Fascinating about fascism

Fascism. An introduction to comparative studies
IDEOLOGY / Do we know enough about fascism to understand it?


"Do we see any similarities from pre-war fascism to today's European populists and Trump in the United States?"

What did Beevor answer? I'm going to put you on the bench and take a detour with a fresh book. Dreyer's Publishers has an excellent series they call Dreyer Perspective, where they highlight important phenomena in easy-to-understand and exciting releases. Now the trip has come to fascism, and the publisher has translated an overview of current knowledge of fascism and fascism research. The author is no where at all: Roger Griffin is professor emeritus of modern history and political theory at Oxford Brookes University and a leading academic in the field.

What is fascism?

Griffin takes us on a journey from 1919 to today, from the start of fascism in Italy to today's internet fascism and the white-power movement. But what exactly is fascism? We all know that, don't we?

The issue has been a driving force in Griffin's academic career. Through numerous books and publications, he has helped to establish the field of comparative fascism studies. Key elements of the ideology, Griffin writes, are uniformed party members, charismatic leaders and often anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But it is not sufficient to understand the phenomenon, according to the professor.

Trump is, in short, a racist who "takes care" of them.

Griffin has therefore introduced the term Palingenetic ultranationalism. It explains fascism through its core myth, that is, the need for a revolution to achieve a national rebirth. This paligenetics separates fascism from other authoritarian nationalist ideologies.

In a separate chapter on how Marxist theorists view fascism, we gain insight into how they do not share Griffin's view of fascism as a revolutionary ideology. They would rather argue that fascism lacks an ideological inner context and that it hinders a revolution that can get rid of capitalism.

But even within Marxist environments, there are several competing views of fascism, and Griffin highlights these in an exciting way. He also emphasizes the need to step away from using "fascism" as a condescending term and even talks about having some methodological empathy to live in the fascist head and world. By taking the fascists seriously we will be able to penetrate their ideological worldview.

While the first two chapters deal with various definitional aspects of fascism and its study, the third chapter is devoted to the interwar period, a period when ideology reached its peak. The author is dominated by the Mussolini and Hitler regimes, the Romanian experiment, Hungary, the National Assembly in Norway, the Ustasja movement in Croatia and British fascism. But there will also be trips outside Europe, like Brazil. It is relatively unknown to many of us, and interesting reading.

Impaired power

Griffin also explores topics such as fascist economics, art, and architecture. It is educational. But what about the period after 1945? Fascism has weakened its power and lost all credibility due to the Holocaust and civilian collapse. In a recent chapter, Griffin looks at the current marginalized role of fascism, but is also aware of how adaptable this ideologue is to new contexts.


The fascists are part of marginalized environments, but have managed to adapt to a new era. Some are rowdy and violent. Others have created revolutionary subcultures with a cultic worldview glorifying earlier fascist golden years – and fantasizing about a new revolutionær time to come.

In the United States, we see examples of a violent white-power movement and a distinctly neo-Nazi culture. In the UK we find a White Power music environment, and on the continent we have ideologues like Alain de Benoist, who have created what Griffin calls new forms of intellectual fascism. Many of these neo-fascist environments are part of international networks, and members are frequent internet users.

Trump is racist

So what did Beevor answer to my question about the populists and Trump? "No."

Beevor does not see a clear enough line between fascism and these phenomena. And here he is completely in line with teacher and theorist Griffin: Trump lacks the ideological complexity – and "Make America Great Again" is not the same as a fascist "millennial."

Trump remains a right-wing politician, or what Griffin in an interview has called one «apartheid liberal». Trump is, in short, a racist who “takes care of» their. But Trump will not remove today's political institutions. (At least not for now, but I'm starting to wonder.)

The fascists enter into marginalized environments, but have managed to adapt to a new era.

A more clean-cut fascist in that 21. century, according to Griffin, is Anders Behring Breivik. His manifesto mentioned a revolutionary rebirth of Europe within 2083. Then we return to Griffin's notions of what constitutes the core of fascist ideology: Fascism is a revolutionary form of populist ultranationalism.

This is a fascinating little book that is not so much about what the fascists have done, but more about it why they did. With the acquisition you will gain insight into a comprehensive discipline, with many different schools and theoretical directions.

I even think I understand more of fascism after reading this book. And Griffin talks well about the theme of various You Tube clips as well. If you need more, and prefer Norwegian, just search the NRK archive and find Professor of Political Science Bernt Hagtvet's exciting Aarebrot lecture.

I myself have had the pleasure of hearing Griffin and Hagtvet in Oslo. They know his fascism, both. And fascism in all its horror is a fascinating theme. Therefore, it is important that we know the story. And that we know the louse in the hallway.

The book is translated by one of Ny Tids
editorial staff,
but she and the reviewer know
not each other [ed.]

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