So I am deviating from my normal topics of autism and aphantasia, but still sticking to my guns of looking at humanity’s context. The problem with ultra-nationalism is that it is completely predictable and often cyclical in nature. The feelings and attitudes don’t just blossom into existence, they are already there and people with power frequently utilize this to their advantage. The reality is, 50% of the population is below average intelligence, this is a statistical reality, that is not a judgment call, but with that comes a decreased ability to perceive cause and effect. As the world becomes more nuanced, more complicated, more grey, it also creates more fear, trepidation and anxiety in the population. As I have stated many times, no individual human can fully understand objective reality, we have limited senses and limited intellectual capability, the fact is our primate mind is still adapted to the African savannah and many trappings of modernity are showing some individuals as being maldaptive to it. I am from a sensory perspective, there is simply too much data, both knowledge and sensory out there for my brain to handle, I have to fight consciously against black and white ideation, I see the appeal of a simple explanation that suddenly makes the world make sense, and that ideology reduces stress and anxiety on some levels.
In the case of fascist ideology, it is a perfect tool to manipulate people who lack the faculties to engage in extensive introspection of themselves and their own flaws and instead seek to apply the problems on external sources. By creating fear of an external threat, you tap into this population, who by their very primate nature seek sense, order, and security in a world they simply cannot understand. It comes in waves and surges, nationalism is not always facism, but it is a fine line. Fascism is a capitalist political system the connects protectionist economic policies with ultra-nationalist politics, and fosters xenophobia of difference. And it is not just one population that suffers as a result, anyone who diverges from the desired “superior” culture is at risk. I am not Jewish, but I am on the autism spectrum and during WWII , especially as a child with my frequent outbursts, I would have qualified as a mentally deficient, and I too would have met a state sanctioned end, maybe not a gas chamber, instead they got parents to sign off on euthanasia, left us exposed to the elements during winter, kept us in massive group bunkhouses and did not treat for fatal communicable illnesses, more passive aggressive in nature, but again the culling of difference that was perceived as undesirable.
Now onto the role art plays in this. Protest art has a long history, my first exposure to Renaissance political art was Heironymous Bosch’s painting of a monkey. In the case of protest art, it has the power to communicate in a way words simply do not convey well. I can talk till I am blue in the face about Donald Trump and Facism to a Trump supporter, but it hits that subjective filter where their fear and anxieties are over-riding their frontal lobe, they are thralls to their amygdala and they process a challenge often as a hostile threat and thus a fight or flight reaction. A visual medium is able to target the brain in a different way, it may be offensive, it may still elicit a hostile reaction, but the imagery also has a chance to plainly show what words are unable to convey. In my case I love to explore dichotomy and juxtaposition, so in this case a treasured symbol desecrated by a symbol most find abhorrent. I am a disabled veteran from a multi-generational military background on both maternal and paternal sides. For me the flag is a powerful symbol, it means a great deal to many, some positive, some negative, but seldom neutral in it’s nature. Until the rise of Trump’s fascist worldview I had considered using the flag in art off limits, it had too much chance to be divisive. And yet, I don’t think many Trump supporters actually realize how far down the fascist road they have traveled, so I chose to create an piece to illustrate this, to show the symbolism of the flag, the swastika, a physical wall, the hand of a brown person behind bars, to call out his rhetoric as well. Not easy for me, since planned and conceptualized art is not my strong point, I do far better creating as I go and letting my state of mind influence the final outcome. Yet, I felt the imagery was needed, that some needed to see images they may hold sacred juxtaposed with imagery they have a visceral reaction to. And maybe, just maybe for some it will cause a cognitive stirring, it will get them to engage in just small amount of self-skepticism and introspection, even if it is just assessing their present image and saying “you are wrong we are not like that at all”, to which I say “then prove it.”