By Mike Isaacson PhD
Following the Second World War, fascism became a universally acknowledged vanquished foe in the public psyche. Fascism, and especially its rapacious offspring Nazism, was the metric against which political evil was measured with comparisons drawn to various aspects of communist and capitalist states alike. Nearly 70 years later, this supposed vanquished foe has reared its head once again, ditching the mass parties for think tanks.
Mike Isaacson, an antifascist researcher and activist, will be leading a six-session class on the historical and contemporary political and economic conditions that create the social dislocation necessary for fascism to become a cultural movement. Isaacson has monitored contemporary fascist movements for the past seven years while studying their historical antecedents. He got his start in antifascism cofounding Smash Racism DC in response to a 2012 Aryan Nations march in the nation’s capital.
His academic and activist work has introduced him not only to how fascists present themselves to the world, but also to each other. Through a combination of academic research and internet surveillance, Isaacson has developed a theoretical framework for understanding how the intersection of economic crisis, representative democracy, and national identity create fertile ground for fascist takeover.
The course will take students through the four levels on which fascism operates: as a political religion, as a social science, as a political theory, and as a social practice. According to Isaacson’s typology, fascism promises the self-pitying individual personal regeneration through assertion of one’s own identity in social life. In taking one’s identity, and all existent identities, as given and natural, fascism invites a conceptualization of the world in terms of bitterly divided sociobiological categories in a constant struggle for dominance. Taken as the natural order of things, fascism posits a social order founded on hierarchies emerging from social struggle and ultimately an underhanded, scorched-earth political program to achieve it.
In his Political Economy of Fascism mini-course, Isaacson will take students through discussion-based seminars exploring the ways this process has operated historically and through to the present day. Special attention will be paid to the way fascism treats science, ethics, and history as philosophical battlegrounds for dominance. The course will explore how conspiracy theory, eugenics, historical revision, and appropriation form integral parts of fascist worldview and practice.
Political Economy of Fascism,
a Six Session Course:
Thursdays, April 5, 12, 19, 26 and
May 3, 10 — 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Mike Isaacson is a PhD student and lecturer in economics. He has taught courses in macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics, and economic history. His areas of focus include macroeconomic theory, economic methodology, and the history of fascism. In addition to studying economics, Mike has been active in antifascist and housing justice organizing. He is a co-founder of Smash Racism DC and has been monitoring and researching fascism for six years. He is a former associate editor at the New School Economic Review and a member of the Union for Radical Political Economics and the International Association for Feminist Economics.