Fascism a

Reading list:

The following are reactions to readings done in class to understand the paradigm of fascism and the modes of resistance offered to it historically. We hope the reader will find this shorthand a useful guide to reference.

Louis Althusser

Althusser, Louis. 1969. "The 'Piccolo Teatro' Bertolazzi and Brecht." In For Marx , Penguin Press (1965).


SSpectatorial consciousness in Althusserian model:

  • Enlist spectator for an active and living critique
  • Production of a new consciousness in spectator

Identification model of Fascism versus Estrangement model of Brecht

  • Techniques of decentering by not relating to or focusing on the hero
  • Attack the invisibility of the ideological apparatus
  • Mechanics of not knowing oneself
  • Hegemonic spectator
  • Consciousness is purely psychological

Spectatorial consciousness in Brechtian model:

  • Not a community of spectatorship
  • Structural recognition of how to change the situation
  • Method is for political ends (for whose politics?)

Althusser, Louis. 1971. "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses." In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, 127-184. New York and London: NLB.

Ideology and the State:

  • Ideas are a product/reproduction of the means of production
  • Theory comes out of a set of practices
  • Repressive State Apparatus
  • Ideological State Apparatus [We know about this normalizing system because we act (within) it]:
    1. Religious, educational, family, legal, etc.
    2. The Church has been replaced by The School
    3. School as determining the working classes
  • Subjecthood:
    1. Interpolation of individuals as already subjects
    2. Subject   participates in the practices of the ideological apparatus

Walter Benjamin

Benjamin, Walter. 1968. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." In Illuminations , New York: Harcourt (1937).

  • Aura: that which cannot be reproduced
  • Reproduction is what is killing art

Bertolt Brecht

Brecht, Bertolt. "A Short Organum for the Theatre." In Brecht on Theater , edited and translated by John Willet, 179-205. New York: Hill and Wang.

Nature of Art:

  • Emphasis on historical specificity: each society produces its own kinds of theater
  • Art is by definition a political intervention. It can never be apolitical

Role of Pleasure:

  • Art works producing entertainment. Theatre's ultimate purpose is pleasure
  • Pleasure and politics: Marxist approach to pleasure in politics
  • Pleasure does not need justification

Rationality versus Emotionality:

  • Need to work with emotions, but at distance (anti-theatrical)
  • Theatricality trains the audience to be a good (complaint) audience, anti-instrumentality of the endeavor (as opposed to fascist art?)
  • Alienation effect "A" effect
  • Brechtian theater contradicts the hegemonic training of actors in the US


  • Rational as reason and emotion as the irrational
  • Role of Science not thought through although scientific methods were to be used for social life.
  • Relationship between the working class and intellectuals

Proposal for Theater:

  • Its goal was to transform audience to a state of suspicious inquiry. Make strange the ordinary
  • Its tool was making the state of things looks "strange." Split between representation and the reality of the object represented.
  • Theater was to be for "children of the scientific age"
  • Simple plays provided weak pleasure while stronger pleasure was derived from more complex ones.
  • Attitude towards society the same as attitude towards nature
  • Appeals to rationality (as opposed to the irrationality of fascism)
  • Anti-naturalist: making things look strange: separating the character and the actor/actress so there is no way of identify both


Theodor Adorno on Brecht, "Commitment." In Aesthetics and Politics .

Nature of Art:

  • There is no un-political art, for there is no outside of society
  • even when oppositional, art is always part of society
  • Committed art: explicit political involvement and message of art. Art as a means
  • Autonomous art: art for art's sake. Art as an end

Trauma and Violence:

  • Showing suffering was obscene
  • Audience consumerism / victimizing the audience by portrayals of violence
  • How to talk about violence without reproducing violence?
  • Reenactment of traumatic situation can be healing

Eric Drooker, http://www.drooker.com/

,Viewed on 4 April, 2004

Eric Drooker, http://www.drooker.com/

Viewed on 4 April, 2004

Eric Drooker, http://www.drooker.com/

Viewed on 4 April, 2004

Eric Drooker, http://www.drooker.com/

Viewed on 4 April, 2004

Eric Drooker, http://www.drooker.com/

Viewed on 4 April, 2004



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