Political equality under Fascist Germany, Italy. A lesson in definitions of Fascism.

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite

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Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism.  Each interpretation of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow.

One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts: the fascist negations of anti-liberalism, anti-communism and anti-conservatism; nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership. According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far right.

Roger Griffin describes fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism”. Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: “(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism and (iii) the myth of decadence”. Fascism is “a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism” built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist “armed party” politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.

Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

Umberto Eco, Kevin Passmore, John Weiss,Ian Adams, and Moyra Grant mention racism (including anti-semitism) as a characteristic of fascism; i.e. fascistic dictator Hitler idealized German society as a racially unified and hierarchically organized Volksgemeinschaft.

John Lukacs, Hungarian-American historian and Holocaust survivor, argues that there is no such thing as generic fascism. He claims that National Socialism and Communism are essentially manifestations of populism and that states such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy are more different than similar

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