3 minute read

Fascism

The Survival Strategies Of Postwar Fascism

The ideological definition of fascism adopted in this article leads to an interpretation of its development that sees the defeat of the Axis powers not as putting an end to fascism, but forcing it to adopt new strategies to survive in a political environment no longer characterized by the upheaval and crises that were the precondition for Fascism and Nazism to take the form of mass movements producing spectacular displays of charismatic politics. The Allied victory over fascism inaugurated the sustained recovery of liberal capitalism, which eventually outlived the state socialist experiment in creating a new order conducted by the Soviet Union and its satellites. The massive loss of life caused by World War II and the horrors committed by the Third Reich and imperial Japan in the alliance with Fascism utterly discredited the rhetoric of militarism, ultranationalism, imperialism, and new orders for all but a small, highly marginalized minority of fanatics. The mass constituency of potential trans-class support for revolutionary brands of nationalism simply evaporated (although it reemerged quickly in the chaotic conditions of post-Soviet Russia).

In such conditions any attempts to emulate the PNF or NSDAP were doomed to have even more pathetic results than those achieved by the many abortive movements in the "fascist epoch." Even the most successful postwar fascist party, Italy's Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), had to dissociate itself from any paramilitary activity and strictly abide by the democratic French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen with slogan reading "France found again," 2002. Right-wing political parties such as Le Pen's National Front (best known for its anti-immigration platform) have often tried to place what they see as the decline of society in a larger geocultural context. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS "rules of the game." This strategy put it in the position to emerge from the political ghetto reconstituted as the Alleanza Nazionale in 1994, though only after it had renounced any attachment to its revolutionary and totalitarian past.

Meanwhile, faced by the almost complete disappearance of its natural interwar habitat, "real" fascism demonstrated a remarkable capacity for adaptation. While at the level of the general public, xenophobia and anxieties over the erosion of national identity in some countries found an outlet in a new type of party, the right-wing populist party embodied in Jean–Marie Le Pen's National Front and Jörg Haider's Austrian Freedom Party, intransigent national revolutionaries could follow several tactics to keep the revolutionary vision alive. One was to concentrate on forming small cadres of fanatics dedicated to "the cause," some of whom in the 1970s and 1980s carried out a series of terroristic outrages in pursuit of what was known as the "Strategy of Tension" designed to bring down the Italian state.

A second tactic was for fascists to abandon narrow nationalism and place their concern with the decadence of society in a wider geocultural context, whether that of the white or Aryan race, or of Europe, conceived as a federation of cultural homogeneous nations or ethnies. A third was to withdraw from the political sphere altogether and concentrate on civic space, the realm of ideas and culture, thus turning fascism into a largely "metapolitical" force, made up not of full-fledged movements, but of numerous atomized formations known collectively as the "groupuscular right." An outstanding example of this is the pan-European vision of rebirth advocated (in conflicting terms) by the European New Right and by Third Positionism. The latter still has not abandoned political activism and the use of violence in theory (or rather in rhetoric), even if the transition to a new era has by implication been indefinitely postponed, leaving a few stoic spiritual warriors to resist the forces of cultural suicide true to the principle of "leaderless resistance." The logical consequence of this process of extreme atomization is the type of "lone wolf" terrorist act committed by Timothy McVeigh (in Oklahoma) or David Copeland (the London nail bomber), both of whom internalized and acted on the fascist critique of the state without belonging to any formal organization.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Evolution to FerrocyanideFascism - The Origins Of Generic Fascism, An Overview Of The "fascist Epoch", Non-european Fascisms