Fascism in National Cellophane


by Nida Vasiliauskaitė

There is a view that pro-fascist tendencies in Lithuania are nothing more than a bubble blown by the New Left, an informal intellectual and political movement (not a party), that it is a case of “Communist slander” aimed at peaceful and likeable patriots: those who simply love their Homeland, are proud of it and who—unlike the angry folks from the New Left  who are “attacking” good people for no reason at all—do not seek enemies (and do not find them), degrade nobody and are a threat to nobody.

No, for them everyone is a friend. (How different they are from, for example, Nida Vasiliauskaitė, who, as they will tell you,  “hates everyone” simply and purely at her own whim and out of bad will, or because she has been “paid” by all the comrades of  “Brussels” and  “Moscow”  banded together. They emphasize that which unites, not that which divides…)

And―to demonstrate this―they are marching into our forthcoming elections with a very positive slogan:  “Without gays [literally “light blues” as in pejorative “pinko” in English], without blacks, without reds and without gypsy caravans.” That is, in fact, the key point of the Young Lithuania election platform (a party which every true patriot should vote for, according to those angered by “the bubble”, those who call themselves defenders of “national values”—those who organized the March 11th march on Gedimino Prospect and complain of  “completely unfounded” suspicions they hold pro-fascist views).

As one of these people—Ričardas Čekutis, an aide to MP Dalia Kuodytė (she is a Liberal Party member!), known also for his hobby of playing with little SS soldiers on the vastnesses of Facebook—stated, Young Lithuania  was chosen as a political partner from among several possibilities because it is “one of the most pro-national parties on the political map of the country”.

However, while the cited slogan (“Without light blues, without blacks, without etc”) under laws in force is certainly worthy of the prosecutor’s attention, it needs to be covered over in cellophane a bit:  “Without gays, blacks, reds and gypsy caravans”, Čekutis tells us,  “reflects negative tendencies, that are coming to dominate in society, of which we must rid ourselves: ‘without gays’—i.e. without the ideology of sexual deviations being pushed on us from abroad, ‘without blacks’ means without black money and without the liberasts’ traditions of ‘subscribers’ [The Subscriber is the nickname of the former liberal mayor of Vilnius, noted for his financial machinations], ‘without reds’ means without the Communist accumulation which is still oppressing our society”. And, well, “without gypsies” simply means “without gypsies” (What comment can be made here? aha,  “black” means “mafia”, perhaps someone will actually believe that, a very “clever” strategy; and the kitchen vocabulary—let’s not forget that the aid to the member of parliament is speaking on the air—is also worth noting).

In other words, here we are finally being allowed to view through cellophane the essence of  “nationalism” in all its glory: it is an enemies’ list (rather specific and recognizable by anyone who has at least heard of the Third Reich).

“Real Lithuanians” are defining themselves here purely in negative terms, through rejection and degradation of certain other groups (distinguished by  “blood”, lifestyle or political views):  “We are not gays, not blacks, not reds (and all  “not browns”  belong to the latter category, of course) and not gypsies. This is how “we” distinguish ourselves. Of course, the Young Lithuanians will attempt to convince us, that in the section just quoted, they haven’t expressed any superiority over the groups mentioned, they are merely politely suggesting a wonderful vision in which the aforementioned do not exist.

The most interesting question is the practical one: How do these  “real Lithuanians”  say they will implement this vision for interested voters? What does “without” mean specifically and what measures will be employed in striving for “the cleansing of Lithuania”? The deportation of  “undesirable elements”? Imprisonment? The establishment of ghettos or “re-education camps”?  “Treatment”?

Or maybe…  No, let’s be optimists and let’s not use, when analyzing the activity of neo-Nazis, the argumentum ad Hitlerum: initially the mild limitation of the civil rights of certain citizens will probably suffice. The question has been left open: let’s wait a while and when we elect them they will tell us more. Frankly, the goal is large, the goal is not at the level of the city municipality, so let’s be patient―then, after the parliamentary elections…

Let’s look at some of the points in the the party’s platform.

“1. Restructuring of state schools, abolition of ethnic discrimination against Lithuanians”.  Hey, haven’t you heard? Lithuanians en masse are being discriminated against at Lithuanian state schools! (Finally someone came to their senses and figured this out!)

“3. Banning advertisements for occupational armies and totalitarian ideologies. Well, that’s more surprising news—there is, it seems, still an occupational army in our country or at least an advertising campaign for it (on the reality of advertising for totalitarian ideologies we can certainly agree: Young Lithuania and the Lithuanian National Center, protected by the Homeland Union/Conservative Party which gets more and more radical, along with the media sympathetic to their ideas).

“6. Abolition of gypsy camps and other similar criminal structures”. The nationalist youth (and elderly) are not discriminating against or do not feel any ethno-racial superiority over anyone (and who could possibly think something like that of them??). No, they just automatically call Roma—criminals who  “need to be exterminated” (how? by destroying buildings? chasing people away?). What these  “other similar criminal structures” might be is kept mysteriously (and wisely) secret.

“14. Initiatives harmful to the nation, forced on us from abroad, are rejected”. The nation, it seems, is something like a turnip or radish being chewed away by foreign migrant-worms: you sit immovably in your little pit, sipping the nutrients of “native soil”, growing from within and getting large—until some pest slithers up just hoping to pilfer some of “our” good. And even wind and rain are only good for the turnip when it is native, local, from a small cloud formed from a nearby pond, not brought in (“forced on us”) from the Vistula or the Rhine.

We hear: “You speak of tolerance, yet you yourselves are very intolerant: you do not tolerate racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, the idea of ethnic purity (and look, they took my friend’s computer away just because of a comment about ‘niggers’) and many other things. You are looking for enemies everywhere. Your tolerance is of a different kind if you don’t agree with me, don’t applaud and don’t smile in a friendly way, and even sneer in my face: I feel discriminated against by you (as a Lithuanian and for my political beliefs). And don’t dare call me a neo-Nazi: I am just saying that pure ethnic blood, my-pride-and-joy, flows through my veins, which must be protected against pollution; and I hate Jews.”

That is the typical ad infinitum et ad nauseam repeated comical complaint against the New Left and people of liberal views more generally.

Let’s look at this more closely. What is comical about it (if it hasn’t been perceived yet)? First of all, that “to be tolerant” in no way means “to tolerate everything” (violence, aggression, imprisonment without trial, injustice, corruption, disinformation, etc.), and to demand tolerance for intolerance is a logical error: not just because the idea of tolerance would thus deny itself, but also because to demand “Tolerate me!” has no logical basis for those for whom tolerance is no value at all (in this manner they appeal to a principle which they themselves deny). Just as it is absurd to hear “Respect my different opinion!” from those for whom all who do not participate in their “blood and land” pathos are not political opponents or ideational “others”, but “traitors,” “Bolsheviks,” and “tolerasts” (“tolerast”  and “liberast” being the insulting words coined here on the model of “pederast”).

And overall, the object of respect can only be the right to hold an opinion and express it (when this is an opinion and not hate speech or calls for “exterminating” certain members of society) and the ability to give it foundation and defend it, rather than the opinion itself (it might be incompetent or just aggressive and stupid—it would be unethical to attempt to remove it, even as such, from the subject, but respect for any opinion as such requiring one to remain silent about what one thinks about this opinion does not follow from that). Nowhere ever have I promised to honor aggressive obscurantism, racism or fundamentalism as “a different way of thinking”. And I’m not about to say I will. And the latter—racists and their ilk—have no foundation for being dissatisfied because they themselves willfully reject that foundation (upon which they could base their appeal).

The second comical thing is the attempt to renounce the label of “neo-Nazi” and “fascist” when the content of the concept has been accepted: many people who believe that Adolf Hitler was “a great man, did everything right, but was simply unsuccessful”, greeting one another with Sieg heils and standing for elections under the slogan of “Without gays, blacks, reds and gypsy camps” nevertheless lack the courage to say, “Yes, I am a neo-Nazi!”, as if that meant something bad to them (and now, when all the cards are on the table, which part exactly of this ideology do Young Lithuania and the Lithuanian Nationalist Center not endorse?).

From the fact that the USSR intentionally sought to cast the whole of Sajūdis (the Lithuanian independence movement) as an ethno-nationalist authoritarian project and thus discredit it in the eyes of the West twenty years ago, it does not follow that this wasn’t the case in Sajūdis (not everything an enemy says is untrue just because it is an enemy that says it).

But at the same time it does not follow in any way that Sajūdis was that exclusively, and in no way discredits the aspiration for political independence or the restored state of Lithuania. What truly discredits us all is the proclivity over twenty years to cultivate, cover up and ever increasingly introduce pro-fascist sentiments into big politics.

The Liberals with their actively fascist aides and the Homeland Union/Conservative Party no longer reining in their radicals will probably only stop when the nationalist youth call Vytautas Landsbergis himself “tolerast”, “Communist” and “rootless sell-out” for condemning Petras Gražiulis’s initiatives, or call Andrius Kubilius the same things for not supporting the attempt to ban Polish letters in the passports of Lithuanian citizens. But then it will be too late.

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