"premature antifascist" is a phrase much like the words
"grue" or "bleen" (e.g., and in this case
adequately correct, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grue_(color)).
E.g., anti-Nazis in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in Europe were
"premature antifascists" between August 23rd, 1939 and June
The phrase was used as an honorific for themselves by the
International Brigades and sympathizers of the Brigades during the
Spanish Civil War.
Prematurely anti-fascist Russians and Poles opposed to Nazi
aggression during this "grue period" often ended up
There are disputed rumors (i.e., no-documentary evidence, just
statements by people who claimed the honorific) that the FBI used the
term (in acronymic form as "PAF") to prevent leftists from
commissioning as officers during WWII. The poet and Loyalist
sympathizer John Ciardi is an example of this. Ciardi notes that
being classified in his terms as a "PAF" led to his
survival, since none of the other, non-PAF members of his class
There doesn't seem to be any evidence of the term being used as
part of armory of the McCarthyite period.
In other words, "premature antifascist" is fully as
useful (and I'm not judging a binary "useful" versus
"useless" here, but rather the need for measure) as
"postmodernism" was noted to be in an earlier post.
That is to say, equally problematic and rich of meanings, which can be
unpacked and used only with great care and checking, or perhaps simply
avoided as too likely not to participate in any shared meaning in a
At 3:13 PM +0000 7/23/07, Diana Manister wrote:
Peter, we have a grocery store in our
neighborhood called The Superette. Another oxymoron. I always liked
"premature anti-fascist" myself. It's something other than
an oxymoron but I'm not sure what. McCarthy's gang used it as a
euphemism for Commie I think. Diana
Has anyone noted that the
word postmodernism is an oxymoron?