How to Read this Blog

Most probably, you do not need any suggestions on how to read this blog. Otherwise you would not have found (or lost?) your way from seventy-eight countries to view these posts, to the considerable surprise of this blogger. He thought he was thinking about this all by himself, just as an online alternative to have even more of his usual bits of paper splattered about everywhere.

The author is not inclined to add anything resembling „operating instructing“ concerning the thoughts assembled here. They are meant to speak for themselves – and to himself. Were it not that there had been a string attached to his little venture into Fascist Studies at Wolfson College, Cambridge: a promise „extorted“ from him at the very start of this (not quite so little, it turned out) task: if you don’t feel like getting systematic about the ‚fascist minimum‘, that might be acceptable, but it would not be bad if you did some ‚clean-up minimum‘ too, before turning off the light. So, here is an attempt to clean up the „uncleanable“:

Four suggestions on How to read this blog:

Let’s call them

* language logic * google logic * colloquial logic * leader logic.

1) language-logic (the language/s one prefers to read)

Why use more than one’s own language? Because fascism did so. The phenomenon is international and intercultural. So is the ongoing academic debate about it. This seems to be mostly about what words mean. Words mean different things in different languages. Using the three main languages concerned is part of an effort which should help us getting a grasp of this subject from changing perspectives.

English is the language of almost all the scholars quoted resp. paraphrased. So, more than 40 percent of the posts require proficiency in reading academic texts in that language. You will encounter, I’m afraid, imperfections in this blogger’s English and Italian: his native tongue is German. This language accounts for more than 45 per cent of the content, as Germany was home to nazism, which is labelled by most English-speaking scholars as the most radical and brutal form of fascism.

Typically, German is used here to paraphrase and/or comment on English quotes contained in the same (or sometimes previous) post.

The remaining 12 % is written in Italian. Not much, admittedly. But considering the extra effort translating from one’s third to one’s second language, it just was not feasible to offer more of it here. At any rate, this is intended as a courteous bow, and a hint, to/in the country where Fascism first came to power, stayed longest – and is enjoying some rehabilitation. (Incidentally, you will notice that we are sharing here the Anglophone habit of writing Fascism in capitals, when referring to Italy, and using lower case when dealing with fascism(s) in general. Generally, all texts and thoughts in these three languages are not meant to repeat but rather to supplement each other).

This blogger’s choices when to switch from language into the other do not follow a pattern. He feels free to use at any moment that particular language in which he assumes that particular quote or argumentation might best target and stimulate scholars, history teachers, students, civic educators etc. He sees no need to give each time specific explanations for this, e.g. because that particular stimulating quote or thought has not, to his eyes, been translated, or circulated, in that language.

2) google-logic (the key-words one prefers to search)

This the most creative and simple option: type key words into WordPress‘ in-built search function. It works fine with the wordpress app on tablets as well, as tested by this blogger. Some examples: Looking for scholar’s names, it is not surprising to find the generic fascism „Themenführer“ Roger Griffin topping the list of the most frequently cited names (in 25 percent of all posts).

He is followed by the less contested pioneer of typological fascist studies Stanley Payne (13 %), and two world authorities on the Führer and the Duce’s role, Ian Kershaw (13 %), RJ.B. Bosworth (11 %), plus over a dozen other scholars mentioned more than once. Needless to say that it is there, rather than among the most frequently quoted and translated scholars, where you will search for fresh new approaches to fascism(s).

On the other hand, „Churchill“(6 %) remains readable even when he writes -and changes his mind- about Hitler and Mussolini. The latter ones are not recommendable search subjects. Just for one simple reason: they appear too often in this blog to allow focusing. The same goes for terms as „generic fascism“ or „nationalism“, both mentioned in more than a quarter of all posts.

„Crisis“ (12 %) is still this blogger’s favourite topical key-word looking for a possible Anglophone consensus to explain fascism(s). You could restrict your results slightly by searching all posts containing the terms „totalitarianism“ or „political religion“ (10 % each) or „modernism“ (6 %). But there again, these look almost as multiform, and contested, as fascism(s), producing a similarly fascinating array of divergent questions and answers, complicating things even further, instead of solving any fascist-related questions.

„Holocaust“(9 %) is not an essential subject to this blog’s theme. Why not, this had to be explained in at least one post (in our only interview with a German, Wolfgang Benz), and mentioned in others. „Future“(7 %) is a search term producing diverse though topical outlooks. You also might try „charisma“, and see whether you find the first five entries as diverse and stimulating as this blogger does.

3) colloquial-logic (the scholars one prefers to hear)

If you type „Interview“ into the search space, you will find that our „exclusive“ with Anglophone scholars make up for 22 % of the material on this subject assembled in this blog. For those recorded audio-interviews, with a non-expert radio and/or civic education audience of German speakers in mind, we had asked scholars to explain fascism(s) in the simplest terms possible. Thankfully, they accepted this even more daunting challenge than the „generic“ talk about fascism, which is huge enough by itself. All those English-speaking academics actually dealt with fascism(s) in a quite accessible English, in some cases even in plain German and/or Italian. To present competent (over)views on such complicated and delicate matters in such unpretentious ways as they have done with us, is something which we have experienced Germanophone and Italophone academic culture often finding difficult to emulate. And that is precisely one important reason why we turned to them, They have been transcribed in English and/or translated and paraphrased into German (D) or Italian (I) as posts to this blog. Here, the interviewer re-arranges their dates of publication in an order in which they might be read by those people who are not yet familiar with the subject (or the language), and would like to go about it step by step:

Richard Evans D 25.6.

Adrien Lyttelton E 18.6.

Andrew Lacey E 19.6.

Philip Morgan E 13.6.+17.6.

John Pollard E 20./21.6. + I 4.6.

Christopher Duggan E 2./3.7. + I 5.6.

Roger Griffin E 4.7. + D 5./6./7.

Richard J. Bosworth E 29./30./6.+1.7. + I 1.7.

4) leader logic (the order one prefers to follow)

This goes a little further beyond the chrono-logic order, i.e. the „minimum leadership principle“, imposed by this as well as all blogs. Before we propose that you follow our „new order“, here’s a preliminary remark on this: the order in which these thoughts on fascism(s) have been posted here is not accidental or completely spontaneous. These postings were imagined from the beginning as parts a sort of not systematic but intuitive „pyramid-building“ process on the subject. The net result might remind readers not so much of an (apparently) rock-solid pyramidal dictatorial architecture, but rather a highly diversified landscape with wide open spaces of the kind which open societies and their scholars (and bloggers) seem to prefer. With hindsight, and more aptly, but not pejoratively, I would describe this blog as an increasingly circumspect step-by-step approach to an extremely hot though fluid substance („wie die Katze um den heißen Brei“, like a cat around the hot porridge, as one says in German).

Content-wise, one may structure most posts into six groups: introductory, historical, definitional, theoretical, comparative, prognostic. Thus, readers who are missing some specific extra-chrono-logical guidance in this labyrinth, may consider to let themselves led by some sort of „leadership principle“, i.e. by having a glance at some of the posts prioritized as basic, from the blogger’s own point of view, in each of those six groups, and in each language:

introductory:

1.6. D/E – Meine Ausgangspunkte auf deutsch und englisch

6.10. D – Eigenes „Schlüsselwörterbuch“

25.4. D – Ein befreiender Tag

24.4. D – Verdächtige faschistische Studien

3.5. E – Why I am interested in comparative fascist studies

2.6. E – Why is this worth doing?

24.9. I – Quanti francesi tra i presunti antenati (Kevin Passmore)

historical:

7.5. D – Warum britische Historiker lesen? (E.Carr, R.Evans)

10.5. E – What is history? (E.Carr)

7.10. D – Gedankenanstöße von E.H.Carr und Richard J. Evans

25.6. D – Was kann man von Sir Richard u.a. britischen Historikern lernen? (Int.R.Evans)

15.5. I – Come avvicinarsi alla storia (E.Carr)

12.9.D – Anfänge anglophoner Faschismusforschung (K.Passmore)

12.9. D – Faschismus ernst und beim Wort nehmen (C.Iordachi)

22.7. D – Ian Kershaw über deutsche Zeitgeschichtsschreibung

23.7. D – Ian Kershaw zur Historisierungsdebatte

24.7. D – Trübt die moralische Dimension den Blick? (I.Kershaw)

20.6. D – Walter Laqueur war nie zu optimistisch

11.6. I – Il più rinomato (e caustico) studioso di Mussolini (Int.Bosworth)

5.5. I – Professore provocatore? Christopher Duggan (Int.)

29.6. E – Best Mussolini biographer comes from Mars (Int.)

definitional:

11.7. E – Towards a definition of generic fascism (St.Payne et.al.)

12.6. D – Was ist Faschismus? (St.Payne u.a.)

14.6. E – Stanley G.Payne: describe and analyse to compare

13.9. D – Zwei Denkschulen und ein Lehrer (St.Payne)

15.7. E – Some quotes from S.G. Payne’s „History of Fascism“

7.10. I – Il fascismo in cinque parole-chiave

13.6. D/E – „passable working definition of fascism“ (Int. P.Morgan)

17.9. D/I – Die meistdiskutierte Definition des Faschismus/Fascismo generico, la definizione più discussa

theoretical:

2.10. D – Mann nimmt Faschisten ernst (M.Mann)

28.9. D/E – Sich in der Masse stark fühlen (R.Paxton)

16.9. I – Tre strategie per cinque tappe fasciste (R.O.Paxton)

22.7. D – Ian Kershaw über deutsche Zeitgeschichtsschreibung

23.7. D – Ian Kershaw zur Historisierungsdebatte

6.7. D – Der Kern: Mythos nationaler Wiedergeburt (R.Griffin)

1.9.  D -Neuer Mensch + Pan-Nationalismus + Dritter Weg (R.Eatwell)

19.9. E – Modernist alternatives to bankruptcy (R.Griffin)

26.9. I – La straordinarietà carismatica secondo Kershaw

15.9. E – Charisma revisited by Roger Eatwell

5.9. D – Woran sich die Geister scheiden (R.Griffin vs. B.Bosworth)

22.9. E – Major EWEnt sparkling off debate (on Griffin’s proposition)

comparative:

25.4. D – Unsere beiden F., unvergleichlich?

6.09. I – Paragone non unilaterale, ma irrinunciabile (Tim Mason + Richard Bessel)

15.7. E – Some quotes from Stanley Payne’s „History of Fascism“

26.9. D/E Verwandt in Mythos und Image I (I.Kershaw)

28.9. D/E Verwandt in Mythos und Image II (I.Kershaw)

2.7. E – Christopher Duggan on fascisms and their strenghts (Int.)

20.9. D – Die Faschismen und die Moderne(n) (R.Griffin)

24.9. D/E – Nach außen verwandt (ohne zu verallgemeinern) (Gr.Knox)

3.9. I – Ogni fascismo è razzista (a modo suo) (R.Eatwell)

19.6. E – Fascisms are about crisis, belonging, meltdown (Int.A.Lacey)

21.6. E – Fascisms have much in common – and a future (Int.J.Pollard)

30.6. E – Richard Bosworth on Mussolini as compared to Hitler (Int.)

4.6. I – Due domande in italiano a John Pollard

18.6. E – Prof. Adrien Lyttleton: Yes, they are comparable (Int.A.Lyttelton)

8.7. D – Churchills Mittelweg zwischen drei Diktaturen

10.7. D – Wie Churchill Mussolini mit Hitler vergleicht

26.8. I – Encyclopedia Britannica non perdona: paragona

prognostic:

29.8. D – Neue Perspektiven eröffnen, Überdruss überwinden (H.Huhtasaari)

9.9. E – Disorder, Decline, Deadlock – the variables of success (R.Paxton)

29.9. E – The questions to ask today (R.Paxton)

1.7. E – Hypernationalist xenophobic potential everywhere (Int. R.Bosworth)

4.9. D – Das weniger Schlimme ist lehrreicher (Bosworth)

3.7. E – Why fascists beat liberals (Int. C.Duggan)

7.9. E – Fascist ideology succeeds when…(R.Eatwell)

4.7. E – Roger Griffin: There won’t be any fascist revival (Int.)

7.7. D – Heutige Jugend von keinem Führer verführbar? (Int. R.Griffin)

21.7. D – Mit Sir Ian Kershaw zu klaren Fragestellungen (Int.)

26.9. I – Storia di Führer, di Duce, o di chi ? (I.Kershaw)

17.6. E – It’s not about „same old stuff over and over again“(Int.P.Morgan)

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