Monday, June 11, 2018

PE of Fash Week VI: Fake News and Mutual Aid (Reading List)

This last class in the political economy of fascism minicourse is meant to emulate the periodic "debriefs" I have programmed into the full-semester version of the course. I believe it is extremely important that, after rendering the coherence of fascism on its own terms, one take the time to debunk its central claims. Although I do this throughout the course during the lecture/discussion, designating an entire week's readings to such an exercise is, in my view, crucial in distinguishing this course from one of simple fascist indoctrination.

As I repeatedly say, fascism is disturbingly compelling. When one takes the time to piece it together into its coherent esoteric ideology, one is engaged in the exact game that draws people into fascism -- a game driven by curiosity and the self-satisfaction of figuring it out. In addition, fascism does point out valid contradictions about the way society operates (largely borrowing from leftist rhetoric). These critiques are then used to leverage a political race to the bottom, justifying underhandedness on the basis of a perceived supernatural enemy's underhandedness.

The readings for this last week, apart from the Aho piece, present these fundamental critiques of society -- namely on speech, democracy, and the academy -- while resolving them in a non-fascist way. The Aho piece, in my opinion, justifies this week's readings insofar as he concludes that defection from Nazism is aided not only through disillusionment with the Nazi scene, but a viable alternative to it.

Schauer calls into question the notion of free speech not on the basis of the hellish escalation of its assertion often presented by fascists, but on the basis of material harm it can cause and the disconnect between how speech and, for example, fraud are litigated. Rosenberg presents a critique of neoclassical epistemology, psychology, and political economy to argue that representative democracy is basically impossible. He concludes that auxiliary social formations allow a collective rationality where individual rationality is untenable. Mohanty's critique of women's studies buying into imperialist tropes serves as a good introduction to the operations of state and capital power within the academy. These three areas tend to the where fascists place their most devastating critiques of egalitarianism. These alternative texts, I think, provide a good counterweight to that.

"Required" Readings

Frank Schauer 1992 Uncoupling Free Speech

This article is from a legal scholar arguing that our conception of free speech treats the potential harm caused by speech in a manner significantly different from other forms of harm.

Shawn Rosenberg 1995 Against Neoclassical Political Economy: A Political Psychological Critique

This article calls into question the possibility of successful electoral democracy as envisioned by those who believe in the fundamental truth of universal rationality and individualism.

James A. Aho 1988 Out of Hate: A Sociology of Defection from Neo-Nazism

This article attempts to outline a theory for why one would leave Neo-Nazism. Despite issues with sample size and consistency in methodology, the article asserts that Neo-Nazis engage in an effective cost-benefit analysis of leaving hate groups.

Chandra Mohanty 2006 US Empire and the Project of Women's Studies: Stories of Citizenship, Complicity and Dissent

This article discusses contemporary economic and military policy in the context of statecraft within purported democratic polities.

My Writing

Ten Antifascist Activities That Don't Involve Your Fists

My article "Ten Antifascist Activities That Don't Involve Your Fists" in Jewish Currents outlines ten community-based activities that can make fascist ideology unappealing and unwelcome.

Popular Pulbications

Natasha Lennard Is Antifa Counterproductive? White Nationalist Richard Spencer Would Beg to Differ
Eviction Free Zone Why We Fight I: What Is the Real Threat of Fascist Organizing?
Eviction Free Zone Why We Fight II: Anarchism vs. Fascism
Derek Black & Corinna Burt Leaving White Nationalism
Elizabeth King Why the Far Right's Rallying Cry of a Leftist 'Civil War' Is No Laughing Matter


Chasseurs de Skins
Mark Bray - "Antifa: The History and Politics of Anti-Fascism"
Angela King - "How to Get Through to White Supremacists"

Book for Further Reading

Mark Bray 2017 Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook
George Ciccariello-Maher 2017 Decolonizing Dialectics
Frantz Fanon 1961 The Wretched of the Earth
Peter Kropotkin 1902 Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution