On New Year’s Day, the world was treated to the spectacle of a 640-kilometer-long “Women’s Wall” in Kerala (South India). This human chain of more than five million women stretched the length of the state, making a spectacular statement for the “renaissance values” of women’s equity and rational thinking. Progressive organizations linked to Kerala’s Communist government organized the demonstration to counter the hate-filled Hindu protests that had been ongoing since 28 September 2018, when the Supreme Court of India ruled that the Sabarimala temple’s ban on women of menstruating age was unconstitutional and had to be lifted. Implementation of this court order had so far been sabotaged by the militant protests of orthodox Hindus, fueled by the BJP (the Hindu nationalist party).
“Polish leaders marched with the far right” was perhaps the most common description of the massive demonstration that took place in Warsaw on National Independence Day, 11 November. Press worldwide expressed astonishment and indignation over the fact that the Polish president, accompanied by politicians from the right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, decided to partake in a highly controversial, and explicitly nationalist, event.
Picture a street handcraft market in a touristic village called Porto de Galinhas in Pernambuco, Northeast Region of Brazil. A few days before the second round of the 2018 presidential elections on 28 October, I observed the following conversation on the market.
“You can vote for him, don’t worry, he won’t kill gay people,” says a local 50-year-old addressing a couple of openly gay, young, black men wearing tight shorts and colorful shirts. They reply: “Yes, he will, Bolsonaro will kill gay people.” While the young men walk away, the Bolsonaro supporter keeps trying to convince them, half-laughing, half-serious, stating that his candidate is not as bad as some people have been arguing. “No, he won’t . . .” he says, “and don’t worry, because if he does kill gays, the environmental agency will come after him—after all, they are animals under risk of extinction!”
Maddalena Gretel Cammelli interviews Jonathan Friedman on his new book, PC Worlds. A version of this interview has also been published in Italian on Il Lavoro Culturale.
MGC: In your text, you describe “a moral regime” called Political Correctness (PC) that would be characterized by a “moralization” of social relations, and by a diffused “shame culture” that you consider symptomatic as a “mechanism of the protection of identities which does not recognize any rational argumentation.”
Douglas Kellner in American Nightmare writes, “certainly [Donald] Trump is not Hitler and his followers are not technically fascists, although I believe that we can use the term authoritarian populism or neofascism to explain Trump and his supporters” (2016: 20). Kellner is not the only analyst who uses the terms fascism and populism interchangeably to describe Trumpism, nor is it the first time that populists have been branded as fascist. General Juan Perón’s contemporaries from the right and the left considered him a fascist in the 1940s.