Fascism as a state of mind

Shahzeb Khanzada presented a cogent and historically informed analysis of fascism in his program on April 22, 2022, which provoked an immediate reaction. Interestingly, he did not name any (Pakistani) names, but it was immediately understood on both sides to whom he was referring. There is one man whose politics fits the bill – and we all know who he is. Some folk protested Khanzada’s mordant analogy citing their leader never committed the mass atrocities fascists did in the past. They are wrong. Fascism should not be reduced to Nazism. Fascism is far broader than a single historical case; fascism is a state of mind

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On Baudrillard and “Impossible Burgers”

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth – it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.” – Ecclesiastes*

* (this is not a direct quote from Ecclesiastes but something invented by Baudrillard to stands as a strong metaphor to idea of simulation – that it is not real!)

“Burger” is a pejorative term that entered Pakistani popular discourse in the recent decade to denote young, westernized, affluent, urban elite, who study at expensive private schools, speak English rather than Urdu in their social circle, and prefer eating burgers over the local cuisine. They are constantly derided for being out of touch with mainstream Pakistani politics and society. “Impossible Burgers” are the vegetarian substitute for beef-based hamburgers created by Impossible Foods and introduced by the fast-food chain, Burger King, that became immensely popular with the ‘conscious’ consumers for being an environmentally friendly product, which not only simulates the real meat but also tastes better than it. Burger King even offers a promotion to try both products out and find any difference. To make it real – or surreal or in Baudrillard’s definition of the situation, hyperreal – the Impossible Burger patties ‘drip blood’, which happen to be just beetroot juice. Impossible Burgers, hence for the sake of thought experiment, are a milestone simulacrum in our journey towards a total simulated reality in which the sovereign difference between the simulated and the real will gradually disappear – turning us into “burgers” who will no longer be able to distinguish between the real and the simulated. 

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Consuming Therapy

We have become active consumers of therapy!

 

This notion raises immediate alarm in the humanist and learned community for such notions stand to trivialize the suffering of many (as much as a quarter of Americans (Terlizzi & Zablotsky, 2020)) and feed the paternalistic stereotypes (e.g., weakness) around seeking help for mental issues. However, my intent is the archeology of mental health problems on the one hand, and a critique of the commodification of mental health and an uncanny attitude towards active consumption of psychotherapy in contemporary capitalist societies.

 

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Kuhn (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Kuhn proposed, knowledge within any discipline depends on a communally shared commitment to a paradigm.

A paradigm roughly consists of:

  1. an array of assumptions about what exists (ontology)
  2. how it may be known (epistemology)
  3. how scientific work ‘ought’ to proceed (ethics).
  4. a pattern of activities held to be consistent with these assumptions.

Two conclusions follow from these assertions:

  1. A commitment to a paradigm must precede the generation of knowledge. Thus it is the commitment to an a priori set of assumptions and practices that makes knowledge possible. In effect, different paradigms will create different scientific realities, and there is no means of standing outside a paradigm of some kind to adjudicate among them.

    Truth exists only within a paradigm.

  2. Individual minds are not the source of knowledge, but communities. Individual knowledge, hence, is not a private achievement but owes its origins to community participation.

Source: Gergen & Gergen. (Eds.). (2003). Social construction: A reader. Sage.

The Causes of War in Popular (Intellectual) Imagination. (Blainey, 1973)

Blainey in his book The Causes of War (1973) lists a number of causes of war in popular imagination.
 
  1. “In the eighteenth century, many philosophers thought that the ambitions of absolute monarchs were the main cause of war; pull down the mighty, and wars would become rare.

  2. Another theory contended that many wars came from the Anglo-French rivalry for colonies and commerce: restrain that quest, and peace would be more easily preserved.

  3. The wars following the French Revolution fostered an idea that popular revolutions were becoming the main cause of international war.

  4. In the nineteenth century, monarchs who sought to unite their troubled country by a glorious foreign war were widely seen as culprits.

  5. At the end of that century the capitalists‘ chase for markets or investment outlets became a popular villain.

  6. The First World War convinced many writers that armaments races and arms salesmen had become the villains, and both world wars fostered the idea that militarist regimes were the main disturbers of the peace.”
Source: Blainey, G. (1973). The Causes of War. Free  Press. NY.

The Postmodern Condition by Jean-François Lyotard

“The object of this study is the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies.I have decided to use the word postmodernto describe that condition. The word is in current use on the American continent among sociologists and critics; it designates the state of our culture following the transformations which, since the end of the nineteenth century, have altered the game rules for science,literature and the arts. The present study will place these transformations in the context of the crisis of narratives.

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