Fascism of the skin: Symptoms of alienation in the body of consumptive capitalism


Following upon the expression 'socialism of the skin', used by the play-wright Tony Kushner in his essay so named, this article attempts to demonstrate that there is a 'Fascism of the skin'. An intensively consumptive capitalist society commodifies everything in its path, including the body, thus subtly shifting the manner in which the mind itself incorporates the body into its calculations. Evidence is taken from popular culture and from the aestheticization and medicalization of the body to support the hypothesis that alienation as a process and a condition finds ever new means of expression as it becomes incarnated through the commodification and carnivalization of the body. Prior studies of 'Jerry Springer' and Arnold Schwarzenegger are reanalyzed to throw light on this process. The language of the contemporary military adventure in Iraq also provides interesting insights into the nature of accounts of the body and how bodies are accounted for. In these instances, a 'Fascism of the skin' can be recognized, in which the alienation of the body and the mind reworks the individual into a commodity and a function.


Sociology and Anthropology

Document Type





Commodification, Fascism and the body, Forms of alienation and the body, Popular culture, War and the body

Publication Date


Journal Title

Current Sociology