New Article: How Fascism Lies and Denies

My latest article, Review Essay: Fascism and Eluded Truths,” is now published in public access format in the latest issue of journal on psychoanalysis and culture, Free Associations.

The article reflects on three recent books that all address fascism’s dishonesty and denialism: Claudia Leeb’s The Politics of Repressed Guilt: The Tragedy of Austrian Silence; Federico Finchelstein’s A Brief History of Fascist Lies; and Keith Kahn-Harris’s Denial: The Unspeakable Truth.

I argue that fascists lie in at least three ways: (1) tactically, to deceive others; (2) as a psychological defense mechanism; and (3) with a degree of paradoxical sincerity, since fascism believes that truth is a product of the violent enforcement of myth, not something that can be accessed by reason.

I conclude with some reflections on denialism within American racism; the ongoing effects of Trumpism; and some recommendations for confronting fascism.

On the “tactical” lying of fascists:

“Despite decades of philosophical and sociological exploration of fascists’ fundamental dishonesty and their leering, tactical bullying—such as their repeated claims to be ‘just joking’—the general public still falls for liberal arguments for inclusion of fascists in a ‘marketplace of ideas.’ Many people still naively hope that the threat of fascism can be overcome by publicly debating fascists. This assumption fails to account for the fact that, in debating fascists, one does not enter into a collective search for truth between the debaters and audience, but rather one plays host to a tactical performance by the fascist to generate publicity, outrage, recruitment, or mockery of enemies.”

Concluding paragraph of the essay:

“Fascist movements in U.S. American society are not a bizarre fringe element to gawk at, but express structures and sentiments at the center of American history and economic, political, and social power. Overcoming the danger they pose will be a long road and will require both structural change and honest collective reflection, not mere protesting or policing. However, perhaps we can create a society more conducive to truth through building our ’embodied reflective judgment’ through genuine solidarity, confronting our own denial by being bravely honest, and confronting fascist myths of heroic greatness with the reality of the experience of its victims and survivors.”

The full latest issue of Free Associations is available here: http://freeassociations.org.uk/FA_New/OJS/index.php/fa/issue/view/35.

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