Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fascism is Complicated

Fascism was a more complex phenomenon.
Gianni Alemanno

The arts have a complex relation to society.
William Carlos Williams

When I inaugurated my project of "kulchural studies" I knew that at its core was a rethinking of fascism. Also, that this rethinking would have to engage with what is clearly, I think, a renaissance of fascist thinking globally. More certainly, it would have to engage with the intensification of global conditions that are conducive to a fascist renaissance.

Today, I find myself sympathizing with the fascists; specifically I find myself agreeing with Gianni Alemanno. Given choice between the proposition "Fascism is an absolute evil" and "Fascism was a more complex phenomenon" it is difficult not to choose the latter. This from a strictly intellectual point of view. The first is not an occasion for thought, and we really do need to think seriously about fascism.

Alemanno offers the following elaboration:

Many people joined up in good faith and I don't feel like labeling them with that definition. The racial laws desired under fascism, that spurred its political and cultural end, were absolute evil.

What more could we ask of a reasoned position on fascism? It was complicated; there were perfectly good reasons at the time (say, 1925) to prefer it over the alternatives; and it was brought down by its own petty hatreds, which, if you insist, were absolutely evil.

The idea that if you want to say something nice about fascism you shouldn't say anything at all is, well, a sort of fascist one, in the pejorative sense of those who might say it. It simplifies important aspects of a complicated phenomeon.


Kirby Olson said...

I think Obama will now have to turn you down as a speech writer.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Yes. But I think a background check would have led to the same result. The McCain campaign doesn't seem to do background checks, however ....

Kirby Olson said...

McCain already has a top speech writer who is doing pretty well.

And his choice (Palin) has IGNITED the Republicans, and brought out enormous crowds, and has now turned on the likes of Camille Paglia, too, in her defense: