The Swamp is powered by Vocal creators. You support Thomas Sebacher by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

The Swamp is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

A Bleak and Troubling Outlook

The Degradation and Dissolution of Society

Where are we going? This question has been asked repeatedly for endless centuries, eons, millennia. As a historian, I have analyzed repeatedly the outcomes of several societies, as they spiral towards different events, different futures, but what I realize is forever the same. We are headed towards disaster. There is no questioning that there is currently a form of fascism in the world, a new totalitarianism springing up everywhere, in democracies and autocracies, in flailing political systems unqualified and poorly designed to fulfill the needs of the people. I have researched Latin America to find that repeatedly, societies which totter on the knife's edge, will collapse. We have been doing so for a decade. We have seen increasing political and economic discontent since the 2008 recession. We face another recession in the near future. We are in fact overdue for another major economic downturn. While observing the economy, this month has been one of the most turbulent ones since the collapse, and yet economists voice no concerns that the instability of the stock market could be a bad sign.

I have repeatedly seen democratic governance collapse because of economic crises, and indeed Brazil's recent economic situation is very much a reason for Bolsonaro's election (him being a noted right-wing authoritarian). There is, for the United States, little, if any, hope for the emergence from this turbulent period of social transformation. The government has decided to define gender as assigned at birth, and has refused to continue funding gender studies and protect transgender individuals. Religious extremism is rising at an ever-increasing rate. People are becoming more and more fearful, more and more afraid, and fascism only works in a society which is afraid. Fascism seeks to make people afraid for their lives so that dissent becomes impossible, it seeks to placate only those individuals necessary for the proper function of the society and the nation, and those who do not fit their model of productivity and subsistence must be exterminated. Those who are not afraid must die. We are seeing an increasing stream of hatred and violence against the oppressed masses. This is a bad sign. We have to realize that hatred towards the oppressed is the mechanism through which they are silenced, and under a totalitarian state, silence is the goal. Foucault, in his attempts to redefine repression, strengthened the hypothesis that he attacked. He stated that defining new categories and redefining categories allowed the people within these categories a "legitimate" or "real" existence. Instead, the social power determined what could be within the categories, and while these categories were used as a weaponized identity later, they were still originally defined and structured by forces that seek to undermine them.

Social identities are easily seized upon by the oppressors and co-opted into legitimate social movements, whereas initially they were defined as illegitimate. This allows the social oppressors to redefine what is and is not proper within the identities, creating a "legitimate" homosexual or a "legitimate" woman, or a "legitimate" gender. Meanwhile, the main movements of resistance are within the "illegitimate" homosexual, the "illegitimate" woman, the "illegitimate" gender. Each resistance movement was "illegitimate," and in the definition of "illegitimate" groups, we find the instruments for their oppression as well as their liberation. For instance, some people indicate that women must be cisgender and heterosexual to be considered "legitimately" within "women." For reference, when I use quotes, I am talking about the concept or construct "legitimate" and "women." For a person to be "homosexual," they must not be "man" or "woman," but not "agender," or "nonbinary." It is difficult, then to define people thusly, but the theories which do so are primarily liberal. We see gender not as a social, but an individual problem, and so in order to solve the problem of gender identity, society at first sought to define "gender." So when we defined "gender" we could put individuals into that category. The dangerous trend we see now is that to discuss "gender" is becoming "illegitimate," and therefore that gender may cease to exist legally and officially. In defining what gender is, we determine what it is not—it is not an individual association with a group outside of the zone of social control (and purely psychologically). It is an individual responsibility.

We come, then, to the final product of our degrading liberal societies. We associate individuals with their actions. For instance, one who commits "sodomy" is a "sodomite." Each of these terms gain a social significance and hold connotative meanings and moral associations. A person who commits "sodomy" must be a "sodomite," using this example from Foucault. A "sodomite" is a person who is moralistically wrong. Therefore, those who commit "sodomy" are "sodomites" and thus those who commit "sodomy" are moralistically incorrect. It is our goal, therefore, not to remedy the behavior but treat the individual who exhibits it, because we associate "sodomy" with "individual morality." Each individual is responsible, in a liberal society, for their own actions, and therefore is responsible for their morality. We may argue, then, that the "sodomite" is immoral, and that a "murderer" is immoral, and therefore that they are intrinsically immoral. But who is a soldier? In this example, we do not associate murder with the soldier, but with the army. We do not try individual soldiers for their crimes, but we try the officers who command them to do such actions with war crimes. It stands to reason, that where we individuals put in a certain situation forced to act a certain way, that we must not be responsible for our actions.

However, I digress. The root of the problem, it seems to me, is this liberalism, this idea that each individual is responsible for their actions, and as such, we can pretend that we are moralistically better than individuals who seem to commit immoral actions. We can deride those who voted for fascists, we can pretend that society is moralistically inclined, made up of individuals who are looking to maintain the standards of the society, that individuals in society are individually corrupt and immoral. And when we think this way, we ignore the entire problem, the problem which allowed us to get this far along the road to authoritarianism. That problem is not individual, it is not a moral feature, and it does not have the capacity of morality. The problem is not that we are not committed to democracy or that democracy is not important to the individuals. It is not even that it is not important to the whole society—the problem, as we must understand it, is that society is capitalist. The problem is that there are underlying structural issues which lead to the rise of authoritarianism, and that we are powerless to stop them without significant social reorganization which would destabilize society itself, tearing apart the social fabric. We do not want to acknowledge that our society itself is responsible for the rise of authoritarianism, that the rise is inevitable, and that any individual actions cannot prevent it. We cannot change it by voting and we cannot change it by individual acts of terrorism. We may only combat the spread of authoritarianism by rising up as a people and overthrowing the system which makes it necessary. That is, we must commit to revolution, and we must overthrow the ruling government. This is the only way. This is the only solution. We are coming to the knife-edge, and no individual can save us now. The classes must arise and commit the final crime by force of arms. And only in the ashes of our current society can authoritarianism and fascism be destroyed.

Read next: Article 3
Thomas Sebacher
Thomas Sebacher

A fiction writer and editorialist from the Midwest who writes poetry, short stories, and non-fiction. I provide leftist views and social commentaries upon wealth class, and equality.

Now Reading
A Bleak and Troubling Outlook
Read Next
Article 3