On Monday, October 4, 12pm Pacific Time, Devin Zane Shaw and Joan Braune will be speaking on fascism and fighting it, for the Radical Philosophy Association’s online “Radical Philosophy Hour” series. The talks will be aired on Facebook Live at this link.
Joan Braune’s talk is entitled, “Why We Should Stop Calling Nazis ‘Extremists’: Limitations of ‘Counter-Extremism’ Discourse for Work Against Fascism”
Abstract: This presentation presents a radical challenge to the reigning discourses of the “counterextremism industry.” The counterextremism industry is a loose network of people and institutions involved in work against “extremism,” “terrorism,” and “radicalization,” comprised of various government and law enforcement entities, think tanks, former members of “extremist” movements, counselors and social workers, academics, and research centers. By classifying a broad range of movements including some fascist, leftist, and Islamist groups as “extremist” or “radical,” the counterextremism industry lets the center off the hook, ignoring the ways fascistic and white supremacist aims are supported by mainstream institutions and social policies. It also empowers the far-right to attack the left, by allowing far-right organizations to rebrand as counterextremism groups. The counterextremism industry’s abstractions also feed into Islamophobia, among other problems. I suggest that the ideological abstractions of the counterextremism industry, including its overly broad definitional profile of an “extremist,” like past Cold War profiles of “the fanatic” or “the true believer” (Eric Hoffer), undermine effective struggle against fascism and the far-right, and that left theorists should resist these abstractions and depend instead on a different set of categories.
Devin Zane Shaw’s talk is entitled “Seven Theses on the Three-Way Fight: For a Discussion”
Abstract: In radical circles, fascism is still defined similarly to Dimitrov’s formulation of the Comintern’s popular-front line as established in 1935. He asserts that “fascism in power is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” I will argue that this definition does not explain the potential mass appeal of fascist or far-right movements. I will offer this definition of fascism instead: Fascism is a social movement involving a relatively autonomous and insurgent (potentially) mass base, driven by an authoritarian vision of collective rebirth, that challenges bourgeois institutional and cultural power, while re-entrenching economic and social hierarchies.