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The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics – New York Review Books
European history of the past century is full of examples of philosophers, writers, and scholars who supported or excused the worst tyrannies of the age. How was this possible? How could intellectuals whose work depends on freedom defend those who would deny it?

In profiles of six leading twentieth-century thinkers—Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Alexandre Kojève, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida—Mark Lilla explores the psychology of political commitment. As continental Europe gave birth to two great ideological systems in the twentieth century, communism and fascism, it also gave birth to a new social type, the philotyrannical intellectual. Lilla shows how these thinkers were not only grappling with enduring philosophical questions, they were also writing out of their own experiences and passions. These profiles demonstrate how intellectuals can be driven into a political sphere they scarcely understand, with momentous results.

In a new afterword, Lilla traces how the intellectual world has changed since the end of the cold war. The ideological passions of the past have been replaced in the West, he argues, by a dogma of individual autonomy and freedom that both obscures the historical forces at work in the present and sanctions ignorance about them, leaving us ill-equipped to understand those who are inflamed by the new global ideologies of our time.
history_of_ideas  philosophy  nihilism  post-modernism  20th_century  book  fascism 
october 2017 by rvenkat
Wolin, R.: The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (Paperback and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Fifteen years ago, revelations about the political misdeeds of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man sent shock waves throughout European and North American intellectual circles. Ever since, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been widespread and not incidental. He calls into question postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the left--and suggests that postmodern thought has long been smitten with the opposite end of the political spectrum.

In probing chapters on C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot, Wolin discovers an unsettling commonality: during the 1930s, these thinkers leaned to the right and were tainted by a proverbial "fascination with fascism." Frustrated by democracy's shortcomings, they were seduced by fascism's grandiose promises of political regeneration. The dictatorships in Italy and Germany promised redemption from the uncertainties of political liberalism. But, from the beginning, there could be no doubting their brutal methods of racism, violence, and imperial conquest.

Postmodernism's origins among the profascist literati of the 1930s reveal a dark political patrimony. The unspoken affinities between Counter-Enlightenment and postmodernism constitute the guiding thread of Wolin's suggestive narrative. In their mutual hostility toward reason and democracy, postmodernists and the advocates of Counter-Enlightenment betray a telltale strategic alliance--they cohabit the fraught terrain where far left and far right intersect.

Those who take Wolin's conclusions to heart will never view the history of modern thought in quite the same way.
Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His books, which have been translated into eight languages, include Heidegger's Children (Princeton) and Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption. His work has also appeared in The New Republic and Dissent.
history_of_ideas  philosophy  nihilism  post-modernism  20th_century  book  fascism 
october 2017 by rvenkat
Goodbye, Pepe | Angela Nagle
At the risk of putting my own work out of date, I believe that chapter of the alt-right story that my book was about—the anonymous online trolling culture, the constant evasions and ironic styles, the hodge-podge of disparate groups united by the “anti-PC” crusade—is over and a new one has begun. The alt-right in the strict sense will now become more isolated, more focused and unambiguous—and perhaps more militant.

But the part of the movement that is willing to go all the way is still very small. The most popular figure in U.S. politics right now is Bernie Sanders—a Jewish socialist—while Trump’s popularity is at an all-time low. A purely oppositional politics to the far right will be a game of eternal whack-a-mole if the only vision of the future to be found in the aimless desert of meaning created by the political establishment is the nightmarish Silicon Valley model of modernity. The creation of a politics that offers something meaningful, beautiful, hopeful, new, and utopian is the project for which there is no shortcut. To take the bigger picture from this sorry story, it should be the job of our generation to create it.
USA  politics  Charlottesville  alt-right  counterculture  transgression  trolling  radicalisation  neo-Nazism  murder  HeyerHeather  FieldsJames  YiannopoulosMilo  Breitbart  BannonStephen  centrism  TheLeft  SpencerRichard  nihilism  alienation  identity  masculinity  dctagged  dc:creator=NagleAngela 
august 2017 by petej

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