Prof. Adrien Lyttelton: Yes, they are comparable

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Adrien Lyttelton is an Oxford-educated Professor of History at the John Hopkins University Center in Bologna. His previous teaching and research assignments, focusing on European and Italian History, include the Universities of Reading, SAIS Washington, Princeton, Harvard, Pisa, Berkeley and the American Academy in Rome. His most quoted book is The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919–1929 (1973, 3rd edition 2004), Italian transl. La conquista del potere (1974). This is our transcript of how he introduced himself, when we met in London, and how he addressed our question in simple words (as we ask all experts to do when interviewing them for this civic education-purposed blog):

I’m Prof. Adrien Lyttelton, and I teach at an American University Institution in Italy. 
You have asked me whether there is any use in making comparative studies between fascism and national socialism. Well I did make a study of the rise of fascism, and personally, I must say at once that I find it absolutely essential to make this comparison. I think this is a very important heuristic tool. I think that we must go absolutely away, of course, from the idea that when you compare things, they have to be alike. Of course, when we compare fascism and national socialism, we compare two movements and even regimes which have some things in common, but also many different things. The basic difference I see, is that, although of course, Italian fascism eventually became racist officially, antisemitic racialism was not part of its foundation call, it was not part of it’s DNA, so to speak. For example, we know there were numbers of Jewish members in the early fascist movement. This said, however, I see a great many other important references.

Frankly, if you sum up what the ideology of fascism is, you’ll have to say that it was really a kind of national or, to make it clearer, nationalist socialism. I have the idea that in Italy it would be better to call it national syndicalism, because it would be more connected with French movement of a similar kind, and the French, Italian and Spanish movements were more interested in decentralisation, talking about syndicalism than about political parties.

But I do think there is definitely a resemblance: extreme nationalism is obviously always something the two movements have in common; anti-marxism, and also an insistence that in spite of being anti-marxist, they are somehow also revolutionary forces in their own right. What they wanted to carry out, was a national revolution, instead of the international revolution which the marxist were proposing, that fascism and national socialism had absolutely in common. Finally, very obvious reason for including them in the same framework is the fact that Mussolini came first, and that Hitler was always very explicit that he learned a lot from Mussolini. Basically he said: without the march on Rome I would never have thought such things were possible.

(Source: Statement audio-recorded 22/05/2012 at Birkbeck College, London by