Yes, antifascism suspends the critique of everything and replaces it with the denunciation of this one thing.
On its own terms, antifascism makes itself incomprehensible; it has deliberately stripped itself of theory to better access its own visceral poetics.
Even so, I sometimes get the feeling that I don’t inhabit the same moral or intellectual universe as the antifascists.
Sometimes I get the feeling that antifascists need fascism in the way that the dominant ideology has needed its succession of enemies since 1989.
Anyway, my suspicions concerning ‘worst products’ cause me to conclude that I am not ‘on the same side’ as antifascism.
Like the murderous aesthete Lydecker, I am constrained to the barb: ‘I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbor's children devoured by wolves.’
Of course, I understand the ‘here be dragons’ function of liberal anti-fascism. All homeostatic structures must persuade themselves to not pass into the extremity of feedback runaway.
But ‘radical antifascism’ seems oxymoronic (in the sense that the ‘radical’ should generalise laws from, and not fetishise, the specific).
The antifascists argue that failure to confront fascists ‘emboldens’ them. There is no theory or historical evidence to back this up.
On the contrary, all evidence and theory, (in politics, therapy, anthropology) suggests the opposite. Extreme views are entrenched by conflict.
Arms-race type phenomena are well understood and embraced by anti-fascists when considering problems other than fascism.
Exits from conflictual relations are always arrived at along other paths than direct confrontation (that is, unless a steady state/dynamic equilibrium type relation is being sought out).
Here is a concise example of a theory of the arms race: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schismogenesis#Symmetrical_schismogenesis
Here is another: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominance_hierarchy#Reverse
If de-escalatory trends are not the route out of capitalism, there can be no hope for the human species or the natural environment.
Then, if de-escalation is considered the modal exit from general social relations what of anti-fascist exceptionalism?
If ‘fascism’ is the worst, shouldn’t it be treated as a special case (should it be escalated against)?
I do not claim to know what antifascism is, but fascism is more comprehensible. We can list some of its traits and conditions:
- One of the mobilising strategies employed as the relations of production separated from the gold standard.
- One of the mobilising strategies utilised by the bourgeoisie in the moment of its class decomposition.
- One of the mobilising strategies of state power as it took on the function of social reproduction and became monopoly producer of labour power.
- One of the mobilising strategies of social being as it began to lose touch with what animated its existence.
- One of the mobilising strategies of ideology (as repressive re/de sublimation) when confronted with unshackled productive forces.
- One of the mobilising strategies of the 4th generation of those inhabiting ‘second nature’ and returning from the failure to recognise their social product.
- One of the mobilising strategies of those whose overriding desire was to submit to the certainty of command structures.
- One of the mobilising strategies of social relations that are mediated by representations (where representation articulates a specific moment).
Fascism is not distinguished by its fetishism of race and national character, as these do not exist, but by its fetishism of the imagoes (ideal representations) of race and nation.
In other words, fascism is not authentic. It does not possess the language of what really motivates it.
In other, other words, fascism’s claims cannot be taken at face value. It is always an expression of something else.
It is a symptom, a symptom of fatality but it is not its own source. Its power is derived from elsewhere, from other traumas and ruptures.
If fascism is to be uncoupled from the social imaginary, the dreamwork has to identify terms other than fascism’s supposed commitment to ‘white supremacy’ and ‘nation’.
It is possible that fascism is a reaction formation expressing the desire for the end of certain forms of domination which it can only represent as names of the father.
Similarly, antifascism seems to involve a libidinal investment in reframing the imagoes of race and nation without ever escaping their evident psychic power.
But it is curious that the desire to replay this seeming clear cut battle should recur after it has been separated from its (less than clear cut) historical context.
The neo-fascists and neo-antifascists of today are stuck in a recursive spell of representations of representations.
Fascism appeared historically precisely at the moment that its reference points (ideological derivatives of national capitals) were overrun.
The escape of capital from the gold standard and thus from the nation ensured the historic defeat of the bourgeoisie by the modern state as apparatus of the automatic subject.
To that end, fascism which is one of the later forms of Bonapartism (both realising and suppressing the bourgeoisie as historical subject)…
…was nothing but a triumphant expression of the defeat (or completion) of a prewar form of social being which was immediately superseded and then lost all currency.
Fascism was both a distracting fantasy and murderously real. It served a purpose but had no historic agency.
It burst violently into the world as a repetition compulsion directed at retrieving fantasy part-objects which could never have existed.
It contributed the component of subjective desire to the state’s reformation as monopoly producer of labour power at the moment desire became economically irrelevant.
There never were any nations, there never were any races, except as retroactively conjured explanations for otherwise incomprehensible social relations.
But who cares what fascism is, certainly not the antifascists who want only to essentialise their opposition to it.
Is it possible for communists to make antifascist arguments? How might they go about exploring that possibility?
For example, if fascism is a mere epiphenomenon, a symptom of something more fundamental, what need would the state have for it?
In other words, if fascism is a ‘threat’, what does it add to the state’s umwelt that would not otherwise be present?
It is actually difficult to imagine fascism adding anything to the array of presently existing state powers or accelerating trends towards frictionless productivism.
Example 1: the programme of eradicating species imperfections is no longer described as eugenics and is all the more successful for that.
Example 2: the self-managed separation of racial and ethnic identities is now a conventional position internalised by the left.
Example 3: the ideology of territorial inviolability is resurgent, in inverse proportion to its delusory character.
Example 4: The authoritarian personality is more integrated into mass media than ever before.
Example 5: We are habituated to a state of permanent war, crisis, threat and emergency powers.
Example 6: Effective defeat of the proletariat.
Example 7: The enclosure of mass populations within a single and unified set of social relations.
Example 8: The elevation of kitsch, knee-jerk sentimentalism to the level of emancipatory consciousness.
Example 9: The endless procession of dumbfounding images.
Example 10: The reduction of language to Pavlovian commands.
The state has superseded fascism as is shown by the continuity in policy between the ‘liberal’ Obama and the ‘white supremacist’ Trump.
Fascism is now redundant in all but two areas: in conducting para-state activities and in generating ‘antifascist’ ideologies.
Fascism becomes useful to the state where it may be instrumentalised as an extra-judicial tool of disruption and assassination of enemies.
It is also strategically convenient as a demonised ‘common enemy’ which may be utilised to mobilise cross-class alliances.
The function of anti-fascism as an ideological misdirection from the class struggle is well understood historically but always forgotten in the present.
Antifascism’s utilisation of anti-‘appeasement’ tropes draw from the cultural generalisation of mobilising imperatives that legitimise military power.
Whilst antifascism is (by implication) opposed to state mobilisation, all of its rhetorical material replicates the crudest gambits of state propaganda.
The greatest error of antifascism is that it is specifically structured to not recognise any barbarity that is not directly attributable to ‘fascists’.
That is to say, there is never an instance of antifascism that is not also a case of ‘The old man’s back again.’
To conclude, might we consider fascism as a pathology and antifascism as a palliative or symptomatic treatment that does not seek cure but containment?
It is a characteristic of the modern ideology of expertise that problems should generate solutions within a specialist discourse.
However, I would find it strange that antifascists could believe either in the authenticity or the effectiveness of the various wars on drugs and on terror.
It is quite clear that the afflictions of drug addiction and terrorism cannot be resolved within their own terms, they are symptoms of a ‘deeper malaise’.
Similarly, the function of the police is not to eradicate crime but to contain it at manageable levels.
If the antifascists accept the limitations, and counter-productive function, of symptomatic responses elsewhere, then why not in their own case?
The answer would seem to be encountered precisely in the structure of its specialisation. As a police discourse, it is ambivalent about what it polices.
It desires its own mobilisation, and therefore requires the pretext or trigger for it to realise itself but also sincerely despises what it depends upon.
This strange situation is illustrated if we consider the possibility of antifascists mobilising against other types of gangs that prey on impoverished communities.
Militant opposition to gangsters immediately encounters a question of generalisation. Why organise against ‘illegal’ capitalists when all capitalists are exploitative?
When this query is applied to fascism, the same question of generalisation is always suppressed - and we have begun to make out the reasons why.
Ah, one further conclusion. Today, we are familiar with an exceptionalist form of antifascism which identifies fascism as white nationalism…
…but there is an older post-war form of antifascism which (as encountered in ‘critical theory’ and Foucault) identifies capitalist institutions as inherently fascistic.
The strength and the weakness of this earlier position which perceives a generalised/internalised post-war victory of fascism is precisely its universality.
Whilst the critical marxist theory of fascism is still in advance of today’s antifascism…
… that is, whilst fascism is considered constitutive of social being and cannot be confronted as an exterior enemy without also reproducing it…
… the very universality of this interiorisation seems fetishistic. There are moments of seeming masochistic delight in Adorno and Foucault’s descriptions of constraining apparatuses.
The true nature of anti-fascism remains opaque and mysterious. Its language and imagery is inherited and therefore suspect.