, Volume 63, Issue 4, pp 303-313,
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Stanisław Brzozowski and fascism

Abstract

In this article, Brzozowski’s much discussed connections with fascism are reconsidered in the context of interpretations of fascism by Sternhell and Gentile. At the end of his life, Brzozowski tried to reconcile socialism and nationalism. He criticized orthodox Marxism and liberal democracy, underlined the political and cultural importance of the nation, praised irrationalism, strength, imperialism, heroism, asceticism, the labourer and the soldier as ideal attitudes with regard to the world. He wanted to turn Poland into a modern nation, but feared some consequences of modernity. Brzozowski’s ambivalent attitude towards modernity precludes finding an adequate description for them, in particular in the Polish and Central European context, although his concepts were similar to those of some of his contemporaries from France or Italy, such as Georges Sorel or the “La Voce” group, as well as “antimoderns” as described by Antoine Compagnon. At present labels such as “fascism” or even “proto-fascism” seem to be too ambiguous to grasp the originality of Brzozowski’s thinking. The Polish thinker’s case suggests a reconsideration of Sternhell’s thesis that Eastern-European Marxism remained loyal to the Heglian, rationalist, and materialist essence of Marxism.