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Bataille-The Psychological Structure Of Fascism

Bataille-The Psychological Structure Of Fascism

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ThePsychologicalStructure
of
Fascism
GeorgesBataille;Carl
R.
Lovitt
NewGermanCritique,
No.
16
(Winter,
1979),64-87.
StableURL:http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0094-033X%28197924%290%3AI6%3C64%3ATPSOF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-ZYouruse
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suchtransmission.
NewGermanCritique
ispublishedbyTelosPress,Ltd
..
Pleasecontactthepublisherforfurtherpermissionsregardingtheuse
of
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.j
stor.org/journals/Telos.html.
NewGermanCritique
©1979TelosPress,Ltd.JSTORandtheJSTORlogoaretrademarks
of
JSTOR,andareRegisteredintheU.S.PatentandTrademarkOffice.FormoreinformationonJSTORcontactjstor-info@umich.edu.©2003JSTORhttp://www
.j
stor.org/ThuOct
214:40:262003
 
ThePsychologicalStructure
of
Fascism
*
by
GeorgesBataille
Havingaffirmedthattheinfrastructure
of
asocietyultimatelydetermines
or
conditionsthesuperstructure,Marxismdidnotundertakeany
general
elucidation
of
themodalitiespeculiartotheformation
of
religious
and
politicalsociety.WhileMarxismdidacknowledgepossibleresponsesby
the
superstructureithas
not
gonefrommereassertiontoscientificanalysis.Thisessayattemptsarigorous(ifnotcomprehensive)representation
of
thesocialsuperstructureanditsrelationstotheeconomicinfrastructureinthelight
of
fascism.
The
fact
that
this
is
butafragment
of
arelativelysubstantialwholeexplainsagreat
number
of
lacunae,notablytheabsence
of
anymethodologicalconsiderations;
1
itwasevennecessarytoforegojustifying
the
novelty
of
mypoint
of
view,andtolimitmyselftothepresentation
of
mybasicposition.However,thesimplepresentation
of
thestructure
of
fascism
had
tobe
precededbyadescription
of
thesocialstructureasawhole.
It
goeswithoutsaying
that
astudy
of
thesuperstructurepresupposesthedevelopment
of
aMarxistanalysis
of
theinfrastructure.
1.
TheHomogeneousPart
of
Society
Apsychologicaldescription
of
societymustbeginwiththatsegmentwhichismostaccessibletounderstanding-andapparentlythemost
fundamental-
whosesignificanttrait
is
tendentialhomogeneity.2
Homo-geneity
signifies
here
thecommensurability
of
elementsandtheawareness
of
thiscommensurability:
human
relationsaresustainedbyareductiontofixedrulesbased
on
the
consciousness
of
thepossibleidentity
of
delineablepersons
and
situations;inprinciple,allviolence
is
excludedfromthiscourse
of
existence.
*
Throughout
thisessayBatailleemploys
"he"
(il)
and
"man"
(l'homme)asgenericterms.
The
translationmaintainsthisusagein
order
toleavetheconceptualproblemsitcausesmanifest.
1.
This
is
obviously
the
principleshortcoming
of
an
essaythatwill
not
failtoastonishand
shockthosewhoare
familiarwithFrenchsociology,
modernGerman
philosophy(pheno
menology)
and
psychoanalysis.
As
apiece
of
information,itcannevertheless
be
insistedupon
that
the
followingdescriptions
refer
to
actualexperiences
and
thatthepsychologicalmethod
used
excludes
any
recourse
to
abstraction.2.
The
words
homogeneous,heterogeneous
and
termsderivedfromthemarestressedeach
timethey
are
taken
inasenseparticular
to
thisessay.
64
 
Fascism
65
Production
is
the
basis
of
social
homogeneity.
3
Homogeneous
society
is
productivesociety,namelyusefulsociety.Everyuselesselement
is
excluded,
not
fromall
of
society,butfromits
homogeneous
part.Inthispart,
each
element
must
be
usefulto
another
withoutthehomogeneousactivity
ever
beingable
to
attaintheform
of
activity
validinitself.
Ausefulactivityhasa
common
measurewith
another
usefulactivity,butnotwithactivity
foritself·
The
commonmeasure,thefoundation
of
social
homogeneity
and
of
theactivityarisingfromit,
is
money,namelythecalculableequivalent
of
thedifferentproducts
of
collectiveactivity.Moneyservestomeasureallwork,
andmakesman
afunction
of
measurableproducts.Accordingtothe
judgment
of
homogeneous
society,eachman
is
worthwhatheproduces;in
other
words,hestopsbeinganexistence
foritself:
he
is
nomorethanafunction,arrangedwithinmeasurablelimits,
of
collectiveproduction(which
makes
him
an
existence
forsomethingotherthanitself).
But
the
homogeneous
individualistrulyafunction
of
hispersonalproductsonlyinartisanalproduction,wherethemeans
of
productionarerelativelyinexpensive
and
canbeownedbytheartisan.Inindustrialcivilization,
the
producer
is
distinguishedfromtheowner
of
themeans
of
production,
and
it
is
thelatterwhoappropriatestheproductsforhimself:consequently,it
is
hewho,inmodernsociety,
is
thefunction
of
theproducts;itis
he
-
andnot
theproducer-whofoundssocial
homogeneity.
Thus
in
the
present
order
of
things,the
homogeneous
partof
society
is
madeup
of
those
men
whoownthemeans
of
production
or
themoney
destined
for
theirupkeeporpurchase.
It
is
exactlyinthemiddlesegment
of
the
so-calledcapitalist
or
bourgeoisclassthatthetendentialreduction
ofhuman
charactertakesplace,makingitanabstractandinterchangeableentity:areflection
of
the
homogeneousthings
theindividualowns.Thisreduction
is
thenextendedasmuchaspossibletotheso-calledmiddleclasses
that
variouslybenefitfromrealizedprofit.
But
theindustrial
proletariat
remainsforthemost
part
irreducible.
It
maintainsadoublerelation
to
homogeneousactivity:thelatterexcludesit-notfromworkbutfromprofit.
As
agents
of
production,theworkersfallwithintheframework
of
the
socialorganization,butthehomogeneousreductionasaruleonlyaffectstheirwage-earningactivity;theyareintegratedintothepsychological
homogeneity
interms
of
theirbehavior
on
thejob,butnotgenerallyasmen.
Outside
of
thefactory,andevenbeyonditstechnicaloperations,alaborer
3.
The
most
accomplished
and
expressiveforms
of
social
homogeneity
arethe
sciences
andthe
technics.
The
laws
founded
by
the
sciencesestablishrelations
of
identity
betweenthedifferent
elements
of
anelaboratedandmeasurable
world.
As
for
the
technics-
that
serveasa
transitionbetweenproductionandthe
science
-,
itisbecause
of
the
veryhomogeneity
ofproductsand
means
that
they
areopposed,
in
underdeveloped
civilizations,
to
religion
and
magic(cf.
Hubert
and
Mauss,
Esquissed'unetheoriegenera
le
de
la
magie,
in
Annee
sociologique,
VII,1902-1903,
p.
15).

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