Review of Richard Dawkins' new book 'The Fascism Delusion'
Added: Sat, 08 Sep 2007 23:00:00 UTC
OK, so it's not a real book, but I thought it was pretty hilarious.
The controversy stirred up by Dawkins's latest book The Fascism Delusion really seem to be heating up. Here is one recent review, from many, that takes him to task:
Only Dawkins, or perhaps his psychiatrist, can say why this subject seems to make him so angry; but he should be advised that the intemperate hostility he exhibits towards his subject is counterproductive. I'll eat my shiny peaked cap if this book persuades even the most hesitant half-Fascist to renounce his beliefs.
[Dawkins's] sense of 'Fascism' is lamentably error-strewn. Dawkins has only a superficial knowledge of Mein Kamf, or the poetry of Marinetti; and he seems entirely ignorant of the much more subtle and intellectually stimulating work of Fascist philosophers such as Hermann Graf Keyserling, Alfred Baeumler, Martin Heidegger, Giovanni Gentile, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, Alain de Benoist and many others. Only somebody who has mastered the complete works of all these thinkers could even conceivably be in a position to advance an anti-Fascist argument. The lack of that necessary body of knowledge fatally undermines Dawkins's right to attack Fascism in the first place.
Right from the get-go he makes the mistake of talking about 'Fascism' as if it were some unified quality. Of course the truth is that there are a great many varieties and flavours of Fascism. Do his generalisations refer to Italian Fascism? Hitlerian fascism? Islamofascism? Falangism? Crypto-Fascism? Brazilian Integralism? It is meaningless to extract an idealised, monolithic 'fascism' from this myriad patchwork of human practices, even for polemical purposes. Nor is it right to call Fascism 'right-wing' (what about the career of Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser?) or 'militaristic' (many Fascists are wholly peaceable).
Dawkins repeatedly compares the best of non-Fascism to the worst of Fascism. He (again repeatedly) accuses Fascism of being an 'extremism'. There have been some Fascists who were extremists, of course; but this doesn't mean that Fascism itself is extremist. I certainly did not recognise myself, or any of my local Party organisation, in Dawkins's bitter, hate-filled portrayal. Worse, he does not seem to realise that his own position, so-called non-Fascism, is actually a kind of Fascism: a structure of belief determined by Fascism, dependent for many of its core ideas on Fascist traditions.
Take for example this biased observation: "Fascism seeks to impose total state control over all aspects of life, from the political and cultural right down to questions of individual ethical and sexual choice. It valorises strength, and exalts the nation state as superior to the individuals composing it." Not even the junior Nazi Party secretary who first introduced me to Fascism believed that! ...
Almost all of Dawkins's claims are easily dismissed. His main one is that 'the fascist mindset' (whatever that is) 'enables people to commit appalling acts of barbarism and violence', that it 'encourages a tendency to separate humanity into sheep from goats, thereafter not only permitting but actively encouraging the persecution of the goats'. Then he trots out the tired old example of the holocaust. I've news for Professor Dawkins: yes, Fascists killed six million Jews in the 1940s. But they didn't do this because they were Fascists; but because they were human beings. All through history Jews have been killed. Killing Jews is one of the things that people have always done; deplorable, perhaps, but a fact of life. Since killing Jews predates Hitlerian Fascism, and since it has carried on after the decline in influence of Hitlerian Fascism, I think it's pretty obvious that this particular mass-murder of Jews had very little to do with Hitlerian Fascism, and everything to do with people's inherent capacity for evil—something, incidentally, for which Fascism has not only an explanatory theory, but a remedy; which is more than can be said for Professor Dawkins.
... Though he accuses Fascism of being an extremism; he flatly refuses to acknowledge the extremist bias of his own non-Fascist position. He is also blind to the obvious truth that his beloved non-Fascists have killed just as many people as have Fascists—more, indeed. Why doesn't Dawkins focus his polemic on them? The reason is that a peculiar hysterical hostility to the very idea of Fascism blinds him. (He claims for instance that 'non-Fascists don't do evil in the name of non-Fascism', which would be news to all the senior Fascists hanged by the Nuremberg anti-Fascist trials). All ideals — political, transcendent, human, or invented — are capable of being abused. And knowing this, we need to work out what to do about it, rather than lashing out uncritically at Fascism. But Dawkins cannot understand this.
I am not, of course, suggesting that Fascism has been perfect; no reasonable Fascist would. Whilst it's true that the Leader is the inerrant embodiment of the will of the People—ordinary Fascists themselves are prone to all the fallibilities of the human condition. Fascism has never claimed otherwise. But whilst Dawkins is happy to highlight the occasional bad consequences of Fascism, he wilfully ignores the good that Fascism manifestly has done in the world. There is no mention in this book of the prodigious architectural triumphs, the autobahns, the economic miracles, or most of all, the sense of belonging, purpose and meaning that being a member of a Fascist brotherhood brings to the ordinary man-in-the-street. All the evidence shows that Fascists are more likely than are non-Fascists to dedicate themselves selflessly to an ideal higher and to forego their own individual gratification; indeed for many people this is the point of Fascism.
Far from being a serious philosophical book, this ill-edited and garrulous diatribe contains just about anything that crosses the author's mind: page after sarcastic page of attacks against any aspect of Fascism Dawkins considers an easy target. Dawkins avoids the real question of whether one's political understanding terminates with a structureless, anarchic and social aggregation void of meaning, or with an authority who provides order, stability and reason for living. The bottom line is that Dawkins cannot affird to entertain the possibility that Fascism fills a deep-seated need in people. But the evidence that this is the case is so strong. Fascism could hardly have been as popular as it has been, for as long, otherwise.
Mazurke - - Comments
Selection for the new Archbishop of Canterbury
Kylie Sturgess - Token Skeptic -... 6 Comments
I Kind Of Got Kidnapped By Richard Dawkins And Ayaan Hirsi Ali At The Global Atheist Convention