In response to the gloomy employment prospects, societal fragmentation, and looming environmental catastrophe that young people find themselves in amid 21st century capitalism, in the last several years a meme character has appeared called The Doomer. A beanie-wearing version of the popular meme character Wojak, The Doomer is meant to encapsulate the experience of living with a sense of hopelessness towards the present and the future. Videos about the character often depict him getting screwed over in various ways by an uncaring capitalist order, sometimes deliberately in the same vein as the suffering of Arthur Fleck from Joker. And there are two locations that The Doomer most seems to be framed as living within: the United States and eastern Europe.
Among the younger inhabitants of late-stage capitalism that the character is supposed to represent, there’s certainly a kinship between those within the U.S. and those within the former communist bloc. As we in the core of global imperialism experience the growing poverty, corruption, and dysfunctionality of an empire that’s turned to neoliberal austerity in its time of crisis, those within the Eurasian countries where communism was dismantled are being subjected to the same process of a socioeconomic system in decline. The social bonds and economic security which existed in these countries under socialism have been gutted, and replaced by a neoliberal kleptocracy where the working class gets left behind during crises like the pandemic.
It’s in this state of societal deterioration, of economic and social crises without end, that a noxious upwelling of white nationalism has appeared to the benefit of U.S./NATO imperialism. The seeds for the pipeline of modern Nazism that’s aiding NATO’s anti-Russian proxy war in Ukraine were laid with the very implementation of neoliberalism. As Henry Giroux has assessed about the characteristics neoliberalism shares with fascism:
Not only has neoliberalism undermined the basic elements of democracy by escalating the mutually reinforcing dynamics of economic inequality and political inequality — accentuating the downhill spiral of social and economic mobility — it has also created conditions that make fascist ideas and principles more attractive. Under these accelerated circumstances, neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible movement that connects the worst excesses of capitalism with authoritarian “strongman” ideals — the veneration of war, a hatred of reason and truth; a celebration of ultra-nationalism and racial purity; the suppression of freedom and dissent; a culture that promotes lies, spectacles, scapegoating the other, a deteriorating discourse, brutal violence, and, ultimately, the eruption of state violence in heterogeneous forms.
This is the world that The Doomer inhabits: an ever-worsening setup of corruption and dishonesty where one is encouraged to become either a nihilist, or a warrior for bigoted nationalistic ideals. And a lot of the men who fit the Doomer archetype, both in the U.S. and in the former Eastern Bloc area where war is afoot, are embracing the latter role. As Buzzfeed’s Christopher Miller wrote last week about the American Nazi Craig Lang:
Experts on extremism have been following, with growing concern, the activities of mostly young far-right extremists with military backgrounds who seek out foreign wars to gain fighting experience. They’ve seen how these soldiers-for-hire get radicalized and then carry home what they learned in troubled, distant lands like Ukraine. The country has emerged as an important hub in the transnational white supremacy extremism network. Far-right extremists see the war zone there as a laboratory where they can gain actual combat experience to bring back home. For a time, Lang thrived in this murky world of violence, but an examination of his life and the crimes he is accused of committing provide a stark example of the impact of one American’s radicalization.
Lang’s story parallels that of many of the other white men in America who’ve lately been turning to violence in response to rage against modern society. For Lang, all it took were a war injury and marital problems for him to seek out a life of senseless violence, beginning with an attempt to murder his wife using his military equipment. And seeing the sentiments that the other recruits in Ukraine’s Nazi war use to justify their genocidal ideology, Lang’s fellow modern fascist warriors share his urge to lash out against a world that they feel deserves brutal retribution.
“These guys project their fantasies onto the war in Ukraine,” assesses Kacper Rekawek, a researcher who’s authored a 2020 report on the right-wing fighters in Ukraine. “They say, ‘We went there because we thought we could live our lives the way we want to.’ They’re like ISIS in that way.” In other words, when the Obama administration (obviously with the help of our current president) installed a Nazi regime in Ukraine in 2014 to score a cold war point against Russia, it provided an organized and highly attractive outlet for people like the man who committed New Zealand’s Christchurch shooting. Thanks to the coup-making team that’s still driving U.S. foreign policy, for these last seven years the internet’s radicalized “identitarians” have had a different option than simply being lone wolves who shoot up a public space. Now they can join a militia, sanctioned by the Ukrainian state and by its NATO puppeteers, that’s tasked with ethnically cleansing Russian-speaking peoples, Jews, and Romanis while persecuting feminists and Ukraine’s LGBT community.
This global pipeline of Nazi terror threatens not just these groups within eastern Europe, but the entire world. Nuclear tensions between the superpowers have returned as a consequence of Washington’s escalations in the Ukraine proxy war, and the escalations grow by the day as the coupists in the White House drive their anti-Russian military buildup agenda forward. As Oliver Boyd-Barrett of MintPressnews wrote this week:
In as many months as Biden has held the presidency the U.S. has shipped three consignments of arms to Ukraine, adding to the $2 billion of security assistance the U.S. has extended to Ukraine since 2014. The U.S. has deployed nuclear-capable B-1 bombers to Norway for the first time in NATO’s history. This year’s NATO war exercises include U.S.-led Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze, British-Ukrainian Cossack Mace and Warrior Watcher, Romanian-Ukrainian Riverine, and Polish-Ukrainian Three Swords and Silver Sabre. A dangerous new joker in the pack is Turkey, relatively fresh from assisting Azerbaijan’s 2020 victory against Armenia in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, now participating in NATO-Ukrainian military exercises against Russia. This move threatens escalation of tensions between Moscow and Ankara…mad pursuit of idiotic objectives is de rigueur machismo among adherents to neoconservative ideology at the service of corporate and plutocratic power, much as it is for the politics of resistance to meaningful solutions to climate change.
These Nazi fighters are helping put humanity at greater risk of self-inflicted apocalypse. And all over what? If the typical stories of former online-radicalized Nazis are a good representation, over a desire to find fulfillment in a bleak world that’s systematically drained these people’s capacity for decency and empathy. One young man has described having been a college dropout looking for self-help who stumbled upon the white supremacist YouTuber Stefan Molyneux, and who then became radicalized into the far-right. Another has described going through a similar process of racist YouTube indoctrination after negative family experiences and related political disillusionment. These are the kinds of benign, less than ideal coming-of-age stories that can so easily end with someone embracing an ideology that in their right mind they would be deeply ashamed to associate with; in his video on his radicalization experience, the former young man breaks into tears while stating reflectively about the Christchurch shooter: “he was memeing the whole time!”
The Doomer meme, which started on the infamous fascist social network 4Chan, represents the blank slate of disillusionment that young men under late-stage capitalism find themselves embodying. The goal of the fascists leading NATO’s war against Russia is to take these sad men, and turn them into brainwashed soldiers for the causes of imperialist destabilization and mass extermination. The system wants the people living under it to embrace nihilism, impotent rage, and a scapegoating of the vulnerable. And the men who’ve fallen down the Nazi pipeline are fulfilling this role perfectly.
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