Anti-democratic consumerism and the myth of sacred origin

Michaela Bax-Leaney

Something the struck me, as I watched those assembled at the Franco rally in Spain, was the remark by Tom, the man who appears to have dedicated his life to the Spanish dictator, declaring to reporter Carla Parmenter that he did not like democracy. Perhaps this was a juvenile assumption, but I had always assumed that the vast majority of people – everyone aside from those with despotic ambitions, really – believed democracy to be the ultimate goal. Even the American far-right declared that the armed insurrection against the seat of government was in pursuit of the protection of the democratic process. This is of course untrue, but it served as the rallying cry nonetheless. And yet here were veritable hordes of people declaring democracy to be corrupting and sinfully indulgent.

However, in reading Baranowski and Crumbaugh, it began to make more sense. As both authors outline, entities such as Strength through Joy pedaled the notion in fascist European nation states that short-term sacrifices must be made in exchange for an overall improved standard of living in the long-term, a standard of living which would provide creaturely comforts in moderation to those worthy, those deemed racially pure. This appears to tie into the points Miller-Idriss made in her presentation, describing the myth of sacred origin, in which a marker of the far right is an inherent aspirational quality which harkens back to some long-gone golden age, in which morality and rule of law prevailed above all. This imagery and iconography also invokes strong Nordic, mythic figures in this sacred origin, appealing to desires for strongman leadership and the valorization of violence. Circling back to the Franquistas in Spain, it becomes clearer where the desire to abandon democracy has its roots.

One Reply to “Anti-democratic consumerism and the myth of sacred origin”

  1. I think Crumbaugh has another interesting perspective to add on this question of democratic sentiment – namely, that the state’s insistence that it already embodies the purest form of the people’s will makes it unnecessary to have elections/further course corrections. If the state embodies the people – both in the abstract populist sense of representing and restoring the Nation, and in the specific example of Franco’s dictatorship presenting itself as a technocratic agent looking only to improve quality of life – then there is no more room for contesting the existence, leadership, or policies of the State. The State is presented as an apolitical, neutral, benevolent servant pursuing an objective good in the name of the True People; and any individual who might disagree is presented as but an infinitesmal minority against the ‘silent majority’ backing the State.

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