Neither fear nor courage saves us.
Are fathered by our heroism.
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
~ T.S Eliot, “Gerontion”
The most crucial thing to note about fascism is that it doesn’t need thinking. That’s why, be it in Germany or India, fascist thought failed to inspire or include any brilliant mind. The only brilliant thinkers during Hitler’s regime were the suffering Jews and anti-fascist Germans. Barring Martin Heidegger’s momentary mad folly, those whom Nazism could inspire were merely henchmen in thought and practice. In India, all that Savarkar and Golwalkar did was to define India as a nation as strictly as possible, borrowing Western intellectual sources, so that Muslims could have no claim over it. Thinking in reverse, having fixed your conclusions in advance, is the martyrdom of thinking.
Does national pride need thinking? Does hatred of a neighboring country need thinking? Does hatred of another community need thinking? Neither pride nor hatred needs thinking. Pride and hatred are feelings that don’t have any future, because they belong to a past that never changes, a past that remains the same. Pride remains like dolls in the cupboard and trophies on the walls, and hatred, like numerous unnamed graves and forgotten cremations. Pride and hatred are not necessarily tied to each other. You don’t need to hate another country to have pride in your own. But that is the logic fascism manages to instill: Patriotism is not sporty competition, but war. Fascism argues the fearful logic that pride is useless without bloodshed. It is a logic without thought, an unthinking logic. But it comes with a price people pay because the ability to think has been abandoned for feelings that inspire trophies and graves.
There is no thinking in fascism, but there is reason. This country and that community had inflicted harm on you once upon a time, in the distant past. That harm has to be avenged. It is a carefully selective story of harm, where only the harm of the other country and community is registered and one’s own forgotten. Fascism’s memory is selective amnesia that enables perpetrators to play victims. The cunning of reason is used to create a shadowy nexus between history and reason where history replaces, becomes and drives reason. And what is history? It is the unending craving for conquest, for power, for humiliating others. So history cannot be solved by more history. The violence of history can only be redeemed by reconciling antagonisms without the philosophy of war. But to end war will require the risks and pains of nonviolence, movements against greed and accumulation – in other words, thinking against history. But fascists are not interested in that kind of thinking because they are not interested in thinking itself. Fascist reason is historical pride and hatred masquerading as reason. It is a reasoning trapped by what does not allow it to be reason that can think. If reason cannot think, and yet becomes a reason for people to follow, it becomes a monster and turns people into monsters. Fascism is the monster of reason.
Fascist politics promise paradise. The offer is so jubilantly packaged; it turns people infantile, turning them into cheerfully passive children. All parties in democracy have conventionally induced such infantilism. But they mostly use it to put these adult children to sleep. Fascist politics does this as well, but goes further. It awakens aggressive impulses against fabricated enemies and legitimizes an atmosphere of violence. There is an empty rhetoric of pumping more power into the people/nation. It lures the infantile with a fantasy of power, but actually makes him deliver all his power to the leader. The more people become powerless, the more powerful grows the Führer. Salvador Dali wanted to paint Hitler with breasts. Dali had realized Hitler’s psychological desire to breast-feed the German nation with his poisoned milk, the same milk that became “the black milk of daybreak” in Paul Celan’s nightmare.
There is, however, one kind of adult whose interest lies in remaining infantile: businessmen, or corporates. There is no greater infantile passion than the passion for profit. So corporates are the natural allies of fascism. Fascism needs corporates to create huge spectacles of profit and prosperity for the elite majority, which will obliterate the ghettoes of butchered minorities. The willing fools of fascism, the avaricious middle class, will donate its money to these spectacles and feel enriched. Glossy temples, roads and malls will become the pleasure zones of progress. The pious cattle of devotees, smelling of burgers, spewing disgust against beggars and minorities while discussing cricket and corruption inside obese cars, become the fascist-corporate world’s most envied citizens. These people wake up only when there is a bomb blast or a terrorist attack, severe economic depression, or war, and the balloon of paradise is pricked. Infantile slumbers die hard.