Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945

Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945

Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945

Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945

Synopsis

Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945 surveys the phenomenon which is still the object of interest and debate over fifty years after its defeat in the Second World War. It introduces the recent scholarship and continuing debates on the nature of fascism as well as the often contentious contributions by foreign historians and political scientists.From the pre-First World War intellectual origins of Fascism to its demise in 1945, this book examines:* the two 'waves' of fascism - in the immediate post-war period and in the late 1920s and early 1930s* whether the European crisis created by the Treaty of Versailles allowed fascism to take root* why fascism came to power in Italy and Germany, but not anywhere else in Europe* fascism's own claim to be an international and internationalist movement* the idea of 'totalitarianism' as the most useful and appropriate way of analyzing the fascist regimes.

Excerpt

Fascism is the only major new political movement and ideology to develop in twentieth-century Europe. This book aims to provide a comparative historical analysis of fascism in Europe in the inter-war and wartime periods. There were fascist movements in practically every European country, varying greatly in political weight and significance, which in itself suggests that fascism was a characteristic phenomenon of these years, with its own typical set of political aims, organisation and methods. The challenge of the book is to make historical sense of fascism in Europe, when the range and number of its various national manifestations have led some historians to the extreme nominalist position which is exactly the opposite of the premise of this book, of 'fascism' not really existing at all, other than in the self-serving imaginations of historians and political and social scientists, who recognise a good thing when they see it (Allardyce 1979).

The study of fascism is an academic industry, and the appearance of this book may well indicate a crisis of over-production. My treatment unavoidably owes a lot to two of the best and most recent studies, but it is different from them and offers different things. It is not as comprehensive and dense as Stanley Payne's magisterial A History of Fascism, 1919-1945 (Payne 1995), and does not cover fascism as a worldwide and as a post-1945 phenomenon, so avoiding the thorny issue as to whether fascism was, by definition, epochal and European. It is not as schematic and theoretical as Roger Griffin's impressive and ingenious rescue of the idea of a generic fascism, The Nature of Fascism (Griffin 1993), which deals in 'ideal types'. In his hands, this is a useful tool of analysis, because by accentuating or distilling the characteristics of the phenomenon to its 'pure' form, it gives us a very clear sense of what was distinctive about fascism, particularly in relation to other authoritarian political movements and systems of rule in Europe in this period. But in adopting this approach, fascism to an extent becomes an abstraction, with the attendant risks, in less careful hands, of reification, of treating the 'idea' as a real 'thing', a danger to which all the 'isms' are exposed.

This is really the problem with much of the mono-causal social and political science explanations of the fascist phenomenon, including the Marxist

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