Welcome to another edition of Friday’s Philosophical Foray beyond Healthcare!
Still think Fascism is a Right Wing phenomenon? Think again! The philosophical roots of Mussolini’s strategies were borrowed in large part from Marxism. Then came the work of Hubert Marcuse, and his neo-Marxist-based Critical Theory doctrine, which serves as the justification for Antifa’s violent tactics.
A key component of fascism, one found in virtually every definition, is the idea that it involves suppression of political opposition and the use of “redemptive violence” against ideological rivals to expand influence and power. Since Antifa routinely use violence and intimidation to prevent political opponents from assembling and publicly defend these tactics as a means to their ends, their fascist tendencies are self-evident.
To most, this connection is clear. To Antifa and some leftist scholars, it is not. The intellectual basis for those who reject Antifa’s fascist connection can be found in the writings of Herbert Marcuse, whose work is considered to be the root of neo-Marxist philosophy.
While at the Institute of Social Research—better known today as the Frankfurt School—Marcuse would publish several works on Marx that would abandon the Marxist focus on labor and class struggle and develop the controversial philosophy of critical theory.
Critical theory is defined as “a philosophical approach to culture, and especially to literature, that seeks to confront the social, historical, and ideological forces and structures that produce and constrain it.”
Marcuse applies this theory in his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance”—a true example of doublespeak—wherein he argues that free speech and tolerance are only beneficial when they exist in conditions of absolute equality.
He calls tolerance in conditions of inequality “repressive” and argues that it inhibits the political agenda and suppresses the less powerful.
The problem is that if you view the world through the obfuscated lens of conflict, then you see little other than power dynamics, and the only way to restore power imbalances is to use force.
In Antifa’s Marcusean calculus, they must use intolerance, aggression, coercion, and intimidation in order to subvert—in their estimation—the oppressive patriarchal capitalist society. Since they’re at an inherent disadvantage in terms of power, then open dialogue and debate will do them no good.
The only way they can turn the tables of power is to use force and threats of force, which are completely justified by the ends they achieve. It’s a twisted philosophy that is manifesting itself in twisted ways.
There is, of course, one thing Marcuse failed to address. If the oppressed are virtuous and use “repression and indoctrination” to turn the table of power against their oppressors, do they not become the oppressors themselves?
Marcuse, Antifa, and other neo-Marxists should heed Freidrich Nietzsche’s words: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
This is the root of the modern anti-fascist ideology, and understanding the philosophical foundations illuminates why Antifa and others think they have license to behave like fascists in the name of fighting them.