Fascism and Liberalism (Dolinar, Hergouth)

Fascism of the 20th century is generally understood as a ruthless reaction to the liberal political and intellectual tradition, which is supposedly founded on generalised parliamentary democracy, inclusive political practices, the respect of human rights and strict legal equality. Allegedly, it is this tradition that in the 20th century fell victim to the fanatical Manichean political projects that violently undercut the foundations of liberalism from the right (fascism) as well as from the left (socialism) side of the political spectre. Even though socialism was inspired by the vision of a classless society, whereas fascism opted for a different, corporatist organic community, it is seemingly clear that both these “utopias” are unified in their uncompromised hate towards everything that belongs to what Karl Popper called the “open society”.

However, historiography that goes beyond the hagiography of liberal thought and politics reveals that the story of a civilised and peaceful march of liberal democracy that is brutally interrupted by fascist barbarism stands on shaky ground. Moreover, it might even show that fascism was not all that innovative when it comes to barbaric practices. Militant colonial expansionism, racism, social Darwinism, eugenics, genocidal practices and the strict limitation of the sphere of political decision making to a narrow circle of the chosen (white, wealthy, male members of the bourgeoisie) are political practices that were an integral part of all the leading western liberal democracies, such as Great Britain and France. These practices acquired their ideological legitimacy precisely in the works of prominent theoreticians of the liberal tradition and champions of the “open society”, such as J.S. Mill and De Tocqueville.

The continuously concealed dark side of the history of liberal politics and intellectual tradition implies that fascism and liberalism are closer to each other than it seems. Although it would be premature to equalize them, it would also be incorrect to a priori consider them as two entirely incompatible political projects that have nothing in common. Contrary to mainstream political theory, whose comparative analyses of fascism are focused exclusively on its supposed parallels with socialism, the panel will concentrate on its parallels with liberalism.

Anže Dolinar: “Logics of Exclusion and its ‘Enemies’
Martin Hergouth: “Twin Liberal Confusions: Fascism (or Totalitarianism) and Hegel

Anže Dolinar – The Logic of exclusion and its ‘enemies’

Fascism and liberalism are often interpreted as two mutually excluding forms of thought and social praxis. A more precise examination of the history of liberal and fascist thought shows us, that this is not the case and that the interconnection of both is something quite hard to deny. Despite this we realize, the moment certain continuity is established, that both currents share a specific logic of exclusion. It appears that a certain closure of the sphere of political and political freedom in both, radically different cases, is in fact explicitly or implicitly already present as a part of theoretical abstraction or practical implementation of such theories. The theoretical design of modernity is thus seemingly marked with a specific fracture, which appears as a dichotomy between totalitarian fascism on the one side and liberal democracy on the other. However, this fracture is present on a deeper level, under the dichotomy that in reality forms a continuous process, and appears as a specific logic of exclusion of a concrete political subject. On an abstract level the openness of modernity is thus marked with a specific closure that is present in the ideological-theoretical sphere as well as on the level of practice.
In my contribution I will attempt to describe such logic of exclusion and closure that crosses modern political thought and point out the inherent contradictions of this thought.

Anže Dolinar went to Poljane Grammar School in Ljubljana. Afterwards he began his study at the Department of Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, where he graduated in the critique of Italian autonomous Marxism. He continues his studies at the same faculty as a PhD student and continues to focus mainly on the critique of political economy. During his studies he was a writer for the student magazine Tribuna, he worked on the radio and TV and became a member of the Workers and Punks’ University (now: Institute for Labor Studies).

Martin Hergouth – Twin liberal confusions: fascism (or totalitarianism) and Hegel

The starting point of my intervention will be what I believe is still the dominate perception of fascism: the perception structured by certain common-sense liberalism and the corresponding ‘totalitarian paradigm’. Liberalism here designates not so much an elaborated political theory, but more a certain well entrenched modern political common sense, one that essentially relies on the opposition of free, pluralistic individualism against the collectivistic, homogenising, oppressive power of the state. From this perspective, the enemy of free society is clearly delineated: the state centric political projects that dominated the 20th century constitute the dark side of modernity, one that doesn’t accept the liberal consensus.

Using Hegel to criticise this political disposition is not an arbitrary move. It is significant that, within the liberal perspective, Hegel is often rejected precisely as part of this dangerous totalitarian tendency or at least its precursor – most famously so in Karl Popper’s Open society and its enemies. Our intent is not simply to vindicate Hegel against such accusations (although this is possible). The point is, rather, that liberal rejection of Hegel is not a coincidence, because his political thought (while far from being ‘anti-liberal’) effectively undermines the conceptual basis of the ‘totalitarian paradigm’. Namely, in his critique of the French revolution, Hegel himself offered a critique of a certain state power, which ultimately turns out to be a self-negating violence of universality. However, as I will show, this critique is very different from the ‘totalitarian paradigm’. Most crucially, it displaces the non-dialectical opposition of state against individual and inscribes the basic tension of modern politics within the individual itself – in its duality as a universal, political individual on the one hand and as a particular, concrete, private individual on the other. Much of the confusion is clarified when we notice that liberalism from at least the late 19th century onwards was not concerned with defending abstract individuality as such, but the concrete individual’s right to remain wherever he finds himself in the pre-political social fabric.

With this Hegelian conceptual clarification, I will finally turn to fascism. I will attempt to show how the political lines of demarcations drawn by the totalitarian paradigm should be redrawn. Concurring with the insightful analyses provided by Ishay Landa, we can see how and why fascism is directly opposed to socialism and the legacy of the French revolution and conceptually much closer to liberalism. Drawing primarily from the analyses of Sohn-Rethel, I will show how the fascist use of state power and violence is aimed at the prevention of the emergence of a universal political dimension, instead of enforcing it. It is political intervention that tries to save existing power relations of society in the moment of its crisis, not to abolish them.

Martin Hergouth graduated in philosophy and sociology of culture. Currently, he is a doctoral student of philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, and a member of the programme committee of the Institute for Labour Studies. His research interest is mostly in the field of German classical philosophy and Marxism, focusing on the problems related to the conception of subjectivity and its role in political thought.

Fašizem in liberalizem

Fašizem 20. stoletja je najpogosteje razumljen kot surova reakcija na liberalno politično in intelektualno tradicijo 19. stoletja, ki naj bi temeljila na posplošeni parlamentarni demokraciji, vključujočih političnih praksah, spoštovanju človekovih pravic in enakosti pred zakonom. Prav ta tradicija naj bi v 20. stoletju postala žrtev fanatičnih in manihejskih političnih projektov, ki so temelje liberalizma nasilno razjedali tako z desne (fašizem) kot iz leve (socializem) strani političnega spektra. Četudi se je socializem navduševal nad vizijo brezrazredne družbe, fašizem pa je ciljal na drugačno, korporativistično organsko skupnost, naj bi bilo jasno, da je tisto, kar ti »utopiji« druži, prav brezkompromisno sovraštvo do vsega, kar spada k temu, kar je Karl Popper imenoval »odprta družba«.
Toda zgodovinopisje, ki gre onkraj hagiografije liberalne misli in politike, kaže, da zgodba o civiliziranem in miroljubnem pohodu liberalne demokracije, ki jo je surovo prekinilo fašistično barbarstvo, stoji na trhlih tleh. Še več, nemara celo nakazuje, da fašizem v mnogih barbarskih praksah niti ni bil najbolj inovativen. Militantni kolonialni ekspanzionizem, rasizem, socialni darvinizem, evgenika, genocidne prakse in stroga omejitev sfere političnega odločanja na ozek krog izbrancev (belih, premožnih, moških meščanov) so politične prakse, ki so bile integralni del vseh vodilnih zahodnih liberalnih demokracij, kot sta Velika Britanija in Francija. Ideološko legitimacijo pa so te prakse pridobile prav v delih glavnih teoretikov liberalne tradicije in prvakov »odprte družbe«, kot sta J. S. Mill in De Tocqueville.
Neprenehoma zamolčana temna plat zgodovine liberalne politike in intelektualne tradicije implicira, da sta si liberalizem in fašizem bližje, kot je videti. Čeprav bi bilo med njiju prezgodaj postaviti enačaj, bi bilo prav tako narobe, če bi ju a priori obravnavali kot dva povsem nezdružljiva politična projekta, ki nimata nič skupnega. V nasprotju s prevladujočo politično teorijo, ki se pri primerjalnih analizah fašizma posveča izključno njegovi domnevni sorodnosti z socializmom, bo panel namenjen razmisleku o sorodnostih med fašizmom in liberalizmom.

Anže Dolinar: “Logika izključitve in njeni ‘sovražniki’”
Martin Hergouth: “Dvojna zmeda liberalizma: fašizem (ali totalitarizem) in Hegel”

Anže Dolinar – Logika izključitve in njeni ‘sovražniki’

Fašizem in liberalizem sta pogosto interpretirana kot dve izključujoči se obliki mišljenja in družbeni praksi. Natančnejši pregled zgodovine tako liberalne kot fašistične misli kaže, da temu ni tako in da je prepletenost obeh tokov nekaj, kar težko zanikamo. Kljub temu pa v trenutku, ko pokažemo na neke vrste kontinuiteto obeh linij mišljenja, ugotovimo, da je obema skupna specifična logika izključitve. Da je zamejitev sfere političnega ali politične svobode v obeh – radikalno različnih – primerih v resnici bodisi eksplicitno bodisi implicitno že vedno del tako teoretskega izvajanja kot tudi praktičnih izvajanj tovrstnih teorij. Teoretsko zasnovo moderne torej na videz zaznamuje specifičen prelom, ki se navzven kaže kot dihotomija med totalitarnim fašizmom na eni strani in liberalno demokracijo na drugi. Prelom pa se bolj kot v omenjeni dihotomiji, ki v resnici tvori kontinuiran proces, kaže na globlji ravni kot specifična logika izključitve konkretnega političnega subjekta. Na abstraktni ravni je torej odprtost moderne zaznamovana s specifično zaprtostjo, ki se kaže tako v ideološko-teoretski sferi kot na ravni prakse.
V prispevku bom skušal orisati tovrstno logiko izključitve in zaprtosti, ki preči moderno politično misel, in s tem pokazati na notranje omejitve te misli same.

Anže Dolinar je obiskoval Gimnazijo Poljane v Ljubljani. Po opravljeni maturi je vpisal študij filozofije na Filozofski fakulteti v Ljubljani, kjer je diplomiral iz kritike italijanskega avtonomnega marksizma. Študij nadaljuje kot doktorski študent na isti fakulteti, kjer se še naprej ukvarja predvsem s kritiko politične ekonomije. Tekom študija je pisal za študentski časopis Tribuna, delal na radiu in televiziji ter postal član Delavsko-punkerske univerze (zdaj Inštituta za delavske študije).

Martin Hergouth – Dvojna liberalna zmedenost: fašizem (oz. totalitarizem) in Hegel

Izhodišče mojega prispevka bo določen vsakdanji liberalizem in spremljajoča ‘totalitarna paradigma’, za katera verjamem, da še vedno prevladujoče določata naše dojemanje fašizma. Liberalizem nam tu ne bo pomenil toliko elaborirane politične teorije, temveč neko močno zasidrano spontano politično teorijo, ki se v prvi vrsti zanaša na opozicijo svobodnega, pluralnega individualizma proti kolektivistični, homogenizirajoči moči države. Iz te perspektive je sovražnik svobodne družbe jasno določen: državocentrični politični projekti, ki so zaznamovali dvajseto stoletje, predstavljajo temno stran modernosti, ki zavrača sprejetje liberalnega konsenza.

Lotiti se kritike teh predstav preko Hegla ni povsem naključno. Pomenljivo je, da je znotraj liberalne perspektive prav Hegel pogosto zavrnjen kot del te nevarne totalitarne težnje (ali vsaj njen predhodnik) – najbolj znan primer je Odprta družba in njeni sovražniki Karla Popperja. Naš namen pa ne bo preprosto braniti in opravičevati Hegla pred takimi očitki: četudi bi se Hegel ob pozornem branju v svojih zaključkih izkazal za dovolj liberalnega avtorja, prevladujoče liberalno zavračanje Hegla ni naključje. Njegova politična misel namreč učinkovito izpodbije same pojmovne temelje ‘totalitarne paradigme’. Namreč, s svojo kritiko francoske revolucije Hegel sam ponudi neko kritiko moči države, ki se slednjič izkaže za samo uničujoče nasilje univerzalnosti. Tu pa se da pokazati, kako se ta kritika bistveno razlikuje od ‘totalitarne paradigme’. Najpomembneje, izogne se nedialektični opoziciji države in posameznika in temeljno napetost moderne politike vpiše v posameznika samega – v napetost med posameznikom kot občim, političnim bitjem in posameznikom kot posebnim, konkretnim zasebnikom. Veliko zmede odpravimo, če uvidimo, da realno obstoječega liberalizma najkasneje od poznega 19. stoletja dalje ni skrbel posameznik kot tak, kot abstrakten posameznik, temveč pravica posebnega posameznika da ostane tam, kjer je, znotraj predpolitične mreže družbenih odnosov in hierarhij.

S tem heglovskim pojmovnim razčiščenjem se lahko naposled obrnemo k fašizmu. Poskusil bom pokazati, kako je treba črte razmejitev, ki jih potegne totalitarna paradigma, začrtati na novo. Sedaj lahko vidimo, kako – vzporedno s prepričljivimi analizami Ishaya Lande – je fašizem bistveno nasproten socializmu in po pojmovni zasnovi mnogo bližje liberalizmu samemu. Črpajoč iz analiz Sohn-Rehla bom pokazal, kako fašistična različica krepitve države in nasilja cilja na preprečevanje vznika obče politične razsežnosti, namesto, da bi jo vzpostavljala. Gre za politično intervencijo, ki poskuša rešiti obstoječa razmerja družbene moči v trenutku njihove krize, in nikakor teži k njihovemu odpravljanju ali spremembi.

Martin Hergouth je diplomirani filozof in sociolog kulture, trenutno doktorski študent filozofije in član programskega odbora IDŠ. Raziskovalno se giblje večinoma po področju nemške klasične filozofije in marksizma, predvsem okoli problemov mišljenja subjektnosti in njegove vloge v politični misli.

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