“Why the hell are we talking about fascism in 2020?” While that’s a great question, unfortunately, dear reader, we are beyond that point; the horse is loose in the hospital.
The time for ‘why‘ has passed. We’re up to the ‘how‘ we talk about fascism in 2020, and ‘what‘ the actual fuck we’re meant to do to curtail the rise of the far-right ideology that characterises itself by ultranationalism, white supremacy and violent suppression of anyone that gets in the way.
Returning to Melbourne Fringe following his sold-out 2019 series Yelling At Racist Dogs, Tom Tanuki brings us White Traitor, billed as “an exploration of white supremacy and the white yearning to make a theatre out of it all.”
Using occult fascism – the very same popularised by the likes of Indiana Jones – as a springboard, Tanuki has devised yet another effective weapon to wield against the far-right idealists: taking the utter piss out of them.
Before we get too deep, what’s the premise of White Traitor?
I’m someone who’s been doing anti-fascism for several years now. I’ve done a lot of piss-taking and satire involving fascists. I’ve been doxxed by them, stalked, lots of cool things, lots of death threats. And through all of that, I have noticed this undercurrent of what they call occult or mystic fascist thought.
There’s a very rich history with lots of kooks and really interesting characters throughout it. I decided to put my head to looking into and reading copious amounts of books about the process of how occult fascism developed. And then I decided to myself that, “How cool would it be if I did a show, with a spooky anti-fascist ritual at the end?”
I would describe White Traitor as part lecture, but it’s also part theatre comedy because I do talk a lot of shit. I think it’s an opportunity for me to blend those two, in the form of what would have originally been a live event – but obviously there’s a bit of a chest bug going around…
What are the ideas that get shared and propagated throughout the occult fascism space? What’s their deal, even?
In the show, you’ll see me track what I think are two main threads of occult fascism, and one of them is the development of what came to be Nazi Satanists, and other various dark occult edgelords. Edgelordism is something I explore quite a bit in the show. There’s a hell of a lot of interesting and very, very edgy figures in Nazi Satanism who regularly trade members with some of the most extreme groups who commit Nazi terrorist attacks.
Then there’s the other thread of occult fascism, which is the deifying of Adolf Hitler, which began pretty quickly after World War II, inventing these origins for where white people came from. It’s why whire supremacists have this magical heritage that’s involved with, would you believe it, massive white ice giants that originally come from Greek mythology.
So, there is a bit of creativity to them, bless them.
Modern day fascism is a tough topic to explore. It’s scary, it’s complicated and often, it’s not safe. How did you go about making the show accessible, and how important is using comedy to achieve that?
It would feel inappropriate at the least to say this is a comedy show. There’s enough YouTubers out there, like old mate Isaac Butterfield, who have no qualms about overstating their own comedic tendencies. Also the idea of just making people laugh, I know that it’s difficult, but it also makes me feel a little bit empty inside thinking about that. I don’t operate as a stand up comedian, where they test their material in tough rooms. Respect to stand ups.
I think more than anything it’s storytelling. I’ve spend a while looking at my own past, my Armenian background. The show’s called White Traitor because I’m talking about various different concepts of whiteness.
I’m white. But considering my Armenian heritage in light of some pretty surprising tendencies on the part of white supremacists to change their identities to fit their own sense of white supremacy too… considering the whiteness of me, my white supremacist ‘brothers and sisters’, and whiteness as a whole is a huge part of this. It’s partly why it’s called White Traitor.
Talk to me about the research side of things. There’s a surface level of information to be found on Google but much of the infomation on this topic is deliberatly hidden from the masses.
Doing research on historical occult fascism or what have you is comparatively quite easy compared to in-person anti-fascist activism. I suppose you build tolerance.
But I bought a lot of books for this one. I actually – and this is a bit cringe – bought quite a few books by actual fascists, which…You would think to yourself, “Well, do I really want to give money to the people who are doing little boutique runs of books by the person who first prayed to Adolf Hitler? Do I really want to do that?” Like, I had to, but. We do dwell on it a
little bit throughout the show. I don’t get let off the hook here.
You make the point in the trailer that the left is usually stuck reacting to the far-right, rather than being proactive in their own “cool shit”, so to speak. Why do you think it is that those who oppose fascism are relegated to merely holding witty placards and chanting?
I should say that that’s my main gambit for this show.. I think here we are over here having to stand with a bunch of kids holding placards going, “Hey hey, here here, Nazis are not welcome here, hey hey, here here…”, while these arseholes get to be spooky. Why?
In the show I look at that. In reality, antifascism can, at its best, have its own energy. I tried to do this with Yelling At Racist Dogs, Million Flag Patriots and what have you, I always believe instead of trying to gatecrash the next door neighbor’s shitty party that you don’t like, you can try and throw a bigger party at your house and drown it the fuck out, and people come over to where you’re at.