Friday, April 01, 2005

The Two Totalitarianisms

Where I grew up, there's this bunch of guys we've always called the Freddies. One of them is named Fred, and the others all seem to do what Fred does, so they're just the Freddies. For a long time, the main claim to notoriety for the Freddies was an incident that took place in a Pizza Hut parking lot, where one of the Freddies intimidated someone who had insulted his car or something by pulling a gun on him. But recently, word is that the Freddies have gone Commie. Apparently the Freddies have taken to listening to the Internationale on the stereo in their trucks, to spouting Marxist slogans, and wearing T-shirts that read CCCP or are emblazoned with the sickle and hammer. But unfortunately they aren't doing anything useful with their communism; they're not unionizing Wal-Marts or exposing media bias or even protesting Bush or Santorum's idiotic shenanigans with Social Security. Apparently, they are into Soviet kitsch because it is the current cutting edge in oppositional chic, the emblems to brandish to show a nihilistic contempt for the society in which you live, the token of your own anti-social outrageousness, much what Nazi paraphenalia used to be.

This is symptomatic of the widespread fallacy that equates Nazism with Bolshevism, in an apparent attempt to disccredit all Marxist aims. An article from today's Journal plays on this when it gratuitously mentions in an article about the National Bolshevik party in Russia the similarities betweeen its flag and the Nazi flag. In this article from the LRB Zizek does a good job explaining why Stalinism and Nazism must be considered as distinct without apologizing for the barbarism of the Soviet regime. His key point is this: "Class antagonism, unlike racial difference and conflict, is absolutely inherent to and constitutive of the social field; fascism displaces this essential antagonism." In other words, Nazism tries to nullify real class conflict by trumping up phoney racial differences and using these to explain society's inequities. Bolshevism correctly identified the source of social problems but pursued a tragically wrong course in trying to remedy it. Nazism maufactured power out of racism and xenophobia.

No comments:

Post a Comment