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It is commonplace to hear fanaticism described as a deviant or extreme variant of an already irrational set of religious beliefs, an assertion that helps to demonize convictions outside political orthodoxy.
Alberto Toscano’s compelling and erudite counter-history explodes this accepted convention by exploring the critical role fanaticism played in the formation of modern politics and the liberal state. Showing how fanaticism results from a failure to formulate an adequate emancipatory politics, this illuminating history sheds new light on an idea that continues to dominate debates about faith and secularism. This expanded edition includes new material that revisits the idea of fanaticism as it operates at the limits of the liberal political imaginary, highlighting its relation to fraternal violence, political purity and the refusal of compromise, as well as its centrality to times of social crisis and international conflict.
“Succinct yet expansively allusive in scope, dense yet highly readable, Fanaticism is a multi-levelled investigation into the role that the idea of the fanatic has played in political discourse.”
“A tour de force in every sense—Toscano wipes the smug smiles off the self-righteous faces of the New Philosophers.”
“Gets the synapses firing … The book has brio, it is bolstered by wide-ranging scholarship and it will make you re-examine one of the most dangerous words in the political lexicon.”