This Diamanda Galás song is a meditation on the after-effects of nationalist fascism, how its enforcers run their campaigns of hate-filled purity over the bodies of those they target. The lyrics are haunting, a stark warning of what lies in store:
‘They threw us down the stairs / Like they wipe crumbs off a tablecloth …’
The message is clear. Once unleashed, the shadows of fascism take over, ugly and mean-spirited. The pain grows, the tragedy intensifies, and it takes a long time to put the demons back in the box.
It’s happening now. The alt-right movements / far-right populist administrations across the world are making their move, plunging the world in horror in the name of self-righteous ideologies and other ill-conceived concepts — in the name of God and country and blood and soil and national(ist) pride that has little to be proud of when you measure it against all things decent.
Stop the fascists in their tracks before this haunting lament and songs like it become the soundtrack to which the world moves, the blueprint for the world’s psyche. Apply uncompromising reason. Stop the extremists from advancing with the aid of respected institutions, and not through short-pants totalitarianism that demands all things offensive canceled. Every call to cancel culture is a missed opportunity, a dent in the shield designed to push back fascism and all things bigoted. We fail to gather support from the crucial middle where the pivot rests. Yes, it’s a zero-sum game, and we had better figure out how to play it before the far-right populists entrench themselves.
Bottom line, to stop fascism and bigotry in their tracks we have to stop them in their tracks, and to stop them in their tracks we can’t tear pages from their playbook — and if we do, get ready to burn those pages as soon as the far-right populist fascists are in the trash can. Clean up our act to restore a semblance of normality and decency to our affairs. The dirty tricks we may use to get rid of the fascists can’t be turned into the new norm, a ‘justified’ and ‘institutionalised’ new pride — we can’t afford that. We’re not replacing one self-righteous creed with another. We’re aiming for a normal world — not business as usual, mind you (the icing on the ironic cake) but something that takes another shot at getting things done through the mandate of open society, but without laying everything to waste, as had been the case until now.
The dead look on, shaking their heads in consternation. Their demise is a clear message to the living on how things work in the wake of nationalist fascism, a testament of tragedy we can’t ignore much longer, not without a price. Dare we waste our opportunity to defeat the enemies of open society just so we can satisfy our ideological cravings? Dare we be ignorant of the dangers, risking a return to a time of shadows?
Stop fascists and bigots in their tracks, do whatever it takes to get the job done, and trash our dirty tricks when the deed is done, if a better and more functional world is what we want.
From your socratic Spin Doctor,
Eyes open, mind sharp.
PS – For a translation of the song’s Greek lyrics segment, see the Youtube video comments section..