Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fascism, yet another tinkering and working out of the theory

It's a strange thing. I used the idea of being anti-Modernity in a previous post about something unrelated and I realize that that sort of phrasing is actually somewhat hot button because the New Right in Europe, neo-fascists, use rhetoric like that all the time. With that out of the way, it seems that ideologically Fascism was a combination of anti-Modernism sentiments manifested through a late Romantic framework, combined with a point of view produced by intense alienation that was likely the result of changes to the social structure brought on by industrial capitalism, all wedded to an intense revanchist conservatism. You look at the roots of the hyper nationalist, violent, conservative movement and you see sentiments along the lines of the modern industrial world destroying all sorts of social relationships that anchor a person, with what would be considered "Family Values" pointed to as things that would improve the life of individuals if reinforced. The traditional social relationships referred to, whether idealized totally or only partially, are frequently melded into the idea of "The Nation", so that in Italy, for example, being a patriot and being pro-Italy meant under Fascism also respecting the Church and respecting traditional values, and seeing what was truly Italy's in terms of culture as emanating from that sort of background. Alienation fits into all of it as its own characteristic, not just as a contributing factor. I believe that many of the people who committed lots of violence, the hard core, were extraordinarily alienated to the point where violence against opponents and murder in the service of the traditional idea became a feasible proposition. The cult of violence seems to be born out of terrible situations for a few, and is then spread to folks who aren't quite so alienated for them to imitate. Is something like this happening in the United States? Sure, but that issue is a little bit more complicated as the U.S. is something of a stealth country in that many different sectors of society coexist without even being aware that the others are there, until something like 9/11 brings out the fault lines that have previously been somewhat obscured. What I mean by that is that there obviously were lots of people who were proto-Fascist in the U.S., but they were under the radar until 9/11 happened. Personally, I don't think that a sizable portion of Americans really made the transition from a semi-peasant viewpoint to a bourgeois one under capitalism...the idea of what could be considered bourgeois rights is foreign to many of them.

There's obviously much, much, more but I'll leave it here.

*on edit: and let me be clear about something, that is to say that it's possible to be critical of some of the changes that modern industrial capitalism wrought without suggesting that conservatism is the answer. Not just now, but especially at the turn of the century in Europe, where you had huge slums consisting of people who had moved from the country to the city looking for jobs, there has been much to criticize. I think that the Socialist movement presented a much better alternative, something that combined the freeing aspects of modern capitalism in terms of personal freedom and freedom from the family and from the village with both economic non-alienated work structures and more integrated, humanistic cultural and leisure life. At its best. At its worst all of this was sacrificed on the altar of economic development. But a progressive Socialism remains a good solution to the problem of modernity.

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