fascism: Re: report on 18th Brumaire

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Wed Nov 8 01:05:33 MST 1995

Thanks to Louis for maintaining momentum on the cyberseminar.

I appreciated his report on the 18th Brumaire, but want to complicate
things a little by asking a few more questions.

First, and perhaps most importantly, Louis seems to sideline the question
of race.  This should be a central question, as it is seems hard to
discuss nazism at least in any serious way without considering the
importance of anti-semitism.

This is not to say that racism is necessarily a unifying characteristic
of fascism--anti-semitism was nowhere near so important for Mussolini's
fascism, for example.

I'm not sure about the historical argument Louis is drawing about fascism.
As I said in my last post (and this is a point Sternhell continues to
emphasize, especially in his repeated claim that all the elements of
national socialism were present *before* the first world war), I think
fascism is a symptom of modernity before it is a specific reaction to
(say, the Russian) revolution.

In this sense, fascism is not a counter-revolution--or perhaps only so in
the interesting sense of the term used by Paolo Virno: as "literally a
*revolution in reverse*.  In other words, it is an impetuous innovation of
modes of production, forms of life, and social relations that, however,
consolidate and again set in motion capitalist command.  The
'counterrevolution' just like its symmetrical opposite leaves nothing
unchanged" ("Do You Remember Counterrevolution?"  _Laboratory Italy_ 329).
That fascism is innovative, rather than reactive, again points to its
modernity, as well as to its technological fascination--autobahns, radio,
film, volkswagens etc. etc.

Finally, I'm still unclear as to the links Louis is making between
Bonapartism and fascism--the former seems not only reactive, but also a
more general expression of the capitalist state in crisis, and applies
equally to (say) Latin American authoritarian regimes marked above all by
a repression that is more indiscriminate and desperate than that
suggested by the meticulous plans for the "final solution."

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu

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