Umberto Eco Rings My Bell

March 7, 2011

I remember seeing a movie on the documentary channel, when I was 12, about the rise of Fascism in Italy. Everything I saw and read about totalitarian regimes of this kind or another, was intriguing. However, there was a divide between me and the stories. I didn’t feel them. I didn’t personally relate to them like I would to events in Israel’s history.

This is why I’m currently overwhelmed. After having just finished reading Umberto Eco’s ‘Five Moral Pieces‘, I realize that for the first time in my life, reading an Italian’s thoughts on fascism just isn’t out of the ball park anymore. Almost everything he mentions hits close to home and reminds me of things I’m reading in the local news, or even things I have personally experienced.

I’ll paste some excerpts from “Ur-Fascism” (eternal fascism). For Eco- thoughts on the definition of Fascism. For me- a disturbing realization of the state Israel has reached.

There can be no advancement of learning. The truth has already been announced once and for all.

(He explains, as part of the first point ‘Cult of Tradition‘. Referring to the original “grain of wisdom” traditionalism surrounds).

Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism… the age of reason was seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense, Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action is beautiful in itself, and therefore must be implemented before any form of reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes.

For Ur-Fascism dissent is betrayal.

Fascism grown…by… exacerbating the natural fear of difference. Ur-Fascism is therefore racist by definition.

…at the root of Ur-Fascist psychology lies the obsession with conspiracies, preferably international ones… The easiest way to construct a conspiracy is to appeal to xenophobia.

The disciples must feel humiliated by the enemy… but… must nonethless feel they can defeat the enemy. Thus, thanks to a continual shifting of the rhetorical register, the enemy is at once too strong and too weak.

For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, a “life for stuggle”… life is a permanent war.

Ur-Fascism cannot do without preaching a “popular elitism.” Every individual belongs to the best people in the world…

… everyone is trained to become a hero… heroism is the norm. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, it should be noted, he usually manages to make others die in his place.

For Ur-Fascists individuals have no rights, and the “people” is conceived of as a monolithic entity that expresses the “common will.”

I’ll finish with another quote:

We must make sure that the sense of these words is not forgotten again. Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in civilian clothes.