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14 Fascism and Modernization 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 by some to have been in some way related to the major processes of modernization under way in Europe at that time. There is, however, no agreement among historians as to the character of that relationship. As one Italian scholar has recently observed: There is now a widespread consensus among political sociologists that fascism is in some way or another connected with a pathological interaction between modernity and backwardness. That in other words it is one of the possible permutations of modernization. There is however less unanimity on the chief characteristics of such modernization . To what category of "perverse modernity" does it belong? I One way of accounting for fascism has been to suggest that it was a modern phenomenon that was nonetheless strongly, perhaps principally, informed by antimodern attitudes and values. Though James Burnham early claimed fascism as one aspect of the modern managerial revolution, for Talcott Parsons fascism represented a radical form of resistance to modernization.2 The most sagacious statement of this thesis was made by Henry Turner.3 Such interpretaI . Marco Revelli, in The Social Basis of European Fascist Movements, ed. D. Miihlberger (New York, 1987), I. 2. J. Burnham, The Managerial Revolution (New York, 1941); T. Parsons, "Some Sociological Aspects of the Fascist Movement," in his Essays in Sociological Theory (Glencoe, III., 1954), 124-41. 3. H. A. Turner Jr., "Fascism and Modernization," World Politics 24:4 (1972): 547-64, reprinted in Reappraisals qfFascism. ed. H. A. Turner Jr. (New York, 1975), 117-39. It should be 471 472 PART II: INTERPRETATION tions have been derived primarily but not exclusively from the German case and refer to National Socialism's opposition-real or perceived-to emancipation, egalitarianism, rationalism, scientism, urbanism, industrialism, and feminism. Fascism in general would thus be understood as the kind of radical mass movement that was primarily opposed to modernism, as distinct from communism and certain others that have purportedly prompted modernization. As in all monocausal and unireferential concepts of fascism, this one is too limited to deal adequately with so complex a movement, but since it lies near the center of many discussions of fascism, it merits more detailed examination. During the past generation, modernity itself has become a very complex and controversial topic. On the one hand, it is declared by some to lie already in the past, the late twentieth century having become "postmodern." On the other hand, the easy assumptions about the correlation between modernization and progress have been called increasingly into question. There has developed a more general recognition that not all modernization brings "progress." To render the concepts intelligible, we may begin by defining modernization as industrialization, urbanization, secularization, and rationalization. These four processes are central to what most social scientists have referred to as modernization. Several general theorists of modernization, it should be noted, have tended to view fascism as positively related to the modernization process, though their discussion of fascism is too general and limited to be of much use.4 Let us therefore start by examining the programs, doctrines, and propaganda in some of the main fascist movements and then proceed to the actual policies and performance of the only two noteworthy fascist regimes. The case of paradigmatic Italian Fascism seems clear enough during its first phase. The chief group of Fascist doctrinaires stemmed from revolutionary syndicalism, and at the core of their break with Marxism was not merely the principle of nationalism but also the concept of relative class coordination in achieving greater overall productivity and a modernized economy. The original Fascist program stood for economic modernization combined with more equal distribution, the reduction of traditional elites, ruthless secularization, voting rights for women, and the rapid renovation of Italian culture. In the arts, early Italian Fascism was completely identified with the avant-garde. Within two years early Fascism lost its quasileftist identity, but the shift to noted, however, that Turner questions the generic approach and suggests that the relationship in an underdeveloped country like Italy may have been quite different from the German case. See also H. Mommsen, "Nationalsozialismus als vorgetauschte Modernisierung." in Der historische Ort des Nationalsozialismus, ed. W. Perle (Frankfurt, 1990), 31-46, and M. Rauh, "Anti-Modernismus im nationalsozialistischen Staat," Historischeslahrbuch 107 (1987): 94-12l. 4. For...

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