Friday, June 07, 2002

Found this prophetic piece by Umberto Eco, writing in 1995 about eternal fascism, or Ur-Fascism. In it he gives 14 ways to recognise fascism when it come over the hill. Eco notes that some of these factors are inherently contradictory, but fascist groups are not required to have them all. Read the whole piece and come back to my efforts below.

1. The first feature or Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.

We see this in Islamism in its extreme forms. Also in “family values” politicians and demarcation disputes. In all cases what was good enough for Granddad is bloody well going to be good enough for you.

2. Ur-Fascist culture is syncretistic (look it up, I had to), that is, to be made up of different beliefs, but able to tolerate the contradictions.

How can the Greens support higher immigration, and lower population? How does a Liberal Party overrule voluntary euthanasia? Eco says the differing messages taken on board “each contain a sliver of wisdom”.

Naturally, when we are dealing with an assumed primeval truth, there can be “no advancement of learning”. Witness what happened to Bjorn Lomborg. His crime is to do the research in the first place, to question the Truth Revealed. Why does Paul Ehrlich continue to get gigs? Why is Silent Spring considered sacred text, when nearly everything Rachel Carson predicted hasn’t come to pass?

3. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernity.

Bin Laden has made it clear he will have no truck with new-fangled ideas like equal rites for women. Guns good, movies bad. Australian conservationists denounce genetic research into reviving extinct species. What greater purpose could a scientist aspire to, in the eyes of a true environmentalist, than to save what was thought permanently lost?

4. Fascism can be defined as irrationalism, and this requires the cult of
5. action for action’s sake.

Bomb something, protest anything, support anyone, believe anything, as long as it is a move away from the mainstream. Being a “progressive” requires progress, even if it is in reverse. Mainstream culture is to be avoided as it requires thinking, which requires discrimination and critical thinking. When someone cannot distinguish between cruise missiles, and planeloads of screaming passengers, then discriminating thought has troughed out.

More to come.

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