a commentary on umberto eco's essay "ur-fascism"
by benjamin silva-pereira
josé saramago: "if man is not able to organise the world economy in a form to satisfy the necessities of a humanity that is dying of hunger and of everything, what humanity is this? all of us that fill our mouth with this word humanity, i think that we didn't arrive at that point, we are not human beings. perhaps one day we will be human, but we are not at the moment, we didn't arrive to it yet, we have a long way to go to be that. we have all around us that spectacle, and it is a very scary world. we live side by side with what is negative as if it really doesn't matter at all, the horror is banal, violence is banal, death, especially if the death is from some other, obviously. for us it doesn't matter that people are dying in sarajevo, and surely we shouldn't talk of this situation because the whole world is a sarajevo. while the conscience of people is dormant this will continue the same. this is because of all we do, it is done to keep us in this apathy, this lack of will, to subtract our civic intervention." (1994)
if you didn't realise yet, thus after many warnings and risible proclamations, welcome to the new FASCIST WORLDWIDE ORDER. you can laugh and smile disdainfully again at this words, but yes, welcome to the new fascist regime we all live in. a few years ago i thought i was going mad, i mean, utterly lost to logic, and, as per usual, i said what i thought and in public. even my nephews and sisters told me i was being paranoid and exaggerating. i recall having a kind of polemic on facebook with some portuguese fellows (men and women) about this statement: we all are fascists now, and no one notices it. i may excuse some of the participants on that polemic. they were/are younger than i, much younger, and they seem not to remember, and much less feel, the times of the fascist portuguese regime of salazar and affiliates. they were/are used to live in a 'democratic' society, which means, for them, working, money and commodities and expect always everything to be wholesome and easy. which is not the meaning of a 'democracy', that beautiful and misunderstood greek word. and let's start by stating that the word 'democracy' in its original meaning signified the government of the peoples by their own accord. the greeks, that invented the principle and abstract idea, were free in reality. what it is not well divulged is that they were free, as citizens, they were the government, deciding their own faith, it is true, and it is all fresh and nice, but they ruled over the other, that weren't free, that is, they were not greeks, they were not free, they were the slaves, they were not normal, they were not free, they were simply objects of work and manipulation accordingly the wish of the real and free greeks. which means that the initial meaning of 'democracy' it was everything but democratic. people were divided between 'citizens' and 'the rest', not citizens and not worth of thought. which is what is happening nowadays, and let me remind you that it is impeccably right: you vote and you think you are making your choices and democratic duty (and that is, the vast minority of you that complain about everything and do nothing, but vote... if you vote, that is - the democratic principle of choice, voting, is lost to many many of you, because they are all the same and we must vote pragmatically (strategically, they pronounce very deeply as if they really are immersed in a fake self-monologue of sorts, never listening or trying to understand the 'other', that so philosophical invention no one cares about or dares to comprehend) and forecasting the best interests of the political society, that is: you do not vote, if you do, in what you believe but in what is seem to be more advantageous to the status quo...) if you find this difficult to follow, you are even more stupid than i thought, and i am not apologising. this referred people before, the ones who are complaining about everything, or were, now they are even more fucked then they were at the time (let's say 2009, when all started) and that is: there are no jobs, we do not have money, all is in tatters, they are all the same, what can we do? etc, etc, etc... the new fascists, and they don't even know that. i asked them how many times they went to vote in the elections, i wanted to know how many times they went to the municipal meetings to comment, argue and know about what was and is going about their own locality, i was curious to learn if they belonged to an union and if they knew what was going about in the law making of the country, if they knew what was going on with foreign policies of the government, if they agreed with what was going on with all that, and the only thing they could say was: NO, i do not know, i haven't gone to those meetings, i do not know what you are talking about, unions, for what? they are all the same. when i enquired about the voting situation, the parties existing and what were their manifestos they, the citizens, just answered back that they didn't know and that it didn't matter. they are all the same, it was the general chorus. i say: the citizens that complained are all the same, and they don't even deserve the right to be called 'citizens', because they are nothing else but the slaves (the original, that the greek didn't consider at all, maybe the greeks knew something that the contemporary 'complainers' do not know even now). sheep. fodder for cannons, lambs for the slaughter. fuck them, i say, they are, in reality, the causers and responsible for the world they criticise and condemn. they invent any excuse NOT to exercise their democratic obligations, it is their fault. mea culpa, mea culpa, so i say because i am almost one of them. please allow me to cut and paste the following:
"the turn of jacques derrida’s argument is surprising. how readily he associates democracy and fascism! and that the common strand should be their shared commitment to subjectivity. it is tempting to think that derrida is simply making an unduly formal abstraction, while carried away with a complex argument. perhaps on some plane one could say that fascism and democracy are the same since both are political forms of organisation. in such a case it would simply be a rather forced parallel, like the insight that hitler, stalin and saddam hussein all have moustaches. but derrida means more than this. the common bond between fascism and democracy is not incidental, but a fatal flaw; and the specific bond that derrida alights upon is subjectivity. phillipe lacoue-labarthe, another philosopher, influenced by derrida, makes the point more forcefully, when he writes that ‘fascism is a humanism’: ‘in that it rests on a determination of humanitas, which is, in its eyes, more powerful, i.e., more effective, that any other. the subject of absolute self-creation, even if it transcends all the determinations of the modern subject in an immediately natural position (the particularity of race), brings together and concretises these same determinations and sets itself up as the subject, absolutely speaking.’ lacoue-labarthe makes explicit the meaning of the deconstruction of the metaphysics of the subject. self-creation, once a virtue, is here seen as fascistic. humanism is a fascism, because humanism puts man at the centre, makes man’s activity the substance of history. the initial reaction against the poststructuralist thinkers was to protest at their extreme subjectivism and consequent dismissal of ‘objective truth’. but what that criticism missed was that the subject was also the target of deconstruction, perhaps especially so. implicit in this double movement is the possibility that subject and object are not opposed, but mutually supporting terms. if the singular objective ground is called into question, then so too is the singular and unified subject. and, perhaps more importantly, the degradation of the subject destroys the basis of a sustained investigation of the objective. in prosaic terms, if we cannot be sure of the investigator, there can be no investigation." (as written and quoted by james heartfield in "postmodernism and the ‘death of the subject’", 2002) The underlining is mine.
josé saramago "aims to cut through the web of "organized lies" surrounding humanity, and to convince readers by delivering his opinions in a relentless series of unadorned, knock-down prose blows. having spent his formative years under salazar's fascist regime, saramago might be said to have received the perfect training for identifying and lambasting political mendacity. he derides george bush as the "cowboy who inherited the world" and mistook it "for a herd of cattle"; the philistine who "expelled truth" from political discourse. berlusconi, meanwhile, is a disingenuous mafioso, a "disease" in italy's noble blood. yet the rot goes much deeper than politics. according to this staunch marxist, it is the free market that "conditions governments to bring people within its control". its neo-liberal ideology has permeated everything: our language, our emotions, our thoughts. universities now obsequiously do its bidding – instead of shaping a cultured, politically-engaged citizenship, they manufacture worker bees focused exclusively on gratifying their self-interest. "ignorance is expanding in a truly terrifying manner," saramago thunders, "we are reaching the end of a civilization." (thomas wright, the independent, 4th april 2010)
umberto eco: "in 1942, at the age of ten, i received the first provincial award of ludi juveniles (a voluntary, compulsory competition for young italian fascists – that is, for every young italian). i elaborated with rhetorical skill on the subject "should we die for the glory of mussolini and the immortal destiny of italy?" my answer was positive. i was a smart boy. i spent two of my early years among the SS, fascists, republicans, and partisans shooting at one another, and i learned how to dodge bullets. it was good exercise. in april 1945, the partisans took over in milan. two days later they arrived in the small town where i was living at the time. it was a moment of joy. the main square was crowded with people singing and waving flags, calling in loud voices for mimo, the partisan leader of that area. a former maresciallo of the carabinieri, mimo joined the supporters of general badoglio, mussolini's successor, and lost a leg during one of the first clashes with mussolini's remaining forces. mimo showed up on the balcony of the city hall, pale, leaning on his crutch, and with one hand tried to calm the crowd. i was waiting for his speech because my whole childhood had been marked by the great historic speeches of mussolini, whose most significant passages we memorized in school. silence. mimo spoke in a hoarse voice, barely audible. he said: "citizens, friends. after so many painful sacrifices . . . here we are. glory to those who have fallen for freedom." and that was it. he went back inside. the crowd yelled, the partisans raised their guns and fired festive volleys. we kids hurried to pick up the shells, precious items, but i had also learned that freedom of speech means freedom from rhetoric."
"citizens, friends. after so many painful sacrifices . . . here we are. glory to those who have fallen for freedom." and so fallen we left them, we leave them. they done they job, it is done, the country is free and we can now live as we want, not. this young species on the planet, humankind, some call them, humans for short, have certain peculiarities. we are taught that we are superior to the other animals in the planet, that is one fascist rule. we, the chosen, are better, superior, and obviously we know much better, we think, we are rational. not. we must live in freedom, equality and in fraternity (remember the french revolution?) now that we vote and we have a free government we can go on with our lives. not. humans are animals like the rest, whatever you say, hum, or think. now all is good. free elections for the good of our country. first fallacy. the eternal fallacy. once there, and after all the 'fallen' we are safe, secure in our certainties. if there is anything right and universal is that 'humans' are not certain.
i read the other day, and in the words from a popular philosopher that stalin and communists didn't succeed proper because not enough 'conservatives' weren't killed. what followed that pronunciation was a worldwide polemic (well, for those who actually read, at least the articles, because the book was/is longer than a thousand pages and no one in their right mind would/will read such mastodon, again...) the philosopher was involved in a trite polemic, had to explain itself (yes, the critics didn't read the whole book) and explain, but nevertheless the critics and critics' readers didn't accept the philosophers thesis. it was the end of the world because someone wrote that there weren't enough killings for communism to succeed well enough, properly, i mean. then, there is nothing new about it. hitler didn't kill enough jews and antagonists to succeed also, and salazar and mussolini and franco didn't kill enough leftists for their order to be victor. because of that, all fascist dictators were thought to be overthrown once and for good. just remember: an idea is much difficult to kill than a million people. stalin was and is a fantastic fascist, because fascists are those who do not see the better of the commoners and their prerogatives for a just life. as all kings and queens are the uttermost significant and signifiers of fascism: they are representatives of god on earth (just like the popes, those other über fascists). this means that once we are liberated of what we consider 'repression' we do not have to do anything else but smile and vote. they, THE LIBERATORS, will take of us. not. humans are imperfect animals, and what we want it is not necessary what they want, and we are capable and entertaining clowns and dictators, all of us. once a fighter in the trenches against franco, next a minister in his government, it all depends of your testicles are licked the right way (replace franco with putin, cameron, obama, etc, the new fascists, among others). we are rhetorical animals, after all we think we 'think'. we all are dictators inside, everything is politics, even in bed, actually, especially in bed, all is about control.
william s. burroughs, (in 'interzone'): “we have a new type of rule now. not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures, and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. they are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. the iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. there will be no more stalins, no more hitlers. the rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.”
then the other one, philipp kretzschmar says : "humans and other animals have no direct control of what they want. your "personality" is not a cause in itself, independent from nature. it is very dependent on the wiring of your brain, which again is dependent on the genome and the experience you made throughout your life. hence, you can only realize what you want and may act according to it. if you can act on your desires you experience joy, if you cannot you experience distress. or as schopenhauer once said: "man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants." also being able to suppress certain desires is not a sign that we control our desires, as the desire to control such desires is a desire, too. that being said, there are ways to train ourselves to behave according to a socially accepted manner, be it through positive reinforcement or punishment. or by gaining insight for the necessity of (not) doing an action through learning, either by making mistakes in the real world or by making thought experiments. or by learning how other people did things in the past and prevent us from doing mistakes again."
as i told you before, what once was is ever once again, the serpent biting its tail, and do not say that from this water you won't drink. history repeating itself, a saying that i really do not want to admit and agree but that it is true, because of our/your faults in relative and progressing (not progressive) thought. it is, quite accurately a question of testicles (or money, or privileges, reputation, sex, well; control). once you are in the 'strategic' plain you are one of theirs. a cunt. to me, umberto eco's essay 'ur-fascism' is a seminal piece of political writing, even more important than the marx & engels 'communist manifesto', and all philosophies in the world. like eco's, we all have our ten years of age when you are enraptured by ideas and prizes, what you are indoctrinated in and with is the way you grow and develop, but not necessarily, as we all know. unfortunately some people, not enough, escape the doctrines and repressions they were branded and become other than that, sometimes themselves and other times an utter worst thing than at the beginning, which normally they detest. 'progressive thought' is exactly like eco describes: you start with something in which you are embroiled and 'believe', because it is the reality that circumnavigates you, you do not have other comparative terms, that's it. mussolini is great because you were taught that, you do not know anyone or anything else. that is the world that exists and you, not in the centre, but them, the things, the other and the others, you are part of the circle but you are nt even in the middle, because this initial perception of the world it is not even you, yourself, you are just a part of it, and many times one is not aware of any of this. it is, and it is sufficient it is. this 'progressive thought' evolves, like anything in life, into something else, the world continues to revolve and you with it. what you know is sudddenly presented with a possible alternative, there is a end and a new beginning, meaning that your world is presented with a new reality. instead of skiving bullets, as you always knew and learnt, you now are informed that there are no more bullets and that the its dead are to be congratulated. evolution. this evolution is not presented with a different solutionfor previous circumstances, you are not yet aware of them. you celebrate the end of fascism, like i did in 1974 in portugal during and after the carnation revolution, but that's it. we are 'free' now, we are told, no more fascism, and we celebrate, as i did, completely oblivious to the significance of the past and the present. nevertheless, like eco's italy, portugal is the fatherland that will never die, immortal. and again you receive some kind of consolation, a prize, when you acknowledge this new reality, but still what it is is out of your grasp. immortal italy or portugal, it doesn't matter. we collect bullets and pearls and we go on. it is part of this 'progressive thought'. as umberto eco's explains (following his text): "a few days later i saw the first american soldiers. they were african americans. the first yankee i met was a black man, joseph, who introduced me to the marvels of dick tracy and li'l abner. his comic books were brightly coloured and smelled good. one of the officers (major or captain muddy) was a guest in the villa of a family whose two daughters were my schoolmates. i met him in their garden where some ladies, surrounding captain muddy, talked in tentative french. captain muddy knew some french, too. my first image of american liberators was thus – after so many palefaces in black shirts – that of a cultivated black man in a yellow-green uniform saying: "oui, merci beaucoup, madame, moi aussi j'aime le champagne . . ." unfortunately there was no champagne, but captain muddy gave me my first piece of wrigley's spearmint and i started chewing all day long. at night i put my wad in a water glass, so it would be fresh for the next day. in may we heard that the war was over. peace gave me a curious sensation. i had been told that permanent warfare was the normal condition for a young italian. in the following months i discovered that the resistance was not only a local phenomenon but a european one. i learned new, exciting words like réseau, maquis, armée secrète, rote kapelle, warsaw ghetto. i saw the first photographs of the holocaust, thus understanding the meaning before knowing the word. i realized what we were liberated from."
i asked myself, when i was taught, what was that i was liberated from and by whom. exactly like the ten year old in italy (the exactly same thing happened to me in 1974, as i said, in portugal, when i was eight years of age. i remember that on that morning, the morning of the 24th of april of 1974, someone knocked on our living room's door, and i went to open the door, just before going to school. it was a lady, a saleswoman in her job of selling things, and those were margarine and butters from a brand, vaqueiro, and she asked for my mother. a few minutes after, i was saying goodbye to my mother because i was leaving to school, the lady told us that most possibly i wouldn't have classes because of the revolution. a think unheard of, and very unaware we were. i was sent to school, mother didn't understand it at all, just like me. in the primary school we were told to return home because classes were not on, again, because of the revolution. and happy we were and we laughed and smiled and sang songs and walk back our homes happy as little silly clowns.
that day we watched television, black and white, of course, in a old zanussi television set, and i have a vivid memory of fernando balsinha and eduardo climaco and some others i forgot the names explaining us that we were freed, at last, of fascism, of marcelo caetano and his ministers, américo tomás and even salazar (that was very dead by then). i remember my mother cried, but once again i didn't get the gist of the events, too young, and very understandably. here, the command post of the armed forces... i think i will never forget these words. the images on television were a complete surprised. we were asked to stay inside doors, but in lisbon people were en masse in the streets amongst soldiers and tanks with carnations in the mouth of the cannons, people were kissing and hugging, marching in those streets, all ages, as one. i think it was the first time in my life i've seen so much joy and celebration. this feeling never repeated itself afterwards. there were songs broadcasted too, and i still have tears in my eyes when i listen to 'grandola, vila morena', by zeca afonso, but at the time i didn't understand it. it is very important to underline the word understand. like it is important to distinguish the words 'progressive' and 'progressing' thought. though i lived all this, i didn't understand it. because one thing is what we experience and live, the other is what we do understand or think we understand. i too was given chewing gum and heard of champagne, meaning that i was given things and concepts, ideas that i didn't and i won't forget. there was a few hundred soldiers that got out of their bases with a few tanks and faced the blues, the misery and oppression, and they have won! a new perspective was presented to me and i did accepted it, not having a clue what it meant. we suddenly learned that the whole world, almost, was celebrating with us and that the colonies would be freed at last. i learned that there were other countries that went through the same process and others still living like we were living just the day before.
william s. burroughs: "the colony was called LIBERTATIA and was placed under articles drawn up by captain mission. the articles state, among other things: all decisions with regard to the colony to be submitted to vote by the colonists; the abolition of slavery for any reason including debt; the abolition of the death penalty; and freedom to follow any religious beliefs or practices without sanction or molestation. captain mission's colony, which numbered about three hundred, was wiped out by a surprise attack from the natives, and captain mission was killed shortly afterwards in a sea battle. there were other such colonies in the west indies and in central and south america, but they were not able to maintain themselves since they were not sufficiently populous to withstand attack. had they been able to do so, the history of the world could have been altered. imagine a number of such fortified positions all through south america and the west indies, stretching from africa to madagascar and malaya and the east indies, all offering refuge to fugitives from slavery and oppression: "come to us and live under the articles."
on that 25th of april it was the very first time i heard the word FASCISM. it was also the first time ever that i heard names never before uttered and classified as 'FASCISTS'. neighbours, important personalities, civil servants from the national police forces... i've heard before the words PIDE and DGS (the secret political military services), but on that day names were attached to those words. they seemed to have vanished, they looked for them in their houses but they were not there. it was the first time i've heard that many men and women were in hiding and fighting the regime, living in caves and hungry, that many other 'normal' people would incur in great danger to provide these fighters with news, food and clothes, travelling by night in the dark. i've heard too that many people have been tortured because they didn't agree with the fascist regime, and many other have been killed, the name tarrafal was uttered, still having the horror power it had, in almost silence whispers. i've seen many prisoners coming out of prisons because they spoke against poverty, physical, material and mental. these people, i was told, suffered because they couldn't agree with the state of the nation and needed and wanted to do something to their common brother (maybe less capable to fight or to express themselves, maybe not even aware in the state they lived). my father couldn't care less about all this, he was drunk in the taberna, i assume. my mother cried, as i said, and called these unheard of people 'saints' and 'martyrs': she had previous experience of these 'forgotten' people, those no one could speak of - her own father had to go on hiding for calling salazar 'a son of a bitch' that wanted his own people to be analphabetic: 'ignorance is bliss', 'do not discuss god and virtue. do not discuss the homeland and its history. do not discuss the authority and prestige. do not discuss the family and its moral. not discuss the glory of work and their duty', ' all for the nation, nothing against the nation', ' the united nations is useless...and also harmful. it is a land that flowers demagoguery with a bunch of newborn countries, devoid of any tradition', was some of salazar's mottos. unlike umberto eco i was not able to understand the meaning of all this immediately. it took me a few years, until i became a renegade from the holy christian apostolic roman church. but the seed of 'before' and 'after' was sowed there.
as we continues to write, umberto eco: "in my country today there are people who are wondering if the resistance had a real military impact on the course of the war. for my generation this question is irrelevant: we immediately understood the moral and psychological meaning of the resistance. for us it was a point of pride to know that we europeans did not wait passively for liberation. and for the young americans who were paying with their blood for our restored freedom it meant something to know that behind the firing lines there were europeans paying their own debt in advance. in my country today there are those who are saying that the myth of the resistance was a communist lie. it is true that the communists exploited the resistance as if it were their personal property, since they played a prime role in it; but i remember partisans with kerchiefs of different colours. sticking close to the radio, i spent my nights – the windows closed, the blackout making the small space around the set a lone luminous halo – listening to the messages sent by the voice of london to the partisans. they were cryptic and poetic at the same time (the sun also rises, the roses will bloom) and most of them were "messaggi per la franchi." somebody whispered to me that franchi was the leader of the most powerful clandestine network in northwestern italy, a man of legendary courage. franchi became my hero. franchi (whose real name was edgardo sogno) was a monarchist, so strongly anti-communist that after the war he joined very right-wing groups, and was charged with collaborating in a project for a reactionary coup d'état. who cares? sogno still remains the dream hero of my childhood. liberation was a common deed for people of different colours." (the underlining done before in this paragraph is mine; and it might be time to recall friedrich nietzsche's saying: "i assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn it to its advantage.")
which brings me to the notion of the distinction between 'progress' and 'progressing', which is still a notion in development, a work i imbue myself in every single day, consciously or not. i've been having the grace and fortune of having, in writing, during the past months of 2014, a conversation with my nephew, the artist andré de oliveira about writing, particularly, and some other themes we find important to our own progressing in society and as human beings, concisely. it might that i am just being up my own arse and obtuse, which i am frequently, or the two words not have the same meaning. which might as well be plainly better if i define (from a dictionary) progress and progressing (which the dictionaries, again, define as the same thing):
1. move forward or onward in space or time. "as the century progressed the quality of telescopes improved"
2. develop towards an improved or more advanced condition. "work on the pond is progressing".
it seems that 'progressing' is dependable of 'progress', or so it seems. without the idea of 'progress' there cannot be 'progressing'. i beg to differ, and i do not have any pretention to be a philosopher. my written conversations with andré de oliveira are a work 'progressing' not because i do not want it to achieve anything else but its own purpose, that is, being a conversation. he might disagree completely about this last statement. it is a means in itself and it do not depends on any backward subject being altered into more obfuscation, therefore, in that case, there is no 'progress', at all, quite the opposite, there is 'eu-progress' or 'non-progress' ('eu' is no or the opposite in greek, used as a pronoun, like in eucatastrophe, a word coined by j.r.r. tolkien, when a catastrophe has got a moment that turns itself into a positive thing, or the opposite of itself). when we do not agree in something is it not 'progress'? quite the opposite again, we agreed in not agreeing and we might and must discuss further, because we are not, or i am not, satisfied with the state of things. 'progress' in the other side stops its course when two or more parties disagrees with the terms in discussion. in 'progress' you have time and space involved, you mean to advance towards a goal, to achieve something (which to me is utterly boring and disgusting, it actually stresses me and i do get lost in these 'progress' games we are indoctrinated in and with (religion included, especially). laurie anderson (album 'strange angels', 1989, warner brothers, 25900, B000002LHO):
"she said: what is history?
and he said: history is an angel
being blown backwards into the future
he said: history is a pile of debris
and the angel wants to go back and fix things
to repair the things that have been broken
but there is a storm blowing from paradise
and the storm keeps blowing the angel
backwards into the future
and this storm, this storm
'progress' is dictated, rushed, industrial, imposed, some say 'natural'. 'progressing' is desired and not rushed or imposed, poetic, philosophical. there is not 'progressing' in religions, political parties, associative industries and commerce (even if they tell you that, even if you 'believe' in them). like language 'progressing' is a living organism (do not forget that the word 'progress' disappeared from language just before the XVIII century and only resurfaced in the beginning of the XIX - was the industrial revolution a progress?) in my use of the word 'progressing' is the duration, the path taken that matters, not the result (with is the opposite of progress). you can say that i am wrong because both words come from the same original latin words, pro and gradi, to walk forward. progress is not progressive in the majority of times (if you really think about it), but progressing is aoristic, advanced and leading. my written conversations with my nephew are progressing and progressive, but not any kind of progress. this might be clearer when we speak of 'learning' and being 'natural'. obviously i am trying not to fall in the common mistake of being and using aporias that no one understands, including myself, and i cannot ever be accused of being a sophist or a politician using words for my own benefit and causes.
the above brings other important questions regarding the theme of this monologue: what this has to do with umberto eco's essay, fascism and us, including the author? many, many things, let us say for starters. first, let me pick up that beautiful word above, that we should use frequently and know the meaning: aporia. this is a progressing greek word. i am frequently in a state of aporia, which means, i am always in several states of puzzlement and in doubt. to me that is natural. but that was not always the state of things with me and of my personality. as it happened with fascism: it went away (apparently) for a while (dormant in the beds of capitalists and reactionaries and related succubus that spent all this time thinking how to subjugate and dominate the plebs) and now it is back big time, but under new forms and disguises, clenching and devouring all and everything that are narcotised by it. that appals me, makes me stop to think about progress and the so-called humankind (that's one of the reasons why you cannot find a proper meaning of the word 'progress' in a philosophy dictionary and much more, you cannot be a witness of that possible philosophical definition in real life, qualitatively. more below in the next paragraph). i know this is not a very good prohairetic logic, but i do still have a lot to learn, i am progressing... the communist and socialist and even humanist ideas were progressing for a while and then stopped, being just a progress from the anterior state of human affairs, mainly because of human consumption (as in the disease) of its own ideas, peoples are afraid of change and evolution (the antithesis of progress). progressing is changing and evolving, making one's own choices - progress is only seemingly proposed, but in reality a choice forced upon us. progress has everything to do with fascism (we shall discuss these subthemes further) because progress is always intended as an object of control, that is, consumerism and atrophying of thought. yes, there is "a storm blowing from paradise and the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards into the future - and this storm, this storm is called progress."
in the stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy (that we do suggest avidly you consult for a better understanding of my propositions and contradictions with the common thought http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/progress/) 'progress' is primarily defined as:
philosophical proponents of progress assert that the human condition has improved over the course of history and will continue to improve. doctrines of progress first appeared in 18th-century (when the word was not in vulgar common use at all in the english speaking world, at least) europe and epitomize the optimism of that time and place. belief in progress flourished in the 19th century. while sceptics of progress did exist alongside its supporters from the beginning, it was not until the 20th century that theorists backed away en masse from the notion. many 20th-century thinkers rejected the notion of progress after horrendous events such as the two world wars, the holocaust, and the use of nuclear weaponry. in general, writings on progress tend to bear a close relationship to the environment in which they were produced. (the comment and underlining above is mine).
if you are curious enough, or if you are knowledgeable of theories of progress, we must agree that what is going on in the XXI century is more important than discuss those referred and theories and history of progress, so, to cut a long story short:
walter benjamin: "a klee painting named “angelus novus” shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. his eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. this is how one pictures the angel of history. his face is turned toward the past. where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. the angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. but a storm is blowing from paradise; it has caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. this storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. this storm is what we call progress". (1941, 257–8)
desiree d'alessandro: german theorists horkheimer and adorno were frankfurt school philosophers reacting to the tyranny of hitler dictatorship and the rise of nazism. with an emphasis on the hegelian dialectic, horkheimer and adorno take immanuel kant's foundational text 'what is enlightenment?' (1784) and argue that instead of a mythical freedom and enrichment, what has resulted is its dialectical opposite: an ideology of alienation and domination. they articulate, "enlightenment's program was the disenchantment of the world," and continue, "enlightenment['s] . . . advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters. yet the wholly enlightened earth is radiant with triumphant calamity." here we see the dialectic echoed again with the master/slave binary in a resounding applicableness to today's global concerns (weapons of mass destruction, environmental degradation, calamity of civilization). in every dialectic or binary opposition, domination becomes a key component for consideration, as horkheimer and adorno explicate, "what human beings seek to learn from nature is how to use it to dominate wholly both it and human beings. nothing else counts." our rational procedures end up further oppressing us, because through understanding, the subject becomes a sovereign agent who shows his/her power through control of others. hence understanding is linked to tyranny, as the persistence of manipulation and domination leads to the alienation and what horkheimer and adorno call, "the manipulated collective." writing a generation later, french theorist foucault is also concerned with domination and how we participate in our own oppression. professor roth abbreviates foucault's concern "emerges as a product of what many had thought of as the march of progress and the growth of freedom. beneath the guise of liberal movements of various kinds, he argues, we can see increasing conformity." this emphasis comes from examining social control—"normalization"—and homogenization in institutions such as mental asylums and prisons. foucault accounts the historical shift from punishing a few madmen and exiling them to the fringes of society, to the organized pharmaceutical-laced landscape of today's civilization. "the asylum no longer punished madman's guilt, . . . it organized the guilt" and through psychologization, man returned society, aware of himself as "an object of punishment always vulnerable to himself and to the other." what is interesting here, is where horkheimer and adorno carved out a dialectic account for the degradation of society, through power dominating knowledge, foucault instead sees that "power and knowledge directly imply one another." that is all discourses contribute to the concentration of power and its affective capacity in a "system without an author," roth abbreviates. the result of rebelling from one system of conformity is to only then reify a new system of anti-conformity. for foucault, the elusive problem of freedom without contradiction, dialectic, or negation is hinged on divergence. he is interested in how the enlightenment marked "difference" and saw the truest possibility for potential in individuals who tried to invent themselves and "imagine [the world] otherwise than it is." foucault closes with "what is at stake, then, is this: how can the growth of capabilities be disconnected from the intensification of power relations?"
post-script: on the guardian of the 15th of november 2014 terry eagleton reviews two new books by the philosopher slavoj žižek and writes that: "he sees the world as divided between liberal capitalism and fundamentalism – in other words, between those who believe too little and those who believe too much. instead of taking sides, however, he stresses the secret complicity between the two camps. fundamentalism is the ugly creed of those who feel washed up and humiliated by a west that has too often ridden roughshod over their interests. one lesson of the egyptian revolt, žižek argues in trouble in paradise, is that if moderate liberal forces continue to ignore the radical left, “they will generate an insurmountable fundamentalist wave”. toppling tyrants, which all good liberals applaud, is simply a prelude to the hard work of radical social transformation, without which fundamentalism will return. in a world everywhere under the heel of capital, only radical politics can retrieve what is worth saving in the liberal legacy. it is no wonder that žižek is as unpopular with channel 4 as he is on wall street. in any case, market freedom and religious fundamentalism are far from mutually exclusive. “spiritual” values have been enlisted by asian nations for capitalist ends. the easy opposition between liberal permissiveness and fundamentalist repression must be rethought. the rise of islamo-fascism, žižek points out, went hand in hand with the disappearance of the secular left in muslim countries, a disappearance the west itself did much to promote. who now recalls that, 40 years ago, afghanistan was a strong secular state with a powerful communist party which took power there independently of the soviet union? every emergence of fascism, walter benjamin wrote, bears witness to a failed revolution. in the muslim world, the west has played a major role in stamping on such movements, creating a political vacuum into which fundamentalism was then able to move. it cannot now feign innocence of its predatory past in the face of the islamist backlash it has helped to unleash. those who are reluctant to criticise liberal democracy, žižek suggests, should also keep quiet about fundamentalism." © terry eagleton / the guardian.
[to be continued...]