Philosophy of Antifascism: Punching Nazis and Fighting White Supremacy

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Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.5 inches | 0.62 pounds

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About the Author

Devin Zane Shaw teaches philosophy at Douglas College, Canada. He is author of Egalitarian Moments: From Descartes to Rancière (2016) and Freedom and Nature in Schelling's Philosophy of Art (2010). He writes about philosophy, political theory, and social movements and co-edits the 'Living Existentialism' book series.


For too long mainstream philosophy has been content to imagine itself a neutral observer, acting as if it is the voice of reason by demanding tolerance, rational debate, and passivity in the face of the most abhorrent excesses of capitalism and colonialism. In response to such liberal accommodationism, endemic to philosophy departments and their gendarmes, Devin Zane Shaw's A Philosophy of Antifascism is refreshing in its call to renew the tradition of philosophical militancy. Through his rigorous engagement with De Beauvoir, Sartre, Fanon, Rancière, Du Bois, and many others including movement scholars, Shaw provides us with a taxonomy of fascism and anti-fascism demarcated from liberalism. In doing so he demonstrates that philosophy does not have to resemble the snooty "give them an argument" attitude that leads to philosophers sharing platforms with reactionaries under the misapprehension that they can debate away monstrous political and ethical commitments. Rather, Shaw returns us to that radical tradition of philosophy that has no problem with isolating, marginalizing, and deplatforming those who would seek to annihilate thought itself. A Philosophy of Antifascism thus joins a growing body of literature produced by a new generation of philosophers that refuse to accept the way in which the mainstream representatives of their discipline have collaborated with reaction.

This is a most enticing and topical book. Both philosophically rigorous and politically relevant. Its discussion of the philosophical materials illuminates the coordinates for the coming struggle against emerging forms of neo- and derivative fascism. Especially de Beauvoir's take on ethical drama and her negation of negative resignation. Thus inspired, the analysis of varieties and forms of violence in the concrete situation is innovative and very apposite. Ambiguity, understood as ethical negotiation, as taking a stand vis-à-vis the concrete situation, is necessary to fight the bastards. In between de Beauvoir, Fanon and Rancière we learn that there is no clay-model for revolution, and yet, like this book, we must pull no punches!
Written with refreshing clarity, this insightful work is anchored in existentialism's commitment to antifascism traced from Sartre to Fanon, culminating in the possibility of decoloniality. An important read in increasingly troubling times with the rise of fascist and racist ideology in the west.
One sees the word 'ethics' invoked everywhere these days, but too often it serves as a pretext for over-cautious liberalism at best, and antipolitical reaction at worst. Against the grain, Devin Zane Shaw has produced a true work of ethics: an ambitious book articulating no less than a possible synthesis of the diversity of tactics and radical egalitarianism.

Shaw succeeds in preparing the ground for antifascist movement building as well as in helping us better understand antifascism. ... The potential of his work lies in sketching links between newly emerging social forces while also providing us with an ethical frame that suggests we should in some circumstances appreciate - rather than outright dismiss - the role of violence in social movements.