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I like dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tions. At the let­ter F, under ‘fas­cism’, you find:

(1) Doc­trine, nation­al­ist and total­i­tar­i­an polit­i­cal sys­tem Mus­soli­ni estab­lished in Italy in 1922. (2) Doc­trine or polit­i­cal sys­tem tend­ing to estab­lish the same type of total­i­tar­i­an regime in a State. ”

One notes that the seman­tic drift in which, from “Ital­ian fas­cism” one arrives at “total­i­tar­i­an­ism”  is already con­tained in the def­i­n­i­tion. That drift in itself would deserve an entire arti­cle, which exists else­where. (In French).

But I won’t go look­ing any fur­ther before using the word when applied to what we are col­lec­tive­ly expe­ri­enc­ing nowa­days, in terms of search­es for polit­i­cal exits to the crises caused by a bloat­ed eco­nom­ic sys­tem, vic­tim of its own obe­si­ty, a destruc­tive preda­tor of life, of plan­e­tary ecol­o­gy, of human rela­tion­ships in gen­er­al and of the soci­eties they generate.

Because this is not about his­to­ry repeat­ing itself, but rather about an ever-deep­en­ing cri­sis, one whose  jolts over the last cen­tu­ry have giv­en rise to such respons­es as fas­cism and all of its sin­gu­lar vari­ants, lead­ing to their ulti­mate expres­sions, nazism and stal­in­ism, at both ends of the spec­trum. Men­tion­ing both of those in the same sen­tence does not mean plac­ing them at equal­i­ty or in com­pe­ti­tion; it is  sim­ply  a way of men­tion­ing their world-wide  influ­ences in the spec­trum of fascisms.

A clos­er look  is war­rant­ed at those regimes in the sec­ond half of the 220th cen­tu­ry that were defined as “total­i­tar­i­an” or as “dic­ta­tor­ships” based on a neo-lib­er­al doc­trine, and which served as the alpha and omega of poli­cies in the last forty years, crowned by  finan­cial cap­i­tal­ist glob­al­iza­tion. A recall   of  both Pinochet and Thatch­er (who were close friends) and of their enthu­si­as­tic sup­port for the “mar­ket” would be useful.

In 1917, a cer­tain Lenin, pub­lished a work titled “Impe­ri­al­ism, Ulti­mate phase of cap­i­tal­ism”; need­less to say, the work  has acquired  more than a few wrin­kles, but it ana­lyzed how a world war, exac­er­bat­ed nation­alisms and eco­nom­ic wars were attempts at non-nego­ti­at­ed solu­tions to the crises in a sys­tem already ill from its own con­tra­dic­tions. Bor­row­ing an ana­lyt­i­cal key from him does not mean approval of what fol­lowed in the uses made of it by the Octo­ber Rev­o­lu­tion. How­ev­er Ital­ian fas­cism, which serves as the yard­stick for the con­cept, matched up well with his antic­i­pat­ed analy­sis, one he was not alone in expressing.

We might then draw a few lessons from his­to­ry. Not in order main­tain a per­ma­nent stance of denun­ci­a­tion of resur­gent naszism, but as a reminder that the under­ly­ing trends for a cri­sis are still there, and that respons­es anal­o­gous to pre­vi­ous ones , even if wide­ly adapt­ed and ground­ed in oth­er nation­al myths, could rise from the shad­ows sur­round­ing chaos. Fas­cism has yet to speak its final word.

But should this serve as an excuse for cram­ming under the same head­ing every anti-human­is­tic polit­i­cal demon­stra­tion or belief with a total­i­tar­i­an voca­tion, preach­ing a war of civ­i­liza­tions and nation­al indraw­ing? Blunt­ly stat­ed, is polit­i­cal islamism such as that found in the most devel­oped forms of ISIS, on the one hand, and a Trumpian pop­ulist fas­cism  des­tined to serve as mod­els. For my part, I would answer in the neg­a­tive. Pre­cise­ly because they do not answer, either in a durable or in a momen­tary way, cap­i­tal­is­m’s need for eco­nom­ic sur­vival. In that sense, they are less “durable” than are Chi­na or Rus­sia, to men­tion only those two.  These casu­al and inter­na­tion­al­ly “tol­er­at­ed” fas­cisms are part of the glob­al mar­ket, not in order to dis­rupt it, but so as to find in it their nation­al­ist inter­est through the widen­ing of cap­i­tal­ist glob­al­iza­tion, and using it to enrich their financers and their oli­garchies. Each in its own way, we have here  fas­cisms using the cap­i­tal­ist motor and which have estab­lished inter­nal total­i­tar­i­anisms they have made the whole world accept. The Putin mod­el is a good export prod­uct. The Chi­nese mod­el is still too “exot­ic” to tempt West­ern­ers, but we only need observe the ges­tic­u­la­tions around ques­tions  of “human rights” to under­sand the major­i­ty of West­ern States have already drawn their bal­ances and gone to mar­ket. And here’s to the vel­vet hand in the silken glove.

I do not mean to suggest that the occult hand of a grand capitalist plot rules the world.

What we see are only con­ver­gences in inter­ests, in order to defend the sur­vival of a sys­tem pre­sent­ed every­where as the only alter­na­tive to pover­ty, so-called “human mis­ery”, vio­lence and…anarchy. And these con­verg­ing inter­ests are not only a con­cept. They are struc­tured in G8s, G20s as well as at the WTO or NATO, along with the mul­ti­ple sub­di­vi­sions where one finds the cream of the “investors”. States even serve as their back­bone, for “the good of the nations”. I for­got the EU, free-trade agree­ments as well as “com­mon sanc­tions” imposed against unruly or quar­rel­some coun­tries.  All this is a real­i­ty, and human­ism is not a top­ic in these gatherings.

The cli­mate and the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis add to the inher­ent crises in a sys­tem that has not tak­en into account the fact the plan­et’s resources are not inex­haustible, or at a min­i­mum, has pushed off the reck­on­ing into the future, and has not tak­en the full mea­sure in the dai­ly growth of its preda­to­ry and destruc­tive pow­er through indus­tri­al effi­cien­cy, includ­ing in the area of the “pro­duc­tion” of waste and their effects on the liv­ing. Inter­est­ing­ly enough, up until now, only lit­er­ary or cin­e­mato­graph­ic antic­i­pa­tions pro­vid­ed all this a fas­cist end point — and not only since yes­ter­day. Sci­ence-fic­tion is a trea­sure trove in this regard. Let’s close the brack­ets here, but the books exist, and among them, the very best.

All the media, politi­cians, offi­cial “philoso­phers”, a num­ber of “cul­tured” peo­ple pro­vid­ing opin­ions, have thrown the word fas­cism to the dunghill of his­to­ry and only pull it out as an insult, when required for this pur­pose, if    giv­en a pre­fix such as islamo, or cryp­to, as the case may be. These same ones do every­thing they can to “demo­nize” the term, the bet­ter to de-demo­nize the germ car­ri­ers. Since Prévert, we know that intel­lec­tu­als love play­ing with matches.

And even when speak­ing of the polit­i­cal tan­dem dom­i­nat­ing Turkey, the term bare­ly comes to their lips. Turkey, fas­cist? On occa­sion in a head­line, but only because it is “islamist”. And yet, if ever there was one, there stands a “repub­lic” for appear­ances only, one that com­posed with and con­tin­ues to com­pose with fas­cism, while slow­ly work­ing its way into neo-lib­er­al­ism. As a region­al pow­er, it is now court­ed eco­nom­i­cal­ly as well as for it capac­i­ty in   hold­ing back the migra­to­ry con­se­quences of wars, of cli­mate change and of the jolts and rum­blings of world crises. We have here a use­ful fas­cism, one not attempt­ing to cre­ate geopo­lit­i­cal crises for its own sake. The solu­tion found by the EU there­fore con­sists of financ­ing it in order to have some influ­ence on the excess­es. Its dura­bil­i­ty is uncertain.

A longer bracket, since we are on Kedistan.

The army won’t let it happen”

This sen­tence was emblem­at­ic at the end of polit­i­cal dis­cus­sions in the ear­ly 2000s in Turkey. It could just as well be com­plet­ed by an “inchal­lah”. But it was main­ly heard in fam­i­lies said to be sec­u­lar, in the upper mid­dle class­es of large cities, such as Istan­bul and Ankara. The Turk­ish army was ven­er­at­ed in those com­munties as pro­tec­tors of a Kemal­ist nation, one and indi­vis­i­ble, against a red ene­my or an islamist one. Yes, on can con­sid­er one’s self sec­u­lar, and be a fas­cist too.

The sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry had seen deep inequities aggra­vat­ed in Turkey between what was known as deep Ana­to­lia, the East with a Kur­dish major­i­ty, cer­tain regions on the Black Sea and the expand­ing metrop­o­lis. This also led to accel­er­at­ing rur­al exo­dus of pop­u­la­tions mov­ing to large towns as labor­ers, in order to serve those ful­ly ben­e­fit­ing from the social ele­va­tor of the said Kemal­ist repub­lic, an ele­va­tor cou­pled with the coun­try’s cap­i­tal­ist devel­op­ment, already advan­ta­geous for Euro­pean delo­cal­iza­tions for pro­duc­tion of com­mon con­sumer goods, one where divi­sions in labor are impor­tant such as with tex­tile, for exam­ple. Cars fol­lowed as did “domes­tic” con­sumer goods.

At first, this peri­od was one of eco­nom­ic con­glom­er­ates tak­ing advan­tage of a reg­u­lat­ed domes­tic mar­ket, then of pri­va­ti­za­tions, all the way to open lib­er­al­ism, then neo-lib­er­al­ism in keep­ing with the rise of cap­i­tal­ist glob­al­iza­tion. These devel­op­ments had impor­tant social con­se­quences, in terms of enrich­ment for some and grow­ing social and ter­ri­to­r­i­al inequal­i­ties, espe­cial­ly since Turk­ish demog­ra­phy was on the rise. These peri­ods were also marked by “mil­i­tary coups” from the 1960s to the 1990s, jus­ti­fied each time in the name of “order and civ­il peace” and “in defence of the Repub­lic”. Each of these coups, although occur­ring in a dif­fer­ent con­text each time, end­ed up impress­ing the minds of those who were not direct­ly affect­ed by their con­se­quences, since they were “on the right side of the fence”, that of growth, or mem­bers of the State’s plethor­ic admin­is­tra­tion, in the best Kemal­ist tra­di­tion. And even though one Pres­i­dent con­sid­ered a lib­er­al (Menderes) and two of his min­is­ters were sen­tenced to death and exe­cut­ed in 1961, this did not stop this say­ing from being pop­u­lar all the way till 2010. The army, com­ing to the res­cue of order and secu­ri­ty, espe­cial­ly that of goods. Today, fas­cists and islamists share pow­er and cor­rup­tion, while on the best of terms with the EU.  Mil­i­ta­riza­tion remains per­va­sive but the reins are in the hands of one man only. Kemal­ism can be part of the equa­tion when it is in pow­er and ostra­cizes sec­tions of the peo­ple on eht­nic and reli­gious grounds.

Were I to work my way across a world map and point how who in Asia, in the Midle-East, in Africa or in South Amer­i­ca could eas­i­ly be known under this name, this arti­cle would not suf­fice, the same being true with­in the EU itself, where some States are seri­ous­ly think­ing of don­ning the uniform.

Attempting to define a pure fascism would be perfectly idiotic and a stupid approach.

These fas­cisms are prod­ucts of his­to­ry and even of cross­ings with­in his­to­ry. Nazism was one, bor­row­ing from an arse­nal of ide­o­log­i­cal racism, clear­ly per­son­al­ized. Wars and geno­cides mark their pas­sage. On the Euro­pean con­ti­nent, since 1915 in Turkey until the 1990s in ex-Yugoslavia, includ­ing the Shoah, these geno­cides are a reminder that if the vic­tims of fas­cism are dif­fer­ent each time, noth­ing can chal­lenge this word as the per­fect expres­sion of a polit­i­cal threat, still avail­able to ‘solve” crises. On this top­ic, the com­pe­ti­tion between “memo­ri­als” on these mat­ters of geno­cide only becomes the more igno­ble and even worse when it  serves as a screen to jus­ti­fy a col­o­niza­tion in Pales­tine, for exam­ple, or for set­ting up back-to-back the Gulag and the Nazi camps, as being two abom­i­na­tions belong­ing to the past, on the right and on the left — the bet­ter to have us for­get that the embers of fas­cism still glow­er under the ashes.

Get­ting back to the sec­ond part of the def­i­n­i­tion, I keep in mind again the terms of “polit­i­cal doc­trine or sys­tem”. I under­stand the word doc­trine as mean­ing ide­ol­o­gy. And this is where there begins a per­verse dialec­tic between this eco­nom­ic sys­tem in cri­sis and the rise of ide­o­log­i­cal solu­tions with wide  ral­ly­ing appeal  as an exit strat­e­gy. Fas­cism is one of them, and pop­ulism walks along­side in those lib­er­al democ­ra­cies no longer able to respond with suc­cess­ful deci­sions. And please don’t men­tion left­ist pop­ulism in my pres­ence. As soon as nation­al­ism is involved, it turns to the beast­’s advantage.

This fas­cist  idoel­o­gy regard­ing the need for a strong pow­er, a prov­i­den­tial per­son­al­i­ty on the Bona­partist mod­el to insure “secu­ri­ty”, the defense of pri­vate prop­er­ty, of the “dom­i­nant val­ues” secret­ed by the cap­i­tal­ist mar­ket, spreads like gazo­line on the social body, with the help of the media who obtain large audi­ences  from it. Add to this racism which divides and oppos­es, iden­ti­tar­i­an nation­al­ism as a gal­va­niz­er, the des­ig­na­tion of migra­tions as scape-goats, and you  have the pic­ture of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in France, among oth­er countries.

Com­ing fascism?

I do not wish to para­phrase a well-known title that spoke of insur­rec­tion, but I do believe their authors should think on it. What emerges from chaos is not always rev­o­lu­tion­ary, even if it gives itself the title. Under its out­ward appear­ances, fas­cism is con­ser­v­a­tive. And feed­ing the premis­es, by accen­tu­at­ing chaos, is dead­ly, when the roles are reversed. We’re not about to ressus­ci­tate Gramci.

Which brings us to the question “must we defend the democratic and liberal status quo in order to escape from it?

This is the mat­ter for anoth­er article.

Get­ting back to Kedis­tan, it is our job to see what answers pro­vide those sub­ject­ed to it, as in Turkey. An analy­sis of the Kur­dish move­men­t’s   dis­sen­sions on the mat­ter of armed strug­gle, depend­ing on the con­texts, along with  ana­lyzes on var­i­ous con­cep­tions of the State, and thus of nation­al­ism, would help in for­mu­lat­ing an answer.

But chaos is not a choice. It asserts itself when we look away. And fas­cism is quick to show up, super­im­posed on our shadow.

The illus­tra­tion to this arti­cle is by Nour Mabkhout, bor­rowed from the Mon­tre­al stu­dent news­pa­per “Le Délit”, with thanks. 

Read also > The vile beast


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…