Mark Karlin // “At Its Core, #AntiFascism Is Self-Defense”: An Interview With Mark Bray

“At Its Core, Anti-Fascism Is Self-Defense”: An Interview With Mark Bray

Anti-fascism exists in many different forms, from passive disapproval to militant opposition. In this exclusive interview with Truthout, author and historian Mark Bray explains the role of — and need for — the antifa movement.

Mark Karlin: Fascism is highly connotative. In summary, how do you define it in your book?

Mark Bray: Defining fascism is notoriously difficult because fascists have adopted and discarded ideas and positions more readily than perhaps any other political tendency. Fascism rejects rationality and ideological consistency. It’s not even clear that fascism can be understood as an ideology at all so much as a complex confluence of authoritarian and reactionary tendencies. Especially after World War II when the symbolism, vocabulary and theoretical expanse of far-right politics broadened considerably, it might make more sense to talk about spectrums of the fascistic.

In my book, I include a definition from Robert Paxton’s excellent The Anatomy of Fascism, but like Paxton and many other historians, I hesitate to confine this historical phenomenon to an abstract, analytical definition. “Definable,” Nietzsche argued, “is only that which has no history.” While I may not go that far, I agree with the historian Angelo Tasca that “to understand Fascism we must write its history.”

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