Death Is Just Around the Corner

#74: Was heißt der Faschismus? (feat. Matthew McConaughey)

Dead Astronaut published on

The BBC Empire Service: Spotlight on Hitler's Patreon  ––  fascism cooks, fascism swings, but nobody knows what it is  ––  right-wing wish-fulfillment as "political philosophy"  ––  government and corporations rubbin' together till they fuse  ––  it's not just reaction, it's a return to the primordial sci-fi bullshit past  ––  co-opting the tactics of left revolution  ––  station break: Matthew McConaughey for Lexus  ––  you want something other than capitalism, hey, good fuckin' luck  ––  Rex, the Realm of Total Souls, and Human Life as a Hideous Blood-Soaked Accident (look, hear him out)

/DeathIsJustAroundtheCorner/74-was-heit-der-faschismus-feat-matthew-mcconaughe-56221
mp3
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2018-04-11T05:00:00+00:00
Death Is Just Around the Corner - #74: Was heißt der Faschismus? (feat. Matthew McConaughey)
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14 Comments
  • Jonathan Schultz

    Another stellar episode. Thank you for putting forth the effort to make available such a compelling, interesting show. Who would have thought that there are others who find Pynchon, Fascism, the CIA, and Matthew McConaughey fascinating and frightening in equal measure.

  • Dead Astronaut

    My sincere thanks – I wasn't sure how well this would work as a standalone episode, but there was just too much material to do it in one shot, and I'm glad it seems to have gone OK.

  • Dr. Bitchass

    Just binged your series on kennedy's head being made into a slushy the other day so I was pretty excited for this episode when i saw it pop up. I think you give a good rundown of fascism, and I'm looking forward to you talking more about the iron guard. They're pretty fucking grisly.
    If you could excuse me being a bit anal, though I don't quite agree with your interpretation of marx's dictatorship of the proletariat. I mean, yeah, a lot of Marxists DO want a Stalinist clique in power, you're right about that, but the dictatorship of the proletariat, as understood by Marx, was not a particular government or state, but rather it is the conditions under which capitalism is negated by the proletariat through their self abolition as a class etc. etc. etc.

  • Dead Astronaut

    Thanks for listening, and as to the point on Marx: that's exactly my problem, that it THEORETICALLY refers to the negation of capitalist conditions, etc., etc., but virtually always coincides with the appointment of some nominal administrative caretaker who ends up deciding that he's the incarnate will of the proletariat. I haven't yet seen anyone give an adequate account of how "the proletariat" can hold power save thru some manner of proxy or liaison, and that proxy will tend to get pretty grandiose about himself.

  • Dead Astronaut

    ... plus, that whole notion, no matter how judiciously orchestrated, leaves a whole lot of room for the sort of "permanent revolution" rhetoric that ends in show trials and State terrorism – if no one can ever say definitively when the dictatorship of the proletariat has been established or made secure, then all possible means toward those ends are always justified, and so on, and Pol Pot ain't so far away.

  • Dr. Bitchass

    Thanks for clearing things up. I kind of agree with you, so instead of trying to argue, I think it'll suffice to say that the problem is definitely in the trying to hold onto power, rather than get rid of it.

  • Dr. Bitchass

    Thanks for clearing things up. I kind of agree with you, so instead of trying to argue, I think it'll suffice to say that the problem is definitely in the trying to hold onto power, rather than get rid of it.

  • Chris Sherman

    Hitler was appointed by Hindenburg, not elected chancellor. For a conspiracy theorist, you're a bit ingenuous in accepting the Stalinist reading of Marx, especially given that Stalinist regimes suppressed many of Marx's writings.

  • Dead Astronaut

    You're right on that first point – I kind of compressed the complexities of the electoral history – but as for the latter, I would argue that it's not so much a matter of *accepting* Stalin's version of Marxism as simply noting that Stalin's version keeps happening over and over, whatever the alleged theoretical affiliations of the regime in power.

  • Chris Sherman

    Who needs CIA conspiracies when ostensible radicals spontaneously reproduce a Cold War liberal critique of Marxism? Do we want to 'note' that so many worldwide liberatory projects ended up in a cruel mockery of their original goals, or do we want to investigate and understand that? The point is, Marx's work is a very valuable resource for understanding and critiquing these Stalinist regimes, which to be clear, are horrific. Collapsing Marx into Stalin simply repeats the Cold War idea that liberal democracy, run in the interests of capital, is the horizon of human society.

    We should take the failure of left political movements in the 20th century very seriously. Isn't this the major theme of Bolaño's work, how, in his words, 'los sueños a menudo se convierten en pesadillas'? In my view, the significance of fascism (as well as other forms of dehumanizing violence) in his fiction is that it's an index of the failure of the left, precisely because it is reproduced through the poetical and creative urges shared by nearly all of Bolaño's protagonists. The failure to really respond to the horrors of the 20th c. continues to haunt us like a nightmare and demands a reckoning with the likelihood that the status quo will continue to disintegrate into inhumanity.

    By contrast, what you seem to be presenting in these Kennedy podcasts is a defense of liberalism, if only it's run by the right people. I don't think that is adequate to the insights of either Pynchon or Bolaño.

  • Dead Astronaut

    Can't answer this a great length right now, unfortunately, but part of what I'm trying to DO is to "take the failure of left political movements through the 20th century very seriously," and part of that, I think, is to be honest about the fact that Marx can be – doesn't HAVE to be, but can be – the groundwork for an authoritarian regime, just like a million other political thinkers. My support for Allende's regime in Chile, Chavez's in Venezuela, the YPG, and (especially) the Zapatistas is on record here and elsewhere, and the focus on the Kennedys is not to bemoan the loss of managerial liberalism but to provide an index to the precise time and place at which the United States lost its chance to be anything but an essentially fascist power. Had they lived, I think it's entirely conceivable that we could've seen a democratic socialist government in this country by the late 1960s.

  • Dead Astronaut

    The reason it all came up this way in this particular episode, as I recall, is that I was reacting to a spate of conversations among youngish leftists trying to work their way thru various problems, ideological & pragmatic, who were then interrupted by dogmatists quoting Marx chapter & verse and denouncing anyone and anything that departed from the party line, which, I will maintain, is quite as absurd as doing the same thing with Freud or Darwin in 2018.

  • Chris Sherman

    Fair enough, but acting as though Stalinism is what Marx had in mind with the dictatorship of the proletariat just comes off as very unserious and uninformed to me, so you completely lost me there.

  • Dead Astronaut

    I should've been clearer, then – I don't think it's what he had in MIND at all (I mean, it pretty objectively wasn't), just that it's a dangerous possibility