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.
“We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.” — John Chilcot.
The long-awaited Chilcot Report, spanning almost a decade of UK government policy decisions between 2001 and 2009, was released today. The report finds that there was no “imminent threat” from Saddam Hussein, and that Tony Blair had gone to war before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted — the UK's invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not a “last resort”.
Verso presents a reading list of books that contextualize the disaster resulting from the "War on Terror" and the refugee crisis rooted in its violence. After the invasion by coalition forces in 2003, Iraq began fracturing along sectarian lines, unleashing years of violence and displacement. With the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, ISIS exploited the chaos and societal tensions of the region to sweep to power on a brutal campaign that has displaced millions of civilians. The Iraq War, too, led to increased risk of terrorism in Europe as well as within the Middle East.
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Recent months have shown that the War on Terror justified the waiving of virtually every constitutional right but the sacrosanct right to bear arms. The Washington Navy Yard shooting is yet another reminder of this stringent absurdity. As Matt Kennard, author of Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members and Criminal to Fight the War on Terror, writes in The Guardian, today’s killing cannot be dismissed as accidental.
The shooter, Aaron Alexis, was not a first-time offender. Moreover, wrestling to recruit more men after the abolition of the draft, the Pentagon turned to loosening regulations on recruitment in 2005, welcoming people who had previously been barred from enlistment. As a result, Kennard warns, “we have to brace ourselves for future instances of the ‘war coming home’ in very public, tragic ways” as unstable and abandoned vets practice at home the skills they learned abroad:
"My impression in general is that the business press is more open, more free, often more critical, less constrained by external power and external influences."
"Latin Ameirca has begun to address its horrendous internal problems. This is an area of the world that ought to be pretty rich and successful. [...] Compare it with East Asia which is far poorer in resources, many faced with hostile powers and internal conflicts, which South America isn't - but it's grown extensively and developed."
"The first was in Venezuela in 2002 when the US quite openly backed a coup attempt which was successful for a few days but was then overturned. [...] The second was in Haiti in 2004 when the traditional torturers of Haiti, France and the US, combined to give not-so-tacit support to a military uprising, and intervened to kidnap the elected president and send him off to central Africa [...] The third case was Honduras, where the elected president, Zelaya, was expelled by the military."