Leigh,

 

First of all, let me just reiterate my love for your book. It brought to light many things that I, latently, have thought or felt over the past few years. I went to graduate school to get my PhD in Comparative Literature, so many of the arguments and frustrations that you voiced were very familiar to me (dreary ole Adorno!). Perhaps unsurprisingly, I dropped out to become an engineer. But before I left, an area of study was the interaction between Futurism and the "Revolutionary Right" from its home in Italy to Latin America.

As a result, I wanted to bring out a point that you touched on in your book, one that deals with Nazism and is thus unfit for the open internet (hence the letter).

For the sake of discussion, it is sometimes expedient to lump Nazism and Fascism together. Why this cumulative group got called Fascism and not Nazism is beyond me, since the latter seems to define the assumptions about the group.

Nazism was a movement as you described. It had two very strong conservative sources of power; the first the “naturalism” that you described, the second the Freikorps who felt like they had been used and thrown away in the first world war. We might call this natural conservativism and social conservativism. It would be interesting to think about which one of these sources lead to the horrors with which we associate Nazi rule.

While Italian Fascism shared the support of dissatisfied veterans, it didn’t share the naturalistic, runic tendencies of Nazism. Its basic ideas actually came from Futurists and former Communists. Their main political thesis was that technology was leading to a societal speed and complexity in the economy. This made both democracy and communism untenable. Democracy, because the world had already become too complex for average citizen to be sufficiently informed to make decisions whose repercussions would govern the whole. Communism was impossible, because they doubted that, in their retarded state of industrialization (remember that Italy was a backwater) they could risk the societal schisms that communism proposed.

It’s important that Fascism (until later, and much more weakly) didn’t espouse poisonous ideas of “natural order.” In fact, Mussolini’s non-compliance with Hitler’s racial policies was a source of conflict between the axis countries.

This, of course, doesn't materially contradict the points in your book. I just think that it's interesting to note.

Best,