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Epilogue Neofascism: A Fascism in Our Future? 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 broad popular support in most countries. Its total defeat in 1945, followed by the enormous changes which took place in the years that followed , meant that the same forms of fascism could not be effectively revived. Absolute military disaster put an end to the imperial ambitions of the new states of the 1860s, while the bipolarization of the Cold War ended the "international anarchy" ofearly twentieth-century Europe. The suppression of political freedom by communism in the East and the development of broadly stable democracy in the West denied political space to radical alternatives, while the long and unprecedented prosperity of western Europe that began around 1950 greatly eased social tensions. In the postwar world the major competing ideological forces shared a common humanist materialism, to the exclusion of either the older idealism or vitalism. The triumph of a hedonist and consumerist materialism increasingly cut the ground from under calls to revolutionary asceticism and idealism-whether fascist or Communist. This was accentuated by the general crisis of authority in the Western world, together with broadly accepted norms of equality and growing social individualism and atomization. All the preconditions of fascism discussed in chapter 15 disappeared in postwar Europe. Yet, though fascism had disappeared as a force, fascists in greatly diminished numbers remained. As the most distinctive new radicalism of the century, fascism had left a seemingly permanent, if very limited, cultural residue . Thus even more fascist and right radical grouplets and organizations have 496 Epilogue 497 appeared during the past half century than in the so-called era of fascism between the wars.1 Partly because of their very weakness they have emphasized international contacts and interassociation more than did the classic fascist movements, and they have found counterparts in the United States and many different parts ofthe world. Moreover, with the collapse of communism, fascist and right radical groups have become increasingly active in Russia and eastern Europe. During the second half of the twentieth century it has been more common for serious students to classify the main forces of authoritarian nationalism in Europe under the rubric of "the radical right." Following American social science usage, this terminology entered Germany in the 1950s and has been commonly employed since.2 The need to adjust to a radically different climate of affairs has meant that those groups which hope to compete electorally in stable democracies have had to modify their positions considerably, so that, unlike historic fa~cists or the more genuine neofascists, they stand explicitly at the far right of the political spectrum. Economic prosperity, nominal egalitarianism , and the wdfare state have eliminated the more revolutionary kind of social appeal used by historic fascism, so that the newer right radical movements appeal rather more to established interests and do not propound any revolutionary changes in social structure. Moreover, even the more radical and genuinely neofascist gronps sometimes accept the rightist designation for themselveswhich no genuine fascist would have done in the 1920s. In an age of mass egalitarianism their message does not playas revolutionary a role. For convenience 's sake, the tripartite taxonomy of fascist, radical right, and moderate authoritarian right used throughout this book may still be applied to the second half of thc century, though with the general understanding that those few groups which have achieved any real electoral success will fit more into a right1 . Among the general works that have sought to cover neofascism are the following: D. Eisenberg, Fascistes l't nazis d'aujourd'hui (Paris, 1963); A. Del Boca and M. Giovana, Fascism Today: A World Survey (New York, 1969); G. Gaddi, Neofascismo in Europa (Milan, 1974); F. Laurent, L'orchestre noir (Paris, 1978); 1.-M. Theolleyre, Les neo-nazis (Paris, 1982); M. N. Filatov and A. I. Ryabov. Fashizm BOx (Alma Ata, 1983); K. von Beyme, ed., "Right-Wing Extremism in Western Europe," a special number of West European Politics 11:2 (1988); U. Backes, Politischer Extremismus in demokratische VerJassungsstaaten: Elemente einer normativen Rahmentheorie (Opladen, 1989); M. Kirfel and W. Oswalt, eds., Die Ruckkehr der Fuhrer: Modernisierter Rechtsradikalismu.. in Westeuropa (Vienna, 1989); F. Gress, H.-G. laschke, and K. Schiinekiis, Neue Rechte und Rechtsextremismus in Europa (Opladen, 1990); G. Harris, The Dark...


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