A History of Fascism, 1914–1945
Publication Year: 1996
“A History of Fascism is an invaluable sourcebook, offering a rare combination of detailed information and thoughtful analysis. It is a masterpiece of comparative history, for the comparisons enhance our understanding of each part of the whole. The term ‘fascist,’ used so freely these days as a pejorative epithet that has nearly lost its meaning, is precisely defined, carefully applied and skillfully explained. The analysis effectively restores the dimension of evil.”—Susan Zuccotti, The Nation
“A magisterial, wholly accessible, engaging study. . . . Payne defines fascism as a form of ultranationalism espousing a myth of national rebirth and marked by extreme elitism, mobilization of the masses, exaltation of hierarchy and subordination, oppression of women and an embrace of violence and war as virtues.”—Publishers Weekly
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, Copyright
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In 1980 I published a brief book, Fascism: Comparison and Definition, which sought to establish a working definition and a comparative taxonomy of historic European fascism. The work was well received, and I hope that it added some clarity and precision...
Introduction: Fascism: A Working Definition
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At the end of the twentieth century fascism remains probably the vaguest of the major political terms. This may stem from the fact that the word itself contains no explicit political reference, however abstract, as do democracy, liberalism, socialism...
Part I: History
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1. The Cultural Transformation of the Fin de siècle
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The era of world wars from 1914 to 1945 constituted the most intense period of international strife and also of domestic social and political conflict in modem history. Many of the forces that helped to generate such conflict had undergone long gestation during...
2. Radical and Authoritarian Nationalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Europe
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Though the nineteenth century was the time of the greatest expansion of civic and personal freedom in world history to that point, individualist liberalism was increasingly contested by two new forms of political collectivism-nationalism and socialism...
3. The Impact of World War I
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The continuity of government, culture, and institutions in much of Europe was shattered by the impact of World War I, which ended the century-long peace that, with a few exceptions, had existed since the close of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. Its destructiveness...
4. The Rise of Italian Fascism, 1919–1929
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Italy, like the other new nations of the 1860s-Germany, Japan, Hungary, and Romania-was a latecomer to international competition and, like all the other new nations save Germany, faced daunting problems of internal development and modernization...
5. The Growth of Nonfascist Authoritarianism in Southern and Eastern Europe, 1919–1929
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Though liberal and democratic principles largely prevailed in the peacemaking of 1919 and in the formation of the new regimes of central and eastern Europe, this triumph was temporary. During the generation that followed, liberal democracy survived primarily...
6. German National Socialism
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Many who use the term fascism are referring not to the Italian movement led by Mussolini but to German National Socialism, or the "Nazis" (as their foes soon termed them, from the pronunciation of the first two syllables of national in German). Most theories...
7. The Transformation of Italian Fascism, 1929–1939
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The Fascist regime passed through several relatively distinct phases during its history of more than two decades. The first phase of Mussolini's government, from the March on Rome to the beginning of 1925, had been a nominal continuation of the parliamentary regime...
8. Four Major Variants of Fascism
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Before World War II, only two fascist-type movements were able to come to power, and these two were the only ones to create historically significant fascist regimes. Though the radicalizing impact of the depression, combined with the influence of Nazi Germany...
9. The Minor Movements
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The movement toward nationalist authoritarianism was steady in interwar Europe, from the March on Rome in 1922. Chronologically, the breakdown of parliamentary government moved as follows: 1922-25, Italy; 1923/1936, Spain; 1926, Poland...
10. Fascism Outside Europe?
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Whether or not political forces with the primary characteristics of European fascism have emerged elsewhere has been a problematic question for some analysts, though it has posed no problem for the observer who assumes that any form...
11. World War II: Climax and Destruction of Fascism
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Fascism was the most overtly militarist of all the modern revolutionary ideologies in its style, rhetoric, and goals. In practice it was no more violent than Marxism-Leninism and in fact did not promote so high a degree of structural militarism as contemporary...
Part II: Interpretation
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12. Interpretations of Fascism
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Ever since the March on Rome, analysts and other writers have sought to formulate an interpretation or theory capable of explaining fascism. As the only genuinely novel form of radicalism emerging from World War I, and one that seemed to involve multiple...
13. Generic Fascism?
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Not merely has the interpretation or search for causes of fascism generated immense controversy and widely discordant theories, but there is a persistent tendency among historians to conclude that no such unified genus of political movements...
14. Fascism and Modernization
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In chapter 12 we saw that one of the principal controversies in the interpretation of fascism has concerned its relationship to modernization. As the only uniquely new political phenomenon of the early twentieth century, fascism has been thought...
15. Elements of a Retrodictive Theory of Fascism
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The search for an adequate theory or interpretation of fascism has generally ended in failure, so that over the years the residue left by such discussions has come to resemble, in MacGregor Knox's phrase, the remains of a desert battlefield littered with abandoned...
Epilogue: Neofascism: A Fascism in Our Future?
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Fascism failed to achieve world significance as a driving force of the twentieth century, but, as Ernst Nolte earlier concluded, it did acquire an epochal significance in Europe during the era of World War II. Even in Europe, however, it failed to develop...
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Publication Year: 1996