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The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digitalization and has led to a spike in online transactions and e-commerce sales. According to PayPal, the penetration of e-commerce as a percentage of retail sales in the first half of 2020 outpaced prior external forecast by 3 to 5 years. Both consumers and merchants are increasingly adopting digital payments as contactless transactions have become increasingly important amid the current crisis.
The rapid penetration of digital payments led to double-digital revenue growth in the second quarter for PayPal and Square. Using the TipRanks Stock Comparison tool, we will place these two fintech payment firms alongside each other to assess which stock offers a more compelling investment opportunity. PayPal Holdings (PYPL)
PayPal, which was spun off from eBay in 2015, has emerged as the digital payment leader. In the second quarter, PayPal added 21.3 million net new active accounts, reflecting a 137% Y/Y rise and marking the strongest growth in the company’s history thanks to a surge in e-commerce and digital payments. As of the end of 2Q, PayPal had 346 million active accounts with over 26 million merchant accounts.
The company’s 2Q revenue surged 22.2% Y/Y to $5.26 billion. And adjusted EPS rose 49% to $1.07 as the adjusted operating margin expanded 504 basis points to 28.2%. Total Payment Volume or TPV, which indicates payments processed through the PayPal platform, grew about 29% to $222 billion. Venmo, Paypal’s mobile payments platform, witnessed a 52% growth in its TPV to $37 billion.
Following the strong 2Q momentum, PayPal reinstated its 2020 guidance and in fact, raised it. The company expects revenue growth of 20% and adjusted EPS growth of about 25%. It anticipates adding 70 million net new active accounts this year.
To boost its top-line further and promote touchless payments, PayPal launched QR Code technology in 28 markets globally in May. CVS Pharmacy will be the first retail chain to offer its customers the option to use PayPal and Venmo QR codes at checkout in its US stores. The company will also launch Venmo credit card this year.
PayPal has also expanded its Visa Direct partnership globally to accelerate real-time access to funds for small businesses, consumers and partners across its platform. This collaboration enables PayPal to extend global white label Visa Direct payout services through PayPal and its Braintree, Hyperwallet and iZettle platforms.
On Sept. 22, Mizuho Securities analyst Dan Dolev reiterated a Buy rating for PayPal with a price target of $285 as the Mizuho E-Commerce Tracker showed that unique views across key PayPal partner sites (like Etsy, Groupon and Wayfair) remained strong in July and August and also pointed to potential signs of life in the beleaguered travel category.
The Tracker also indicated that PayPal’s unique views continued to grow ahead of partner websites in the last two months, reflecting persistent share gains for the checkout button. Overall, the analyst expects strong July and August e-commerce trends coupled with share gains to bode well for the company’s second-half TPV. (See PYPL stock analysis on TipRanks)
PayPal stock has rallied about 74% year-to-date and could rise further by 17% in the coming months as indicated by the average analyst price target of $219.77. The stock scores a Strong Buy consensus based on 28 Buys, 5 Holds and no Sell ratings. Square (SQ)
Payment facilitator Square is growing rapidly as consumers and businesses are migrating online at a faster pace amid the pandemic. From February through August 2020, there was a 13.2 percentage point increase in the share of Square sellers accepting online payments and by August, over 40% of all Square sellers were accepting online payments. Also, by August, more than 7 in 10 Square sellers were accepting contactless payments.
The company’s Cash App ecosystem delivered $1.2 billion in revenue in the second quarter, reflecting a whopping 361% Y/Y growth. The Cash App had over 30 million monthly transacting active customers in June. Aside from the accelerated digital migration, Cash App also gained from the impact of Fed stimulus, unemployment checks and tax refunds.
Second-quarter revenue grew about 64% Y/Y to $1.92 billion. But excluding bitcoin revenue, net revenue of $1.05 billion was flat Y/Y. Meanwhile, 2Q adjusted EPS declined 14.3% to $0.18. The strong growth in Cash App revenue was offset by the 17% decline in the company’s core higher-margin Seller business to $723 million. Square’s gross payment volume or GPV fell 15% Y/Y to $22.8 billion.
The Seller segment was impacted by lower volumes as several businesses were forced to close amid the shelter-in-place orders triggered by the pandemic. However, the company stated that the Sellers business improved with each month in the quarter as restrictions eased and more sellers adapted to the contactless platform.
Meanwhile, GPV from online channels grew over 50% and accounted for 25% of the Seller GPV reflecting the rapid adaption of online solutions by the sellers. (See SQ stock analysis on TipRanks)
Recently, the company announced two new features called On-Demand Pay for employees and Instant Payments for employers. These new features will further integrate Square’s Seller and Cash App ecosystems to offer financial services and simplify payroll.
Loop Capital analyst Kenneth Hill has just initiated coverage of Square with a Buy rating and a price target of $169. The analyst sees a great deal of upside ahead in the fintech company, driven by further investment in the business and monetization of the Cash App. Hill also believes that on the Seller side, the SMB network should "hold in well and continue a sustained recovery."
The Street has a cautious Moderate Buy consensus for Square with 14 Buys, 12 Holds and 2 Sells. Square stock has risen a stellar 149% year-to-date, so the average analyst price target of $151.77 indicates a possible downside of 2.5% ahead. Bottom line
Both PayPal and Square have strong growth prospects in the digital payments world. If we look at the Street’s consensus and further upside potential, PayPal stock appears to be a better choice than Square currently.
To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/paypal-vs-square-fintech-stock-102007024.html
Instead of honest democracy or free-market meritocracy, we truly live under rule by parasites. (This term is not meant to be derogatory but to be apt. I suppose many, if not most of us, would opt to be one of the parasites, if given the choice.)
Trying to describe how the financial and political elites receive unearned wealth and power can get complicated very quickly. To find a simple but rigorous theory to cover most major features of the beast requires looking at it the right way.
By and large, how it works is that:
The elites use state power to prop up the values of money, debt, and other financial assets artificially, to benefit those who issue them, i.e. themselves. When some over-valued asset eventually must crash, the entire economy suffers the loss of jobs, business and savings. Example: The Bank Account Public illusion.
A commercial-bank 'deposit' is as good as money. You will get all your money back, any time you want. Reality.
'Deposits' are really loans to the bank which lends them to borrowers, some of whom may never pay them back. Another danger is that savers may ask for their money at any time, while loans by the bank tend to have longer-term maturities. How to bridge myth and reality.
An truly free-market system would drive banks to communicate expectations openly. A simple example could be having 'depositors' expect to lose money if the bank makes bad loans. The problem with such an honest system, of course, is that top politicians and bankers wouldn't benefit much, since people would likely put much less money in banks. The confidence trick.
The government props up the illusion, while it can. Classic tools over the centuries include allowing banks to collude by rescuing each other in a crisis, bailing banks out with public money, and providing deposit insurance. If this gives bankers the incentives to take too much risk, bankers redeem themselves by being a lender to the government. Since both sets of elites benefit, what problem is there? (In recent decades investment banks and money market funds have formed a shadow banking system
which plays an equivalent role. While the last US commercial-bank bust happened in the 1980s' savings-and-loan crisis, the last shadow-bank variety occurred in 2007-8.) Analysis.
While credit is indeed crucial to economic growth, to use government power to prop up the values of loans to banks, and then to rely on bureaucrats and their rules to limit risk-taking by bankers is a distortion of the credit market. It is the driver of much human misery. Central planning, somehow, always benefits the few at the expense of the many, even if it claims to do just the opposite. Example: Government Bonds Public illusion.
The 'full faith and credit' of the government stands behind the IOU it issues to you. Your IOU is as good as money. Reality.
Since much public debt is almost as trusted as money, incurring this debt is almost as good as printing money. Politicians thus have an incentive to maximize the issuance of debt to receive free political capital, even if this destabilizes their own system in the long run. Public debt all over the world goes only up. Even though powerful governments can keep their debt bubbles going for a century or more, those incentives mean that their IOUs will eventually lose value, one way or another. How to bridge myth and reality.
Even aside from the moral problems of 'money' creation and putting burden on people who can't yet vote, public debt should at least be allowed to sink or swim in the capital markets. If a government incurs too much debt, savers would be incentivized to punish it by demanding a higher yield, and politicians would in turn be incentivized to cut back borrowing. The confidence trick.
When savers get too wary of public debt, the central bank steps in to buy it with freshly printed money, thus propping up the value of these IOUs. This is done in the name of 'monetary policy,' either by buying public debt directly as 'open market' operations, or, more frequently, by supplying banks with cheap new money so they will buy it. Most of the time, savers can't fight city hall, and will thus tend to buy and hold IOUs, further limiting the downside risk of their values. This entire system thus amounts to a bubble. Analysis.
It doesn't matter how powerful a government is -- Public debt always crashes eventually. The dominant global empires of Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain were destroyed by this crash in their days.
(In the case of Britain the relevant 'public debt' took the form of paper pound sterling that was officially an IOU for a fixed amount of gold.) No one believes US debt is really payable with anything close to the purchasing power savers and foreign central banks used to buy it, although by the time its value can no longer be propped up, most politicians and voters who have benefited from issuing it will have been gone. Example: Money Public illusion.
Central banks issue and destroy currency to manage economic output for the benefit of the public. At least in the West, proper management has resulted in low and constant inflation that has justified the public's evident trust in currency's value. Reality.
The real job description of the central bank is to safeguard the state-bank alliance. It holds power over the most central asset, money, in order to discourage both politicians and bankers from issuing assets too fast and thus endangering the system. The goal is well-paced harvesting of the fruits of real work. Over the decades, prices only move in one direction: up. How to bridge myth and reality.
Unfortunately, there is no way to remove the incentives to abuse the issuance of money while the state or a banking cartel has any role in the issuance. The confidence trick.
The problem of holding up the public's trust in currency was solved in a simple fashion by the classical gold and silver standards in their day, while the authorities had enough precious metals to back their paper. Today, the central bank needs to keep the return on 'safe' assets (e.g. short-term Treasuries, insured deposits) above the return on non-state-issued assets, i.e. gold, silver and Bitcoin. (Recent books like 'Gold Wars' and 'The Gold Cartel' have come up with good evidence of central-bank suppression of precious metal prices by trading derivatives.) In this it seems to succeed most of the time, but fail spectacularly at other times. It also needs to keep the return on 'safe' assets below the return on risky assets like stocks, over the long term. The goal of both operations is to use state power to force savers to take risks and help prop up the bubble economy. (Ever wonder why financial crisis always seems to come back?) When you hear of 'tightening' or 'loosening' the money supply, this control is what's really going on. So, it's not that the public trusts currency; most feel they have no choice
It's not, as most mainstream economists claim, that state-controlled money is required for modern economic growth. The Italian Renaissance and Scottish 'free-banking' era were counter-examples. It's really the other way round. The real productivity of the modern world gives value to the financial assets issued by the elites, and thus help sustain their financial inflation, at least until the perverse incentives destabilizes the system anyway. In the Middle Ages, money was physical gold and silver -- when there was no wealth to extract, the state couldn't create its financial inflation. Final Thoughts
A key feature of this system is that it doesn't matter if you understand it. You still must gamble
, or risk your savings being eaten away by inflation. The gamble by the public as a whole is certain to end in loss, since the elites will always destabilize asset values to the point of collapse. The lose-lose proposition works the same way as literal highway robbery -- you can certainly hold on to your money; you just can't keep your life at the same time.
That said, there are times when the elites are likely to be forced to devalue their money, and with it all other conventional assets, against gold, silver and Bitcoin, in order to hold on to power. This makes it statistically profitable to hold non-state-issued assets at those times. (An analogy would be standing at the front of the line to redeem deposits for cash during a bank run, or to redeem pound sterling for gold at the Bank of England just before Britain was forced off the gold standard.) Necessarily, only a minority will profit from this bet, but its existence is a healthy incentive that pushes the elites to minimize financial inflation.
This devaluation is conceptually the same as 'banana republics' having to devalue their currency against the dollar because they've printed too much. The typical way to do this is to strongly deny any prospect of devaluation until the very moment, devalue as fast as possible (and devalue enough to keep their system stable for a while,) and deny any further devaluations in future. So, it's perhaps no accident that the price movements of gold, silver and Bitcoin have been long and gradual declines most of the time, punctuated by sharp rises over short periods, and rising overall over the long term.
The system is an 'open conspiracy.' Instead of secrecy, it relies on a combination of state power and ignorance by the public. The only sustainable path to achieving a healthy and just system is for the public to wake up. But the devaluation of its issued money against non-state monies shows that, in a subtle but profoundly real sense, the system is a paper tiger. Since the power of the modern imperial system depends necessarily on various alliances of self-interest as well as the perception of its support for classically liberal ideals, if enough people, and people in the right places, refuse to be intimidated, or expose its nature, the system must make concessions, and make the world perhaps a little better.
This possibility of piecewise progress exists in all corners of the system, at most times. Here, then, is where our hope must be for the future. It will be a long battle indeed, and we must be prepared for the entire duration.
[Video Essay Script] - Links will be used in video as images and segments. https://docs.google.com/document/d/12OX9TTfLhgNEfdDaMWfsHYyAMzTx9G7bSwu_0Ke1Ksc/edit?usp=sharing
Introduction to Modern Fascism
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”- Nazi Propagandists, Joseph Goebbels.
Axioms are our base assumptions about the world. They act as filters for new information coming into our consciousness.
In classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question. As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning.
We use these axiomatic assumptions to build our internal models of the world around us. They allow us to compare new information we receive from the outside with our internal narratives, which helps us to decide whether to reject or accept that new information. They are, for want of a better world, your "common sense" beliefs.
So how do you go about changing a relatively normal person's core beliefs and base assumptions to the point of rejecting their fellow citizens as traitors, committing acts of murderous terrorist or vigilante violence like Fascist white supremacists running down protesters in acts of terror, ISIS beheadings or mass genocide?
Shock Treatment and Slow Repetition
When I was a child I was subjected to regular mental and physical abuse from my dad. I would also see my mother repeatedly beaten up and then flee to a women's refuge where I would stay with her.
Each time my mom left, whenever I visited my dad at weekends, he would constantly try to pressure and manipulate me into convincing my mom to get back together with him.
This never worked of course. But what it did do, is make me highly sensitive to manipulation techniques.
I was fascinated by people like the magician Derren Brown and the economist Naomi Klein - who both reveal the tricks of the trade used in the advertising and marketing industries to convince people.
One way of changing people into killing machines or obedient sheep is through a big shock to the system, like how electroshock therapy allows for a clean slate to rebuild peoples intern mental models.
Psychedelics are another way, having a similar effect in the brain. Encouraged by the alt right and alt-light influencers like Jordan Peterson and Rebel Wisdom as they try to “Red Pill” people (an expression taken from the film The Matrix as a metaphor for revealing revealing the truth about the world).
They use this shock and disorientation as a way to prepare a “blank-slate” in order to rebuild peoples internal axiomatic models with different core beliefs.
Remaking people by shocking them into obedience and gas-lighting them about their existing internal models, making them seem irrational, silly or outdated. Reducing them to a mental state of a child and then rebuilding them with a new ideology and worldview, known as “shock therapy”.
As Naomi Klein explains
in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
, these techniques work on larger scales with use of trauma and shock to influence political outcomes has been used since at least Milton Friedman coined the term “Economic Shock Treatment”. He advised that politicians push through painful and unpopular policies all at once during a time of crisis, before people could regain their footing.
The technique is used in economic markets on the large scale, and also against individuals on a small scale with individuals too. Economics and politics is just human interaction on a larger scale, after all.
Regular repetition and gentle suggestions of ideas can also instil new axiomatic models and core beliefs into people's minds. As Derren Brown demonstrates how powerful subtly suggestions can be alone, without the need for hypnosis, shocks or drugs.
But used in combination, shock and repetition can shift people until they have moved their positions, perceptions and beliefs about the world, to a place they could never have imagined.
But luckily once you deconstruct the deception and understand how the trick works, the illusion falls apart.
Defining and Deconstructing Modern Fascism
Firstly, we must define Modern Fascism. Modern Fascism ticks every box of the traditional definitions in Umberto Eco’s essay Ur-Fascism
, and not only does it fulfil every criteria, it reveals other motivational forces and has evolved to include new aspects, and has changed into something worse, while it’s main weakness remain the same - the fact that it is primarily motivated by weakness.
As General Franco
said in a 1938 interview with Henri Massis: "Fascism presents, wherever it manifests itself, characteristics which are varied to the extent that countries and national temperaments vary. It is essentially a defensive reaction of the organism, a manifestation of the desire to live, of the desire not to die, which at certain times seizes a whole people. So each people reacts in its own way, according to its conception of life… What can it have in common with Hitlerism, which was, above all, a reaction against the state of things created by the defeat, and by the abdication and the despair that followed it?"
This quote perfectly illustrates the transient nature of the ideology, but also the core motivations of Fascism. It is an ideology based on the assumption of weakness which yearns for restoration of a past greatness or to get revenge and recognition. But the way that it manifests itself is different in each place it takes hold.
Therefore the aim of this isn’t to make the case that any particular party or country has embraced out-right fascism (plenty of other people
have made that case already), the aim is to reveal the underlying motivations, highlight threats and weaknesses and analyse the less obvious negative effects of Modern Fascism.
History Doesn’t Repeat, But It Rhymes
A false equivalence that is often used is that Liberal Imperialism is just the same as Fascism. And while it is true that imperialists use fascist dictators to extract cheap labour and resources and also dominate smaller counties in a similar way to how fascist empires aspire to rule, the key difference is that the populations of those countries are not gripped by the same fear based delusions.
And therefore more Liberal democracies are better equipped to hold their imperial position of power long term because they are better able to assess risks and react accordingly, rather than over-react based on paranoia and competing egos under excessive pressure.
This false equivalence was also used in 1930’s Germany, because far-left Communists had been co opted and infiltrated by Fascists. They would repeat the mantra that “the Social Democrats were the real racists”.
Contrary to the assumptions of most people, Fascism, as an ideology and political system of government is very distinct to white supremacy. It does of course include white supremecists, but In fact includes many other groups who have been co-opted by Fascist propaganda
, or who implicitly support and enable their agenda
Examples of modern opposition which has been repeatedly infiltrated or just simply made up by Fascists include innumerable conspiracy theories, police groups like Blue Lives Matter, militant Black nationalists, the Boogaloo movement who call for a race war, the “Proud Boys” and even sometimes supposed Anarchists
, far-left Communists
and Left Accelerationists
Motivations of Fascism
Fascism distilled down to its core reason for existing is the suppression of opposition who represent workers rights and economic justice. So they patently DON’T look after their own people. They con them into submission of the state by generating jingoistic fear of “the other” - whoever is convenient on that day to blame for their problems.
Fascism is is an economic shock doctrine upon the inhabitants of the country. We don't spread fascist propaganda in tip-pot dictators because we care about the indiginous people there. We install Fascist dictators in order to remove workers rights and open up access to their natural resources.
Artificial moral panics can be engineered and real disasters used to allow corrupt oligarchs
and financial predators to consolidate power further by buying up small innovative businesses who don’t have the excess capital to survive the turmoil on their own without external support. Or as a way to eradicate public services by sabotaging them and building mistrust.
They are used to erode faith in public services and institutions by rich people who simply want to pay less tax and don’t see why they should subsidise other human beings who haven’t had the same luck as them. So a major motivation of fascism is to suppress the opposition left-wing party who represent workers rights and egalitarian freedoms.
Populists claim to be against free trade and to some extent they are, but whatever they do will fail because they are interfering with the markets, so they will retreat to the power of market domination. They use their threats of trade barriers as more just more shock treatment for markets, rather than protecting actual jobs or industries.
This is a trick that has been played by Neoliberals too
. But while Neoliberals use fascism as a tool for opening markets to Imperialism, they differ from Libertarians, not only because they embrace guns and weed, but they are starting from different positions to achieve the same goal;
Neoliberals seek to remove already existing public services and workers rights that lift bargaining power. But Libertarians want to STOP the government from ever providing those services and investments into the poor or enshrining workers rights.
Modern Fascist Ideology has TWO Core Reasons to Exist; Fear and Freed.
I have been researching and analysing how economic systems differ, using a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threads). For each economic system I tried to be as neutral, fair and balanced as possible - which included Fascism.
I might seem strange that someone who is anti-Fascist would want to explore the strenghts and opportunities of Fascist ideologies, but in doing so it reveals the real weaknesses and threats which are too important for us to ignore.
So what exactly IS Fascism? Is it just an economic doctrine or a personal philosophy about the world? The answer is both.
The ideology has TWO core reasons to exist, and TWO distinct audiences types - with one based primarily on fear and the other greed, with each having a malignant and symbiotic relationship
with each other. Fear -
Authoritarian/Conservative Fascists Greed -
There are very few people who actually buy into full Fascist ideology, most believe a watered down version of which resembles Conservatism or right-wing populism or accelerationism, and most of them genuinely believe they aren’t fascist, even though they are being constantly fed subtle suggestions fascist ideology or that align with their plans.
But the most ironic thing is that these groups are mostly being used by the second group of rich Libertarians globalist elites pulling a confidence trick on the host nation. Often posing “anti-establishment” conspiracists who actually uphold the establishment through misinformation. See: Russia Today and Youtube Bitcoin and Gold shills who subtly suggest fascist talking points.
With those rich Libertarians at the top more than happy for those below them, who they deem less worthy, living in even more delusional ideologies with fake enemies to fear, often resembling traditional Christian but values wrapped in modern conspiracies with added elements of “satanic panic”.
Modern Fascism has clearly inspired the modern day equivalents of Brownshirts and Blackshirts, self-styled vigilantes like QAnon, The Proud Boys and “The Boogaloo” - white nationalist violent extremists who want to accelerate towards a full-on race war.
It has also infiltrated numerous alternative groups, such as hyper-evangelical “end times” cults, alternative health scenes, internet conspiracy scenes like flat earth
and occult magic.
A commonly missing hallmark of fascism that is present in history during the rise of fascism is a controlled opposition and explicit suppression of opposition. This distorts a healthy society and has unforeseen consequences and blowback.
Fantasies and political thought bubbles are self delusional custom realities resembling an episode of Black Mirror
. They act as coping and escape mechanisms. Especially during the Covid 19 lock-down, these tendencies have gone into overdrive
with massive events entering the real world featuring David Ike leading protesters alongside fascists as people ignore rising Fascism
, climate change destruction and Covid deaths tolls.
Using disasters like Covid or irrational scare tactics such as the "Satanic Panic" style Fascist propaganda from QAnon
, can shock people using their fear and disgust response, while making them distrust the news - allowing the government to evade valid criticism from experts while suggesting to people that government public services are inherently evil or Communist.
This type of propaganda is a Libertarians wet dream - making a population not only give up on tax funded public services, but actively fear
them. An example is Trump trying to discredit and defund the US Postal Service and other public institutions and regulatory bodies.
Anti Semitism has been used throughout history by those in power to provoke an “us vs. them” mentality, leading to today's establishment still sanctioning and allowing Qanon on major media platforms, provoking and agitating terrorist attackers from the far-left
and the far-right.
Those in power in fascist regimes allow and encourage mistrust in the mainstream media, while the long-tail niche political and interest groups keep people separated from each other, who each live in their own custom realities while the real elites continue to dominate and increase their power.
With each bubble framing realities based of identity, race, class, nationality, or even subculture special interests like alternative medicine and “gamer bro” culture, so that when they interact in real life or online, they are speaking past each other because they don’t even agree on the basic principles of how they view society.
The Fatal Flaws of Living in a Fantasy
While the main flaws and weaknesses of Fascism remain the same, they are in-fact exacerbated by this new hybrid model. It’s main weakness is the very fact that it is motivated by weaknesses, fear and greed - rather than true strength, self-confidence or heroic benevolent power, as their adherents like to believe.
A misconception of fascists themselves that it is based on strength, when it is actually based on weakness - even when the driving force is greed rather than fear. Libertarian fascists want to extract labour and materials at cheaper prices, while inflating their own asset values.
In other words; international financiers with little allegiance to any country. Ironically the very type of people who Conservative fascists
claim to be opposed to.
Fascism claims to make society more successful, but it actually accelerates the destruction of the culture, country or people, rather than preserving and conserving it, because it betrays a fundamental weakness of insecurity. Competitors and rivals can easily see through the charade of and take advantage.
If anything does the exact opposite. Russian and China are clearly goading Western nations into becoming more divided and totalitarian, as they themselves benefit from becoming more Liberal and open and reap the competitive advantages that brings. See Kraut’s excellent video about Trump on China
as an example. Keynesian investment
in the country and people, giving workers more rights, opportunities and a more bargaining power is what makes a country successful and innovative, rather than the faux Keynesian policy of giving kickbacks to corrupt officials for government contracts and widening inequality by supporting the already rich, rather than the ordinary people.
Who Benefits in This Memetic War?
Who is going to war with who? Who is winning? A modern adage is that tankies are just fascists because of their support of authoritarian proto-fascist leaders and regimes who often claim to be Communist.
But from my experience talking to actual fascists, they crave a more multi-polar world where other strong leaders rise up as competition and form alliances with dictators.
So to me, it looks like Fascists are the real Tankies; wishing our enemies be stronger and wanting to accelerate towards race war or civil war that weakens the society.
Not only did Donald Trump have knowledge of Russia allowing ISIS bounties on US troops and withhold that from the public while courting Putin, I have personally heard white supremacists backing extremists Islamists in Discord servers.
Trump jumped to the defense
of the people who put a 17 year old with a gun against civil rights protesters and assumed the intent before saying that the outcome should be decided by the legal system.
They share common values and beliefs like Anti Semitism, accelerationist end-times fantasies, patriarchal traditional values and a fear of outside progressive cultures. In fact modern extremists white supremecist groups share recruitment and terrorist strategies and tactics with militant islamists.
You could argue that it was inflicted by Russian or Imperialist propagandists onto the German people in order to take control of larger areas of Europe after the destabilisation of war.
Hitler and Stalin came to a non agression truce called The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
, which as was a secret non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that enabled those two powers to partition Poland between them.
The pact, signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov was officially known as the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
They divided Poland under the banner of fighting “Polish Fascism” nearly a century ago with both sides ultimately lying to their own people about spreading freedom while being authoritarian to their core and being able to blame “the other” as being the cause of all their problems.
But these days fascism seems to be a rogue meme
that no longer serves any particular group. It is pathologically damaging to any society that it happens to grip.
Even the aforementioned Libertarians and accelerationists who think they are benefiting are only temporarily gaining by market price volatility. They ultimately lose through the blowback effect of the whirlpool they create.
Psychopathy, Alienation Nihilism and Insecurity
It is well established
that Fascist dictators are driven by psychopathic characters and tendencies. They either don’t care about the truth, or disregard it if it’s not convenient to their narrative.
In totalitarian despotic societies
facts are reversed. As George Orwell proclaimed throughout his writings; “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”.
Similar to how authoritarian Starlinist Communists harnessed people’s alienation and tricked them into thinking that it’s possible for the state to fully decommodify everything without having markets, money to account for things
, domination or hierarchy or try to convince people that a revolution is just around the corner
But of course, a council representative is still the head of an organisation, for all intents and purposes, because they wield executive power over others, even if the name has changed. Markets are emergent properties when groups of humans want or need a certain commodity when it becomes available.
But while both Communist and Fascist ideologies are based on lies that harness peoples alienation, fear and envy, Fascism is also especially to the weak. It is attractive to those who want to be strong again (or were never to begin with), or those who want to have a strong leader to help them.
Fascism betrays to others the inherent weakness. Like the insecure kid in school who lashes out - others around can see that it is because of their own insecurity which makes them appear even weaker. Fascism is a psychopathy driven by insecurity.
When people become so absorbed in an ideology there is a phenomena of people to self identify as an actual ideology? This produces a phenomena called Identity Protective Cognition
, where people's self worth becomes attached to a belief system or ideology. So that when new information contradicts their worldview it is seen as an attack on the person themselves.
Therefore irrational, emotional quick fix thinking is the default when there is too much pressure and they feel attacked. They no longer use their slow effortful reflective thinking. (See Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow
This approach has parallels in evolutionary biology, in which a central issue is the ability to adapt to changing environments. Competency - over-competitiveness in management causes chaos which STOPS hierarchies of competence. (Insert video clips of Sapolsky on Chaos vs Reductionism etc. timestamps linked).
Fascists try to reduce variability in culture and outcomes - causes weakness of less adaptability - because as Sapolsky explains, the variability is not just noise in that type of system CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems
) - the variability IS the system
. It is fractal and scale free. The noise and variability is an intrinsic part of the system.
But the system doesn’t function properly when the agreed-upon parameters that individuals believe to be true aren’t universal enough to have any form of group coherence. Birds and swarms
of animals can produce amazing complex phenomena, which are greater than the sum of their individual parts. There is a “network effect” once a certain threshold and certain conditions and rules are met.
These rules can be very simple, like repulsion or attraction, or staying a certain distance apart while traveling in a similar direction, but collectively they create patterns that emerge with complexity
and I dear say, a certain amount of beauty
So what happens when millions of people are being brainwashed and misled by cults that are leaving them with a reduced ability to make decisions?
Giving them shit-for-brains just so that some rich people at the top can pay a few percentage less tax? That is the sign of a deeply sick system that cannot continue to function effectively. It is sick on so many levels.
Emergence, Complexity and Human Evolution - A Social-Biological Analysis
The problem with viewing the world through only one lens of analysis (or bucket of knowledge) is that you can fall into unnecessarily reductive thinking. (Sapolsky clips)
I describe myself as a philosophical anarchist. Which does NOT mean I want total chaos and disorder - it means I want the optimal solution to emerge - including the influences and experiences from the bottom-up.
I also think that a bottom-up (or anarchist) lens of analysis is necessary for society to run cohesively in an optimal state. If it is repressed it distorts the overall picture of reality for everyone - similar to a CEO that doesn’t listen to employees and workers on the ground.
I interpret as constantly holding authority to account - to justify its existence and reason for dominating others. I also believe it is every citizen's responsibility to hold authority to account. This would be necessary under ANY economic system or society.
Anarchists also believe in stigmenric, rhizomatic action to make the world better, organically, not from a top-down authority, which fascism seeks to instill on society.
Human beings are collectively parts of a bigger chaotic but stable system known as a CAS (Complex Adaptive System
). CAS’s are chaotic systems that can reach periodic steady states of equilibrium
As Professor Sapolsky explains, humans uniquely exist with a mixture of both communal and individualistic tendencies; known in the scientific world as Tournament vs. pair bonding
All the evidence suggests that this tendency has greatly improved our success as a species. But those tendencies distorted too far one way or another lead to pathologies and the worst collective misdeeds and wars.
Because as Professor Sapolsky also explains in his brilliant lecture series (which I have condensed the pertinent parts of into a 4 part
YouTube video) about CAS; the signals coming from the randomness is being suppressed or repressed, it interferes with the functioning of the system.
Pressure in the system makes the patterns more complex but at a certain point
of increasing pressure in the complex system, it stops being linear and the doubling of patterns and periodicity totally stops. Order completely begins to break down because of the butterfly effect.
Fascist regimes fettishise order and rigidity but in a complex adaptive system, the noise IS the phenomena, not a byproduct to be discarded, ignored or repressed.
The majority of people on the right genuinely want to help society by bringing order, using top-down draconian measures if necessary. Whereas the left generally wants to help society by proactively building from the bottom up.
I think both of these approaches are necessary to be balanced properly for a healthy functioning society to emerge.
It seems our tendency to harness both traits and to focus intently on one or the other is our greatest collective strength, while also being our greatest weakness.
And similarly, on an individual level I believe our greatest strengths and weakness are the fact that our brains work efficiently by categorising information to filter out the unimportant bits that slow us down.
As the book by Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow
, brilliantly explains, slow deliberate, consideration thinking takes energy and time, so our brains developed filters which come out as biases. This is an inherent weakness of the human brain.
Now imagine the butterfly effect on the life of just one person who is influenced by the brainworms of QAnon cults or conspiracies
which distorts their internal models of the world which they use to filter information about the world
The sad and shocking stories on forums like QanonCasualties
show the devastating effects on their close friends, family and work life - amplified by their ever increasingly disconnected lives. (insert Flat earther clip - zoom in on idiot rolling head
Now scale that up to the level of a whole of a society, a country, or the world? This is a collective madness to cope with and avoid the reality facing us as a species.
Only collective action with agreed basic facts to work from will do to avoid the total descent into actual chaos and destruction.
TLDR; Conclusion and Final Thoughts
In this essay I will have put forward the case for the following four key arguments being true and I have present supporting evidence to explain the logical reasoning for why our current definitions need updating and the threat levels reassed, from a non-hysterical but critical perspective. The overall claims I made are:
- Modern Fascism has taken over right-wing populism and bears all the hallmarks of early 20th Century Fascist ideologies.
- The ideology has two main reasons to exist, and two distinct audiences which both have a symbiotic, pathological relationship with each other.
- The main flaws and weaknesses of fascist ideology remain the same as ever - that fascism is motivated by irrational fears, greed and self deception.
- Modern Fascism has major unforeseen damaging consequences for individuals, governments, organisational dynamics, and society at large.
This reality is something I think a lot of fascists, ultra-nationalists and people who have been influenced by the propaganda know deep down on some level already - that they are avoiding the realities of pandemics and ecological harms of ignoring science and reality as it is.
They ignore it because fantasies are simpler to understand. And a narrative based on fear of the other is a simpler way to to process a complex world.
It is also attractive to the part of us that is drawn to conflict and drama - that hunger for something genuinely interesting to happen.
But I would argue from my experience that the beautiful complexity of life in all it’s shades of grey is much more interesting, fun and genuinely fulfilling to understand and engage in, even if it might be harder to deal with and even harder to explain
I believe doing so is also vital for the very survival of our species - we can no longer afford to live in a fantasy, we need to collectively take responsibility for the world as it exists in reality.
Thank you to my two Patrons: Carmen Jongepier E.V. Roske Original Script on Patreon
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