Mass Psychology of Neofascism – The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’ : Dr Abhay Shukla

Dr Abhay Shukla, public health physician and health activist will be delivering  the 8 th lecture in the ‘Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series’  on ‘Mass Psychology of Neofascism : The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’  organised by New Socialist Initiative on Sunday, 21 st February, 2021 at 6 PM (IST)








Sunday, 21 st February 2021, 6 PM (IST)

Zoom Meeting ID: 818 0527 7972
Passcode: 632276

Abstract :

Since nearly a century, progressive organisers across the world have grappled with a striking paradox. Fascist rulers in the 20th century, and now Neofascist forces in the early 21st century have managed to attract large-scale mass support from major sections of working people, despite the fact that this reactionary project attacks the material interests of many of its own followers. Existing political economy analyses of Neofascism, combined with understanding of its social and cultural-religious dimensions, appear necessary but not sufficient to fully understand the cycle of causation of this deeply contradictory phenomenon.

It will be argued that an in-depth grasp of mass psychology of Neofascism, integrated with analysis of other levels of social causation, is absolutely essential to both understand and effectively counter this political derangement. This is especially important since progressives tend to neglect mass psychology, while reactionaries thrive on it. Drawing upon writings by Fromm, Reich and Adorno as well as contemporary observations in the Indian context, key concepts such as ‘Pathological normalcy’, ‘Collectivised hypnotic spell’, features of the ‘Authoritarian personality’, fascist ‘rational use of irrationality’, basis for charisma of the ‘Authoritarian leader’, and key fault lines of Neofascism keeping in view the contradicted personalities of many of its hard core followers, will be discussed. The need to transcend binaries such as Facts vs. Narratives, Rational vs. Emotional, Socio-economic structure vs. Culture, Material demands vs. Symbols – where progressives have often prioritized the first element in each pair, while giving less importance to the second – will be emphasised. Based on this, possible directions for strengthening multi-level, integrated range of strategies which encompass an understanding of mass psychology of Neofascism in the Indian social and cultural setting will be explored. Complementing ongoing progressive political and social movements, such an approach could help to win over large masses of people presently under the sway of Neofascism, to a popular counter-hegemonic process which is grounded in Indian reality, and can turn the tide in favour of widening mobilisations for socio-economic justice and real democracy.

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