the purchase of fascism on fractals and the beautiful power seen in the microfascisms of issue-based social aggregators or the missing beauty in the socially indifferent generational products of the Crisis of Value
[Timothy Snyder:] … I wonder if fascism doesn’t depend … on a certain level of technological development, where people can be moved easily but information less so? …
[Tony Judt:] We’re at exactly the point [the 1930s] when societies of Europe are entering the age of the masses. People can read newspapers. They work in very large agglomerations and are exposed to shared experiences – in school, in the military, traveling by train. So you have self-conscious communities on a grand scale, but for the most part nothing resembling genuinely democratic societies. Accordingly, countries like Italy or Romania were peculiarly vulnerable to movements and organizations that combined non-democratic form with popular content.
I think that this is one of the reasons why so few people understood them; certainly, their critics did not. Marxists could not find any “class logic” in fascist parites: therefore, they dismissed them as mere superstructural representatives of the old ruling class, invented and instumentalized for the purpose of mobilizing support against the threat from the Left – a necessary but far from sufficient account of the appeal and function of Fascism.
It therefore makes sense that in the aftermath of World War II, with the establishment of stable democracies in much of Western and parts of Central Europe, fascism lost its purchase. In later decades, with the coming of television (and a fortiori the internet), the masses disaggregate into ever-smaller units. Consequently, for all its demagogic and populist appeal, traditional fascism has been handicapped: the one thing that fascists do supremely well – transforming angry minorities into large groups, and large groups into crowds – is now extraordinarily difficult to accomplish.
[Timothy Snyder:] Perhaps the fascists were the last to believe that power was beautiful.
[Tony Judt:] Communists of course believed to the end that power is good … I wonder whether you are correct for the non-European world. Think of China, after all, the most obvious case in point.
[Timothy Snyder:] I fear that China is an excellent case in point.
- Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century, Vintage Books, London, 2013, pp. 165-167
the meaning of Israel; the mnemonic ethics of Europe (… perhaps as it has been with Nature, the answer is to monetarize the Holocaust: how much is it really worth, excuse for bad behavour or not?)
[Timothy Snyder:] Today’s Europe the Jews have served in the role of something like a collective messiah: for a long time they were a considerable irritant – they caused a lot of trouble, they introduced a lot of troublesome revolutionary or liberal ideas. But when they died – were exterminated en masse – they taught Europeans a universal lesson which, after three of four decades of uncomfortable contemplation, Europeans have begun to make their own. For Europeans, the fact that the Jews are no longer with us – that we killed them, leaving the remnant to flee – has become the most important lesson bequeathed us by the past.
But this incorporation of Jews into the meaning of European history was only possible precisely because they were gone. On the scale of what once was, there really are not many Jews in Europe, and very few who would contest their role in Europe’s new mnemonic ethics. Nor, come to that, are there many Jews left to make a significant contribution to European intellectual or cultural life, at least not in the way they used to before 1938. In fact, such Jews as there are in Europe today constitute a contradiction: if the message that the Jewish people have left behind required their destruction and expulsion, their presence only tends to confuse matters.
This leads to a positive – but only conditionally positive – European attitude towards Israel. The meaning of the State of Israel for Europeans is bound up with the Holocaust: it points to a lost messiah from whose legacy we have at least been able to draw a new, secular morality. But the actually existing Jews in Israel disrupt this narrative. They cause trouble. It would be better – so goes this thinking – if they did not cause so much trouble and allow us Europeans to interpret them in peace – hence the focus upon Israel’s midemeanors among European commentators. Here, as you may see, I am defending Israel.
[Tony Judt:] Very well: in your Christian version of Jewish history, Jews – Christ-like – can only truly win when (or rather, after) they lose. If they appear to be victorious, to be gaining their ends (at someone else’s expense) there is a problem. But this otherwise elegant European appropriation of someone else’s story for quite other purposes raises complications. The first of these, as you rightly note, is that Israel is there.
This is rather as though – allow me to offend you – Jesus Christ had been reincarnated as a rather venal but otherwise talented version of his former self: installed in a Jerusalem caf├ę, saying much the same things as he always used to and making his erstwhile persecutors feel guilty for crucifying him – even as they resent him deeply for reminding them of it. But think what that would mean. It would suggest that within short order – a mere generation or two – the uncomfortable recollection of Jesus’ suffering would be altogether eradicated by the irritation aroused by his endless evocation of it.
And thus you would end up with a story looking like this. The Jews – Jesus-like – become the martyred evidence of our own imperfections. But all we can see in them is their own imperfection, their obsessive insistence upon living off our shortcomings to their own advantage. I believe we are even today seeing this sentiment emerge. In the years to come, Israel is going to devalue, undermine and ultimately destroy the meaning and serviceability of the Holocaust, reducing it to what many people already say it is: Israel’s excuse for bad behaviour.
- Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century, Vintage Books, London, 2013, pp. 121-123
no risks = no capitalism => the present corpocratic form of totalitarianism relies on the popular delusion that it is still capitalism (hence also a bureaucracy engaged in planned capitalism preaching the perfectability of the market system and continuing to insist that markets can be made and must be made more efficient, whether they are in education or telecommunications or the manufacture of building products)
… there is no deep epistemological chasm separating socialism (or at least social democracy) from liberalism. Both, however, are quite distinct from a public policy based obsessively upon mathematically calculated planning devices. The latter justify themselves to the extent that they can claim perfect or near-perfect knowledge of future outcomes (not to mention present information). Since neither present nor future information – whether about economics or anything else – is ever vouchsafed us in perfect form, planning is inherently delusory, and the more all-embracing the plan, the more delusory its claims (much the same can be, but rarely is, said of the notion of perfect or efficient markets).
- Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century, Vintage Books, London, 2013, p. 92
and contrary to Margaret Thatcher’s assertion that society does not exist, something seems to have stirred the ashes and provoked a moralising media Hydra. It is a monster that invokes its own monstrosity in naming those it condemns: who are horrible monsters, who leave us crying with rage, who are condemned for crimes without proof of guilt or of innocence apart from that aroused by consensus in the media. They are of course simulacral crimes waving their wands over the waste, simulacral but not fake crimes, crimes the punishment for which insists most fervidly on silencing the perpetrators, in other words, removing them from the consensus they seem to have created and erred against, banning them from participation in the society they gratify by bolstering it in its sodality as contra, as pure shared revenge, resentment, as sharing and liking sharing itself – sharing, that is, its lust to see itself in its own lights as good and just, moral and true. What happens when the monsters speak? but the monsters are chattering now all at once!
Giovanni Tiso, fellow blogger, I salute you! Psychology lecturer, Neville Robertson – who can find boys guilty of rape by intention and then aberrantly claim that outrage at the behaviour is understandable but should also be directed at “the social conditions which helped create it.” [here]
The appearance of the ministers has its wistfully ironic overtones: Police Minister Anna Tolley and Justice Minister Judith Collins simper from under their slap urging “the young female victims of the Roast Busters sex gang to find the courage to come forward and give evidence.” [here] Why? So that justice with the requisite police enforcement – and allocation of resources – can be seen to be done.
They went into it wanting fame. Now the police are advising them on their own safety. Safety from whom? well, from society, of course!
Do I hate that these young people have become a “teen rape group”? [here] No. I think there ought to be a pussy riot.
The cost of morality is however counted as the value of advertising to Radio Live (to quote in full because it fills me with hope for a backlash or a front to backlash or front lash with ermine trim – because where, after all, have shame and taste gone? – and, since I find myself in this heady parenthesis, cui bono? the girls whose honour is in question? What, in fact, about their shame?┬áthe erstwhile left whose pusillanimous outpourings have them sound more like the moral majority? What does Giovanni Tiso gain? What do I?):
ANZ, Yellow and Freeview have confirmed they are cancelling their ads on the show, and AA Insurance has indicated the same.
It came after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted around 30 companies which advertised on the Willie and JT Show yesterday, asking them if they would reconsider their support of the programme.
He has so far received four responses, only one of which, from Countdown, said they were retaining their contract with the station.
I would like to end by asking Roast Busters? ‘Roasts’ are allegedly those naughty parties exaggerated and problematised online – or otherwise ‘busted’ [here] I am aware of another kind of roast, called the Celebrity Roast.
Gayatri Spivak remarks with some justification in [A Critique of Post-Colonial Reason: Towards a History of the Vanishing Present] that a good deal of US post-colonial theory is ‘bogus’, but this gesture is de rigueur when it comes to one post-colonial critic writing about the rest. Besides, for a┬á ‘Third World’ theorist to break this news to her American colleagues is in one sense deeply unwelcome, and in another sense exactly what they want to hear. Nothing is more voguish in guilt-ridden US academica than to point to the inevitable bad faith of one’s position. It is the nearest a postmodernist can come to authenticity.
- Terry Eagleton, Figures of Dissent, Verso, London, 2003, p. 158