Fascism reconsidered
(the map is not the territory)


mht
the new pantheon of fascism

1. Patrimonialism, Fascism
, and the Lynching for Rape Discourse
(Kant, Weber, and Foucault)


2. The Sado-Sexual Eigenvector of GOP performativity and the necessity of expanding the concept of fascism to incorporate the perspectives found in The Social Origins of Language


fascism
racism
patrimonialism
white supremacy
racism
white supremacy
fascism
patrimonialism
patrimonialism
fascism
white supremacy
racism
white suspremacy
patrimonialism
racism
fascism

expanding the concept of fascism
Aufhebung (from Wikipedia)

In Hegel, the term Aufhebung has the apparently contradictory implications of both preserving and changing, and eventually advancement (the German verb aufheben means "to cancel", "to keep" and "to pick up"). The tension between these senses suits what Hegel is trying to talk about. In sublation, a term or concept is both preserved and changed through its dialectical interplay with another term or concept. Sublation is the motor by which the dialectic functions.

the design of this page
The right hand column contains excerpts from and links to key works of contemporary scholarship related to Fascism.  The left hand column contains my comments on these materials, except for the excerpts from works of philosophy, which appear immediately below.

READ THESE TWO LINKED TEXTS NOW

Excerpts from Eric D. Weitz, Weimar German: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton, 2007/2018), chapter 9, "Revolution and Counterrevolution from the Right" (pp. 331-360). 

Eli Zaretsky, "The Mass Psychology of Trumpism" (London Review of Books, 18 September 2018).

David King, The Trial of Adolf Hitler: The Beer Hall Putsch and the Rise of Nazi Germany (Norton, 2017) turns out to be an uncanny description of what unfolded in The fascist assault (The Unite the Right rally)  on Charlottesville,* Virginia in 2017.

* from Wikipedia: 
The Unite the Right rally was a white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, from August 11 to 12, 2017.] Far-right groups participated, including self-identified members of the alt-right,] neo-Confederates,[ neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis,[ Klansmen, and various right-wing militias.  Some groups chanted racist and antisemitic slogans and carried weapons, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols, the Valknut, Confederate battle flags, Deus vult crosses, flags, and other symbols of various past and present anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic groups.] The organizers' stated goals included the unification of the American white nationalist movement and opposing the proposed removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville's former Lee Park.

The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism
Trump is "not hurting the people he needs to be hurting"

1. from It’s Just Too Much’: "A Florida Town Grapples With a Shutdown After a Hurricane, New York Times, 1-7-19.

I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” an employee of the Federal prison in the Florida Panhandle said. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.

2.  from Paxton's The Anatomy of Fascism

The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.  p. 84

3. from Friedrich Nietzsche, The Geneology of Morals, II, 14

Here the works of vengefulness and rancor swarm; here the air stinks of secrets and concealment;  . . . and what mendaciousness is employed to disguise that this hatred is hatred!  What a display of grand words and postures, what an art of "honest" calumny.

*Kant on Concept Formation
from Eckart Förster, The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: a Systematic Reconstruction (Harvard, 2012)

 . . . concepts have their basis in functions, by which Kant understands “the unity of the act of bringing various representations under one common representaton.” (A68).  A concept is a rule for combining certain representations (and thus also a principle for excluding certain others).  Thus the represesntations’white’, ‘grainy’, ‘saline’ are combined and ordered in the concept ‘salt, while the representations ‘colorless’, ‘liquid’, ‘tasteless’ (say) are not.  In this way a concept is a rule allowing me to unite certain representations and to bring them under a higher representation, i.e. the concept. (pp. 22-3)

Cognition does not consist merely in the collecting of phenomena; rather we strive to forge conceptual links between them and to grasp the laws of nature that are valid for specific classes of objects as cases of yet more general laws, whereby we are guided by the ideal of a unified explanation of nature. (p. 38)

“To make concepts out of representations one must be able to compare, to reflect, and to abstract, for these three logical operations of the understanding are the essential and universal conditions for the generation of every concept whatsoever.  I see, e.g., a spruce, a willow, and a linden.  By first comparing these objects with one another I note that they are different from one another in regard to the trunk, the btanches, the leaves, etc.; but next I reflect on that which they have in common among themselves, trunk, branches, and leaves themselves, and I abstract from the quantity, the figure, etc., of these; thus I acquire a concept of a tree.” (pp. 250-51)



Emden on Nietzsche

dddd
from Christian J. Emden, Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (University of Illinois Press, 2005), p. 75

In Die fröliche Wissenschaft (1882) Nietzsche proposes that language enables us to “produce” things, to shape our conception of reality:  “This has given me the greatest trouble and still does: to realize that what things are called is incomparably more important than what they are . . . it is sufficient to create new names and estimations and probabilities in order to create, in the long run, new ‘things’” (GS 58).

For Nietzsche, language lets us grasp, order, and judge what we regard as reality, and it also gives us the means to reflect on this reality through the development of general terms and concepts, which let us realize similarities and relations among things and see contexts and construct coherent systems of belief about this reality.  Our experience and knowledge of reality . . . is therefore embedded in a network of concepts delineating what we perceive as our environment.



A
Concept of Fascism
Five paragraphs from Robert O. Paxton's The Anatomy of Fascism (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004):

¶ 1.  Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by 1) obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and 2) by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which 3) a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, 4) working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites (see Lind, Made in Texas), 5) abandons democratic liberties and 6) pursues with redemptive violence and 7) without ethical or legal restraints 8) goals of internal cleansing and 9) external expansion.  p. 218

¶ 2.   The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.  p. 84

¶ 3.  The United States itself has never been exempt from fascism.  Indeed, antidemocratic and xenophobic movements have flourished in America since the Native American party of 1845 and the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s.  In the crisis-ridden 1930s, as in other democracies, derivative fascist movements were conspicuous in the United States.  The Protestant evangelist Gerald B. Winrod's openly pro-Hitler Defenders of the Christian Faith with their Black Legion; William Dudley Pelley's Silver Shirts (the initials "SS" were intentional) . . . .  Much more dangerious are movements that employ authentically Amerian themes in ways that resemble fascism functionally.  The Klan revived in the 1920s, took on virulent anti-Semitism, and spread to cities and the Middle West.  In the 1930s, Father Charles E. Coughlin gathered a radio audience estimated at forty million around an anticommunist, anti-Wall Street, pro-soft money, and---after 1938--anti-Semitic message broadcast from his church in the ouskirts of Detroit.  For a moment in early 1936 it looked as if his Union Party and its presidential candidate, North Dakota congressman William Lemke, might overwhelm Roosevelt. . . .  p. 201

¶ 4.  It may be that the earliest phenomenon that can be functionally related to fascism is American: the Ku Klux Klan. . . .  The first version of the Klan in the defeated American South was arguably a remarkable preview of the way fascist movements were to function in interwar Europe. p. 49

¶ 5.  Today [2004] a "politics of ressentment" rooted in authentic American piety and nativism sometimes leads to violence against some of the very same "internal enemies" once targeted by the Nazis, such as homosexuals and defenders of abortion rights. . . .  The languge and symbols of an authentic American fascism would, of course, have little to do with the original European models.  They would have to be as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascisms were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans, as Orwell suggested. . . . No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses.  No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance [one minute and 45 seconds into this video].  These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.  p.  202




Roper on Q-Anon; Lachmann on patrimonialism

Lyndal Roper on Q-Anon: Lyndal Roper, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (Yale, 2004):

The hatred and terror that drove people to such violence were shaped by social tensions and religious beliefs, but the passions themselves derived from deeply rooted fantasies, extravagent in their evocation of demonic lovers and Satanic revels.  These fantasies shared, for the most part, a standard structure and a similar set of primary themes. p. 7

Richard Lachmann, "Coda: American Patrimonialism: The Return of the Repressed” in Patrimonial Power in the Modern World, Julia Adams and Mounira M. Charrad, eds. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,  2011:

Patrimonialism, until fairly recently, seemed an archaic social form, largely replaced by bureaucratic rationalism. That confident view of modernity, in the histories that Max Weber and his followers wrote, deserves to be challenged as patrimonial regimes reappear in states and firms throughout the world.



The above Concept of Fascism  analyzed . . .

Paragraph 2, "The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy" perfectly encapsulates the "populist" performativity of Trump's  rallies.

Paragraph 1 is much more interesting.

Paragraph 1 can be broken down into nine elements, six of which (1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) characterize the Trump phenomenon.

1. obsessive preoccupation with community decline
4. working in uneasy but effective collaboration with
     traditional elites (see note on the concept of elites)
5. abandons democratic liberties
6. pursues with redemptive violence
7. without ethical or legal restraints
8. goals of internal cleansing

More interesting is to look at the three elements of Paxton's definition of fascism that seem least applicable: 2, 3 and 9.


2) cults of unity, energy and purity
3) a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants
9) external expansion

It is here that we see the plausibility of the ratio: Hitler is to Trump as Tragedy is to Farce.

In paragraph 3 Paxton provides a summary of the history of right-wing movements in the United States up 1936.

Paragraph 4 is pivotal:  "The earliest phenomenon that can be functionally related to fascism is American: the Ku Klux Klan."  What did this fascism look like in the late 19th century?  (the lynching for rape discourse).  And in 1930s southeastern Michigan (fascism in Flint, Ford, and Packard).    And in the movie Bad Day at Black Rock. (the big man; Turk at Danbury; Bert Harris in Flint; Fred Cini and Pat Zomba; the Jewel Street gang; the Berkeley gang)   (late 1945)  Get this book* and browse when you have the time.  At this moment--January 8, 2022--we may not have much time left.  Read as if your life depended on it.


*Richard White, The Republic for Which it Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1910 (2017)

Fascism Reconsidered: Fascism as Biocultural niche








. . . and Deployed
Compare Paxton's Paragraph 5 with the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain. Atwater has shown how the discursive and symbolic elements of the Southern Strategy were generated through the construction of a theatrical arena in which hatred is expressed and sadism performed.  This sado-sexual performativity is the essence of the GOP's mass appeal.  Well before Trump the evocation of evil and the channelling of rage against a scapegoat (various forms of the other) was the stock-in-trade of Republican politicians, from their Know-nothing ancestors [1850s] to today’s fascist formations and modalities.

The rhetorical violence of Trump rallies, not ideology and policies, is what is fundamental. The Trump performances--the audience, the cultural-historical context, and Trump himself as a therapeutic object with which the audience member can identify--become intelligible when viewed through the prism of certain key concepts: Nietzsche's concept of ressentiment; psychoanalysis's concept of the mechanisms of defense; Wilbur Cash's concept of the proto-Dorian convention; the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain; and Robert Paxton's concept of  redemptive violence.

On the right there are not issues, but postures, gestures, various encodings of the same sado-sexual reflex (the inner logic of racism).  Rage enacted in a political-media theater of violence, sadism, and revenge.     The cruelty of it all is the most important thing. The vicarious thrill, the “enthusiasm for inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation”(OED): this is what is seen at Trump rallies.  The GOP's performative cadre are specialists in herding raging hominids.

Here the works of vengefulness and rancor swarm; here the air stinks of secrets and concealment;  . . . and what mendaciousness is employed to disguise that this hatred is hatred!  What a display of grand words and postures, what an art of "honest" calumny! (Nietzsche, The Geneology of Morals, II,


Randall Collins and Max Weber on Patrimonialism
Randall Collins, "Patrimonial Alliances and Failures of State Penetration: A Historical Dynamic of Crime, Corruption, Gangs, and Mafias,"The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 636, Patrimonial Power in the Modern World (July 2011), pp. 16-31

Classically, patrimonialism was organization based on private households, plus alliances among them. Patrimonialism wields political power in the form of personal loyalty and arbitrary discretion, tempered only by tradition. The archetype of this kind of personal power is the family, but a patrimonial household is not limited to kinship per se. What makes patrimonialism capable of wielding large-scale power is that some households expand beyond kinship and become extremely large by including a large number of servants, armed guards, retainers, hostages, and houseguests; the bigger the entourage of the head of such a house, the greater his power.

It is important to distinguish, as Weber (1922/1968) did, between patrimonialism and patriarchy. Rule by the father (literally) or male dominance generally - patriarchy - can take place in many different kinds of organization; it occurs even in bureaucracy, although bureaucracy historically has been the main ally and organizational weapon of resistance to patriarchy. Patrimonialism is something more.

Patrimonial power involves personal loyalty, but  it is also fraught with conflicts, betrayals, and treason—Shakespearean plots are virtual textbooks of patrimonial politics. . . .  patrimonialism and bureaucracy are not bare organizational forms but sites for constructing moral visions; proselytizers for expanding bureaucratic state penetration are moral entrepreneurs as well as expanders of organizational domains. The struggle between patrimonialism and bureaucracy takes the form of rival moralities, althoug one side rarely recognizes this about the organizational form they oppose.

And this, from Researchgate: What are patrimonialism and neo-patrimonialism?



n
Nazi Masculinity

from Ann Goldberg, “Women and Men: 1760-1960,” in Helmut Walser Smith, The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History (Oxford, 2011)


The alleged undermining of the patriarchal family—the ruse of the ‘double earners’ (married women performing paid labor outside the home), and sexually liberated New Women—became a powerful symbol of the breakdown of the social fabric in the chaotic years of the Weimar Republic, subject to intense poltical debate, social policy interventions, and efforts to resurrect the traditional gender order.  The Nazis played directly on these gender anxieties as they built their movement in the Weimar years.  Together with Jews and leftists, feminists and New Women became symbols in Nazi propaganda of the decadence and weakness of liberal democracy and modern urban life.  Railing against the ‘soulless’ and ‘egotistical’ modern woman, National Socialists called for their return to the home and for the restoration of the patriarchal family—for, as the slogan went, ‘emancipation from emancipation’.

At the same time, the Nazis built upon the militarized masculinity and culture of comradship that had evolved in WWI, glorifying the ideal of a brotherhood of self-sacrificing soldier-comrades, and turning it into an extreme cult of violence, hardness, and duty to the racial Volk.  A study of the writings of the Freicorps—right-wing paramilitary groups of ex-soldiers and officers formed in the aftermath of WWI—explores the unconscious fears and desires of this fascist masculinity.  It shows the deep mysogyny of men who posssessed weak, fragmented egos, whose terrors of psychic dissolution were associated with femininization and female sexuality, and who, as a result, embraced a cult of masculine hardness and violence as an emotional defense mechanism.






Now We Turn to the Anglo-Saxon Roots

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world” (Darwin, 1871)

“the higher—the more intellectual and moral—must displace the lower and more degraded races” (Wallace, 1864)

“The Anglo-Saxon has exterminated the less developed peoples with which he has come in competition.” (Kidd, 1894)


from T. D. Price and G. M. Feinman, Chapter 1, “Social Inequality and the Evolution of Human Social Organization”, in Pathways to Power: New Perspectives on the Emergence of Social Inequality (Springer, 2010)

In a very real sense, human society over the last 100,000 years or more may have been characterized by a fundamental tension between relations based on dominance, hierarchy, and kin altruism (part of our primate heritage) and new capacities for social cognition, cultural learning, alliance building, and cooperation, whether the latter behaviors were learned or part of recently acquired innate tendencies (Boehm 2000, Stone 2008: 79, Tomasello et al. 2005).

two commentaries on Victor Nell, "Cruelty’s rewards: The gratifications of perpetrators and spectators
," Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006) 29, 211–257

1.  from Mika Haritos-Fatouros, “Cruelty: A dispositional or a situational behavior in man?” Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006) 29, p.230

The basic question remains, however: How far are aggression, violence, and cruelty in humans today the result of predisposition factors, or biological or archetypal processes, and how far are they the result of cognitive/emotional processes evoked by situational factors?

2.  from Albert Bandura, “A murky portrait of human cruelty,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006) 29, p. 225

At the macrosocial level, Nell greatly exaggerates the prevalence of human cruelty.  There exist wide intercultural differences representing both warring and pacific societies with large intracultural variations and even rapid transformation of warring societies into peaceful ones.


Racism in England: 1864 to 1894

from Hunt Hawkins, “Heart of Darkness and Racism” in Heart of Darkness: Authoritative Texts--Backgrounds, and Contexts--Criticism, Paul B. Armstrong, ed. (Norton Critical Editions) pp. 373-4

Darwin himself concluded, in The Descent of Man: “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world”.  Alfred Russel Wallace ended his 1864 article by saying “the higher—the more intellectual and moral—must displace the lower and more degraded races”.  Eduard von Hartmann in his 1869 Philosophy of the Unconscious, a book Conrad read, wrote that it wasn’t humane to prolong "the death struggles of savages who are on the verge of extinction. . . .  The true philanthropist, if he has comprehended the natural law of anthropological evolution, cannot avoid desiring an acceleration of the last convulsion, and labor for that end.”  And in 1894 in Social Evolution Benjamin Kidd observed, “The Anglo-Saxon has exterminated the less developed peoples with which he has come in competition.”


English visitors to Conrad in Kent recollected him as “not of our race”, “like a Polish Jew”, “the conventional stage Hebrew”, “simian”, “oriental mannerisms”, “very Oriental indeed”, “spectacularly a foreigner”, an Oriental face”, “semi-Mongolian”, and “like a monkey”.



Before the Southern Strategy:

the Lynching for Rape Discourse
from Jacquelyn Hall, Revolt Against Chivalry: Jesse Daniel Ames and the Women's  Campaign Against Lynching (Columbia, 1993), p. 150

The imagery of lynching—in literature, poetry, music, in the minds of men—was almost inescapably erotic. . . . 

Rape and rumors of rape became a kind of acceptible folk pornography in the Bible Belt.  As stories spread, the attacker became not just a black man but a ravenous brute, the victim a beautiful, frail, young virgin.  The experience and condition of the women. . . were described in minute and progressively embellished detail: a public fantasy that implies a kind of group participation in the rape of the woman almost as cathartic as the subsequent lynching of the alleged attacker. . . . 

The small percentage of lynchings that revolved around charges of sexual assault gripped the southern imagination far out of proportion to statistical reality.  In such scenes, described in the popular press in strikingly conventionalized words and phrases, the themes of masculinity, rage, and sexual envy were woven into a ritual of death and desire.


from Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream (1949.  Norton ed. 1994)

 . . . the lynched Negro becomes not an object that must die but a receptacle for every man’s damned-up hate, and a receptacle for every man’s forbidden feelings.  Sex and hate, cohabiting in the darkness of minds too long, pour out their progeny of cruelty on anything that can serve as a symbol of an unnamed relationship that in his heart each man wants to befoul.  That, sometimes, the lynchers do cut off genitals of the lynched and divide them into bits to be distributed to participants as souvenirs is no more than a coda to this composition of hate and guilt and sex and fear, created by our way of life.  162-3

In the name of sacred womanhood, of purity, of preserving the home, lecherous old men and young ones, reeeking with impurities, who had violated the home since they were sixteen yers old, whipped up lynchings, organized Klans, burned crosses, aroused the poor and ignorant to wild excitement by an obscene, perverse imagery describing the “menace” of Negro men hiding behind every cypress waiting to rape “our” women  145

Two chapters from Pieter Spierenburg, ed., Men and Violence: Gender, Honor, and Rituals in Modern Europe and America,  (Ohio State U. Press, 1998):

Terence Finnegan, "The Equal of Some White Men and the Superior of Others": Masculinity and the 1916 Lynching of Anthony Crawford in Abbeville County, South Carolina

Stephen Kantrowitz, “White Supremacist Justice and the Rule of Law: Lynching, Honor, and the Statte in Ben Tillman’s South Carolina”

Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (University of North Carolina Press,  2009)



d
The Southern Strategy:
the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain
from Wikipedia: (Lee Atwater's Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy)

As a member of the Reagan administration in 1981, Atwater gave an anonymous interview to political scientist Alexander P. Lamis. Part of the interview was printed in Lamis's book The Two-Party South, then reprinted in Southern Politics in the 1990s with Atwater's name revealed. . . . Atwater talked about the Republican Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan's version of it:

Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now you don't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a by-product of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."




after the Southern strategy:
"He's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting"
Donald Trump says:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

a Trump voter in the Florida panhandle says: (from "It’s Just Too Much: A Florida Town Grapples With a Shutdown After a Hurricane," New York Times, 1-7-19.)

I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” an employee of the Federal prison in the Florida Panhandle said. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.

Friedrich Nietzsche says: (from The Geneology of Morals, II, 14)

Here the works of vengefulness and rancor swarm; here the air stinks of secrets and concealment;  . . . and what mendaciousness is employed to disguise that this hatred is hatred!  What a display of grand words and postures, what an art of "honest" calumny!




d
Fascism in Flint, Ford, and Packard


Among the great work sites of American Industry, the Rouge did have a fascist odor about it
These two paragraphs by Lichtenstein is as good as it gets.  The second paragraph gives a dense empirical/phenomenological account of patrimonialism* as a form of life.  The first paragraph a dense empirical/phenomenological description of the politics of patrimonialism.  It is precisely this anthropologically-concieved insight
into a world that in some sense could be considered more primordial  --Oral rather than Literate*(Ong)--that helps us unlock the secret of the ultranationalism of the late nineteenth century, and  the primal "base" upon which they built their regimes.

Lichtenstein's use of the expression "fascist odor," however, forces us to clarify what we mean by "fascism" and "fascist."

The current mainstream of scholars and publishers (not marginal or deviant) must be surveyed, s small but more than adequate set of works** to accomplish our purpose: as Wittgenstein might put it, What do we mean when we say fascist, fascism, or fascist odor?

Fascism at the Rouge, circa 1941

from Nelson Lichtenstein,
The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit:
Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor (Basic Books, 1995), p. 82

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Fascism in Flint, 1937

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click here for full text
click here for full text

the KKK in Packard, circa 1942
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In the matter of  . . .

Preferment of Charges against Frank Buehrle by Kurt Murdock,
President of PACKARD LOCAL U.A.W.-C.I.O. #190, held at the
local Headquarters of the Locall at 6100 Mt. Elliott Avenue, in the
City of Detroit, Michigan.  April 3rd, 1942, at 7:30 P.M.






Trump and Fascism: contemporary journalism


Fascism Reconsidered: Texts as Contexts
from Nietzsche, The Geneology of Morals, II, 16:

Let us add at once that . . . the existence on earth of an animal soul turned against itself, taking sides against itself, was something so new, profound, unheard of, enigmatic, contradictory, and pregnant with a future that the aspect of the earth was essentially altered.  Indeed, divine spectators were needed to justice to the spectacle that thus began and the end of which is not yet in sight . . . .  From now on, man . . . gives rise to an interest, a tension, a hope, almost a certainty, as if with him somethin were anouncing and preparing itself, as if man were not a goal but onl a way, an episode, a bridge, a great promise.

from Michael André Bernstein, Bitter Carnival : ressentiment and the abject hero (Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 28

 . . . ressentiment is trapped forever in the slights of the past.  . . . .  What “empowers” someone afflicted by ressentiment is the intensely focused, but impotent hatred with which he feeds his sense of having been treated unfairly, and his hope of someday forcing others to suffer in his place.

from Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, p. 96-7

 Now let’s see how things are with people who are capable of revenge . . .  When the desire for revenge takes possession of them, they are drained for a time of every other feeling but this desire for revenge. . . . .  Now let’s look at this mouse in action.  Let’s assume it has been humiliated (it is constantly being humiliated) and that it wishes to avenge itself. . . .  The nauseating, despicable, petty desire to repay the offender in kind may squeak more disgustingly in the mouse than in the natural man who, because of his innate stupidity, considers revenge as merely justice . . . .  In its repulsive, evil-smelling nest, the downtrodden, ridiculed mouse plunges immediately into a cold, poisonous, and—most important—never-ending hatred.  For forty years, it will remember the humiliation in all its ignominious details . . .

from Nietzsche, The Geneology of Morals, II, 22:

Oh this insane, pathetic beast--man!  What ideas he has, what unnaturalness, what paroxysms of nonsense, what bestiality of thought erupts . . .

All this is interesting, to excess, but also of a gloomy, black, unnerving sadness, so that one must forcibly forbid oneself to gaze too long into these abysses.  Here is sickness, beyond any doubt, the most terrible sickness that has ever raged in man . . . .  There is so much man that is hideous!--Too long, the earth has been a madhouse!

from Timothy R. Pauketat, An Archaeology of the Cosmos: Rethinking Agency and Religion in Ancient America (Routledge, 2012), p. 30

Indeed, this is the very basis of the Western world, with religions that profess beliefs while simultaneously disciplining bodies and purging them of their desires.







A striking illustration of the cognitive limitations of liberals is that they fail to note the obvious--that is, they fail to conceptualize the generic character of this stream of sado-sexual performances.  The excerpt at the right from a study of Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment makes this clear.  Jamieson and Cappella just don't get it: The vulgarity and sadism of Limbaugh's rhetoric is the main event in this theater of ressentiment, while the "issues" are merely the occasion for the expression of emotionally appealing sexual inuendo and sadism.  This is the stuff of Nietzsche's ressentiment. 

Maureen Dowd does get it.  Her pithy summary of the sado-sexual character of the GOP's impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 should be compared to the bemused perplexity of Jamieson and Cappella.

Katherine Stewart also gets it




The Freud-Jamieson Black Hole of Liberalism


from Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella, Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment (Oxford Univeristy Press, 2008), p.p. 188-89. (Emphasis added.)

Limbaugh's attempts at gender-based "humor" are of the locker room variety.  As the California gubernatorial recall was heating up, Limbaugh informed his folowers that Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante--"whose name loosely translates into Spanish for 'large breasts'--leads the Terminator by a few pionts" (August 18, 2003).  A photomontage on the Limbaugh website shows a photograph of Schwartzenegger's head and shoulders from his Pumping Iron days as a body builder.  A naked woman has been transposed onto his shoulders.  Over her breasts is a sign reading BUSTAMONTE.  When Madonna endorsed General Wesley Clark, Limbaugh reported that she had "opened herself" to him.  Why the vulgarity in this message does not alienate the churchgoing conservatives in his audiences is a question for which we have no ready answer.


from Friedrich Nietzsche, The Geneology of Morals, II, 14

Here the works of vengefulness and rancor swarm; here the air stinks of secrets and concealment;  . . . and what mendaciousness is employed to disguise that this hatred is hatred!  What a display of grand words and postures, what an art of "honest" calumny!

from Maureen Dowd, "Starr Chamber: The Sequel.  President Trump reaches deep into the perv barrel for his defense team," NYT, Jan 18, 2020.

The Starr chamber was a shameful period of American history, with the prissy Puritan independent counsel hounding and virtually jailing Monica Lewinsky and producing hundreds of pages of panting, bodice-ripping prose that read more like bad erotica than a federal report, rife with lurid passages about breasts, stains and genitalia. Like the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale and other Pharisaic Holy Rollers before him, the prosecutor who read the Bible and sang hymns when he jogged became fixated on sex in an unhealthy, warped way.

Starr, who once clutched his pearls over Bill Clinton’s sexual high jinks, is now going to bat for President “Access Hollywood.” After playing an avenging Javert about foreplay in the Oval, Starr will now do his utmost to prove that a real abuse of power undermining Congress and American foreign policy is piffle.

In 2007, he defended Jeffrey Epstein. By 2016, Starr was being ousted as president of Baptist Baylor University for failing to protect women and looking the other way when football players were accused and sometimes convicted of sexual assaults.




from "Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus: The Christian right doesn’t like the president only for his judges. They like his style."
By Katherine Stewart, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2018


A lot of attention has been paid to the supposed paradox of evangelicals backing such an imperfect man, but the real problem is that our idea of Christian nationalism hasn’t caught up with the reality. We still buy the line that the hard core of the Christian right is just an interest group working to protect its values. But what we don’t get is that Mr. Trump’s supposedly anti-Christian attributes and anti-democratic attributes are a vital part of his attraction.

I have attended dozens of Christian nationalist conferences and events over the past two years. And while I have heard plenty of comments casting doubt on the more questionable aspects of Mr. Trump’s character, the gist of the proceedings almost always comes down to the belief that he is a miracle sent straight from heaven to bring the nation back to the Lord. I have also learned that resistance to Mr. Trump is tantamount to resistance to God.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core.



on the hermeneutics of "intelligent design"

from MEMORANDUM OPINION, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Dist., 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005); John E. Jones III,  United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (also Wikipedia articleDoverAreaSchoolDistrict).

1. An Objective Observer Would Know that ID and Teaching About "Gaps" and "Problems" in Evolutionary Theory are Creationist, Religious Strategies that Evolved from Earlier Forms of Creationism

The history of the intelligent design movement (hereinafter "IDM") and the development of the strategy to weaken education of evolution by focusing students on alleged gaps in the theory of evolution is the historical and cultural background against which the Dover School Board acted in adopting the challenged ID Policy. As a reasonable observer, whether adult or child, would be aware of this social context in which the ID Policy arose, and such context will help to reveal the meaning of Defendants' actions, it is necessary to trace the history of the IDM.