Panel: Responding to Racist Violence and Mass Shootings

I am speaking Sunday, June 12, at 2:00 pm on Spokane Faith and Values (Spokane FAVs) “Coffee Talk: Building Dialogue for Justice in Response to Hate & Violence.”

We are especially reflecting on the racist attack in Buffalo and the mass shooting of children in Texas. More information can be found here.

Upcoming Conference: Erich Fromm and Left Strategy

I’m excited to be presenting in the online April 30 conference, “Erich Fromm’s Critical Psychology and Left Strategy Today.” The conference is free and open the public. More information is available on the conference website: https://fromm2022.wpcomstaging.com/.

I’ll be on the panel addressing Fromm’s critique of right-wing authoritarianism. Here’s my working title and abstract for my presentation:

“Erich Fromm and Antifascist Strategy” 

Abstract:

In Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm wrote, that, “If we want to fight fascism, we must understand it” and that this requires understanding both “economic and social conditions” and a “human problem” concerning the “character structure” of human beings in the modern capitalist world. From this early work to his much later Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Fromm’s work on fascism consistently operates at three levels that must be understood to properly understand the resurgence of fascist and far-right movements today. These three levels, or “dimensions,” are: (1) structural-political forces (including, I would say, white supremacy and capitalism alongside other forces), (2) individual and social psychology, and (3) subjective personal agency. Only by understanding and reckoning with these intersecting dimensions, which Erich Fromm helps us reconcile, can we effectively fight fascism. Too often approaches ignore one dimension or focus exclusively on a single one, such as seeing fascism as a political force that can be defeated merely by confrontation in the streets with superior numbers or merely electorally, for example, or seeing fascism as a product solely of individual life traumas and seeing fascism as primarily a problem to be solved by counselors and social workers doing interventions with those “at risk” of recruitment. In fact, fascism is a social movement seeking power, always already connected to sources of power (media, think tanks, political parties, and so on). And simultaneously, fascism’s appeal for those who join it is structured upon individual psychological appeals and tendencies, as well as the ways that fascist recruitment plays upon certain human needs. Finally, fascists are making a choice for which they can and should be held morally and in some cases legally responsible, and they are not the passive playthings of economic and political forces, nor of personal trauma. I will address how Erich Fromm helps us to understand the relationship between these three dimensions. I will also discuss the implications of these three dimensions for antifascist practice.

Upcoming Keynote at Douglas College in Vancouver, B.C.

This June I will be the keynote speaker for the Summer Institute on Philosophy and Social Movements at Douglas College in Vancouver, British Columbia:

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

“Critical Theory and Antifascist Strategy Today”

Joan Braune, Gonzaga University

Abstract: Understanding resurgence of participation in fascism includes examining three dimensions: (1) structural-political forces, (2) individual and social psychology, and (3) subjective agency. Only by understanding and reckoning with these intersecting dimensions, which Frankfurt School Critical Theory and existentialism help us to reconcile, can we effectively fight fascism. Too often approaches ignore one dimension or focus exclusively on a single one. Fascism is a social movement seeking power, always already connected to sources of power. Yet at the same time, its appeal for those who join it is structured upon individual psychological appeals and tendencies, as well as the ways that fascist recruitment plays upon certain human needs. Finally, fascists are making a choice for which they can and should be held morally and in some cases legally responsible, and they are not the passive playthings of economic and political forces, nor of personal trauma. I will address each of these three dimensions and show how Critical Theory and existentialism, and especially the Critical Theory of Erich Fromm, help us to understand the relationship between these three dimensions. I will also discuss the implications of these three dimensions for antifascist practice.

More information is available here: https://www.douglascollege.ca/programs-courses/explore-programs-courses/faculties/humanities-and-social-sciences/philosophy/summer-institute.

Reaching Out to Faith Communities

It was a pleasure to join Spokane pastor Jason Jones and Todd Gossett on their podcast, Thoughtfoolery. They are thinking about how their congregation can help people and how to respond to members of their broader community who are being recruited into hate and conspiracy theories.

We talked about boundaries and self-care; solidarity with impacted communities; prevention and inoculation against conspiracy theories and hate; the psychological needs that attract people to hate groups, as well as their political dimensions; and how to be an anchor to reality for people on the brink. They even asked me about Erich Fromm!

You can listen here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1883196/10238712.

Racism and Antisemitism Panel, Other updates

The panel discussion sponsored by local Jewish congregations and Jewish Family Services, on the topic of intersections and distinctions between antisemitism and anti-Black racism, went well.

The Spokesman-Review covered the event here: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/feb/28/separate-histories-and-shared-challenges-temple-be/.

A video of the panel is available here, via the Temple Beth Shalom website.

Local interfaith newspaper Fig Tree did a nice write-up profiling my work as part of their follow-up to the Hate Studies conference in the fall. It’s always a pleasure to engage the public around my research and to create more bridges between campus and community. That article is here: https://thefigtree.org/march22/030122guiohsbraun.html.

Upcoming Panel on Antisemitism and Anti-Black Racism

I’m speaking on a panel on Sunday, February 27 at 10:30am PT, “Separate Histories, Common Challenges,” cosponsored by Temple Beth Shalom and Spokane Jewish Family Services. The panel covers intersections between racism and antisemitism in light of current resurgent white supremacy in the U.S.

The other panelists are Spokane NAACP president Kiantha Duncan; Eastern Washington University Africana Studies program director Dr. Scott Finnie; ADL Center on Extremism investigative researcher Emily Kaufman; and Latah County Human Rights Task Force chairwoman Joann Muneta; with Gonzaga University’s Dr. Michael DeLand as moderator.

I’ll share a registration link when it becomes available, or you can contact Jewish Family Services: https://sajfs.org/our-programs/virtual-programs/.

New Book Review

I took a little break from researching the far-right (although I did mention QAnon midwives!) to just do some basic left theory/Critical Theory stuff. Here’s my review of Jeffery Nicholas’s book Love and Politics: https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviews/19834_love-and-politics-persistent-human-desires-as-a-foundation-for-liberation-by-joan-braune-reviewed-by-joan-braune/.

(This is my seventh review for Marx & Philosophy Review of Books!)

Remembering Bill Morlin

Bill Morlin, a legendary Spokane journalist and Southern Poverty Law Center writer and researcher, recently passed. His courageous reporting on the Aryan Nations compound in north Idaho was essential for this region’s pushback against white supremacist hate. I didn’t know Bill as well I’d like, but I was honored to share my appreciation of his work and his kind assistance to me after I received hate literature in the mail from Nazis several years ago: https://www.rangemedia.co/p/the-mentorship-of-bill-morlin.

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.

Welcoming Afghan Families to Spokane

Bridges Not Walls (a Muslim-Catholic dialogue and friendship group in Spokane that I’m involved in) is cosponsoring this event Saturday with our friends at MCAS (Muslims for Community Action and Support), along with other local groups: Saturday, Dec. 11, 2-5pm at the Women’s Club of Spokane (1428 W. 9th Ave.). All are welcome. Drop by and join us in welcoming Afghan refugee families to Spokane. There will be Afghan tea and cookies, some brief presentations, and time to meet our new neighbors.