Hannah Arendt first argued the continuities between the age of European imperialism and the age of fascism in Europe in 'The Origins of Totalitarianism'. This text uses Arwndt's insights as a starting point for further investigations into the ways in which race, imperialism, slavery and genocide are linked.
The origins of genocide have been sought by scholars in many areas of human experience: politics, religion, culture, economics, demography, ideology. All these of course are valid explanations, and go a long way to getting to grips with the objective conditions surrounding genocide. But, as Berel Lang put it some time ago, there remains an inexplicable gap between the idea and the act of mass murder. This article aims to be a step towards bridging that gap by adding a human (...) dimension to the existing explanations. Building on Roger Caillois’s anthropological analysis of ‘war as festival’, Georges Bataille’s concept of society’s ‘excess energy’, and Emile Durkheim’s idea of ‘collective effervescence’, and connecting these terms to those used explicitly in relation to the Holocaust by Dominick LaCapra (‘scapegoating’ and the ‘carnivalesque’) and Saul Friedl‰nder (‘Rausch’ or ‘ecstasy’), I argue that prior to and during any act of genocide there occurs a heightening of community feeling, to the point at which this ecstatic sense of belonging permits, indeed demands, a normally forbidden act of transgression in order to ‘safeguard’ the community by killing the designated ‘threatening’ group. This article is a theoretical starting point aimed at stimulating discussion, in which I refer to the Nanjing and My Lai massacres and the genocides in Nazi Germany and Rwanda to show where empirical research is needed to illustrate this concept of ‘genocide as transgression’. (shrink)
This book aims to show the many resources at our disposal for grappling with the Holocaust as the darkest occurrence of the twentieth century. These wide-ranging studies on philosophy, history, and literature address the way the Holocaust had led to the reconceptualization of the humanities. The scholarly approaches of Pierre Klossowski, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot are examined critically, and the volume explores such poignant topics as violence, evil, and monuments.
From starting his intellectual career as a surrealist, communist and co-founder of the Collège de Sociologie in 1937, Jules Monnerot (1911?95) ended it as a candidate for the Front National in 1989.In this article I offer an explanation for the unexpected trajectory of this thinker whose work is little known in the English-speaking world. Without overlooking the idea that the infamous College encouraged such tendencies, I argue that the notion of ?secular religion?, as Monnerot developed it in his Sociology of (...) Communism (1949), goes some way to explain his gradual radicalization from Cold Warrior to fascist, a path that otherwise seems unlikely for a French intellectual after World War II. In order to emphasize the unusualness of Monnerot's case, I contrast it with that of his erstwhile collaborator, Georges Bataille. I show that accusations of fascism often levelled against Bataille should be more accurately directed at Monnerot, indeed that the fascism inherent within the College of Sociology was brought out not by Bataille but by Monnerot. Monnerot's case is unsettling first because his definition of ?secular religion? contributed to his pro-fascist stance; and second, because it forces us tore think what is meant by ?philosophy after Auschwitz.? This term usually brings to mind scholars such as T.W. Adorno, Emil Fackenheimor Emmanuel Levinas. Monnerot provides a rare example of a thinker whose fascism only developed after the Holocaust, a shocking response that demands the attention of all those interested in the relationship between religion and politics. (shrink)