Caesar’s Proto-fascism

Caesar: And in Rome, Marc Antony is to speak for Caesar. His authority is not to be questioned.

Canidius: His word will be yours. As always, Caesar’s word is law.

Caesar: Of course. But remind him to keep his legions intact. They make the law legal.

– Wanger. W. (Producer), Mankiewicz. J.L. (Director). (1963). Cleopatra [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century-Fox


Mussolini’s Rituals

‘Mussolini thought the Italians needed to be hardened, and he launched what he called an anti-bourgeois campaign. And among the things he banned, or tried to ban, anyway, was people shouldn’t shake hands, they should give the Roman salute, you know, raising their arm and their hand up in the air. […]

[A] man named Achille Starace, was kind of his circus master, who kept coming up with these ideas of rituals, mass rituals and other kinds of rites that he thought would make the Italians ever more devoted to their duce, which is the kind of Latiny term of leader that the Italians used to refer to Mussolini.

In fact, Mussolini required being referred to as DUCE, D-U-C-E,[1] it’s spelled, and it had to be written in capitals in the newspapers by the 1930s. It couldn’t just be written in the normal way.’

– Kertzer, D. (April 24, 2015) ‘Pope And Mussolini’ Tells The ‘Secret History’ Of Fascism And The Church. NPR.

[1] duce; ‘leader’ from Latin duco, meaning ‘I lead’. E.g. Il DUCE ha sempre ragione; ‘the leader is always right’.

Conversations: Political Correctness

We know that socio-economic factors explain most violence in societies.

This is true, but religion fuelled tribalism and bigotry should not be excused in its entirety. Consider the jihadist movement, how many more architects and engineers must hit the wall at four hundred miles an hour before we admit to ourselves that violence is not merely a matter of education, poverty, or politics?

Good point. The exploitation of secular values, the demand for tolerance of misogyny and religious hatred, are not merely the result of broad socio-economic factors. Nor are forced marriages, honour killings, punitive gang rapes, or the homicidal loathing of homosexuals. Continue reading

On The Importance of Books

“It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.”

– Henry Jones Sr.

Conversations: Evil Atheists?

If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral. Are they?

No. Do members of atheist organizations in the United States commit more than their fair share of violent crimes? Do the members of the National Academy of Sciences, 93 percent of whom reject the idea of God, lie and cheat and steal with abandon? We can be reasonably confident that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population. And yet, atheists are the most reviled minority in the United States. Continue reading

Orwell on Orthodoxy

‘Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’

– Orwell. G. 1949. Nineteen Eighty-Four London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (2008) p. 56

On Evidence-free Ideologies

“Today, Nazism is considered to be a political ideology; it was, however, as opposed to Fascism, a worldview, a faith.”

– Lina Heydrich

Liberal SS Circles

‘The shrink kept nodding. “Why? What did you do at Buchenwald?”

“I worked,” Hilarius told her, “on experimentally-induced insanity. A catatonic Jew was as good as a dead one. Liberal SS circles felt it would be more humane.” So they had gone at their subjects with metronomes, serpents, Brechtian vignettes at midnight, surgical removal of certain glands, magic-lantern hallucinations, new drugs, threats recited over hidden loudspeakers, hypnotism, clocks that ran backward, and faces. Hilarius had been put in charge of faces. “The Allied liberators,” he reminisced, “arrived, unfortunately, before we could gather enough data. Apart from the spectacular successes, like Zvi, there wasn’t much we could point to in a statistical way.” He smiled at the expression on her face.’

– Pynchon. T. 1966. The Crying of Lot 49 New York, United States: Harper Perennial (2006) p. 112