The title is of course not 100% literal. The same happens whenever you push too much past socially acceptable politeness and civility.
It’s this liberal ideal that you’re better than your enemies and so you don’t have to resort to cheap or dirty tricks.
But you certainly do. There can be no coexistence with fascism; its mere presence is a death threat. And what do you do when threatened? Do you sympathize with your murderer and try to understand his motivations, or will you fight tooth and nail to save your life?
The idea of going high when they go low consistently brings us to defeat. This is why fascists hate communists the most: we are the only ones capable of seeing past their disguise and actively willing to eradicate their ideology.
When debating fascists, I like to back them into the corner. I project an air of superiority on them because:
You should see the libs that jump to the fascist’s defence and turn on their allies for not following the cult of civility at this precise stage. They are in effect providing the fascist what they need to emerge victorious: sympathy. But how can there be sympathy towards a person who will gladly drive you to an extermination camp themselves?
And yet this is bigger than antifascism. Violence is a legitimate tool of struggle, both in the class and antifascist struggles. It is a liberal ideal that violence is not necessary, or that we have somehow evolved past violence. There are wars all over the world, most of which were caused by the USA. There are military budgets expanding, and armies buying new equipment. Violence is everywhere around us, and it has always been. It’s not for “uncivilised people” or a “relic of the past”.
And on the contrary, where have liberal ideas brought us? They have brought us fascism, they have brought us passivity. Has the Geneva Convention stopped any war? Have the Nuremberg trials stopped any neo-fascist?
They cling to ideals, uninterested in following proven, working practices. This is what makes them idealists and incapable of fighting back.
Liberals need to get over their outrage when fascists are getting a taste of their own medicine. Otherwise, they will always remain at risk of becoming fascists themselves. Yes, as long as capitalism exists, so will fascism. And thus liberals will always be at risk of being swayed by fascists.