Author: Owen Dempsey

Chest Physician Aberdeen with a special interest in asthma. I have a private clinic and website. Apart from asthma I enjoy curling and draughts, and scuba diving off the Aberdeen coast.

The virus as taboo, and xenophobia

Freud in Totem and Taboo writes of the logic of taboo in terms of the logic of contagion, of transmission of infection with the taboo through touch. The taboo functions to bind a society according to norms that are believed to protect society’s integrity, such as, classically, the incest taboo.

When we travelled back from Palestine in March it felt as if we were, that is, embodied taboo. We were from ‘outside’, strangers, and regarded as in possession of the contagion, and violating the taboo because we were just ‘there’ or traveling through ‘there’, where ‘there’ was anywhere that wasn’t our own community and home; and because of this, we were on the receiving end of discriminatory language and behaviour.

It is as if the virus is the taboo. A taboo always prohibits that which is deeply held to be desirable, even if that desire operates at an unconscious level. For the virus, as with a taboo, it first and foremost prohibits touch which results in a prohibition of freedom of travel, social intercourse, as well as touching.

For the virus, this particular taboo comes with no external signs (invisible, dangerous and mysterious), it is assumed to be possessed by all, that is all who are not ‘us’: where is, the ‘in’ group, might refer to close family, or a member of a community, or even just everybody that isn’t me. For example, for those vulnerable individuals who are shielding, the other is everybody else: family, the delivery man, the hairdresser, the gardener etc.

And the virus is taboo because it signifies unpredictable and sudden death through suffocation. And death, or the dead, is taboo: ‘ Signifying the wrath of the demons”.

Violators or holders of the taboo (the virus) who violate the taboo (by having or risking literally contact with, or touching, the other) are an object of both fear and to be punished because they incite imitation of the violation (eg having raves, traveling on holidays, not isolating, wearing mask etc.) and the intensity of the desire to punish reflects the intensity with which the violating behavior is actually, if unconsciously, desired as well: to touch, to travel, to not wear a mask etc.

Why Locking Down (separating) is necessary

The term lockdown is bandied around – full/partial; national/local etc. and is often used as if it represents an all or nothing event of some kind. And perhaps ‘lockdown’ is a bad term since it misrepresents what should be intended, that is, suppressing transmission by separating people: separation, diffusion or separating might be better.

Here I want to use the term ‘ lockdown strategies’ as referring to the full range of policies and behaviors that limit our contact with other people in order to reduce transmission. So lockdown restricts contact, making it harder for people to mix, (social distancing), which might include shutting up shops and businesses, as well as including the less extreme end: no touching, using sanitizer, wearing masks.

It is unhelpful to use the term lockdown without. being more specific.

Current attempts to slow down the spread are inspired by

a) the historic excess deaths already caused by the virus, shortening people’s lives – mostly the older population; and

b) the recent exponential rise in the proportion tested that are positive, and hospital admissions.

Nobody knows how bad the death rate and impact on hospital care will be, but the recent rises suggest we are not at a peak yet. And it is acknowledged that lockdowns certainly cause harms to many directly (to mental health, through isolation, economically, and in terms of opportunity costs for healthcare).

But, if left to run unchecked there is a risk that the NHS will be overwhelmed, many will die earlier than if the virus was contained, also affecting healthcare for other problems.

The virus will become increasingly prevalent to the extent many people may be infectious, may be too ill to work, or too scared to work or travel. People won’t risk traveling by plane. Many businesses will likely shut down, unemployment and poverty will soar. In other words there will not just be large numbers of earlier or excess deaths but a longer term economic hit.

To repeat: without a significant slowing of the rate of transmission businesses will not be safe to operate and there will be even more business failures and redundancies.

There will be an even greater and longer term economic recession.

The current trend against lockdowns that include shutting shops and businesses and offices has been inspired by right wing ideology that is frightened that the myths of the current liberal democratic capitalist system are being exposed: it makes the rich richer and makes social inequality worse. This right wing inspired trend tries to frighten by justifying future austerity measures. It suggests debt must be repaid somehow but on the contrary, when Modern Monetary Theory clearly shows that government can produce money to meet welfare and social needs, to pay for socially useful, essential, productive work and where tax can be adjusted to counter inflation if necessary.

Modern monetary theory: a short guide for a world that now realises that it’s an explanation of what’s now happening

The right wing trend to criticize lockdown is a short term and mistaken perspective to prop up the potential to continue making profits, and justifies austerity that is socially unjust and affects the poorest most.

Eradication may prove impossible but amelioration of the impact to protect the vulnerable and to improve and maintain living standards of those affected is within the power of the State. And testing may have a role though public trust in any testing system must be very low.

Clapping for Carers is Clapping for totalitarianism

On the one hand the community clap began as and, we can assume for the sake of argument, was felt to be a good faith gesture by those who genuinely feel grateful. But, at the same time, it is not entirely their, individual, or our’s, the people’s, gesture – it is a gesture that was instigated by an other (a woman in South London), and was then rapidly appropriated by the media, politicians and celebrities – and it began to be imbued with moral exegesis, it became normative – and morphed into a kind of political religious ritual as a paen to the sacrifice others make for our lives, in the name of the NHS, the remnants of a tattered welfare state. It becomes a tool that invades the consciousness to induce the belief that the NHS exists as a publicly funded welfare scheme for all, that the government will keep the NHS safe, that the government is in control and retains its full might, power and determination. The clap in reality becomes a mass hysterical homage to the state that is destroying the NHS, and cultivates a deeper obedience and deeper repression of the knowledge of the destruction of the NHS and the harms inflicted to the welfare state and the vulnerable by neoliberal capitalist ideology. In short the clap cultivates a totalitarian mentality on the fertile ground of subjective wastelands for the benefit of the Egos of those in power.

“The creation of new symbols and rituals to evoke belief in a higher cause are central to the concept, ‘political religion’, prevalent in fascism studies for at least two decades.”

In addition, of course, the idea of worthy sacrifice for the lives of the many has been mooted as a common fascist trope and fits with the idea of a certain and absolute instrumentalisation of both identify and the very fabric of the body as embodying the Law of the Leader or the universal master myth. Trump lauded the essential workers as if they were selflessly “running into a hail of bullets”, headlines in the UK lauded and encouraged the sacrifices of teachers and other essential workers, and calls have been made for the elderly to sacrifice their lives for the sake of those yet younger. This idea emphasizes that the true totalitarian psyche is totally instrumentalised and given over to the sacred Law, so that no sacrifice of the self, and no destruction of the other can be too much.

Mass ritual and the associated joint binding excitement, represents perhaps relief, the mutual benefit of the atmosphere created functions almost like a release of suppressed sexual energy, the lack of ‘jouissance’, compelling psychic work to create surplus orgasmic jouissance that excites but also sustains the elite’s power

The Totalitarian psyche: avoid over-using the term fascism

The term fascism is emotive, gets people’s backs up and obscures the essential features necessary for progress and debate. But nonetheless it is essential to recognize what we know as fascist politics – if we are to learn from history and avoid catastrophe. So, here I suggest we use the term totalitarianism in a particular way. Here I also distinguish between left and right wing, as economic polarities that seeks to redistribute wealth (left) or seeks to maintain wealth inequality (sometimes arguing that it is envy that is needed to motivate people to be productive and this is progressive. Liberal, here, refers to individual freedom and authoritarian refers to collective central control. But I also point out that apparently liberal and democratic ideals can always potentially morph into authoritarian policies, that is incite the totalitarian psyche, over time.

Nazi Germany was and Nazism is classically fascist (mythical leader, nationalist Ayran myths, Jewish scapegoat etc.) whereas Stalin’s Soviet Union was more classically industrially and economically totalitarian, with not so much the nationalist racist myths operating as myths built around industrialized concepts of production and science – a totalitarian extreme version of capitalism (Castoriadis). Instead here, following Vadolas (Perversions of Fascism) I use totalitarianism as a more generic term that embraces both the commonalities of Nazism and Stalinism, and which refers to a particular relation between the citizen’s psyche and authoritarian power. This theory speaks to the haunting question: “Why do good people do bad things?” How can a public accept racist and genocidal policies? How does power infiltrate and cause qualitative psychic shifts that make totalitarian policies more publicly acceptable?

Nazi fascism and Stalinist power have in common a psychic shift in the way people form their identities or sense of themselves in relation to the normative laws set down by elite powerful leaders. It is more useful, in terms of finding some explanations for the power of totalitarianism, to avoid taking a liberal democratic perspective (as some post world war 2 scholars have done) – that demonizes authoritarian communism and assumes liberal democracy provides an antidote to fascism – a mistake and misleading since liberal democratic politics contain totalitarian potential as well.

We should avoid over-using the term fascism – and instead veer towards a more generic definition of totalitarianism in ways that avoid taking a so-called liberal perspective, (as, for example, taken most famously by Arendt) since this also has totalitarian potential.

Totalitarianism can usefully be defined in terms of a psychoanalytic notion – a way the psyche identifies with an omnipotent law – the failure of the paternal metaphor and associated neurotic hysteria no longer applies. Dangerously the Law survives through identification and destruction of a scapegoat other – the weak, fearful, different others. The law demands the unconditional relation with others in ways that elide individuality and excise difference as the enemy.
Totalitarianism in the time of coronavirus. TBC.

As the article below points out Trump’s current behaviour (October 2020) is classically totalitarian – signifying omnipotence to his actual and potential admirers.

Unfortunately the viral pandemic has destabilized the public emotionally by removing those things and social relations we know and rely on for our sense of ourselves – thus providing a fertile breeding ground for totalitarianism as an antidote but an ultimately self-destructive one.

Totalitarianism relies on a politics if friend or enemy (see Carl Schmitt) to maintain the elite leader’s apparent omnipotence. This fuels and doubles down on always already latent xenophobia which can be shaped, and directed, by elite power to demonize particular others: such as those deemed too different: intellectuals, left wing activists, homosexuals, immigrants and travelers, and as in Nazi Germany particular ethno-religious peoples.

Elsewhere I describe psychoanalytic perspectives on how a totalitarian psyche, and xenophobia, is being provoked and intensified by the pandemic in the context of already existing global creeping ‘fascism’, neoliberal capitalist exploitation, nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiments. This is happening in ways that are making totalitarian policies more publicly acceptable and therefore more likely to hold sway.

It is important to try to recognize and resist these threats by disobedient but non-violent actions.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-covid-health-coronavirus-fascism-b815031.html?utm_content=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR0vDlBlUfBfyPZLWIzo765XV0Hzviz5OGZb1a8tSDJNc4gaP5wcZ3Iq8Rk#Echobox=1601964569

Totalitarianism

One way of thinking about totalitarianism is as a social and political system that worships omnipotent power for power’s sake. It is important for everybody to recognize totalitarianism and its threats, when they exist, or when they threaten. Make no mistake, totalitarian states have existed before: Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union being the most well known recent examples. Surely we can learn enough to recognize a resurgence of another totalitarian regime? A problem with such recognition is that from our childhoods we are all encultured to live within a political-economic system that incites totlitarianism, as if such a system is not only good for us but is also natural and inevitable. This system is known as neoliberal capitalism in a so-called liberal democracy – both of which elements contain the seeds of totalitarianism: necessarily fruitful for capitalism, and potentially fruitful for liberal democracy.

Totalitarianism is lethally dangerous, morally regressive, and ultimately self-destructive, literally self destructive because it annihilates the ‘I’ of our imaginaed selves, attached as this is, albeit neurotically and anxiously to more or less liberal ideologies, and replaces it with an instrumentalised individual set to work as exploited slave labour for the enjoyment and power of the Masterful elites – the apparently omnipotent big Other.

Totalitarianism worships omnipotent power for power’s sake, so it displaces those things we desire that promise to make us satisfied and happy, the so-called object-a, it replaces this object with an imaginary ultimate social good, such as, say, the unity of a mythically ‘great’ nation state. It expels difference, that is the idea that there are other individuals that we should value as humans entitled to justice and care, with individual preferences that may be different to ours.

The stability of the identity of the subject of totalitarianism depends on maintaining the unity of this vision of the social good, maintaining the exclusion and disappearance of difference, and sustaining the image of the elite leaders as omnipotent above the law and above such things as mere scientific knowledge and reason. The identity of the subject of totalitarianism results from a shift in the neurotic sense of self that no longer imagines a big Other who creates a law that prohibits excess, but instead forms an identity in relation to a change in the Law that demands: “Enjoy, this little, as much as possible!”. In other words the totalitarian edict negates the idea of excess, and instead permits, promises and even demands unlimited enjoyment of the excluded little other in a way that underlines and maintains the unity of the image of the big Other (the elite leadership) as omnipotent and with limitless power to punish. Obedience and Masterful edicts are synergistic and each self- fulfilling prophecies of the other.

Emergence of a fully fledged fascist UK state

As Phil Hearse states, at the moment, September 2020, the hard conservative right (Patel et al) is ramping up anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric; it appears as if some more moderate conservatives and some right wingers (such as IDS) are resisting lockdown; and it also appears as if Johnson and Cummings are resisting lockdown too.

However, the apparent resistance to lockdown by the hard right may be an illusion. It is possible that J/C and their backers are hungry for power for power’s sake, and make policy on an ad hoc basis, arbitrarily buffeted by a) their perceptions of acceptability by political consecutive opinion; as well as b) public acceptability; alongside c) legal, military and civil service expectations. That is to say they are not self-consciously really being concerned about the harms of a lockdown, and may even welcome crises that make full lockdown unavoidable. It is quite possible that J/C and others of their populist right wing and authoritarian ilk, may be quite happy to see another lockdown being ‘forced’ upon them. They would/could blame elements of the public at large, the alleged freedom loving nature of Britons, and allegedly misleading scientific advice. A demand for lockdown, followed by lockdown could lead to civil unrest, just as the NHS and other public services such as the police could be overwhelmed, all of which may appear to justify draconian governmental emergency powers and further loss of civil liberties. This could put J/C as the figureheads of a fully fledged fascist state, providing them and their backers with what looks like omnipotent political power and scope for nationalist myth making and racist scapegoating.

The failure of pragmatist neoliberal capitalism.

Part of the reasons why the UK government is yo-yoing between one policy disaster after another in relation to the Covid 19 pandemic (for example the furore over discharging older people with coronavirus from hospitals to care homes leading to many avoidable deaths, and the u turn over the school examination results) is because of a deeply rooted and unconscious faith in the ideology that combines a) (USA borne) radical empiricism (or pragmatism) and neoliberal capitalism, with which so-called western liberal democracy is fast approaching its final destination: totalitarianism.

Radical empiricism in effect, devalues the idea of objective empircal evidence and instead values human thoughts based on perceptions as more valuable as sources of truth to guide action. Radical empiricism subverts or distorts scientific evidence and legitimises elitist group-think as sufficient effective truth to guide political policy and law-making as long as these can be rendered, one way or another, publicly acceptable, or at least practically speaking, literally irresistable. This is authoritarian and makes unconditional demands on the public for obedience, that is, regardless of apparent individuality or individual liberties. The fantasy here is that the elite in power are omnipotent and know what is best for humankind.

At the same time neoliberal capitalism also has a fantasy, that consumption of commodities will being happiness and limitless wealth to all, also making unconditional demands to exploit labour-power (the workers), to discount surplus labour as of any human value, to consume at the expense of others and to aggressively compete, also negating social relations of care or love.

Today, September 2020, with Brexit and the Covid pandemic, the UK’s govt. polices and u- turns illustrate an accelerated and magnified version of the way political decisions that affect all areas of our lives have been for several decades decided (by pragmatic neoliberal capitalist systems) to ‘solve’ specific ‘problems’ with commodifiable ‘solutions’, without any regard to collateral harms or unintended consequences. This is based on an unspoken belief (or philosophy) based on something called radical empirical pragmatism, itself based on an optimistic humanistic view that politically based and publicly acceptable policies are necessarily socially progressive and for the ultimate good of mankind – a kind of Social Darwinian perspective. Today, with the spectacular failures and u turns we are witnessing the dramatic failure of this political philosophy: radical pragmatist neoliberal capitalism.

The Totalitarian End Game

The C19 virus reveals the failure of scientific knowledge as a guide to action – and even pragmatic neoliberal capitalism isn’t sure whether to preserve consumer lives and maximize anti-viral commodity production or to focus on keeping businesses open and sacrifice lives.

In the UK the government errs, currently anyway, on sacrificing the lives of the vulnerable (the unwell, older people and care workers for example) whilst handing out lucrative contracts to the already wealthy such as Serco (even though these fail to produce the goods). The lack of even limited guiding scientific knowledge for political action, and the confusion, paves the way for left and right wing protests leading to mutually reinforcing (right and left) populist and political totalitarian ideologies that will enable both so-called liberal democratic as well as more obviously right wing (manifestly elitist and hierarchical) authoritarian voices to coalesce around increased control. And this is increasingly totalitarian in kind, affecting all areas of public and private life.

This political control is intensified by public obedience which emboldens power and leads to an excess individual subjective identification with new restrictive laws or, and it works both ways, anti-restrictive edicts. public co-operation with restriction may save lives but is self-subversive, that is, turns us into uncaring and paranoid slaves of the Master and his system, and will eventually, I think, lead to a further demonizing of the enemies, enemies identified by our infantile masters, arbitrarily but most obviously including those most vulnerable and already marginalized – the unemployed, the mentally unwell, the immigrant of Colour or the asylum seeker, or the foreigner in general.

To simplify, I see two alternatives now: totalitarian nationalist pragmatic capitalism or totalitarian feudal and pragmatic nationalism.

So, the Masters total control is not guaranteed, alternatively, the contradictions between capitalism’s needs and the Master’s will to power may lead to the downfall of the Master. in this case amoral, and even eugenic, capitalism may demand that the virus will be allowed to run rampant through the apparently expendable surplus populations home and abroad and we will have full capitalist totalitarianism (as for example illustrated by Stalin’s Soviet Russia). Or, the Master may decide to risk holding up the normal flow of commodity exchange, tighten restrictions, collapsing capitalist systems, and lead us to a more feudal and myth-based nationalist totalitarianism, and intensified global war.

Highland Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign

As most readers will know, since before 1948, the indigenous peoples of Palestine have been, and still are, the victims of an ongoing systematic regime of terror and displacement by the State of Israel and its zionist politics. This is being carried out under the guise of creating, securing and expanding a Jewish state, at the expense of the lives of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs, and in reality uses a manufactured fear of Arab terrorism to justify the ethnic cleansing, permanent war and profits for the military industrial complex. (For a good summary see ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Israel” by Ilan Pappe). The war crimes of Israel are being considered for investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the face of fierce resistance and sanctions by Israel and its main ally, the State of the USA.

Palestine Civil Society, since 2005, has called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to highlight, internationally, and to the public, Israel’s ongoing crimes, to create pressure for political change. A strategy that had success in the campaign against South African apartheid.

Highland Palestine has been carrying out a BDS strategy for over 2 years now, holding events, collecting signatures, and lobbying the Highland Council Pension Fund, a fund overseen by elected Highland councillors, to stop investing the pension funds of the peoples of the Highlands in a company that manufactures bombs and sells them to Israel which uses them, in war crimes: to bomb, terrorise, and collectively punish the people of Gaza. That company is called General Dynamics Corporation, based in the USA, and the Highland Council Pension Fund invests over £6 million in that company every year.

Highland Palestine has provided evidence, through a petition with over a thousand signatures, for widespread public support for disinvestment in General Dynamic Corporation (GDC) and continues to lobby the fund. But to its intense frustration and disappointment there has been no response. Of course it is reasonable, and a duty, for the fund to invest these funds in a safe way to secure pensions for the future, but there are other companies for investment, and GDC shares have lost value in the past year in any case. However it also a duty of elected officials to act both morally and responsibly.

It is shocking to note that at their meeting in February 2018, shortly after our campaign began, the Pension fund sub-committee actually voted to deliberately exclude ‘moral considerations’ from investment decisions:

“A view was expressed that the Fund should achieve the best possible investment returns and ESG factors chosen for moral reasons should not be included in investment policy.”

And this, morally bankrupt, if not literally barbaric policy, was decided despite, a) voices from councillors at that meeting calling for the fund to mimic Norways ethical investment strategy , and b) a stated claim that the fund, via the fund manager, Pyrford International. is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI); principles said to formalise the commitment to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance, that is, socially responsible investment.

There is clearly a huge contradiction at the heart of the Highland Council Pension Fund’s immmoral decision to continue investing in GDC, despite both, a) the massive environmental harm being caused by the military industrial complex, as well as b) the war crimes and human rights abuses, and c) despite the petition with over a thousand signatures: evidence of massive public revulsion by the people of the Highlands that their funds are being used in this way.

Perhaps some politicians are anxious of being accused of anti-semitism and of being sanctioned or harrassed if they support BDS. But we must keep insisting, again and again, that criticism of the State of Israel’s policies oppressing Palestinians is not anti-semitic. It is not even a plausibly implied anti-semitic criticism of the actions of Jews on account of their being Jewish, and, importantly, the State of Israel does not represent Jewish peoples worldwide, although it tries to give this impression, and in fact many, if not the majority, of Jewish people abhor the zionist policies of the institutionally racist State of Israel.

To support our BDS campaign consider writing to your local councillors calling for disinvestment, signing our petition, and following Highland Palestine’s facebook page . We have regular zoom calls at the moment and occasional socially distanced street demonstrations in Inverness.

Sept 2020 – the UK’s totalitarian move

Today, 09/09/2020, we have heard the UK state-executive make a statement that has the effect of driving us deeper into the fascist global quagmire. The UK government has openly stated in parliament that it is going to renege on an international legal arrangement covering the passage of trade between Northern Ireland and the the rest of the UK. In itself this may end up being a danger to the Northern Ireland peace process. But as discourse it signals a qualitative ideological shift in the relationship between political power and the citizenry. It is inciting a fascist psyche, one that is no long living in neurotic uncertainty about the moral worth of political decisions, but is a psyche plunged into an identification with power itself and its political decisions, made by an apparently omnipotent (totalitarian) UK political executive.

The citizen’s psyche is now left with no doubt in his or her mind, she or he is now demanded or coercively invited to become, subjectively, or to identify as, a part of that apparently omnipotent power – based on nationalist myths and pseudo-imperialism, and will do all he or she can to protect it, even sacrifice him or herself. The question is who will be the necessary victims to sustain the exercise of that power. No doubt, the immigrant, the poor and marginalized.

“We are a law abiding country but …. we are breaking international law, in this case … “

This is like the racist who says “I am not racist …. but, I am going to be racist, in this case, by marginalizing and abusing ethnic minorities and blame them for the tribulations of the poorest”

The UK state’s statement, explicitly admitting breaking international law, explicitly denies the existence of the illusion that sustains belief in the UK state as a law abiding parliamentary democracy. Of course we know very well that the UK is already breaking international laws by for example providing arms to states like Israel and Saudi Arabia blatantly committing crimes against humanity every day. But, crucially, the citizenry of the UK, and its flagship media, maintain the lie that we do not break the law.

It follows the pattern set when Johnson illegally suspended parliament and lied to the Queen about the reasons. And, of course, the UK executive did with this impunity, which further entrenched its sense of entitlement to power.

This is a rejection of this ‘law abiding democracy fantasy, or in other words, a ‘negation of disavowal’ that changes, or incites a change in, the psychic attachment of citizens to the ideological fantasy of UK political power. It makes the political power of this government inhere in the executive itself and no longer in any, albeit illusionary, parliamentary process. This is an exemplary fascist, or more universally perhaps, totalitarian move.

Creeping fascism and the concept of disavowal

Creeping fascism and disavowal

The basic idea here is that in order to form an identity we have to identify with certain beliefs, and this requires the exclusion or disavowal of other beliefs, or knowledge or truths. The beliefs we identify with may, for example, be patriotic, nationalist, or racist, and may be reinforced by faith in the omnipotence of national leadership figures.

It has been suggested by Zizek among others that, for example, Nazi ideology disavowed the ‘truth’ that the Jews were not an existential threat to the German population at large, but instead enforced an ideological belief in Hitler as the omnipotent leader representing Germany and the Jew as the threat to the fantasy of Germany’s destiny of greatness, the threat that must be destroyed, thereby necessarily leading to a belief in the moral justice of the processes necessary to carry out the Jewish Holocaust, amongst other evils.

One of the features of fascism suggested by Vadolas (Perversions of Fascism, 2009) is the discourse explicitly negating disavowal – because this negation, appearing benign and moral, actually signifies an even stronger identification with the ‘truth’ of fascist dominative power, or, its domination potential – p117 (Vadolas). Vadolas later claims this is a feature of totalitarian subjectivity: for example take the phrase: “I’m not a racist … but …”; this discourse (way of speaking that signifies certain value and actions as moral) places increased emphasis on the moral rectitude of the political policies (racist) that dominate, exclude and attempt to destroy the other.

Disavowal is the repression of the knowledge of the harmlessness of the other, thereby necessarily creating a lethal threat in the form of an enemy that must be destroyed.

To say, “I’m not a racist ….” is to admit that I really know other is harmless, that is, the other is not an existential threat to me – in this way it is a conscious negation of the disavowal, but what effect does this have on the individual’s formation of moral values and identity? According to Vadolas it may reinforce the moral rectitude and therefore justification for the power of the figurative and corporal leader, such as Trump or Johnson. The discourse of the negation of disavowal is productive of increased sense of power to dominate, exclude, persecute and destroy, in the name of say, national security.

For example. Nikki Haley’s (the ex USA ambassador to the UN) protestations, at the 2020 USA Republican convention, that “America is not a racist country (… but we are justified in our support for Israel’s incremental genocide of the Palestinians)” is a good example of totalitarianising or fascist discourse. And Trump is the figure that embodies that fascist dominative power.