To study the nation through its narrative address does not merely draw attention to
its language and rhetoric; it also attempts to alter the conceptual object itself.
—Homi Bhabha, ‘‘Narrating the Nation’’ (1990)∞
Political theorist Chantal Mou√e asserts a radical notion of democracy
which strives to reconcile the tensions between liberalism, with its indi-
vidualistic, rights-based notions of citizenship, and civic republicanism,
with its emphasis on communitarian political participation. She con-
fronts the problem of how to conceive of political community in a way
compatible with liberal pluralism so as to avoid the ways in which the
‘‘common good’’ can be used for totalitarian ends.≤ In these not easily
reconciled aspects of democracy lies the vast terrain of political debate
wherein images of Nazism play wide-ranging roles. These images some-
times serve as a counterpoint to democratic freedom (a rights-based
view of democracy) and sometimes as a counterpoint to the community
democracy imagines (a civic republican view of democracy)—whether
this be pluralist and progressive, as Mou√e hopes, or defined by conser-
vative foundations. As such, fascism operates as what film theorist
Teresa de Lauretis calls a ‘‘public fantasy,’’ a historically mutable variant
of the psychoanalytic concept of ‘‘original fantasies,’’ which function to
multiply and fundamentally define a vision of the world, the self, and
many levels of social interaction in between.≥
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