase the original message. The quasi-historical Nordic references, blended with the Edwardian undercut, are as iconic as Hitler's mustache. Below, you can see how Viking chic is being translated for the masculine mainstream. The following cuts are all listed as 2018's hottest hairstyles for men.

The thick comb over with classic taper and full beard. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The low skin fade with hard part side part. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The slicked back undercut. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The pompadour skin fade. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The disconnected undercut with a textured modern quiff. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The long comb over undercut with full beard. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The high fade with fohawk and design. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The high fade with a hard part and quiff. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The braided razor part with pompadour. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

Classic short hair with a high skin fade and crew cut. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

Slicked back hair with short sides. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

Slicked back undercut with long hair. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

The slicked back faux hawk with undercut. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

A low taper fade with shape up and brush up. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

Undercut with mohawk. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

A disconnected undercut with comb over and hair design. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

A hard side part with a high taper fade. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

A high taper fade. Image Source: Menshairstylestoday.

Fascist Mimesis: Imitation by Design

How does fascism work? Is it just about hierarchy, traditionalism, nationalism, and violent racism? These are its outer political labels, but it has a strange, internal psychological mechanism.

In my post, Post-Apocalypse Rehab, I referred to historian René Girard's theory that imitation, or mimesis, is essential to the development of fascism. Basically, when a gang of murderous thugs takes over the government, all reference points to a stable society are removed, even if the thugs exploit the rhetoric of stability. The only stability people can find is to copy what other people are doing.

Imitation and conformist responses become auto-reactions for survival. This is an exaggerated version of going-along-to-get-along, a desire to keep your head down and not stick out from the herd, because conspicuousness and uniqueness in a genocidal society puts you in mortal danger.

The Nazis had pioneered many tactics of modern propaganda, including mimesis, appropriated from organized religions. They intentionally used and repeated mystic symbols in modern politics, blending magic and statecraft in such a way that occult energies became bound to the activities of the masses.

After the war, 1940s' propaganda techniques were implemented in the same way in advertising. The instinct to mimic and imitate was exploited by marketers in the 1980s, when wearing branded clothing became fashionable. Stamped with messages, people became walking advertisements for big companies and perhaps, for something more.

Major corporate and political logos refer to a much larger, arcane visual lexicon. Not everyone who wore a Nike logo on their sweatshirt with the message, 'Just Do It,' was aware of what Nike means. Similarly, the Hammer and Sickle, exoteric emblems of the Russian Revolution, have esoteric significance. Another example is the giant cube building planned at Ground Zero. We are surrounded by a visual language and the majority of people communicate with it every day in ignorance.

In some cases, the release of symbols into the mainstream was intentional and the aim was to shift mass behaviour via commercial and political persuasion. Those who know a symbol's full, real meaning can circulate it and lend it greater 'currency,' without consumers knowing how they are assisting toward that end.

In my post on W. B. Yeats, I explained how the poet was part of occult circles and some of his poems have intended meanings and outcomes derived from those circles. Thus, when anyone repeats particular poems by Yeats, they are reciting a literary work in the mundane sense of appreciating a work of art. But they are also - according to the poet's original intention - unknowingly reciting a magical spell by his design, long after his death.

The Hairpin Turn: Fascist Imitation by Inner Compulsion

Fascist mimesis also contains a very tricky psychological hairpin turn, because there is a moment when the mob grants the fascist régime permission to enslave them. They agree to become subjugated and mistake their moment of permission as a kind of freedom. They feel the thrill of liberation, when in fact what has happened is that they have cast off the weight of personal responsibility and self-control and handed those obligations over to a larger, malevolent political body. The fascists cannot take power without the rapture of the crowd. Fascism has something hypnotic about it, suggesting that the mob is already predisposed or open to mass conformity and its mantras.

In peaceful societies, or societies in global upheaval as now, mimesis is again a stabilizing element, dependent upon self-imposed blindness and semi-conscious entertainment of deeply desired, destructive urges.

The fashion industry exploited this curious mixture of freedom and slavery. Fashion is supposedly about making a statement about one's individuality. In fact, it is quite the opposite and its fads demand consumers' conformity, harnessing the individualist impulse for self-expression to serve society's genteel cultural constructions or, as critics would say, materialist sameness and crippling personal economic debt.

This is how human social instincts and natural conformity can give way to copying and repeating messages of authority compulsively in unstable or unsettling circumstances, without fully grasping the larger social stability that is thereby being established. It's like building a prison edifice with a blindfold on, and telling yourself you are building a palace with wings.

Fascism is about loss of the individual will to the total will of the collective, embodied in a charismatic leader; it also involves something beyond that, a descent into autopilot behaviour, no matter what the cost, no matter what you are told to do. Beneath that, it indulges forbidden impulses which are almost never shared with other people, yet which are broadly prevalent in a population and which bubble up to the surface in times of stress.

The undercurrents and after-effects of 1940s' fascism emerged in mainstream American pop culture in the 1980s and 1990s. The film 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, with its depiction of a sadomasochistic romance between two New York professionals, was based on a 1978 autobiographical memoir by Ingeborg Day (1940-2011). At the time, the film gained a reputation as a racy flick with two hot stars.

9½ Weeks Riding Crop Scene (12 November 2008). Video Source: Youtube.

Viewers excitedly engaged with the insignia of kinky sex and traumatic relationship abuse. The film became a playbook for a huge, 'liberated' subculture. But new initiates did not fully understand the underlying meaning or origins of this particular message. The erotic brutality in Day's confessional was an echo of Nazi fascism, and 9 1/2 Weeks was just one of many examples in which Nazism's emotional legacies entered post-war mainstream pop culture in the 1980s. The biggest star to mine this rich seam was probably Madonna.

The direct connection to fascism was revealed in 1983 by Steven M. L. Aronson, who connected 9 1/2 Weeks (written under a pen name) to Day's other autobiographical memoir about her family, Ghost Waltz (1980). Day was the child of two Austrian Nazis; her father had been an SS officer. Day became an editor at Ms. magazine and an important feminist voice in the US women's fashion industry. But her twin memoirs suggest that this fashion-feminist angle was laden with fascist historical baggage. Day committed suicide on 18 May 2011.

This is why in some cases, there seems to be no driving agenda behind the mimetic sharing of information. It happens organically, as if it emanated from within ourselves.

Thus my question in the case of the 2010s' undercut hairstyle would be: why is the iconic hairstyle of Nazi fascism suddenly everywhere? I don't mean this as a conspiracy theorist would ask, and I don't assume that there are shadowy actors pushing a covert message. Instead, I would suggest that the circulating symbol is a symptom of something difficult and troubling turning over in the collective unconscious and making its way into the mainstream.

Female SS guards at Bergen-Belsen (19 April 1945) had typical 1940s' female hairstyles: "SS women camp guards are paraded for work in clearing the dead. The women include Hildegard Kanbach (first from left), Irene Haschke (centre, third from right), the Head Wardress, Elisabeth Volkenrath (second from right, partially hidden) and Herta Bothe (first from right). Herta Bothe ... accompanied a death march of women from central Poland to Bergen-Belsen." Image Source: Wiki.

Female prisoners at Belsen, liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division in April, 1945. Notice that the prisoner women's heads were not shaved, which contradicts our dominant historical image of concentration camp inmates with shaved heads. Images Sources: History, History, and History.

This is how we remember concentration camp prisoners: female prisoners at Auschwitz were registered and had their heads shaved. Image Source: Yad Vashem.

"Jewish prisoner no. 13088, after her hair is shorn in Auschwitz." Image Source: Yad Vashem.

At the end of the war, French women accused of sleeping with German soldiers had their heads shaved, were painted with swastikas, and were humiliated by being paraded naked through the streets of French towns. The man behind the women is holding up a sign in French that says 'collaborators.' Image Source: Mourning the Ancient.

Oddly, in the 1990s, a related thing happened with female haircuts. A large number of women shaved their heads and adopted a look associated with concentration camps. By contrast with the 2010s (up to a point), this was an intentionally-directed fad, although the stated reasons for promoting it were misleading and did not mention Nazism; the women who shaved their heads in the 1990s were not doing it to identify with fascism.

Baldness was explained as an anti-beauty message and symbol of feminist empowerment. That is, by shaving their heads, women were stating that they were not going to try to look beautiful to attract men.

The real meaning of this revival of the female fascist-era hairstyle was far more sinister. The shaved head is the mark of armies, prisons, and public shame, not of liberation. And the last time prior to the 1990s that women had been seen wearing the style en masse was against their will in Europe, in the concentration camps, where the Nazis shaved men's and women's heads on an industrial scale.

After Grace Jones, Sinéad O'Connor was the first major female star to shave her head in the 1990s. The look became so associated with her that she remains bald to this day. Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2U [Official Music Video] (10 July 2017; released 1990 © Chrysalis/Prince). Reproduced under Fair Use for non-commercial discussion only. Video Source: Youtube.

In Alien 3 (1992), Ripley arrives on a prison planet, giving actress Sigourney Weaver an excuse to shave her head and push the decade's female bald look. Alien 3 (2/5) Movie CLIP - It's Here! (1992) HD (5 June 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

In G.I. Jane (1997), the military gave Demi Moore the fictional opportunity to shave her head in the 1990s, perpetuating a constructed fashion with undercurrents related to Nazi concentration camps. G.I.Jane Trailer [HQ] (13 May 2012). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

The headshaving scene from G.I. Jane. Headshave 18 (HD) (17 April 2012). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Demi Moore on Letterman (1997; video upload date 21 March 2011). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Fascism Brings Out the Unconscious Persona

Mass entertainment, the mainstream media, and the educational system train people to expect rigid, stereotyped right and left categories of politics and people.

Rather than being indicators of democratic debate and freedom, liberal and conservative categories provide a framework of deception and imprisonment. This mental shorthand lulls its proponents into thinking that they are using a formula which explains the way the world works. Meanwhile, the formula obscures and cloaks realities which never function in such simple terms.

Amon Goeth - Helen Hirsch scene (reproduced 15 January 2012; 1993 © Universal Pictures) Video Source: Youtube.

Repetition, imitation, conformity, and erotic instinct: these are some of the ways fascism gets absorbed into the mainstream and pops up in unusual places. A cinematic depiction of the interaction between SS camp commander Amon Göth in Schindler's List (1993) allowed audiences to indulge in the idea of a Nazi mass murderer abusing his Jewish maid, Helen Hirsh, while he was falling in love with her.

The star-crossed romance was absolute fiction, according to the real woman, Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, upon whom Helen Hirsch was based. The cinematic version of life in Kraków-Płaszów camp, seductively played by Ralph Fiennes and Embeth Davidtz, led to people misguidedly 'shipping' the fictional characters on the Internet. In the 1970s, such a depiction, deliberately and knowingly twisting the historical truth to serve a romantic trope, would have been unthinkable, offensive, and scandalous. But by 1993, fascist undercurrents had become so erotically charged and commercialized that the trope was allowed to pass, seemingly as a harmless and dramatic story-telling device.

This is how fascism sneaks up on people. This is why, if fascism emerges in a political system, some are seduced by it, while others struggle against it - not because they are on the right or left, but because their psychological make-up either succumbs or resists in blind moments.

If you want to recognize the seductiveness of fascism, don't ask yourself if you are left-wing or right-wing. Ask yourself who you are when your unconscious takes over in moments of enantiodromia. Ask yourself what you find yourself doing in spaces where you no longer acknowledge your own agency. I don't think anyone is free from this experience. But I do think training to become conscious and aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it, can make a big difference as to whether or not you get pulled into the vortex of fascism.


  1. Do you think there is conscious awareness behind the "Future is Female" mantra? Boomer enantiodromia is a very good starting point to understand, for sure.

  2. A Haircut is as emblematic of fascism as the Hakenkreuz? I also

  3. A haircut is as emblematic of fascism as the Hakenkreuz? That's absolutely ridiculous, good God!