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I am trying to understand fascism (in its various forms) in philosophical/ideological terms. From what I've understood so far, it seems that (considered on its own terms) fascist ideology points towards the future, and is all about creating a new world. It is about striving for racial and/or cultural perfection, becoming perfect humans and the perfect state. Driving out "degeneracy", etc. Not to mention "improving" the rest of the world by means of expansionism.

So I was very surprised to find this:

"According to Mohler, the key to fascism, is captured in Nietzsche’s notion of Amor Fati, meaning love of the world as it is, with its eternal dialectic between birth and destruction (Vernichtung); the world as it now is without hope of improvement in the beyond nor in the distant future. Mohler, once private secretary to Ernst Jünger, captures perfectly Jünger’s notion of heroic realism. Heroic, Mohler writes, because this world is not to be seen as realistic (in the sense of true to reality) in order to allow us to postulate another and better one, but to affirm the world as it is."

(Karla O. Poewe, "Scientific neo‐paganism and the extreme right then and today: From Ludendorff ‘s Gotterkenntnis to Sigrid Hunke's Europas Eigene religion", 1999)

A glance at Armin Mohler's Wikipedia page suggests he would know what he was talking about.

I'm aware that Nietzschean concepts like the Superman and the Will to Power were influences upon Nazism, but the notion of Amor Fati seems utterly contrary to it. Is Mohler's just an eccentric view, or do I understand even less of this than I thought (which is quite likely)?

Re terminology: I'm aware of (capital-F) "Fascism" referring specifically to Mussolini's variety. I'm using the term in a broader sense than than that, but not so broadly as to include all racists and authoritarians. Definitions abound, and are extremely confusing. If it's possible to point to what was ideologically common between Italian Fascism and Nazism and describe it in a substantive way, then that is probably what I mean.

Edited to add more thoughts: Another way Amor Fati seems contrary to fascism is that fascism seems to be about shaping the world to someone's will; objectifying & subordinating everyone & everything & using them as raw material from which some edifice is to be built.

The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication or replication of things; and the grouping of people/things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader-figure or force. The fascist dramaturgy centers on the orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets, uniformly garbed ... (Susan Sontag)

Whereas Amor Fati seems to celebrate the chaos of what is.

Similarly how can a system which roots out, forbids, destroys & kills any ideas, practices or people which do not fit its narrow notion of the good, possibly have anything in common with this:

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse... all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer. (Nietzsche, the Gay Science)

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  • While there no mention of Amor Fati in it, this essay re Facism may be of interest econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html – gonzo Oct 18 '20 at 21:06
  • Amor Fati is often mistaken for "content with your role", and Mohler is trying to make "content with your role" an association to attach onto Nietzches definition of Amor Fati.. – Noah Oct 19 '20 at 3:34
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This is a complex question, so let me talk about the individual pieces first before I draw them together to answer the question. Apologies for what will undoubtably be a long post.

  1. Fascism:

Fascism is not exactly an ideology that 'points towards the future.' Realistically speaking, all political ideologies point to the future. The essence of a political ideology is to specify how a community can best move forward. This is true even of conservative ideologies, with their love of tradition, precedent, and stability; they want the community to move forward in exactly the same way that it has always moved forward, if you see what I mean. So this qualifier isn't uniquely fascist.

A better way of thinking about fascism (noting that the term is notoriously difficult to define, for reasons I'll discuss below), is to think of it as a particular form of ethnic nationalism in George Orwell's sense of the term1. Fascist don't look to create a new and better future (the way, say, progressives do), nor do they try to resist change and preserve what they have (the way traditional conservatives do). Fascism points at a mythology — a far-gone era in which their group was ostensibly dominant, empowered, and free; an era that was somehow lost in time — and seeks to (re)impose that mythological state on the world. Fascism is more in line with a political fable than factual history. It rests on a moral story that says (effectively): "When we were in charge, things were good; now that we'e not, things are bad. We must make them good again by taking charge."

As Orwell says:

Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakeably certain of being in the right.

Fascists use their mythology to justify to themselves that everything they do to advance their cause is (in principle) good and right, or at least will be revealed as good and right when the goal is achieved. Fascism invokes a heroic mindset (as do most mythologies) in which one must necessarily slay some monsters to complete the quest.

  1. Amor Fati:

Amor fati is a more nuanced concept than 'love of the world as it is,' Mohler notwithstanding. The term actually translates as 'love of fate', and Nietzsche uses it like so:

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: someday I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.2

Nietzsche goes on at the end of that book to suggest that life is only properly good if, were we to try and reimagine it in every detail, we would only end up affirming it as it currently is. To live well is to say 'yes' to what must be, and to turn our eyes from what is contingent, superficial, or unpleasant. He means this specifically in the moral sense, that the bankrupt dictates of the social, political, and religious worlds are merely meant to induce guilt and shame in order to force us into compliance. We should turn a blind eye to such, and seek out what is morally necessary; that which is intrinsic to our own moral nature. The more we ignore external dictates and see what is morally necessary, the more we will see (and foster) the beauty of the world. In this way we are both subject to and masters of fate; the idea is almost daoist in intent.

  1. Summation:

Now we can get back to Mohler. I don't have a copy of Mohler's book (The Conservative Revolution in Germany, 1918-1932) so I can't read the passage directly. I only have access to the same academic paper you seem to have drawn your quote from.3 But the point seems to be that this "love of what's necessary" aligns itself with that nationalist sense of moral righteousness. Fascism dictates that what is necessary is the assertion of its mythology; 'The Good' can only be attained by (re)establishing the social and political dominance they imagine their group originally had. So the fascist ignores (turns his eyes from) the moral dictates and quandaries that might inhibit the establishment of that imagined state.

It's an odd conceptual inversion. Social reality as it is is unreal: a set of vain, superficial rules and structures meant to constrain and inhibit authenticity and maintain a corrupt, illegitimate hegemony that is both the cause and result of the loss of that mythological state. The mythological state is real, in the sense that each fascist sees in himself the free, empowered, dominant individual the mythology points to. The quest for political dominance becomes a heroic tale in which fascists must ride forth against all opponents, opponents who are re-conceived as beasts, monsters, vermin, or other creatures which have no moral standing. The fascist is not concerned with 'good or bad' in respect to others, any more than (say) Sir George was concerned with the moral implications of slaying the dragon. There is a problem with a simple, necessary solution, and that solution is good precisely because it is necessary.

Of course, this is a perversion of Nietzsche's intent. Nietzsche wanted people to find an intrinsic moral authenticity by rejecting the suspect authority of external moral dictates and turning to an inner sense of the necessity implicit in moral contexts. He did not mean for people to abandon moral reasoning entirely in service of a self-serving mythology. But, best laid plans of mice and men...


1See Orwell's Notes on Nationalism for a full discussion.

2The Gay Science, book IV, sections 276, 341

3Scientific Neo-Paganism and the Extreme Right Then and Today From Ludendorff’s Gotterkenntnis to Sigridhunke’s Europas Eigene Religion: Poewe, K; Hexham, I

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    Amor fati works particularly well with fascism because the fascist mythology promotes a particular kind of nihilism (the given world is entirely corrupt, while the mythological world is entirely worthy; no sense questioning the fate of being born into an entirely corrupt world). Stalinism is more pragmatic; Stalinists don't delude themselves into thinking they are doing anything other than securing power. – Ted Wrigley Oct 19 '20 at 16:38
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    Think about the Nietzsche quote (above). A Stalinist thinks in terms of enemies (enemies of the state, enemies of the party, etc). he accuses and attacks those who he identifies as such. A fascist merely overcomes obstacles to his goal. He doesn't care if the obstacle is friend or foe; he doesn't care if the obstacle is good or bad; he doesn't care if his own actions are good or bad. He just pushes forward to make the mythology real. – Ted Wrigley Oct 19 '20 at 16:43
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    "Fascist don't look to create a new and better future (the way, say, progressives do), nor do they try to resist change and preserve what they have (the way traditional conservatives do)" -- True, but I think something fascists have in common with conservatives is seeing scarcity of resources like food as a kind of natural law that can never be change, so there must always be these dramatic hierarchies in terms of many people who have to struggle for basic survival needs and a group on top that doesn't have to worry about this and can focus on "higher" pursuits. – Hypnosifl Oct 19 '20 at 22:15
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    And this connects with Amor Fati, fashioning themselves as taking a "positive, healthy attitude" towards this view of the world as it is including all these sorts of inequalities and zero-sum struggles (and see them in a more extreme way than most conservatives, thinking it's a law not just that many must struggle to live but that many must be eliminated, society must kill 'useless eaters'), rather than hoping for a different future of increasing abundance that can benefit all people. Consider the following quote from Hitler's Table Talks: – Hypnosifl Oct 19 '20 at 22:18
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    "The earth continues to go round, whether it's the man who kills the tiger or the tiger who eats the man. The stronger asserts his will, it's the law of nature. The world doesn't change; its laws are eternal. There are some who say the world is evil, and that they wish to depart from this life. For my part, I like the world!" – Hypnosifl Oct 19 '20 at 22:18

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