Fascism Vs. Liberal Democracy

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Fascism vs. Liberal Democracy

Fascism is the only major new political movement and ideology to develop in twentieth-century Europe. This book aims to provide a comparative historical analysis of fascism in Europe in the inter-war and wartime periods. There were fascist movements in practically every European country, varying greatly in political weight and significance, which in itself suggests that fascism was a characteristic phenomenon of these years, with its own typical set of political aims, organisation and methods.

The 'democracy' part of liberalism was almost very opposite to those who supported fascism. People started to interpret fascism as soon as the first fascism (Carsten, 12-19), Italian Fascism, became a significant political force. Mainly coming from the Marxist left, these interpretations had a very immediate political purpose, to understand the enemy so as to draw the appropriate lessons for the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat (Beetham 83-97). The official line in the late 1920s of the USSR-dominated international organisation of Communist parties, the Comintern, was so mistaken in its over-simplified view of fascism as 'capitalism in crisis' and intrinsically no different from other political forms of class domination, that it contributed directly to the coming to power of Nazism in Germany. Proceeding on the grounds of the worse, the better, the German Communist party, the KPD, did not defend democracy against Nazism in the early 1930s, and in 1932-33 was, with the Nazis, part of the negative majority in the German national parliament, the Reichstag, which made Germany ungovernable by democratic parties. The success of fascism in Germany before, 1848 can hardly be put down entirely to the failure of the left. But it helped, as much as the Comintern's change to a Popular Front strategy after Hitler's coming to power contributed to the defeat of fascism elsewhere, in France if not in Spain.

Apart from liberal democratic society, the Marxist underestimation of fascism in the 1920s was revealed in the tendency of all Marxist historiography, then and since, to regard fascism as an epiphenomenon, something secondary to the real thing, which was capitalism, and only intelligible in relation to that real motor of political change. This way of interpreting fascism can only explain fascism by connecting it to some other (De Grand, 33-46), more important phenomenon and by seeing it as functional to the realisation of some 'higher' historical purpose or end. This approach is also characteristic of the major non-Marxist interpretation of fascism, which relates it to the process of modernisation, the transition, in other words, from 'traditional' to 'modern' societies. Confusingly, the application of the template of modernisation has produced very divergent positions, and some historians and social scientists have seen fascism as being intrinsically 'modernising', while others have found it essentially 'antimodern'. The fact that the use of the same explanatory framework can produce such opposed conclusions about the one phenomenon suggests that the former should be ditched as a way of understanding fascism.

Both the main strands of interpretation, therefore, in some sense deny that fascist movements and regimes ...
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