Beautiful poses for those with ugly politics

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

This is so good:

In Italy under Benito Mussolini, virility was reified and the “projection of the martial male body” became the personification the powerful and colonial state. Written onto that body are a series of myths about heroics, potency, and victory, as a model of masculine behavior, it was untouched by an (ostensibly immoral) social permissiveness. As a stand-in for security and normalcy, the martial male body masquerades as nature, as many have pointed out it substitutes “normalized” for historic forms. Just as Mussolini’s fascism mined Nietzsche’s concept of a Superman and ancient Roman sculpture for as a tangible ideal, the normalization of the alt-right, purposefully or not, reaches back to the pre-war 20th century forms of masculinity as its natural ancestor. As Dick Hebdige put it, culture translates “the reality of the world into an image of the world which in turn presents itself as if composed according to ‘the evident laws of the natural order.’”

The flattering profiles of Spencer, this constant reassurance that he’s both attractive and intelligent, despite his anti-intellectualism reiterates an established narrative. The pretense of these stories, the naive surprise that Spencer can buy clothes or go to graduate school, that he can claim some of the effects of sophistication, elide the history of fascist masculinity. The pretense that Spencer is outside of some norm because he owns expensive suits is an ahistorical gesture that poses for the reason the profile exists (this needs explaining, the profiles insist).

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