A Fascist’s Enjoyment. Critical Remarks on Frank Vande Veire’s Definition of Fascism

“Fascism is sadism”. This is the central thesis in the long opening chapter of Frank Vande Veire, Take, Eat, This is My Body – Fascination and Intimidation in Contemporary Culture (2005). In his essay, Marc De Kesel comments on the main theoretical source of Vande Veire’s definition of fascism, Lacan’s theory of perversion, and on how it reveals the cruelty that is typical of fascist practices. However, defining fascism as perversion is a bridge too far, argues De Kesel. Fascism must first and foremost be defined as a discourse, and both the definition and the analysis of fascism must follow from this. That the fascist discourse enables a perverse subject position does not imply that fascism is to be reduced to that position. Such reductionism falls into the trap of a moralising – and, more precisely, diabolising – view on fascism. De Kesel warns against any such moralising use of the critical tools of psychoanalysis as it weakens substantially its critical potential.