Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922-1945

Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922-1945

Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922-1945

Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922-1945

Synopsis

Fascist Ideology is a comparative study of the expansionist foreign policies of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany from 1922-1945. Fascist Ideology provides a comparative investigation of fascist expansionism by focusing on the close relations between ideology and action under Mussolini and Hitler. With an overview of the ideological motivations behind fascist expansionism and their impact on fascist policies, this book explores the two main issues which have dominated the historiographical debates on the nature of fascist expansionism: whether Italy's and Germany's particular expansionist tendancies can be attributed to a set of generic fascist values, or were shaped by the long term, uniquely national ambitions and developments since unification; whether the pursuit of expansion was opportunistic or followed a grand design in each case.

Excerpt

Hindsight is a dubious privilege for a historian. On the one hand, knowledge of the evolution of the two regimes' expansionist plans into the Axis alliance and war has helped to relate the radicalisation of fascist expansionism to early ideological elements in the worldviews of the two leaders, thus highlighting a degree of internal consistency in their objectives and policies. On the other hand, accusations of reading history backwards attacked the idea that either the alliance or recourse to war had been pre-determined by any programmatic core in the expansionist policies of the two regimes. the notion of a consistent programme of expansion has been contrasted with the view that the drive to large-scale territorial aggrandisement and war was determined by either opportunism or social imperialism, or both. At the same time, even the originality of fascist foreign policies has been questioned. the debate about the continuities between liberal and fascist expansionist programmes revolves around similar questions: did the fascist take-over mark a break with previous foreign policies, sponsoring a new vision and style of expansion, or did it simply reproduce traditional great-power objectives, albeit couched in a more dynamic fashion?

This is where hindsight becomes a crucial privilege: knowing the ultimate scope of fascist expansionist aspirations (as manifested in the two regimes' war aims), can it be shown that the short-term expansionist policies of the fascist regimes served an integrated long-term and large-scale vision? So far, we have seen that the ideological fusion in the Italian and German Right since the First World War enabled fascist ideology to reproduce traditional 'great power' and revisionist themes in a new, dynamic and activist style of policy making. Fascism's emphasis on the esoteric value of expansion gradually radicalised the tactics for attaining widely shared goals. At the same time, it aimed to eliminate any political distinction between utopian and realisable objectives, a distinction implicit in the Realpolitik of the previous liberal and conservative governments in the two countries. in legitimising the notions of spatial expansion and historic irredentism, the fascist regimes introduced territorial expansion as a central element of their worldview. However, in the short-term, foreign policy making displayed a flexibility and even opportunism which allude to lack of an all-encompassing 'programme'. Instead, decision making remained for a long time . . .

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