Faschisten sind immer die anderen

comparative fascist studies on Italy and Germany

Kategorie: theoretical

Kein Zugang ist „falsch“ (außer der faschistische)

Skeptisch gegenüber „großen“ politikwissenschaftlichen Theorien von einem generic fascism, für die das Ideologische konstituierend ist, bleiben viele, die soliden geschichtswissenschaftlichen Untersuchungen aller Aspekte der real existierenden Faschismen der Zwischenkriegszeit mehr Aussagekraft beimessen.

Hier bestätigt sich, wie gegensätzlich die Sichtweisen der Geschichts- und der Politikwissenschaft anmuten können (zusätzlich befruchtet von Anthropologen, Soziologen, Psychologen und anderen). Dabei sind sie nur unterschiedlich, durchaus miteinander zu versöhnen, und zwar Erkenntnisgewinn bringend für alle. In dieser Richtung ermutigen uns unter anderen Robert O.Paxton, Zeev Sternhell und Constantin Iordachi zu unserer vereinfachenden, vorläufigen Schlussfolgerung:

Wenn man schon über zwei unterschiedliche methodische Zugänge zum Faschismus verfügt, einen auf dem Weg über die faschistische Ideologie und einen anderen über die faschistische Wirklichkeit, dann kann man vielleicht aus der Not eine Tugend machen, z.B. indem man den Untersuchungsgegenstand zweiteilt in den einen, den ideologischen Faschismus, und den anderen, den real existierenden Faschismus. Möglicherweise entwickelt sich dann mehr konstruktiver Erkenntnisfortschritt, und vielleicht sogar wirklich ein -beschränkter- „neuer Konsens“ zwischen beiden Denkschulen und Disziplinen, der „generischen“ und der „historischen“.  

Gedankenanstöße von E.H.Carr und Richard J. Evans

Hier eine Reihe von Zitaten von Historikern für Historiker und andere Interessierte, mit denen Sir Richard Evans 2001 in die Neuauflage von E.H. Carrs mehr als 50 Jahre alten Longseller What is History? und in dessen erstaunlich nachhaltige Aktualität und Brillanz eingeführt hat:

Objective history does not exist.

Man kann sagen: objektive Wahrheit existiert. Aber kein Historiker kann hoffen, mehr von ihr zu erhaschen als nur eine blasse Teil-Annäherung an sie

The specific function of the historian, qua historian, is not to judge but to explain.

Die besondere Aufgabe des Historikers als Historiker besteht nicht im Urteilen, sondern im Erklären.

balancing uneasy on the razor edge between the hazards of objective determinism and the bottomless pit of subjective relativity…

Zeitgenössische Geschichtsphilosophie ist mehr ein Fragesteller als ein Antwortgeber.

History is a process, and you cannot isolate a bit of process and study it on its own (…) everything is completely interconnected (…) The job of historians is to study whatever part of the the past they chose to examine in the context of both what came before and after it, and the interconnection between their subject and its wider context.

Geschichteist ein Prozess, in dem man nichts isoliert sehen kann; alles ist vollkommen verwoben. Die Aufgabe des Historikers besteht darin, diese Verflechtungen an seinem Gegenstand zu untersuchen und in ihren größeren Zusammenhang zu stellen.

The question might be decided differently at different times in the future by different sets of judges with different questions to ask and different ends to serve.

Die Frage kann von anderen, zu anderen Zeiten, mit anderen Zielen, anders gestellt und beantwortet werden.

While history never repeats itself, it presents certain regularities, and permitscertain generalizations, which can serve as a guide for future action.

Wenn Geschichte sich niemals wiederholt, so weist sie doch gewisse Regelmäßigkeiten auf, und erlaubt gewisse Verallgemeinerungen, die als Leitlinie für künftiges Handeln dienen können.

To insist on the inevitability of what had happened in the past…was to resign moral responsability for our own actions in the present.

Auf der Unvermeidlichkeit des Vergangenen beharren wäre gleichbedeutend mit der Aufgabe unserer moralischen Verantwortung für unser gegenwärtiges Handeln.

Certainly, historians will write better history if they are self-conscious about their political and intellectual starting point (…), recognizing nature and extent of one’s own prejudices.

Gewisswerden Historiker besser, wenn sie sich ihrer politischen und geistigen Ausgangspunktes bewusst sein, wenn sie sich der Natur und des Ausmaßes ihrer eigenen Vor-Urteile bewusst sind.

Il fascismo in cinque parole-chiave

Fascism is the pursuit of a transcendent and cleansing nation-statism through paramilitarism.

Il fascismo è la ricerca di un nazional-statalismo trascendente e „ripulitore“ attraverso il paramilitarismo. Questa è la definizione più concisa del fascismo che abbiamo incontrato, ma anche una delle più dense ed attuali, se andiamo andare a vedere come l’autore, il famoso sociologo Michael Mann dell’UCLA di Los Angeles, spiega le cinque parole-chiave che ha usato in quella frase.

1) Nazionalismo: impegno estremo, profondo, populista, organico, integrale, e per questo „molto poco tollerante“ verso la diversità etnica o culturale, con un fortissimo senso di presunte minaccie mortali da parte di „nemici“ interni ed esterni, spesso di „razza“ diversa, dai quali la Nazione deve difendersi con estrema aggressività: mors tua, vita mea.

2) Statalismo: venerazione dello Stato, che deve impersonare una volontà ed un’autorità responsabile di tutto e di tutti, in una elite di partito total(itaria)mente dedita al principio di leadership, ed all’obiettivo di trasformazione radicale della Nazione e del mondo, soprattutto nella fase di ascesa al potere.

3) Trascendenza: l’aspirazione non ad un compromesso tra capitalismo e socialismo (ad una terza via, come sostiene Roger Eatwell), ma adandare molto oltre, con l’ambizione addirittura di creare un „uomo nuovo„. Questo è la più problematica e variabile tra le cinque parola-chiave, perché di fatto mai realizzata: questo soprattutto perché anche nei fascismi, una volta al potere, aumenta la tensione tra radicali combattenti movimentisti da una parte, e dall’altra realisti machiavellici opportunisti, più inclini a rapportarsi con le elites tradizionali.

4) Pulizia: percezione (e rappresentazione) degli avversari come „nemici“ da rimuovere, per „ripulire“ la nazione „infetta“. Questa è il culto dell’azione, dell’aggressività fascista. Quasi tutti i i fascismi, chi più (nazismo tedesco) chi meno (fascismo italiano) tendono ad andare oltre la „pulizia politica interna“, allargando le loro incursioni di „pulizia“ anche all’estero ed ad altri popoli, considerati „inferiori“, fino ad arrivare alla „pulizia etnica“ estrema (su questo fenomeno, Michael Mann è forse l’esperto di più ampio respiro mondiale, con la sua recente opera monumentale: The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing). Dove prevale la pulizia etnica, sia verso l’estero che all’interno, essa tende ad essere ancor più radicale della pulizia politica: questo perché l’avversario politico della stessa etnia in teoria può essere recuperabile; l’altro invece secondo i nazifascisti è il „diverso“ per sempre, per natura, per nascita, etnia o „razza“, una specie a parte, minacciosa e pericolosa, ossia da combattere, liquidare, sopprimere.

5) Paramilitarismo: È un termine-chiave per capire sia i valori che l’organizzazione fascista. Il paramilitarismo è visto come „popolare“, „spontaneo“, vissuto „dal basso“(è questa la „qualità che distingue il fascismo da tanti altri tipi di dittatura), ma allo stesso tempo con una missione da elite, da avanguardia della Nazione. Il mito del cameratismo tra „duri e puri“, legittimati alla violenza anche illegale, forgiato in battaglia, è uno dei tratti definitori del fascismo. e della sua ambizione di forgiare un uomo nuovo fascista, una nuova elite di gerarchi, che vada molto oltre un semplice partito, ma dovrà creare e dominare uno stato autoritario ed una nazione organica, un’ordine nuovo. Mann osserva: „Il fascismo italiano fu per molti anni un’organizzazione esclusivamente paramilitare. Il fascismo si manifesta sempre in uniforme, in marce, pericoloso, armato, destabilizzatore. Il fascismo dice sempre di difendersi, ma sempre „da vincitore“. Ma la violenza paramilitare dei fascisti non è fine a se stessa, e neanche solo per intimidire ma anche per impressionare favorevolmente sia il popolo che le elites, a rafforzare continuamente la propria immagine e posizione di potere che ha anche l’ambizione di vincere le elezioni. Difatti…

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(Fonte: Michael Mann, Fascists, Cambridge University Press, 2004)

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Mann nimmt Faschisten ernst

Michael Mann von der University of California Los Angeles UCLA (er lehrt aber auch an der Queens University in Belfast in Nordirland) gilt als einer der führenden Soziologen der Gegenwart, eine zweibändiges Werk The Sources of Social Power als Referenztext zu den Quellen, Mechanismen und Netzwerken gesellschaftlicher Macht. Dem Faschismus hatte er eigentlich nur ein Kapitel in einem geplanten dritten Band zugedacht. Dann sind jedoch zwei weitere eigene Bücher daraus geworden. Das eine hat auch, aber nicht nur mit dem europäischen Faschismus, sondern mit „ethnischen Säuberungen“ auch andernorts zu tun und trägt den Titel: The dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (italienische Fassung: Il lato oscuro della democrazia. Alle radici della violenza etnica ed. Università Bocconi, I nuovi classici;

Das erste heißt einfach Fascists und analysiert soziologisch den Aufstieg derselben, zuerst in Italien, dann in Deutschland, auch in Österreich (Austrofaschisten auf der einen, Nazis auf der anderen Seite). Mann widmet dann auch der ungarischen, der rumänischen und der spanischen „Familie des Autoritarismus“, wie er diese nennt, eigene Kapitel. Er schließt mit einem Rückblick auf die Faschismen, die hinter uns liegen – und jene, die noch auf uns zukommen könnten.

Zuerst nennt Michael Mann

Sieben Gründe, warum Faschisten ernstzunehmen sind:

1. Der Faschismus ist -neben der Umweltbewegung- die einzige wichtige politische Doktrin, die die Moderne im 20.Jahrhundert hervorgebracht hat; von daher ist anzunehmen, dass irgendetwas Ähnliches -aber sicher unter einem anderem Namen- auch im 21.Jahrhundert eine wichtige Rolle spielen wird .

2. Der Nationalstaat prägt unsere Ära, mit all seinen Ideologien und Pathologien, aber meist in relativ milder Form. Der Faschismus ist die extremste, die paramilitärische Ausprägung der vorherrschenden, der nationalstaatlichen Ideologie unserer Epoche.

3. Die faschistische Ideologie muss in ihrem Innern ernst genommen werden, statt dass man sie einfach als verrückt, widersprüchlich oder vage abtut. (…) Das war eine Bewegung mit Idealen, die wesentliche Teile zweier Generationen überzeugte, sie könnte eine harmonischere soziale Ordnung zustandebringen.

4. Wir müssen die Frage ernstnehmen, was für eine Art Mensch vom Faschismus angezogen war. Ungebildete gab es bei den Faschisten und ihren Anhängern nicht mehr als anderswo. Überdurchschnittlich vertreten waren relativ gebildete junge Männer aus allen sozialen Schichten, für die die Nation und der Staat einen hohen Wert darstellten.

5. Wir müssen auch die faschistischen Bewegungen ernstnehmen: hierarchisch, aber kameradschaftlich, eröffneten sie ihren Anhängern neue Chancen: einerseits zu radikaler, aber durch die Gruppe „legitimierter“ Gewaltanwendung, andererseits zu opportunistischer Anpassung und rasanter Karriere.

6. Wir müssen „hartgesottene“ Faschisten auch in einem viel dunkleren Sinn ernstnehmen: als Leute, die anderen Schlimmes antun können. Diese Fähigkeit ist Teil des menschlichen Wesens. Die Selbsttäuschung faschistischer Täter gehört auch dazu. Faschismus verstehen heißt verstehen, wie Menschen mit anscheinend hohen Modernisierungsidealen dazu kamen, letztlich absolut Böses zu tun.

7. Wir müssen die Möglichkeit ernstnehmen, dass wieder Faschisten im Kommen sind. Einige der Voraussetzungen, die Faschismus hervorgebracht haben, sind gegeben. Ethnische und politische „Säuberung“ war einer der prägendsten „Beiträge“ Europas zur Moderne; und gewalttätiger Paramilitarismus war eine Spezialität unseres 20.Jahrhunderts.

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(Source: Michael Mann, Fascists, Cambridge University Press,2004, pp. 1-4)

Verwandt in Mythos und Image II

Ian Kershaw erwähnt in seinem Buch über den Hitler-Mythos nebenbei die Vorreiterrolle Mussolinis für Deutschland, wo Hitler sich seit dem „Marsch auf Rom“ des „Duce“ analog zu diesem nicht mehr nur NSDAP-intern, sondern auch öffentlich „Führer“ nennen ließ (zuweilen auch „Mussolini der Deutschen“). Da wie dort: Führerprinzip- und Personenkult-Parolen wurden verinnerlicht in alltäglichen Parolen wie Il Duce ha sempre ragione („der Duce hat immer recht“) oder credere – obbedire – combattere („glauben -gehorchen – kämpfen“). Da wie dort: der politischer Erlöser als Religionssurrogat, und als Bindemittel für die Einheitspartei (da wie dort nie so richtig einig); zwecks -da wie dort- massenhafter Nationalisierung und Mobilisierung für den Sieg in der Völkerschlacht „um einen Platz an der Sonne“, einen Platz unter den (Kolonial-)Herrenvölkern.

Solches und anderes Gemeinsames zu suchen, und auch bei Kershaw zu finden, und zwar um besser differerenzieren zu können, das scheint für unsere Zwecke der politischen Bildung lehrreicher als ausschließlich das Einzigartige herauszuarbeiten, das jedem Untersuchungsobjekt erkennbar und unleugbar eigen ist.

Historiker wie Ian Kershaw pflegen gegenüber Vergleichen zwischen dem italienischen Faschismus und dem deutschen Nationalsozialismus nicht nur die gebotene Vorsicht, sondern eine gewisse Distanz an den Tag zu legen. Umso informativer könnte es sein, gerade aus den von Kershaw genannten Zusammenhängen den einen oder anderen Schnittpunkt der beiden Diktaturen zu extrapolieren.

Der deutsche und der italienische Diktator mögen persönlich sehr unterschiedlich gewesen sein; politisch waren sie einander verwandtschaftlich nahe, und zwar bis zu ihrem Tode (in ihrer Wirkung sogar darüber hinaus). Demnach sind sie nützlicherweise vergleichbar wie wenige andere. Davon wollen wir ausgehen – und weiter Ian Kershaw zitieren, gerade weil er nicht so oberflächlichen Vergleichen neigt.

Im Schlusskapitel des Buchs über den Hitler-Mythos kommt Ian Kershaw auf die im Untertitel bereits angesprochene Kluft zwischen Image und Realität zu sprechen. Die laut Kershaw folgenden sieben Grundlagen speziell des Hitler-Mythos scheinen uns zum guten Teil auch auf sein italienisches Vorbild Mussolini zuzutreffen:

Seven significant bases of the ‚Hitler myth‘:

In each case the contrast between image and reality is stark, the ‚mythical‘ content unmistakable.

* Firstly, (he) was regarded as the personification of the nation and the unity of the ’national community‘ (…), the selfless exponent of the national interest;

* Secondly, as the single-handed architect and creator of (…) ‚economic miracle‘ (…), eliminating (…) mass unemployment, revitalizing the economy, providing improved living standards (…);

* Thirdly, as (…) the voice of the ‚healthy sentiment of the people‘, (…) the embodiment of strong, if necessary ruthless, action against the ‚enemies of the people‘ to enforce ‚law and order‘ ;

* Fourthly, as personally sincere, and in matters affecting established traditions and institutions as a ‚moderate‘, but largely kept in the dark about what was actually going on;

* Fifthly, in the arena of foreign affairs, (he) was regarded as (…) a rebuilder of the nation’s strength, a statesman of genius, and for the most part (…) not as a racial imperialist warmonger(…)

* Sixthly, in the first half of the war (he) appeared to be the incomparable military leader who, (…) knew and understood the ‚psychology‘ of the ordinary soldier.

* Finally, there was (his) image as the bulwark against the nation’s perceived powerful ideological enemies -Marxism/Bolshevism and (…) the Jews.

Das meiste, was Kershaw hier als spezielle Grundlagen des Hitler-Mythos bezeichnet, kann man aus unserer Sicht auch zu den Grundlagen des Mussolini-Mythos zählen – mit Abstrichen beim vorletzten und vor allem beim letzten Punkt. Mutatis mutandis, das Proviso gilt für alle Vergleiche:

Niemand wird behaupten wollen, die italienische und die deutsche Geschichte und die handelnden Personen deckten sich. Aber dass in jenen Jahrzehnten ähnliche „Verhaltensauffälligkeiten“ aufwiesen, steht für fast alle englischsprachigen Kenner beider Faschismen außer Streit.

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(Source: Ian Kershaw: The ‚Hitler Myth‘. Image and reality in the Third Reich, Oxford University Press, 1987, reissued 2001, Introduction pp.1-10, Conclusion 253-269)

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Verwandt in Mythos und Image

Mit dem Mussolini-Mythos kann man den Hitler-Mythos gewiss nicht erklären. Sir Ian Kershaws Buch über letzteren aus dem Jahre 1987 ist davon auch weit entfernt. Aber italo-deutsche und damit europäische Zusammenhänge sehen, das kann man. Dabei hilft auch einer wie Kershaw weiter, der nicht als hauptberuflicher Komparatist abgestempelt ist, sondern als Hitler-Experte Nummer Eins:

The readiness to place all hope in ‚leadership‘, in the authority of a ’strong man‘, has in itself of course not been peculiar to Germany. Promotion by threatened elites and acceptance by anxious masses of strong authoritarian leadership, often personalized in one ‚charismatic‘ figure, has been (and still is) experienced by many societies in which a weak pluralist system is incapable of resolving deep political and ideological rifts and is perceived to be in terminal crisis. Given the intensity of the crises of parliamentary systems in numerous European states in the inter-war era, and in a climate where the Great War still cast its long shadow, populist and militarist leadership cults sprang up throughout Europe as part of Fascist and quasi-fascist counter-revolutionary movements, most prominently outside Germany of course, in the ‚Duce cult‘ of Fascist Italy.

Unter den Punkten, die Ian Kershaw einer spezifisch deutschen politischen Kultur bereits des 19.Jahrhunderts zuordnet, befindet sich allerdings manches, was wir mutatis mutandis nicht nur für Deutschland, sondern auch für Italien, die andere große „Spätgeburt“ unter den großen Nationalstaaten, gelten lassen: eine ähnliche Schwäche für heroische Führung und nationale Größe:

Heldentum, Kraft, Vitalität, Kühnheit, Hoffnung, Sieg und Wiedergeburt der nationalstaatlichen Idee – viele Jahrzehnte bevor letztere verwirklicht wurde, ging nicht nur die deutsche, sondern mehr noch die italienische Kultur schwer schwanger mit solcher Sehnsucht und Symbolik: ein Kult der „heroisch“ zu erkämpfenden bzw. zu verteidigenden nationalen Einheit nach innen und Expansion nach außen.

One outward manifestation was the erection in the later nineteenth century of gigantic national monuments – on a scale and a character not found, for example, in the British political culture of the time- granite glorifications of mythical heroes, great victories, and national triumph. Militarism, heroism, and national unity, garbed in religious symbolism, were also the keynotes of the newly-instituted national feast day (…)

Image and reality lautet der Untertitel dieses Kershaw-Buches. Beide Faschismen verdanken schon ihren Aufstieg (das Weitere ohnehin) tiefen Klüften zwischen Darstellung und Wirklichkeit, zwischen Verheißung und Enttäuschung.

The growing appeal already before the First World War of ‚heroic‘ leadership notions in populist-nationalist circles of the German Right -and there are parallels, if somewhat weaker in intensity, in pre-Fascist Italy, which helped to prepare the ground for the later emergence of the cult of the Duce- was largely shaped by the increasing gulf between the perceived need for national integration and unity and the patent lack of integration which prevailed in reality.(…)

This gulf was itself enhanced and accentuated by three interlinked factors:

* the social and political disruption accompanying a practically simultaneous transition to nation-state…,constitutional government…, and industrial society;

* the deep fragmentation of the political system (reflecting fundamental social cleavages)…;

* the spread of a chauvinistic-imperialist ideology clamouring for a rightful ‚place in the sun‘… for…a supposed ‚have-not‘ nation“ .

Daraus könnte man mit Kershaw, gleichermaßen mit Blick auf den italienischen Faschismus und den deutschen Nationalsozialismus, aber auch auf das 21.Jahrhundert verallgemeinernd vermuten: Je tiefer die Kluft zwischen den Schichten einer Gesellschaft, je tiefer die Kluft zwischen Erwartungen und Enttäuschungen, desto schwächer die Legitimität eines politisches Systems, desto stärker das Potential für ‚charismatic‘ or ‚heroic‘ leadership, seeming to offer a fundamental break with the past and a new and great future.

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(Source: Ian Kershaw: The ‚Hitler Myth‘. Image and Reality in the Third Reich, Oxford University Press, 1987, reissued 2001, Introduction pp.1-10)  

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La straordinarietà carismatica secondo Kershaw

Ian Kershaw è famoso come autore della più acclamata biografia di Hitler, e non per paragoni o pregiudizi su quello che nazismo e fascismo possono o no avere avuto in comune. Proprio per questo ci aspettiamo qualche lume al riguardo, e lo cerchiamo prima di tutto nel suo libro di quindici anno fa sul „mito di Hitler“. Ecco alcune parole-chiave, riflessioni e conclusioni alle quali perviene Kershaw. Vediamo se c’è qualcuna riferibile non solo alla Germania ed il suo „Führer“, ma anche utile a spiegarci, nell’ottica bipartisan dello storico britannico, qualcosa dell’Italia del mitico „Duce“. A cominciare dall’innegabile consenso, e dal tipo di „carisma“ ad ambedue attribuiti:

La persona del leader fu il focus non solo di grande consenso ma di adorazione ed adulazione da partedi milioni di connazionali anche non impegnati ideologicamente.

Le ossessioni ideologiche del leader stesso non spiegano in modo soddisfacente lo straordinario magnetismo del suo appeal popolare, come se riuscisse a „rivitalizzare“ il paese.

Le fonti di questa immensa popolarità vanno cercate „in quelli che lo adoravano più che nel leader stesso“ (T.W.Mason): più nella immagine che nella realtà del personaggio.

Seguendo Gustave Le Bon sulla „manipolabilità pressocché illimitata delle masse“, il leader sa: più forti le contraddizioni, più deve propagare e ritualizzare il mito, approfondire il legame affettivo.

Applichiamo il concetto dell‘autorità carismatica, che accanto a quella „tradizionale“ e quella „legale“, è uno dei tre „tipi ideali“ individuati da Max Weber:

Il carisma è un tipo di dominazione straordinaria, instabile, non duratura, che tende a spuntare in condizioni ritenute straordinariamente critiche – ed a soluzioni straordinariamente „emergenziali“.

L’autorità carismatica deriva dalla percezione di eroismo o di carattere esemplare di un leader considerato straordinario, dotato di facoltà e poteri eccezionali, se non supernaturali.

L’unica cosa importante è come quell’individuo appare alla percezione di chi è soggetto all‘ autorità carismatica, dai suoi ’seguaci‘ o ‚discepoli‘.

La loro lealtà dipende da una dinamica di successo continuo (apparente). Il carisma è fatalmente minato da insuccessi, fallimenti, sconfitte. Ma è anche minacciato dalla routine.

Questa reinterpretazione dell’autorità carismatica di Max Weber, qui sommariamente descritta come applicata da Ian Kershaw a Hitler, ha esercitato una forte influenza sugli sforzi più recenti della continua Vergangenheitsbewältigung (elaborazione-superamento del proprio passato) da parte della storiografia, politologica, sociologica, antropologia ecc. in lingua tedesca.

Anche ricercatori italiani, e di altri paesi, possono trarre profitto, e profilo sovranazionale, da una aumentata attenzione per questa specie di „generalizzazione“, distaccata ma approfondita, su concetti come il potere carismatico di passati presenti e futuri „grandi“ leader, Führer, Duci eccetera.

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(Fonte: Ian Kershaw: The ‚Hitler Myth‘. Image and Reality in the Third Reich, Oxford University Press, 1987, reissued 2001, pp.1-10, N.B. traduzione di faschistensindimmerdieanderen)

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Quanti francesi tra i (presunti) antenati…

Kevin Passmore dell’Università di Cardiff, autore del conciso libretto Fascism: A very Short Introduction (OUP, 2002) inaugura anche la prima parte dell‘Oxford Handbook of Fascism (quella sulle idee „protofasciste“) con un saggio del quale approfittiamo per andare brevemente alle radici ideologiche che i fascismi europei, visti dal Galles, hanno in comune.

Se il fascismo si cristallizzò in Italia, lo fece perchè lì le circostanze lo permisero, non perchè ideologicamente predestinato a nascere lì, sostiene Passmore: tendenze proto-fasciste ce n’erano state in più paesi europei, anche prima del 1914. Durante la guerra si radicalizzarono e si perpetuarono poi in linguaggi e realtà da guerra civile. Le ideologie fasciste furono sintesi, agglomerati di idee prese da fonti diverse. Passmore le raggruppa più o meno così:

Tra ’sacralizzazione della politica‘ e ‚religione politica‘: Impulsi che contribuirono alla violenza ed alla natura „escludente“ del fascismo, come alla sua raccapricciante prontezza nel giustificare i mezzi con i fini. Tendenze già presenti, in forme molto diverse, per esempio nella rivoluzione francese, nel romanticismo germanico, nel risorgimento italiano.

Tra Illuminismo e Romanticismo, tra Ragione di Stato ed Imaginazione al Potere, tra Jean-Jacques Rousseau (‚religione civica‘ pedagogica e propedeutica alla ‚volontà generale‘) e Gottfried Herder (primato dell‘ etnicità rispetto all’uniformità), tra filosofi e poeti, tra scienziati ed intellettuali, tra positivisti ed antipositivisti, tra ideologhi nazionalisti ed universalisti, tra rivoluzionari di destra e di sinistra, tra progressisti conservatori e reazionari, tra socialisti ed elitaristi, tra anarchici e liberali – ci sono moltissimi nomi molto diversi (ma quanti francesi!) tra i presunti antenati ideali sia del fascismo italiano che del nazismo tedesco.

Gustave Le Bon, Georges Sorel, Arthur de Gobineau, Friedrich Nietzsche sono menzionati più frequentemente (anche da altri storici anglofoni) come i più influenti tra i pensatori pregressi, ai quali -verosimilmente loro malgrado- più si sarebbero ispirati sia il fascismo che il nazismo.

Il name-dropping britannico attorno alle radici ideologiche paneuropee dei fascismi comprende una lunga lista di nomi in parte sorprendenti, in parte raramente menzionati nel nostro contesto italo-tedesco: Darwin, H.S. Chamberlain, Durkheim, Bergson, Duhem, Poincaré, Lamarck, Lagarde, de Tarde, Les Blanquistes, Boulanger, Peguy, Taine, Lenin, Marx, Ranke, Wagner, E.Mayer. W.Schallmeyer. E.Haeckel, Class, Hellwald, e poi Mazzini, Mosca, Pareto, Sighele, P.Rossi, Mantica, Corradini, Lombroso, Marinetti, Prezzolini, Papini, D’Annunzio, G.Gentile…

Questa lista ci ricorda, tra l’altro, che il fascismo ha elementi in comune con altre ideologie, anche apparentemente opposte. Anche per questo risulta così multiforme e difficile da definire.

Come si vede, l’ideologia fascista non fu prodotta „autarchicamente“ da una specifica tradizione nazionale. Nè solo made in Italy, nè solo made in Germany, quindi – almeno per quanto riguarda il pensiero protofascista.

Wagner ricevette Gobineau nella sua residenza veneziana, racconta Passmore – e D’Annunzio scoprì Nietzsche in traduzione francese nella Revue blanche

„Tutto il mondo è paese“?

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(Fonte: Kevin Passmore: The Ideological Origins of Fascism before 1914, in: The Oxford Handbook of Fascism (ed.by R.J.B. Bosworth), Oxford University Press, New York, 2009, pp.11-31)

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Reactions from USA and Israel

Leonard Weinberg,University of Nevada:

 

Griffin is engaged in the practice of ‚conceptual stretching‘ or conceptual straining. By seeking to make fascism travel in both time and place, the danger is like that of many political concepts subject to the same excursions i.e. amorphousness or vagueness. An observation by Giovanni Sartori about concept misformation in comparative politics seems applicable here:“even though we need universals, they must be empirical universals, that is, categories which are somehow amenable, in spite of their…very abstract nature, to empirical testing. Instead we seem to verge on the edge of philosophical universals, understood -as Croce defines them- as concepts which are by definition supra-empirical. For Sartori then, the danger involved in stretching a concept such as ‚fascism‘ well beyond its original place (i.e. Italy) and time (i.e. inter-war Europe) is the loss of precision and, consequently, the ability to empirically evaluate what concrete phenomena conform to the definition. (…)

The cost of achieving a ’new consensus‘ among Anglophone scholars has required Griffin and others to ascend the ladder of abstraction to a point where the concept of ‚fascism‘ has become so wide in scope and abstract in expression that it captures too much to achieve empirical meaning. If ‚fascism‘ is an ideology „whose …mythic core is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism…“ then where does it stop? Sure many of the successor states of the old Soviet Union and the ex-Yugoslavia should abound with fascist movements and parties. (…)

One consequence of stretching ‚fascism‘ and thereby making its meaning progressively vaguer is that it leads to the same kind of promiscuity of usage that has characterized the use of the term as an epithet, a form of name-calling, in popular political discourse. (…)

At this point, another observation by Sartori seems appropriate:“Stones and rabbits cannot be compared. (…) We obtain comparability when two or more items appear ’similar enough‘, that is neither identical nor utterly different…In this perspective to compare is ‚to assimilate‘, i.e. to discover deeper or fundamental similarities below the surface of secondary diversities.

The dispute between Griffin and those German scholars who insist on the uniqueness of National Socialism appears to revolve around the claim of comparability. Griffin’s claim, as I understand it, is to have discovered „deeper or fundamental similarities below the surface of secondary diversities„, while the German scholars assert the diversities are not secondary but primary and, as a consequence, make Nazism incomparable or non-fascist. (…)

Is there a way out, one which would satisfy all or most parties to the dispute? Probably not. (…) A

t present thediscussion about ‚the nature of fascism‘ seems much like the poet Robert Frost’s observation about free verse – it is like playing tennis without a net.

 

 

Stanley Payne, University of Wisconsin-Madison:

 

Even within the limited consensus, however, there is no precise agreement about an exact definition or precise parsimonious description of generic fascism. Griffin’s own definition has the elegance of parsimony, but suffers from the defect that it is possible to find „palingenetic forms of populist ultra-nationalism“ which many proponents of the generic fascist approach would not recognize as fascist, such as in the cases of various Latin American, Middle Eastern or African palingenetic and populist ultra-nationalisms. (…)

Nearly all „ultra-nationalisms“ are „palingenetic“ and „populist“. Under this definition, nearly all of them become ipso facto fascist. (…) Most radical and revolutionary groups are palingenetic in one sense of another, and many are populist. (…)

Political formations that become candidates for a concept of neofascism can only be included in an historical generic concept at the cost of unacceptable conflation and dilution. Ideal types are useless without certain boundaries.

 

 

Alexander De Grand, North Carolina State University:

 

(relies much less on ideology:) I do not want to diminish the importance of ideology and of intellectuals who rallied to fascism, but they have to be seen in a proper relationship to what was really going on.

Griffin abandons long lists of attributes that many historians include in any definition (leader principle, single party, control of information, imperialism).

Some reservations:

First, the nature of the palingenetic myth needs to be defined more clearly. (…)

Second, by reducing the consensus to a relatively vague myth of national rebirth, the new „fascist minimum“ becomes a bit too minimal.

fascism offered a compelling myth of unity more than it did of national rebirth

I believe that all the various fascist movements and their related myths have a powerful element of exclusion from the political community that outweighs any talk of a „new type of humanity“. Exclusion of enemies(…) Fascism and nazism as ideologies were fundamentally programs of exclusion of those who threatened unity of the nation or race.

In both the Nazi and the Fascist versions unwanted elements were subjected to varying degrees of violence. Although the Fascists never went to the extremes of the Nazi indiscriminate violence in Europe, they had no inhibitions in Africa where they used mass extermination and cultural obliteration.

 

 

David D. Roberts,University of Georgia:

 

At issue, most basically, is the sense in which fascism is/was an ongoing possibility, presumably based on some ahistorical psychological propensity, and the sense in which it was historically specific, whether as a uniquely „modern“ possibility or as a still more delimited „epochal“ phenomenon (…).

Griffin’s concern with the new right tends to make his framework at once too unspecific and too restrictive. On the one hand, he stretches and thereby thins his definition and thus insists on the contingency of aspects of interwar fascism long taken as definitional. (…) In Griffin’s current characterization, however, a sense of contemporary decadence conflates with dislike of the mainstream order, and palingenesis conflates with any desire for systematic renewal. (…) Yet, on the other hand, even as he thins his ideal type, Griffin freights it with more a priori content. Racism, etthnocentrism, and xenophobia become more central to the underlying fascist core.

Indeed, despite his protestations to the contrary, Griffin tends, ever so subtly, to reify the categories in the ideal type, which produces a tendency towards question-begging circularity overall and at least a relative essentialism in approaching historic fascism. (…)

But a deeper alternative is necessary and possible in a world that, I suggest, is more radically historical than Griffin allows– and thus less susceptible to understanding through Weberian ideal types.(…)

I contend that „travesty“ is essential to fascism, precisely because fascism, as more an event than a thing, cannot be characterized apart from the action itself, the often out-of-control dynamic let loose.(…)

Fascism was about a certain sense of the scope for the concentration of power for new collective action, and it became what it did because it had concentrated and used power as it did.

 

 

Mario Sznajder,The Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

 

I agree that through the use of serious comparative politics methodology it is possible to include Nazism within a more general category of Fascism. (…)

It is true that Nazism without biological racism would not exist, but Fascism itself contains the confrontational categories that make the criteria of inclusion and exclusion central to its vision and serve as the basis for its very discriminatory and violent ways.

There is no doubt that Fascism is a political ideology (…) The primacy of political power over economic, social and cultural considerations is salient. The warlike character of Fascism and the values associated with it are a main ingredient of its brand of extreme nationalism. (…)

The problems in Griffin’s definition are located in the second, and central, part where he deals with the contents -or mythic core- of this ideology. Are all the permutations of Fascism „a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism?“ Does this definition contain the „ineliminable attributes“ of every type of Fascism? Is this definition encompassing enough without falling into the realm of the vague, or the difficult to pinpoint? If Fascism is perceived as the first political ideology born after the impact of the industrial revolution and secularization on Europe, then the answer is no.

 

 

Jeffrey M. Bale, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey:

 

I completely share Griffin’s view that only an accurate understanding of what constitutes the „fascist minimum“ can enable us to to recognize and properly assess the potential significance of its diverse manidestations since 1945, but as a convinced „Sternhellian“ I cannot entirely agree with Griffin that fascism is „a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism.“ This definition is not su much incorrect as it is incomplete. If one views original fascism as the ideological result of attempts by dissident elements within the fin-de-siècle European intelligentsia to conjoin particular currents of right- and left-wing thought, specifically a radical, romantic, populist, and authoritarian current of nationalism with virulent anti-bourgeois and anti-democratic sentiments, (…) with a revolutionary, voluntarist, elitist and mythopoetic current of socialism with strong anti-rationalist and anti-materialistic sentiments, then one can hardly be satisfied with Griffin’s exclusive focus on the nationalist component within this potent but volatile ideological brew.

 

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(Source: EWE, Erwägen Wissen Ethik – Deliberation Knowledge Ethics, vormals „Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften“ EuS, Streitforum für Erwägungskultur, herausgegeben von Frank Benseler, Bettina Blanck, Reinhard Keil-Slawik, Werner Loh, Jg.15/2004, Heft 3, Lucius & Lucius Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2004)

(Source: EWE,Erwägen Wissen Ethik – Deliberation Knowledge Ethics,vormals „Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften“ EuS, Streitforum für Erwägungskultur, herausgegeben von Frank Benseler, Bettina Blanck, Reinhard Keil-Slawik, Werner Loh, Jg.15/2004, Heft 3, Lucius & Lucius Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2004)

Reactions to Griffin from Britain

Kevin PassmoreCardiff University:

calls Griffin’s beautifully constructed theoretical edifice (…) the obligatory starting point for anyone interested in generic fascism. (…) Griffin’s ideal type possesses the immense merit of taking seriously what fascists think. (…) I am convinced by his contention that fascism includes the myth of palingenetic renewal, and that movements from which it is absent cannot be seen as fascist. (…I I am all the more convinced because (…) rather than interpret fascism in the light of interests, historians now use anthropological, poststructural, gender and Alltagsgeschichte methods to understand fascism from within. (…) Nevertheless…

The ideal type is a human construct produced under specific conditions, not a Platonic essence, and so we must judge it by its usefulness – its capacity to reveal things that would not otherwise be revealed. (…)

I wonder whether his concept is genuinely ‚historical‘. (…)

Griffin overreaches himself in claiming that the core features of fascism actually explain the histories of individual fascist movements – as if once a regime is named it becomes the name.

We might note that Griffin’s definition eliminates much of what contemporaries and scholars alike would have regarded as essential to fascism – the mass party, rallies, the charismatic leader and corporatism. (…)

A more historical explanation would see attraction to fascism as the product of more specific, but related, issues- from doctor’s belief in eugenic engineering, nationalism and anticommunism, to peasants‘ hostility to urban intellectuals and middlemen and economic difficulties (…)

Fascism is a contested ideology. Yet for Griffin, this contest takes place within strict limits, for it concerns the meaning of the core.(…) A genuinely historical idea of contest has no such limit. (…)

Griffin’s mistake is to suggest that his definition represents the only way to understand the movements he categorises under his heading.(…)

Marxists claim to have discovered the ‚core‘ of fascism in the defence of capitalism, so are open to the same objections as Griffin. (…) Paradoxically, in spite of allegiance to ahistorical premises, Marxists do produce robust answers to specific questions. Mutatis mutandis, Griffin’s approach reveals some important features of fascism, and provides a fertile agenda for research, so long as he does not claim to have identified the ‚core‘ of actual movements or regimes.

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Philip J.MorganUniversity of Hull:

Griffin’s article is very consciously addressed to a German audience who, in Griffin’s view, need to be convinced of the value of approaching fascism as a generic phenomenon, or rather Nazism as part of a generic phenomenon called ‚fascism‘.

The parochialism of much of post-war German historiography on Nazism is a characteristic, too, of most of Italian historiography on Italian Fascism. (…) I cannot recall any post-war non-Marxist Italian ‚generic‘ analysts of fascism, except, perhaps for Augusto Del Noce (…). Renzo de Felice (…) only goes as far as attempting to compare Italian Fascism favourably with German Nazism, in order to emphasise that Fascism was the ‚lesser evil‘ and certainly not responsible for nor willingly involved in racial genocide.

There are, of course,good and understandable reasonswhy it is largely the Anglo-Saxon ‚outsiders‘, lacking any direct involvement in these national ‚historians controversies‘, who went for comparative and ‚generic‘ analysis of fascism.

German historians, and not only German historians, will understandably insist that Nazism was incomparable, when a genocidal form of antisemitism became so central to Nazi ideology and practice. But the ‚generics’among us would attempt to connect or subsume anti-semitism to the racism present in various forms in all fascist ideologies, and to wide, if minority, nationalist traditions across European countries which were then radicalised by fascist movements and the two fascist regimes.

As an historian, rather than a social scientist, it is very much against the grain to adopt Griffin’s ‚ideal type‘ conceptualisation of fascism. (…) Historians, i think, usually deduce rather than induce general conclusions from the evidence left by the past. (…) They do not generally start with the assumption, or hypothesis, that there is apattern.(…)

The self-evident danger of the ‚ideal-type‘ abstraction, or distillation, which Griffin adopts, ist that of reification, treating the ‚concept‘ as if it was the ‚real‘ thing. He, certainly, has always insisted that his ‚ideal type‘ definition of fascism is to be regarded as a tool of analysis, a device to enable a better understanding of the ‚real thing‘, and I suppose you should not judge the force of any conceptualisation by the inability or unwillingness of others to use the tool as intended

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Roger Eatwell, University of Bath:

There are at least two other competing non-Marxist ‚consensi‘.

First, there are variations on the developmental dictatorship school, which see ‚fascist‘ regimes as a product of specific crises during stages of economic modernisation.

Secondly, there is the liberal historiographical approach, which sees ‚fascism‘ as remarkably mercurial and which rejects the overdetermining elements in any conceptual framework.

Within the latter camp, most historians simply ignore the ‚generic fascism‘ debate.(…)

The best concept is the one which offers the most theoretical insight – otherwise the concept is largely an abstraction. (…) I have argued that a more comprehensive one-sentence definition which can serve as a simple way of identifying fascism is:

An ideology that strives to forge social rebirth based on a holistic-national radical Third Way, though in practice fascism has tended to stress style, especially action and the charismatic leader, more than detailed programme, and to engage in a Manichean demonisation of its enemies. (…)

The ‚fascist minimum‘, therefore, needs to be supplemented by what I term the ‚fascist matrix‘. The point of the matrix is to highlight that instead of simply prioritising key words, we need to ask how fascists conceived such terms, including what they were defined against.

At the heart of fascist thinking was the creation of a new elite of men, who would forge a holistic nation and build a new third way state. (…) central to fascism’s way of thinking was the synthesis of ideas. (…)

Whilst some form of perceived crisisis an important precondition for the rise of the fascism, it is a mistake to see fascism essentially in terms of a one dimensional (wo)man seeking a response to what Griffin terms a ’sense-making crisis‘. (…)

Fascism is essentially a syncretic movement, capable of attracting people for very different reasons. (…) Seeking to reduce fascism to a quest for nationalist rebirth offers some important insights, but it is an unduly essentialist vision.

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Aristotle A. Kallis, University of Lancaster:

Clearly, for some ‚fascism‘ is best understood as a „concept“ while for others it remains deeply indebted to its historical and geographical „context„. However fruitful and energetic this exchange might be, it does resemble an often bewildering ‚dialogue of the deaf‘.

There are simply too many ‚fascisms‘ around(…): from the Rumanian Iron Cross‘ mystic Orthodox particularism to the Arrow Cross‘ expansionist (‚Hungarist‘) ‚a-Semitism‘ in Hungary; from the defensive but stubbornly autonomous national identity promoted by the Christian Social State in Austria to the culturally expansive, decidedly universalist vision of romanità espoused by Mussolini’s Fascism after 1928.

It is extremely doubtful that all these variants (radical conservative thought, mimetic ‚fascist‘ movements, autochthonous hyper-nationalist groups, fascist and ‚para-fascist‘ regimes, collaborationist systems, conservative overtures to fascism and vice-versa (as well as Griffin’s post-war „groupuscular“ right) can be effectively accomodated within a single sophisticated definition of ‚fascism‘.

Is this pluralism of styles and objectives evidence of an impasse in the pursuit of a generic definition of ‚fascism‘?(…) It is extremely hard to counter the traditional identification of ‚fascism‘ with inter-war Europe, with Fascist Italy and, for most, National Socialist Germany. (…) I do „find it second nature to operate within fascism as a generic term„, conscious of National Socialism’s pecularities but still unwilling to concede its historical experience to the realm of a dystopia – unaccountable, demonised and inaccessible to comparative historical scrutiny. The Nazi fixation with racial purity and wholeness, with open-ended territorial aggrandisement, extreme bio-social engineering and a particular variant of virulent „eliminationist anti-Semitism“ derived, in my opinion from the same pursuit of a utopia for the reborn Volk and Vaterland that animated very different revolutionary agendas across interwar Europe:

In this respect, it is more accurate to describe fascist ideology as a powerful trend, appealing to the most utopian and extreme nationalist vision and articulating suppressed energies which had previously no place in the conventional political agenda of either conservative or liberal nationalism.

In this sense, fascist originality lay not in the invention of the content of this ideal notion of Fatherland, but rather in the legitimation of its most extreme prescriptions and in the sanctioning of ruthless (activist) determination for attaining it.

In the end, the battle for the ownership of the historiographical product with the label ‚fascism‘ will continue to rage, in the form of another (understated, far less boisterous but more protracted) Historikerstreit. The interwar ‚context‘ will continue to mesmerise historians who seek to capture the „protean“ nature of fascism; for many (though not all) of them post-war articulations will remain insignificant in their political, social and ideological fragmentation as well as (current) inconsequentiality. Griffin’s plea for an awareness of the latters‘ peril remains entirely sensible, a sagacious warning against the sort of complacency that direct comparisons with the interwar period have nurtured, in academic and public circles alike. Whether Griffin’s stretched definition of ‚fascism‘ can promote his (and other’s) quest for consensus in the fray of fascist studies remains an otherwise moot point.

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David Baker, University of Warwick:

There can be no doubt that Griffin’s stress on idea typicality, ideology and the concept of of palingenesishas had a major impact on the thinking of a key group of Anglophone scholars – most notably Walter Laqueur, Stanley Payne, and Roger Eatwell. But while Griffin is a synthesiser of this methodology, he was not the founder of its component parts. Nolte was the first to call for the creation of a ‚fascist minimum‘, Payne brought the original ideal type definitional appartus to bear, and Mosse’s 1966 article on the ‚genesis of fascism‘ first emphasised the ‚myth of the new man‘, and of bringing about the ‚moral rebirth‘ of society. Finally, Emilio Gentile was the first to point to the dimension of palingenesis at the heart of fascism (…) in 1975.

Is Griffin’s putative ‚consensus‘ any more than a mere self-fulfilling prophecy? Well, if not a consensus, then at least a convergence of approaches appears to be taking place in international liberal scholarship in comparative fascist studies. But it may not ultimately be based upon his model of revolutionary ultranationalist palingenesis. To end in ‚Griffinesque‘ language, this (…) is a useful exercise in intellectual ’nose blowing‘, clearing the partially blocked epistemological nasal passages of Germanic fascist studies of accumulated conceptual debris. Although we may yet discover that, as in Habermas’s attack on Nolte’s concept of ‚transcendence‘: at this depth of abstraction…all cats are grey.‚ 

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(Source: EWE, Erwägen Wissen Ethik – Deliberation Knowledge Ethicsvormals „Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften“ EuS, Streitforum für Erwägungskultur, herausgegeben von Frank Benseler, Bettina Blanck, Reinhard Keil-Slawik, Werner Loh, Jg.15/2004, Heft 3, Lucius & Lucius Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2004)