Alberto Toscano – Fanaticism

Just finished reading Alberto Toscano’s book Fanaticism. A very interesting book and a great project – a kind of genealogy or conceptual history of the uses and abuses of the term. Lots of interesting ideas and a lot to take in. The key argument is that ‘fanatic’ is a label often used historically to deride progressive or emancipatory politics, and so should be more cautiously used today. Instead of the fanatic being external to politics they have been fundamental to it. 

I particularly found the sections on Sloterdijk and Thomas Müntzer of interest. Sloterdijk because much of the literature on his recent work in English has been positive, and this isn’t; and Müntzer because he may yet play a small part in the section on the Reformation in my territory book. Müntzer’s Sermon to the Princes has just been issued by Verso in their ‘Revolutions’ series, with a preface by Toscano, and an intro by Wu Ming.

Wu Ming are an Italian collective of writers, whose name is Mandarin for anonymous. I’m reading their second novel, 54, at the moment. They wrote a really interesting novel called Q a few years back under the pseudonym of Luther Blisset (Blisset was actually a footballer). It was on the Reformation and I should probably reread it. Their third novel, Manituana, has just been issued in paperback by Verso.

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