The concept of 'fascist ideology' has become the focus of a heated controversy among researchers of fascism. The debates about the nature of fascism ever since the 1960s have undoubtedly contributed to the elaboration of the most fundamental questions of definition; yet, after more than half a century, the quest for interpretive consensus appears perhaps more elusive than ever. 1 Attempts to devise a generic ideological minimum of fascism have stumbled upon two major objections. On the one hand, a number of historians have categorically rejected the notion that a specific fascist value system underpinned the decisions and actions of the fascist movements/regimes. On the other hand, even amongst those who accept the ontological value of fascist ideas, there is widespread scepticism about the validity and utility of a generic model of 'fascist ideology'. The comparative grand theories of R. Griffin (palingenetic ideology of a 'third way'), S. Payne (new form of right-wing authoritarianism), R. Eatwell (new radical right) and G.L. Mosse (third way)-to mention only a few generic interpretations 2 -have been criticised for their inflexibility and alleged failure to account for the fundamental differences in the ideas and practices of the wide sample of 'fascist' movements/regimes in recent history. Contrary to the emphatic suggestion of the 'genericists' that indigenous fascism can be best understood horizontally (in comparison to similar ideological/political phenomena of other countries), critics underscore the significance of dealing with 'fascist' cases within the framework of distinctive national traditions and long-term developments.
These objections are only compounded when one explores the specific relation between fascism and territorial expansion. Even the highly sophisticated comparative model of Griffin rejects the notion that expansionism should be considered a generic attribute of fascist ideology and practice, confined as it is to only two case studies of fascism (Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany). 3 At the same time, the tendency to view fascism as a 'demonic' repudiation or aberration of national history might have served the instinctive need to castigate it morally, but it has also obscured the relevance of its ideas and politics to the secular ideological and political traditions of post-unification Italian and German nationalism. 4 On a comparative level, the debate has been dominated by an