Participants & Interventions
Workshop No. 2: Melbourne 2018.
Mark Antliff (Duke University, USA): ‘Fascism, Modernism, Modernity’
The terms fascism and modern art used to seem comfortingly opposed to each other, but the last two decades of scholar-ship in history, art history, and literature have radically re-vised that postwar complacency. As this paper will argue, an understanding of the profound interrelation of these two terms is now a precondi-tion for an appraisal of modernism in any historicized sense.
Reut Yael Paz (Justus-Liebig University Gießen, Germany):‘From Exploring (M)otherness through International Law: Lessons from the Mothers of the Fatherland to the Appropriation of the Child in the Name of the Father/Patria.
Max Wagner (Humboldt University, Germany):‘Taking National Socialism Seriously: The Example of Karl Larenz'
According to popular opinion, National Socialism has left no coherent legal doctrine, but mere fragments: prolegomena to a nationalist theory of law, loosely grouped around »leadership« and »racial purity«. Arguably, the National Socialists did not come up with a genuine conception of law. To some this lack of theory indicates a theory on its own. Any such critique is however limited to a retroactive theorization of National Socialist legal thought, aiming to uncover its contradictory character.1 Since Trumps's presidency it is clearer than ever that reactionary practice can withstand theoretical contradiction. In fact its strength stems particularly from its inconsistency. In order to provide answers to a revival of nationalist conceptions of law, it is no longer sufficient to unravel vacancies, weaknesses and contradictions. Instead, nationalist legal doctrine has to be understood precisely in its contradictory nature.
Thinking about National Socialist theory of law still implies thinking about Carl Schmitt. Yet, Schmitt continues to be an exceptional thinker in almost every respect. His contemporary Karl Larenz (1903-1993) remains a mostly forgotten alternative. Importantly, Larenz' rise as one of the most influential National Socialist theorists was a direct outcome of the expulsion of the Jewish legal philosopher Gerhart Husserl. Larenz was young, devoted and willing to seize an opportunity. He eventually became part of the Kieler Stoßtruppfakultät (»storm trooper faculty«), whose members pursued a legal interpretation of National Socialism. In 1935 Larenz published a coherent, anti-individualistic, anti-democratic, anthropologically founded theory of law. This theory took up keywords from Hegel to Heidegger, began with remarks on the Weimar debate and culminated in a theory of substantial decisionism.
In Melbourne I wish to present a more thorough representation of his work. One that ought to mirror it as an attempt to approach National Socialist legal thought, grasp it in its inconsistency and thus pave way for adequate critique and means of resistance. It sheds light on a lesser known protagonist of the National Socialist Rechtserneuerung (»renewal of justice«), the questions he posed, and the answers he has given. In my presentation, I would argue that National Socialism must be taken seriously, both, as a threat and a theoretical conception.
Paul Hahnenkamp(University of Vienna, Austria): ‘Out(er State) Law. International Law from Negation to Destruction’
Der Führer schützt das Recht– This headline in the German Lawyer’s Journal 1934 indicates the ambivalent relation of National Socialism and the law.1 On the one hand, the legal system has to subordinate under the National Socialist ideology, on the other hand the new policy adjusts to legal conditions in form and content.2
While constitutional and state law are quickly infiltrated by NS-ideology, international law scholarship rises to one of the most popular subjects in German academia. In the beginning many scholars consider it as one of the few fields left, in which the National Socialist law theory cannot intervene in a grand scale keeping in mind the international consensus about concepts like the sources doctrine, general customary rules, or international treaty law.3
Nevertheless, also international law scholarship in Germany becomes more intensely influenced by the NS-foreign policy. Its ambivalent relation to law continuously leads to one result, namely opportunism. Scholars develop different legal arguments asking themselves: Is it advantageous for the state interest to argue in compliance with international rules? Or more profitable to ignore legal obligations?
But what is left of international law’s normativity when law’s only interest remains to justify state action, when its last resort is to justify breaches of international law for the sake of “higher aims”? In my dissertation project I work on the “deniers of international law” – a heterogeneous group of lawyers who negate the normativity of international law during the long nineteenth century. For this workshop I would like to examine National socialist sources and their implications for international legal normativity.
A first look into contemporary treatises discloses not necessarily a denial of international law but an intention of radical restructure, especially during war time. Next to Carl Schmitt and his (in)famous Großraumtheorie also other German scholars like Gustav Adolf Walz rejected on the one hand the classic law of nations; on the other hand they were convinced of the necessity of a legal order between states and presented alternative concepts based on new actors like e.g. Reich or Urvolk.4 To which extent do they still follow the denial-argumentation of the 19th century stressing the absoluteness of state will? Do these concepts still include a normative character or are they only directed to self-preservation of certain actors? Considering recent challenges to international law like the case of the so-called new wars or the alleged end of Western doctrinal hegemony I would like to approach the essence of international legal normativity from this historical (and negative) perspective.
Patricia Leighten (Duke University, USA): ‘Photography and Anti-authoritarianism: The Inter- and Postwar Career of Henri Cartier-Bresson’
This paper will consider the work and theory of photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Born in1908, he came of age in the interwar period and witnessed the rise of fascism, communism and the Popular Front in France. In this atmosphere of mass movements and theories of collectivism, he developed an interrelated commitment to radical individualism and a parallel photographic practice that was his form of resistance. More sympathetic to communism—and for a time working for the Communist front newspaper Ce Soir—he never joined the Party, instead openly and articulately positioning himself as an “ethical anarchist” across his long life. In a calculated response to the nativism and nationalist agenda of European fascism, Cartier-Bresson cast this anarchist vision in terms of a photographic method that was the immediate expression of an imaginative encounter he identified as “the decisive moment,” fostering the effective communication between individuals across class, gender, race, religious, and national divides. Thus his photographic technique was an expressive vehicle for a vision of global humanity and for his belief that the photographic medium could be a means of overcoming prejudice and injustice. Following World War II, he cofounded Magnum, an individualist photographic cooperative that provided humanist imagery to magazines and newspapers all over the world, with the express intention of fighting colonialism, exposing state oppression and influencing public opinion. Not only did the concept work—providing the imagery for publications like Life and Look—but Magnum continues as a highly influential force, though in a somewhat altered spirit, to this day.
Ignacio Forcada (UCLM, Spain): ‘Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, !Presente!: A Visual Walk Through the Life and International Thought of the Founder of the “Falange Espanñola”.’
Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera and Sáenz de Heredia, III Marqués de Estella, popularly known as Jose Antonio, first-born of the Spanish general and dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder, in 1933, of “Falange Española” (Spanish Phalanx), a Spanish political party of fascist ideology. Accused of conspiracy and military rebellion against the Government of the Second Republic, he was sentenced to death, and finally executed during the first months of the Spanish Civil War.
The Dictator Francisco Franco turned his figure into an icon and a martyr at the service of the propaganda of the established “Movimiento Nacional”, the totalitarian mechanism of fascist inspiration that claimed to be the only channel of participation in Spanish public life. After the war, his name led all the lists of the deceased in the Civil War and the inscription "Jose Antonio Presente!" could be found in many Spanish churches. All the speeches of the hierarchs of Regime ended with the speaker shouting «¡José Antonio!», to which the audience responded «¡Presente!».
Our contribution / installation to Workshop No. 2 of Fascism and the International 'Project aims, thanks to the use of images and sound files, to be a visual and auditory walk through the figure and the internationalist thinking of José Antonio, in particular of his idea of Empire, and also a reflection on the current meaning in Spain of a surname with that historical burden that goes beyond the myth that surrounds it.
Indeed, point 3 of the Program of the “Falange Española” affirmed that the Falange had a will of Empire and that the historical fullness of Spain was the Empire. José Antonio assumed the ideas of Ramiro de Maeztu of a religious and cultural imperialism whose underlying idea affirmed that Spain could regain its self-esteem and international prestige if it now recreated the kind of order that had made possible the conquest, creation and government of an Empire: the monarchy of the Catholic Monarchs as a paradigm of the values of unity, order, hierarchy, homeland, religion and family. That is why point 8 of the Initial Points of the “Falange Española” affirmed that "because of its sense of catholicity, of universality, Spain won to the sea and to barbarism unknown continents. He won them to incorporate those who inhabited them into a universal undertaking of salvation”.
But the figure of José Antonio also has an angle that goes well beyond the myth built during the Franco regime. Jose Antonio never considered himself a fascist, and many of his ideals promoted raising and transforming Spain through a revolution that unveiled the farce in which the political left and right lived for so long. Paradoxically, rescued from oblivion, the true Falangist ideals are astonishingly current and present in social protest movements, such as the "indignados" in Spain who sought to overcome traditional political divisions.
Ruth Cain (Kent Law School, UK): '@Nero: Meme Culture, Marx and the Alt-Right Online'
As a ‘lowbrow’ cultural form located in the social media sphere, online memes and political commentary have received very little critical and academic attention. Attention to online trends is, however, increasingly vital, as recognition of the Machiavellian capacities of social media and online communities to shape political views and behaviour has been forced by the Brexit and Trump votes and related revelations of data-selling and targeted advertising. Additionally, consternation over the apparent disconnection of younger people from established political forms has sparked debate over a ‘democratic deficit’ represented by a deeply cynical generation with no concept of the future. I argue that meme culture, deliberately exclusionary and cryptic though it appears, provides unique insights into the political consciousness of the overwhelmingly young and often well-educated people who provide instant online reactions to political and cultural events. Exemplified by the Twitter handle of fallen hero Milo Yiannopoulos, @Nero, alt-right online culture manifests the gleeful cynicism of the ‘troll’, combined with a peculiar cyber-mysticism reminiscent of historical futurist movements. White-nationalist alt-right culture, intersecting frequently with ‘trolling’ and the outright misogyny of the ‘manosphere’, purports to grant women a place in politics based on an awkwardly-conceived traditional femininity. Less well-known, Neo-Marxist memes reclaim Karl Marx as pop-left icon, and familiarise teenagers with concepts such as ‘seizing the means of production’. While alt-right online culture offers the exhilaration of ripping apart liberal consensus in a viciously ludic way, a broader view of meme culture reminds us that utopian visions, albeit often disturbing, flippant or tarnished, continue to be shared across the spectrum of popular political commentary.
Luciano Chessa (San Francisco Conservatory of Music, USA): 'Luigi Russolo's Antifascism Revisited' (lecture + performance)
Abstract to follow.
Leila Brännström (Lund University, Sweden): ‘Fascism and Revolutionary Iran’
Not only did the very eruption of the Iranian revolution in 1978-79 take observers, inside and outside the country, by surprise, so did also the fact that it did not seem to follow the logic of historical progress, whether of the Whigish or Marxist type. What to most observers set the Iranian revolution apart from “progressive” revolutions was its religious tenure: the revolutionary movement used Shia vocabulary and images, Shia rites gave the movement its form and rhythm, and the unquestionable leader of the movement, Khomeini, was a cleric.
In the fall of 1978, at a time when the future agenda of the revolutionary movement was unclear beyond the ending of the Pahlavi dynasty and the establishment of an “Islamic government”, the French Marxist historian and orientalist Maxime Rodinson suggested that the movement headed by Khomeini, similar to the Muslim Brotherhood, represented “a certain type of archaic fascism”. The use of the fascist label returned in the early 1980s after the victory of the revolutionary movement and the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Former revolutionaries such a the first president of the republic Abolhassan Banisadr and the republic’s first ambassador to the UN Mansour Farhang as well as distinguished scholars of Iranian history and society such as Fred Halliday and Said Amir Arjomand depicted the post-revolutionary social order as “fascist with an Islamic face”, “amateur fascism”.
After a brief review of the history of associating Islamic movements with fascism, this paper discusses the wisdom and the politics of making sense of the 1978-79 revolutionary movement, the 1979 post-revolutionary constitution, and the social and political order that was firmly in place by the mid 1980s, through the lens of fascism.
Adrian Smith (University of Carlton, Canada): ‘Fascism, Colonialism and the Plot to Overthrow Dominica’
What would make a German-Canadian ‘neo-Nazi’, a Toronto-based mafioso, a U.S. southern klansman and a Barbadian weapons merchant plot a coup d'état against the Caribbean island nation of Dominica in 1981? The mercenaries — described as a “rag tag band of klansmen, Nazis and gangsters” — engaged in a year of transnational organizing activities motivated by the desire to overthrow the government of Eugenia Charles, the University of Toronto Law and LSE educated leader, known as the “Iron Lady of the Caribbean”, and to transform Dominica into an “Aryan paradise” with casinos. Although “Operation Red Dog” (later dubbed the “Bayou of Pigs”) was ultimately halted in New Orleans after the arrest and imprisonment of several mercenaries, the failed coup attempt provided justification for a deepening of ties between Dominica and the Reagan administration, which subsequently led to the Charles regime’s support for the U.S. invasion of Grenada, for which it secured millions in aid and payoffs. Despite its peculiarities, the ‘Bayou of Pigs’ incident has received modest consideration in contemporary discussions of Fascism, including in terms of its international dimensions and its relationship to neo-colonialism. My paper aims to use the failed invasion to explore the fascismcolonialism relationship. It will build on three interventions: (1) that of human geographer David Featherstone who, in a discussion of the geo-historical dimensions of international organizing from below, makes passing reference to “the geographies of fascism”; (2) that of the ‘black radical tradition’ commencing with Aimé Césaire’s critique of colonialism, which argued that fascism was the application of “colonialist procedures” on the European continent; (3) and, that of TWAIL to confront law’s intervention (beginning with colonial war and invasion and extending to the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of these mercenaries).
Fabia Veçoso, (University of Melbourne, Australia), João Henrique (Federal University of Goiás, Brazil) & Daniel Campos de Carvalho (Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil): ‘The Portuguese and the Tropics’: Opposing Decolonization, Promising Unity’
This contribution explores the theoretical formulation of Lusotropicalism as proposed and articulated by the Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre in the 1950s, and its use as foreign policy towards Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia by the regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (1932–1968). Based on Freyre’s previous sociological works on the Portuguese colonization, the idea of Lusotropicalism allowed a positive outcome for the colonial encounter, one that could produce a new type of interracial society. Differently from the United Kingdom, France, or the Netherlands, the fusion of the Portuguese with black Africans and indigenous peoples would overcome the previous contexts of economic exploitation and structural violence. This view of Portuguese colonization travelled in time and space, and was consciously adopted by Salazar in dealing with the late decolonization of Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. This article will explore the legal justifications presented by the Salazar regime of Portugal to oppose decolonization, shedding light on the relationship between decolonization, fascism, and international law. To illustrate, the case of the Indian annexation of Goa, which eventually took place in 1961 after years of Portuguese opposition, will be assessed in detail. More broadly, Salazar’s concrete articulation of Lusotropicalism in the 1950s and 1960s opens space for critical interrogations on how to define and how to deal with ‘genuine’ experiences of fascism, as put in the call for papers. As ideas circulate, being reconstituted and reinterpreted in different contexts across time, exploring the legal arguments that were put forward to prevent decolonization of Portuguese colonies in Asia and Africa sheds light on the plasticity of the idea of fascism, which contributes to a better grasp on the role of law in such projects of expansion and hierarchy.
Vannessa Hearman (Charles Darwin University, Australia): ‘Anti-communism and the Promotion of a Return to Authoritarianism in Indonesia'
This paper examines the links between anti-communism in Indonesia and visions of a return to the authoritarianism of the Suharto New Order regime (1966-98). The paper will trace historical interest in fascist ideas among Indonesians and the rise of the New Order as one manifestation of that interest.
Anti-communism was a key plank in the ideology of the New Order and has survived in the two decades after the fall of the regime. Under President Joko Widodo, a civilian with few elite connections who has been in power since 2014, there has been a pronounced rise in anti-communist activities. The paper analyses several of these, including a symposium of anti-communist activists and military officers in June 2016 and the attack on a history seminar at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation in September 2017. Both events took place in the capital, Jakarta. By examining the composition of- and ideas put forward at such events, I analyse the extent to which anti-communism is laying the foundations to a return to authoritarianism.
James Parker (Melbourne Law School, Australia) and Tom Andrews (Melbourne Law School, Australia): 'Cybernazis: Fashwave and the Aesthetics of Alt-Right Retrofuturism’ (screening/hearing)
Somewhere between a viewing, a listening, and a conversation, this presentation offers an introduction to and some critical reflections on ‘fashwave’ and related cultural productions online. Described by one recent commentator as the ‘suicidal retrofuturist art of the alt-right’, fashwave is an odd mix and appropriation of synthwave music, 1980s graphic design, classical sculpture, and what one message board termed ‘fashthetics’. Images of Trump mingle with Pepes and Swastikas as Richard Spencer’s voice appears over the Blade Runner synths. Fashwave is at once sincere and ironic, inconsequential trolling with fewer views than a cat video and a canny take-up of the cultural energy of a certain tradition in the transgressive avant-garde. Inspired in part by Angela Nagel’s Kill All Normies (Zero, 2017), in this presentation we want to take fashwave seriously, but not too seriously, to open up a broader conversation about irony, aesthetics, online cultures and the role of the university in thinking about the alt-right, contemporary politics, cultural production, and perhaps even (international) law.
Kobi Leins (Melbourne Law School, Australia): ‘Fascbook: When to Unfriend?’
In the last five years we have seen the meteoric rise and exponential expansion of Facebook, the success of which relies heavily on international users. The spread of fake news and hate speech, largely enabled by Facebook, may have influenced major Western election outcomes, and Facebook has regularly been accused of an anti-conservative bias by allegedly censoring Republican content.
In October last year, incitements to violence on Facebook were directly connected to real-world acts against the Myanmar’s Rohingya population, in events that have now been widely accepted as genocide. On 5 April 2018, a group of six NGOs working in Myanmar addressed a critical letter to Zuckerberg, criticizing the company for not doing enough to moderate. Zuckerberg said sorry, for “not being sufficiently clear about the important role that your organisations play” in responding to Myanmar related issues and outlined steps that Facebook would take to increase its moderation. Zuckerberg also indicated that the AI necessary to moderate effectively is still approximately five years away.
What is Facebook doing to control hate speech? What should it be doing? Is Facebook supporting fascism and inciting violence, or is it a neutral social platform? Can any technology promote fascism? Or even be fascist? What checks and balances are needed to stop enabling fascist behavior, or even genocide?
This presentation will consider the role of Facebook in freedom from hatred speech, and looking at recent decisions regarding Uber and Google, challenge the commonly espoused position that technology is politically neutral and consider potential remedies.
Jake Goldenfein (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia): ‘Computational Eugenics’
Early eugenicists like Sir Francis Galton deployed photographic technologies in service of discovering relationships between facial morphologies and inherent personality traits. One famous experiment used the technique of repeated exposure of criminal portraits to create composite images intended to reveal a criminal ‘mean’. These experiments were premised on the supposed technological objectivity of photographic image making, but were fundamentally animated by the medical, colonial, and criminological rationalities of the time.
While these experiments failed, and this branch of criminology became marginalised, physiognomic experiments have continued, often justified by psychological evidence that humans have an inherent capacity to (somewhat) accurately judge personality traits in others from faces. In 2006, researchers performed the first experiments applying the technologies of computer vision to physiognomic classification, repeating Galton’s composite process at a far larger scale. More recent experiments claim up to 91% accuracy in determining characteristics like sexuality and criminality from portraits. These practices open a new dialogue with the literature around photography, epistemology, and the social ‘archive’. The composite portrait has been replicated by the contemporary equivalent of the ‘eigenface’. Whereas criminology and anthropology under the guise of technological objectivity animated 19th century understandings of photographic truth, the epistemologies of big data analytics and the probabilistic representations of ‘computer vision’ now animate this new knowledge regime.
The goal of this paper is to explore the fundamentals of these computational rationalities, understand how they contribute to the claim that there is more information available in images than can be interpreted by human observers, and expose their relationship to an emerging computational politics of classification.
Pete Chambers (RMIT University, Australia) & Rachel Busbridge (Australian Catholic University): ‘From Blood and Soil to Cybernetes and Silicon: Between Breivik’s Manifesto and its Fascist Future and the Alt Right, via Cultural Marxism’
This paper presents the first draft of a distant reading of Anders Breivik’s manifesto, ‘2083: A European Declaration of Independence’. We read the patterns that emerge when Breivik’s 1518 page pdf is fed through a number of simple analytical software tools, then proceed by connecting the manifesto’s patterned tics and symptoms with those of the American alt right, dwelling critically on their embedding in the conspiracy theory of cultural Marxism.
If ‘2083’ is an artefact of its time and its internet which can tell us a little bit about the alt right, as we contend, to what extent are these manifestations of contemporary fascism and white supremacism about the anxieties of the American internet and the psychoses of post Cold War globalisation? 2083, we argue, is not the idiosyncratic product of a willfully isolated individual, like the Unabomber’s ‘Industrial Society and Its Future’; nor is it in any way the political programme of a charismatic member or leader of a mass movement, like Mein Kampf. 2083’s author is a nobody who could be nearly any one of millions around the world ensnared by a culturally specific use of networked systems and the shared apprehensions of space, people and future that they partake of and contribute to making.
Anne Orford (Melbourne Law School, Australia), Gregor Noll (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Martti Koskenniemi (University of Helsinki, Finland): ‘Fascism and International Law: History, Technology, Representation’ (keynote panel)
Abstract to follow.
Alicja Rogalska (independent visual artist, Poland/UK), 'East of the West, West of the East' (screening/discussion)
A specially curated screening of artist videos from Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Czechia and Ukraine dealing with the rise of far right, nationalism and fascism in Central and Eastern Europe. The artistic responses vary from cinema vérité, staged situations to docu-fiction, and are attempts to make sense of the shifting socio-political situation in the countries of the former Eastern Block.
Cícero Krupp da Luz (University of São Paulo, Brazil): ‘The Everyday Legal Impact of Italian Fascism in Brazil during the 1920s, 30s and early 40s’
The majority of studies of the twentieth century’s first decades of Brazil’s international relations focus on the United States of America political influence and its international lawyers' proposals. On the other hand, little attention has been given to the legal and international aspects of the Brazilian nationalism during the 1920s, 30s and early 40s that were, to a large extent, inspired by Italian Fascism and due to the arrival of Italians immigrants.
During the 1920’s, several right-wing movements of thought and action were forged with clear fascists inspirations. Historian’s scholars identified them as: Italian fascists groups and a small attempt to create an indigenous Fascism. The Italian influence in the 30’s was even more clear with a brand new political party “The Brazilian Integralist Action” which was funded and articulated by the Italian government. In 1937, after the Getúlio Vargas State’s coup to establish the Estado Novo (New State), however, Italy discouraged the Integralists from fighting Vargas, urging them to cooperate with the new authoritarian regime. This change was based on Vargas New State’s laws and policies, which were becoming rapidly fascists and populists until its end, in 1945.
Although there are historical evidence and literature of this narrative, the impact in which the Italians (government, social movements, and immigrants) had in legal changes and the international agenda of Brazil has not been disclosed yet. So, this is the main research question of this paper proposal: how the Italian Fascism had legally impacted the everyday life of Brazilians and Italian immigrants during this period. The biopolitics theoretical approach (Foucault; Agamben; and Byung-Chul) will help to design the relationship between the field of State control and to discipline the people, while an analytical methodology seeks to organize and describe through historical literature and legal documents.