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‘Never Again!’: Anti-Fascism, 1946–66

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Abstract

The human and material cost of the Second World War alongside revelations of the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities ensured that in the postwar world fascism was universally regarded as an evil obscenity, a doctrine of brutality, destruction, intolerance and genocide. More specifically, in Britain, anti-fascist attitudes became central to constructions of national identity, with animosity towards Nazi Germany and the heroic struggle against Hitler functioning as major sources of national loyalty and patriotic pride.1 Significantly, this fusion of anti-fascism with nationalism reinforced perceptions, dating from the inter-war period, that fascism was essentially an alien creed inimical to British culture and traditions. Whereas the British were ‘liberal’, ‘tolerant’ and ‘decent’, fascists were ‘foreign’ and ‘intolerant’, ‘fanatics’ who were intent on the physical extermination of Jewry. From this angle, fascism was viewed as an abhorrent foreign ideology that was incapable of ever taking root in British society. The failure of Mosley in the 1930s appeared to provide further confirmation that fascism was indeed antithetical to British cultural values. Therefore, it was widely assumed that given these conditions, fascist activity in postwar Britain could be safely ignored. In short, fascism was a thoroughly shameful ‘foreign import’, a futile effort destined for political failure.

Keywords

  • Communist Party
  • Jewish Community
  • Labour Government
  • Labour Party
  • Union Movement

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Notes

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© 2000 Nigel Copsey

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Copsey, N. (2000). ‘Never Again!’: Anti-Fascism, 1946–66. In: Anti-Fascism in Britain. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230509153_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230509153_4

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-40208-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-230-50915-3

  • eBook Packages: Palgrave History CollectionHistory (R0)