Culture Wars/Current Controversies

A History of Fascism, 1914–1945

Given that virtually everything is labeled as “fascism” nowadays (echoing tendencies from the past), self-education on what fascism actually was might be helpful. Stanley Payne’s work on the history of fascism is some of the best there is. The Wikipedia entry on Payne summarizes some of his basic views.  The key feature of fascism that separates it from other forms of “right-wing authoritarianism” is that it is a revolutionary, anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalist outlook from the far-right. There is literally nothing resembling fascism that has any influence whatsoever in the Western world today. The one exception might be Greece’s Golden Dawn, which the Greek state considers to be the equivalent of the mafia.

The US Republicans are not fascists but mega-capitalists as is Donald Trump. The authoritarian danger in today’s world comes from global technocratic mega-capitalism from the “right” (which is not fascism) and totalitarian humanism from the “left” (which is not socialism or communism). The main danger from more traditional forms of authoritarianism comes from Islamism, which has been made possible by imperialism and regimes within the infrastructure of imperialism.

A History of Fascism, 1914–1945: Payne, Stanley G.: 9780299148744: Books

This is the first full history of fascism – as a force and as a phenomenon – in Europe and elsewhere between the world wars. This history encompasses all the major fascist movements, as well as other forms of authoritarian nationalism, and provides in-depth analyses of these movements, the interpretative problems they pose, and previous interpretations of them. Stanley G. Payne interprets fascism as a form of revolutionary ultranationalism – a program for national rebirth based on a primarily vitalist philosophy, extreme elitism, mass mobilization, the promotion of violence, and military virtues. He traces this phenomenon through the history of ideas, previous political movements, and the events of World War I. Though his focus is chiefly on Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, he also gives detailed attention to the Romanian Iron Guard, Franco’s Spain, Japan, and protofascist movements around the globe. In view of widespread speculation about the return of fascism to Europe and the Afro-Asian World, this work is especially timely. However, Payne presents a powerful case for viewing fascism as a unique “epochal phenomenon”. Conversely, he treats significant individual features of fascism as inherent aspects of revolutionary movements and nationalist dictatorships, with every likelihood of reappearing in new and different forms.

Available here.

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