Theo Verelst Diary Page 161
Fri Nov 1 2002, 19:11 PM
I've decided after good example to write some diary pages with toughts
Oh, in case anybody fails to understand, I'd like to remind them that
these pages are copyrighted, and that everything found here may not
be redistributed in any other way then over this direct link without my
prior consent. That includes family, christianity, and other cheats. The
simple reason is that it may well be that some people have been ill informed
because they've spread illegal 'copies' of my materials even with modifications.
Apart from my moral judgement, that is illegal, and will be treated as
such by me. Make as many references to these pages as you like, make hardcopies,
but only of the whole page, including the html-references, and without
changing a iota or tittel...
And if not? I won't hesitate to use legal means to correct wrong that
may be done otherwise. And I am serious. I usually am. I'm not sure
I could get 'attempt to grave emotional assault' out of it, but infrigement
on copyright rules is serious enough. And Jesus called upon us to respect
the authorities of state, so christians would of course never do such
a thing. Lying, imagine that.
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Fri Nov 1 2002, 19:11 AM
Today, not as a result of personal reasons
in a direct sense, but without question as a result also of the miserable
ways I've seen around me, I'll get serious about what certain demons appearently
have reveived power for to achieve: fascism, as the final consequence or alternative
or counterpart of nazism in a country where insanity maybe doesn't rule everything,
but so much it isn't funny. And probably never has been.
And certainly not nice. At all. And certain people I don't want to believe
in those who advocate theories and faith systems and people who are wrong
and evil, and shouldn't be taken for anything else as causing damnation and
misery. Lets say I saw some results of personal and other kinds of damnation
which aren't nice to look at, and which I'd have wanted to prevent, and which
I hope not to have to deal with concerning some I've known.
So the word with as I know strong meaning I'll use is fascism.
What is a fascist? Basically, 'sich heil' nothing is worth it, or going
to continue being worth it, everything must therefore be sacrificed anyway
to whatever misery or damnatioin which happens to emerge from the miserable
hidden or obvious (sub)counsciousness, personally and publically.
'Were all going ddooooowwwwwn........'
No we're not, but still. The following is a long (about a chapter ) quote,
I didn´t ask for permission, let´s hope it´s not a problem,
from the following book:
The Concept of Fascism
STANLEY G. PAYNE
Ever since the March on Rome, political analysts and historians have tried
to formulate an interpretation capable of explaining the phenomenon
of European fascism. As the only genuinely novel or original form of radicalism
emerging from World War I, and one that seemed to involve multiple ambiguities
if not outright contradictions, fascism did not readily lend itself to monocausal
explanation or a simple unified theory. For more than half a century the
debate has gone on, and there is still no general consensus regarding an
principal theoretical concepts of fascism have been directed primarily either
toward a definition of the underlying nature of this species of politics,
its overall significance, or more commonly, the principal sources or causes
that gave it life. For convenience's sake, they may be summarized in nine
1. A violent, dictatorial agent of
2. The product of a cultural or moral breakdown.
3. The result of neurotic or pathological psychosocial impulses.
4. The product of the rise of amorphous masses.
5. The consequence of a certain stage of economic growth, or historical sequence
of national development.
6. A typical manifestation of twentieth-century totalitarianism.
7. A struggle against "modernization".
8. The expression of a unique radicalism of the middle classes.
9. The denial that such a thing as "generic fascism" ever existed due to
the extreme differences between putatively fascist movements, and hence denial
of the possibility of a general concept of "fascism".
of these theories or concepts will be briefly considered in turn. Before
doing so, however, it should be pointed out that very few who attempt to
develop a causal theory or explanatory concept of fascism make a serious
effort at empirical definition of what they mean by the term. that is. to
exactly which parties, movements or forces they refer. Aside from general
references to the NSDAP and PNF (normally both together, without much effort
to distinguish between the two), it is more often than not merely assumed
that the identity of "fascists" is understood, and all manner of right authoritarian
and anti-leftist forces are frequently thrown into a general conceptual grab-bag
under this label. Hence the very lack of an empirical definition of what
is meant by fascism, and precisely the groups to which the term is thought
to refer, has been a major obstacle to conceptual clarification of the phenomenon.
Fascism as a Violent, Dictatorial
Agent of Bourgeois Capitalism
notion that fascism was primarily to be understood as the agent of "capitalism",
"finance capital", the "bourgeoisie", or some combination thereof, is one
of the oldest, most standard and widely diffused interpretations. It was formulated
to some extent even before the March on Rome, and began to be given general
currency -though referring primarily only to Italy - as early as 1923 in
the formulations of the Hungarian Communist Gyula Sas2 and the
German Clara Zetkin3. This became the standard communist and Third
International interpretation of fascism, and was also adopted by some non-communists
as well. Leading exponents of the concept were R. Palrne Dutt4
and Daniel Guerin5, though some serious qualifications were introduced
into the original Marxist interpretation by Franz Borkenau6. Leading
recent exponents of the Marxist concept of fascism are Reinhard Kuhni7,
Nicos Poulantzas8, Boris Lopukhov9, Alexander Galkin10,
and Mihaly Vajda11.
the leading critics of the Marxist theory are Henry A. Turner, Jr.12,
A. James Gregor13, Renzo de Felice14, and Tim Mason15.
Their data indicate that the main support of big business in Germany and
Italy, for example, went to the right-wing DNVP and ANI, respectively, and
they argue that once in power Hitler and also Mussolini moved increasingly
to control and subordinate capitalist interests. The latter point has to some
extent been incorporated into the variants of the Marxist concept of fascism
as formulated by Galkin and Vajda.
general, those who follow the Marxist concept of fascism do not distinguish
- or reject the significance of any possible distinction - between the core
fascist groups and forces of more conservative right authoritarianism.
Fascism as the Product of a Cultural
or Moral Breakdown
of culture in Germany and Italy, led by such figures as Benedetto Croce16
and Friedrich Meinecke17, have seen the general phenomenon
of European fascism as the product of cultural fragmentation and moral relativism
in European ideas from the late nineteenth century on. In this view, the crisis
of World War I and its aftermath, producing intense economic dislocation,
social conflict and cultural anomie, resulted in a kind of spiritual collapse
that permitted new forms of radical nationalism to flourish. One of the most
cogent statements of this approach will be found in a study by Peter Drucker.18
of the "cultural or moral crisis" approach alone is that it only tries to
explain what conditions permitted fascist movements to develop, without accounting
for their specific ideas, forms or goals. Quite a different approach has
been taken by A. James Gregor in his The Ideology of Fascism
(New York, 1969), which argues that Italian fascism developed a coherent ideology
that was not the product of a nihilistic cultural collapse but rather the
consequence of specific new cultural, political and sociological ideas stemming
from Western and Central Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
Fascism as the Result of Neurotic
or Pathological Psychosocial Impulses
There are three
principal, though considerably different, statements of this concept. One
of the best-known is Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom (New York, 1941,
1965), which contended that fascism should be seen as the product of decaying
central European middle-class society, but differed from the standard Marxist
approach by laying the main emphasis not on direct economic factors but on
feelings of isolation, impotence, anomie and frustration among middle-class
A more extreme Freudian approach may be found in Wilhelm Reich's The Mass
Psychology of Fascism (New York, 1930,1946,1970), which propounded a psychosex-ual
explanation of the origins and nature of fascism. Reich's interpretation
viewed fascism as a matter of sexual repression and sadomasochistic compensatory
and aggressive impulses, and as the natural consequence of a "bourgeois society"
grounded on sexual repression.
A different but somewhat related approach may be found in the
work of Theodor Adorno, et al., entitled The Authoritarian Personality (New
York, 1950). The implication of this study was that fascism could be understood
as the prime expression of certain "authoritarian personality" traits that
tended toward rigidity, repression and dictatorship, and might be most commonly
expected among the interwar central European middle classes.
The weakness of this approach to the understanding of fascism
is the essentially speculative nature of the concepts of Fromm and Reich,
and the peculiarly reductionist nature of the latter's sexual ideas, which
cannot be rendered methodologically applicable to the main dimensions of
the problem. The "authoritarian personality" inventory is more empirical
and specific, but subsequent data collection has not been able to substantiate
clearly any assumptions about middle-class or central European personality
traits in this regard.
Fascism as the Product of the Rise of Amorphous Masses
Another concept of fascism considers it to be the product of unique qualitative
changes in European society, as the traditional class structure gives way
to large, undifferentiated and atomized populations - the «masses»
of urban, industrial society. This idea was first advanced by Jose Ortega
y Gasset19, and in varying ways has been reformulated by Emil Lederer20,
Talcott Parsons21 and Hannah Arendt22, and perhaps most cogently by William
Kornhauser23. This approach emphasizes the irrational, anti-intellectual
and «visceral" nature of the fascist appeal to «mass man»,
and thus to some extent may be thought to complement the «cultural
This approach tends, however, to obfuscate the extent to which
practical ideological content and cogent appeals to tangible interests figured
in the programs and practice of the fascist movements, as well as the extent
to which many of their supporters were still identified and definable as
members of structured social or institutional sectors.
Fascism as the Consequence of a Certain Stage of Economic Growth, or
Historical Phases of National Development
All four of the preceding approaches to understanding and categorizing fascism
were "classical concepts", formulated originally in the 1920s and early 1930s,
and couched in terms of fundamental interests or impulses of European society
or its economic structure. A different approach emerged twenty years after
the defeat of Nazi Germany, and was influenced by general ideas about the
structural and political imperatives of economic modernization and the recent
experiences of newly emerging «Third World» countries.
The stages of growth or development concept held that the process of modernization
and industrialization frequently tended to produce severe internal conflict
as the balance of power shifted between or threatened various social and
Those who lean toward this approach differ from the standard
Marxists in that they do not reduce the conflict to a capital versus labor
approach, but define it more broadly in terms of a large range of social/structural
forces and do not suppose that fascism is merely the agent of «monopoly
capital" as a primary force.
Two of the leading exponents of this approach are A. F. K. Organski
and Ludovico Garruccio. Organski24 has suggested that the potential for fascism
arises at the point at which the industrial sector of the economy first begins
to equal in size and labor force that of the primary sector, creating the
potential for severe social conflicts that serve to elicit aggressive nationalism
and authoritarian government. The trouble with this concept is that its author
has never refined it sufficiently to make it uniquely applicable to Italy
and other countries undergoing a «fascist» experience, and as
such it cannot apply to Germany (nor does its author attempt so to apply
it). Most countries passing through that stage of growth have never known
anything that could be called fascism.
Perhaps the most serious effort to understand fascism in terms
of broad comparative patterns of development and modernization is Ludovico
Garruccio's L'Industri-alizzazione tra nazionalismo e rivoluzione (Bologna,
1969). It suggests that what is known as fascism was the central European
variant of a common period of crisis, normally issuing into authoritarian
government, that accompanies the effort of modern nations (or empires, in
the case of Russia) to establish their identity and power on a modem basis,
overcome internal conflict and complete their economic or social modernization.
This concept is extremely suggestive, and may help to explain the relationship
of fascism to communism and to Third World development dictatorships, but
fails to identify or explain the unique historical features of European fascism.
Fascism as a Typical Manifestation of Twentieth-Century Totalitarianism
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, when the specter of a Europe
dominated by Hitlerian Nazism was replaced by that of one dominated by Stalinist
Communism, a new line of interpretation developed among some Western political
theorists which suggested that fascism, and particularly German National
Socialism, did not constitute a unique category or genus, but was merely
one typical manifestation of the much broader and more sinister phenomenon
of twentieth-century totalitarianism, which would endure long after the specific
fascist movements had expired.25 This concept momentarily enjoyed considerable
vogue in certain Western countries during the 1950s, but soon drew increasing
criticism. Hannah Arendt, author of one of the leading books on the historical
origins of totalitarianism, excepted Mussolini's Italy from the whole category
of totalitarian systems, and that undercut the concept of generic fascism
as «totalitarianism». In a major article, Wolfgang Sauer26 drew
attention to common features of national socialism with fascist movements
and the differences from communist ones, casting doubt on the common identity
of generic totalitarianism. Western theorists have in general encountered
increasing difficulty in defining totalitarianism, and some have doubted
its existence as a continuous, comparable category.27
Fascism as the Resistance to Modernization
The concept that fascism is to be understood above all as an expression of
resistance to «modernization» or "transcendence" has become especially
popular in Western countries during the past twenty years, and has been given
varying formulation by such diverse theorists and historians as Ernst Nolle,
Wolfgang Sauer, Henry A Turner, Jr , Barrington Moore, Jr , and Alan Cassels
What the proponents of this approach have in common is the emphasis on a
definition of fascist movements as opponents of urbanization, industrialization,
liberal education, rationalist materialism, individualism, social differentiation
and pluralist autonomy, and international cooperation or peace Though the
concept of modernization is rarely defined as such, the preceding inventory
of referential phenomena seems to be what these analysts have in mind and
it is of course intimately bound up with Western liberal democracy Nolte,
in his classic Three Faces of Fascism (Munich, 1963, New York, 1966), argues
that fascism was among other things, opposed to international peace and modern
transcendence a philosophical term that seems to be related to the
concept of modernization in the social sciences For Wolfgang Sauer, fascism
was the political movement of the < losers > in the modernization process
Henry A Turner, Jr , largely agrees with them, postulating that fascism was
the product of the forces that oppose all those phenomena associated with
modernization 28 Bamngton Moore believes that fascism was the product of
a modernization process controlled by martial, rural elites 29 Alan Cassels
offers, however, a major qualification to the anti-modernist thesis by his
concept of "two faces of fascism", suggesting that in some underdeveloped
countries fascism was a modernizing force but turned against the modernization
process in countries like Germany that were already industrialized 30
Some of the major critics of the concept of fascism as mere reaction and
anti-modernism are A James Gregor, Karl D Bracher and Renzo de Felice Gregor
has documented the appeal of the Italian movement for the construction of
a new industrial Italy, its stress on technological futurism and productivism,
the expansion of Italian industrialization and ecological ridimensionamento31
De Felice makes the same points, and goes beyond to stress the similarity
of some of the concepts of Italian fascists and Jacobins, the roots of the
Italian movement in eighteenth-century ideals and its faith in education
in building the new Italy 32 Karl D Bracher extends Cassels' concept of the
ambivalence of some fascist movements to National Socialism as well stressing
the latter s originality and unique revolutionary qualities33
More categorical is the interpretation of Eugen Weber which
finds in various forms of national socialism the characteristic revolution
of the twentieth century, and considers some varieties of fascism to be as
revolutionary as communist movements Weber emphasizes that some fascist movements
mobilized large numbers of peasants and workers, in more backward countries
they filled the role of a revolutionary lower-class movement for drastic
socio-economic change 14
Fascism as a Unique Radicalism of the Middle Classes
At least two leading scholars have viewed fascism as a unique form of radicalism
developed by and expressing the autonomous interests of the middle classes
as distinct from upper-class elites and worker movements Seymour M Lipset
has presented an interpretation of fascism as an independent force quite
apart from aristocratic elite reaction or proletarian radicalism representing
unique new twentieth century forces35 Renzo de Felice employs much the same
concept with regard to the social and cultural definition of Italian fascism
as the vehicle of new radical middle class elites distinct from the old liberal
upper-middle class forces or new proletarian Socialists36
Denial of the Coherence of any Concept of Generic Fascism
The debate about the definition, origins, causes, meaning and significance
of fascism has now gone on for more than half a century, and is no nearer
resolution than ever Indeed, it may be that the passage of time, rather than
providing definitive answers, simply provides the perspective for more questions
Further research, rather than producing agreement, provides evidence for
new theories and the continuation of old debates Thus considerable doubt
has been cast on the classic concepts of fascism as sufficient grounds for
understanding in and of themselves, but no consensus has been reached regarding
It may be noted that very little attention was paid by the formulators
of the classic concepts to the question of empirical definition and taxonomy
of fascist movements themselves, even to the extent of defining exactly what
characteristics made a movement «fascist» and exactly which political
forces were understood to be «fascist» and which were not Nearly
all the theorists of fascism have as a minimum referred to both Italian fascism
and German National Socialism as part of the same genenc category but even
that identity has become increasingly a subject of dispute.
In recent years a number of leading scholars in various Western
countries have adopted an extreme nominalist position and denied the very
existence of a common political species or category of «fascism»
that could embrace a vanety of movements in diverse countries in terms of
common qualities or charactenstics Renzo de Felice finds Italian fascism
and German National Socialism fundamentally distinct, incapable of belonging
to a common species Karl D Bracher takes much the same position, and like
De Felice, points out other extreme differences in more widely scattered
putative-ly fascist movements Henry A Turner, Jr , also suggests that the
label is a red herring, and proposes that such movements be re-classified
with regard to their relationship to the fundamental question of modernization
The analysis of fascism has thus come full circle, from a variety of monocausal
explanations to the denial that the generic phenomenon even existed.
The Need for a Criterial Definition of Generic Fascism
The only attempt at a comprehensive description of the full range of European
fascist movements remains Ernst Nolte's Die Krise des liberalen Systems und
die faschis-tischen Bewegungen (Munich, 1968) In it Nolle recognized the
need for some son of "fascist minimum", a set of criteria that could set
standards according to which a given political movement might be objectively
recognized and defined as fascist, or not He suggested six points of criteria
Aim of Totalitarianism
This critical description represented a significant advance in clarity over
preceding informal and off-hand suggestions that other writers made merely
in passing Nonetheless, it seems to me inadequate in the following respects
a) While it recognizes the distinctive fascist negations, it fails to deal
fully with characteristic goals and program (if indeed such existed) or to
define what at the time seemed most striking about fascists - their particular
style and choreography; b) The reference to fascist anti-conservatism, while
essentially correct, tends to blur the fact that fascists always had to rely
at least momentarily on rightist allies to come to power; c) Though all fascistic
parties tended toward strong personal leadership, it may be misleading to
impute to them the predominantly German character of the Fuhrerprinzip; d)
Most fascist parties sought, but never achieved, a genuine «party-army»;
e)The goal of totalitarianism is an ambiguous formulation, difficult to define
or apply; f) The distinctively fascist form of nationalism and political
radicalism cannot be understood without reference to the ultimate goal of
some form of imperialism or at least a drastic realignment of the nation's
status and power relations in the world.
Given the difficulty in arriving at a common definition of the
putatively fascist movements, it is always possible that the extreme nominalists
and skeptics could be right, and that a true "fascist minimum" did not exist.
Against such skepticism, we have the relative agreement of the majority of
contemporary observers in the 1930s that a new form and style of politics
had emerged in the radical new nationalist movements of Europe customarily
called fascist, a position generally adopted by the majority of scholars
and analysts since. But what were the basic common qualities generally referred
to by this label? We are still left with the problem of an adequate description.
A Possible Typological Description of Generic Fascism
It seems possible, at least hypothetically, to achieve this goal through
a typological description of the principal features held in common by the
movements we refer to as fascist-thus establishing justification for our
use of the generic concept-while at the same time taking into account valid
arguments by critics of the generic concept through recognition that such
a common description does not by any means exhaust the inventory of major
characteristics or goals of individual movements. It would only define the
minimal characteristics that they had in common as distinct from other types,
though specific fascist groups sometimes had other beliefs, characteristics
and goals of major importance to them that did not contradict the common
features of generic fascism but were simply added to them or went beyond
If an analogy were made for morphological purposes, fascism
would then be understood to constitute a certain political species, one of
about half a dozen that compose the broader genus of modern revolutionary
mass movements. In order to arrive at a criteria! definition applicable to
the species, it then seems appropriate to follow a suggestion made by Juan
J. Linz and identify a) the fascist negations, b) common points of ideology
and goals, and c) special common features of style and organization.
A. The Fascist Negations:
Anti-conservatism, but of a more qualified nature, with a degree of willingness
compromise at least temporarily, with rightist groups and principles.
B. Ideology and Goals:
Creation of a new nationalist authoritarian state not merely based on traditional
principles or models.
Organization of some new kind of regulated, multi-class integrated national
economic structure capable to some extent of transforming social relations,
whether called national syndicalist, national socialist or national corporatist.
The goal of empire or a revolution in the nation's relationship with other
powers. Specific espousal of an idealist, voluntarist creed, normally involving
the attempt to realize a new form of modem, self-determined secular culture.
C. Style and Organization:
Emphasis on esthetic structure of meetings, symbols and political choreography,
stressing romantic and/or mystical aspects.
Attempted mass mobilization with militarization of political relationships
style, and with the goal of a mass party
Exaltation of youth above all other phases of life, emphasizing the conflict
Positive evaluation of- not merely willingness to use - violence.
Extreme stress on the masculine principle and male dominance, while espousing
an organic view of society.
generations, though within a framework of national unity.
Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal leadership
of command, whether or not to some degree elective.
Space precludes full discussion of the components of this inventory, but
it can perhaps serve as a guideline to explain in most cases what serious
scholars refer to as fascist movements, while recognizing that it can be
used as an analytical tool only as a relatively integrated whole. There is
no implication that every single characteristic in the inventory was unique
to fascist movements, for most individual facets might be discovered to have
existed individually or partially within a number of other radical groups.
The uniqueness of fascism as a political species was rather that only fascist-type
movements shared each of these characteristics (if in varying degrees) jointly
and simultaneously: the suggested typology will be of use in identifying
a specific movement as fascist only if the group in question exhibits not
merely most but all or almost all of the qualities described.
The Varieties of Fascism
As explained, identification of a typology is not intended to imply that
within the species of fascism all groups were fundamentally about the same
and did not differ greatly among themselves with regard to further national
characteristics, beliefs, values and goals above and beyond those minimal
features which they all held in common. Much confusion has resulted from
the assumption that if fascism is to be identifiable as a generic phenomenon
it must somehow be regarded as a uniform type bearing essentially homogeneous
traits, whereas in fact it was a broad species that included widely varying
subtypes or subspecies.
Among the subspecies or "varieties of fascism", in Eugen Weber's telling
phrase, a minimum of six may be identified:
1. Paradigmatic Italian fascism, pluralistic, diverse and not easily definable
in simple terms. Forms to some extent derivative appeared in France, England,
Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Romania and possibly even Brazil.
2. German National Socialism, a distinct and remarkably fanatical movement,
and the only one of the entire species to achieve a total dictatorship and
so to begin to develop its own system. Somewhat parallel or derivative movements
Scandinavia, the Low Countries, the Baltic states and Hungary, and more superficial-ly
in several satellite states during the war.
3. Spanish Falangism. Though to some extent derivative from the Italian form,
it became a kind of Catholic and culturally more traditionalist type that
was more marginal to the species.
4. The Romanian Legionary or Iron Guard movement, a mystical, kenotic form
of semi-religious fascism that represented the only notable movement of this
kind in an Orthodox country and was also marginal to the species.
5. Szalasi's «Hungarist» or Arrow Cross movement, somewhat distinct
from either the Hungarian national socialists or Hungarian proponents of
a more moderate and pragmatic Italian-style movement, momentarily perhaps
the second most popular fascist movement in Europe.
6. Abortive undeveloped fascisms attempted through bureaucratic means by
right-wing authoritarian regimes, mainly in Eastern Europe during the 1930s.
None of these efforts, however, produced fully formed and complete fascist
The Need to Distinguish Between Fascist Movements and Fascist Regimes
Much of the confusion about defining a typology of fascism has stemmed from
the failure to distinguish between fascist movements and regimes. Nearly
all fascist parties failed to develop beyond the movement stage, and even
in Italy the fascist party never assumed full power over the government and
all the institutions of the country. Hence in the case even of Mussolini
one cannot speak of a total party regime system as in Nazi Germany or Communist
In the absence of examples other than Nazi Germany of situations in which
fascist-type parties came to full power or totally dominated regimes, it
must be recognized that we are speaking of certain generic tendencies in
the form of movements, but not of systems. This also says much about the
limitations of the appeal and strength of fascism, even in the supposed «fascist
era», and underlines the fact that the historic significance of the
whole phenomenon was primarily bound up with Hitlerism and not with generic
The Distinction Between Fascism and Right Authoritarianism
Much of the confusion surrounding the identification and definition of generic
fascism has lain in the failure to distinguish clearly between fascist movements
and the nonfascist (or sometimes protofascist) authoritarian right. During
the period of World War I and after there emerged a new cluster of conservative
authoritarian forces in European politics that rejected moderate nineteenth
century conservatism and simple old-fashioned traditional reaction in favor
of a more modern, technically proficient kind of new authoritarian system
that spurned both leftist revolution and fascist radicalism. The new right
authoritarian groups have often been confused with fascists because both
were authoritarian and nationalist and up to a point were opposed to many
of the same things (leftists and liberals). Moreover, circumstantial alliances
were made between fascists and new rightists in a number of countries, especially
in Germany, Italy and Spain, but also elsewhere. Nonetheless, the fact that
communists and liberals are both opposed to fascism and rightism and have
sometimes formed circumstantial alliances in a number of countries since
1935 has not generally led most analysts to the false conclusion that communism
and liberalism are the same thing.
Similarly, the distinction between fascism and right authoritarianism should
be clearly understood for purposes of analysis, taxonomy and conceptualization.
The basic differences might be synthesized as follows:
a) The new authoritarian right was anticonservative only in the very limited
sense of a qualified opposition to the more moderate, parliamentary forms
b) The new right advocated authoritarian government, but hesitated to embrace
radical and novel forms of dictatorship and normally relied either on monarchism
or Catholic neocorporatism, or some combination thereof.
c) In philosophy and ideology, the right was grounded on a combination of
rationalism and also religion, and normally rejected the secularist irrationalism,
vitalism and neoidealism of the fascists.
d) The new right was based on traditional elites rather than new formations
of declasse radicals, and aimed their tactics more at manipulation of the
existing system than toward political conquest from the streets.
e) The new right never projected the same goals of mass political mobilization.
f) Whereas the fascists aimed at changes in social status and relations,
the new right explicitly intended to maintain and affirm the existing social
hierarchy, if anything increasing the degree of dominance of established
g) The new right tried to rely a great deal on the army and was willing to
accept praetorian rule, rejecting the fascist principle of militia and mass
Limitations of space make it impossible to expand this inventory and illustrate
it in detail, but this will serve at least to introduce the nature of the
Some Ingredients of a More Empirical and Comprehensive Concept of Fascism
It has been said that the chief weakness of the classic
interpretations of fascism has been their tendency toward a kind of theoretical
monocausality and reductionism. A more adequate concept of the phenomenon
must be able to take into account a wide variety of factors, and interpret
the problem in terms of its particular historical setting or environment.
"Finance capital" can never explain fascism, since the overwhelming majority
of the political expressions of finance capital from the nineteenth century
to the present have had nothing to do with generic fascism. That a "cultural
crisis" existed in Europe during the early twentieth century is beyond dispute,
but the formulators of the "cultural crisis" theory have neither given us
an accurate definition of the fascist culture produced in this atmosphere
nor a fully viable explanation of why such a cultural ambience should necessarily
result in significant fascist movements in some countries but not in others.
After the works by Gregor, Jaeckel37 and
Hildebrand38 the oft-repeated assumption that fascist movements lacked recognizable
ideologies or a kind of cultural Weltanschauung of their own seems increasingly
doubtful. A more empirically valid concept of fascism in the future must
thus take into account the background and development of the new ideas of
fascist culture and ideology in the period 1910--40 with the same rigor and
precision being demonstrated in the study of social mobilization and class
Clearer analysis is required of the political,
social, economic, and national/historical variables involved in those countries
where the fascists achieved significant mobilization (e.g., 15 per cent or
more of the vote), compared with similar factors in other European countries
where this support did not exist. A more exact definition of the unique structural
and cultural problems of South and Central European countries in the 1920s
and 30s, and their relationship to fascist strength (or its absence), may
serve to elucidate to what extent facism was merely a conjunctural historical
phenomenon or whether it is likely to be paralleled or approximated by new
forces in the future, whether in Western countries or the new polities of
the Third World.
1 There are two useful anthologies that have collected statements of some
of the leading interpretations: Ernst Nolte, ed., Theorien uber den Faschismus
(Cologne, 1967), and Renzo de Felice, ed., // fascismo: Le inlerpretawni
del contemporanei e tiegli storici (Ban, 1970). The latter is more thorough
and complete, and contains more extensive analysis. The most incisive critique
of the standard interpretations is A. James Gregor, Interpretations of Fascism
(Morris-town, N.J., 1974). Gilbert Allardyce, The Place of Fascism in European
History (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.. 1972). presents a briefer anthology. See
also H. A. Turner, Jr., Reappraisals of Fascism (New York, 1975).
2 Gyula Sas. Der Faschismus in Italien (Hamburg, 1923), reprinted in De Felice,
68-80, and in the same vein, German Sandomirsky, Fashizrn (Moscow-Leningrad,
1923), 2 vols.
3 Clara Zetkin, «Der Kampf gegen den Faschismus», in the Protocols
of the 1923 Comintern Conference, reprinted in Nolle, 88-111.
4 Rajani Paime Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution (London, 1934).
5 Daniel Guerin, Fascisme et Grand Capital (Paris, 1936).
6 Franz Borkenau, «Zur Soziologie des Faschismus», Archiv fur
Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, 68 : 5 (Feb., 1933), reprinted in Nolle,
7 Reinhard Kiihnl. Formen burgerlicher Herrschaft: Liberalismus-Faschismus
8 Nicos Poulantzas, Fascisme et dictature (Paris, 1970).
9 Boris Lopukhov, Fashizm i rabochoe dvizhenie v Italii (1919-29) (Moscow,
1968). 10 Alexander Galkin, «Capitalist Society and Fascism».
Social Sciences: USSR Academy of Sciences (1970), 2: 128-38.
11 Mihaly Vajda, «The Rise of Fascism in Italy and Germany»,
Telos (1972), 12: 3-26.
12 H. A. Turner, Jr., « Big Business and the Rise ofHitler» American
Historical Review, 75: 1 (1969), 56-70.
13 Gregor, Interpretations of Fascism, 128-70.
14 Particularly in the four volumes to date of De Felice's monumental Mussolini
(Turin, 1965-74), and in his Intervista sul fascismo (Bari. 1975), edited
by Michael Ledeen.
15 Tim Mason, «The Primacy of Politics», in S. J. Woolf, ed..
The Nature of Fascism (London, 1968), 165-95.
16 References to and evaluation of various of Croce's writings on fascism
will be found in Gregor, Interpretations, 29-32.
17 Selections from Meinecke, Hans Kohn and Gerhard Ritter in this vein are
presented and discussed in De Felice, // Fascismo, 391-437.
18 Peter Drucker, The End of Economic Man (New York, 1939, 1969).
19 Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (New York, 1932).
20 Emil Lederer, The Stale of the Masses (New York, 1940).
21 Talcott Parsons, «Some Sociological Aspects of the Fascist Movements»,
in his Essays in Sociological Theory (rev. ed.. New York, 1949).
22 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, 1951).
23 William Komhauser, The Politics of Mass Society (New York, 1959).
24 A. F. K. Organski, The Stages of Political Development (New York, 1965),
and "Fascism and Modernization.., in Woolf, The Nature of Fascism, op.cil.
25 The key statement of this approach is Carl J. Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski,
Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy (New York, 1956). Also Carl J. Friedrich,
ed.. Totalitarianism (New York, 1954).
26 Wolfgang Sauer, (National Socialism: Totalitarianism
or Fascism?», American Historical Review, 73: 2 (1967), 404-22.
27 Cf. Herbert Spiro, «Totalitarianism», International
Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York, 1968), vol. 16.
28 Henry A. Turner, Jr., «Pascism and Modernization*, World Politics,
24: 4 (1972), 547-64, reprinted in Turner's Reappraisals of Fascism.
29 Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston,
30 Alan Cassels, "Janus": The Two Faces of Fascismx, Canadian Historical
Papers 1969, 166-84, and Cassels' book. Fascism (New York, 1974).
31 Especially in Gregor's article, "Fascism and Modernization: Some Addenda",
World Politics. 26: 3 (April, 1974), 370-84.
32 In volumes two to four of De Felice's Mussolini, but especially in the
Intervista sul fascismo. English ed. Fascism. An Informal Introduction to
its Theory and Practice, New Jersey, 1977.
33 Particularly in two of Bracher's recent essays in his Zeitgeschichtliche
Kontroversen urn Faschismus Totalitarismus Demokratie (Munich, 1976).
34 Eugen Weber, Varieties of Fascism (New York, 1964) and «Revolution?
Counter-Revolution? What Revolution?», Journal of Contemporary History.
9: 2 (April, 1974), 33-48.
35 « Fascism-Left, Right and Center », Chapter 5 of Lipset's
Political Man (New York, 1960).
36 See the references in n. 32.
37 Eberhard Jaeckel, Hitler's Weltanschauung (Middletown, Conn., 1972).
38 Klaus Hildebrand, The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich (Berkeley-Los
Angeles, 1974), and also Norman Rich, Hitler's War Aims (New York, 1974),
Contemporary Approaches to Fascism:
A Survey of Paradigms
BERNT HAGTVET AND REINHARD KUHNL
Fascism in its variety of national manifestations produced
human degradation on such a vast scale and was, as a form of tyranny, so
unprecedented that scholars have been somewhat at a loss in coming to grips
with it ever since. The reasons for this are many and intertwined. The sheer
novelty of the phenomenon', the savagery of the fascists towards their enemies,
the dynamism, aestheticism and ideological eclecticism of the fascist parties
and their conscious appeal across class lines - all these make fascism a
movement that defies simple historico-political categorization. Fascism has
often been described as an embodiment of a «metapolitical mind»2:
it was an appeal to rage and resentment that ran deeper and was more sinister
than ordinary interest defense. As a result, few historical phenomena have
generated so much heated argument and given rise to such a range of explanations.
And although we know infinitely more about the workings of fascist movements
now than in 1945, there is still no evidence of a foreseeable consensus on
the essential characteristics of fascism, and even less agreement on the
place of fascism within a broader theory of politics in the 20th century.
Confronted with this theoretical discord, scholarship on fascism faces a
two-fold task: First, to process the enormous amount of historical data now
available in such a way as to capture the phenomenon in all its dimensions
- political, cultural, economic, psychological, aesthetic and social. Such
a program does not, of course, exclude attempts to differentiate between
various historical determinants and assign causal priority to some dimensions
over others. Rather, it means that in order to comprehend the phenomenon
fully, the fallacy of reductionism and mono-causality should be avoided.
Fascism was an elusive movement, often contradictory and unpredictable because
of the explicitly ideological and practical opportunism of the leadership.
Fascism displayed a curious autonomy of the leadership in relation to the
masses who flocked to the movement in its initial phases. The result is perplexing
for the political sociologist, for it reveals the limitations of a strictly
sociological approach to fascism. Tracing the social origins of members and
voters of fascist parties can only be the beginning. The main theoretical
challenge is to delineate the essential character of fascism over time. This
implies a sensitivity not only to the social bases of the movements, but
also to their functions and their telos. Only through such a multilevel approach
can there be any hope to explain the opportunism of most fascist movements:
their tactical compromises and their shift of alliance partners.
In pursuing this level of analysis problem in the study of fascism a few
distinctions should be kept in mind. First, in order to pin down the changes
in the class character of fascism, it will be necessary to untangle in detail
the social support of the movements before and after their seizure of power.
Break or continuity, shifting patterns of regional distribution of support
- these are the questions which should guide research efforts. Second, the
social functions of fascist movements, their actual behavior once in control,
may or may not be in accord with the aspirations of their initial supporters.
And, third, an analysis of the functions of a movement may not bring us far
in understanding the goals pursued by the party elite. The instrumental view
of ideology in fascism was paralleled by a conscious espousal of the doctrine
of «primacy of politics»3: the ruthless subjugation of the previous
autonomy of the economic, cultural and social spheres from political considerations.
This autonomy of the leadership touches a crucial problem in studies of fascism:
the role of ideology. Are ideological pronouncements to be given any causal
weight at all, or should they primarily be seen as rationalizations, the
expression of the twisted minds of the leadership or of the interests of
outside groups using the fascist apparatus of violence to bolster their grip
on state power? Fascism can be analyzed on all these levels: in terms of
its mass base, its political and social effect on social groups, its ruling
techniques, and its long-term goals. Knowledge on one level may have limited
value for understanding the working of fascism at another, and even less
for comprehending the phenomenon as a whole. Unless distinctions of this
kind are made, scholarship on fascism is not likely to go beyond single countries
The second requirement of a theory of fascism is that it should remain open
enough to accommodate national variations while maintaining a minimum of
conceptual unity. Its scope should be cross-national, its method comparative.
The need for a cross-national comparative approach to our mind is evident:
Only the most nominali-stically inclined would deny that the inter-war period
saw the emergence of a new brand of dictatorship, related to, yet distinct
from earlier autocracies. The fascist parties shared a common contempt for
parliamentary democracy. They were violently anti-labor and embraced a particularly
aggressive brand of nationalism which in some, but not in all cases, fused
with extreme racialism to make for an expansionist foreign policy. Verbally
anti-capitalist, the fascists were nevertheless willing to enter into close
alliance with the holders of economic power. Some were committed to a kind
of ideologically founded "Utopian anti-modernism"4, i.e., a notion of pre-industrial
community reminiscent of a state of nature before modernization produced
fragmentation and de-mythologized the world. Fascists preached submission
to authority yet built their initial power base on mass mobilization directed
against existing authority. This deliberate strategy of inciting the masses
for direct political involvement on the symbolic level is probably the most
characteristic feature of fascist dictatorships, which on the whole set them
apart from autocracies of a more traditional or restorative kind. Although
the debate on the concept of "generic" fascism continues unabated, a theory
of fascism should be able to separate the specifically fascist components
in anti-democratic movements from features that are part of a broader tradition
of political authoritarianism.
1. Theories of Fascism: The Search for a Typology
Whether explicitly or implicitly, most attempts of constructing
typologies of approaches to fascism revolve around fascism's autonomy in
relation to capitalism, or more broadly, processes of modernization. Theories
which assert that fascism is "produced" or "determined" in one way or another
by the course of capitalist development are contrasted with theories which
hold that fascism showed a marked autonomy in ...