Many authors have proposed definitions for the question what is Fascism?, but most of them failed to give a complete definition. The historian Robert O. Paxton answered this question for the first time by focusing on the concrete: what the Fascists did, rather than what they said. To explain the notion of Fascism, Robert O. Paxton proposed in this book to arrive to a concept at the end of this quest, rather than to start with one. To do so, he analyzed minutely each steps of the Fascism evolution; it is to say the way the Fascists movements were created, how did it take roots, how did it get the power and how it exerted the power. Moreover, the historian explored whether fascism could exist outside the early-twentieth-century and outside Europe. First, Robert O. Paxton reminds us the invention and the images of Fascism. Italian revolutionaries used the term fascio in the late nineteenth century to evoke the solidarity of committed militants.
[...] New forms of anxiety appeared with the twentieth century, to which Fascism soon promised remedies. Enemies were central to the anxieties that helped inflame the Fascist imagination. Fascism is a complex notion to define, notably because the roots of Fascism are difficult to trace. Fascism sought out in each national culture those themes that are best capable of mobilizing a mass movement of regeneration and unification. Mass politics preconditions were also very important: Fascism could not really exist before the citizenry had become involved in politics. [...]
[...] According to him, the greatest obstacle to the revival of classical fascism after 1945 was the repugnance it had come to inspire. A revival of fascism faced additional obstacle after 1945: the increasing prosperity and seemingly irreversible globalization of the world economy, the triumph of individualistic consumerism, the declining availability of war as an instrument of national policy for large nations in the nuclear age, the diminishing credibility of a revolutionary threat. The commonest position is that although Fascists are still around, the condition of interwar Europe that permitted them to found major movements and even take power no longer exists. [...]
[...] And still works in the general public's perception of Mussolini's seizure of power. Mussolini later worked hard to establish the myth that his Blackshirts had taken power by their own will and force. To end with the different steps of the Fascism evolution, Robert O. Paxton defined what he named Fascist revolution”. The Fascists regimes left the distribution of property and the economic and social hierarchy largely intact. Despite their frequent talk about revolution, Fascists did not want a socioeconomic revolution. [...]
[...] Paxton's contribution in the historical field The American historian is known to be the reference in a complete and innovative vision of the Fascism and Occupation during the World War II. The Anatomy of Fascism had a lasting impact on our understanding of modern European history, just as Robert O. Paxton's classic Vichy France redefined our vision of World War II. His book, translated in French in 1972, deeply renewed the historians' and the public opinion's views on the 1930's. Based on a lifetime of research, this compelling and important book transforms our knowledge of fascism. [...]
[...] Furthermore, Fascism rooted thanks to landowners, local police, army commanders and local prefets who helped for instance the Black shirts of the Po Valley smash socialism. Other reasons allowed Fascism to increase. First, the new Fascism remained a generational revolt against the elders. Another reason why the Nazis succeeded in supplanting the Liberal meddle-class parties was the Liberals' perceived failure to deal with the twin crises Germany faced in the late 1920's. At least, the Nazis had not gained a majority at the ballot box but they had made themselves indispensable to any non-socialist coalition. [...]
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