A few updates:
In early June I spoke to Spokane Faith and Values (Spokane FAVs) on a panel responding to recent hate incidents and mass shootings. The other panelists were Dr. Pui-Yan Lam, Professor of Sociology and Justice Studies at Eastern Washington University; Angela Schwendiman, Director of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University; and Amy McColm, Education Director for the Spokane NAACP. The panel took place in person but was also livestreamed and can be watched on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/100068160098605/videos/1182170505904562.
I proposed this experiment to the audience, which I would invite you to do as well or try out in discussions with other groups:
- See if you can list five communities/subcultures to which you belong. Include your hobbies, interests, profession/work buddies/school, faith communities, labor unions, and how you spend time with friends and family members.
- Then, see where fascism or hate are seeking to exercise greater control over those spaces.
- Investigate who is already working on combating that or would like to and is looking for allies.
- And then, of course, get involved—help make those spaces less hospitable to fascism and white supremacy! Fascists are seeking to control so many spaces, from music scenes to religion, from health food and exercise to online support groups for people experiencing depression, and more. We can drive fascists out of social and cultural spaces they are entering in pursuit of power.
I also enjoyed speaking at Douglas College in Vancouver, British Columbia, for Devin Shaw’s summer institute on Continental Philosophy.
The talk focused on the need to theorize fascism as a social movement seeking power, always already connected to sources of power, and to hold this in tension with a curiosity about why fascism has the psychological pull it does for its recruits (while not ignoring fascists’ agency ad responsibility for their own choices, either).
Fascism is not simply a crime problem to be fixed by hard or soft power interventions (that is, to be left up to police or social workers). Nor can we treat fascism in a narrow or mechanical way that does not raise the more radical questions about how capitalism and white supremacy produce and sustain certain needs, desires, and inclinations that fascist recruiters in turn promise to fulfill. I argued that Critical Theory can help us bridge the divide between the social movement and psychological aspects of fascist movements, and that Critical theory makes a necessary contribution to theorizing fascism effectively in order to defeat it.
This is way down the road, but I was invited to speak in November on an online panel as part of an ongoing lecture series co-sponsored by PERIL (Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab) and C-REX (Center for Research on Extremism). The panel will address ethical challenges and limitations of use of former neo-Nazis (often called “formers”) in work against hate. My co-panelist is Megan Kelly, the co-author of this excellent recent article: Not So Reformed | Political Research Associates.