Lecture 8 - Political Challenges to the Enlightenment Project

Lecture 8 - Political Challenges to the Enlightenment Project

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Political Challenges to the Enlightenment Project: Communism and Fascism I) Introduction: Communism and Fascism and the “Crisis of Meaning”: both raised the same sort of critiques of the enlightenment projects and liberalism that others did. These political ideas resonated more deeply with all of these other critiques and made sense to people. Also claimed to have solutions to the tensions and the problems that the modern world was having. Both claimed to be better suited, claimed to have the solution. Claim that politics of the individual was dead (similarity between communism and fascism). Joined critics of mass society. Both argued that society needed to be organized in groups rather than individuals. For communists: group was the class. For Fascists, the group was the nation. Both argued that politics should be about protecting those groups, not individuals. Elite minority that would understand needs of group: Mussolini called it “dynamic minority”: would organize everything. For Lenin: “vanguard”. Flip side: lose their identity as individuals. Paradox: offers individuals a bigger sense of meaning about participating in a project that was much bigger than their own individual goals. Undermined individual rights. Organize them around a single goal that can help give structure to an amorphous mass of individuals. II) The Attraction of Anti-Liberal Political Movements A) Solutions to the Problems of Mass Society 1) From the Politics of Individuals to Mass Politics-how liberalism failed to provide any sense of community. In a time of crisis when their individual status is threatened, being alone in a world is not a good thing. Gap between individual and community has stuck with liberalism throughout the 20 th century. 2) From Rationalism to Action/Emotion-rejected language of reason and rationalism. Emotion, not reason was the new language of politics. Had to reach their hearts, not their minds: had to get them excited, motivated, and this required an emotional appeal. Argued for primacy of the will: active will, exciting thing. Fascism believes in holiness and heroism. Both communists and fascists are pushing for high drama: leap of cliff and see what happens, etc. role of fascist groups: to serve as organs of creativity and agitation. Fascism and communism with their appeal to action fit this broader spirit of the age. While communism is rooted in 19 th century Marxism, Marxism has entered a crisis: haven't been able to achieve power. What rescues them: revision of Marxism: communist
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This note was uploaded on 01/03/2011 for the course MMW 6 taught by Professor Chang during the Spring '08 term at UCSD.

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Lecture 8 - Political Challenges to the Enlightenment Project

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