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9 The Minor Movements 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; 192311936, Spain; 1926, Poland; 1926, Lithuania; 1926, Portugal; 192611936, Greece; 1929, Yugoslavia; 1933, Germany; 1933, Austria; 1938, Romania; 1938, Czechoslovakia. By the time that World War II began, Europe had more authoritarian than parliamentary regimes. Yet with the exceptions of the Soviet Union, Italy, and Germany, there was a tendency to replace the parliamentary government with syncretistic, semipluralist forms of right-wing dictatorship, normally without a developed single-party system and usually without a revolutionary new fascist-type component. That is, authoritarianism normally did not mean fascism, even though it became common for authoritarian regimes to imitate certain aspects of the fascist style. Though the initial establishment of the Mussolini regime sparked a number 9f minor imitative fascist or would-be fascist movements in a variety of European countries, none of the new organizations established outside Italy, Germany, and Austria during the 1920s achieved any significance except for the Legion of the Archangel Michael. The major diffusion of fascist movements throughout Europe occurred during the following decade, in the aftermath of Hitler's triumph. Moreover, the growing power of the Nazi regime stimulated rightist movements and right-wing authoritarian regimes to adopt varying degrees of "fascistization"-certain outward trappings of fascist style-to present a more modern and dynamic image, with the hope of attaining broader mobilization and infrastructure. The characteristics of the many new fascist movements of the 1930s, like those of their predecessors in the preceding decade, varied considerably. 290 The Minor Movements 291 What was common to most of them, beyond a minimum of basic fascist characteristics , was their political failure and complete marginalization. Even at the height of the so-called fascist era, a successful fascist movement was the exception which proved the rule that fascist movements-with their eclectic and revolutionary doctrines, their violence and militarism, their unusually high levels of self-contradiction, and their nonrationalist philosophies-were quite unsuccessful. ABORTIVE FASCIST MOVEMENTS IN THE DEMOCRACIES Preconditions for successful fascist movements did not exist in the northern European democracies. There liberal democracy already had deep roots (with the exception of the new states of Czechoslovakia, Finland, and Ireland), and frustrated nationalism was not an issue. Generally the democracies enjoyed higher standards of living, a broader diffusion of property, and greater economic security. Thus, with only one brief exception in Holland, no generically fascist movement could gain more than 2 percent of the vote in general elections in any of the stable democracies of central and northern Europe. France France is the home of modern politics in both the negative and positive senses of the term. Though it achieved the first successful large democracy on the European continent, France also shared many of the characteristics of southern European politics: repressive centralization, revolutionary rather than evolutionary patterns of change, radical adversary intelligentsia cultures, class antagonisms, and extremist splinter politics. Zeev Sternhell has conclusively demonstrated that nearly all the ideas found in fascism first appeared in France.l The fusion of radical nationalism with revolutionary and semicollectivist socioeconomic aspirations first occurred there, and in parallel fashion France was the first major country in which the revolutionary left rejected parliamentarianism while supporting a kind of nationalism. Similarly, the effects of the cultural and intellectual revolution of the 1890s extended further in France than in any other country outside the greater German and Italian cultural areas. What of course was different was simply the general situation of France compared with that of most countries in central and eastern Europe. France was one of the oldest and most successful of all national states, a victor in World War I, a prosperous and in general socially balanced country, and one of the two dominant imperial powers in the world. Ultimately there was little need I. In La Droile revo/lIliol1l1aire and other works cited in chapter 2. 292 PART I: HISTORY or room for new revolutionary nationalism. For these and other reasons, the consensus among both French and also foreign historians has been that France generally remained free of the "fascist temptation" between the wars. More recently, however, younger scholars have challenged the prevailing consensus, holding that in France fascism and authoritarianism presented a more severe challenge than in any other surviving democracy.~ Several of the prewar right authoritarian nationalist groups survived into interwar France. The League of Patriots...


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