Fascism’s Incognito – Conjuncted

“Being asked to define fascism is probably the scariest moment for any expert of fascism,” Montague said.
Communism-vs-Fascism
Brecht’s circular circuitry is here.
Allow me to make cross-sectional (both historically and geographically) references. I start with Mussolini, who talked of what use fascism could be put to by stating that capitalism throws itself into the protection of the state when it is in crisis, and he illustrated this point by referring to the Great Depression as a failure of laissez-faire capitalism and thus creating an opportunity for fascist state to provide an alternative to this failure. This in a way points to the fact that fascism springs to life economically in the event of capitalism’s deterioration. To highlight this point of fascism springing to life as a reaction to capitalism’s failure, let me take recourse to Samir Amin, who calls the fascist choice for managing a capitalist society in crisis as a categorial rejection of democracy, despite having reached that stage democratically. The masses are subjected to values of submission to a unity of socio-economic, political and/or religious ideological discourses. This is one reason why I call fascism not as a derivative category of capitalism in the sense of former being the historic phase of the latter, but rather as a coterminous tendency waiting in dormancy for capitalism to deteriorate, so that fascism could then detonate. But, are fascism and capitalism related in a multiple of ways is as good as how socialism is related with fascism, albeit only differently categorically.
It is imperative for me to add by way of what I perceive as financial capitalism and bureaucracy and where exactly art gets sandwiched in between the two, for more than anything else, I would firmly believe in Brecht as continuing the artistic practices of Marxian sociology and political-economy.
The financial capitalism combined with the impersonal bureaucracy has inverted the traditional schematic forcing us to live in a totalitarian system of financial governance divorced from democratic polity. It’s not even fascism in the older sense of the term, by being a collusion of state and corporate power, since the political is bankrupt and has become a mediatainment system of control and buffer against the fact of Plutocracies. The state will remain only as long as the police systems are needed to fend off people claiming rights to their rights. Politicians are dramaturgists and media personalities rather than workers in law.  If one were to just study the literature and paintings of the last 3-4 decades, it is fathomable where it is all going. Arts still continue to speak what we do not want to hear. Most of our academics are idiots clinging on to the ideological culture of the left that has put on its blinkers and has only one enemy, which is the right (whatever the hell that is). Instead of moving outside their straightjackets and embracing the world of the present, they still seem to be ensconced in 19th century utopianism with the only addition to their arsenal being the dramatic affects of mass media. Remember Thomas Pynchon of Gravity’s Rainbow fame (I prefer calling him the illegitimate cousin of James Joyce for his craftiness and smoothly sailing contrite plots: there goes off my first of paroxysms!!), who likened the system of techno-politics as an extension of our inhuman core, at best autonomous, intelligent and ever willing to exist outside the control of politics altogether. This befits the operational closure and echoing time and time again that technology isn’t an alien thing, but rather a manifestation of our inhuman core, a mutation of our shared fragments sieved together in ungodly ways. This is alien technologies in gratitude.
We have never been natural, and purportedly so by building defence systems against the natural both intrinsically and extrinsically. Take for example, Civilisation, the most artificial construct of all humans had busied themselves building and now busying themselves upholding. what is it? A Human Security System staving off entropy of existence through the self-perpetuation of a cultural complex of temporal immortalisation, if nothing less and vulnerable to editions by scores of pundits claiming to a larger schemata often overlooked by parochiality. Haven’t we become accustomed to hibernating in an artificial time now exposed by inhabiting the infosphere, creating dividualities by reckoning to data we intake, partake and outtake. Isn’t analysing the part/whole dividuality really scoring our worthiness? I know the answer is yes, but merely refusing to jump off the tongue. Democracies have made us indolent with extremities ever so flirting with electronic knowledge waiting to be turned to digital ash when confronted with the existential threat to our locus standi.
But, we always think of a secret cabal conspiring to dehumanise us. But we also forget the impersonality of the dataverse, the infosphere, the carnival we simply cannot avoid being a part of. Our mistaken beliefs lie in reductionism, and this is a serious detriment to causes created ex nihilo, for a fight is inevitably diluted if we pay insignificance to the global meshwork of complex systems of economics and control, for these far outstrip our ability to pin down to a critical apparatus. This apparatus needs to be different from ones based on criticism, for the latter is prone to sciolist tendencies. Maybe, one needs to admit allegiance to perils of our position and go along in a Socratic irony before turning in against the admittance at opportune times. Right deserves tackling through the Socratic irony, lest taking offences become platitudinous. Let us not forget that the modern state is nothing but a PR firm to keep the children asleep and unthinking and believing in the dramaturgy of the political as real. And this is where Brecht comes right back in, for he considered creation of bureaucracies as affronting not just fascist states, but even communist ones. The above aside, or digression is just a reality check on how much complex capitalism has become and with it, its derivatives of fascism as these are too intertwined within bureaucratic spaces. Even when Brecht was writing in his heydays, he took a deviation from his culinary-as-ever epic theatre to found a new form of what he called theatre as learning to play that resembled his political seminars modeled on the rejection of the concept of bureaucratic elitism in partisan politics where the theorists and functionaries issued directives and controlled activities on behalf of the masses to the point of submission of the latter to the former. This point is highlighted not just for fascist states, but equally well for socialist/communist regimes reiterating the fact that fascism is potent enough to develop in societies other than capitalistic ones.
Moving on to the point when mentions of democracy as bourgeois democracy is done in the same breath as regards equality only for those who are holders of capital are turning platitudinous. Well, structurally yes, this is what it seems like, but reality goes a bit deeper and thereafter fissures itself into looking at if capital indeed is what it is perceived as in general, or is there more to it than meets the eye. I quip this to confront two theorists of equality with one another: Piketty and Sally Goerner. Piketty misses a great opportunity to tie the “r > g” idea (after tax returns on capital r > growth rate of economy g) to the “limits to growth”. With a careful look at history, there are several quite important choice points along the path from the initial hope it won’t work out that way… to the inevitable distressing end he describes, and sees, and regrets. It’s what seduces us into so foolishly believing we can maintain “g > r”, despite the very clear and hard evidence of that faiIing all the time… that sometimes it doesn’t. The real “central contradiction of capitalism” then, is that it promises “g > r”, and then we inevitably find it is only temporary. Growth is actually nature’s universal start-up process, used to initially build every life, including the lives of every business, and the lives of every society. Nature begins building things with growth. She’s then also happy to destroy them with more of the same, those lives that began with healthy growth that make the fateful choice of continuing to devote their resources to driving their internal and external strains to the breaking point, trying to make g > r perpetual. It can’t be. So the secret to the puzzle seems to be: Once you’ve taken growth from “g > r” to spoiling its promise in its “r > g” you’ve missed the real opportunity it presented. Sally Goerner writes about how systems need to find new ways to grow through a process of rising intricacy that literally reorganizes the system into a higher level of complexity. Systems that fail to do that collapse. So smart growth is possible (a cell divides into multiple cells that then form an organ of higher complexity and greater intricacy through working cooperatively). Such smart growth is regenerative in that it manifests new potential. How different that feels than conventional scaling up of a business, often at the expense of intricacy (in order to achieve so called economies of scale). Leaps of complexity do satisfy growing demands for productivity, but only temporarily, as continually rising demands of productivity inevitably require ever bigger leaps of complexity. Reorganizing the system by adopting ever higher levels of intricacy eventually makes things ever more unmanageable, naturally becoming organizationally unstable, to collapse for that reason. So seeking the rise in productivity in exchange for a rising risk of disorderly collapse is like jumping out of the fry pan right into the fire! As a path to system longevity, then, it is tempting but risky, indeed appearing to be regenerative temporarily, until the same impossible challenge of keeping up with ever increasing demands for new productivity drives to abandon the next level of complexity too! The more intricacy (tight, small-scale weave) grows horizontally, the more unmanageable it becomes. That’s why all sorts of systems develop what we would call hierarchical structures. Here, however, hierarchal structures serve primarily as connective tissue that helps coordinate, facilitate and communicate across scales. One of the reasons human societies are falling apart is because many of our hierarchical structures no longer serve this connective tissue role, but rather fuel processes of draining and self-destruction by creating sinks where refuse could be regenerated. Capitalism, in its present financial form is precisely this sink, whereas capitalism wedded to fascism as an historical alliance doesn’t fit the purpose and thus proving once more that the collateral damage would be lent out to fascist states if that were to be the case, which would indeed materialize that way.
That democracy is bourgeois democracy is an idea associated with Swedish political theorist Goran Therborn, who as recent as the 2016 US elections proved his point by questioning the whole edifice of inclusive-exclusive aspects of democracy, when he said,
Even if capitalist markets do have an inclusive aspect, open to exchange with anyone…as long as it is profitable, capitalism as a whole is predominantly and inherently a system of social exclusion, dividing people by property and excluding the non-profitable. a system of this kind is, of course, incapable of allowing the capabilities of all humankind to be realized. and currently the the system looks well fortified, even though new critical currents are hitting against it.
Democracy did take on a positive meaning, and ironically enough, it was through rise of nation-states, consolidation of popular sovereignty championed by the west that it met its two most vociferous challenges in the form of communism and fascism, of which the latter was a reactionary response to the discontents of capitalist modernity. Its radically lay in racism and populism. A degree of deference toward the privileged and propertied, rather than radical opposition as in populism, went along with elite concessions affecting the welfare, social security, and improvement of the working masses. This was countered by, even in the programs of moderate and conservative parties by using state power to curtail the most malign effects of unfettered market dynamics. It was only in the works of Hayek that such interventions were beginning to represent the road to serfdom thus paving way to modern-day right-wing economies, of which state had absolutely no role to play as regards markets fundamentals and dynamics. The counter to bourgeois democracy was rooted in social democratic movements and is still is, one that is based on negotiation, compromise, give and take a a grudgingly given respect for the others (whether ideologically or individually). The point again is just to reiterate that fascism, in my opinion is not to be seen as a nakedest form of capitalism, but is generally seen to be floundering on the shoals of an economic slowdown or crisis of stagflation.
On ideal categories, I am not a Weberian at heart. I am a bit ambiguous or even ambivalent to the role of social science as a discipline that could draft a resolution to ideal types and interactions between those generating efficacies of real life. Though, it does form one aspect of it. My ontologies would lie in classificatory and constructive forms from more logical grounds that leave ample room for deviations and order-disorder dichotomies. Complexity is basically an offspring of entropy.
And here is where my student-days of philosophical pessimism surface, or were they ever dead, as the real way out is a dark path through the world we too long pretended did not exist.

Fascism’s Incognito – Brechtian Circular Circuitry. Note Quote.

Carefully looking at the Brechtian article and unstitching it, herein lies the pence (this is reproduced via an email exchange and hence is too very basic in arguments!!):

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1. When Brecht talks of acceding to the capitulation of Capitalism, in that, being a historic phase and new and old at the same time, this nakedest manifestation of Capitalism is attributed to relationality, which are driven by functionalist propositions and are non-linear, reversible schemas existing independently of the specific contents that are inserted as variables. This may sound a bit philosophical, but is the driving force behind Brecht’s understanding of Capitalism and is perfectly corroborated in his famous dictum, “Reality as such has slipped into the domain of the functional.” This dictum underlines what is new and what is old at the same time.
2. Sometime in the 30s, Brecht’s writings corroborated the linkages between Capitalism and Fascism, when the victories of European fascism prompted consideration of the relationship between collective violence and regressive social configurations. At its heart, his corpus during the times was a defining moment of finance capital, an elaborate systemic treatment of economic transactions within the literary narrative with fascistic overtones. It is here the capitalist is consummate par excellence motivated by the rational calculus (Ayn Rand rings the bells!!!). Eschewing the narrative desire of the traditional dramatic novel, Brecht compels the readers without any recourse to emotional intensity and catharsis, and capturing the attention via phlegmatic and sublimated pleasures of logical analysis, riddle solving, remainder less, and bookkeeping. This coming together of the financial capital with the rise in European Fascism, despite leading to barbaric times in due course, brought forth the progeny of corporation merging with the state incorporating social functions into integrated networks of production and consumption. What Brecht reflects as barbaric is incidentally penned in these tumultuous ear, where capital evolves from Fordist norms into Corporations and in the process atrophy human dimensions. This fact is extrapolated in contemporary times when capital has been financialized to the extent of artificial intelligences, HFTs and algorithmic decision making, just to sound a parallel to Nature 2.0.
But, before digressing a bit too far, where is Brecht lost in the history of class consciousness here? With capital evolving exponentially, even if there is no or little class consciousness in the proletariat, there will come a realization that exploitation is widespread. This is the fecund ground when nationalist and fascist rhetoric seeds into a full-grown tree, inciting xenophobias infused with radicalization (this happened historically in Italy and in Germany, and is getting replicated on micro-to-macro scales contemporarily). But, what Brecht has failed to come to terms with is the whole logic of fascists against the capitalist. Fascists struggle with the capitalist question within their own circles (a far-fetched parallel drawn here as regards India is the right ideologue’s opposition to FDI, for instance). Historically speaking and during times when Bertotl was actively writing, there were more working class members of the Italian fascists than anyone else with anti-capitalist numbers. In Nazi Germany, there were close to 30 per cent within stormtroopers as minimal identifies and sympathizers with communism. The rest looked up to fascism as a stronger alternative to socialism/communism in its militancy. The intellectual and for moral (might be a strikethrough term here, but in any case…) tonic was provided for by the bourgeois liberals who opposed fascism for their capitalist bent. All in all, Brecht could have been prescient to say the most, but was too ensconced, to say the least, in Marxist paradigms to analyze this suturing of ideological interests. That fascism ejected itself of a complete domineering to Capitalism, at least historically, is evident from the trajectory of a revolutionary syndicalist, Edmondo Rossoni, who was extremely critical of internationalism, and spearheaded Italian fascist unions far outnumbering Italian fascist membership. Failure to recognize this fractious relationship between Fascism and Capitalism jettisons the credibility of Brechtian piece linked.
3. Althusser once remarked that Brecht’s work displays two distinct forms of temporality that fail to achieve any mutual integration, which have no relation with one another, despite coexisting and interconnecting, never meet one another. The above linked essay is a prime example of Althusser’s remark. What Brecht achieves is demonstrating incongruities in temporalities of capital and the human (of Capitalism and Barbarianism/Fascism respectively), but is inadequate to take such incongruities to fit into the jigsaw puzzle of the size of Capitalism, not just in his active days, but even to very question of his being prescient for contemporary times, as was mentioned in point 2 in this response. Brecht’s reconstructing of the genealogy of Capitalism in tandem with Fascism parses out the link in commoditized linear history (A fallacy even with Marxian notion of history as history of class consciousness, in my opinion), ending up trapped in tautological circles, since the human mind is short of comprehending the paradoxical fact of Capitalism always seemingly good at presupposing itself.
It is for these reasons, why I opine that Brecht has a circular circuitry.

Ideological Morphology. Thought of the Day 105.1

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When applied to generic fascism, the combined concepts of ideal type and ideological morphology have profound implications for both the traditional liberal and Marxist definitions of fascism. For one thing it means that fascism is no longer defined in terms of style, for e.g. spectacular politics, uniformed paramilitary forces, the pervasive use of symbols like fasces and Swastika, or organizational structure, but in terms of ideology. Moreover, the ideology is not seen as essentially nihilistic or negative (anti-liberalism, anti-Marxism, resistance to transcendence etc.), or as the mystification and aestheticization of capitalist power. Instead, it is constructed in the positive, but not apologetic or revisionist terms of the fascists’ own diagnosis of society’s structural crisis and the remedies they propose to solve it, paying particular attention to the need to separate out the ineliminable, definitional conceptions from time- or place- specific adjacent or peripheral ones. However, for decades the state of fascist studies would have made Michael Freeden’s analysis well-nigh impossible to apply to generic fascism, because precisely what was lacking was any conventional wisdom embedded in common-sense usage of the term about what constituted the ineliminable cluster of concepts at its non-essentialist core. Despite a handful of attempts to establish its definitional constituents that combined deep comparative historiographical knowledge of the subject with a high degree of conceptual sophistication, there was a conspicuous lack of scholarly consensus over what constituted the fascist minimum. Whether there was such an entity as generic fascism even was a question to think through. Or whether Nazism’s eugenic racism and the euthanasia campaign it led to, combined with a policy of physically eliminating racial enemies that led to the systematic persecution and mass murder, was simply unique, and too exceptional to be located within the generic category was another question to think through. Both these positions suggest a naivety about the epistemological and ontological status of generic concepts most regrettable among professional intellectuals, since every generic entity is a utopian heuristic construct, not a real thing and every historically singularity is by definition unique no matter how many generic terms can be applied to it. Other common positions that implied considerable naivety were the ones that dismissed fascism’s ideology as too irrational or nihilistic to be part of the fascist minimum, or generalized about its generic traits by blending fascism and nazism.

Mailvox: The Origins of the Alt-Retard

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The reaction to degeneracy can sometimes happen within the spirit of degeneracy. Genocide is not the morally wholesome solution to whoredom. The Marxist-Lenninsts regard Fascism as form of bourgeois reaction. That is their frame, it is how they like to position their argument as it emphasises the difference between the two, but I think it is far better to think of Socialism as Left Modernism and Fascism as being Right Modernism. With Left and Right being dispositional/temperamental distinctions. They might be different teams but they’re both playing the same game.

A Generation X reader sent me this analysis of the Fake Right Clown Posse, which somehow manages to be both sympathetic of the plight being faced by the young men of today and contemptuous of what some of them have become in response. I think he is largely correct, and explains why their attempts to defend their race and their nations so often go awry.

We have no choice but to help them. The challenge is that the only answer to ignorance is information, and as we know, as we have witnessed, there are some who cannot be instructed by information.

Mailvox: The Origins of the Alt-Retard

The Left Needs the Stupid to Survive…

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Social pathologies, or the social pathologist undoubtedly. Orwell developed his Newspeak dictionary in order to explain the cognitive phenomenon he observed about him with regard to those committed to the left. Thats not to say that the cognitive phenomenon cannot be on the right, since many mass movement type ideologies are logically contradictory and to sustain themselves their adherents must engage themselves in mental gyrations to upkeep their belief. Orwell needed the Newspeak as part of the apparatus of totalitarian control, something forced on to an unwitting and unwilling public. It never occurred to Orwell that the masses would never care as long as their animal desires were being provided for. The party, much like the Juvenal before them, recognized that the public would not much care about the higher concepts such as truth or freedom as ling as their bread and circuses, in the form of the cynical statement Prolefeed were supplied. In fact, trying to pry them away from such materialities or ‘truth’ would likely cause them the to support the existing regime. This means that a capitalist totalitarianism, with its superior ability to provide for material goods would be harder to dislodge than a socialist one.

Take for example the notion of Doublethink, the idea of keeping two mutually opposing ideas in one’s head without noticing the difference. Orwell saw this mode as an aberration with regard to normal thought but never realized the fact that this was in the common man a mode of cognition. Or the concept of Bellyfeel, which Orwell states,

Consider, for example, a typical sentence from a Times leading article as “Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc”. the shortest rendering one could make of this in Oldspeak would be: “Those whose ideas formed before the revolution cannot have a full understanding of the principle of English socialism.” But, this is not an adequate translation…only a person thoroughly grounded in Ingsoc could appreciate the full force of the word bellyful, which implied a blind, enthusiastic and casual acceptance difficult to imagine today.

“Gut-Instinct”, more than reason, is mass man’s mechanism of political orientation. This is why Fascism and Socialism is better understood as appeals to the gut-brain rather than logically and empirically justified modes of political thought. Totalitarian regimes cannot solely rely on oppression for their survival, they also need to rely on some of cooperation  amongst the population, and they bring this about by exploiting the cognitive miserliness of the average man. Orwell, just like many other left-wing intellectuals never really appreciated the mindset of just outside the proletariat that he was. His fundamental misunderstanding of Newspeak lay in the assumption of rationalist fallacy, which assumes that the average man is rational when it counts, but the problem lies in the fact that for the average man cognitive miserliness is the norm. the problem is that a lot of mainstream conservative thought is based on this premise, which in turn undermines its own survival and helps feed the leftist beast. Any conservatives that believes in the right of the conservative miser to choose is a dead man walking. This criticism of the prole-mind is not based on any snobbery, rather it is of functional basis. Competency, not class should be the eligibility for decision-making, and thus no wonder left needs the stupid to survive.

The Politics of Speed and the Ascendancy of the Right. Thought of the Day 55.0

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Speed and Politics and (Popular Defense; Ecological Struggles) register the scope of the vast change in Virilio’s position. The problematic shifts from space to time, and from an expansive politics of mobilization and liberalization, to a defensive and conservative politics of resistance to acceleration and to a defence of the social. Responding to the appeals of theologians like Bonhoeffer, Virilio begins to warn of the dangers implied in the new state of the world, dangers to the experience of space of the city and of democracy, and of the new possibility of apocalypse brought about by new technologies and strategies available to and adopted by the military elite. In a sense the essay Speed and Politics, with its theory of power through control of movement a ‘dromocracy’, was the culmination of an analysis applicable to a world already passing away. If the proletariat still thinks in terms of the control of streets and physical movement, the military thinks otherwise: it thinks logistically in relation to new meeting points such as airports, highways and telecommunications. Communism died, fascism survives and has adapted. In this world, available in instantaneous communication and immediate information, a new permanent state of emergency is created which brings a sharp end to struggles in relative speed.

Virilio draws out these conclusions more dramatically in his book Popular Defense:

If… civilians could have resisted the assault of the war machine, gotten ahead of it, by creating a defence without a body, condensed nowhere, it is quite evident that today they don’t even realize that technology has surpassed this kind of defence.

This is because: ‘There is no need for an armed body to attack civilians, so long as the latter have been properly trained to turn on their radios or plug in their television sets’. In these conditions the political state declines, and where ‘hyper-communicability’ exists there grows totalitarian power. The right of armed defence by citizens is lost, while on the other hand ‘from now on’ the military power is so ‘shapeless’ it can no longer be identified as it installs itself in a regime of generalized security: an important and irreversible shift from a state of political and civil justice, to a state of logistical and military discipline. This is achieved through the systematic destruction of all the major forms of social solidarity which previously offered real resistance to the state: particularly the family, conceived by Virilio as essentially a combat unit. The liberation of women effectively weakens the solidarity of the family as a defensive form against the state. The resort to terrorism by ultra-left-wing groups again only serves to strengthen, not weaken, the war machine. This creates a paradox: the possibility that the revolution can succeed through control of the streets has been lost yet ‘there is no more revolution except in resistance’. Virilio returns to his bunker.

Fascism. Drunken Risibility

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You must create your life, as you’d create a work of art. It’s necessary that the life of an intellectual be artwork with him as the subject. True superiority is all here. At all costs, you must preserve liberty, to the point of intoxication. — Gabriele d’Annunzio

The complex relationship between fascism and modernity cannot be resolved all at once, and with a simple yes or no. It has to be developed in the unfolding story of fascism’s acquisition and exercise of power. The most satisfactory work on this matter shows how antimodernizing resentments were channeled and neutralized, step by step, in specific legislation, by more powerful pragmatic and intellectual forces working in the service of an alternate modernity.

The word fascism has its root in the Italian fascio, literally a bundle or sheaf. More remotely, the word recalled the Latin fasces, an axe encased in a bundle of rods that was carried before the magistrates in Roman public processions to signify the authority and unity of the state. Before 1914, the symbolism of the Roman fasces was usually appropriated by the Left. Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, was often portrayed in the nineteenth century carrying the fasces to represent the force of Republican solidarity against her aristocratic and clerical enemies. Italian revolutionaries used the term fascio in the late nineteenth century to evoke the solidarity of committed militants. The peasants who rose against their landlords in Sicily in 1893–94 called themselves the Fasci Siciliani. When in late 1914 a group of left-wing nationalists, soon joined by the socialist outcast Benito Mussolini, sought to bring Italy into World War I on the Allied side, they chose a name designed to communicate both the fervor and the solidarity of their campaign: the Fascio Rivoluzionario d’Azione Interventista (Revolutionary League for Interventionist Action). At the end of World War I, Mussolini coined the term fascismo to describe the mood of the little band of nationalist ex-soldiers and pro-war syndicalist revolutionaries that he was gathering around himself. Even then, he had no monopoly on the word fascio, which remained in general use for activist groups of various political hues. Officially, Fascism was born in Milan on Sunday, March 23, 1919. That morning, somewhat more than a hundred persons, including war veterans, syndicalists who had supported the war, and Futurist intellectuals, plus some reporters and the merely curious, gathered in the meeting room of the Milan Industrial and Commercial Alliance, overlooking the Piazza San Sepolcro, to “declare war against socialism . . . because it has opposed nationalism.” Now Mussolini called his movement the Fasci di Combattimento, which means, very approximately, “fraternities of combat.”

Definitions are inherently limiting. They frame a static picture of something that is better perceived in movement, and they portray as “frozen ‘statuary’” something that is better understood as a process. They succumb all too often to the intellectual’s temptation to take programmatic statements as constitutive, and to identify fascism more with what it said than with what it did. The quest for the perfect definition, by reducing fascism to one ever more finely honed phrase, seems to shut off questions about the origins and course of fascist development rather than open them up. Fascism, by contrast, was a new invention created afresh for the era of mass politics. It sought to appeal mainly to the emotions by the use of ritual, carefully stage-managed ceremonies, and intensely charged rhetoric. The role programs and doctrine play in it is, on closer inspection, fundamentally unlike the role they play in conservatism, liberalism, and socialism. Fascism does not rest explicitly upon an elaborated philosophical system, but rather upon popular feelings about master races, their unjust lot, and their rightful predominance over inferior peoples. It has not been given intellectual underpinnings by any system builder, like Marx, or by any major critical intelligence, like Mill, Burke, or Tocqueville. In a way utterly unlike the classical “isms,” the rightness of fascism does not depend on the truth of any of the propositions advanced in its name. Fascism is “true” insofar as it helps fulfill the destiny of a chosen race or people or blood, locked with other peoples in a Darwinian struggle, and not in the light of some abstract and universal reason.

Ideology

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For Žižek, we are not so much living in a post-ideological era as in an era dominated by the ideology of cynicism. Adapting from Marx and Sloterdijk, he sums up the cynical attitude as “they know that, in their activity, they are following an illusion, but still, they are doing it”. Ideology in this sense, is located in what we do and not in what we know. Our belief in an ideology is thus staged in advance of our acknowledging that belief in “belief machines”, such as Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatuses. It is “belief before belief.”

One of the questions Žižek asks about ideology is: what keeps an ideological field of meaning consistent? Given that signifiers are unstable and liable to slippages of meaning, how does an ideology maintain its consistency? The answer to this problem is that any given ideological field is “quilted” by what, following lacan, he terms a point de capiton (literally an “upholstery button” though it has also been translated as “anchoring point”). In the same way that an upholstery button pins down stuffing inside a quilt and stops it from moving about, Žižek argues that a point de capiton is a signifier which stops meaning from sliding about inside the ideological quilt. A point de capiton unifies an ideological field and provides it with an identity. Freedom, i.e, is in itself an open-ended word, the meaning of which can slide about depending on the context of its use. A right-wing interpretation of the word might use it to designate the freedom to speculate on the market, whereas a left-wing interpretation of it might use it designate freedom from the inequalities of the market. The word “freedom” therefore does not mean the same thing in all possible worlds: what pins its meaning down is the point de capiton of “right-wing” or “left-wing”. What is at issue in a conflict of ideologies is precisely the point de capiton – which signifier (“communism”, “fascism”, “capitalism”, “market economy” and so on) will be entitled to quilt the ideological field (“freedom”, “democracy”, Human rights” and so on).

Žižek distinguishes three moments in the narrative of an ideology.

1. Doctrine – ideological doctrine concerns the ideas and theories of an ideology, i.e. liberalism partly developed from the ideas of John Locke.

2. Belief – ideological belief designates the material or external manifestations and apparatuses of its doctrine, i.e. liberalism is materialized in an independent press, democratic elections and the free market.

3. Ritual – ideological ritual refers to the internalization of a doctrine, the way it is experienced as spontaneous, i.e in liberalism subjects naturally think of themselves as free individuals.

These three aspects of ideology form a kind of narrative. In the first stage of ideological doctrine we find ideology in its “pure” state. Here ideology takes the form of a supposedly truthful proposition or set of arguments which, in reality, conceal a vested interest. Locke’s arguments about government served the interest of the revolutionary Americans rather than the colonizing British. In a second step, a successful ideology takes on the material form which generates belief in that ideology, most potently in the guise of Althusser’s State Apparatuses. Third, ideology assumes an almost spontaneous existence, becoming instinctive rather than realized either as an explicit set of arguments or as an institution. the supreme example of such spontaneity is, for Žižek, the notion of commodity fetishism.

In each of these three moments – a doctrine, its materialization in the form of belief and its manifestation as spontaneous ritual – as soon as we think we have assumed a position of truth from which to denounce the lie of an ideology, we find ourselves back in ideology again. This is so because our understanding of ideology is based on a binary structure, which contrasts reality with ideology. To solve this problem, Žižek suggests that we analyze ideology using a ternary structure. So, how can we distinguish reality from ideology? From what position, for example, is Žižek able to denounce the New Age reading of the universe as ideological mystification? It is not from the position in reality because reality is constituted by the Symbolic and the Symbolic is where fiction assumes the guise of truth. The only non-ideological position available is in the Real – the Real of the antagonism. Now, that is not a position we can actually occupy; it is rather “the extraideological point of reference that authorizes us to denounce the content of our immediate experience as ‘ideological.'” (Mapping Ideology) The antagonism of the Real is a constant that has to be assumed given the existence of social reality (the Symbolic Order). As this antagonism is part of the Real, it is not subject to ideological mystification; rather its effect is visible in ideological mystification. Here, ideology takes the form of the spectral supplement to reality, concealing the gap opened up by the failure of reality (the Symbolic) to account fully for the Real. While this model of the structure of reality does not allow us a position from which to assume an objective viewpoint, it does presuppose the existence of ideology and thus authorizes the validity of its critique. The distinction between reality and ideology exists as a theoretical given. Žižek does not claim that he can offer any access to the “objective truth of things” but that ideology must be assumed to exist if we grant that reality is structured upon a constitutive antagonism. And if ideology exists we must be able to subject it to critique. This is the aim of Žižek’s theory of ideology, namely an attempt to keep the project of ideological critique alive at all in an era in which we are said to have left ideology behind.

Capitalism’s Triumph or Commoditizing Communism

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Why is revolution not possible? This is an old debate.

Terms like “socialist” and “revolution”, and “right-wing groups” tend to mean different things to different people, according to their perspectives. which can be quite contradictory, in many regards. Revolutions don’t tend to resolve such contradictions as absolutely as idealists and ideologues tend to imagine. Counter-revolutionary tendencies persist in the society, and even among the revolutionaries, such that it’s never really “over”, and the struggle continues.

Technically, “socialism” is a theoretically “necessary” supposedly “interim” period, during which an elite vanguard seizes political power, “on behalf of” the proletariat, and struggles to transform society, toward the eventual emergence of communism, which is to say, democracy, the ultimate utopian communist dream. That transformation is essentially the suppression of counter-revolutionary (anti-democratic) tendencies, and inculcation and cultivation of revolutionary (democratic) tendencies among the masses.

Marxian concentration on capitalism was all about demonstrating how undemocratic, and thus unjust, irrational and inefficient capitalism tends to be, despite it’s claim to be, relatively speaking, “more democratic” than monarchy, say, or feudalism. He merely sought to show that it is not the ultimate, final stage of that evolution, as it’s proponents tend to assert, but that, like the “socialism” he proposed to supplant it with, an interim stage, which would, in fact, sow the seeds of it’s own destruction, even as previous socio-economic paradigms had done before them.

At the time he was doing all this theorizing, a hundred years ago, his premise of an educated working class, capable of democracy, seemed a virtually impossible utopian dream, considering conditions in the masses, steeped in centuries of ignorance, illiteracy, grinding poverty and religious indoctrination. Rather than second guess his conclusion, then, that further resort to elitism was “necessary” to change those conditions, I’d prefer to just point out that, in fact, those conditions have changed, profoundly, since then, such that the prospect of democracy is no longer such a distant utopian dream, but more feasible and viable a prospect than ever before in human history.

Technology, the engine of all socio-economic relations, has evolved, especially in terms of communications. Here and now, into the 21st Century, both capitalist and “socialist” elitism have become outmoded, I think, and need to “wither away” with the whole concept of the “State” as we now know it, as an externally imposed governor…as Marx predicted would some day be possible. Anymore, most of us aspire to democracy, and we realise that we aren’t there, yet. The issue is not whether anti-democratic rightwing reactionary conservative and fundamentalist counter-revolutionary elements of our society, will, or can, prevent democracy from ensuing. The issue is whether those, who tend to be staunchly opposed to racism, sexism, cultural chauvinism, eco-rape, murderous monopoly corporate fascist ripoffs, and imperialist warmongering, will call off the demoralized cynical defeatism of electoral boycott and excessive splitting, and will step up to actually seize the power, for a change…democratically, electorally…and then proceed to suppress counter-revolutionary anti-democratic tendencies legislatively and judicially, from now on…explicitly for justice and peace, to save the planet. Which, of course, is why the right is freaking out like they are, even now waging “low intensity” civil war, desperately trying to prevent that from happening. For Revolution to be at hand, we must not try and smash capitalism, or even right-wing resistance at that, as democracy is invested in and of itself with enough potency to destroy capitalism and its moribund form, fascism. But, the authorial point of exploiting freedom as against suppressing it is the Negri’s position on the corollaries of reaction to right-wing accelerationsim. So, whatever be the seductive power of neoliberalism, which indeed is undeniable, banking on the track record of proletariat would be stuck in the molasses of the past, or even getting to dynamically shift the agency to cognitariat be akin to letting the seduction of neoliberalism suck the agency in. The alternative is agency/ies, which someone like the obscure Agamben would call “Whatever Singularity” (even Gayatri Spivak flirts with the idea), or precariat, which is the umbrella term for the ones stripped of or dehumanised by the forces of neoliberalism. Unless, the left has this in vision, left is a position best avoided for excepting archival purposes. Yes, commoditising communism spells doom, and we are ideologically headed towards it.

Musings on Financialisation of Capital, Bureaucracy, Fascism and State PR

When one says Finance Capital is one expression of capital exerting its pressure socio-politically…I wouldn’t ever disagree on it. But, the way I am seeing this is missing the wood for the trees. Why? Because, socio-political affects are affects of the larger scheme of things we associate with finance. This is a trickle down effect (not in the strictly economic sense of the phrase). Finance Capital is becoming a controlling tool through increasing concentration and centralisation of capital in the hands of large corporations, cartels, trusts and banks. Not just that, these supranational entities are also diversifying into fields with intense financial intent thus bringing to effect financialisation of economy the world over. Once this is conceptualised, the socio-economic impacts follow. I am looking at a rigid top-down approach here.
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On to Bureaucracy. Why do I say it is impersonal? This is an idea imported from Max Weber, probably the father of Bureaucracy Theory. Bureaucracy differed from other types of organisations by its nonlegal forms of authority. Weberian take was inclined on its being technical proficiency specialised expertise, certainty and continuity. The genesis of it lay in money-based economy, the forerunner to capitalism in its variegated disguises and attendant need to ensure rational, impersonal and legal transactions. So, that is the combination spoken about that has got inverted from its traditional schemata. Also, there is an accompaniment of historical roots in the statement.

Fascism: it is absolutely necessary to insist on this essential aspect of the definition of fascism, for one can scarcely understand the emergence of the fundamental concepts of fascism and of the Fascist philosophy and mythology if one does not recognize, at the same time, that it arose from an originally Marxist revolt against materialism. It was the French and Italian Sorelians, the theoreticians of revolutionary syndicalism, who made this new and original revision of Marxism, and precisely this was their contribution to the birth of the Fascist ideology. Zeev Sternhell has amazingly outlined the history of Fascism in his “The birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution“. Sternhell further says, ‘From the standpoint of the temporal structure of the project, fascism is a particularly radical form of conservative revolution.

Some of the traits that will be offered by a populist leader who affirms fascism is a rebirth of a strong National Identity, making a nation strong again, reviving culture, industry, education, and the middle-class values that have sustained it. It is always a populist authoritarian movement that seeks to preserve and restore a former glory to the nation as well as military, social, and religious values based on strong patriarchal roots that center on community of nation, race, and faith. It will treat any opposition as it sees fit to the point of utter abandonment of the norms and laws of the land, seeing in them hindrances that must be circumvented under dire emergencies, etc.. It will seek to cleanse the nation of foreign and domestic threats it perceives as outside the mainstream socio-cultural order it seeks to revive and promote. It will seek to revive an organic wholeness and totality, and expunge and expel those it perceives as outsiders: immigrants, refugees, or aliens in its midst. It will begin by attacking the insiders or establishment who it perceives as decadent, corrupt, and a parasite upon the body of the Nation as a whole. It will also incarcerate and expunge the poor and poverty stricken, enforcing codes of distrust and victimization. It seeks only to bolster up the vast majority of the middle-class workers of all diverse forms. From this point of view, BJP’s rule is perfectly congruent with fascism.

On the Adanis and Guptas, why is it not a collusion of corporate and state power of the past? It is, but with a vectoral shift in axis. The Fascist revolution sought to change the nature of the relationships between the individual and the collective without destroying the impetus of economic activity-the profit motive, or its foundation-private property, or its necessary framework-the market economy. This was one aspect of the novelty of fascism; the Fascist revolution was supported by an economy determined by the laws of-the free-market ideology. The shift in the axis lies precisely in the prerogative the financial capital has over decisions political. The shift in the axis has inverted the priorities of politics and capital. So, the Adanis and Guptas decide the politics rather than the other way round. This is a journey back to some of the basic tenets of political economy, which were seemingly eroded in the first phase of neoliberal era, thanks in large part to Thatcherism and Reaganomics.

Police before the state: This is a complicated relationship and is best understood if one were to dissolve the colloquial use of the word police. Allow me another recourse here to the French Political Philosopher, Ranciere, who puts it most aptly, “I do  to identify the police with what is termed the state apparatus. The notion of state apparatus is in fact bound up with the presupposition of an opposition between state and society in which the state is portrayed as a machine, a cold ‘monster’ imposing rigid order on the life of society. This representation already presupposes a certain ‘political philosophy’, that is, a certain confusion of politics and the police. The distribution of places and roles that defines a police regime stems as much from the assumed spontaneity of social relations as from the rigidity of state functions. The police is essentially the law, generally implicit, that defines a party’s share or lack of it. The police is thus first an order of bodies that defines the allocation of ways of doing, ways of being, and ways of saying, and sees those bodies are assigned by the name to a particular place and task; it is an order of the visible and the sayable that sees that a particular activity is visible and another is not, that this speech is understood as discourse and another as noise. Policing is not so much the ‘disciplining’ of bodies as a rule governing their appearing, a configuration of occupations and the properties of the spaces where these occupations are distributed.” Therefore, by this logic the latency of police’s requisition for running the state is guaranteed. And, do we see any other way, if policing is extended to the notions of ‘moral policing’? I bet not.

Politics as the last resort of scoundrels will defeat the entire purpose of this response, and evidently, there is a strain of polity running throughout this response. Moreover, communication theories across generations have believed in media as the message and politicians of the present-day ruling regime are dramaturgists precisely in their compositions. We have had numerous examples to prove the point in the last one month or so.

Why do I call the Left academicians and practitioners idiots? Substantial segments of the left are in danger of allowing their movement to degenerate into a trite, self-indulgent counter-culture, in which an angry anti-establishment posturing conceals a lack of a positive political programme, and obviously nothing to say about the economic programme. Have we forgotten about the frittered opportunity during the 2008 crash? Globalise Resistance is one of the most visibly popular left-wing campaigns, defined by what they’re against, not what they’re for. Many people on the left are far too ready to draw an artificial moral equivalence between true tyrannies overseas and the very real but usually much milder moral failings of their own leaders and institutions. This is perpetrated by academicians and practitioners, and I am speaking of a very personal set of experience here. And still nothing seems to have changed.

Techno-politics isn’t really a slippery terrain, and for a change is one way the left can bounce back with. Humanity is being processed as mindless organisms (i.e., through processes of de-education, cultural amnesia, de-programming, etc.)  in a system of normative practices on a global scale that seek to install an ethos of domestication in a grand safety system to secure its own inhuman ends. This inhuman core is constructing secure, comfortable, and hedonistic bubbles of imprisonment that will allow it to design and further its own programmatic operations. Most of all through the pacification of the human species, and a controlled or modulated form of work and leisure; attenuated by the dictates of a global hierarchy of corporate capitalist institutions, no longer bound to ideological systems of a democracy, communism, or religious practice: the nexus of encoded cultural references that bind us to ethno-nationalists agendas, all the while seeking to envelope us in intelligent hypermedia reality machines and systems that will allay our fears and graft us into their own secret agendas of power and dominion. This is a scary proposition talked about.

There is no doubt in me when I oppose Industrial Corridors, and why Shouldn’t I? But, by electronic corridors, I mean are trading systems becoming the nerve centres of financial capitalism, say for instance, High Frequency Trading, HFTs in short. These are algorithmically powered and somehow dehumanistic by being capable of the pillars of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. One could look at the recently held World Economic Forum, where this topic was largely thrashed about. Yes, there are political ripples created against it, but as a personal friend of mine who was single handedly responsible for launching the #occupymovement told me, “such ripples are minute for they lack steam to bring on the alternative voices into a robust solidarity against corporatism.” For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal the name of this person. BTW, she is a hardcore neocon, right now. Strange, but true.

Electronic knowledge turning into digital ash is a reference given to surveillance technologies, the answer to which lies in sousveillance, but then do we have have enough resources. Sadly, in our country, the answer is a resounding no. During the cold war, East Germany was the most infamous surveillance society, but the shift is palpable to more advanced democracies including the upcoming economies. China is a bizarre case still.

The other two intervening points are largely agreed to, and thus I won’t venture there. On me being a socialist, the original writeup said, sciolist, a concert that talks of superficial pretender of knowledge. The words appear same through spellings, but are vastly different. On whether I am a socialist in the Marxian sense, I’d be short here: NO.

Socratic irony is a particular device often used in rhetoric in which one person pretends to be ignorant about an issue to lure the other person into explaining it. In a debate or argument, for example, two people may hold differing points of view about a particular subject. One of the two participants may then pretend that he or she does not understand an important aspect of the subject, and ask the other person to explain it. As the other person explains it, the first participant then comments on weaknesses inherent in the other person’s argument and has used Socratic irony to make him or her reveal them. The left needs it, as the right is weak in rhetoric, maybe, or not. But it is required.

State as a PR firm is necessarily a naive understanding of state, but fits the present-day context. Though, I must admit if it was made to look like a naive understanding. Public relations and state have been two firmly entwined concepts since the beginning of recorded history. For evidence from ancient times, take a look at Aristotle and his schools of rhetoric that taught the art of persuasive communication. In more recent times, the work of the man commonly thought of as the father of modern day public relations, Edward Bernays, and his belief that public relations is an art applied to a science provide a clear connection between the two.

To pay the piper is to pay for the dire consequences. It only highlights the despair I referred to. This does end it on a bleak note.