From the mid 1980s and for over two decades studies of fascist ideology conducted in the wake of the linguistic turn have delivered a transformed picture of the fascist phenomenon, all but reversing the refusal of an earlier generation of scholars to even grant fascism the status of ideology. Lately, however, a direct challenge to the cultural historiography of fascism has come from intellectual historians such as Martin Jay and Richard Wolin, who have traced the ideological roots of the 'linguistic turn' itself to thinkers associated with fascism, and, through them, all the way to a supposed anti-Enlightenment tradition dating back to the French post-revolutionary period. Seeking to respond to this challenge, this essay seeks to highlight the key role played by the Great War in fostering the ideological coalescence of fascism and in characterizing the confrontation that intellectuals on both the left and the right engaged with it.
The article focuses on the figure of Giovanni Gentile, best known as a neo-idealist philosopher, author of a systemic post-Hegelian philosophical system called attualismo (actualism), and Italian fascism's prime ideologue. Examining Gentile's war-time writings I argue that the development of actualism towards a systemic conflation of politics and philosophy should be seen as the result of Gentile's response to the Italian experience of the Great War culminating in the elaboration of a fully modernist philosophy of history in his seminal essay entitled "Politica e filosofia" (1918). Arguing that the Italian victory in the Great War had proven that all "history belongs to the present" of consciousness and is therefore "entirely immanent in the act of its construction," Gentile called for a new political subject that would orient itself towards this actualist vision of historical action, representation and consciousness. Fascism responded to that call organizing its vision of history around actualist principles.
During the past two decades interest in Walter Benjamin and fascist aesthetics has extended well beyond the limits of any social and political focus. Strangely, a little investigation shows that this vogue has been fueled by the historical roots of Benjamin's theory as much as by the discourse he employed-- downplayed by current historians-- a mixture of aesthetic critical theory, ideas about temporality drawn from the philosophy of life [Lebensphilosophie], and an alternative philosophy of history.
Directly relevant to these connections is a document - unnoticed until now - that registers the interest a high ranking Nazi took in Walter Benjamin, or more concretely, an interest a Nazi Lebensphilosopher took in Benjamin's own fascination with Lebensphilosophie, the tool the latter believed might help him develop a total critique. The focus of this discussion, where radical politics met a radical critique, belongs to a third party, a relatively hidden site in the history of modern thought: the Lebensphilosophie of Ludwig Klages, the conservative and anti-Semitic popular philosopher, and his dedication to the work of another founder of this neo-Romantic discourse, Johann Jacob Bachofen.
Tracing the lineage of Lebensphilosophie in relation to the Bachofen- debate of the mid 1920s leads us to dark corners and antecedents of today's biopolitics, teaching us a great deal about where and when Benjamin's notion of life was used as a total critique, and where it collided with the totalitarian struggle for life. Moreover, it teaches us that in so many ways, current political philosophy is still led by the consequences of this collision and its horizon of expectations, "the wagon of catastrophes" as Benjamin calls it in an article dedicated to toys as psycho-cultural archetypes.
Religion and sociology -- France -- History -- 20th century.
Sociology -- Political aspects -- France -- History -- 20th century.
Bataille, Georges, 1897-1962.
Caillois, Roger, 1913-
This paper examines the Collège de Sociologie's project to construct a new sacred sociology against the background of a rising fascism and the perceived crisis of democracy in 1930s Europe. The paper discusses the Collège's problematic reevaluation, on the wave of Durkehim, of affective forces and irrational energies as manifestations of the sacred and as the fundamental elements driving people's participation in communal life. The paper concludes that the Collège's idea of the sacred as ambiguously moving between the opposed poles of attraction and repulsion exposed the perilously fascinating side of fascism. The Collège's focus on the ambiguity of the sacred dramatizes the need for new conceptual tools to reevaluate fascism's logic and scope. It also indicates the importance of rethinking the political in order to challenge the seduction of a sacred right.
Watson, Alexis, tr.
Golsan, Richard Joseph, 1952-, tr.
This article presents the central theses of the author's book, Heidegger: l'introduction du nazisme dans la philosophie. The author does not explore simply the history of Heidegger's involvement with National Socialism, which is well known, but rather examines the connections between National Socialism and the foundations of Heidegger's philosophy as the latter is presented in the sixty eight volumes which have appeared to date of the Gesamtausgabe as well as unpublished texts of two of Heidegger's seminars given between 1933 and 1935. The author argues that Heidegger's Nazism is evident not simply in speeches he gave in favor of Nazism but in the entirety of the courses he taught. In the courses from 1933 and 1934, for example, Heidegger discusses the political significance of his masterpiece, Being and Time, and linked it directly to Nazi racist thinking.
The author also shows that the linkage between Nazism and Heidegger's thought did not end in the 1930s and that in the early 1940s Heidegger offered an ontological legitimization of racial selection. After the defeat of Nazism, Heidegger continued to stress at least implicitly the linkage of his conception of death with heroic sacrifice. The upshot of this, ultimately was to call into question in philosophical terms the "deaths" of Jewish victims in the death camps. Heidegger thus contributed to what the author calls an "ontological denial of the Holocaust."
This article examines the history of the Holocaust Denial, or "negationism" in France. The author, who headed a French government commission to research and report on the phenomenon at the University of Lyon-III, where there have been numerous examples of the phenomenon involving students, faculty, and administration, describes the phenomenon at Lyon and the circumstances and individuals involved. He also traces the history of "negationism" from the early postwar period, where it was linked, at least initially to French fascism and collaboration with the Nazis, through its links to the extreme Left and currently, Islamic extemism. The author discusses the major figures associated with negationism including Maurice Bardèche, Paul Rassinier, Robert Faurisson, and Roger Garaudy.
Catholic traditionalist movement -- Political aspects -- France.
Lefebvre, Marcel, 1905-
Benedict XVI, Pope, 1927-
Vatican Council (2nd : 1962-1965)
In this article I first sketch out what I think remains the importance and continued appeal of the traditionalist response to Catholic (Vatican II) reform, particularly in light of rising French anxiety concerning the role of religion in civil society. This conservative tendency in French Catholic thought is represented most forcefully by followers of Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre. Lefebrvre's positions involve not only a return to pre-Vatican II practices—the Latin Mass, hierarchical social relations within the Church, etc.—but, more important, a larger rejection of lay society and an implicit (and at times explicit) return to a belief that religious authority and civil authority are or should be one and the same. This rejection of secular society very much puts the traditionalists in league with certain right-wing political parties.
My second goal in this article is to sketch out the ways in which the traditionalist church may very well be headed toward reconciliation with the Vatican, subsequent to the election of Pope Benedict XVI, whose position on ecumenism might tend to be somewhat different from that of John Paul II. If this is the case, the mainstream, post-Vatican II church might indeed find itself, willy nilly, drifting distinctly to the right, if only because anti-ecumenical positions inevitably will lead to anti-republican, if not frankly reactionary, political positions.