This is one of the biggest things that's wrong with British society, as a whole, today. The others are the career politician, and the culture of low expectations, but that's a whole other node.
Though it cannot be denied that the three are very much linked, but that too is also a whole other node.
Emotional fascism is the end result of a process in the last thirty to forty years or so whereby people with dubious political, commercial, or moral agendas seek to reframe everything in the aspect of feelings and empathising at the expense of cold, hard logic and actually thinking about things. It is the triumph of hand-wringing over common sense and it's partly, in my view, to blame for why life sucks so hard right now. And it is dangerous. If you don't believe this, there have been two high profile criminal cases which just go to demonstrate this.
The essence of emotional fascism is basically closing down the debate. What one does is, on any issue, one ignores all the facts and evidence and so forth and simply focuses on someone or something that is photogenic and clearly a victim. One then pushes one's point on the issue, claiming that this argument is really about that victim, and that your side is the only one that can truly achieve justice for that victim, and anyone else is clearly heartless or a sexist death merchant or similar. Anyone who opposes you can then be safely ignored or smeared as an apologist for the people who did this terrible, terrible, thing to your victim.
Another form of emotional fascism is where one makes a huge song and dance about something bad that's just happened in lieu of actually doing something about it. The end result of this orgy of phony heart-rupturing grief is that you can validate yourself as being a Good Person and therefore worthy of other peoples' time. This is the sort of emotional fascism that causes greasy warmongering British prime ministers to learn the art of the strategic lip-wobble and sniffing about "the People's Princess" at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, Our Lady of the Landmines. The funeral of Diana, incidentally, seemed to be the tipping point at which emotional fascism really took off in today's society. Never before had there been such a mawkish outpouring of nonsensical wailing just to prove one's own humanity - which no doubt served Blair down to the ground, as it enabled him to scavenge some additional popularity points as being "empathetic" and "in touch with society." He wasn't, but that's beside the point.
Since then, emotional fascism, which in 2007 my fellow noder Fondue very aptly described as "the politics of the grieving mother," has been on the up. When Sarah Payne was kidnapped and murdered in 2000, the resulting nationwide hysteria was hijacked (or possibly fomented for commercial reasons) by the News of the World in pushing for Sarah's Law, a UK corollary to the controversial Megan's Law from the US, and onto this piggybacked in turn a tranche of children's charities who, once again, saw the opportunity to gain power and influence for themselves (as well as additional donations - it is no coincidence that the salary of the chief executive of the NSPCC was £120,000 in 2009, and that chief executive no doubt had other salaried directorships atop that, all of which had to be paid for somehow). Anyone who proceeded to oppose the promulgation of an equivalent of Megan's Law was confronted with the (very public) weeping and grieving of Sara Payne, mother of the deceased, and all but accused of dancing on Sarah Payne's grave or of secretly being in league with the paedophiles in order to shout down opposition.
Sara Payne has since been wheeled out to justify other seriously illiberal and questionably effective measures, such as the ContactPoint database of every child in the land, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which would require anyone even tangentially working with children such as authors visiting schools for the day or even parental volunteers in those same schools, to go through an invasive background check that goes even beyond the enhanced CRB check and which would not only track convictions and cautions for offences involving children, but also arrests, and even unsubstantiated reports and even questionable patterns of behaviour. Considering that most children who are abused are abused by family members, it is pretty clear that the ISA would have been an extremely expensive white elephant database that would have saved the life of less than one child per year and which would have probably been accidentally left on a train by civil servants. As such, one can see the clear link between overreliance on emoting, constantly, about things only tangentially relevant to the issue and the perilous pathway it leads us down.
Then in 2005, when Jane Longhurst's killer Graham Coutts was convicted of her murder and BDSM porno was found at his home, Jane Longhurst's mother tried - and succeeded with then MP for Reading West, Martin Salter - in having so-called "extreme pornography" banned in the UK. I am informed that since then several people have been convicted for possession of this material and received prison sentences even though in all such material all the performers were consenting and over 18 in every case and to the best of my knowledge, such a law would not prevent one lust murder per century simply because the profile of such a person is that they would rape or murder somebody regardless of whether they'd seen dirty videos on the internets or not. And yes, the driving force behind the ban on this "extreme pornography" was to get justice for Jane Longhurst.
Similarly, in 2004-5, we in Britain were subjected to the bore that was Band Aid 20 and Live 8, where Bob Geldof and that Irish tax-dodger Bono persuaded the millions of ordinary, hard-working folks in Britain to give their money to them so they could redistribute it in foreign aid to the Third World, upon where it would be embezzled by various kleptocrats and warlords therein. The fact that foreign aid goes from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries is a whole other node in and of itself, but suffice it to say for now that upon leaving office, Mobutu Sese Seko's personal fortune almost exactly matched Zaire's national debt. I was at university during the Make Poverty History nonsense and remember being looked at with deep suspicion and accused of "being right wing" as if it were kissing cousin to "raping genocide survivors for fun" because I had exercised my critical faculties and actually thought about whether I wanted any part of this. I was told that I couldn't criticise these people because their hearts were in the right place. The subtext of all this was because I was thinking about it and not feeling enough, I was wrong.
A curious side effect of all this emphasis on emoting is that people are now expected to collapse into floods of salt-laden tears at the slightest provocation and to cockwave about how hurt they are. (Hence misery memoirs). Now I like to think I have a fairly accurate bullshit detector and if ever I have children, I would attempt to teach them to have same as I consider it a life skill. And to me, enormous outpourings of grief are the one thing that come over as phony simply because one is making such a song and dance about things that just aren't normal. As such, I immediately suspect that this is little more than a canard to deflect attention away from something else. However, with this becoming the norm, one is now expected to do this on any tragedy, even if it doesn't concern one.
You may think this is harmless. However it is not. Those of you who have been paying attention may have been aware of the trial of Casey Anthony for allegedly murdering her small daughter Caylee. Here, the gutter press (and that evil cunt Nancy Grace) and even the Floridian prosecutors were more than happy to use emotional fascistic tactics to paper over the fact that there were serious holes in their evidence. They attempted to reframe the whole affair as about being a quest for "justice for Caylee" in a similar way to that outlined above, but also they attempted to point to the fact that she wasn't visibly grieving in a suitably incontinent way as some sort of defect in her character. Thankfully the Judge and jury saw through this and returned a verdict of not guilty to show that there was reasonable doubt that she murdered her daughter, and equally thankfully saw through the fact that failure to be emotionally correct did not have any bearing on whether she did it or not. But reading over the comments following the verdict of not guilty I for one was flabbergasted at how many of them thought she must be guilty because she was unemotional and "cold" as many commentators put it. So somebody was almost executed because they weren't emotional enough.
And then there is Amanda "Foxy Knoxy" Knox. She was actually convicted of murder because in that case, people were taken in by the lie that she should have been more emotional and her conviction has only just this year been overturned on appeal. Because she was stoical and was doing cartwheels in the Police cells, she must have done it because innocent people are all crying like a baby, aren't they.
I would go on, but I'd only get worked up.
The fact is, though, that sooner or later, given emotional fascism's already disgraceful track record, someone is going to come to actual and irrevocable harm as a result of people being swept up in a tide of this incontinence. Actually, scratch that. People already have come to actual and irrevocable harm as a result of people being swept up in a tide of this incontinence. Amanda Knox. The people convicted under Megan's Law in the US because they were 17 and received a blowjob off their 15 year old girl friend. People convicted for "extreme pornography" possession. And I dare say in the next few years it wouldn't surprise me if Casey Anthony was lynched.
As such, when Martin Walkyier of Skyclad sang, "I'm just thinking allowed, isn't thinking allowed, WHY IS NOBODY THINKING?!" the answer is because of this emotional fascism, at least in part. And the reason, in my view, that people get swept up in emotional fascism is because it's easier than thinking for oneself.
And that's a shame and a disgrace, not to mention a judgement on modern society.
(IRON NODER 2011, 1/30)