Verso Books is a proud Co-Sponsor of this year’s Historical Materialism New York Conference: “Resurgent Radicalisms in a Polarizing World.” The conference will be held April 21-23 at NYU and will bring together hundreds of radical scholars in conversation and debate on some of the most pressing questions posed today by social movements and Marxist theory. More information about the location and registration is available here.
This interview with Enzo Traverso was first published in L'humanité. Translated by David Broder.
June 2015 press conference of far right 'Europe of Nations and Freedom' bloc within European Parliament.
In his Les Nouveaux Visages du Fascisme, historian Enzo Traverso analyses the mutations of the European far Right movements that have emerged from "the fascist matrix."1 According to Traverso, the Left has to "offer political perspectives again" in order to occupy "the immense void" that is today being filled by both jihadism and a "post-fascism" that excludes Muslims.
Are Europe’s far-Right movements (the AfD in Germany, the Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary…) adopting the same codes as fascism or Nazism?
Enzo Traverso: First of all, these movements do share common traits, including their rejection of the European Union, their xenophobia and their racism, in particular in its Islamophobic dimension. Beyond these markers, we can see notable differences. There are clearly neo-fascist or neo-Nazi movements, like Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, etc., whose radicalism is often linked to the extent of the crisis, even if in Greece the rise of Syriza did put a lid on this dynamic. As for France, the Front National does have a fascist matrix, and there are certainly neo-fascists in the party, but its discourse is no longer fascist. After all, it has made a considerable effort at ideological mutation, and that is one of the keys to its success. If it still advanced neo-fascist arguments it would not get a hearing, and could certainly not hope to reach the second round of the presidential election.
In Les Nouveaux Visages du fascisme, Enzo Traverso and Régis Meyran discuss the continuities and discontinuities between the fascist movements of the twentieth century and the "post-fascist" far right of today. Olivier Doubre spoke with Traverso for the 16-22 February 2017 edition of Politis. Translated by David Broder.
You use the term "post-fascism" to characterise today’s far Right movements. What does this term mean?
Enzo Traverso: The idea of post-fascism firstly serves to characterise a political movement that is shot through with contradictions, and which has an evident fascist matrix — for that is its history, where it comes from — and in the Front National’s case a dynastic line of descent. There is an undeniable fascist hard core in the FN apparatus, its activist base, composed of neo-fascist militants of all generations. They are very active in the FN and hold onto a good part of the organisation. So there is a rift between the organisational reality of this party — or even its anthropological fabric — and Marine Le Pen’s discourse in the media or the public sphere, which is of a xenophobic, nationalist, anti-neoliberal tenor but also comes out of a social Right. Yet if the FN were a neofascist sect, or even a neofascist party, I do not think that it would be considered likely to appear in the second round of the presidential election, or even capable of being France’s biggest party. This party is thus clearly transforming, and it is trying to operate a process by which it dialectically transcends its fascist character — but without entirely rejecting it. So in order to fight this party, we have to understand what it has become.
Sonya Faure's interview with Enzo Traverso on post-fascism, left melancholy, and the memory of defeat was first published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.
A new edition of Christopher Hill's classic The Experience of Defeat is out from Verso this week.
Gustave Courbet, Un enterrement à Ornans, 1849–50.
Enzo Traverso has published two books in quick succession, which he himself sees as two parts of a diptych. In Nouveaux visages du fascisme ("Fascism’s New Faces," to be published by Textuel in February) the historian of ideas gives his definition of the concept "post-fascism" as he works to reveal the still-changing nature of the new populist and xenophobic currents from Le Pen to Trump. In Left-Wing Melancholia. Marxism, History and Memory (Columbia University Press, January 2017), he explains why the Left must draw on its inherent melancholia, a force for its own self-reinvention. Born in Italy, Enzo Traverso — a former far-Left militant and formerly an academic in France, today professor at Cornell University in the United States — places French political passions back at the heart of global debates, from the reconstruction of the Left to the populist temptation.
Via Mediapart. Translated by David Broder.
19 March 2017: A March for Justice and Dignity
One a month. That is the average number of fathers, brothers and sons we lose because of the brutality of the forces of order. This brutality takes many forms: from beatings, bullets or Tasers to "stress positions" that lead to the victims’ asphyxiation. In the worst cases the results are fatal.
That is how our loved ones have regularly been killed by the French state over the last 40 years or more, at the hands of those ironically called the "guardians of the peace." For 40 years or more, criminalisation campaigns and the most abject impunity have been the official response to those mobilising to demand truth and justice for the dead. The stubborn police, judicial and political response to the Traoré family, to whom we extend our total solidarity, is proof enough of this. Every time, the same story.