RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled politics

From: Michael Robison ( zspider@gte.net)
Date: 20 Jul 2003

Mark Sullivan wrote:
> Can fascism be wielded by an individual? Isn't it by definition a
> social political movement? And I took it that Foucault, uh, Etienne was
> referring to the auto-justification of power within a culture, not an
> individual.
> Yes, the detective's activities are often illegal and he often takes
> power into his own hands, but his power is severely limited. He rarely
> makes even a dent on the forces of society, at most takes out one boss
> who will soon be replaced by another just as bad, if not worse. Does he
> ever really defeat anarchy? I don't think so. At most, he keeps
> himself from being sucked into the void.

************** I'm not sure if fascism can be wielded by an individual. Few of the hardboiled detectives held political office either. It doesn't matter, though. I'm not calling the hardboiled detectives fascists themselves. What I am saying is that a lot of hardboiled literature has a fascist theme to it. It supports a fascist philosophy. You have a single man with significant power and a goal to accomplish. He is a law unto himself, and he's not likely to let a small thing like human rights get in the way of his goal. And it turns out that his method is ultimately the only way the battle is won. His methods are exonerated and justified.

Exceptions to a perfect fit in literature doesn't necessarily negate the connection.

And no, the war is not won. But that doesn't matter. He has won the battle.

In THE MAIN by Trevanian, Guttman, a new police recruit, is appalled by his more experienced and rough and tough mentor, Lieutenant LaPointe. Guttman tells LaPointe:

"It's fascism. The rule of a man, rather than the rule of law, is fascism. Even when the man has been around and thinks he knows best... even if the man is trying to do good things... to be fair. It's still fascism."

A damn good book, by the way.


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