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The anatomy of fascism /
Robert O. Paxton.
edition
1st Vintage Books ed.
imprint
New York : Vintage Books, 2005.
description
xii, 321 p. : 1 port. ; 21 cm.
ISBN
1400033918
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
subject
More Details
imprint
New York : Vintage Books, 2005.
isbn
1400033918
general note
Originally published by A.A. Knopf in 2004.
catalogue key
5400638
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 221-307) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Chapter 1 Introduction The Invention of Fascism Fascism was the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain. The other major currents of modern Western political cultureconservatism, liberalism, socialismall reached mature form between the late eighteenth century and the mid-nineteenth century. Fascism, however, was still unimagined as late as the 1890s. Friedrich Engels, writing a preface in 1895 for his new edition of Karl Marx's The Class Struggles in France, clearly believed that wider suffrage would inexorably deliver more votes to the Left. Both time and numbers, Engels was certain, were on the socialists' side. "If it [the growing socialist vote] continues in this fashion, by the end of this [nineteenth] century we [socialists] shall conquer the major part of the middle strata of society, petty bourgeois and peasants, and grow into the decisive power in the land." Conservatives, Engels wrote, had noticed that legality was work- ing against them. By contrast, "we [socialists], under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal. There is nothing for them [the conservatives] to do but break through this legality themselves." While Engels thus expected that the Left's enemies would launch a preemptive attack, he could not imagine in 1895 that this might win mass approval. Dictatorship against the Left amidst popular enthusiasmthat was the unexpected combination that fascism would manage to put together one short generation later. There were only a few glimmers of premonition. One came from an inquisitive young French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville. Although Tocqueville found much to admire on his visit to the United States in 1831, he was troubled by the majority's power in a democracy to impose conformity by social pressure, in the absence of an independent social elite. The kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that had preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I can not name it. Another premonition came at the eleventh hour from a French engineer turned social commentator, Georges Sorel. In 1908 Sorel criticized Marx for failing to notice that "a revolution accomplished in times of decadence" could "take a return to the past or even social conservation as its ideal." The word fascism has its root in the Italian fascio, literally a bundle or sheaf. More remotely, the word recalled the Latin fasces, an axe encased in a bundle of rods that was carried before the magistrates in Roman public processions to signify the authority and unity of the state. Before 1914, the symbolism of the Roman fasces was usually appropriated by the Left. Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, was often portrayed in the nineteenth century carrying the fasces to represent the force of Republican solidarity against her aristocratic and clerical enemies. Fasces are prominently displayed on Christopher Wren's Sheldonian Theater (166469) at Oxford University. They appeared on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (1922) and on the United States quarter minted in 1932. Italian revolutionaries used the term fascio in the late nineteenth century to evoke the solidarity of committed militants. The peasants who rose against their landlords in Sicily in 189394 called themselves the Fasci Siciliani. When in late 1914 a group of left-wing nationalists, soon joined by the socialist outcast Benito Mussolini,sought to br
Excerpt from Book
Chapter 1 Introduction The Invention of Fascism Fascism was the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain. The other major currents of modern Western political cultureconservatism, liberalism, socialismall reached mature form between the late eighteenth century and the mid-nineteenth century. Fascism, however, was still unimagined as late as the 1890s. Friedrich Engels, writing a preface in 1895 for his new edition of Karl Marx's The Class Struggles in France, clearly believed that wider suffrage would inexorably deliver more votes to the Left. Both time and numbers, Engels was certain, were on the socialists' side. "If it [the growing socialist vote] continues in this fashion, by the end of this [nineteenth] century we [socialists] shall conquer the major part of the middle strata of society, petty bourgeois and peasants, and grow into the decisive power in the land." Conservatives, Engels wrote, had noticed that legality was work- ing against them. By contrast, "we [socialists], under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal. There is nothing for them [the conservatives] to do but break through this legality themselves." While Engels thus expected that the Left's enemies would launch a preemptive attack, he could not imagine in 1895 that this might win mass approval. Dictatorship against the Left amidst popular enthusiasmthat was the unexpected combination that fascism would manage to put together one short generation later. There were only a few glimmers of premonition. One came from an inquisitive young French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville. Although Tocqueville found much to admire on his visit to the United States in 1831, he was troubled by the majority's power in a democracy to impose conformity by social pressure, in the absence of an independent social elite. The kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that had preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I can not name it. Another premonition came at the eleventh hour from a French engineer turned social commentator, Georges Sorel. In 1908 Sorel criticized Marx for failing to notice that "a revolution accomplished in times of decadence" could "take a return to the past or even social conservation as its ideal." The word fascism has its root in the Italian fascio, literally a bundle or sheaf. More remotely, the word recalled the Latin fasces, an axe encased in a bundle of rods that was carried before the magistrates in Roman public processions to signify the authority and unity of the state. Before 1914, the symbolism of the Roman fasces was usually appropriated by the Left. Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, was often portrayed in the nineteenth century carrying the fasces to represent the force of Republican solidarity against her aristocratic and clerical enemies. Fasces are prominently displayed on Christopher Wren's Sheldonian Theater (166469) at Oxford University. They appeared on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (1922) and on the United States quarter minted in 1932. Italian revolutionaries used the term fascio in the late nineteenth century to evoke the solidarity of committed militants. The peasants who rose against their landlords in Sicily in 189394 called themselves the Fasci Siciliani. When in late 1914 a group of left-wing nationalists, soon joined by the socialist outcast Benito Mussolini,sought to bring Italy into
First Chapter
Chapter 1
Introduction
The Invention of Fascism

Fascism was the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain. The other major currents of modern Western political culture—conservatism, liberalism, socialism—all reached mature form between the late eighteenth century and the mid-nineteenth century. Fascism, however, was still unimagined as late as the 1890s. Friedrich Engels, writing a preface in 1895 for his new edition of Karl Marx’s The Class Struggles in France, clearly believed that wider suffrage would inexorably deliver more votes to the Left. Both time and numbers, Engels was certain, were on the socialists’ side. “If it [the growing socialist vote] continues in this fashion, by the end of this [nineteenth] century we [socialists] shall conquer the major part of the middle strata of society, petty bourgeois and peasants, and grow into the decisive power in the land.” Conservatives, Engels wrote, had noticed that legality was work- ing against them. By contrast, “we [socialists], under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal. There is nothing for them [the conservatives] to do but break through this legality themselves.” While Engels thus expected that the Left’s enemies would launch a preemptive attack, he could not imagine in 1895 that this might win mass approval. Dictatorship against the Left amidst popular enthusiasm—that was the unexpected combination that fascism would manage to put together one short generation later.

There were only a few glimmers of premonition. One came from an inquisitive young French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville. Although Tocqueville found much to admire on his visit to the United States in 1831, he was troubled by the majority’s power in a democracy to impose conformity by social pressure, in the absence of an independent social elite.

The kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that had preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I can not name it.

Another premonition came at the eleventh hour from a French engineer turned social commentator, Georges Sorel. In 1908 Sorel criticized Marx for failing to notice that “a revolution accomplished in times of decadence” could “take a return to the past or even social conservation as its ideal.”

The word fascism has its root in the Italian fascio, literally a bundle or sheaf. More remotely, the word recalled the Latin fasces, an axe encased in a bundle of rods that was carried before the magistrates in Roman public processions to signify the authority and unity of the state. Before 1914, the symbolism of the Roman fasces was usually appropriated by the Left. Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, was often portrayed in the nineteenth century carrying the fasces to represent the force of Republican solidarity against her aristocratic and clerical enemies. Fasces are prominently displayed on Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theater (1664–69) at Oxford University. They appeared on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (1922) and on the United States quarter minted in 1932.

Italian revolutionaries used the term fascio in the late nineteenth century to evoke the solidarity of committed militants. The peasants who rose against their landlords in Sicily in 1893–94 called themselves the Fasci Siciliani. When in late 1914 a group of left-wing nationalists, soon joined by the socialist outcast Benito Mussolini,sought to bring Italy into World War I on the Allied side, they chose a name designed to communicat
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-12-01:
As the title suggests, this book dissects fascism as a historical phenomenon. An authority on Vichy France, Paxton (emer., Columbia University) rejects the cultural and normative approaches to fascism found in Roger Griffin‘s The Nature of Fascism (1991). Instead, he analyzes factors crucial to its emergence, including the availability of political "space"; the political, economic, and military power centers that hindered or facilitated its rise; and its alteration of goals once in power. While eschewing determinism, Paxton outlines a developmental model that encapsulates nascent fascist ideologies, political alliances with other groups, compromises with traditional elites, and polycratic rule. No stage signifies authentic fascism, but together the stages distinguish it from authoritarianism and communism. According to Paxton, fascism is a mass political movement emerging in failed democracies and incorporating an extreme sense of national victimhood, which in turn fosters the creation of national enemies. By devoting attention to unsuccessful fascisms, Paxton avoids the trap of exclusive focus on Italy and Germany. This study supersedes Walter Laqueur's Fascism: Past, Present, Future (CH, Nov'96). The 28-page bibliographic essay makes a valuable introduction to the literature. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and up. J. R. White University of Maryland University College
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-03-01:
Paxton, the author of seminal works on Vichy France, now sums up a lifelong reflection on fascism's myriad forms. Paxton writes in his introduction that fascism was "the most self-consciously visual of all political forms," yet many of those indelible images (Mussolini haranguing a crowd from a balcony; the perfect choreography of totalitarianism in Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will) can "induce facile errors" about the omnipotent leader or the supposed unanimity of the crowd. Rather than begin with a definition of fascism, Paxton prefers to give concrete examples of it in action in various countries, from Italy and Germany to France, Holland and Eastern Europe; in particular, he examines its "mobilizing passions," such as a sense of overwhelming crisis and dread of a native group's decline. This study has several virtues (and few defects): the writing is free of some of the theoretical jargon that threatens our understanding of a defining political movement of the 20th century. This is a study of both the intellectual origins of fascism and how it played out in the streets of Berlin, Rome, Paris and other locales. In addition, Paxton examines such important topics as images of fascism and what we might call "the future of fascism" (in a quick aside on a current controversy, Paxton notes that Islamic fundamentalism is not fascist). Although Paxton doesn't address present or future forms of fascism, his list of its "mobilizing passions" will sound to some readers frighteningly similar to aspects of contemporary America. This is sure to take its place among classics in the field by Stanley Payne and Roger Griffith. (Mar. 26) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2004-03-15:
Paxton (Mellon Professor Emeritus of the Social Sciences, Columbia Univ.; Vichy France) dissects a historical phenomenon that unleashed the deadliest epoch in world history. It is well known that fascism consumed the passions of Germany and Italy, but Paxton reminds readers that the fascist impulse found expression throughout the globe and still poses a threat to international stability. His goal is to find generic characteristics that shape the dynamics of fascism-not the product of a well-defined ideology, Paxton emphasizes, but rather a visceral response to national crises that defy conventional solutions. Paxton stresses that all fascist movements sanctify violence and view life as a Darwinian struggle; beleaguered constituencies turn toward a leader who revitalizes nationalistic sentiments by demonizing perceived internal and external enemies. The culmination of a lifetime's study, this work is based on a thorough analysis of just about every secondary work on fascism and includes a superb bibliographic essay that will guide students and historians for many years to come. While there are countless studies on fascism, readers will be hard pressed to find anything more in-depth from a scholar with Paxton's credentials. Recommended for all academic libraries and for public libraries with strong political science collections.-Jim Doyle, Marconi P.L., GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"So fair, so thorough and, in the end, so convincing, it may well become the most authoritative . . . study of the subject. . . . A splendid book." The New York Times Book Review "Useful and timely. . . . Mussolini and Hitler were the prototypical fascist leaders, and Paxton chronicles their rise to power--and their global influence and ultimate fall--with a brilliant economy." San Francisco Chronicle "A deeply intelligent and very readable book. . . . Historical analysis at its best." The Economist "[A] helpful contribution, thoughtfully mapping out the descent of a civilized people first the Italians, then the Germans into a primal state (and state of being) ruled by mythology, symbol and emotion. . . . Serves as a reminder of our power and responsibility." The Washington Post Book World "Until now there has been no satisfying account of fascism that includes a convincing diagnostic kit for identifying its symptoms. . . . Robert Paxton steps in to restore sanity, with his view that fascism is not what was believed but what was done." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"So fair, so thorough and, in the end, so convincing, it may well become the most authoritative . . . study of the subject. . . . A splendid book."The New York Times Book Review "Useful and timely. . . . Mussolini and Hitler were the prototypical fascist leaders, and Paxton chronicles their rise to power--and their global influence and ultimate fall--with a brilliant economy." San Francisco Chronicle "A deeply intelligent and very readable book. . . . Historical analysis at its best." The Economist "[A] helpful contribution, thoughtfully mapping out the descent of a civilized people first the Italians, then the Germans into a primal state (and state of being) ruled by mythology, symbol and emotion. . . . Serves as a reminder of our power and responsibility." The Washington Post Book World "Until now there has been no satisfying account of fascism that includes a convincing diagnostic kit for identifying its symptoms. . . . Robert Paxton steps in to restore sanity, with his view that fascism is not what was believed but what was done." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"So fair, so thorough and, in the end, so convincing, it may well become the most authoritative . . . study of the subject. . . . A splendid book." The New York Times Book Review "Useful and timely. . . . Mussolini and Hitler were the prototypical fascist leaders, and Paxton chronicles their rise to power--and their global influence and ultimate fall--with a brilliant economy." San Francisco Chronicle "A deeply intelligent and very readable book. . . . Historical analysis at its best." The Economist "[A] helpful contribution, thoughtfully mapping out the descent of a civilized people first the Italians, then the Germans into a primal state (and state of being) ruled by mythology, symbol and emotion. . . . Serves as a reminder of our power and responsibility." The Washington Post Book World "Until now there has been no satisfying account of fascism that includes a convincing diagnostic kit for identifying its symptoms. . . . Robert Paxton steps in to restore sanity, with his view that fascism is not what was believed but what was done." Los Angeles Times Book Review From the Trade Paperback edition.
This item was reviewed in:
San Francisco Chronicle, December 2004
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Summaries
Main Description
Whatisfascism? Many authors have proposed definitions, but most fail to move beyond the abstract. The esteemed historian Robert O. Paxton answers this question for the first time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they said. From the first violent uniformed bands beating up "enemies of the state," through Mussolini's rise to power, to Germany's fascist radicalization in World War II, Paxton shows clearly why fascists came to power in some countries and not others, and explores whether fascism could exist outside the early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged. The Anatomy of Fascismwill have a lasting impact on our understanding of modern European history, just as Paxton's classicVichy Franceredefined our vision of World War II. Based on a lifetime of research, this compelling and important book transforms our knowledge of fascism"the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain."
Main Description
Whatisfascism? Many authors have proposed definitions, but most fail to move beyond the abstract. The esteemed historian Robert O. Paxton answers this question for the first time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they said. From the first violent uniformed bands beating up "enemies of the state," through Mussolini's rise to power, to Germany's fascist radicalization in World War II, Paxton shows clearly why fascists came to power in some countries and not others, and explores whether fascism could exist outside the early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged. The Anatomy of Fascismwill have a lasting impact on our understanding of modern European history, just as Paxton's classicVichy Franceredefined our vision of World War II. Based on a lifetime of research, this compelling and important book transforms our knowledge of fascism-"the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain."
Main Description
What is fascism? Many authors have proposed definitions, but most fail to move beyond the abstract. The esteemed historian Robert O. Paxton answers this question for the first time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they said. From the first violent uniformed bands beating up "enemies of the state," through Mussolini's rise to power, to Germany's fascist radicalization in World War II, Paxton shows clearly why fascists came to power in some countries and not others, and explores whether fascism could exist outside the early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged. The Anatomy of Fascism will have a lasting impact on our understanding of modern European history, just as Paxton's classic Vichy France redefined our vision of World War II. Based on a lifetime of research, this compelling and important book transforms our knowledge of fascism"the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain." From the Trade Paperback edition.
Short Annotation
From the author of Vichy France, a fascinating, authoritative history of fascism in all its manifestations, and how and why it took hold in certain countries and not in others.
Unpaid Annotation
From the author of "Vichy France, a fascinating, authoritative history of fascism in all its manifestations, and how and why it took hold in certain countries and not in others. What "is fascism? Many authors have proposed succinct but abstract definitions. Robert O. Paxton prefers to start with concrete historical experience. He focuses more on what fascists did than on what they said. Their first uniformed bands beat up "enemies of the nation," such as communists and foreign immigrants, during the tense days after 1918 when the liberal democracies of Europe were struggling with the aftershocks of World War I. Fascist parties could not approach power, however, without the complicity of conservatives willing to sacrifice the rule of law for security. Paxton makes clear the sequence of steps by which fascists and conservatives together formed regimes in Italy and Germany, and why fascists remained out of power elsewhere. Fascist regimes were strained alliances. While fascist parties had broad political leeway, conservatives preserved many social and economic privileges. Goals of forced national unity, purity, and expansion, accompanied by propaganda-driven public excitement, held the mixture together. War opened opportunities for fascist extremists to pursue these goals to the point of genocide. Paxton shows how these opportunities manifested themselves differently in France, in Britain, in the Low Countries, and in Eastern Europe-and yet failed to achieve supreme power. He goes on to examine whether fascism can exist outside the specific early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged, and whether it can reappear today. This groundbreaking book, based on a lifetimeof research, will have a lasting impact on our understanding of twentieth-century history.
Table of Contents
Preface
Introduction
The Invention of Fascism Images of Fascism Strategies
Where Do We Go from Here?
Creating Fascist Movements
The Immediate Background Intellectual, Cultural, and Emotional Roots
Long-Term Preconditions Precursors Recruitment Understanding Fascism by Its Origins
Taking Root Successful Fascisms —
(1) The Po Valley, Italy, 1920-22 —
(2) Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, 1928-33
An Unsuccessful Fascism: France, 1924-40
Some Other Unsuccessful Fascisms Comparisons and Conclusions
Getting Power Mussolini and the "March on Rome"
Hitler and the "Backstairs Conspiracy"
What Did Not Happen: Election, Coup d'Etat
Solo Triumph Forming Alliances
What Fascists Offered the Establishment
The Prefascist Crisis Revolutions after Power: Germany and Italy Comparisons and Alternatives
Exercising Power
The Nature of Fascist Rule: "Dual State" and Dynamic Shapelessness
The Tug-of-War between Fascists and Conservatives
The Tug-of-War between Leader and Party
The Tug-of-War between Party and State Accommodation, Enthusiasm, Terror
The Fascist "Revolution"
The Long Term: Radicalization or Entropy?
What Drives Radicalization?
Trying to Account for the Holocaust Italian Radicalization: Internal Order, Ethiopia, Salò Final Thoughts
Other Times
Other Places
Is Fascism Still Possible?
Western Europe since 1945
Post-Soviet Eastern Europe Fascism Outside Europe
What Is Fascism?
Conflicting Interpretations Boundaries
What Is Fascism?
Bibliographical
Essay
Notes
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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