Liberalism, Fascism, or Social Democracy: Social Classes and the Political Origins of Regimes in Interwar Europe

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This work provides a sweeping historical analysis of the political development of Western Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Arguing that the evolution of most Western European nations into liberal democracies, social democracies, or fascist regimes was attributable to a discrete set of social class alliances, the author explores the origins and outcomes of the political development in the individual nations. In Britain, France, and Switzerland, countries with a unified middle class, liberal forces established political hegemony before World War I. By coopting considerable sections of the working class with reforms that weakened union movements, liberals essentially excluded the fragmented working class from the political process, remaining in power throughout the inter-war period. In countries with a strong, cohesive working class and a fractured middle class, Luebbert points out, a liberal solution was impossible. In Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia, political coalitions of social democrats and the "family peasantry" emerged as a result of the First World War, leading to social democratic governments. In Italy, Spain, and Germany, on the other hand, the urban middle class united with a peasantry hostile to socialism to facilitate the rise of fascism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195066111
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/1991
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 1
I The Origins
2. Ties That Would Divide: Liberal--Labor Alliances in Britain, France, and Switzerland before the War 15
Britain 15
France 27
Weakness of the Labor Movement in Britain and France 37
Switzerland 48
Epilogue 52
3. Cleavage Structures and the Failure of Liberal Movements in Late Nineteenth-Century Europe 55
Liberal Weakness: A Survey 56
Some Explanations of Liberal Weakness 59
Cleavage Structures and the Failure of Liberal Movements 63
Modernization, Cleavages, and Political Struggles 97
Where Backwardness Mattered 98
Epilogue 107
4. The Break with Liberalism and the Formation of Working-Class Movements 110
Abortive Lib--Labism and the Rise of Working-Class Movements 110
Germany 115
Norway 121
Sweden 125
Denmark 133
Belgium and the Netherlands 139
Italy 144
Spain 151
Imperialism, Nationalism, and Class Integration 153
A Note on Leadership and Choice 156
Epilogue 157
5. The Organization of Workers: Liberal and Aliberal Societies Compared 159
Parties 159
Trade Unions: Membership and Organizational Coherence 169
A Note on Industrial Concentration 180
A Note on the Role of the State 181
Epilogue: Toward the Great War 184
II The Outcomes
6. War, Crisis, and the Stabilization of the Liberal Order 191
Postwar Crises and Liberal Responses 194
The Defeat of the Working-Class Movement 199
Stabilization of the Liberal Order 226
Epilogue 232
7. Narrowing the Aliberal Outcomes: Liberalism's Final Failure and the Irrelevance of Traditional Dictatorship 234
Neither Liberalism Nor Lib--Labism 236
Politics against Markets 249
Irrelevance of Traditional Dictatorship 258
8. Social Democracy and Fascism 267
Social Democracy: The Scandinavian Solution 267
Fascism: The Solution of Germany, Italy, and Spain 272
Family Peasantry: A Pivotal Force 277
Red-Green Alliance and Social Democratic Hegemony 285
Rural Class Conflicts and Fascist Hegemony 295
Epilogue 303
9. Conclusion: Class Alliances and Transition to Mass Politics 306
A Structuralist Argument 306
Structuralism and Other Arguments Compared 307
Drawing Lessons from Europe 310
Notes 317
Bibliography 377
Index 403
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