Aleksandar Hemon: Desire for purity is the first sign of fascism

Aleksandar Hemon
Aleksandar Hemon (N1)

Any desire to set up or maintain a pure identity or esthetics represents the first symptom of fascism, Sarajevo-born novelist, screenwriter, columnist and professor at Princeton University, Aleksandar Hemon, told N1.

“People are complicated. Every one of us has a lot of roots and formulates himself through relationships, conversations, cooperation and conflicts with other people,” said the writer, who has been living in the US for more than 20 years.

“Every fascistic project of the 20th and 21st century can be recognised by a demand for ‘purity’. That includes the purity of the culture, meaning that those who have ‘contaminated’ our culture need to be removed,” he said.

Hemon explained that while territorial purity was an important factor during the past wars which were led by fascists, “the ideological policy of ethnic cleansing demanded cultural and identity purity.”

The writer said he could not agree with such a concept because of his “complicated identity.”

“I gravitate toward geographical and cultural areas where the multiple layers and the complexity of the human experience can be practiced daily,” he said.

Hemon stressed that fascism is very present in the region today and that it can be seen in the cooperation between fascists across borders and different cultural areas.

He argued that fascists can be recognised despite their different languages and backgrounds as they share a common aspiration and dream about ‘purity’.