The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism

The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism✅ [PDF / Epub] ☉ The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism By Richard Wolin ⚣ – Ever since the shocking revelations of the fascist ties of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past In this intellectual genealogy of the po of Unreason: ePUB ☆ Ever since the shocking revelations of the fascist ties of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been extensive and Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual PDF/EPUB ² widespread He uestions postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle The Seduction Epub / of the Left suggesting instead that it has long been enad with the opposite end of the political spectrum Wolin reveals how during in the s C G Jung Hans Georg Gadamer Georges Bataille and Maurice Blanchot were seduced by fascism's promise of political regeneration and how this misapprehension affected the intellectual core of their work The result Seduction of Unreason: ePUB ☆ is a compelling and unsettling reinterpretation of the history of modern thought In a new preface Wolin revisits this illiberal intellectual lineage in light of the contemporary resurgence of political authoritarianism.

of Unreason: ePUB ☆ .

The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with
  • Paperback
  • 424 pages
  • The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism
  • Richard Wolin
  • 03 October 2014
  • 9780691192352

10 thoughts on “The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism

  1. Rebecca says:

    There were some interesting discussions of counter enlightenment thinkers the relationships of Battaile Heidegger and other European philosophers to Nazism but I found this book facile and reductive For example Wolin defines any value in cultural particularism to be a form of tribalism and doesn't address actual reasons and arguments for multiculturalism Instead he discusses Gobineau and Spengler and implies that post modern particularism which is adamantly anti hierarchical is repeating these nationalist ideologies He similarly euates all critiues of America by Europeans without noting differences between 18th 19th century critiues of America as a fledgling Republican experiment 1920s 1930s critiues of America as a symbol of technocracy and contemporary critiues of America as a global empire This sort of thing is especially problematic with fascism because fascism borrows from so many different ideologies and philosophies so that demonizing any one of these ideas as the forbidden kernel of fascism is an easy way to dispense with an idea that you don't like I'm not a fan of many post modern critiues of enlightenment thought because they ultimately do the same thing that Wolin's doing except that they declare that reason is the kernel of totalitarianism torture prison etc Wolin occasionally points out that this totalizing negation from Heidegger is simplistic and yet he engages in the same thing Finally Wolin doesn't seem to acknowledge that an idea can be put to varying uses that historical movements can be internally contradictory or that members of left and right wing movements could be both be dissatisfied by the same thing and discuss that thing for example crass materialism and commercialism and come to different conclusions about why that thing is bad and how to respond to it For example fascists and socialists both thought that unemployment was bad but that does not mean that they are the same ideology or have any similarity beyond the effort to respond to a contemporary problem He's also unwilling to grant any possibility that someone on the right could have been correct about anything which would explain why some people were drawn to that ideology Thus a leftist could be sympathetic to the elements of Heidegger's thought that were critical of technology and modernity without adopting or agreeing with everything else Heidegger said or did just as a person could value science and medicine without agreeing with the Tuskeegee Syphilis study

  2. AC says:

    Post modernism is a fascist plot superb clear written for the educated layman A couple of bad jokes in the opening third but stick with it it's a fabulous book

  3. C. Quabela says:

    tl;dr Rather than a scholarly look at unreason’s history within philosophical thought it is an onanistic encomium to American branded neo liberalism So if that’s your thing you’ll love this book Not so much for me howeverI once went to a haunted house with my mother We thought it would be fun and decided to check it out After going through the entertainingly amateur exhibits we found ourselves in a white room The doors were shut The real horror was to begin We were obliged to sit through a sermon beseeching us to find Christ or else what we had passed through would be our fate Replace Christ with capitalism and you get a fitting metaphor for what this book entailsAlthough I am not contesting the documentation and the ability for one to read these figures the way that they are in this book I uestion the author’s committal to pegging the individuals with these interpretations I am genuinely intrigued by the topic but was dismayed at the pointed readings It is as if the author is dead set on completely discounting these figures as a whole rather than trying to give a portrait of unreason itself Nor is postmodernism exclusive to those selected It seems rather that the author chose those salacious individuals who could be discounted based not on what their philosophies actually say but what their personal lives represented I am far from a postmodernist but I am sympathetic to their theories whereas this book is almost a virulent attack against anything suggestive of anti enlightenment or anti bourgeoiscapitalist notionsI will limit myself to commenting upon the first philosopher whom is addressed and is the one I have the most familiarity with so as to give you an idea of how misrepresented the “postmodernists” are The evaluation of Nietzsche is sloppily attempting to suggest that Nietzsche’s desystematization of value is nothing but an inversion – but when calling into uestion a system of values you do not accept its converse which would simply reaffirm the whole It also takes Nietzsche’s “Will to Power” as a normative deontological tenant which is simply not supported by the scholarship The author falsely treats Nietzsche’s final work as a completed philosophy whereas it was only a disorganized collection of notes misused by his anti Semitic sister Can Nietzsche be read this way Yes Which is in fact what the Nazi’s did But to accuse Nietzsche and then use this as one’s evaluation of further philosophy’s application of him is to misread the whole The fact that the author would go so far as to say that Nietzsche “despised the Jews” in flagrant contradiction to Nietzsche’s attacks against anti Semitism shows how distasteful a representation is given of the “political” Nietzsche Nietzsche’s philosophy is an overcoming of the self not society Yes he despised Christian ethics but as an institution not Christ going so far as to say that “the last Christian died on the Cross” Calling Nietzsche a proto fascist because his writings can be misinterpreted is like calling Christianity a call to Satanism because others have used it to that endThe author pretty much side steps any serious thought with any of the philosophers’ theories in favor of criticizing their personal and political lives Although this is not without relevance to accuse postmodernism of justifying fascism seems dishonest in this context Now again such theories can and have been read this way but I think that that is the lesson that is trying to be avoided Until we accept that Nazism and other totalitarian ideologies are completely within the realm of justification within the human psyche and in line with humanist ideals we will never be able to combat them So long as we treat them as aberrations or agents of evil outside the realm of reason we will surely failIn the chapter on Bataille we get this curious statement “Much has been written about the corollaries between fascism and “irrationalism” that remains conjectural and superficial It would be foolish to assert that all doctrines that radically uestion the primacy of reason exist in a symbiotic relation with forces of political reaction let alone fascism” Yet the whole premise of this book is exactly that Rather than discuss the tradition of unreason this is a polemic against any anti enlightenment thinking as being inherently fascistic with the conseuent assumption that the only alternative is neo liberalism Just because the radical left can incorporate irrationality however does not mean it touches with fascism Fascism is not only ill defined but is an amalgam of various tendencies including but not limited to organicism authoritarianism and mythologizing not to mention its economic statist corporatist monopoly What I garner from my reading of this book is that the author is committed to a defense of liberalism that abhors any form of affirmative violence and euates any violence whatsoever as fascistic Like we get in the news today anti fascists are euated with the fascists they oppose for their use of violent means to confront them This is simply ridiculous however Leftism at least to me is firstly defined by the role of the state and fascism with its dependence on authority and its great man hero worship is antithetical to that It is about social organization and economic relations as well and although the far right and left both share affinities with unreason as presented in this book in regard to notions of how personal life is to be liberated it does not mean they are eual to each other This liberal bias is evident in the section devoted to Derrida Although I do in fact agree with the author that Derrida fails to provide a practical answer to the uestion of political action at least in the earlier writings that I am familiar with I found this particular passage “Yet historically the liberal democratic ideals have often entered into sharp conflict with the capitalist ethos of profit maximization a fact one notes time and again in the history of the labor women’s and ecology movements In the interstices of these various social spheres with their conflicting normative claims lie significant potentials for constructive social reform that Derrida excludes by virtue of his chosen apocalyptical discourse”To my understanding these victories stood in opposition to liberal democrats and were in fact victories of leftist organizations such as the IWW and the remnants of the US’s socialist party the likes of Eugene Debs This misrepresentation is characteristic of this book Not to mention the perfectly lucid claim by Derrida that it was Heidegger’s post enlightenment humanism that led him down the road to its logical conclusion in National SocialismAs a matter of fact the rhetoric the author displays in treating the earlier portions of the book wherein he discuses the likes of Nietzsche and Heidegger is markedly sympathetic to the later depictions of aristocratic racism I can only suppose this is because the latter lacking the postmodernist villainy it is easier to knock down than the former and therefore the author is easily though unsuccessfully in my opinion able to align leftism with fascism by drawing false parallels And lest us not return to denigrate Nietzsche for criticizing America; juxtaposing these racial disharmonies with myopic representations that had previously been drawn over It seems the whole intention of the book is to culminate in the end for an onanistic encomium for American values and virtues and refers to the cultural left as slavish and clueless The purpose of this book is nothing less than to legitimate neo liberalism not against fascism but leftism by attempting to euate each’s irrationalist tendencies into a moral victory for corporatist America As the following passage shows it bemoans the lack of esteem liberalism has found itself in “As philosophers of “difference” they postmodernists present themselves as advocates of the politically marginalized Yet the antiliberal rhetorical thrust of their arguments risks undermining the very norms of tolerance that historically have provided such groups with the greatest measure of political and legal protection” So please don’t be fooled this book is less a scholarly look at strains of unreason in philosophical thought but rather a defense of American brand neo liberalism Even than a defense it is rather a desperate attempt for legitimation in the face of being the butt of a joke even though it is the firmly entrenched prevailing order It reads like the tears of a tyrant for not being invited to the cool kids party

  4. Marcus says:

    I found parts of this book to be informative and uite interesting Moreover these sections certainly made me want to explore a few thinkers in greater depth Although well written the sections seem to vary greatly in uality Aside from the fact that Wolin's unshakable faith in liberalism often comes through a bit too strong in his style and judgments sections such as those on Nietzsche Heidegger and Jung were engaging and well argued I learned much about French integral movements and thought the subjects of study were all solid choices On the other hand I would have liked to see discussion on some thinkers such as the German conservative revolutionaries The weakest chapter was that on the French Nouvelle Droite The characterization of GRECE was reductive and superficial and conflating GRECE with the Front National is also in my opinion a grave error Nevertheless the better sections of the book primarily those in the beginning are worth the time to read and Wolin's text is an overall interesting and thoughtful piece of intellectual history writing

  5. Jess says:

    From a purely editorial standpoint there are a number of typos mostly missing words in this edition at least There’s also a wildly incorrect assertion that the ‘fasces’ were ‘an ancient Roman instrument for beheading subjects’ that made me scream out loud Some of this book is a needed discussion of how far fascist ideals are both not peculiar to the right wing and are even entrenched in leftist ideology or practice Most of it is not There are some bad faith euivalences ‘Levi Strauss saying we should ban colonial interference so as to preserve ethnic and cultural diversity is totally the same as Gobineau saying miscegenation will destroy the world and genocide is good actually’ coupled with some good analysis that unfortunately is not turned inward For instance it is useful to criticise the ‘third worldism’ of Levi Strauss and Foucault as they were still essentially measuring the cultural purity or relevance of eg Iran during the revolution through the lens of euro centrist comparison However the author then goes on to identify the refusal to differentiate between democracy and fascism as a weakness of post structuralism without considering whether this is measuring political ‘extremism’ through the lens of euro centrist liberalism This issue wherein the author’s centrist position is not uestioned as the baseline of comparison and ‘reality’ occurs throughout and gets progressively annoying Early on it is stated ‘if one examines the developmental trajectory of modern societies one discerns a fitful progression from civic to political to social euality’ This is the kind of analysis I would expect from an average student There is no deeper uestioning of what defines ‘modern’ societies the overlap of eg ‘progression’ in one country at the expense of deepening exploitation of another or even a basic study of what is meant by the word ‘progression’ Such a loose and presumptive starting point makes it difficult to take any of the later arguments wholly seriously The author also continuously uses the same ‘metapolitics’ which he lambasts postmodernists for to discuss democracy which is especially egregious as it allows for some serious holes to form in the analysis It is explicitly stated that democracy is the opposite of totalitarianism but the democracy to which the author refers is also meant to be grounded in reality given the rejection of meta and theoretical analysis This is an absolutely astonishing position to work from as the concept of arguing from theory is rejected but the pure form of democracy claimed anyway There is no way to reasonably claim that modern oligarchic ‘democracy’ is the opposite of totalitarianism eg in the US The author talks often about the restorative power of democracy how the capacity for change marks it from fascistic systems without ever uestioning if the framework of democracy in reality rule of law being based on property rights mass ineuality of wealth mass disenfranchisement populism statehood necessitating external and internal armed forces etc is ever capable of true change given its ultimate interest is self preservation This meta political whitewashing of democracy also comes out most strongly in the wild claim that ‘democratic norms often served as the basis for the progressive reform of inhuman levels of the exploitation that existed under early capitalism Such conditions existed in blatant contradiction to the universalistic sentiments espoused by the intellectuals and philosophers who laid the groundwork for the transition from feudal to modern democratic society’ What a truly staggering thing to say As though those inhuman acts were not also democratic ideals for much longer than they haven’t been as though any major push for societal change has come from intellectuals rather than blood and violence as though the transition from feudalism to democratic republicanism in Europe isn’t almost synonymous with narrow nationalistic sexist ‘universalism for those who count’ Imagine the world that the author thinks we live in where philosophers point out that our norms don’t adhere to their universalistic sentiments and we all say oh thank you for pointing that out time to organically and calmly shift an entire social In the conclusion the author lambasts ‘postmodernist hipsters’ real uote for criticising the West for imperialism without honouring it as ‘the birthplace of a moral discourse that has given birth to the 1948 Convention against Genocide’ It doesn’t seem to really click in his head that a relying on rampant unchecked genocide for a couple thousand years to establish your states and THEN banning it when international pressure and economic devastation has led to most colonial ‘properties’ being granted independence is NOT a flex and b Western interests saying the words Convention against Genocide means nothing when they proceed to Not Actually Do That by then supporting coups and right wing insurgencies across the globe continuing to deny votes to people of colour and systematically preventing them from access to eual health wealth social position civil rights etc Native Americans didn’t even have confirmed civil rights until the 60s and in the 50s were fighting schemes to reverse tribal land grants and relocation acts trying to enforce assimilation Thus throughout the author’s dubious position is never uestioned and the slightest mistrust of democracy or rejection of political apparatus by anyone is seen as a highly suspicious first step to fascismThis inability to engage with analysis outside of an established framework also impacts what is otherwise an okay chapter on Nietzsche Using uotes from The Will to Power about ‘higher man’ annihilating ‘decaying races’ the author links this to foreshadowing ‘some of the unsavory dimensions of 20th C Machtpolitik cum total war’ This is all done without the author uestioning why he and later appropriators of Nietzsche thinks that applying a Kantian ‘universality’ to a Nietzchian sentiment is useful The author is right to dismiss the interpretation of Nietzsche as an aesthete only but to then ignore all of the fundamentally anti trad philosophy elements of his work and try to pull his claims into a safe trad argumentative field is just as misguided It’s true Nietzsche wrote that it’s true that he meant it not just as an aesthetic or affected position but it is also very true that he meant it for himself and his theoretical ‘superman’ it’s not a universal claim it’s not a categorical imperative The later adoption of his language of domination and destruction by the NazisItalian fascists stems from the very ideological conservatism and errors that the author himself is making Thus Spake Zarathustra doesn’t end with Zarathustra at the head of a new world order it ends with him making peace with his failure to find anyone truly worthy of his message while chilling with a few neo aristocratic ‘almost worthies’ The very fact that Nietzsche’s concepts were being used by a government to impose itself makes it antithetical to what he was writing aboutMost importantly the fundamental issue with the premise is that when groups of thinkers considered to be both far right and far left share ideas and policies you would think that this signals that the concept of leftism and rightism have become tangled It would also seem self evident that the best way to go about unpicking these concepts would be to analyse the politics of control and power and what it means to be ostensibly ‘left’ eg socially liberal when you haven’t confronted your innate desire for and adulation of social control and order This would be a vital and prescient analysis of politics in a personal and a macro sense it helps explain why supposedly Marxist states have been some of the most rigid militarised fascist dictatorships in history it helps explain why the modern political left are so uniformly anti radical it would explain why self professed leftists and communists so often create toxic spaces of gate keeping exploitation personality cults etc It would also help to explain some of the shifting political positions in modern Europe wherein a Tory government could pass Gay Marriage something widely considered progressive whilst being fundamentally xenophobic racist transphobic and still homophobic Why should someone supporting a pseudo progressive idea automatically make them ‘left wing’ if their political vehicle is oppressive violent totalitarian The majority of the book revolves around WW2 and the contemporary run upreactionfall out At no point is it ever discussed that even the ostensible ‘left’ or ‘anti Nazi’ side in any European country was heavily racist sexist every kind of white supremacist It makes a mockery of the concept of analysing the fascistic and oppressive ideas nascent in the ‘left’ community where unchecked politics of supremacy were and are the unuestioned basis of Western thought It’s all very well and good saying eg postmodernists reject ‘fairness’ but to use that as a springboard to criticise their totalitarianism without assessing what fairness means as a concept is wild ‘Fairness’ is not an empirical reality its meaning is entirely subjective and fluctuates in a social sense rapidly It was ‘fair’ for gay people to be killed or imprisoned or tortured because the prevailing sentiment was that they ‘infected’ communities with sin or real illnesses or were just destabilising for the community How then is a rejection of ‘fairness’ as some kind of objective Goal when its meaning is so ephemeral and its uses so often historically abhorrent a cause for criticism For just one of many possible examples of this praising of a meta political democratic buzzword that happens to be very neat the author states ‘whereas the third republic had been animated by an egalitarian ethos that trusted in human reason and the senses communis according to Pétain and company men and women were fundamentally incapable of governing themselves’ The author had been constructing a convoluted argument up until this point where the majority of the French Right are actually Left but beyond that what could possibly be the point of juxtaposing democratic egalitarianism and patriarchal ruling over ‘men and women’ when the third republic did not have votes for women or members of France’s extensive colonies what the author is dancing away from and failing to confront is that the third republic was based on ‘some men can be trusted to vote for people who can afford to be politicians’ vs Vichy’s ‘some men can be trusted to vote for people who fit the needs of an occupied government and who can afford to be politicians’ What’s the use of this comparison without serious analysis of what egalitarianism actually means in democracies then and nowThis book skims over all of the above to arrive at the simplistic conclusion that ‘politics is a horseshoe uwu’ It’s an ode to neo lib American centrism The author thinks that taking an example of a ‘leftist’ author who says something fash y is a gotcha moment the end of an episode of Scooby doo where he whips off the mask of progressivity to show Hitler underneath What makes the left What is the sensible dividing line of left and right and does it make sense to split what the author chooses to assess which are all relatively mainstream systems or standpoints into arbitrary ‘sides’ when they each rely on the same concepts of control and order Those are the important uestions and sadly they remain unanswered A rigorous and well intentioned approach would be to show how even those who are ‘left’ are burdened by a patriarchalwhite supremacist ideology of suspicion that permeates every single aspect of life It’s not a grand conspiracy of post modernism to secretly read Heidegger and think oh yeah suppression but done by us sounds wicked time to mis represent our politics so nobody figures out we’re right of the tankies It’s just a millennias old social framework of suspicion and viewing others as threats meaning that all the theorising is shaped by a system of control Politics is not a horseshoe it’s a phenomena playing out on a presumption that the ultimate goal is order The unifying element of intellectualism post modernism post structuralism fascism and all the rest is not ‘unreason’ or counter enlightenment rejection of humanism it’s a very humanist very traditional belief that there is a correct way to be that is both knowable and desirable This is a belief also found in centrism democracy and every other ‘system’ because that is what a system is at its core Basically it’s a swing and a miss from a bad faith author who misses the vital analysis needed and from an unchallenged presumption of the objective ‘fairness’ of a centrist democratic position gets bogged down in proving that there are ‘sides’ to politics which are both the same kind of bad with the implication that centrism is somehow immune to this and that democracy is the best system to shield us from them

  6. Iftekhar Sayeed says:

    The Counter Enlightenment appeared in South Asia long before the Enlightenment with disastrous conseuences The ideology of difference has torn apart our social fabricThe love of the irrational in South Asia among the intelligentsia as well as the masses has seen violence become an everyday overlooked phenomenon The callous tolerance of murder riots rape and immolations in India and Bangladesh bespeaks a citizenry run amok indeed the term citizen has never taken root here Not only are rapes by the ruling party thugs not noticed by the electorate but these morally challenged people vote precisely for the same toxic leaders again and againIn this situation we don't need irrationality and particularism but rationality and cosmopolitanism To take an egregious example when the Chief Justice of Bangladesh resigned an historical first and ran for hislife seeking asylum in America and Canada and publishing his tell all book A Broken Dream in an election year nobody noticed and the book was never discussed in the press any newspaper bold enough to do so would have been burnt down by the ruling party student thugs with the staff inside On the contrary polls showed that despite violence by ruling party student thugs against children protesting for safer roads shown on TV and internationally despite extrajudicial killings initiated in that year despite arbitrary arrests and detentions the popularity of the ruling party actually increased Extra rational loyalty to the ruling dynasty has left us ethically challenged Wolin's admiration for democracy must be regarded as a whitewash amazingly he never mentions the fact that nearly 2 million Irai children were killed through sanctions Defiance and death The Economist September 12 2002 Western totalitarian tendencies are a reality democracy in Bangladesh was forced on us after the end of the Cold War and despite all evidence to the contrary has been blindly promoted by the WestThere was an interregnum of military rule 2007 8 when the West felt that violence had escalated beyond control They allowed the military to take over for two years Carl Schmitt's views on the exception is a matter of fact here our political cycle is thiscivilian rule extreme situation military rule civilian rule extreme situation military ruleParliament is not sovereign here the power that saves us in extreme situations is the military the true sovereignHaving said that Wolin's book must be greeted here with a reserved welcome We know what the irrational is capable of

  7. Grandmaster D says:

    An interesting theme butchered by an author who seeks not to understand but to reduce and pigeonhole his subjects

  8. Christopher says:

    Many of Wolin's observations could be developed much further This book is concerned however with introducing readers to the breadth of the phenomenon he is observing across the texts and behavior of various theorists So it's not really engaging any particular theorist with the depth of analysis that could be performed or as might be done within a dissertation or academic focused text This makes it accessible which is important since the public tends to have no clue what goes in in the university In my opinion this should be reuired reading in high school

  9. Nathan says:

    This is an amazing book A pretty raw picture of Carl Jung among others Most fascinating to me are elements of rightist philosophy that have resurfaced in the modern american direct action left Ideas like potlatch re enchantment and even the term 'direct action' itself I will read this book again The writing style is attractive and the story is captivating I admire the author and will check for books by Richard WolinI should mention that Carl Jung and Georges Bataille are the superstars of this book and chapters 2 and 4 are transcendent

  10. Sean Chick says:

    Pretty good summation of a theory I formed after reading Burke postmodernism is conservative Wolin sometimes oversimplifies and his dismissal of Zizek and Baudrillard is too limited For one Zizek is himself no friend of postmodernism

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