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The ‘Fascist Effect’: On the Dynamics of Political Hybridization in Inter-War Europe

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Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship in Europe

Abstract

Since the 1980s the historiography of fascism has produced a series of works that share a determination to ‘take fascism seriously’ — as a distinct ideological, political, and social phenomenon. Whether theoretical, classificatory or comparative, these works may have differed substantially in terms of their understanding of the essence of ‘fascism’ and the optimal methodological framework for its analysis; but together they brought about a significant recalibration of analytical tools, charting new — and mostly fruitful — avenues of interpretation and further research. Moving steadily away from the barely theorized and indiscriminate ‘survey’ paradigms of the 1950s and 1960s, ‘fascism’ started to gradually emerge as a coherent and distinct ‘ism’, rooted in wider intellectual currents of its historical context but underpinned by distinct and novel ideological-political qualities that were now seen as crucial to its formation and conceptual understanding.1 Gradually recognized as a ‘third-way’ ideology,2 sharing specific elements from existing worldviews but propagating a new kind of ‘revolutionary’ synthesis that went beyond existing political templates, ‘fascism’ came to be regarded as the vertex of ideological and political radicalism in inter-war Europe — not only across the full left-right spectrum but also within the political space of the European right. It was considered ‘totalitarian’ as opposed to ‘authoritarian’, radical as opposed to conservative, active and mass-mobilizing (populist) as opposed to passive and top-down, even ‘revolutionary’ as opposed to reactionary.

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Notes

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© 2014 Aristotle Kallis

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Kallis, A. (2014). The ‘Fascist Effect’: On the Dynamics of Political Hybridization in Inter-War Europe. In: Pinto, A.C., Kallis, A. (eds) Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137384416_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137384416_2

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