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5 The Growth of Nonfascist Authoritarianism in Southern and Eastern Europe, 1919-1929 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 in the advanced societies of northern and northwestern Europe, where deep foundations had been laid well before 1919. The only new states that managed to preserve democratic and constitutional systems were Finland, Ireland, and Czechoslovakia. In all other societies of central, southern, and eastern Europe, parliamentary government succumbed to varying forms of authoritarianism during the 1920s and 1930s. The most important factors in sustaining a democratic and constitutional system seem to have been the level of economic development and modernization ; the length of historic experience as a participatory liberal and constitutional regime; resolution prior to World War I of basic problems of religion, regional integration, and most other internal middle-class issues; the existence of a primarily social democratic rather than revolutionary left; and the status of either victor or neutral in World War I. Not one or even two of these factors were enough to preserve constitutional government in interwar systems, but taken as a whole they seem to account for the major differences.' The potenI . Germany was technologically and economically highly modern and yet failed to maintain democracy; the new Irish Republic rested on a largely rural and underdeveloped economy, yet 129 130 PART I: HISTORY tially independent variable in any historical circumstance is that of political contingency, particularly the factor of leadership.2 One of the most important variables was simply that of having developed broad political participation relatively early in the era of modern politics. For those societies in which universal male suffrage arrived only in 1919, it would turn out to have come too late, at least for the interwar generation. Equally important would be the issue of sociopolitical alliances. In the surviving parliamentary regimes, alliances of liberals and moderate social democratic labor forces were established before or soon after World War I. By contrast, isolated labor movements were usually unable or unwilling to reenforce democracy, particularly when they organized broad fronts of rural as well as urban workers, as in Italy and Spain.3 Democratic political outcomes took the form in northern and northwestern Europe either of broad middle-class center-right center alliances (as in Britain), or social democratic left-center alliances of moderate urban workers and middle-class farmers, as in Scandinavia. The generation following World War I produced the most extreme political conflict in all European history, as political society in many countries both fragmented and at the same time often tended to polarize between right and left. That this was such an era of extreme conflict was caused not merely by the traumatic effects of the war but also by fundamental new changes, for this was also the first generation to experience the full impact of the broad processes of both modernization and democratization. Urbanization increased, educational opportunities were extended, and the lower and middle classes were much more broadly organized and politically conscious than before the war. But for most of Europe, the war had ended and even reversed the trend toward expanding economic production and greater well-being, so that there was much keener competition after the war for larger shares of a smaller pie. The destruction of the old order and the weakening of prewar institutions greatly increased the strength of the left in most countries, but these same experiences also encouraged the rapid expansion of new nationalist groups that were generally more radical and more broadly based than those before the war, creating conditions for heightened conflict. By 1939, when the next war began, authoritarian regimes of diverse stripes would outnumber representative constitutional systems by sixteen to twelve. Whether or not this amounted to a true preserved it. Similarly. workers in a number of the countries where democracy broke down were primarily social democratic. 2. The best brief discussion of the reasons for success or failure in interwar democracies is J. J. Linz. "La crisis de las democracias." in Europa en crisis. 1919-1939. ed. M. Cabrera et al. (Madrid. 1992),231-80. 3. Gregory M. Luebbert, in Liberalism. Fascism or Social Democracy (New York. 1991). has presented the most original new analysis of interwar sociopolitical alliances and emphasizes this point (303-5 and throughout). Authoritarianism in Southern and Eastern Europe, 1919-1929 131 "fascist...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299148737
Related ISBN
9780299148744
MARC Record
OCLC
45733847
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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