It’s Time to be Clear 6

Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’ Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia are the 7 regimes that Laurence W. Britt analyzed to develop his set of fascistic characteristics. Like Umberto Eco before him, he came up with 14 key characteristics, which he construed as fascist and proto-fascist means of obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. He presented this list in an Op-Ed titled Fascism Anyone? in Volume 23, No. 2 Spring 2003 of ‘Free Inquiry’ as follows –
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism.
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.

While, as Daniel Malmer notes this list was not intended to be used to diagnose fascism in present governments, but rather characterize historical fascist governments, it is nevertheless interesting to see how many of these fascistic characteristic apply to the purported democracies of the world.

As a Malaysian, I find that the polity of my country seems to exhibit a good 11 of the Britt’s 14 traits. If this were not worrying enough for the long view, we have just joined a list of dysfunctional nations that have suspended parliamentary rule and instituted emergency powers in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic. This is the first such declaration of emergency since the aftermath of the race riots of May 13th 1969.

According to Bloomberg, the state of emergency was declared soon after some key leaders in the ruling coalition’s largest partner, United Malays National Organisation had called for a fresh election. They also report that the Pakatan Harapan opposition has admonished the Prime Minister for burdening the people with a declaration of emergency for the sake of saving himself. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs has described the emergency as “totally unnecessary” and that “If you’re not careful, we will slip from parliamentary democracy into a rule by diktat.”

https://secularhumanism.org/2003/03/fascism-anyone/

https://medium.com/@danielmalmer/the-long-complicated-history-of-the-14-defining-characteristics-of-fascism-e366412932f

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2021-01-12/malaysia-pm-says-it-s-not-a-coup-but-critics-see-a-power-grab

3 Model

Keling Maya: Post-traditional Media, Malaysian Cyberspace and Me, presented at the Aliran Semasa Symposium, 2013, at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

CULTURE x MEDIA / PLACE = HETEROTOPIA

Foucault’s idea of heterotopia enables us to see, in spacialized terms, the relativity of norms within a given system of power. In my model, CULTURE (aspects that can be conceptualized) multiplied by MEDIA (modes of representation and communication) divided by PLACE (location or territory) equals HETEROTOPIA (plural).

DEMOCRACY x INTERNET / BUMI= MALAYSIA

At the heart of this model is the notion that media amplifies culture in an inverse relation to place (size of territory) and that heterotopic complexity increases with proximity or spatial crush. In a more specific substitution, one could say, DEMOCRACY (a specific cultural form) multiplied by INTERNET (the dominant media) divided by BUMI (the earth, and entitlements to it) equals MALAYSIA (our contemporary socio-political space).

0 Performance
1 Introduction
2 Cyberspace
4 Heterotopia
5 Rajinikanth
7 Telinga Keling
8 Keling Babi
9 Duchamp
10 MGG Pillai
11 Pantun
12 Praxis
13 Dochakuka
14 Post-tradition
15 Philosophia Perennis

Politik Identiti (1996 -2020)

After cover of a book by Lat titled Dr.Who?!, 2020 from a thesis fragment found online.

1996 – Pop star M. Nasir gets boycotted by state owned media for being kurang ajar or kasar towards the sitting Prime Minister in asking, audaciously, “Siapa Mahathir?”

2004 – Esteemed Malaysian cartoonist Lat launches his 27th book titled titled Dr Who?!: Capturing the Life and Times of a Leader in Cartoons. Epitomizing the notion of halus, Lat was able to get Mahathir himself to launch the book. Surely, the latent reference to M. Nasir’s earlier question was heard by Malaysians even at the time!

2020 – M. Nasir’s alleged insult has now become a genuine question on every Malaysian’s mind! Who is he really? What does he stand for … does he stand for anything beyond Machiavellian self-interest?

Source Image: Click to access Pages_from_nor_amriah.TGB050030.part2(Chapter_4).pdf

https://www.malaysiakini.com/hiburan/405711

On Being Malaysian Tamil 4

The LTTE seems to be defunct as an operational entity. As I noted in the previous post, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the LTTE should be removed from the EU’s terrorism list. Nevertheless, the EU seems to have maintained that the LTTE on the said list. One might reasonably speculate that the reasoning behind this is that the fact that the organization is inert does not mean that it can not be revived. This is also probably why this defunct organization remains on terror list in 32 countries across the world including Malaysia where the LTTE was not even proscribed as a terrorist organization until 2014, a full 5 years after the end of the Elam war.

In connection with the possible LTTE revival, there seems to be a US State Department report in 2018 noted: “Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support has persisted.” Indeed, it is conceivable that when the LTTE went down in 2009, the organization had large sums of money dispersed across the world in the hands of unidentified operatives or trustees. It is possible that some such funds are still out there in the hands operatives faithful who, true to the LTTE cause, might be biding their time, waiting to reinvest in armed struggle.

In this light, I took the suggestion, made by the Malaysian Police, soon after the recent SOSMA arrests for LTTE related activities, that there were significant financial transactions in involved, very concerning indeed. It was the only aspect of the initially insinuated allegations against the detainees that I found worthy of serious consideration. Promotion of a proscribed organization that no longer exists seemed trivial and merely symbolic, compared in being involved in financial transactions aimed at actually reviving that organization. So far, however, no such charge has been laid against any of the 12 detainees and I wait anxiously to hear of further charges. Perhaps there will be something coming up that might justify the use of SOSMA and the hysteria generated around these developments, not least by the Police themselves in the manner of the arrests were made and shared with the media.. … More in On Being a Malaysian Tamil 5

SUPERSTAR CUTOUTS

dance12

As the May 8th polling date approaches in Malaysia, there has been an interesting turn of events with regard to the use of images. According to the Straits Times of Singapore, the Election Commission just issued new guidelines stipulating that, other than the photograph of the candidate standing for election in a given constituency,  the only other photographs can be used on campaign materials are photos of the candidate’s party president and deputy president. This effectively removes images of Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim from the iconography of the campaign. Reflecting on the power of images in the contemporary media, and the interdiction against images in Islam in this context might be quite enlightening ……. as might pondering on the Superstar Cutouts that populate the box-office and polling landscapes of Asia!

Image composite from : https://aliran.com/thinking-allowed-online/2011-ta-online/najibs-larger-than-life-thaipusam-appearance/ and https://malaysianaccess.com/batu-caves-12-metre-cutout-anwar-ibrahim-standing-tall-p5831/

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/new-rules-by-malaysia-election-body-seen-as-bid-to-block-mahathir-posters-from-wider