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The Anatomy of Fascism por Robert O. Paxton
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The Anatomy of Fascism (edição 2005)

por Robert O. Paxton (Autor)

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7161724,362 (4.13)12
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. The author of this book 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. The author 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. The author 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 book, based on a lifetime of research, will have a lasting impact on our understanding of twentieth century history.… (mais)
Membro:The_Paynes
Título:The Anatomy of Fascism
Autores:Robert O. Paxton (Autor)
Informação:Vintage (2005), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
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The Anatomy of Fascism por Robert O. Paxton

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Fascism. It's one of those words that you understand viscerally. Hearing it calls up certain images: mass rallies of group affirmation, armed thugs in colored shirts violently assaulting ethnic minorities, gaunt, skeletal faces behind barbed wire fences, NFL games. But examples aren't definitions. And it turns out that it's easier to give examples of fascism than to define it. It's so hard to define, in fact, that Robert O. Paxton, a man who, at least based on the detailed bibliographical essay at the end of this book, is probably the most learned person on earth on this particular topic, only offers his final definition of the concept on page 218 of 220. He does so after a lengthy study of fascist movements as they actually occurred, focusing mostly on Italy and Germany.

For Paxton, what fascist regimes did is more important than what they said, because political movements are fundamentally about gaining and exercising power. In addition, Paxton constantly urges us to remember that environmental factors are just as important as the qualities of a particular movement; fascism can only arise under specific historical circumstances. He even goes so far as to question whether fascism was a phenomenon specific to Europe in the early 20th century, despite the existence of many regimes since in other places that display fascist characteristics or utilize fascist imagery. He doesn't conclude that it is, but even the hypothetical made me wonder if his definition was too narrow. He goes to great lengths to demonstrate that various near-fascist regimes--Imperial Japan, Peron's Argentina, Milosevic's Serbia--weren't the genuine article for this or that reason (never downplaying any regime's murderousness in the process to be sure).

Certain themes recurred over and over in his historical accounts of fascist regimes. One of them is that fascism gains power when traditional conservatives ally with the fascist movement as a way to harness populist energy without ceding any power to the Left. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini won an election to become head of state; they were each invited into power by an entrenched figure--President Hindenburg and King Victor Immanuel III respectively, when their political legitimacy was under threat. It's one of the dangers of a parliamentary system that an extreme right-wing minority party (maybe a fascist one) can grab the reins of power by earning the good graces of traditional conservatives the moment they feel heat from the Left. He also shows that it is characteristic of a fascist movement to build legitimacy and simultaneously delegitimize the state-in-crisis by building parallel institutions to gain the trust of the people. I have a hard time imagining a situation politically fluid enough for this to take place in the United States in 2019, where, after years of political and economic globalization, and as the center of a globally hegemonic empire, political institutions are incredibly calcified. As we have seen, right wing populism in the U.S. in 2019 doesn't need parallel institutions to thrive.

I was interested to see how Paxton would characterize the Holocaust. He links its development to the improvisational quality of fascist regimes. Hitler's underlings, often in competition with one another to please the Fuhrer, offered more and more extreme plans for the murder of undesirables. This view somewhat contradicts the popular notion of the Nazi genocide as a carefully planned operation. In Paxton's telling, it is actually the somewhat more haphazard result of the "demonic energy" unleashed by fascist movements. And fascism, in the end, is about sustaining mass popular energy, if possible at frothing-at-the-mouth, ready-to-die-for-my-nation's-historical-destiny levels. This must be maintained even after the movement has gained power. Hence the need for infinite imperial expansion (the stoppage of which spelled the end for Mussolini) and an infinity of death. It is politics as sheer magnitude.

You may have noticed that I have not said what Fascism is. Well, I'm not going to. You have to read the book. Get it from one of our few working public institutions, the library. I did.



  trotta | Mar 4, 2021 |
What are the defining characteristics of fascism? This book argues that the question is difficult because fascism has different stages, including stages of cooperation with other right movements and then stages where it peels away. It was fine, though I’m not sure I advanced my understanding a lot. ( )
1 vote rivkat | Jan 18, 2021 |
In the current toxic political environment in the United States the label Fascism is bandied about without much attention to its definition and dynamism. Paxton leads us through historical leaders and causal benchmakrs with academic presicion before actually defining Fascism. This parade through history takes us through much of Europe and key figures like Hitler and Musollini and others of lessor importance and even shorter political endurance. Fascists were clever at mass manipulation and alliances but weak on substantive ideology. Common to every fascist rise to power was an existing dysfunctional political system, often corporate greed and a great devide between rich and poor. Many felt disenfranchised and were looking for a “leader”. Others whom we might term elitists were prone to collaborate for their own corporate financial well being. And always Facism promoted violence. This is a book worth reading as we approach making choices in our national elections. ( )
  mcdenis | Aug 16, 2020 |
Over the past few years, the word "fascist" has been deployed increasingly to describe modern-day political movements in the United States, Hungary, Greece, and Italy, to name a few places. The word brings with it some of the most odious associations from the 20th century, namely Nazi Germany and the most devastating war in human history. Yet to what degree is the label appropriate and to what extent is it more melodramatic epithet than an appropriate description?

It was in part to answer that question that I picked up a copy of Robert O. Paxton's book. As a longtime historian of 20th century France and author of a seminal work on the Vichy regime, he brings a perspective to the question that is not predominantly Italian or German. This shows in the narrative, as his work uses fascist movements in nearly every European country to draw out commonalities that explain the fascist phenomenon. As he demonstrates, fascism can be traced as far back as the 1880s, with elements of it proposed by authors and politicians across Europe in order to mobilize the growing population of voters (thanks to new measures of enfranchisement) to causes other than communism. Until then, it was assumed by nearly everyone that such voters would be automatic supporters for socialist movements. Fascism proposed a different appeal, one based around nationalist elements which socialism ostensibly rejected.

Despite this, fascism remained undeveloped until it emerged in Italy in the aftermath of the First World War. This gave Benito Mussolini and his comrades a flexibility in crafting an appeal that won over the established elites in Italian politics and society. From this emerged a pattern that Paxton identifies in the emergence of fascism in both Italy and later in Germany, which was their acceptance by existing leaders as a precondition for power. Contrary to the myth of Mussolini's "March on Rome," nowhere did fascism take over by seizing power; instead they were offered it by conservative politicians as a solution to political turmoil and the threatened emergence of a radical left-wing alternative. It was the absence of an alternative on the right which led to the acceptance of fascism; where such alternatives (of a more traditional right-authoritarian variety) existed, fascism remained on the fringes. The nature of their ascent into power also defined the regimes that emerged, which were characterized by tension between fascists and more traditional conservatives, and often proved to be far less revolutionary in practice than their rhetoric promised.

Paxton's analysis is buttressed by a sure command of his subject. He ranges widely over the era, comparing and contrasting national groups in a way that allows him to come up an overarching analysis of it as a movement. All of this leads him to this final definition:

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion." (p. 218)

While elements of this are certainly present today, they are hardly unique to fascism and exist in various forms across the political spectrum. Just as important, as Paxton demonstrates, is the context: one in which existing institutions are so distrusted or discredited that the broader population is willing to sit by and watch as they are compromised, bypassed, or dismantled in the name of achieving fascism's goals. Paxton's arguments here, made a decade before Donald Trump first embarked on his candidacy, are as true now as they were then. Reading them helped me to appreciate better the challenge of fascism, both in interwar Europe and in our world today. Everyone seeking to understand it would do well to start with this perceptive and well-argued book. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
Muy buena descripción de la genesis y desarrollo del fascismo que escapa de los cliches de los que pretenden que fue una cosa rara que no se sabe como surgió o que eran una banda de locos que se apropiaron de algun estado. Seria interesante un pequeño agregado actualizando los ee uu el tea party y trump ( )
  gneoflavio | May 10, 2018 |
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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. The author of this book 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. The author 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. The author 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 book, based on a lifetime of research, will have a lasting impact on our understanding of twentieth century history.

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