The chief feature of the fascist dynamic is a process that, in the German historical context, was referred to as Gleichschaltung. Gleichschaltung (pronounced like “glykshaltung”) is a difficult word to translate into English. Literally, it means something akin to “like-switching”, but generally it describes how gears interlock and intermesh, like in the transmission of a car or as the power-train of the automobile (or a factory, for that matter). Gleichschaltung is literally, then, about turning everything into a “cog in the machine”. “Nazification” is often used as a synonym for Gleichschaltung, although that is not very accurate in my opinion. Both terms refer to a process of “totalitarian coordination” of all aspects of society with the State, although, in effect, the State is represented in the will of the Maximum Leader, which was called der Führerprinzip, and the “great personality” in whom the magic and mysticism of all-powerful “will” was made manifest. Hence Leni Riefenstahl’s famous film and Nazi propaganda “masterpiece” called “Triumph of the Will“.
In essence, the old saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” defines fascist movement, and the magic and mysticism of the pure will, and it is indifferent to reason or truth.
Gleichschaltung, as totalitarian coordination and control of all parts of society, meets the meaning of Blake’s fear of “the dark Satanic Mill” and “Single Vision”, and is, in effect, what Gebser refers to as mere “rationalisation”, or what Roderick Seidenberg refers to as “organisation” (in Post-historic Man), or what is referred to as “systematisation”, and is implicated in what Algis Mikunas refers to as “technocratic shamanism” in his essay on “Magic and Technological Culture”. In effect, Gleichschaltung is synonymous with “technocratic shamanism” and this is what Gebser is also describing here from his Ever-Present Origin.
“In every extreme rationalization there is not just a violation of the psyche by the ratio, that is, a negatively magical element, but also the graver danger, graver because of its avenging and incalculable nature: the violation of the ratio by the psyche, where both become deficient. The authentic relation to the psyche, the mental, is perverted into its opposite, to the disadvantage of the ego that has become blind through isolation. In such an instance, man has become isolated and his basic ties have been cut; the moderating, measuring bond of menis and menos is severed. Cut, severed: what was again the meaning of the root da-? It is this “cut off, severed, divided,” the “demonic”. The gates to the “demonic forces” have been opened; nothing exists out of itself, everything follows upon something else, everything has become a consequence. We may well ask: a consequence leading to what?” (p. 97)
So, where you hear or read concerns about “hyper-normalisation”, or “rationalisation”, or “hyper-organisation”, or of the “Organisation Man”, or Jacque Ellul’s technocratic “systematisation” and excessive concerns with “efficiency” or with “law & order”, what underlies that is fear of Gleichschaltung, and all that refers to Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill” as technocratic, or totalitarian, coordination, and the “negatively magical element” mentioned by Gebser is the mystique of the all-powerful will that effects the Gleichschaltung.
In effect, Gleichschaltung corresponds to what Marty Glass, in his book Yuga, calls “the Mutation into Machinery” as one of the five aspects of the Kali Yuga or “Dark Age” — the others being “the Fall Into Time”, “the End of Nature”, “the Reign of Quantity”, and “the Prison of Unreality”. Many books have been written about each one of these separately, although, in effect, all of them follow from the “Fall into Time” which, for William Blake, was the “dark Satanic Mill”. The “Fall into Time” is what Blake calls the false world “Ulro”, and is otherwise known as “samsara” and the clutches of the karmic law of action and reaction (ie, which Gebser refers to as “time-energy”).
Totalitarian coordination, or Gleichschaltung, is especially offended by pluralism and by “the multiformity of man”, as Rosenstock-Huessy calls that, which accounts for its intolerance of difference, it’s refusal of dialogue in preference to monologue, and is reflected in its often racist and misogynistic attitudes. And during episodes of “chaotic transition”, totalitarian coordination becomes a great temptation, along with the investiture of absolute power in the will of the “strong man” and the cult of personality — that is, in someone who “will make the trains run on time”, which is also a meme associated with Gleichschaltung as technocratic or totalitarian coordination. And it’s here that magic and technology (as Gebser’s “ratio“) intersect and become confused with one another as “technocratic shamanism”. That’s implied in the very meaning of the word “fascism” — which, on the one hand, means “to bind” but also is related to the word “fascinum” which means, also, “a magic spell” or “enchantment” or a “fascination”. Gleichschaltung, therefore, has an implicit (and negatively) magical element to it, and especially as that form of “word-magic” called “propaganda” or “perception management”. Propaganda (or what we today also call “branding”) is one of the aspects of Gleichschaltung.
It’s this that marks the distinction Gebser makes between reason and its “deficient” form as “rationality” or “rationalisation”. Where Gebser uses the hyphenated term “mental-rational” to describe perspective consciousness (or modern consciousness) it’s to describe “reason” as the effective form of the mental, while “rational” or “rationality” represents the defective or deficient mode of the mental. Rosenstock-Huessy makes the same distinction between “the reasonable” and “the rational”. This is another parallel that draws attention to the contemporary confusion of Whole with the mere Totality of things.
Needless to say, Gleichschaltung is very antipathetic towards more holistic or ecological modes of thought where pluralism, or diversity, is celebrated as healthy. The negative reaction to “globalism” (as something distinct from “neo-liberal globalisation” or commercialisation and global consumerism) also contains an implicit rejection of more ecological and holistic modes of thought as well. So, when people speak and write about their dread of “techno-fascism”, it’s this process of Gleichschaltung that they are referring to. There is in this, then, an element of necromancy or voodoo, and, in those terms, of mystification of reality, along with a very perverse understanding of “human nature”.
It suffices, I think, to appreciate how Gleichschaltung relates to Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill” and “single vision”, and in that respect meets with the meaning of Gebser’s “demonic”.