The December 1982 edition of the monthly magazine Odra publishes an account by Emil Górski of the death of the Polish writer Bruno Schulz. On 19 November 1942, Schulz was shot in the street by a Gestapo soldier. The soldier was named Gunter and killed Schulz for no other reason than to annoy his rival in the Gestapo, a man named Landau, for whom Schulz then worked. Gunter knew a number of things: that Schulz was drawing Landau’s portrait, that he was painting frescoes in Landau’s flat, that Schulz was, in short, an artist. Górski writes that Schulz was killed by a Gestapo man, a fascist, but that description – fascist – defines Gunter so narrowly that the essence of the problem escapes us.

Before Gunter had the opportunity of becoming a fascist he was a mobster, obtuse and brutal. Schulz was killed not simply by a fascist but first by a wild and vicious thug – a member of the mob. If there is no mob, there is no fascism: it is impossible. The mob is the carrier of contempt, unrestrained force, baseness, the will to destroy. Even if fascism as a political movement disappears, its manifestations remain – if the mob remains.

History as class struggle? As a struggle of systems? Agreed: but history is equally the struggle between culture and the mob, between humanity and bestiality.

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