Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea

Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea

by Alberto Toscano


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A genealogy of fanaticism—unearthing its long history, before it became a tool in the Clash of Civilizations

It is commonplace to hear fanaticism described as a deviant or extreme variant of an already irrational set of religious beliefs, an assertion that helps to demonize convictions outside political orthodoxy. Alberto Toscano’s compelling and erudite counter-history explodes this accepted convention by exploring the critical role fanaticism played in the formation of modern politics and the liberal state. Showing how fanaticism results from a failure to formulate an adequate emancipatory politics, this illuminating history sheds new light on an idea that continues to dominate debates about faith and secularism.

This expanded edition includes new material that revisits the idea of fanaticism as it operates at the limits of the liberal political imaginary, highlighting its relation to fraternal violence, political purity and the refusal of compromise, as well as its centrality to times of social crisis and international conflict.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786630544
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 08/29/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,186,924
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths University, London. He is the author of The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze and (with Jeff Kinkle) Cartographies of the Absolute.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 Figures of Extremism 1

2 The Birth of Modern Politics Out of the Spirit of Millenarianism 43

3 Raving with Reason: Fanaticism and Enlightenment 98

4 The Revolution of the East: Islam, Hegel, Psychoanalysis 149

5 The Clash of Abstractions: Revisiting Marx on Religion 172

6 The Cold War and the Messiah: On Political Religion 203

Conclusion 249

Note on the 2017 edition 255

Fanaticism and the Politics of Crisis 257

The Ambiguity of Fanaticism 275

Fanaticism, Fraternity and Global Civil War 291

Acknowledgments 307

Bibliography 309

Index 323

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