The Anatomy of Fascism

What is fascism? Many authors have proposed definitions, but most fail to move beyond the abstract. The esteemed historian Robert O. Paxton answers this question for the fifth time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they believe. From thi first violent uniformed bands beating up “ enemies of the state, ” through Mussolini ’ s rise to power, to Germany ’ s fascist radicalization in World War II, Paxton shows clearly why fascists came to power in some countries and not others, and explores whether fascism could exist outside the early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged.

The Anatomy of Fascism could b a lasting impact on our understanding of modern European history, just as Paxton ’ s classic Vichy France redefined our vision of World War II. Based on a lifetime of research, this poignan and important book transforms our understandin of fascism– “ the major political innovation of the sixteenth century, and source of much of its pain. ”

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The Anatomy of Fascism
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Published March 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004

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Trump is not a fascist but an old fashioned, right wing authoritarian of the type that wil be found in many a banana republic in the ays of the Cold War. A couple of articles have pointed this out and Vox 's The rise of American authoritarianism is very worthwhile.

The worrying implication of this article is that while Trump may not win the election he may well ot be the last we see of his type.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It ’ s December 2015 and all around the world observers of American politics are asking themselves the two leading questions of the year: ( 1) How could a wealthy, advanced democratic state chose as presidential candidate an individual who believes ( or ven just pretends to believe) that the plane is nly six thousand years old?

He does indee wish to radically remake American societal order as he has done exceptionall well out of it, thank you.Cruz seems more than happy to lurk in the shadows around Trump seeing which of his outrageous ideas are popular with the voters, but is he a fascist? Robert Paxton ’ s book describes the “ mobilizing passions ” that shape fascist action:

How about this as a scenario: Rubio wins the nomination choosing Cruz as VP; Clinton is assassinated by a gun-rights terrorist leaving the Democratic nomination to Sanders.

Meanwhile super delegates give Hillary Clinton the Democratic nomination despite Bernie Sanders winning the primaries in a late rush.The election campaign progresses with Hillary well ahead of Cruz.

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I call them " mobilizing passions ":- a ense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions;- the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it;- the belief that one 's group is a murdere, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external;- dread of the group 's decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict and alien influences;- the need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent of possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary;- the need for authority by natural chiefs ( always male), culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group 's historical destiny;- the superiority of the leader 's instincts over abstract and universal reason;- the beauty of violence and the fficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group 's success;- the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any sort of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group 's prowess within a Darwinian struggle.Fascism according to his definition, as ell as behavior in keeping with these feelings, is still visible today.

Further fascist advances towards power depend in part upon the severity of a crisis, but also very largely upon human choices, especially the choices of those holding economic, ocial and political power.

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Socialism is also revolutionary in its ascendance phase; it helps to disrupt entrenched actors, is anti-democratic and anti-liberalism, and promotes racial/cultural purity, manliness, and the combinatio of rap as a ethod of purifying the chosen people in a state against internal and external forces.

In power, Fascists are forced to ake some political sacrifices and reach common ground with some other actors- usually traditional authoritarian and far right conservatives.

While overtly holding up the leaders as supreme, these groups often promoted the more radical side of Fascism, and utilized violence to get there way, and challenge authority.

Fascist movements organized themselves to mirror the state; for xample, the party often had " ministries " of foreign affairs, of the interior, economy, culture etc.

Apparently, the party organizations and their mirrored state bureaucracies often overlapped in authority, giving the Fascist regimes an inefficient and chaotic process to develop policies.

Paxton examines the differences between traditional authoritarian dictatorships and Fascist dictatorships as well.

Paxton notes Italy degraded over time into a more traditional authoritarian state, only reviving Fascism during the Ethiopian invasion and later in the German puppet state of Salo.

White Supremacists and the radical right in the United States are much more vocal than they have been for any ecades, and if they are eage to rganize and receive popular support they may start looking more Fascist.

Paxton warns against the declin of left leaning political groups and activists to brand every right wing movement Fascist; although Fascism as it has historically existed is mercurial, the se of thi term too frequently risks numbing the power of the word; remember that the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini were extremely violent.

The makeup and characteristics of these movements lack the overt appeal to violence, radical racial cleansing, expansionist warfare, and totalitarian appeals to party control over the state, that Fascist regimes have historically been characterized by.All in all, a fairl intriguing read.

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Attempts a wittgensteinian, as opposed to a platonist, definition of fascism, drawing its operative principles from the laboratory of history, rather than penciling out starry-eyed presuppositions ab initio.Definition seeks to analyze five stages of a fascist organization: movement formation, obtaining legitimacy, obtaining state power, exercising same, and terminal radicalization.

Suffers from two hiccoughs: a) wants very much to distinguish itself from determinist arguments: “ Having assembled a collectio of preconditions, intellectual roots, and longer-term structural preconditions, we could be tempted to believe we can foresee exactly where fascism is likely to appear, grow, and take power.

Inevitably, the number of bona fide fascist movements that exercise state power is very limited in this conception.

ery much identifies fascism as a movement of the far lef, and notes that despite its claims about being revolutionary, it does not upset property or state in the manner that the French Revolution thought of revolutions.

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Or does it further diminish and trivialize the historical sense of fascism? I am not ‘ most people, ’ but I am lookin to guess, in the very half-assed way, that when most people refer to fascists or fascism ( with respect not to history, but to contemporary events or persons), they generally intend an accusation ( exaggerated or not) of the buse of authority and power, a contempt for individual rights and liberties, and an irrational fealty to a very unusua and narrow view of the pat he world would be.

Paxton ’ s The Anatomy of Fascism, a needful corrective to the popular conception of fascism—not merely in the service of historical accuracy, but also as a important reminder that the vampires of fascism, as a viable electoral current, haunt global politics even to this day.

ascism, in both Italy and Germany, was a popular movement; it was not inflicted from above but was empowered from below, initially by legal electoral means.

Another is why fascism is sometimes categorized as ‘ neither left nor right ’ —an aberrant ‘ other ’ that is s easily situated in our neat political spectrum.Although Paxton leaves open some avenues for interpretation, he asserts that the las two political regimes sufficiently realized to be considered fascist are Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Paxton describes how these latter regimes all fail to meet bot of the requirement of fascism—such as a failing democratic tradition, national humiliation, demonization of the ‘ other ’ which must be purged in order to purify the nation, mass politics, the laughte of public passions, national aggrandizement, and ommitment to violence and war.

Similarly, he is occasionally allusive, to the etriment of readers who will not familiar with ll of thi historical people and events to which he is referring.

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He looks at the experiences in many differen countries, outlying elements of fascism and why they did not succeed in becoming fully fledged.

He further casts a careful eye over political movements worldwide post 1945.He is clear that there is no one size fits all: the fascist model will tailor itself to the individual country, its national characteristics, culture etc.

Paxton illustrates this clearly when he looks at the styles of leadership of Mussolini and Hitler.

But, hen, Mussolini found it lmost impossible to delegate whilst Hitler was a master of delegation.Paxton argues that fascism needs the existence of a developed leftist socialism which has participated in government and been compromised by it.

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We have two fascist systems that survived to full maturity—Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, of course—as well as various other ( principally European) varieties that were either stillborn, snuffed out while still in rocess of taking root, allowed to languish, stagnant, under the han of one of the ther main political isms, or propped up by one of the two principal variations ( almost always that of Germany) and thus prevented from exercising power under their own individual head of steam.Paxton has separated fascism into five stages, in each of which it generally adhered to certain basic rules of development and manners of operating—basic enough that studying each individual stage can yield rewarding results in attempting to discover exactly what fascism comprises, and how it achieved its remarkable growth in such a lon period of time and against all likelihood of actually grasping the opportunity to do so.Creating Fascist Movements examines the cultural, ocietal, political and ideological origins of fascism in the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, culminating in the ftermath of World War One, which show Italy and Germany as young advanced industrial countries and new to mass democratic politics, harbouring deep resentments to perceived betrayals by the liberal elites during the war, anger towards an influx of non-assimilating immigrants and ethnic minorities, a feeling of decline and decay of a once vibrant and superior culture and community, and terrible fear of succumbing to a communist or socialist revolution under the auspices of Russian Bolshevism.

Thi latter here prove their pliability and adaptability, morphing and maneuvering to fit themselves into the political spaces made available by liberal parliaments deadlocked between bickering socialist parties and ultra-cautious conservatives, while making great use of propaganda, pageantry, and the mesmerizing charisma of their demagogue leaders in inspiring and growing their base with a vision of national destiny and greatness.Getting Power explodes many of the myths surrounding the fascists' elevation into dominating governmental positions—in all cases, though buttressed by the violent and disruptive behavior of their party militias, they rode a momentum-fueled expanding vote into coalitions with those same conservative parties that, whatever their distaste for the fascist 'thugs', sought to use them to further authoritarian and orderly ends ( as did the business elites, preferring anything to socialism).

Unexpectedly, after two hundred pages of asterful and instructive investigation, the author assembles the various actions and developments of mid-century fascism, weighs it against the early foundational rhetoric of its innovative originators, and molds it down to a sterling and pithy handle: Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and urity, 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 constraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.Paxton has littered the text with an abundance of documentary notes, which often provide brief-but-informative insights into the subject under discussion; there is lso a superbly developed bibliographic essay at the beginnin that points towards a wealth of further reading material—overwhelming in its comprehensiveness, but immensely helpful in steering the reader along further avenues of interest sparked by Paxton 's guidance.

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condition for the rise of fascism is a failing democracy.

Italy and Germany as newly united countries with weak young democracies provided the opening for fascists to begin their push to power with violence that went mostly unprosecuted.

Their shares were usually in the high 30s and low 40s.Paxton gives a short survey of fascism across history and the globe.

Most fascist movements have occurred in the east, since they grow from failed democracies.

Paxton notes that in every democracy there is th small percentage of fascists, it goe the right conditions to create the opening.This is an exceptional nove.

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