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<nettime> Umberto Eco's 14 features of fascism
Molly Hankwitz on Fri, 25 Nov 2016 18:57:08 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Umberto Eco's 14 features of fascism


   From "Open Culture" -

   It may seem to tax one word to make it account for so many different
   cultural manifestations of authoritarianism, across Europe and even
   South America. Italy may have been "the first right-wing dictatorship
   that took over a European country," and got to name  the political
   system. But Eco is perplexed "why the word fascism became a synecdoche,
   that is, a word that could be used for different totalitarian
   movements." For one thing, he writes, fascism was
   a fuzzytotalitarianism, a collage of different philosophical and
   political ideas, a beehive of contradictions."

   While Eco is firm in claiming "There was only one Nazism," he says,
   "the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game
   does not change." Eco reduces the qualities of what he calls
   "Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism" down to 14 "typical" features. "These
   features," writes the novelist and semiotician, "cannot be organized
   into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical
   of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of
   them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it."

    1. The cult of tradition. "One has only to look at the syllabus of
       every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers.
       The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic,
       occult elements."

    2. The rejection of modernism. "The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason,
       is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense
       Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism."

    3. The cult of action for action's sake. "Action being beautiful in
       itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous
       reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation."

    4. Disagreement is treason. "The critical spirit makes distinctions,
       and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the
       scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve
       knowledge."

    5. Fear of difference. "The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely
       fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus
       Ur-Fascism is racist by definition."

    6. Appeal to social frustration. "One of the most typical features of
       the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class,
       a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political
       humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social
       groups."

    7. The obsession with a plot. "The followers must feel besieged. The
       easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia."

    8. The enemy is both strong and weak. "By a continuous shifting of
       rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and
       too weak."

    9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. "For Ur-Fascism there is no
       struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle."

   10. Contempt for the weak. "Elitism is a typical aspect of any
       reactionary ideology."

   11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. "In Ur-Fascist ideology,
       heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with
       the cult of death."

   12. Machismo and weaponry. "Machismo implies both disdain for women and
       intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from
       chastity to homosexuality."

   13. Selective populism. "There is in our future a TV or Internet
       populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of
       citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People."

   14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. "All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks
       made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax,
       in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical
       reasoning."

   This abridged list (available in full at [1]The New York Review of
   Books) comes to us from [2]Kottke, by way of blogger [3]Paul Bausch,
   who writes "we have a strong history of opposing authoritarianism. I'd
   like to believe that opposition is like an immune system response that
   kicks in."

   Sent from my iPhone

        1. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/
        2. http://kottke.org/16/11/the-14-features-of-eternal-fascism
        3. https://www.onfocus.com/2016/11/6845/anti-authoritarian-immune-system

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