Kallis, A (2020) ‘Counter-spurt’ but not ‘de-civilization’: fascism, (un)civility, taboo, and the ‘civilizing process’. Journal of Political Ideologies. ISSN 1356-9317

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Norbert Elias described the rise of fascism and the violent spasm of the Holocaust as examples of extreme ‘counter-spurts’ towards ‘re-barbarisation’ in his overall schema of recent human history as a ‘civilizing process’. But the shift towards the normalization of uncivility and extreme violence that became trademarks of fascism in the interwar years was in fact far less at odds with assumed mainstream values than it actually appeared or assumed to be. In this article, I argue that fascist uncivil ideology, discourse, and praxis need to be placed along a continuum of mainstream acceptability that rendered them broadly desirable or tolerable to mainstream society at the time in spite of their radical deviation from an assumed liberal canon. I focus on two examples of fascist uncivility - attack on the liberal framework of minority protection promoted by the liberal powers post-WW1; and violent anti-semitism. Each of these instances involved targets that were in principle associated with taboos that fascism helped deconstruct and conditionally transgress in practice, in the name of defending a narrowly re-defined ‘we-identity’. I argue that, while fascist uncivility represented a violent, extreme ‘counter-spurt’ in its cumulative dynamics and effects, it was underwritten by a number of facilitating impulses and behaviours that were deeply embedded in interwar mainstream societies and thus did not constitute qualitative regressions from the ‘civilizing process’, as Elias claimed afterwards.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Tayor & Francis at https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjpi20. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Norbert Elias; Holocaust; Germany; Balance
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2019 11:44
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2022 01:30
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/7121

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