Anatomy of Fascismby Robert O. Paxton
Pub. Date: 03/28/2005
Publisher: Viking Penguin
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 first time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they said. From the first violent uniformed bands beating up “enemies of the state,” through/i>
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 first time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they said. From the 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 will have 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 compelling and important book transforms our knowledge of fascism–“the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain.”
- Viking Penguin
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Introduction
The Invention of Fascism
Images of Fascism
Where Do We Go from Here?
Chapter 2 Creating Fascist Movements
The Immediate Background
Intellectual, Cultural, and Emotional Roots
Understanding Fascism by Its Origins
Chapter 3 Taking Root
—(1) The Po Valley, Italy, 1920–22
—(2) Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, 1928–33
An Unsuccessful Fascism: France, 1924–40
Some Other Unsuccessful Fascisms
Comparisons and Conclusions
Chapter 4 Getting Power
Mussolini and the “March on Rome”
Hitler and the “Backstairs Conspiracy”
What Did Not Happen: Election, Coup d’Etat, Solo Triumph Forming Alliances
What Fascists Offered the Establishment
The Prefascist Crisis
Revolutions after Power: Germany and Italy
Comparisons and Alternatives
Chapter 5 Exercising Power
The Nature of Fascist Rule: “Dual State” and Dynamic Shapelessness
The Tug-of-War between Fascists and Conservatives
The Tug-of-War between Leader and Party
The Tug-of-War between Party and State
Accommodation, Enthusiasm, Terror
The Fascist “Revolution”
Chapter 6 The Long Term: Radicalization or Entropy?
What Drives Radicalization?
Trying to Account for the Holocaust
Italian Radicalization: Internal Order, Ethiopia, Salò
Chapter 7 Other Times, Other Places
Is Fascism Still Possible?
Western Europe since 1945
Post-Soviet Eastern Europe
Fascism Outside Europe
Chapter 8 What Is Fascism?
What Is Fascism?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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While I hesitate (based on my lack of credentials in the area) to characterize this relatively short work as 'brilliant', I have overcome my reserve after a second reading. It is informative, insightful and remarkably topical. Unlike the encyclopaedic history on the movement by Stanley Payne, this book attempts (and accomplishes) a lucid synthesis of the 'essence' of this political scheme. While the various fascist analogues are explored and expounded upon in lucid depth (e.g., the Croate Ustacha movement), the author avoids a tedious catalogue of trivial and pedantic data in his synopsis. He devises many quotable aphorisms during his exposition and cleverly defers a definition of the term until the end of the book, while repeatedly noting the difficulties involved in defining a movement that lacked a coherent intellectual foundation from it's beginning. After careful reading of the book, the final definition and necessary points for including a movement under the 'fascist' rubric are ineluctably obvious. The inevitable (and retrospectively sophomoric) tendency to use the term as an epithet was revealed as either a simple rhetorical device or, more likely, a lack of understanding of the concepts. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the book was the extension to more modern phenomena, such as religious terrorist movements and some current governments. The parallels to Islamicist systems were, to me, quite striking, though the analogy to the present Israeli government was less convincing. In summary, this was an outstanding work and should be carefully studied by all students of the subject.