by Alberto Toscano
How do we understand the return of fascism today?
In a world shaken by ecological, economic and political crises, the forces of authoritarianism and reaction seem to have the upper hand. How should we name, map and respond to this state of affairs?
Late Fascism turns to theories of fascism produced in the past century, testing their capacity to illuminate our moment and challenging many of the commonplaces that debate on this extremely charged term devolves into. It can be tempting for any contemporary assessment of fascism to reach for historical analogy. Fascism is defined by returns and repetitions, but it is not best approached in terms of steps and checklists dictated by a selective reading of Italian Fascism or National Socialism.
Rather than treating fascism as an unrepeatable phenomenon or identifying it with a settled configuration of European parties, regimes, and ideologies, Toscano approaches fascism as a problem and a process, one that is intimately linked to capitalism's demands for domination. Drawing especially on Black radical and anti-colonial theories of racial fascism, Late Fascism makes clear the limits of identifying fascism simply with the political violence of bygone European regimes. Developing anti-fascist theory is a vital and urgent task. From the "Great Replacement" to campaigns against critical race theory and "gender ideology", today's global far-right is launching lethal panics about the threats to traditional political, sexual and racial regimes. Late Fascism allows us to rediscover some truly inspiring anti-fascist thinkers, rooted in their turn in largely anonymous collective practices of worldmaking against domination, traditions of the oppressed that remain a resource for those set on dismantling the hierarchies and segregations that the partisans of Order and Tradition seek to revive and reimpose.
"Alberto Toscano's Late Fascism brilliantly elucidates what Adorno once called 'the meaning of working through the past' to grasp fascism's capacious aptitude for untimely reappearances to resolve crises, real or not, to save capitalism from itself and restore the necessary political order such rescue operations require. Rather than drawing upon fascism's past in his approach, Toscano 's account persuasively lays to rest an interpretative scheme that explains such unscheduled repetitions by appealing to analogical comparisons of past and present as if they were the same. His own strategy positions history and memory against the present to disturb one another, unveiling uneven historical differences and incommensurables removed from an everyday dominated by exchange. Toscano's lasting achievement is the program of watchfulness he so carefully constructs to uncover the contemporaneity of late fascism in our midst, but never too late to recognize its ever-present morbidities."
-- Harry Harootunian, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Chicago
"In this bold book, Alberto Toscano argues that the old checklist for identifying and understanding contemporary fascism won't work. To apprehend its present-day manifestations, we must consult writers from the Black radical tradition and critical ethnic studies. With his characteristic erudition, Toscano combines innovative readings of Western Marxism with insightful interpretations of the genealogies of anti-racism. This is an indispensable book for a distressing time."
-- Roderick A. Ferguson, Yale University
"Late Fascism is brilliant, incisive, and right on time. We are living through a moment when the "F" word is no longer taboo and the threat of fascism lurks everywhere. And yet, so mired in debates over definitions, typologies, and analogies that our understanding of fascism remains elusive. Alberto Toscano avoids this trap by turning to anti-fascist thinkers, whose groundings in anticolonial, antiracist, and anticapitalist struggles remind us that liberalism is no enemy of fascism, and fascists flower in the hot house of capitalism." -- Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
About the Author:
Alberto Toscano is Professor of Critical Theory in the Department of Sociology and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Term Research Associate Professor at the School of Communications at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea, Cartographies of the Absolute, Una visión compleja. Hacía una estética de la economía, La abstracción real. Filosofia, estética y capital, and the co-editor of the 3-volume The SAGE Handbook of Marxism, and Ruth Wilson Gilmore's Abolition Geography: Essays in Liberation. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and is series editor of The Italian List for Seagull Books. He is also the translator of numerous books and essays by Antonio Negri, Alain Badiou, Franco Fortini, Furio Jesi and others.