Fascism and the desire of the Masses

Fascism was not merely a bad moment in the history of Europe. It is not a historical error that was defeated and uprooted by World War II. It has a way of returning differently in different societies.  Unfortunately, power relations in our days seem to be predicated on necessary existence of fascism. To understand fascism anywhere may be it is important to understand how it manipulates the desire of masses so effectively.  In some way, fascism turns the desire of the masses against their own interest. The fact that the masses desire their own (un)freedom and oppression through a fascist regime needs to be critically analysed and addressed.  Some scholars like Deleuze and Gauttari have approached fascism as a matter of desire. They teach that masses cannot be taken as innocent dupes. Others like Todd May teach that fascism arises at a point where desire and ignorance and/or knowledge merge.  The masses do not admit that they desire fascism. Neither do they tell themselves what they want is fascism. Hence, it may be important to explore the trajectory of desire and trace how it produces the social that has come to afflict us in our country. This means that we need to understand why we have come to invest so heavily into fascism that seems to talk Ram but walk the interest of the Corporate in our society.  Such an understanding may let us have an insight into why the transfer of wealth to the economic elites is our least concern and issues like protection of the sacred cow is on the top of our agenda.

The fact that people in their desire for fascism do act against their own interest, interrogates the Marxist dogma of class interest. Of course the followers of Marx will assert that people are fooled by an ideology to come to endorse fascism. They might indicate that the masses are deceived into a belief that their interest is allied to the interest of the ruling class. There may be an iota of truth to this Marxist view, but it somehow takes away the agency of the people rendering them vulnerable to manipulations of the ruling classes. This is exactly congruent to the traditional upper caste philosophies in our country that offers an analysis that depends on avidya (ignorance) and draws the curtain of Maya (illusion) that hides and masks exploitation and oppression and leads the masses to accept their lower caste locations/positions. Deleuze and Gauttari do not accept that it is because of ideological deception that masses accept their own oppression but teach that it is the masses that desire it in the first place. They do not see politics as a matter of belief but view it as a matter of desire. The Buddha also sees desire as the source of all sufferings but finds liberation in saving knowledge.  Hence, the position of Deluze and Gauttari is more radical than the Marxist view and  the traditional Indian schools of philosophy that take avidya as the starting point of all philosophy. That is why both the Marxists and the traditional Indian schools of philosophy view liberation through knowledge (jnana mokxa) alone. For the Marxists, it is the hope in the displacement of false consciousness that leads people towards revolution while the upper caste schools are other worldly and celebrate salvation of the soul through the overcoming of avidya/Maya.

This jnana or knowledge grounded emancipative hope gives us avidya based diagnostics of our society. There may be some truth in it but here we shall try to travel the road of Deleuze and Gauttari and strive to consider the implication of their thesis: Politics is a matter of desire.  While it is easy to assert that people are/can be manipulated by the wily and crafty politicians, it may be important to explore the desire of the masses and try to understand the rise of fascism in our society. To map the desire of the masses, Deleuze and Gauttari have given us a tool which they call schizoanalysis by which they attempt to unearth and recognize the libidinal investments in a society. May be we have to follow them to understand the flow of the libidinal energies in our society. There is something erotic about fascism that we have come to embrace. It is intoxicating and keeps us on the high. We can trace it in the passions through which the masses in our country endorse cultural conflicts while the transfer of wealth to the elites seems to remain at the bottom of the list of their concerns. Thus, people in our country have come to embrace their own oppression.  Hence, to respond adequately to this self destructive path chosen by our people, we may have to try and trace the dynamics of the unconscious desire in our social field and try an align it to desire more emancipative modes of being. Thus, we will have to open the field of desire that dominates the social field and try to ride it towards emancipative modes of being Indians. This means, schizoanalysis aims to align our desire more than our belief. In this context, we may have to pay hid to what Todd May has to say when he teaches that desire is not blind. It is goal directed and hence immersed in some kind of knowledge. This means desire is both epistemic and volitional. This is why our analysis has to consider motivational and epistemic aspects of desire. This will take us beyond Deleuze and Gauttari who do not seem to accept epistemic aspects of desire.

Mapping the contours of desire in our society takes us to our own individual self. We are challenged to trace it in what we think and want and create. Fascism is fascinating. Fascism is somehow embedded into our thought and desire.  When we add the knowledge element to our desire, we may say that we desire not fascism but our very desire itself becomes fascistic. Hence, we do not endorse fascism because of our beliefs but because our desire has become fascistic. This is why we enjoy investing into it. May be we have to unearth the conditions under which our desire manifest its fascistic character. One way to tract this would be to check what we do with what Deleuze and Gauttari calls the molar identity and molecular identity. Molar identity is a bigger self that constitutes and characterizes our self from the point of view of a nation, religion, caste, gender, social-position, etc. The molar self is more stable while the molecular self is fluid, local and relates on the basis of being human by transcending ones molarity. Therefore, we have to check how molar identities are treated to discern whether our desire has become fascistic.  We can certainly see that sources of our molar self/ identities have emerged as supreme with the rise of present regime. The molar identity of being a Hindu has come to dislodge another molar identity of being an Indian and reduced its connotation to such an extent that to be Indian has come to mean to be only a Hindu. Yes indeed! We exhibit a fascistic desire that enjoys fighting cultural issues like beef eating, cow protection, dress codes, love jihad   etc.,  while economic policies that assure the transfer of wealth to the elites stay at the bottom of our concerns. They intoxicate and feed us on cultural conflicts. To change this we will have become more molecular and embrace plural and emancipative ways of being Indians. This means we will have to become more human rather than Indian, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, tribal, dalit, etc. This is the way of being molecular rather than molar.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao