HOSTILITY TO UNIVERSAL CITIZENSHIP IS, I submit, the main characteristic of fascism. And the rejection of even a tempered universalism is what we now see repeated under democratic circumstances (I do not even say under democratic disguise). Post-totalitarian fascism is thriving under the capacious carapace of global capitalism, and we should tell it like it is..
Why call this cluster of phenomena fascism, however post-? Post-fascism finds its niche easily in the new world of global capitalism without upsetting the dominant political forms of electoral democracy and representative government. It does what I consider to be central to all varieties of fascism, including the post-totalitarian version. Sans Führer, sans one-party rule, sans SA or SS, post-fascism reverses the Enlightenment tendency to assimilate citizenship to the human condition.
I have an interest to declare. The government of my country, Hungary, is--along with the Bavarian provincial government (provincial in more senses than one)--the strongest foreign supporter of Jörg Haider’s Austria. The right-wing cabinet in Budapest, besides other misdeeds, is attempting to suppress parliamentary governance, penalizing local authorities of a different political hue than itself, and busily creating and imposing a novel state ideology, with the help of a number of lumpen intellectuals of the extreme right, including some overt neo-Nazis. It is in cahoots with an openly and viciously anti-Semitic fascistic party that is, alas, represented in parliament. People working for the prime minister’s office are engaging in more or less cautious Holocaust revisionism. The government-controlled state television gives vent to raw anti-Gypsy racism. The fans of the most popular soccer club in the country, whose chairman is a cabinet minister and a party leader, are chanting in unison about the train that is bound to leave any moment for Auschwitz.
On the ground floor of the Central European University in Budapest you can visit an exhibition concerning the years of turmoil a decade or so ago. There you can watch a video recorded illegally in 1988, and you can see the current Hungarian prime minister defending and protecting me with his own body from the truncheons of communist riot police. Ten years later, this same person appointed a communist police general as his home secretary, the second or third most important person in the cabinet. Political conflicts between former friends and allies are usually acrimonious. This is no exception. I am an active participant in an incipient anti-fascist movement in Hungary, a speaker at rallies and demonstrations. Our opponents--in personal terms--are too close for comfort. Thus, I cannot consider myself a neutral observer.
The phenomenon that I shall call post-fascism is not unique to Central Europe. Far from it. To be sure, Germany, Austria, and Hungary are important, for historical reasons obvious to all; familiar phrases repeated here have different echoes. I recently saw that the old brick factory in Budapest’s third district is being demolished; I am told that they will build a gated community of suburban villas in its place. The brick factory is where the Budapest Jews waited their turn to be transported to the concentration camps. You could as well build holiday cottages in Treblinka. Our vigilance in this part of the world is perhaps more needed than anywhere else, since innocence, in historical terms, cannot be presumed. Still, post-fascism is a cluster of policies, practices, routines, and ideologies that can be observed everywhere in the contemporary world; that have little or nothing to do, except in Central Europe, with the legacy of Nazism; that are not totalitarian; that are not at all revolutionary; and that are not based on violent mass movements and irrationalist, voluntaristic philosophies, nor are they toying, even in jest, with anti-capitalism.
Before the Enlightenment, citizenship was a privilege, an elevated status limited by descent, class, race, creed, gender, political participation, morals, profession, patronage, and administrative fiat, not to speak of age and education. Active membership in the political community was a station to yearn for, civis Romanus sum the enunciation of a certain nobility. Policies extending citizenship may have been generous or stingy, but the rule was that the rank of citizen was conferred by the lawfully constituted authority, according to expediency. Christianity, like some Stoics, sought to transcend this kind of limited citizenship by considering it second-rate or inessential when compared to a virtual community of the saved. Freedom from sin was superior to the freedom of the city. During the long, medieval obsolescence of the civic, the claim for an active membership in the political community was superseded by the exigencies of just governance, and civic excellence was abbreviated to martial virtue.
Once citizenship was equated with human dignity, its extension to all classes, professions, both sexes, all races, creeds, and locations was only a matter of time. Universal franchise, the national service, and state education for all had to follow. Moreover, once all human beings were supposed to be able to accede to the high rank of a citizen, national solidarity within the newly egalitarian political community demanded the relief of the estate of Man, a dignified material existence for all, and the eradication of the remnants of personal servitude. The state, putatively representing everybody, was prevailed upon to grant not only a modicum of wealth for most people, but also a minimum of leisure, once the exclusive temporal fief of gentlemen only, in order to enable us all to play and enjoy the benefits of culture.
For the liberal, social-democratic, and other assorted progressive heirs of the Enlightenment, then, progress meant universal citizenship--that is, a virtual equality of political condition, a virtually equal say for all in the common affairs of any given community--together with a social condition and a model of rationality that could make it possible. For some, socialism seemed to be the straightforward continuation and enlargement of the Enlightenment project; for some, like Karl Marx, the completion of the project required a revolution (doing away with the appropriation of surplus value and an end to the social division of labor). But for all of them it appeared fairly obvious that the merger of the human and the political condition was, simply, moral necessity
The savage nineteenth-century condemnations of bourgeois society--the common basis, for a time, of the culturally avant-garde and politically radical--stemmed from the conviction that the process, as it was, was fraudulent, and that individual liberty was not all it was cracked up to be, but not from the view, represented only by a few solitary figures, that the endeavor was worthless. It was not only Nietzsche and Dostoevsky who feared that increasing equality might transform everybody above and under the middle classes into bourgeois philistines. Progressive revolutionaries, too, wanted a New Man and a New Woman, bereft of the inner demons of repression and domination: a civic community that was at the same time the human community needed a new morality grounded in respect for the hitherto excluded.
This adventure ended in the debacle of 1914. Fascism offered the most determined response to the collapse of the Enlightenment, especially of democratic socialism and progressive social reform. Fascism, on the whole, was not conservative, even if it was counter-revolutionary: it did not re-establish hereditary aristocracy or the monarchy, despite some romantic-reactionary verbiage. But it was able to undo the key regulative (or liminal) notion of modern society, that of universal citizenship... Read more:http://new.bostonreview.net/BR25.3/tamas.html
Popular posts from this blog
Pakistan and National Unity is an important position paper of the Communist Party of India, and a far-reaching text in the history of the Indian communist movement. The resolution dated September 19, 1942 contains an outline of the CPI's support for what it called the 'just essence of the Pakistan demand'; and the Report by Gangadhar Adhikari is a detailed explanation of the resolution. The resolution was confirmed by the First Congress of the CPI in May 1943. Its arguments may be contrasted with the pamphlet titled Who Rules Pakistan? published in Bombay in August 1948, as a 'Communist Party publication' - and is one of the earliest position documents of the Communist Party of Pakistan. The document is titled File CPI-31/1942 ; and forms part of the P.C. Joshi Archives at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The text of the resolution and report is also available in the book entitled Remembering Dr Gangadhar Adhikari: Selections from Writings, Part 2 ; e
'Do you know', Napoleon once said to Fontanes, 'what astounds me most about the world? The impotence of force to establish anything. There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the mind. In the end, the sword is always conquered by the mind' Conquerors, you see, are sometimes melancholy. They have to pay some price for so much vainglory. But what a hundred years ago was true of the sword is no longer true today of the tank. Conquerors have made progress, and the dismal silence of places without intelligence has been established for years at a time in a lacerated Europe. At the time of the hideous wars of Flanders, Dutch painters could still perhaps paint the cockerels in their farmyards. The Hundred Years War has likewise been forgotten, and yet the prayers of Silesian mystics still linger in some hearts. But today, things have changed; the painter and the monk have been drafted - we are one with the world. The mind has lost that regal certainty which a c
Mike Davis on COVID-19: The monster is finally at the door / Impact on the global poor / Capitalism vs human survival
NB : Mike Davis is the author of Late Victorian Holocausts , a detailed analysis of the 19th century drought and famine that took millions of lives of the poor in India and China DS The current pandemic expands the argument: capitalist globalization now appears to be biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infra-structure. But such an infrastructure will never exist until peoples’ movements break the power of Big Pharma and for-profit healthcare. The original H1N1 found a favored niche in army camps and battlefield trenches where it scythed down young soldiers down by the tens of thousands. The collapse of the great German spring offensive of 1918 has been attributed to the fact that the Allies, in contrast to their enemy, could replenish their sick armies with newly arrived American troops.... It is rarely appreciated, however, that fully 60 per cent of global mortality occurred in western India where grain exports to Britain and bru
There are still people who admire Godse for shooting a defenceless, unarmed old man at point blank range in a prayer meeting.. After all, modern society is awash with extremist beliefs, including support for suicide bombers and vigilante violence. E xtremism has taken centre-stage i n the guise of communal ideology and prejudices. People in high of fice believe in collective guilt (denouncing entire communities for the sins of a few), controlled mobs, revenge killing and vigilantism. Click the title for Parts 1 & 2 of the Report [of the 6 volume document] of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi by Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur [Supreme Court of India]. The commission was established in 1965 & submitted i ts report on 30 Sept 1969 . A whiff of evil A message and an appeal Peace as a punctuation mark in eternal war The Supreme Court,Gandhi and the RSS Apoorvanand: गांधीजी का आखरी महीना - Talk on Gandhiji's Last Month Pune, Oct
Alexandre Koyré: The Political Function of the Modern Lie (1945) /John Keane: lying, journalism and democracy
NB: This line of theoretical and sociological inquiry is crucial for an understanding of the contemporary world, and has been neglected (in the main) by political scientists and historians. Alexandre Koyre (1892-1964) was a Russian-born philosopher and historian of religion and science. His 1945 essay on The Political Function of the Lie was used by Hannah Arendt as a source for insights into her study of the origins of totalitarianism . Some observations and extracts are supplied below, along with links to Koyre's original essay, as well as a 2010 lecture on lying in journalism. They are worth reading, as a reminder that the deceitful and intimidatory atmosphere of our times is rooted in political phenomena that were commented upon decades ago - DS A perceptive analyst and a close reader of Alexandre Koyré, Arendt described totalitarian regimes as being “ secret societies established in broad daylight .” (see Koyre, pp 296-7). By imitating the apparatus of secret societies wit
NB: Today is my father's thirteenth death anniversary. A few of his students from the first few batches have circulated their personal recollections. It is mainly with them in mind that I post this essay which I wrote in 2008, for a Penguin collection. (And here is something I posted in 2018, on his birth centenary). I hope it triggers some golden memories! Love to you all. Dilip Of Bagpipes, Horses and Golden Orioles Dilip Simeon from Recess: The Penguin Book of Schooldays Palash Mehrotra (ed); New Delhi, 2008 This is a very personal story about a public school. There will undoubtedly be names that I’ve left out, but I trust I’ll be pardoned my lapses. What I’m sure about is that all of us who joined it in its foundational years share a powerful affinity with a Haryana village named Kunjpura. (Dist., as they say, Karnal). Thinking about schooldays at a point in life when middle-age is edging towards elderly-ness, can be a strange encounter with oneself. I recall
Covid County Simulator Overview Select the state and county using the drop-down boxes at the top of the page and the page will update with: Daily active cases 3-week forecast of active cases 100-day projection of active cases and deaths Note that you have to look below the graph to see the total projected deaths. Check covidcountysim.org daily as the regression forecast and simulation may change when we upload data each day from Johns Hopkins' GitHub site. Mortality rate : You can override the calculated rate by typing a new one into the field. The model will use the new rate to calculate the number of deaths at the end of the simulation until you refresh the page. Running a social distancing ‘intervention’ The intervention date is set to after the prediction period ends. Then use the slider to increase or decrease social distancing. You will notice that this changes the target Rt value, which is the value you are targeting based