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If there is one seemingly constant feature of human nature, it is a difficulty in tolerating contingency and respecting ambiguity. Any firm ground, however oppressive, seduces and is preferable to the nausea of groundlessness. What appears as simple objectivity tends to hide behind it human resentment against the uncertain and paradoxical nature of our existence, a resentment that is always lurking, waiting to emerge. Moral degeneration in the face of that which we cannot face or confront is the norm.

 

Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them is a timely and deeply insightful exploration of our current moral degeneration. Faced with the pressures of a world in which traditional structures and certainties are rapidly changing and disappearing, Stanley analyzes the many interlocking strategies by which fascist ideologues seek to naturalize group differences, appealing to ethic, religious, gendered or racial distinctions in order to create and solidify the division between “us” and “them”. We are delighted that he agreed to offer the lead article for this issue in which he seeks to rescue the concept of fascism from the discipline of history and make a case for its centrality in political and social philosophy.

 

Elsewhere, other articles in this issue seek to uncover and try to make sense of some of the manifold ways through which we carve the world up according to a binary us-them dichotomy. Taken together, they offer rich and varied perspectives on one of the central challenges of our time.

Spring 2019: Us & Them

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