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Lecture on neo-facism dissects power, privilege and U.S. politics

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unnamedUniversity of Connecticut professor Lewis R. Gordon gave a lecture titled “On Neo-Fascism” March 29 in Courtelyou Commons. Sponsored by the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Research, Gordon’s lecture focused on the meaning and significance of neo-fascism and its rise in American society.

Neo-fascism has been a rising political movement since World War II ended and its principles according to Gordon, which lead to capitalism and totalitarianism. To explain how this movement may affect American society, Gordon noted the commonly misused terms and labels particular to political situations that result in division.

“Categorically, I reject moralism,” Gordon said. “One of the problems in our society is we live in a world of ‘anti-politics’; a world in what we devote more time to is the notion of moral purity than the quest of the relations of power for which we construct a society.”

The obsession, he says, is shifted to who is right versus what is the right thing to be done.

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Lewis Gordon, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, speaks March 29 in Cortelyou Commons. (Photo courtesy of Tariqah Shakir / The DePaulia)

Although in its purest definition, terms such as liberalism and equality are for the reconstruction and improvement of a government, the degree in which people utilize them may become ineffective.

Gordon stated that freedom has now transformed into a “license to do what you want.” As opposed to having privilege, Gordon  said the license gives an individual the permission to use or do something granted by authority.

“A lot of things we tend to call ‘White privilege’ in this country are not privileges. They’re things everybody should have,” he said. “If you look at what ‘White license’ was it meant for instance, that you could lynch Black people, you could pose for the pictures, they could see you’re all there and none of you go to jail.”

A license as he stated, is used for the same reasons to abuse and constraint a woman’s rights, abuse other people, etc. without reparations. “Having a freedom doesn’t mean you have a license to be a schmuck,” Gordon said.

Gordon visualized the quest for correctness without productivity in some political debates and discussions he had with fellow professors. “How much are you willing to give up for law and order?” He asked the audience as the question-of-the-day. While the quest for power is a fundamental principle of society recognized in the relationships of human beings, it cannot be the objective in the service of the people, he said.

The audience, which consisted of a diverse group of students, professors and general listeners, were thoroughly engaged in the two-hour discussion and presentation. Towards the end, many were eager to ask Gordon questions both related to his sermon and some concerning his personal opinion.

He closed with observations from some philosophers such as José Ortega y Gasset about politics. “Many people attempt to talk about politics without talking about power” he said. “They talk a lot about morals. It’s to find out rather you’re being good with your government. If you go look up what a ‘political’ is, you’ll find out that ‘political’ is from the word ‘polis’ and ‘polis’ was a term for a Greek-city state. (…) The ‘political’ refers to how you negotiate power in a place in which  committed not to be at war, and the only way you can do that  is if you commit yourself to speech, discourse.”

Our understanding of power and politics in the human/relations world is what determines how effective we are in solving problems and creating relationships with other nations of the world.

The French philosopher Frantz Omar Fanon observed “just as there can be the last man, there can be the last nation.” As such, Gordon said a healthy nation is one that can “get over itself”. Gordon said in order to combat neo-facism, nations must first make their primary focus expanding human decency instead of trying to portray its policies as always right.

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Lecture on neo-facism dissects power, privilege and U.S. politics