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Old 01-24-2008, 08:53 PM
Fellow Traveler Fellow Traveler is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Hi. Thanks for the reply.

You’re coming perilously close to debating the substance of Goldberg’s thesis. That isn’t an option for one who asserts that the thesis is disposable prima facie.

Having read through the second chapter thus far, it does not appear that Goldberg is concerned with definitions per se. Rather, he is arguing for a particular family-tree as the most meaningful representation of the interdependence of ideologies, one that makes inherent, organic sense quite apart from the definitional confusion. (If that’s not a legitimate undertaking for a political theorist, then what is?)

Suppose, for the purpose of our present debate, that the word “fascism” was a gratuitous coinage. (This is what Goldberg argues, and I accept his argument on this point. I have always held this view, which is partly why the book interests me.) What then would be the use of rehabilitating the word? What would be the use of a “g-fascism?” The political theorist would render a much more valuable service by clarifying the historic relationships among the various schools of political thought, relationships that the coinage of “fascism” served to obscure for these many decades. This is what Goldberg is attempting, as I read him.

To my mind, your enumerated points embody a backward procedure. Goldberg is not offering a “definition” so that a) and b) might be fulfilled. He wades into the definitional controversy (the “label aspect” of this whole thing) only because therein lay the most reflexive objection to his thesis. But this is mere throat-clearing on his part.

Your final paragraph explicitly states that you view this question as calling for "argument" rather than "evidence." This is the heart of our disagreement, I think. Goldberg is investigating philosophical linkages amongst persons and institutions of history. His book does not treat fascism in the abstract. Therefore, I think you’re exactly wrong. Deductive argument is of very little use here. This is largely an empirical matter, especially given that the word “fascism” never possessed definitional integrity to begin with. “Fascism” has never been located except ostensively (i.e., by pointing at a concrete regime and saying, in effect, “there it is”).
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