Liberalism and cultural genocide / by Gary Rowland Wickham
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Electronic version from ProQuest
In this dissertation the author argues, contrary to much contemporary academic speculation and research, that the distinction between liberalism and fascism cannot be rigorously or unequivocably sustained. The reason for this is not, he argues, because liberalism is "the same" as fascism, but because fascism is one manifestation, one outcome, of liberal social theory. If he is right about this, then fascism is not external to liberal humanism, but exists as one of liberalism's ownmost possibilities. In entertaining this thought it is especially important here to emphasize the question of identity. The compulsion to identify as "different," for example, as the necessary precondition for assimilation into a national community does not resist the instantiation of fascism, but reinscribes its totalizing logic in and through the valorization of a representational politics where cultural differences are relegated to the status of "secondary qualities." As secondary qualities (in the Lockean sense), these differences are understood as becoming attached to a self which pre-exists them, and which then negotiates (or not) for their legitimacy as sites of identification within the public sphere. An emphasis, however, on political "representation" as a response to the structural oppression of marginalized social groups actually works to produce, and not to displace, the conditions of possibility for "cultural genocide." For once cultural differences have become normalizad to the point where they are assimilable into the national corpus, those "differences" are inevitably sublated, leaving hegemonic structures of identity and desire in tact through the erasure of the important difference "difference" makes. In this text, then, the author attempts not only to trace the operations of this liberal logic, but to identify and argue for the performativity of gay and lesbian identities as crucial sites of instability for liberal models of "tolerance" and social "inclusivity." Destabilizing a discourse, however, is not the same thing as overcoming it; and whether or not liberalism is one day relegated to the dustbin of history is of no particular consequence to the current analysis. Whatever else it may be, the author's intention in producing this text is not to propose (at least necessarily) a more authentic or liberating political paradigm than the one we already have: just a "queerer" one.
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