The Americas 60.4 (2004) 672-673
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Studies of fascism and nationalism in Argentina have proliferated in the last decade. The works of Sandra McGee Deutsch, David Rock, Loris Zanatta and more recently Marcus Klein and Daniel Lvovich have given new life to this field. The publication of Alberto Spektorowski's new book is an important continuation of this historiographical trend. Spektorowski stresses the revolutionary dimensions of the Argentine nacionalistas. He questions the idea that nationalist groups in the 1930's and 1940's were mainly conservative or reactionary. For Spektorowski the Argentine nationalists were above all fascists. Following the hypothesis of Zeev Sternhell, Spektorowski understands fascism as an amalgam of extreme right wing nationalism, and anti-Marxist and anti-bourgeois revisions of socialism. While not excluding its anti-Communist dimensions, he sees fascism as essentially anti-enlightenment and anti-liberal.
The book begins with a Sternhellian analysis of European theories of fascism and relates them to the Argentine case. Spektorowski then addresses the Argentine antecedents of the same ideological synthesis of Maurras and Sorel that Sternhell analyzed for Europe. Spektorowski notes the central role that the fascist poet Leopoldo Lugones—who he aptly describes as an Argentine D'Annunzio—played in this process. In the most polemical part of his book, Spektorowski stresses the ideological links between right and left within Argentine nationalism. Spektorowski focuses on the question of Argentine neutrality during the Second World War as it was represented in the writings of renowned nacionalistaintellectuals in journals like Nueva Política and Nuevo Orden and the members of FORJA (a non-Marxist nationalist group of radical party intellectuals). He demonstrates how both, nacionalista and FORJA members did not want to enter the war on the side of the allies and shared an anti-imperialist vision of international relations. However Spektorowski does not demonstrate that these groups shared a similar ideological fascist synthesis nor does he address the question of whether this synthesis was part of the actual political experience of rightists and leftists alike. In general, both groups did [End Page 672] not partake in political acts together and often saw each other as opposites in the political spectrum.
Spektorowski's stress on the Argentine fascists' social and economic concerns during the thirties is one of the most original aspects of this book. He shows how Argentine fascists' concerns for economic autarchy and social justice foreshadowed Peronism in both form and substance. This leads him to his main hypothesis: that Argentine fascism constituted the ideological preamble to Peronism. By way of conclusion, Spektorowski argues that the "first Peronist regime continued the ideological synthesis elaborated by the nationalist right and left while adding a populist slant to it" (p. 205). To be sure, Spektorowski's stress on continuity is illuminating but there were more sui generis elements in Peronism than a mere "populist slant." And many historians will not agree with the more hyperbolic aspects of this argument. It tends to emphasize certain ideological tropes, thus occluding certain Peronists particularities that were absent in Argentine fascism (i.e. mass working class support, class mobilization and unionization, among others.) Spektorowski also gives limited attention to anti-Semitism. Yet, anti-Semitism was clearly a central facet in Argentine fascist ideology and it was only a minor element in Peronism.
These objections notwithstanding, Spektorowski's work represents an excellent addition to the historiography. It reveals the connections between fascism and longstanding tendencies in Argentine political culture. This is the legacy of Argentina's revolution of the right.
Ithaca, New York