New Article on Why Fascists Lie, and Other Updates

Publication:

I have had a long-form review essay accepted for publication in online Critical Theory journal Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture. (It will come out in the issue after next.) The review explores fascist lying and “denialism,” through looking at three recent books that address the theme (Claudia Leeb’s The Politics of Repressed Guilt: The Tragedy of Austrian Silence, Keith Kahn-Harris’s Denial: The Unspeakable Truth, and Federico Finchelstein’s A Brief History of Fascist Lies).

An excerpt from my review:

Fascists do not only lie tactically, to “con” enemies or the masses. According to Finchelstein, fascists also lie as a matter of epistemological principle, since they view the truth as something created and enforced by violence, not as something to be discovered. Paradoxically, then, fascists’ lying has an element of honesty: a sincere and genuine rejection of the idea that their beliefs could ever be rationally proven or disproven, since they believe their beliefs are simply intuitively known to the select few destined for power, or conveyed by the leader or movement to the followers. However, as Finchelstein points out, and as Kahn-Harris’s and Leeb’s work help illuminate, fascists also lie for disingenuous, psychological reasons—that is, fascists lie as a mechanism of denial, to protect their consciences from awareness of what they are doing and to hide from “unspeakable truths” about themselves.

I also look at how fascists’ denial and defense mechanisms are mirrored in the racism of broader society and are not confined to the rhetoric or actions of ideologically committed fascists.

Recent webinar:

The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) webinar on white nationalism, earlier this month, went well. One of the topics I addressed in my presentation was the limitations of the “Countering Violent Extremism” model and government programs, including the problematic ties of CVE to Islamophobia and racial profiling, as well as why securitization and policing will not defeat the threat of fascism. Here are some of the resources I shared on my handout:

Recommended reading (links):

“I don’t yet trust him”: 5 Muslims reflect on Biden’s record of surveilling their communities (mic.com)

Muslim boy, 4, was referred to Prevent over game of Fortnite | UK news | The Guardian

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): A Resource Page | Brennan Center for Justice

Factsheet: Countering Violent Extremism – Bridge Initiative (georgetown.edu)

Terror and Abolition | Boston Review

Explaining the Problematic CVE/PVE Programs – CAIR California Sacramento Valley/Central California

Repression and Ideology: The Legacy of Discredited Centrist/Extremist Theory | Political Research Associates

Some books that have been helpful to me on this topic:

  • Arun Kundnani, The Muslims Are Coming!
  • Mondon and Winter, Reactionary Democracy
  • Liz Fekete, Europe’s Fault Lines
  • Mike German, Disrupt, Discredit, Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy

Other updates on my work:

  • On Thursday, March 4, I will be speaking on a zoom panel with Dr. Megan Squire as a guest of the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society at Elon University. I will discuss the influence of Julius Evola on both Steve Bannon and neo-Nazi accelerationist movements.
  • I have joined the editorial board of the Journal of Hate Studies, the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies’s highly respected open access journal. View articles and submission criteria here: Journal of Hate Studies (gonzaga.edu).
  • I will be speaking to undergraduate and graduate education students at Gonzaga in April on countering white nationalist recruitment in schools.
  • My popular doctoral seminar on Critical Theory and Leadership (which includes looking at Erich Fromm’s work on the authoritarian personality and Leo Lowenthal’s study of the rhetoric of antisemitic “American agitators”) has been added to the course catalog and regular annual rotation of Gonzaga’s Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies (DPLS). I am excited to be teaching a course for DPLS for the fourth time this coming summer.

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