Five Aspects Of Psychological (Not Ideological) Fascism and Its Dangers

The Urchins Down in the Meadow

The urchins down in the meadow
pay no attention to time,
they just throw themselves in rivers
to catch the prize cross.


The urchins down in the meadow
chase after a crazy man,
they throttle him with their hands
and burn his body on the seashore.

Come, daughter of the moon,
daughter of the morning star,
and bestow on these boys
some caresses of heaven.

The urchins down in the meadow
chase after the bourgeois people,
they cut to pieces the heads
of enemies and faithful alike.

The urchins down in the meadow
gather branches of rosemary
to camouflage wellsprings
and catch the girls.

The urchins in the farms
they mock at the priest,
they dress him with all his vestments
and they take him to the marketplace.

Pier Paolo Pasolini

The first aspect – Competition and Absolutization/Metaphysization of Reward for competitive success (as if it is reward from god)

The urchins down in the meadow
pay no attention to time,
they just throw themselves in rivers
to catch the prize cross.

The urchins, meadow, living without historical time, and ignoring physical time – just from one impulse to another, from childish/youthful spontaneity jumping to the river with the dream of winning a prize with a religious connotation – all this seems to be far from fascism, not only ideological, but psychological as well. It is just like plants fighting for soil and sunlight. But the “prize cross“ as a reward for winning over others is a reward as a symbolic resurrection in the area of super-human.

The second aspect – The psychological (not moral) innocence of the murdering the inferior ones

The urchins down in the meadow
chase after a crazy man,
they throttle him with their hands
and burn his body on the seashore.

The murder of the inferior, especially as Pasolini describes it here – without use of any weapon (“they throttle him with their hands”) is psychologically innocent – it is like children killing insects. Killing a crazy man in what they perceive as “naturally” playful becoming rather ruff, way – is as innocent as wrestling between children: the urchins (another reference to not premeditated impulse) don’t feel more than it. And they burn his body as they could burn the corpse of little animal: rat or snake, or step on the worm.

The third aspect – Hate towards civilization, envy of more socially successful people, having a need to feel power over their brain as a power of the more mentally superior people over “weak” brains of the “bourgeois people”

The urchins down in the meadow
chase after the bourgeois people,
they cut to pieces the heads
of enemies and faithful alike.

For the urchins of meadow to “chase after the bourgeois people” is like to play with alive decorative toys: urchins don’t identify these fancy people with humanity they themselves, in their unconscious, represent. And they are curious – as with what kind of creatures they have a deal here (they’re like these anatomists who enjoy dissecting the human brain while thinking that they‘re dissecting the mind). Here we have to differentiate between a “playful hate” the people with fascist psychology feel towards wealthy people who give them money for their rallies and, eventually, murders, and their deep and passionate hate for the enemies. But, as Pasolini’s poem points out, violent hate is diffuse and dynamic emotion. It can very quickly irradiate from one type of objects to the other.

The fourth aspect – Regressive (elementary) aestheticism and gazing, trapping, hunting and catching (the sexual object) sexuality

The urchins down in the meadow
gather branches of rosemary
to camouflage wellsprings
and catch the girls.

To “gather branches of rosemary to camouflage wellsprings” is not just preparing trap for girls – let’s not underestimate the primitive but genuine aestheticism inseparable from this operation. The trap for girls is like embellishing dress – frame for aesthetic object, not just camouflage for an ambush. There is not much soul involved, but regressive sexuality with sadistic connotation is our origins – our ancestors and in many cases – we ourselves are born from it. Courteous love is historically a recent phenomenon, and even this type of love is inseparable today from camouflaging money interests like marriage with wreath. Psychologically fascist sexuality can be addressed successfully only by exposition to culture.

The fifth aspect – the prosaic common sense cognition of the psychologically fascist urchins (which is not touched by serious culture and humanized intellect) should not be underestimated.

The urchins in the farms
they mock at the priest,
they dress him with all his vestments
and they take him to the marketplace.

By mocking the priest, the urchins are not mocking spirituality; they rather just got it that many priests with their vestments have to be not in churches but at the marketplace – for many priests selling their priesthood for salary and personal careers is equal to transforming the church into a marketplace. Of course, the “urchins’” behavior is in fascist style, but their fascism is not ideological but a result of being chronically abandoned by a so called democratic society which spends less and less on humanistic education, leaving the urchins to live without culture and intellect.

In the third stanza Pasolini poetically appeals to the powers of existentially spiritual pedagogy unavailable to the urchins of his poem.

Come, daughter of the moon,
daughter of the morning star,
and bestow on these boys
some caresses of heaven.

The psychological (innocent, immanent, “organic”) fascism is not identical with ideological fascism which tries to establish ideological, administrative and military despotism within the nations and geo-political supremacy over the world. But the point pressed by Pasolini’s poem is that ideological fascism is the consequence of a pedagogical/psychotherapeutical non-attendance of psychologically fascist “urchins”, when serious culture cannot reach the people. If “daughter of moon” – the pedagogy of emotional-imaginary function, and “daughter of the morning star” – pedagogy of civility, of the gentleness of human soul and of refined cognition, cannot reach the very mental substrate of human beings and heal them from psychological fascism – ideological/ political fascism cannot be averted. Ideological/political fascism could never take roots in life if wide humanistic education would be financed and made available in full. Serious culture and humanistic education in general are not just information oriented, they are refined reflexes of behavior which develop only during encounter with sublime poetic, fictional, scholarly and scientific texts and images in works of art and are absent in mass-cultural/entertaining materials that appeal to consumers who need de-sublimated quick satisfaction.

The urchins, the meadow, eternity of living, price cross, seashore, branches of rosemary, wellsprings, catching girls – almost idyllic landscape of everyday life. But there is no place for psychological development, for emotional and intellectual maturation. Any form of the idyllic life with nature (sport, hunting, arms and impulsivity) if not complicated by humanistic education and pedagogic exposition to the human and to nature’s otherness is doomed to apocalyptic breakdown.

The urchins chase after a crazy man, throttle him with their hands and burn his body. They cut to pieces the heads of enemies and faithful alike. They catch girls, mock at the priest. They are torturing and killing “naturally”, as they embrace. They never learned that other people are like them although they may not look similarly. They never learned to synchronize themselves and others in one common focus of serious culture.

Pasolini shows us that human nature is not ”neutral” – we have a rich potential for evil as much as for good. The point is which human potentials in people the political system is interested to develop, what the decision-makers want people to be – violent bigots or those who want to understand the world and a life which they have learned to love enough to be interested to try to know it better.

Pasolini’s poem is an introduction to anti-fascist pedagogy. In this lies its universal and cross-historical importance.