Philosophy of Antifascism: Punching Nazis and Fighting White Supremacy

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    Devin Zane Shaw

    Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

    Year: 2020

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 218 pages

    ISBN: 9781786615589

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Special Offer: Order this book, and receive a free copy of Devin Zane Shaw's pamphlet, The Politics of the Blockade, published by Kersplebedeb in May 2020.

On January 20th, 2017, during an interview on the streets of Washington D.C., white nationalist Richard Spencer was punched by an anonymous antifascist. The moment was caught on video and quickly went viral, and soon “punching Nazis” was a topic of heated public debate. How might this kind of militant action be conceived of, or justified, philosophically? Can we find a deep commitment to antifascism in the history of philosophy?

Through the existentialism of Simone de Beauvoir, with some reference to Fanon and Sartre, this book identifies the philosophical reasons for the political action being enacted by contemporary antifascists. In addition, using the work of Jacques Rancière, it argues that the alt-right and the far right aren’t a kind of politics at all, but rather forms of parapolitical and paramilitary mobilization aimed at re-entrenching the power of the state and capital.

Devin Shaw argues that in order to resist fascist mobilization, contemporary movements find a diversity of tactics more useful than principled nonviolence. Antifascism must focus on the systemic causes of the re-emergence of fascism, and thus must fight capital accumulation and the underlying white supremacism. Providing new, incisive interpretations of Beauvoir, existentialism, and Rancière, he makes the case for organizing a broader militant movement against fascism.

What People Are Saying

"For too long mainstream philosophy has been content to imagine itself a neutral observer, acting as if it is the voice of reason by demanding tolerance, rational debate, and passivity in the face of the most abhorrent excesses of capitalism and colonialism. In response to such liberal accommodationism, endemic to philosophy departments and their gendarmes, Devin Zane Shaw’s A Philosophy of Antifascism is refreshing in its call to renew the tradition of philosophical militancy. Through his rigorous engagement with De Beauvoir, Sartre, Fanon, Rancière, Du Bois, and many others including movement scholars, Shaw provides us with a taxonomy of fascism and anti-fascism demarcated from liberalism. In doing so he demonstrates that philosophy does not have to resemble the snooty “give them an argument” attitude that leads to philosophers sharing platforms with reactionaries under the misapprehension that they can debate away monstrous political and ethical commitments. Rather, Shaw returns us to that radical tradition of philosophy that has no problem with isolating, marginalizing, and deplatforming those who would seek to annihilate thought itself. A Philosophy of Antifascism thus joins a growing body of literature produced by a new generation of philosophers that refuse to accept the way in which the mainstream representatives of their discipline have collaborated with reaction." — J. Moufawad-Paul, author of Continuity and Rupture, The Communist Necessity, and Demarcation and Demystification

"This is a most enticing and topical book. Both philosophically rigorous and politically relevant. Its discussion of the philosophical materials illuminates the coordinates for the coming struggle against emerging forms of neo- and derivative fascism. Especially de Beauvoir’s take on ethical drama and her negation of negative resignation. Thus inspired, the analysis of varieties and forms of violence in the concrete situation is innovative and very apposite. Ambiguity, understood as ethical negotiation, as taking a stand vis-à-vis the concrete situation, is necessary to fight the bastards. In between de Beauvoir, Fanon and Rancière we learn that there is no clay-model for revolution, and yet, like this book, we must pull no punches!" — Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Reader in Law and Political Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London

"Written with refreshing clarity, this insightful work is anchored in existentialism’s commitment to antifascism traced from Sartre to Fanon, culminating in the possibility of decoloniality. An important read in increasingly troubling times with the rise of fascist and racist ideology in the west." — danielle davis, Research Fellow, University of New England, Australia

"One sees the word 'ethics' invoked everywhere these days, but too often it serves as a pretext for over-cautious liberalism at best, and antipolitical reaction at worst. Against the grain, Devin Zane Shaw has produced a true work of ethics: an ambitious book articulating no less than a possible synthesis of the diversity of tactics and radical egalitarianism." — Matthew Robert McLennan, Director and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Saint Paul University

About the Author

Devin Zane Shaw teaches philosophy at Douglas College, Canada. He is author of Egalitarian Moments: From Descartes to Rancière (2016) and Freedom and Nature in Schelling’s Philosophy of Art (2010). He writes about philosophy, political theory, and social movements and co-edits the ‘Living Existentialism’ book series.

Book Details

Author: Devin Zane Shaw
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-78661-558-9
Size: 218 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Year: 2020

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