Fascism!

josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
The concept of fascism is quite denuded of content these days - often used simply as a glorified insult rather than a term possessing real political content. But Adam Kirsch calls Zizek a fascist in his recent TNR piece, and I wonder or not whether this might be true. That is, it does seem to me that the concept is potentially more useful than the old Left-Right axis - especially in an age in which almost a) nobody will admit to being Right, and b) almost everyone claims to be Left, but from about a million different and not really consistent angles.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
What's Kirsch's argument?

I only really know Zizek from people talking about him here, but if I was going to pin a negative label on him I'd go for 'mystic' or 'puritan' something similarly religious...
 

vimothy

yurp
I read the TNR piece, BTW. It seems to have sparked some interesting responses from his legions of fans.

So, what exactly do you mean by fascism? Are we talking about racism, militarism, economic fascism, atavistic politics, etc, etc, etc???
 

jambo

slip inside my schlafsack
I would also ask fascism in what sense, but not necessarily as a prelude to defending SZ. Must admit, only just skimmed the TNR article.

One thing I have thought re: fascism is that a fascist ideology always finally relies on a sense, avowed or otherwise, of it's absolute rightness. And this must by it's nature always be predicated on the notion of someone else's, some other group's, absolute wrongness. Maybe that sounds very obvious, but is this not the ultimate 'evil' and error of fascism, and also the way in which we might identify fascisms elsewhere?
 

josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
I read the TNR piece, BTW. It seems to have sparked some interesting responses from his legions of fans.

So, what exactly do you mean by fascism? Are we talking about racism, militarism, economic fascism, atavistic politics, etc, etc, etc???

I guess I'm principally interested in the more micropolitical forms of fascism... "the fascist within", to quote Deleuze and Guattari. Hitler, it is said, became successful because he constructed a narrative best able to narrate and explain the resentments of the German people back to them, to transmute the personal into the political. I am very interested in how exactly he did this - how we got from a loser in the beer halls of Munich to the office of the leader of Germany.

I read the Olivier Roy piece, by the way -- I think he has some interesting points on this score from another angle. The losers of Al-Qaeda and the losers of Nazism were in some sense the same losers.
 

josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
I would also ask fascism in what sense, but not necessarily as a prelude to defending SZ. Must admit, only just skimmed the TNR article.

One thing I have thought re: fascism is that a fascist ideology always finally relies on a sense, avowed or otherwise, of it's absolute rightness. And this must by it's nature always be predicated on the notion of someone else's, some other group's, absolute wrongness. Maybe that sounds very obvious, but is this not the ultimate 'evil' and error of fascism, and also the way in which we might identify fascisms elsewhere?

The dogmatic aspect is certainly there - and I think its link to identity is quite important. The idea that one IS something, believes SOMETHING, already casts the world in static terms, and presents a universe of static positions, to be crushed or taken.
 

matt b

Indexing all opinion
zizek is a self-proclaimed leninist (state)- communist (i think he mentioned it on Thinking Allowed on R4), but then in conversation, you can't tell if he's joking or not.

this may make him a big knob*, but not a fascist



*at the very least
 
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josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
I am self-proclaimed doctor of invasive surgery... but would you let me perform a colostomy on you?
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I am self-proclaimed doctor of invasive surgery... but would you let me perform a colostomy on you?

But that raises the issue of belief vs activity...

Is there anything about Zizek's activity which is fascist? Seems to me that what he does is give lectures and write.

Sorry to be thick, but what is TNR?
 

jambo

slip inside my schlafsack
Perhaps you mean something more subtle john but surely the greater part of most political activity is talking and writing? :slanted:
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Perhaps you mean something more subtle john but surely the greater part of most political activity is talking and writing? :slanted:

er, ok, yes that could do with clarification:

There is nothing inherent in the activities of writing and talking which is fascist.

So really what is important is what he saying, which is probably what he believes.

Perhaps inherently fascist activities could include pogroms, sieg heiling, setting up paramilitary organisations in order to stage a coup, that sort of thing?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Is there anything about Zizek's activity which is fascist? Seems to me that what he does is give lectures and write.

Well Hitler didn't personally kill millions of people, did he? He was just very good at persuading other people to do it for him.

Edit: x-post with jambo, more or less.

Also, John: hate to say this, but aren't you being a bit naive here? Would you say that writing or saying, to a large audience, "I think we could jolly well do with a pogrom!", is not a fascistic activity? - even if it leads to an *actual* pogrom? By the same token, are you disqualified from calling yourself a revolutionary socialist unless you've actually tried to storm a government building or take over a factory with a workers' cooperative?

Though I'm glad we agree that "There is nothing inherent in the activities of writing and talking which is fascist", since I'm quite fond of both. :cool:
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"The concept of fascism is quite denuded of content these days - often used simply as a glorified insult rather than a term possessing real political content."
I'm pretty sure that's right. So what do you think that Kirsch means by fascist? Something new or is he just attempting to re-invest the word with its old meaning? Is that possible?

"in an age in which almost a) nobody will admit to being Right, and b) almost everyone claims to be Left"
Is that true? I'm not saying it isn't, it just seems quite a strong claim to make so briefly like that. Do you mean nobody in the world or in the uk or what? I reckon that if you asked David Cameron where the Tories were positioned he would say centre right but would of course be scared to say far right in just the same way that Blair was terrified of being thought of as anything other than centre left.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Well Hitler didn't personally kill millions of people, did he? He was just very good at persuading other people to do it for him.

He was a very good orator who inspired people to action and presumably had some managerial skills also.

I don't think any of this is necessarily true of Zizek, however. ;)
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Right/Left

Loads of people I know and meet would describe themselves as right wing! All your Daily Mail reading tory voters would.

Similarly from what I can tell about the US, I think "liberal" being a dirty word is a manifestation of a populist rejection of "the left".
 

josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
TNR - The New Republic.

Zizek, plainly, is not a fascist in the sense of a skin-headed bovver-boy. But fascists require intellectual architects too, and so he couldn't be disqualified on this basis alone.

All this said, I'm not entirely certain that Zizek really is a fascist. But I think it is worth exploring the question of what fascism might mean today, which I would take to be something quite different from what it once meant. I want to demystify it!
 

vimothy

yurp
But that raises the issue of belief vs activity...

Is there anything about Zizek's activity which is fascist? Seems to me that what he does is give lectures and write.

Why stop with fascism when you could extend that to any belief system? It's as true for anything surely, with maximum points for those who give out flyers and join the samba band.

Loads of people I know and meet would describe themselves as right wing!

Really? I've never heard anyone descibe themselves as right wing.
 
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