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  1. #16
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    Hitler was a bastard, but he helped (inadvertently) to build the prosperous, modern, post-war Germany.

  2. #17
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    And also, he was a bastard, but the people around him were also bastards who made him more bastardly.

    Good review - looks like an interesting book.

  3. #18
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    Also backs up Raul Hilberg and the functionalist theory wrt the holocaust, given the lack of any direct orders from Hitler.

  4. #19

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    Good review, I agree, although I would pull him up on his approving quote of Hobsbawm's dismissal of 'The Fascist Revolution'. The main theorists of this were not bemoaning the lack of socialism in the various fascist experiments but were making very valid points about fascist ideas, which were a revolution of the Right and were not conservative for that reason, particularly in the Southern variants taking their cue from the Italian inspiration (which was itself messy and confused, but certainly revolutionary and theoretical). Michael Ledeen, in his study 'Universal Fascism', details the severe differences between the Southern and Northern versions of fascism which derailed any attempt at a Fascist International. The main sources of his book were George Mosse and Renzo de Felice*, who did serious work on fascist ideas to show that they were revolutionary movements, if only to destroy their seriousness, sense, validity and morality. Hobsbawm, in some senses (occasionally it comes out, like here, though he is usually a solid historian) was caught by the glamour of the idea of revolution, and liked to keep it a preserve of the left (if not just his Marxist comrades).

    * When I say "sources" I mean intellectual mentors, he did his own archive research for this book. You can't buy it cheaply now, I was lucky to pick up a random copy in a Hay bookshop for peanuts, but his other serious book on Italian Fascism, his study of D'Annunzio's occupation of Fiume is more readily available and essential reading on the roots of Italian fascism, similar to Hugh Thomas' detailed account of the Spanish civil war, which, if nothing else, gives a forensic account of the context of Franco's authoritarian state and its relation to the Rivera dictatorship and the Falange and, therefore, why it wasn't, in a very strict sense, fascism.

    But this is arcane stuff, like picking apart Trot sects. It's important, though, as I'm sure Droid will agree.
    Last edited by craner; 02-06-2016 at 09:13 PM. Reason: Lot of extra boring info and arcana

  5. #20

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    And, lest we forget, 'Mein Kampf' is a classic of the anti-Western canon.

  6. #21

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    I mean, I don't like to dismiss Hobsbawm out of hand, but his point seems to be, "Fascist Revolution? Well it was Nationalist but it wasn't all that Socialist, so it was certainly Fascist but it definitely wasn't revolutionary!"

    But that wasn't what Mosse was talking about at all!

  7. #22
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    Thanks for the above, Craner. I couldn't even be called a dilettante re: politics and history, so I tend to read such things uncritically!

    Another fantastic Orwell essay that I read yesterday: http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/wells/english/e_whws

    'Wells, Hitler and the World State'

    Hitler is a criminal lunatic, and Hitler has an army of millions of men, aeroplanes in thousands, tanks in tens of thousands. For his sake a great nation has been willing to overwork itself for six years and then to fight for two years more, whereas for the common-sense, essentially hedonistic world-view which Mr. Wells puts forward, hardly a human creature is willing to shed a pint of blood...

    What has kept England on its feet during the past year? In part, no doubt, some vague idea about a better future, but chiefly the atavistic emotion of patriotism, the ingrained feeling of the English-speaking peoples that they are superior to foreigners. For the last twenty years the main object of English left-wing intellectuals has been to break this feeling down, and if they had succeeded, we might be watching the S.S. men patrolling the London streets at this moment. Similarly, why are the Russians fighting like tigers against the German invasion? In part, perhaps, for some half-remembered ideal of Utopian Socialism, but chiefly in defence of Holy Russia (the ‘sacred soil of the Fatherland’, etc. etc.), which Stalin has revived in an only slightly altered from. The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions — racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war — which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action.
    History as [Wells] sees it is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man. Now, he is probably right in assuming that a ‘reasonable,’ planned form of society, with scientists rather than witch-doctors in control, will prevail sooner or later, but that is a different matter from assuming that it is just round the corner. There survives somewhere or other an interesting controversy which took place between Wells and Churchill at the time of the Russian Revolution. Wells accuses Churchill of not really believing his own propaganda about the Bolsheviks being monsters dripping with blood, etc., but of merely fearing that they were going to introduce an era of common sense and scientific control, in which flag-wavers like Churchill himself would have no place. Churchill's estimate of the Bolsheviks, however, was nearer the mark than Wells's. The early Bolsheviks may have been angels or demons, according as one chooses to regard them, but at any rate they were not sensible men.
    But because [Wells] belonged to the nineteenth century and to a non-military nation and class, he could not grasp the tremendous strength of the old world which was symbolised in his mind by fox-hunting Tories. He was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity. Creatures out of the Dark Ages have come marching into the present, and if they are ghosts they are at any rate ghosts which need a strong magic to lay them.
    All seems extremely relevant in this age of profound technological and scientific progress on the one hand, and Trump and ISIS on the other.

  8. #23

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    I just watched Vittorio de Sica's film 'The Garden of the Finzi Contini', which is a beautiful and chilling piece about the Jews in Fascist Italy. It's the most intelligent film about Italian Fascism I've ever seen, certainly superior to Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' which, while being a Masterpiece in many ways, is ultimately undermined by the directors absurd theory that Fascism, at root, is a psychological phenomenon of repressed homosexuality.

    It made me think of writing a comparative essay of de Sica's film and Renzo de Felice's classic tome 'The Jews in Fascist Italy', to compare historiography against aesthetics in the context of contemporary political debates about democracy, anti-Semitism and fascism. But now I've typed out the idea in that exhausting sentence, I probably won't bother.

    I wrote this post in response to my own droning monologue above.

  9. #24

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    The ultimate Orwell book is the Everyman collected essays. All of his most relevant work is in there.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    I just watched Vittorio de Sica's film 'The Garden of the Finzi Contini', which is a beautiful and chilling piece about the Jews in Fascist Italy. It's the most intelligent film about Italian Fascism I've ever seen, certainly superior to Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' which, while being a Masterpiece in many ways, is ultimately undermined by the directors absurd theory that Fascism, at root, is a psychological phenomenon of repressed homosexuality.

    It made me think of writing a comparative essay of de Sica's film and Renzo de Felice's classic tome 'The Jews in Fascist Italy', to compare historiography against aesthetics in the context of contemporary political debates about democracy, anti-Semitism and fascism. But now I've typed out the idea in that exhausting sentence, I probably won't bother.

    I wrote this post in response to my own droning monologue above.

    It's a silly film but isn't the idea reichs? That unsatisfactory orgasms lead to fascism?

  11. #26
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    a long but a rare positive article (well, "positive" if you don't mind being ruled by the amazon overload)...

    Good News at the Washington Post
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer...ald-trump.html

  12. #27
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    https://samkriss.wordpress.com/2015/...living-writer/

    Extraordinarily amusing and brutal takedown of Howard Jacobson, which I found while looking for articles BY Howard Jacobson, who I've read a few pieces by recently which I liked.

    Stuff like this always makes me wonder if I have any critical thinking skills whatsoever, or any opinion of my own. Because as soon as I read such a coruscating attack on somebody I've previously respected, I feel as if the attack at worst is aimed at me, and at best suggests I've really not got much of a mind at all.

  13. #28
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    https://samkriss.wordpress.com/2013/...ill-our-young/

    Here's the same fella (Sam Kriss) being hilariously insulting towards Alain De Botton.

    Reading stuff that's this brilliantly written thoroughly depresses me, because I write like a chimp by comparison, and am too lazy to doubt (let alone hate) De Botton so passionately.

  14. #29
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    Charlie Brooker was better at that sort of hyperbolic hatred. Howard Jacobsen and ADB are wretched cunts though

  15. #30
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    You're right, stuff like this:

    Alain de Botton would see the seas turned to acid slime and the sky filled with iron and smoke. He is directly responsible for every evil act in the world today. He wants us to kill our young.
    Is very Brookerish, and - as with Brooker - you can't help but feel the author doesn't feel THAT strongly about De Botton, but it's fun both to write and read bitter invective. Actually, reading this stuff is a bit like eating junk food, insofar as it's extremely flavourful but afterwards leaves you feeling rather nauseous and numb.

    I mean, shortly after praising this guy to the hilt I started thinking that I may have swallowed HIS line of reasoning rather too easily... I'm so fucking GULLIBLE and credulous, it's a real handicap. Again, I think it's down to mental laziness, but also a lack of self-esteem which manifests itself in being extremely easily persuaded into believing things, particularly by people with strident voices.

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