Russell Allen

Date of Award


First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Christopher Coggins


In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt described the 1950’s as a climate of chaos; a world that had been thrust into turmoil, where the edifices of civilization and tradition appear to be crumbling, and the major experiences of the time consisted of either powerlessness or faith in human omnipotence. In many ways, these sentiments resemble the current historical moment. This thesis brings together some of the seminal writings on fascism, and expands upon them in order to explore and appreciate the complexity—and numerous contexts that enclose and sometimes disorient—of the subject matter. The analysis examines some of the central features of fascism’s history: colonialism and racism, the “unreality” of fascist ideology and politics, and its ethos of violence and terror. The second section explores the psychological roots of fascism in the U.S., both historically and contemporarily, suggesting that there is important work in the feelings of politics in fascism. The final chapter examines more closely the place of racism, imperialism, and necropolitics in neofascist political (or as they are more commonly referred to, alt-right) movements in the U.S. today. The call of this thesis echoes Donna Haraway’s call to “stay with the trouble,” to accept responsibility for the important work of studying and thinking about fascism, and combating the collective amnesia that enables these necrotic and evil forces to make claims to legitimate politics today.

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