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The Fascist Moment

In an essay on Nietzsche written in 1947, Thomas Mann spoke of "the fascist epoch of the West" in which "we are living and, despite the military victory over fascism, shall continue to live for a long time." Gene Edward Veith, Jr., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Concordia University of Wisconsin in Mequon, Wisconsin, agrees with Mann, for, in his opinion, there are a striking number of parallels between fascism and contemporary intellectual life.

The only definition of fascism Veith offers is that of the historian and philosopher Ernst Nolte, who sees it as "practical and violent resistance to transcendence." Simplifying slightly, we may say that by transcendence Nolte means man's experience of God. But this definition is as applicable to communism as it is to fascism, and Veith fails to distinguish adequately between the latter and other ways of thinking. Moreover, it is sometimes unclear whether Veith is talking about fascism as a whole or just German National Socialism. Veith is especially concerned for the current intellectual movement known as postmodernism, with its relativism, its disparagement of humane values, its attempt to reduce all human creativity to questions of power relations, and its refusal to deal with questions of transcendence. On all these points postmodernism parallels fascism. Veith does not consider postmodernists to be fascists, but he fears that they may be...

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