Case study: How de-racialisation can deliver a fascist racialisation of politics
Let’s look at a fascist state that thrives on racialisation and exclusion – that is, associating a particular ‘race’ with a particular culture, promoting the superiority of that culture, and sitting back and thriving on the apathetic and short-sighted by-products emerging from an exclusionary and exclusive worldview. At this point, the empathetic might accuse the government and later, the people, of being biased towards one race, or/and, the culture being promoted being a significant contributor to an oppressive state of affairs. To counter this, those in power can utilise members of the said ‘less preferred race’ to forward and front highly unfavourable perspectives and policies. This, of course, subjects them to critique from the opposition or the disgruntled that would not be dissimilar to that levelled at the ‘preferred race’, or ‘PR’ for brevity, holding the reins of government. Thereafter, the opposition themselves can gradually perceive their conflict with the government as one between ‘democrats’ and an ‘oppressive government’ instead of ‘anti-fascists’ and ‘racial/cultural supremacists’. In this, their attention is detracted from existing culturally-biased perspectives that founds it, the government promoting these, and which the people themselves might increasingly be practitioners of.
This is, of course, complemented by cultural pride gradually induced by one preferred culture serving as the chalice wherein is contained the cause of their success – after excluding others claims to being significant contributors by their being excluded-cum- underdeveloped via discriminatory treatment. With the promotion of the magnanimous-sounding ‘being culturally and racially sensitive’, a further impediment is placed in the way of the development of an anti-fascist persona in the people and ‘democrats’. The main aim here is to pave the way for a unitary view of the government and the opposition that leaves race and culture out of it. Conflict must take place on an opposition vs. government stage. This requires that the masses assume that the government are representative of the entirety of the people instead of being simply ‘white/Sinhalese/Malay/Chinese supremacists’. Thereon, they can be taken to task, at most, for not being ‘democratic’ enough as opposed to ‘being fascist’. If the masses can be detracted from the fascist nature of the government, then enough empathy can be compromised to ensure their continued rule, or at least, the rule of the elite. This is how ‘democrats’ are gradually enlisted in the fascist cause and will always themselves serve as an argument for the continuity of the existing government as they aren’t really that different themselves.
In the case of singapore, for example, there was this actor by the name of Gurmit Singh. Everyone knew that he was a Sikh/Indian, but laughed along at his antics on screen as ‘Phua Chu Kang’ (Chinese name) who exhibited the perspectival mores and language of Chinese of lower socioeconomic status whilst being presented as Chinese himself because of his pale complexion – personally, I found the humour crass and witless and relied simply on acting silly to garner chuckles from a people whom generally can’t laugh beyond a slip on a banana peel. He is a singaporean, a Sikh, but a Chinese on screen. In this, an association between ‘Singaporean’ and ‘Chinese’ is reinforced as other’s cultural take on things is excluded from the media and kept to the periphery of the public’s imagination. In answer to an Indian backbencher in parliament, by the name of Viswa, who took the government to task for its oppressiveness and bias in extremely subtle terms, a while later, the government’s Indian Law minister stands up to speak of how global views on singapore’s oppressive condition are discountable for its bias – few noticed that the logic utilised by him is identical to the logic used by most Chinese in the face of contradiction. Again and again, Indians, and at times, Malays, are used to forward perspectives that are thoroughly ‘Chinese’ in approach. In this, it is no wonder that other cultures are deemed to be quite irrelevant as their voice in the political arena is little more than a transliteration of an oriental one. However, if one was to look at the argumentative and logical skills of Indians in south Indian films with a direct understanding of the language, one will find a sharp contrast between them and the ‘Indians’ serving as mouthpieces for Confucian-style views. But as Tamil is yet to be learnt by people globally because the Indians are quite adept at learning others’ languages, it is to be expected that this misses the global appreciation.
In these two examples, out of numerous others in many arenas, we see the compromising of popular potential appreciation of this entire oppressive state of affairs as one of Confucian/Legalist perspectival origin as members of all races are enlisted to front the notion that it is a ‘singaporean’ problem as opposed to a typically ‘chinese one’ (‘Chinese’, in terms of its being a hallmark of China’s civilisation - which is pillarised by Confucianism, Legalism and Taoism - and not ‘Chinese’ in racial terms.). In this, the opposition themselves can continue to leave the cultural bases for their woes alone whilst attempting to transition singapore from an oppressive state to a less oppressive one. Prior to my taking issue with its government from an anti-fascist perspective, there were, unsurprisingly, precious few, if any at all, whom had taken this stance as it required critical cultural introspection. One article by a prominent Singaporean site, dated some time after a2ed’s take on the issue on this amongst other sites, approached the issue as if writing an obituary for singapore-past as opposed to an issue that had to be actively contended with, and dissected with the aid of an inquisitive scalpel and a microscopic monocle. It shied away from locating it in the cultural sense of the people and its Sino origins and garnished it with enough ambiguity and dispassion for it to be as empowering as coal in a formula 1 race. Hence, this is one of the many instances that serves as the evidential bases upon which I am compelled to recognise the oppositional sector in singapore as, generally, ‘democrats of the fascist left’ that is verifiably and quantifiably tethered to a verifiably and quantifiably fascist perspectival centre.
What their overrated leaders had always failed to do was to take on the cultural basis for their troubles. In this, their nemesis, the ‘Lee Dynasty’, or ‘FamiLEE’, as some wit-challenged writers like to term them, is indeed a highly intelligent sector, relatively speaking that is, for recognising the need for cultural manipulation for control. And given that Chinese culture is indeed borne of 2000 years of oppression, monoculturalism and a relatively static or ‘stable’ state of political and philosophical affairs, promoting its renaissance amongst singaporeans would certainly guarantee their pliability. And as it would be easier to teach the ‘chinese’ to be Chinese than it would be to teach Indians to be so, given their 3000 years or so of multicultural or ‘unstable’ history, the Chinese, it could be said, were the first victims Singapore’s answer to the BNP. Hence, the Lee regime’s pogrom against ‘westernisation’ and ‘difference’, vigorous promotion of Chinese culture – disguised as ‘asian values’ – and maintaining a ‘racial balance’ in favour of the Chinese, amongst a host of others, served to deliver a cultural base that serves as fertile ground for the whinnying and harrumphing emerging from the oppositional sector. But they have constantly maintained the thus-created fascist outlook of the opposition by training them to leave culture alone and associating ‘Chinese’ with ‘Singaporean’ in tandem with confusing everyone for ‘Chinese’, in persona if not in ‘race’, by their being ‘Singaporean’ – one of the reasons why the ‘singaporean’ version of pidgin English, known as ‘singlish’, is still termed ‘singlish’ even though it is now largely a corruption of English with Chinese words and perspectives.
In other words, the problems emerging from politics racialised with a wholly Chinese stock, is maintained by racialising the social and political arena under the catch-all term of ‘singaporean’. So now, the locals can speak of how ‘singaporeans’ don’t have enough sex or can’t last very long in bed; how foreigners are failing to integrate with ‘singaporeans’; how the influx of foreigners is leaving many ‘singaporeans’ unemployed; or how the national pastime of ‘singaporeans’ is eating and shopping. One just has to look, for instance, at the critical and political propensities and pastimes of the average Indian from the subcontinent for proof that light-years of space has to be folded before one can go on to assume that the ‘singaporean’ ‘democrat’s’ woes are not founded on a Chinese perspective instead of a ‘Singaporean’ one.
Putting it extremely simply, when politics is racialised long enough for fascism to become ‘culture’, this leads the members of the ‘preferred race’ to assume similitude amongst all within a catch-all national descriptor, i.e. ‘singaporean’. At this point, the cultural basis is absolved from complicity in one’s woes as all other cultures are rendered irrelevant in tandem. That is why the Chinese in singapore, not ‘singaporeans’, are oftentimes inclined to say, ’it’s like that one’(that’s the way it is) in the face of critique instead of moving on to asking, ‘why it’s like that’, as that would oftentimes require one to engage in a discomforting bout of critical cultural introspection. Movement away from this approach is not likely given the pervasiveness of the practice of ‘cultural pride’. And within a fascist milieu, it becomes a symbiotic part of it.
Hence, within such a perspectival milieu, one of the significant methods that may be utilised to undo this is to racialise politics for the purpose of locating its cultural root, as it would already have a particular ‘race’ to take pride in it whilst assuming everyone else to be the same or to conform-or-else. This would of course be a prelude to deracialising politics after the cultural causes of flawed perspectives are weeded out and integration follows. If not, and overtime, people of all cultures can indeed began to exhibit the traits of a majority defined by race and culture. In this, the cultural causes for problems can indeed one day find its root in a Singaporean cultural basis as opposed to a ‘singaporean’ one. When that happens, and it already is, cultural and fascist mores are ossified as natural and can proceed with impunity. At this point, the best that the people can do, and which will certainly be recognised as ‘the best’ given that they will cease to know better for want of other cultural input, will be a product of a severely contracted field of vision – which, in the Singaporean context, can generally be appreciated as ‘democratic fascism’.