Fascism’s new faces (and new facelessness) in the ‘post-fascist’ epochArticle for Erwägen, Wissen, Ethik to be published with c 20 responses in 2004Professor Roger Griffin Department of History Oxford Brookes University Gipsy Lane Campus Headington Oxford OX3 0BP

The article offers a synopsis of a theory of fascism’s definitional core and its evolution in the century that is fully consistent with the ‘new consensus’ that has grown up in Anglo-phone fascist studies. Its main contestable features are that: a) its methodological premise is derived from Max Weber’s theory of the ‘ideal type’ which rejects Marxist, essentialist, or metapolitical notions of the ‘fascist minimum’; b) it identifies this minimum in a core ideology of national rebirth (palingenesis) that embraces a vast range of highly diverse concrete historical permutations; c) while fully recognizing the singularity of Nazism, the application of this theory to the Third Reich categorizes it as an outstanding example of a fascist regime; d) its application to the post-war era identifies new variants of fascism that have evolved a long way from its inter-war manifestations, notably those associated with Third Position and the New Right; e) it postulates a major organizational transformation within post-war fascism since its extensive ‘groupuscularization’, namely the emergence of ‘rhizomic’ qualities.

1. Not ‘fascism’ again! An apologetic preamble

The European New Right is alarmed at the prospect of the comprehensive homogenization of culture in the wake of the inexorable process of globalization, should take comfort that there is no equivalent of McDonaldization in the human sciences. On the contrary, they continue to host a steady proliferation of contested definitions, methodological assumptions, conceptual frameworks, and ethical positions in every sphere of specialism. Erwägen, Wissen, Ethik has set itself the laudable mission to provide a unique academic Streitforum [discussion forum].dedicated to counteracting the dangers of excessive ‘biodiversity’ intrinsic to the very vitality of the humanities. This it strives to do by encouraging academics to ‘airing’ controversies and debating contentious issues head-on with a view to weeding out untenable or heuristically valueless (and hence dispensable) theories, explanatory strategies, and value-positions so that sound ones can thrive more abundantly.

However, that EWE has decided once more to devote precious space to the topic ‘fascism’ may suggest some sort of unhealthy fixation at work. After all, this is not the second but the third ‘bite at the cherry’. Wolfgang Wippermann expounded his theory of generic fascism in 2000 (1) ,: and the resulting book took the process of rejoinder and counter-rejoinder one cycle further. (2)

More recently Ernst Nolte, widely (though erroneously) treated as the father (or Godfather!) of comparative fascist studies, stirred up a swarm of often pointed ‘Erwägungen’ [deliberations] from largely hostile critics when he used EWE’s pages to synthesize the methodological and conceptual axioms that underlay his contributions to historiography. In the process he reasserted the convictions that led him originally to locate Nazism within the phenomenon of generic fascism in DerFaschismus in seiner Epoche some four decades ago. (3) The results of both these attempts to encourage more productive debate about the nature of Nazism and fascism suggest that it is indeed worth raising the issue once more.

EWE (like its predecessor Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften) deliberately sets out to go beyond a fashionable post-modern relativism by setting up a debate on an issue in such a way as to reduce the plurality of schools of thought and areas of mutual misunderstanding associated with a particular controversy. Conflicting parties are encouraged to weigh up and reflect on [erwägen] the various objections raised to their positions with a view to modifying their original standpoint in response to the Hauptartikel [leading article] or the cycle of ‘Repliken’ [rejoinders] it provokes.

Yet in his concluding rejoinder Wipperman was prepared to make only minor concessions to objections raised by his critics, even if his tone was collaborative and conciliatory rather than combative. By contrast Nolte’s privileged vantage point high up on the Olympian peaks from which he observes the grand designs of ‘historical existence’ apparently makes it impossible for him to discern the hustle and bustle of everyday scholarship going on far below him in the valley of empirical historiography.

He thus proceeds as if oblivious of the torrent of literature concerning the nature of fascism that has been published in English by lesser mortals since the appearance in 1965 of the translation of Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche under the title Three Faces of Fascism. Certainly the tone of his two ‘Repliken’ to the many substantive critiques of his general position implies that as far as he is concerned his own process of ‘Erwägung’ has reached closure. In particular, he is scornfully unrepentant if his metapolitical analysis of Nazism’s counter-revolutionary, dialectical, relationship to Marxism and ‘Jewish Bolshevism’ lays him open to the charge of historical revisionism about the nature of the Third Reich

Yet, even more than the imperviousness to criticism displayed by both Wippermann and Nolte, it is the criticisms themselves, despite the impressive rigour, erudition, and political passion that many displayed, which suggest that the need to stimulate a serious debate about the term ‘fascism’ in the German-speaking academic world is as pressing as ever.

Wippermann’s plea for ‘fascism’ to become a respectable and heuristically useful term for non-Marxist historians to use in their reconstruction of German history fell on deaf ears. There was wide consensus that the methodology by which he extracted a ‘real type’ of fascism from Mussolini’s movement and regime was suspect, and that the insistence that Fascist Italy was to be seen as the paradigm of a ‘racial state’ was historiographically flawed. However, no German scholar was prepared to concede explicitly that in itself Wippermann’s attempt to elaborate a definition of fascism as a generic term stripped of its Marxist connotations, whatever the flaws of his own proposed ideal type, was a potentially valuable contribution to Germany’s academic and cultural life.

This is all the more unfortunate given the impasse in the intense national debate about the historical significance to be attributed to Nazism in German history that has gone down in history as the Historikerstreit (lampooned as the Histerikerstreit), and in particular the clear inadequacy of accounting for the enormity of the Third Reich’s crimes against humanity using explanatory frameworks based exclusively on idiographic, Germany-centred historical reconstruction devoid of a comparative perspective. (The handful of non-German academics involved in the debate could see this, but here Wippermann was preaching to the converted.)

It is equally revealing that the two cycles of debate over Nolte’s ‘metapolitical’ interpretation of history in the pages of EWE two years later were conducted as if Wippermann had never published a line about fascism and the highly productive comparative fascist studies industry abroad simply did not exist. As a result, though Nolte’s theses were attacked on all sides, no one called him to task for the way he had simply side-stepped the fact that comparative fascist studies in the Anglophone world have moved on considerably since Three Faces of Fascism and entered a highly prolific phase of creativity over the last decade. The very density of the empirical reconstructions of specific aspects of international fascism now available make Nolte’s metahistorical lucubrations on fascism’s relationship to transcendence reminiscent of the painting by Salvador Dali in which drooping, oneiric faces are suspended precariously above the ground on crutch-like props.

Thus while some of Nolte’s critics challenged his construct of a ‘fascist epoch’ rooted in a counter-revolutionary anti-Marxism that characterized the inter-war period, none referred to more modern positions that reject the assumption that fascism can be confined to inter-war Europe (e.g. those of Stanley Payne or Roger Eatwell). Furthermore, references to G. L. Mosse’s genuinely groundbreaking works on Nazism’s place within the evolution of modern nationalism and political religion, some of which are available in German translation, were conspicuous by their absence. Instead it is typical of the generally antiquated tenor of the debate in Germany that the one scholar who was prepared to attack Nolte’s use of the term ‘fascism’ did so only to reassert the Comintern doctrine that equated it with the terroristic suppression of the working class movement by monopoly capitalism, a paradigm that has clearly proved to have a greater capacity for survival than the Soviet Empire that spawned it.

Revealingly, one of the contributors to the EWE forum on Nolte, Lars Lambrecht, explained the original notoriety of his Faschismus in seiner Epoche as a succès de scandale. (5) He was the first non-Marxist to have no reservations about treating Nazism as a form of generic ‘fascism’ at a time when the prevailing orthodoxy spoke ‘of National Socialism, of the impossibility of comparing it with similar phenomena abroad, of the German Sonderweg.’

Just how stubbornly German academia has refused to move on in four decades is illustrated by the EuS/EWE discussion of both Wippermann’s and Nolte’s thesis, which shows that Nazism is still seen by most German academics basically in the same way that Karl-Dietrich Bracher presented it in Die deutsche Diktatur, over thirty years ago, as a unique event that cannot be accommodated within any generic category other than ‘totalitarianism’. (6) Sven Reichardt, who also took part in the EWE Nolte debate, is the great exception to the rule. In 2002 he published Faschistische Kampfbünde, an exhaustive comparison of the Nazi SA with the Fascist squadristi using a definition of generic fascism that is profoundly indebted to the one which will be expounded in this Hauptartikel under the code name ‘the new consensus’. It is thus significant if he confirms independently that the major breakthroughs that have taken place in Anglo-American fascist studies have been ‘almost entirely ignored by German historiography’. In particular, his is the only work in German to my knowledge that reflects the shift towards analyses of fascism as an attempted ‘total’ cultural and anthropological revolution by explicitly using this approach as the basis of the conceptual framework which he constructs for comparing the paramilitarism of the Nazi and Fascist regimes. (7)

It could be inferred from the publication of Faschistische Kampfbünde that ithas taken two generations for the collective trauma of the events associated with the Third Reich to fade to a point where younger scholars in Germany and Austria can begin to look at them comparatively without revisionist intent, and see them as the product of something much larger than belated nationhood. If blinkers are now falling and dogmatism waning on this issue then it is an ideal time to use EWE’s seminar space to attempt to follow up both ‘Faschismus’ kontrovers and the Nolte debate with the exposition of a third theory of fascism which conflicts with them both. The urgency of ‘striking while the iron is hot’ is intensified by the paradox that as the events of the Third Reich recede into the past, the need to address them in an academically cogent and humanistically meaningful way becomes ever more pressing. This is because a blind spot about the term ‘fascism’ is inextricably bound up with unresolved historical traumas and painful ethical issues about how Germans and Austrians (whether part of the educated elite or not) relate to their nations’ recent past. These in turn will continue to have considerable bearing on major questions of national identity and self-image, and on a host of political and social phenomena and issues which impinge on them, for many generations to come.

To take just one example, when German and Austrian professional historians and social scientists, and hence the whole educational industry that depends on them, ignore the relevance of comparative fascist studies to illuminating ‘what actually happened’ in Europe between 1933 and 1945 they create a narrowly ‘Nazism-centred’ view of the Third Reich. This reinforces historically misleading and educationally counter-productive ideas of an Austro-German Sonderweg to modern nationhood that produced a national character and political culture that made it difficult for liberalism to flourish. This in turn helps create the cultural conditions in which it has become widely acceptable for ideologues of the New Right to address issues of ‘identity’ and ‘roots’ in terms that certainly by-pass Nazism, but still consciously and defiantly recycle the radical assault on liberalism mounted by the thinkers of the Conservative Revolution under Weimar that helped prepare the ground for Nazism, and in some cases (e.g. Heidegger, Jünger, Benn) directly contributed to its ethos and cultural legitimacy. This spurious respectability of extremist assaults on the hegemony of liberal values in turn makes respectable [salonfähig] an ‘organic’ concept of Europe and the place of ‘German culture’ within it that is fundamentally opposed to the one that inspired the Treaty of Rome. Even if not ‘Nazi’, it is a world-view still viscerally hostile to the multi-culturalism that is an inexorable feature of the modern world. (8)

By its nature this Hauptartikel is directed at two different (ideal-typical) audiences or scholarly constituencies. The first consists of representatives of academia from Germany and Austria (henceforth referred to by the shorthand ‘German. For these a synoptic account of the evolution of fascism in the twentiethcentury as a generic phenomenon based on a definition informed by neither Marxist nor meta-historical premises still challenges many deep-seated assumptions and values, especially since it claims to illuminate important aspects of the singularity of the Third Reich which remain obscure if a comparative framework is not applied. The second constituency consists of non-German academics, though not necessarily historians or social scientists, most of whom will find it second nature to operate with ‘fascism’ as a generic term with which to refer to certain forms of authoritarian or militaristic nationalism. What some among them may well find less digestible, however, is an approach that in the inter-war period places so much emphasis oncultural and social ‘rebirth’ and that embraces Nazism as one of its major permutations. Even those generally sympathetic to these aspects of what follows may yet harbour deep misgivings about an interpretation that attaches so much importance to the ‘groupuscular’ organization of the extreme right, and argues that, stripped of its ‘external’ inter-war attributes, the term ‘fascism’ can be applied to exclusively ideological, supra-national, and non-charismatic political phenomena such as the Europeanist New Right.

Even if we do not inhabit an ideal world where the human sciences are free of careerist factionalism, political prejudice, and territorialism, the exposition of my ‘grand narrative’ of fascism within EWE’s unique seminar space should still offer something worthwhile to both these audiences. ‘Non-German academics’ have a chance to refine or reject the theses that this article contains concerning the ‘fascist’ nature of Nazism and the evolution of post-war fascism, thereby contributing to the consolidation of the new consensus, or (as is more likely), to the articulation of the considered opposition to it already mounted within Anglophone fascist studies. Meanwhile German academics are given the unusual experience of participating in a discussion of Nazism and post-war fascism informed by a contemporary ‘Anglo-Saxon’ perspective on the topic that places the empirical fruits of home-grown scholarship in a radically different light. Hopefully even the act of refuting this ‘alien’ perspective will be found heuristically useful.

As for me, the invitation to provide EWE with a ‘Hauptartikel’ based on my research as the focus of a wide ranging seminar debate is a major event in my own evolution as a theoretician and historian of fascism. It presents a unique opportunity to help move the debate about fascism and Nazism on to a point where at least there is constructive dialogue between German and non-German academics on two of the most important issues in the modern history of the West in absolute terms: a) the location of the Third Reich in history, and b) the assessment of the threat that the extreme right still poses to democracy now that liberal democracy has been restored. If I complained in the course of EWE’s Wippermann debate that I felt an ‘outsider’ to German academia, at least I now feel I have been given the security of a temporary ‘Arbeitserlaubnis’ [work permit], even if I will have to report regularly to the authorities for the foreseeable future.

2. Fascism in the eye of the beholder

The work by Nolte that helped (and only helped) pioneer comparative fascist studies thirty years ago was Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche (translated into English as Three Faces of Fascism). One of its many pronouncements was that ‘the era of the world wars is identical with the era of fascism’.(9)

Since then most works devoted to the comparative analysis of fascism (almost all produced outside Germany except for Marxist ones) have explicitly or implicitly corroborated this view, even though hardly any applied the ‘philosophy of history’ that underpinned Nolte’s interpretative scheme. In monographs, conference proceedings, and collections of essays alike devoted to reconstructing fascism’s history, the post-war period has been treated perfunctorily, if at all, as little more than an anti-climactic coda to fascism’s catastrophic spring-time.

It as if with the advent of democracy’s Indian summer in 1945 a once raging mountain torrent had turned into a pathetic brook, or a mighty river of ideological energies swelled by numerous tributaries had shrivelled into a delta of stagnant swamps and sluggish streams devoid of revolutionary momentum. The same publications have more often than not implied that fascism was almost exclusively a European affair. Italy’s most industrious archival historian of Mussolini’s regime, Renzo de Felice, thus spoke for the orthodoxy of the day when he declared:

If we are to consider fascism one of the major historical events of our time, use of the word cannot be extended to countries outside Europe, nor to any period other than that between the wars. Its roots are typically European; they are inalienably linked to the changes in European society brought about by World War I and the moral and material crisis occasioned by conversion to a mass society with new political and social institutions. (11)

It is consistent with this assumption that for the majority of political scientists the anti-democratic forces of the right most worthy of study today are no longer openly revolutionary parties and groupings. After all, they are all utterly marginalized within the party-political process, and in terms of the number of hard-core activists involved they can count on a few thousand ‘skin-head’ racists and a few hundred disaffected middle class intellectuals in the whole of Europe, which, when compared with the half-million who belonged to the Nazi Sturmabteilungen on the eve of Hitler’s seizure of power, is hardly a major threat to the stability of liberalism. No wonder the bulk of the research resources that might once have been channelled into monitoring fascism are now devoted to the study of a new form of party-political illiberalism, variously called neo-populism or radical right populism, which operates from deep within the party political system of a number of European countries and can claim a total electoral constituency of several million. (12)

Gianfranco Fini articulated a wide-spread feeling when he described the formal transformation of the neo-Fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano into the neo-populist Alleanza Nazionale in 1995 as the expression of the fact that in practical terms we all now live in a ‘post-fascist’ age.

The sense of living in a post-fascist world is not shared by Marxists, of course, who ever since the first appearance of Mussolini’s virulently anti-communist squadrismo have instinctively assumed fascism to be endemic to capitalism. No matter how much it may appear to be an autonomous force, it is for them inextricably bound up with the defensive reaction of bourgeois elites or big business to the attempts by revolutionary socialists to bring about the fundamental changes needed to assure social justice through a radical redistribution of wealth and power. According to which school or current of Marxism is carrying out the analysis, the precise sector or agency within capitalism that is the protagonist or ‘backer’ of fascism’s elaborate pseudo-revolutionary pre-emptive strike, its degree of independence from the bourgeois elements who benefit from it, and the amount of genuine support it can win within the working class varies appreciably. But for all concerned fascism is a copious taxonomic pot into which Nazi Germany, Franco’s Spain, apartheid South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile, Le Pen’s plans for the renewal of France, and Haider’s ideal Austria can be thrown without too much intellectual agonizing over definitional or taxonomic terms. (13) For them Brecht’s warning at the end of Arturo Ui (a Marxist allegory of the rise of Nazism) has lost none of its topicality: ‘Der Schoß, der ihn gebar, ist fruchtbar noch’ [The womb that produced him is still fertile) (14)

The fact that two such conflicting perspectives can exist on the ‘same’ subject is to be explained as a consequence of the particular nature of all generic concepts within the human sciences. To go further into this phenomenon means entering a field of studies where the philosophy of the social sciences has again proliferated conflicting positions, this time concerning the complex and largely subliminal processes involved in conceptualization and modelling within the social sciences. (15)

An instinct of self-preservation has led me to treat social scientific methodological issues, especially those of the post-structuralist and post-modern variety, as a vast area of intellectual quicksand best avoided, probably because of a disturbing intuition that the solid foundations of all empirical work in my field may ultimately reveal themselves to be a comforting illusion. For practical purposes I do not believe a century of intensive modern and post-modern speculation about these epistemological issues has significantly improved on the approach arrived at piecemeal by Max Weber over a century ago and never elaborated into a coherent or ‘total’ system of hermeneutics. According to him terms such as ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism’ are ideal types, heuristic devices created by an act of ‘idealizing abstraction’. This cognitive process, which in good social scientific practice is carried out as consciously and scrupulously as possible, extracts a small group of salient features perceived as common to a particular generic phenomenon and assembles them into a definitional minimum which is at bottom a ‘utopia’. (16)

The result of idealizing abstraction is a conceptually pure, artificially tidy model which does not correspond exactly to any concrete manifestation of the generic phenomenon being investigated, since ‘in reality’ these are always inextricably mixed up with features, attributes, and surface details which are not considered definitional or are unique to that example of it. The dominant ‘paradigm’ of the social sciences at any one time, the hegemonic political values and academic tradition prevailing in a particular country, the political and moral values of the individual researcher all contribute to determining what common features are regarded as ‘salient’ or ‘definitional’. There is no objective reality or objective definition of any aspect of it, and no simple correspondence between a word and what it means (what later theory would call the ‘signifier’ and the ‘signified’) since it is axiomatic to Weber’s world-view that the human mind attaches significance to an essentially absurd universe and thus literally creates value and meaning, even when attempting to understand the world objectively. The basic question to be asked about any definition of ‘fascism’, therefore, is not whether it is true, but whether it is heuristically useful. What can be seen or understood about concrete human phenomena when it is applied that could not otherwise be seen, and what is obscured.

In his theory of ‘ideological morphology’ the British political scientist Michael Freeden has elaborated a ‘nominalist’, and hence anti-essentialist, approach to the definition of generic ideological terms that is deeply compatible with Weberian heuristics. He distinguishes between the ‘ineliminable’ attributes or properties with which conventional usage endows them and those ‘adjacent’ and ‘peripheral’ to them which vary according to specific national, cultural or historical context. To cite the example he gives, ‘liberalism’ can be argued to contain axiomatically, and hence at its definitional core, the idea of individual, rationally defensible liberty. However, the precise relationship of such liberty to laissez-faire capitalism, nationalism, monarchy, the church, or the right of the state to override individual human rights in the defence of collective liberty or the welfare of the majority (universal human rights) is infinitely negotiable and contestable. So are the ideal political institutions and policies that a state should adopt in order to guarantee liberty, which explains why democratic politics can never be fully consensual across a range of issues without there being something seriously ‘wrong’. It is the fact that each ideology is a cluster of concepts comprising ineliminable (uncontested, definitional) with eliminable (contested, variable ones that accounts for the way ideologies are able to evolve over time while still remaining recognizably ‘the same’, and why so many variants of the ‘same’ ideology can arise in different societies and historical contexts. It also explains why every concrete permutation of an ideology is simultaneously unique and the manifestation of the generic ‘ism’, which may assume radical morphological transformations in its outward appearance without losing its definitional ideological core. (17)

3. The fascist minimum as an ideological core

When applied to generic fascism, the combined concepts of the ‘ideal type’ and of ‘ideological morphology’ have profound implications for both the traditional liberal and Marxist definitions of fascism. For one thing it means that fascism is no longer defined primarily in terms of style (e.g. spectacular politics, uniformed paramilitary forces, the pervasive use of symbols such as the Fasces and Swastika), or organizational structure (e.g. charismatic leader, single party, the corporatization of economic or cultural production, mass youth and leisure movements), but in terms of ideology. Moreover, the ideology is not seen either as essentially nihilistic or negative (anti-liberalism, anti-Marxism, resistance to transcendence etc.), or as the mystification and aestheticization of capitalist power. Instead it is reconstructed in the ‘positive’ (but not apologetic or revisionist) terms of the fascists’ own professed diagnosis of society’s structural crisis and the remedies they propose to solve it, paying particular attention to the need to separate out the ‘ineliminable’, definitional components from time- or place-specific adjacent or peripheral ones.

However, for decades the state of fascist studies would have made Freeden’s analysis well-nigh impossible to apply to generic fascism, because precisely what was lacking was any conventional wisdom embedded in common sense usage of the term about what constituted the its ‘ineliminable’ cluster of concepts at its (non-essentialist) core. Despite a handful of attempts to establish its definitional constituents that combined deep comparative historiographical knowledge of the subject with a high degree of conceptual sophistication, (18) there was a conspicuous lack of scholarly consensus over what constituted ‘the fascist minimum’, a phrase popularized by Ernst Nolte. Some scholars (19) expressed serious doubts whether there was such an entity as ‘generic fascism’ to define in the first place. Others, particularly within German-speaking academia, argued that Nazism’s eugenic racism and the euthanasia campaign it led to, combined with a policy of physically eliminating racial enemies that led to the systematic persecution and mass murder of millions, was simply too unique to be located within a generic category. Both of these positions suggest a naivety about the epistemological and ontological status of generic concepts most regrettable among professional intellectuals, since a) every generic entity is a utopian heuristic construct, not a real ‘thing’, and b) every historically singularity is by definition unique no matter how many generic terms can be applied to it. Other common positions that implied considerable naivety were ones that dismissed fascism’s ideology as too irrational or nihilistic to be part of the ‘fascist minimum’, (20) or generalized about its generic traits by creating a blend of Fascism and Nazism.

4. The emergence of a ‘new consensus’

Throughout the post-war era the sorry state of fascist studies rendered the term ‘fascism’ almost unusable to serious ‘idiographic’ historians of extreme right-wing phenomena for practical heuristic and forensic purposes. In particular both Italian and German non-Marxist historians of Fascism and Nazism respectively have, with very few exceptions, avoided the generic term altogether. In doing so they deprive themselves of the comparative perspectives on the Mussolini and Hitler regimes and their relationship to other manifestations of ultra-nationalism in the West. Such a comparative perspective is needed to throw into relief the way phenomena normally treated as symptoms of dysfunctions in the process of nation-building peculiar to Italy and Germany were actually part of patterns woven into the fabric of European history.

However, over the last decade there has emerged a growing explicit (theoretically formulated) or tacit (pragmatic) acceptance by Anglophone academics working in the field that fascism’s ineliminable core is made up of the vision of a regenerated political culture and national community brought about in a post-liberal revolution. (22)

Inevitably, such a consensus can never be total and there are academics working in fascist studies who continue to apply a different ideal type of fascism, some of whom express deep scepticism about the very existence of an area of convergence on the centrality to fascism of an ultra-nationalist myth of rebirth. (23) The most cited version of the consensus applied by academics who are sympathetic to it is the highly synthetic formula that I used to encapsulate my own ideal type: ‘Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism.’ (24)

The utopian nature of definitions formed through a process of idealizing abstraction may imply to those still sceptical about the whole enterprise of searching for a ‘fascist minimum’ that they have a fragile anchorage in empirical reality. It is important to stress, therefore, that the myth of Italy’s imminent ‘palingenesis’ (rebirth) can be objectively documented by a close study of primary sources as< constituting both a central theme of all the copious texts that expressed Fascist ideology, and the main point of convergence between the many currents of thought and species of political project that formed a loose alliance first within the Fascist movement, and then within the Fascist regime. The myth of national rebirth is also documentable as the main common denominator not only between the Fascist regime and a handful of movements that in history have called themselves fascist, notably the Faisceau, The British Union of Fascists, and the post-war Faisceaux Nationaux Européens, but a far greater number of revolutionary nationalist groups such as the Falange, the Romanian Iron Guard, and the NSDAP that rarely if at all applied the term to themselves. Its discriminating value as a definitional ideal type is that revolutionary aspirations involving the attempted palingenesis of the nation’s entire political culture are demonstrably missing in the core ideology of a number of regimes and movements commonly associated with fascism, such as Franco’s Spain, Pinochet’s Chile, or Le Pen’s Front National. Moreover, some corroboration of the heuristic value of this ‘minimum’ is given by the fact that on the rare occasion when ideologues of the extreme right have offered a definition of fascism it has corresponded to this ideal. (25) even when it is used as a pejorative term which demarcates ‘true’revolutionary nationalism from perverted forms which, for example, retain capitalism. (26)

It is also consistent with the latest scholarship on totalitarianism and stress on political culture rather than organization and style. (27)

To clear up another wide-spread misunderstanding about the nature of the ‘fascist minimum’ as it is increasingly widely perceived, it is worth citing the reservations voiced by the (excellent) British historian, Martin Blinkhorn. In the ‘author’s reply’ to an electronic review which praised the scepticism he expressed about the new consensus in his Fascism and the Right in Europe 1919-1945, he admits to being ‘increasingly impatient with the whole “generic fascism” grail quest’. He goes onto state his relationship to the new consensus somewhat pointedly: ‘I claim the right to say: “I am not part of it; therefore it does not exist.”’ (28) Yet precisely what follows from a Weberian approach is that the fascist minimum of ‘ineliminable’ properties is not some sort of elusive but (at least for the pure of heart) objectively existing essence to be found at the end of a search, something which would indeed smack more of romantic legend than humanistic science. As an ideal type it resembles rather an industrial diamond in being an entirely ‘man-made’ product, a deliberate cognitive act which takes place at the beginning of an empirical investigation in the human sciences. If the more methodologically self-aware scholars working in this field are concerned to refine the way they conceptualize and ‘problematize’, it is not because of some perverse neo-Platonic (or political science) belief in the primacy of ideas and essences over facts and empirical reality, but for mundane, strictly heuristic purposes. For unless key concepts central to any research project are clarified at the outset the cogency of the resulting analysis will be impaired, to the detriment of any value it might have for other scholars.

Blinkhorn’s decision to ‘opt out’ of the new consensus and hence demonstrate its non-existence also points to considerable confusion, since it has never been suggested that the agreement between academics on the fascist minimum has ever been more than emergent or partial. After all, this is true of consensus between experts over any highly contested area of academic investigation in the human (and natural) sciences. In any case its function is not to put and end to debate, but to allow other aspects of the ‘problematic’ to be contested. Without this continuous process of generating shifting areas of convergence and divergence academic knowledge and scientific understanding could never progress and the controversies it generates could never ‘move on’. The final irony is that the definition of fascism which Blinkhorn actually applies in his survey of inter-war and war-time Europe specifies that at the core of its ‘ideas and myths’ lies the ‘belief in a national and/or racial revolution embodying rebirth from an existing condition of subjection, decadence or ‘degeneracy’ leading to the ‘creation of...a “new fascist man”’. (29)

This is fully consistent with, and actually deeply indebted to, the major expressions of the new consensus about which he has earlier expressed such deep scepticism. However, though he tacitly adopts the new consensus, the section on the book in which he refers to fascism after 1945 indicates that he has not inferred from it the radical change of perspective that it brings about when applied to the post-war era (the main subject of this article). As a result he duplicates the standard historical view of it when he depicts the gamut of the post-war extreme right as stretching from highly conspicuous, significant parties such as the Italian Social Movement (Movimento Sociale Italiano: MSI), which at times make impressive inroads into the legitimate space of democratic politics, to a zone which ‘seethes’ with a ‘profusion of groupuscules far too numerous to mention — and mostly too tiny to be worth mentioning’, some of them ‘psychotically violent’. (30)

Once the full implications of seeing fascism’s definitional core as a belief in ‘national and/or racial revolution’ are grasped, the question of fascism’s evolution after 1945 changes radically. In particular the issue of how fascism ‘naturally’ manifests itself as a political and historical entity takes on a dimension that could not be perceived on the basis of ideal types constructed exclusively through a study of the extreme right in inter-war Europe, such as Ernst Nolte’s ‘metapolitical’ definition, (31) James Gregor’s ‘developmental dictatorship’ model (32) , Zeev Sternhell’s concept of a fusion of anti-Marxist socialism and tribal nationalism which made it ‘neither right, nor left’, (33) or Wolfgang Wippermann’s ‘real type’ based on Italian Fascism. (34)

The key to this reassessment lies in the realization of just how historically contingent the Fascist and Nazi forms of fascism were, even if it was these that still exert such a powerful influence on the historical memory and imagination.

5. Fascism’s inherently protean quality

From the two variants of the ‘new consensus’ already cited (Griffin/Blinkhorn) it is clear that the core cluster of definitional concepts with which fascism is increasingly being identified by scholars contains room for an extremely wide range of specific ideological contents and policies. Both ‘national’ and ‘racial’ are intrinsically multivalent terms that can vary considerably in meaning according to which particular nation or nation-state is examined and which theory of race is applied. Even ‘rebirth’ can be interpreted in an ultra-conservative and hence restorationist sense as well as in a far more futuristic sense which signals a definitive break with the past. There should be no surprise, then, if each fascism, be it Spanish Falangism, the Hungarian Arrow Cross or Italian Fascism itself, contain highly idiosyncratic features, such as the central role of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the ideology and ethos of the Iron Guard. However, it should be equally clear to anyone who has studied Nazism how applicable this definition of generic fascism is to it. Nazism was a form of ultra-nationalism deeply imbued with notions of imperialism, anti-Semitism, Aryan supremacy, racial hygiene and eugenics that gave it a highly idiosyncratic contents in terms of ideologies and policies. It systematically strove for the renewal and regeneration of the national community in every sphere, the political, military, social, cultural, aesthetic and even the economic one (though achieved by adapting capitalism rather than abolishing it). Britain’s greatest expert on Nazism, Sir Ian Kershaw, has never found it heuristically useful to apply the term to his research into the Third Reich. Yet even he is prepared to state in his evaluation of rival definitions of fascism that ‘Griffin’s emphasis on “palingenetic ultra-nationalism” – extreme populist nationalism focused upon national “rebirth” and the eradication of presumed national decadence – as the core of fascist ideology, self-evidently embraces Nazism.’ (35) It is consistent with this core that his one of the central themes of his magnificent biography of Adolf Hitler is that the Führer’s ability to embody national longings for rebirth was the key to his ‘charisma’. (36)

As for the Nazi programmes of ethnic cleansing which culminated in applying Taylorian and Fordist principles to mass murder, a frequently overlooked fact is that they were driven by the myth of rebirth, of racial ‘Wiedergeburt’. The statement by a member of the Swiss Red Cross who visited Auaschwitz in 1944 thus resonates with deeper layers of meaning: These people were proud of their work. They were convinced of being engaged in an act of purification. They called Auschwitz the anus of Europe. Europe had to be cleansed. They were responsible for the purification of Europe. If you cannot get your head round that you will understand nothing at all. (37)

It is also because of the conceptual fuzziness at the ideological core of fascism that once any of its permutations becomes a mass movement, it naturally brings together many different and sometimes deeply conflicting concepts of nation, race, and rebirth. Fascism hosted a welter of schemes for a new Italy that contained inherent tensions and contradictions that Mussolini never attempted to resolve. Nazism, though more centralized and intolerant of ‘heterodoxies’, was far from homogeneous ideologically, as a detailed comparison of the visions of national rebirth promoted by leading Nazis such as Gregor Strasser, Arthur Rosenberg, Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, and Walter Darré would demonstrate. Moreover, it should be stressed that the ineliminable core itself does not prescribe or imply any particular organizational or institutional form or style of politics, both of which will be largely determined by the precise historical situation in which the attempt to bring about national palingenesis is carried out. In short, fascism has a protean quality to generate myriad permutations of the vision of national rebirth, and is intrinsically factious and fractious. It also can assume a number of different external organizational forms. Once fascism is seen in this way, the focus of historical explanations of the strength or weakness of specific variants of it in inter-war Europe naturally shift away from the deep-seated pathological cultural traditions or paths to nationhood of individual nations. Instead they investigate more closely the medium-term systemic factors and short-term socio-political factors that determine whether fascism forms into a cohesive movement or remains fragmented.

Similarly, attempts to trace fascism’s overall development as a historical force nformed by this approach cease to concentrate on attempts to emulate the Fascist and Nazi parties. Instead attention moves to considering how its external form (style/organization) and central policies mutate in order to adapt to changing historical circumstances. Recast in terms of ‘ideological morphology’ this means that reconstructing the history of fascism involves distinguishing as clearly as possible between the definitional features of fascism and its adjacent or peripheral ones and then tracing how in different circumstances it sheds some non-definitional features and loses others as it adapts to different external forces. Thus the leader cult, the spectacular politics, corporatism, the ethos of militarism, the youth movement can be treated as ‘phenomenal’ rather than ‘noumenal’, as long as the ‘noumen’ here is understood to be an ideal typical construct rather than fascism’s ‘thing-in-itself’. It is all too easy for adjacent concepts to be smuggled into the definitional core even by methodologically self-conscious theorists.

Thus Stanley Payne introduces the Führerprinzip and militarism into his one-sentence definition, (38) both of which were products of the historical conditions of inter-war Europe rather than ‘essentially’ fascist. My own original definition in The Nature of Fascism included ‘populism’, which needs considerable qualification once fascism ceases to behave as a mass movement in the post-war era. The discursive version of the definition in the same chapter also refers to the fascist belief in imminent national rebirth, which as I now realize certainly does not apply to those for whom the defeat of the Axis powers means that they now find themselves in an indefinite ‘interregnum’ waiting for the Godot of a sudden reversal (Umschlag) of the meta-historical situation of which there is no sign as yet on the horizon. (39)

In each case an ‘adjacent’ property of fascism has been subliminally identified with the ineliminable core, unwittingly corrupting the purity of the ‘timeless’ (but anti-essentialist) ideal type with ephemeral, contingent properties

It follows that the key to understanding the evolution of fascism in the post-war era is to be alive to the way the myth of national rebirth can produce new adjacent properties in terms of ideological contents. Equally it can assume organizational forms radically different from its inter-war manifestations, even if they may be unrecognizable as attributes of fascism to those convinced that its revival means the reappearance of a movement-party which sets out to emulate the NSDAP. As Pierre- André Taguieff reminds us:

Neither “fascism” or “racism” will do us the favour of returning in such a way that we can recognize them easily. If vigilance was only a game of recognizing something already well-known, then it would only be a question of remembering. Vigilance would be reduced to a social game using reminiscence and identification by recognition, a consoling illusion of an immobile history peopled with events which accord to our expectations or our fears. (40)

It becomes easier to recognize fascism’s new guises once it has been understood why in the inter-war period it took the form it did. (41) The profound structural crisis which each Europeanized country underwent was a unique blend of a number of factors: the fin-de-siècle loss of faith in rationalism and progress, the impact both material and social of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of revolutionary communism, the consequences of the crisis of capitalism and the Great Depression, the rise of the masses and the resulting tensions within both conservative authoritarianism and elitist liberalism. In both Italy and Germany the structural crisis of liberalism, though configured extremely differently, were profound enough to allow the forces of the revolutionary, anti-conservative right to coalesce into a new type of formation, the ‘armed party’. It was thus because they were children of their age that both the PNF and the NSDAP combined a paramilitary uniformed elite with a mass electoral base headed by a charismatic leader who had the qualities of a political statesman and military leader. Both were intended to be the vehicle for the creation of a mass movement of national renewal that would enable the parliamentary system to be overthrown on the basis of a charismatic dictatorship. The critical mass of populist energies generated by and contained within both parties meant that they were able to embrace a vast range of activities and functions, from ideological elaboration and propaganda carried out by a small elite to mass participation in party-related events and projects in every sphere of society, from the violent actions of paramilitary cadre formations to mass leisure and youth organizations.

Both parties therefore became the protagonists and animators of a vast programme of cultural production, the most conspicuous of which took the form of ‘spectacular’ or ‘aesthetic’ displays of the revolutionary energies that were being unleashed and coordinated by the movement/regime. It was thus the parties that became the basis for the transformation of both Fascism and Nazism into elaborate, all-pervasive ‘political religions’.

The totalitarian movements represented by the PNF and the NSDAP and the totalitarian regimes that they underpinned became the role model for all revolutionary nationalists in the inter-war period and synonymous with totalitarian, mass-based revolutionary nationalism itself. This became known as ‘fascism’ after the first such movement to achieve power, namely Mussolini’s fascismo. However, it was only in Italy and Germany that the structural crisis of liberal society was profound enough to generate a genuinely charismatic form of populist politics, one which was not confined to the hard core of movement activists, but involved the particular type of consensus generated by a ‘palingenetic political community’, thereby creating the basis for a fascist regime. (42)

The others that sought to emulate the PNF/NSDAP (e.g. the British Union of Fascists, Falange, Iron Guard, Arrow Cross) never even approached the point where they created a genuinely revolutionary critical mass as a populist force, even if some achieved a small electoral following.

The image of fascism as the most dynamic and most successful anti-communist force of the age also had a major impact on authoritarian conservatism. The apparently impressive modernizing achievements of Mussolini’s Italy in the social, technological, and cultural spheres, Franco’s eventual success in overcoming the combined forces of the Left thanks to Fascist and Nazi intervention, the seemingly irresistible rise of Hitler’s Germany to become a major world political and military power, combined to shape the popular connotations of ‘fascism’ in the 1930s. It could easily seem to its converts as if it represented a new ideology born of the modern age which was the only hope for the salvation of civilization now that the age of political liberalism and of secular humanism was drawing to such a dramatic and sudden close. As a result, conservative regimes that wanted to hold out against the challenge of liberalism, socialism, and communism readily adopted some of the trappings of fascism in order to seem modern, legitimate and in harmony with the new democratic forces of the age (43)

6. The death of the slime mould

It emerges from the above analysis that the external form adopted by fascismin the inter-war period was determined by a profound multi-factorial and generalized sense-making crisis. This allowed revolutionary populist energies to be generated that associated the term fascist in the popular and academic mind with charismatic and paramilitary mass-movements pursuing nationalist goals. On closer inspection, however, the only ‘successful’ fascist movement-regimes (Fascism and Nazism) were coalitions and alliances, sometimes loose to the point of factional conflict, between a large number of diversified ultra-nationalist projects and visions, and different aspects of state, cadre and mass socio-political energy forged into superficial cohesion because of the powerful populist energies released by the seismic structural upheavalswhich the Westernized world was undergoing at the time. (44)

I am aware of the fact that biological metaphors are rightly suspect within the social sciences. They are all too easily perverted to political ends, especially in the hands of right-wing ideologues and rhetoricians, because when social processes and organizational structures are modelled on the dynamic processes found within nature it lends spurious (‘scientistic’) corroborations to racist myths of elites, breeding, and cleansing which can have horrifically real human consequences as the basis of state policies. It should be understood that the two biological metaphors I am about to use in this article to help conceptualize the contrasting organizational structure of in war and post-war fascism are strictly heuristic devices. They are used in the same spirit of demystification and exploration that led the postmodernists Deleuze and Guatteri, hardly open to charges of right-wing affiliations, to use the dyadic images of ‘tree’ and ‘rhizome’ in their interpretations of modern social processes. With this caveat in mind I would like to suggest that that even the most successful fascist mass movements in the inter-war period were far from achieving the genuinely organic, tree-like (arboreal) unity that all political demagogues dream of leading into a new dawn. Instead, as far as analogies with the natural world are concerned their internal structure is illuminated the remarkable phenomenon called the ‘slime mould’ (myxomycota). (45)

This is a slug-like entity that forms from countless single cells in the conditions of extreme damp found, for example, in abandoned English country cottages. Though it has no central nervous system, it has the mysterious property of forming into a brainless, eyeless super-organism that somehow moves purposefully like a mollusc animated by a single consciousness (it can even negotiate mazes in search of food!). Once the conditions ‘dry out’ and its habitat disappears the slime-mould disintegrates back into the countless cells that composed it and endowed it with the capacity to generate such a powerful illusion of centrally coordinated organic life.

The metaphorical relevance of the slime mould to the change that occurred in fascism’s external manifestation between the inter-war and post-war period should be self-evident. It was only the extreme conditions of inter-war Europe’s political culture that allowed the disparate aspects of the extreme right to coalesce in the party-political equivalent of the slime mould, and even then only in certain countries. The most gigantic political myxomycota of all, the NSDAP, achieved such a high degree of internal cohesion that for most victims and helpless observers at the time it seemed to behave just like the fully integrated product of unified will and perfect Gleichschaltung claimed in the slogan ‘Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer’, no matter how chaotic and polycentric it proves to have been with hindsight. In the post-war period the habitat in which fascism has had to survive has been radically altered. For one thing the systemic crisis of liberal democracy and the capitalist West which probably reached its nadir in the autumn of 1941 on the eve of Stalingrad, gave way in 1945 to a triumphalist sense of the economic, technological, military, and moral superiority of the ‘Free World’ over both fascism and communism, empirically vindicated for many by the eventual collapse of the Soviet Empire in the late 1980s. In particular, the acute economic instability of capitalism was replaced by unprecedented growth and prosperity for the average inhabitants of the First World. Equally important, fascism became indissociable for the majority of Western citizens from war, destruction, genocide and moral evil, its rhetoric of national renewal glory thoroughly discredited. The draining away of fascism’s mythic power and mass mobilizing potential has been reinforced by a general rejection of imperialism, militarism, and ultra-nationalism, the dwindling of the power of the nation-state, and a considerable growth of cosmopolitanism and informal contacts between different Europeanized cultures in the age of mass travel

One effect of this radical transformation in the political culture in which fascism now has to operate is that the ethnocentrism and xenophobia that in the inter-war period would have found an outlet in overtly anti-liberal forms of conservatism and revolutionary nationalism have now found expression in ‘right-wing populism’ as< an integral part of the party-political system. In structural terms political racism has thus had to drop the revolutionary agenda within which it was subsumed during the inter-war ‘crisis of civilization’. Even though fuelled by such threats to a mythic sense of identity as multi-culturalism, mass-immigration, the European Union, American cultural imperialism and globalization, the evaporation of this sense of crisis means that it has generally renounced anti-systemic forms of politics to produce instead an illiberal form of democratic politics, that can also be called ‘exclusionary populism’ (46) or ‘ethnocratic liberalism’.

In party-political terms the whole post-war era has indeed become ‘post-fascist’.

7. New faces of fascism

The inter-war period provided the ideal habitat for fascism to manifest itself as a charismatic mass movement and for its revolutionary power to seem sufficiently impressive in Italy and Germany for its external trappings to be copied by anti-revolutionary authoritarian regimes. This meant that the international fascist right operated within discrete national party-political organizations in which all its various components coalesced, making it relatively easy for conventional historians trained in the reconstruction of macro-political to trace its development, whether they used generic terms such as ‘totalitarian’ or ‘fascist’ or not. Certainly they had no cause to delve into post-structuralist theories of reality. However, the loss of that habitat and the transformation of the historical situation as a result of the Allied victory over two Axis powers dedicated to the realization of goals based on fascism has forced it to adapt its ideological content and adopt a number of new survival strategies. These have not only radically changed its ideological content, but brought about a major mutation in the way it can manifest itself outwardly as an anti-systemic political force.

One of the more conspicuous of these changes is that, though some forms of revolutionary nationalism (i.e. fascism) still promote a narrowly chauvinistic form of ultra-nationalism, the dominant forms of fascism now see the struggle for national or ethnic rebirth in an international and supra-national context, an aspect of fascism that in the inter-war period was comparatively underdeveloped. (48)

Thus Nazism has been adopted throughout the Westernized world as the role model for the fight for Aryan or White supremacy producing what can been called ‘Universal Nazism’. Within Europe most national fascisms see their local struggle as part of a campaign for a new Europe,one far removed from the vision of Eurolandia. Third Positionism, meanwhile, especially in its more outspokenly anti-capitalist, national Bolshevik forms, campaigns for a radical new world order in which the dominance of the USA’s economic, cultural, and military imperialism has been ended. It looks forward to an entirely new economic system and international community and its struggle against the present system fosters a sense of solidarity with non-aligned countries such as Libya, the Palestinians, and even Iraq and Yugoslavia when they are ‘victims of US imperialist aggression’.

The second change is a pervasive metapoliticization of fascism. Many formations have vacated party-political space altogether and many areas of it have even abandoned the arena of activist struggle, choosing to focus on the battle for minds. The most clear expression of this development can be seen in the New Right, that grew out of the recognition which dawned in French neo-fascist circles in the 1960s of the need for a radical change of ‘discourse’ with which to regain the credibility for revolutionary forms of anti-liberal nationalism that had been destroyed< by the Second World War and its aftermath. Taking the concept of ‘cultural hegemony’ to heart resulted in a ‘right-wing Gramscism’ that aimed to undermine the intellectual legitimacy of liberalism by attacking such aspects of actual existing liberal democracy as materialism, individualism, the universality of human rights, egalitarianism, multi-culturalism. They did so not on the basis of an aggressive ultra-nationalism and axiomatic racial superiority, but in the name of a Europe restored to the (essentially mythic) homogeneity of its component primordial cultures by the application of a ‘differentialist’ ideal which seeks to put an end to rampant vulgarization and ethnic miscegenation that they see endemic to modern globalized multi-cultural socities.

The result has been a powerful anti-systemic ideology self-consciously distinct from Fascism and Nazism and deeply indebted to Weimar’s equally anti-systemic ‘Conservative Revolution’ which it considers the original and pure version of the transvaluation of Western values travestied so grotesquely by the Third Reich. Later versions of the extraordinarily prolific, logorrheic New Right have placed increasing stress on the need to transcend the division between Left and Right in a broad anti-global front. (49)

Other vehicles of fascism’s metapoliticization are Eurasianism, Third Positionism, and its off-shoot or close cousin national Bolshevism (though some forms of Third Positionism are violently anti-Communist). (50) All these advocate in different ways the inauguration of a new global order which would preserve or restore the (through policies and measures never specified) unique ethnic and cultural identities (first and foremost European/Indo-European ones) allegedly threatened by globalization. (51)

The battle ‘to take over the laboratories of thinking’, as one German New Right ideologue put it,takes place on other fronts as well. Historical Revisionism and Holocaust denial are widely dispersed but highly deliberate assaults on the collective memories of the post-war generations calculated to exploit the power of the academic register of historical and scientific enquiry to rewrite history in such a way as to minimize, relativize, or cancel out altogether the crimes against humanity committed by fascist regimes. (52)

The 1960s counter-culture also bred New Age, neo-pagan, and occultist variants of the Hitler myth and forms of nationalism that embrace various visions of the threat to humanity posed by materialism and globalization, (53) one strand of which led to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings becoming a prescribed text for the intellectuals of the Italian New Right. (54) Other currents of fascism have taken on board ecological concerns, often as an integral part of the New Right critique of the Western concept of progress. (55)

Contemporary fascism’s independence from a mass party-movement or a regime with a centralized hierarchy of command and propaganda directorate endows it with considerable ideological flexibility. In the USA this has enabled it to enter into a sufficiently close relationship with certain forms of fundamentalist Christianity to produce new forms of collaboration and hybrid between religious and secular racism and anti-Semitism, the Christian Identity network being the outstanding example (56)

At the other end of the spectrum it has used the popularity among proletarian racists of punk rock and heavy metal to create a rich and complex ‘White Noise’ music scene geared to the legitimation of racial hatred and violent xenophobia (57) At least the lyrics of fascist punk music make no attempt to disguise its racism under layers of metapolitical or differentialist discourse. Nor do they euphemize the palingenetic dream of ‘purging’ the nation from decadence though an apocalyptic racial war, a vision that is its main artery of continuity with inter-war fascism and Nazism. Thus one of the songs of the seminal White Noise band, Ian Stuart’s Skrewdriver, roars out to its audience:

Hail and thunder, the lightning fills the sky
Not too far it comes before the storm
Hail and thunder, we’re not afraid to die
Our mighty fearless warriors marching on.
With high ideals we make our stand
To cleanse the poison from our land.[...]
They spread a flame, a wicked spell
To keep our people locked in Hell.[…]
But now the devil’s cover’s blown
The strength of light is going to break the evil seal

The fact that White Noise CDs and concerts set out to whip up racial hatred and inspire ‘racially motivated’ crimes underlines how misleading it would be to imply that fascism’s metapoliticization and ideological diversification has led to it abandoning the sphere of activism and violence. The difference is that, instead of being absorbed into para-military formations of the mass party such as the Nazi SA, activism is now often concentrated within specially formed cadre units such as the Combat 18 group in the UK or the numerous ‘black terrorist’ cells which carried out bomb attacks in Italy during the 1970s. (59)

Even more significantly, racist violence is increasingly carried out not by members of fascist parties but by groups of racists acting on their own initiative. Similarly, a number of terrorist outrages have been committed by ‘lone-wolves’ who were not under any centralized command at all, but had formed a deep sense of personal mission to further the cause as communicated to them by a variety of sources. The racist nationalism of ‘Oklahoma bomber’, Timothy McVeigh, had first been politicized by his exposure to the particular revolutionary subculture created by the patriotic militias, rifle clubs, and survivalists. His sense of personal mission to do something to break ZOG’s stranglehold on America had then been crystallized on reading The Turner Diaries by William Pierce, the now deceased leader of the National Alliance in the US. (60)

The London nail-bomber David Copeland, though the police initially stated he had no connections with any organized right-wing, proved to have been heavily influenced by Christian Identity and the UK based National Socialist Movement as well as The Turner Diaries. (61) In his case the Internet played a crucial role in his recruitment into the private militia of lone terrorists dedicated to bringing about a radical change to the system. (62) It also provided him with the information he needed to make nail-bombs. Another example of this phenomenon that hit the headlines was the attempt by Maxime Brunerie to assassinate Jacques Chirac on 14 July (Bastille Day) 2002. Among the groups that had influenced him were the Third Positionist student organization GUD (63) the ‘universal Nazi’ Parti Nationaliste Français et Européen, and Christian Bouchet’s ‘national Bolshevik’ Unité Radicale (UR).

8. The rhizomic structure of the groupuscular right

The way McVeigh, Copeland, and Brunerie internalized an extreme right world view and carried their self-appointed mission in a spirit of ‘leaderless resistance’ is symptomatic of the biggest change of all to affect fascism in the ‘post-fascist age’: groupuscularization. There is a natural tendency to dismiss the thousands of minute and often ephemeral formations that constitute the post-war extreme right as pathetically unsuccessful attempts to emulate the inter-war mass movement-party, and hence, as Martin Blinkhorn put it, ‘too tiny to mention’. This has obscured the fact that the vast majority of them represent a new sort of formation that makes no attempt to gain an electoral following. It thus seeks out a niche, not in conventional political space, but rather in ‘uncivic space’, that area of civic society that hosts radical rejections of the status quo. (64)

In the context of extreme right-wing politics in the contemporary age ‘groupuscules’ can be defined as numerically negligible political (frequently meta-political, but never party-political) entities formed to pursue palingenetic ideological, organizational or activist ends with an ultimate goal of overcoming the decadence of the existing liberal-democratic system. Though they are fully formed and autonomous, they have small active memberships and minimal if any public visibility or support. Yet they acquire enhanced influence and significance through the ease with which they can be associated, even if only in the minds of political extremists, with other grouplets which are sufficiently aligned ideologically and tactically to complement each other’s activities in their bid to institute a new type of society.

As a result the groupuscule has a Janus-headed characteristic of combining organizational autonomy with the ability to create informal linkages with, or reinforce the influence of other such formations. This enables groupuscules, when considered in terms of their aggregate impact on politics and society, to be seen as forming a non-hierarchical, leaderless, and centreless (or rather polycentric) movement with fluid boundaries and constantly changing components. This ‘groupuscular right’ has the characteristics of a political and ideological subculture rather than a conventional political party movement, and is perfectly adapted to the task of perpetuating revolutionary extremism in an age of relative political stability

The outstanding contrast between the groupuscular and party-political organization of the extreme right is that instead of being formed into tree-like hierarchical organisms it is now ‘rhizomic’. The use of this term was pioneered in the spirit of post-structuralist radicalism by Deleuze and Guatteri (65) to help conceptualize social phenomena to which, metaphorically at least, the attributes of supra-personal organic life-forms can be ascribed, but which are not structured in a coherently hierarchical or systematically interconnected way which would make tree-based or ‘dendroid’ metaphors appropriate. When applied to the groupuscular right the concept of the ‘rhizome’ throws into relief its dynamic nature as a polycratic, leaderless movement by stressing that it does not operate like a single organism such as a tree with a tap-root, branch and canopy, and a well-defined beginning and end. Instead it behaves like the root-system of some species of grass or tuber, displaying ‘multiple starts and beginnings which intertwine and connect which each other’, (66) producing new shoots as others die off in an unpredictable, asymmetrical pattern of growth and decay. If a political network has a rhizomic political structure it means that it forms a cellular, centreless, and leaderless network with ill-defined boundaries and no formal hierarchy or internal organizational structure to give it a unified intelligence.

Thanks to its rhizomic structure the groupuscular right no longer emulates a< singular living organism, as the slime-mould is so mysteriously capable of doing. Nor is it to be seen as made up of countless tiny, disconnected micro-organisms. Instead, following an internal dynamic which only the most advanced life sciences can model with any clarity, the minute bursts of spontaneous creativity which produce and maintain individual groupuscules constitute nodal points in a force-field or web of radical political energy which fuels the vitality and viability of the organism as a whole. These qualities duplicate the very features of the Internet which first attracted US military strategists to its potential for making it impossible to shut down or wipe out the information it contains simply by knocking out any one part of it, since there is no ‘mission control’ to destroy. The groupuscularity of the contemporary extreme right makes it eminently able to survive and grow even if some of the individual organizations which constitute it are banned and their Websites closed down. (67)

One symptom of the extreme right’s rhizomic structure is an ecumenicalism unthinkable in the ‘fascist era’ that is expressed both in the way Web-linkages exist and cross-currents of influence can be detected between logically incompatible currents of fascism such as Universal Nazism, Christian Identity, Third Positionism, the New Right. The ‘Eurasianism’ of Arctogaia, for example, merges the influence of a home-grown pre-Soviet tradition Russian ultra-nationalism, Russian dialectics of post-Soviet national Bolshevism, the French New Right, the Traditionalist Italian New Right, Third Positionism, New Age and occultist fascism, and even the punk-rock strand of ‘White Noise’, so that in August 1998 its Website paraded the name of Jonny Rotten of the notorious anarchic punk band Sex Pistols next to those of Alain de Benoist and Julius Evola as prophets of the new age. (68)

By the mid-1990s the leader of Arctogaia, Alexander Dugin, had become official advisor to Gennadin Seleznev, the president of the Russian parliament. (69)

9. The contemporary threats of fascism

Applying the ‘new consensus’ on fascism to tracing its post-war history leads to an evaluation of its contemporary strength radically different from arrived at using definitions based on inter-war fascist movements. Far from fading away to insignificance, fascism has displayed a vigorous Darwinian capacity for creative mutation. It has diversified, specialized, and groupuscularized in order to fill as many civic and uncivic spaces as possible now that mainstream political spaces are denied it. It may have withered on the vine as a would-be party-political mass movement, but it has also assumed a new capillary and rhizomic form it has become a new sort of weather-resistant organism. It is not only one difficult for the traditional social science to conceive, but is extraordinarily well adapted to the wintry climate that has prevailed ever since April 1945 when the two superhuman incarnations of fascism were reduced to all-too-human corpses.

This remarkable metamorphosis makes the exercise of evaluating the threat fascism now poses to liberal democracy a quite different challenge from assessing the potential of the Fascist or Nazi movement to conquer power. Clearly it can never mount an attack on state power comparable to that of Mussolini or Hitler, either through a military putsch or a sweeping electoral victory. Nevertheless, it is worth exploring several other types of threat to democracy that it embodies (always remembering that this ‘it’ now embraces, even more than in the inter-war Europeanized world a vast range of variants, many of them mutually hostile):

a) It keeps an extremist agenda of revolutionary nationalism alive in a form that is practically uncensurable, since the groupuscular right shares with the Internet that it uses so readily the property that the information and organizational intelligence that it contains is not lost through the suppression of any one of its nodes. This reservoir of extremism guarantees a plentiful supply of ideological fuel to small activist groupings and party political formations wherever they arise.

b) The existence of myriad autonomous but interconnected nodes of ideological, organizational and activist activity ensures that fascist ideology is constantly evolving to incorporate new elements (e.g. the European Union, ecological concerns, globalization) into its diagnosis of the decadence of the present stage of Western civilization. Whether this is conceived as one of imminent collapse or of a protracted ‘interregnum’, or in activist or metapolitical terms, the core vision is of the need for a radically new order based on organic principles and true spiritual/racial roots.

c) In the years of Italy’s ‘Strategy of Tension’ post-war fascism demonstrated its ability to maintain a network of groupuscules directly associated with elements within the state and inspired mainly by a highly abstruse metaphysical interpretation of the evils of contemporary society based on the ‘Traditionalist’ vision of Julius Evola. The most spectacular expression of this crusade against the modern world was the Bologna Bombing of August 1980. It now tends to spawn lone wolves who take it on themselves to carry out sporadic acts of terrorist violence.

d) In its groupuscular form the contemporary fascist right helps maintain a subculture of ideologically rationalized and organized intolerance of multi-culturalism and liberalism which in local conditions of exacerbated socio-economic and ethnic tensions can provoke racially motivated crimes.

e) It also ensures ideological formation and preparation within a revolutionary ethos of racists and fanatics who may go on to join mainstream reformist parties, thus ensuring that both mainstream conservative parties and neo-populist parties contain a fringe of hardcore extremists.

f) It can subvert democratic, pacifist opposition to globalization and to the perpetuation of global injustices by attempting to inject it with a revolutionary, violent dynamic exploited by governments to discredit the ‘no logo’ or ‘Seattle’ movement’.

g) It can corrupt the cogency of Left-wing critiques of the status quo by hi-jacking them and editing them so to corroborate an extreme right-wing analysis and agenda couched in metapolitical anti-Western terms.

h) In its New Right incarnation, which in some countries has achieved a high degree of respectability within orthodox culture, it can help rationalize and legitimate neo-populist attacks on multi-culturalism and feed fears about the erosion of national or ethnic identity (albeit in a ‘differentialist’, pseudo-xenophile, rather than an openly xenophobic spirit). This in turn can reinforce a climate that breeds traditional xenophobic racism and help ensure that the default position of liberal democracy in particular countries shifts to the right rather than the left on such issues as international trade, citizenship and immigration. To that extent New Rightists would be justified in claiming some measure of success for their attempts to undermine the hegemony of actually existing liberal democratic values.

As a groupuscular force fascism has become supra-national and has internationalized. Furthermore, post-Kennedy USA and post-Gorbochev Russia have become two of the major incubators for new varieties of extreme right-wing palingenetic ideologies. Fascism is thus well-placed to provide the basis for collaboration and organizational linkages between the Europeanized far right and other terrorist organizations from non-Christian world with their own mission to fight a ‘holy war’ against the West. (70)

10. Beyond the Maginot lines of the historical imagination (and the need for a bit of magic)

Just as fascism has diversified and mutated as a movement, so has the risk it poses to liberalism. Clearly it no longer threatens to topple regimes and install dictators bent on pursuing imperialist dreams and realizing fantasies of racial superiority and national rebirth at whatever the cost. However, the occasional terrorist outrage is only the more spectacular expression of the threat posed by what has become a largely subcultural or counter-cultural extreme-right constituency of fanatics and utopians determined to prepare the way for the inauguration of a new order. Moreover, most of them now operate in a polycentric, leaderless, and hierarchy-less ‘movement’, more ideological than practical, and largely invulnerable to conventional state counter-measures or military counter-insurgency tactics.

Attempts by the state to combat fascism in its new forms have certainly not been helped by the general failure of academic scholarship to recognize its transformation from a party-political and hence high-profile, conspicuous, and hierarchical anti-systemic force to a predominantly rhizomic, and hence largely faceless one. The evolution of military technology and tactics meant that the Maginot line, France’s imposing line of fortifications built on her Eastern border that would have been invaluable in the First World War, was irrelevant to its defence against modern forms of warfare by 1940. In the same way mainstream academic thinking on fascism is still dominated by the way it manifested itself over fifty years ago. A ‘Maginot mentality’ still prevails within the social and historical sciences on the nature of fascism as embodied in the verdicts on its post-war development by Ernst Nolte, Renzo de Felice, and Martin Blinkhorn cited earlier. It is this collective blind-spot that renders the new ideological and organizational forms of fascism largely invisible and undocumented.

But Maginot lines of the historical imagination are not the monopoly of fascist studies. The last paragraph of Ernst Nolte’s Three Faces of Fascism stated:

Nevertheless, fascism as a metapolitical phenomenon still serves as a means of understanding the world today: only when liberal society, after steadfast and serious reflection, accepts practical transcendence as its own although no longer exclusive product; when theoretical transcendence escapes from its ancient political entanglements into genuine freedom; when Communist society looks at itself and its past with realistic but not cynical eyes and ceases to evade either one; when the love of individuality and barriers no longer assumes political form, and thought has become a friend of man - only then can man be said to have finally crossed the border into a postfascist era. (71)

I believe this statement smacks of an elitist, ivory-tower isolation from the ‘real world’ that was already reprehensible four decades ago and would be even more indefensible now given the profound ecological, demographic, social and cultural crises of the NewWorld Order. A much more political and less transcendent point of view suggests that human beings desperately need to become friends, not just of ‘thought’, but of each other and of the planet which sustains our whole species.This implies an enormous redistribution of economic wealth and economic power, as well as a vast paradigm shift in the hegemonic cosmology of Western/‘liberal’ modernity. However, it is only then that fascism and all other forms of politicized racism, whether ethnocentric or ‘differentialist’, could ever truly be a thing of the past.

I have now outlined the narrative shape of the history of fascism that emerges when a conceptual framework is applied that a) treats it as a genus of modern political ideology, and b) identifies as its definitional minimum and ‘ineliminable core’ the myth of an ultra-nationalist rebirth that can clothe itself in a bewildering number of adjacent and peripheral concepts and outward phenomena, even supranational and virtual ones far removed from the mass rallies and charismatic politics of the inter-war period. I now invite my colleagues to ‘sock it to me’ (as Anglo-American youth culture used to say), in other words to articulate their methodological misgivings, raise ideological objections, or point out empirical facts that underline its dubious heuristic value. They would also be performing a service, if not to Humanity then to the Humanities, if they were to suggest case-studies in the extreme right that would help to corroborate or refine my approach or draw attention to historical phenomena or methodological approaches that complement my ‘thesis’ and make it less one-sided.

In principle, this is a particularly valuable exercise in stimulating a process of Erwägung [deliberation] whereby in the spirit of EWE German scholars are forced to ‘deal with’ theoretically and psychologically the plurality of positions that have emerged on generic fascism abroad, as well as addressing the anomalous tendency within international scholarship for their very existence to be ignored at home. It is particularly important for them to join the international debate at this time since arguably it is only now that a new consensus is finally emerging in the comparative study of fascism. By responding to the thesis set out in this paper they will simultaneously be formulating a response to this putative consensus with which it is fully consistent. Furthermore, it is surely a professional duty of German scholars to comment on the radical implications that this consensus (if not my particular version of it) has for an interpretation both of the ideological and social dynamics of Nazism as movement and regime, and its relationship to wider human history in the inter-war and post-war eras. Given the radical way the resulting ‘Anglo-Saxon’ interpretations conflicts with the most prevalent schools of interpretation that contributed to the Historikerstreit of a few years ago it is high time that some of them go back to school.

One of the consequences of locating Nazism within generic fascism that German intellectuals need to address is that it casts a radically new light on the ‘totalitarian’, Hitlercentric, and Sonderweg approaches to the Third Reich, and hence reframes the whole question of ‘German guilt’ and Vergangenheitsbewältigungi [mastering the past]. Forty years ago Ernst Nolte’s theory of fascism got bogged down in what he called the ‘metapolitical’ level of interpretation from which he has clearly failed to extricate it. It would be good if German and non-German academics could collaborate to drag the contemporary debate finally clear from the swamp of narrow ethnocentrism and mud of endless pluralism, and push-start the broken-down vehicle of German comparative fascist studies.

At this point, with a roar of intellectual engines at full revs, it could at last speed off to the realm of ‘Erwägung’ to which EWE is dedicated where rival interpretations of fascism and Nazism can be confronted, debated, repudiated and refined without taking personal offence. It might then swoop back down to empirical earth transporting a refreshed vision of the historical ‘reality’ of the twentieth century extreme right and of Nazism’s place within it. The scenario is reminiscent of the flight of the Ford Anglia (an ancient car dating from the days of the doomed Anglo-American car industry) in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Who would drive and who would push the repaired academic Volkswagen (or in some cases a Trabant) is another matter. Perhaps as good Weltbürger [world-citizens] we can all take turns.



1 Wolfgang Wippermann, Hat es generischen Faschismus gegeben?. in Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften, Vol. 11, (July 2000) No. 2, pp. 289-96.

2 W. Wippermann and W. Loh (eds), ‘Faschismus’ kontrovers, Paderborn: Stuttgart: Lucius und Lucius, 2003.

3.Erwägung, Wissen, Ethik, Vol. 13, (2002) No. 1, pp. 75-172. It is tempting to dismiss this lacuna as symptomatic of what can happen when a scholar achieves unmerited fame, and out of a blend of arrogance and indolence grows so out of touch with developments in his own field of specialism that, oblivious of his growing irrelevance, he can only restate his original position. However Nolte’s haughty indifference to the ongoing international debate about the nature of fascism has probably more to do with the fact that, by his own admission, his notoriously cryptic book on fascism is an exercise in elaborating his highly idiosyncratic ‘philosophy of history’. This treated fascism as the ‘latest phenomenon’ of the age, one which serves to offer an unprecedented perspective on the ‘whole of history’. See Ernst Nolte, ‘Die Frage nach der ‘historischen Existenz’. Zwischen Universalgeschichte und Geschichtsphilosophie’, ibid., p. 75

4. Wolfgang Förster, ‘Konservatismus, historisch-philosophisch begründet’, ibid., p. 90, 5. Lars Lambrecht, ‘Weltgeschichte ja – Geschichtsphilophie nein’, ibid. p., 108

6. Karl Dietrich Bracher, Die deutsche Diktatur: Entstehung, Struktur, Folgen des Nationalsozialismus, Cologne: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1969; English edition: The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure and Consequences, London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971.

7. Sven Reichardt, Faschistische Kampfbünde, Cologne: Böhlau, 2002, p. 21.

8. See for example Pierre Krebs, Die europäische Wiedergeburt, Tübingen: Grabert, 1982, pp. 82-6.

9. Ernst Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism, New York: Mentor, 1969, 1st English edition 1965, p. 24. The sentence in which this statement is made reads in the original German text (Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche, Munich: R. Piper & Co., 2 edition 1965, p. 31) reads ‘Im Verein mit den anderen Überlegungen und Belegen schließt es den Kreis, der die These umfassend begründet sein läßt, die Epoche der Weltkriege sei nichts anders als die Epoche des Faschismus’. 10. As this article makes clear, for Nolte, as for Wolfgang Wippermann (see Ethik und Wissenschaften, Vol. 11 (July 2000) No. 2 and most historians outside Germany, ‘fascism’ embraces Nazism and hence the history of the Third Reich. It has thus acquired the deep associations in the English-speaking world with elemental forces of mass mobilization and mass destruction alluded to in this metaphor. Most German readers, however, will need to be convinced of the appropriateness of such cataclysmic connotations.

11. Renzo de Felice, Interpretations of Fascism, Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1977, p. 10.

12. See for example Herbert Kitschelt, The Radical Right in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1995.

13. For a recent example theory of fascism which demonstrates how little the Marxist analysis of fascism has progressed in sophistication (in the case written in the Trotskyite dialect) see Dave Renton, Fascism: Theory and Practice, London: Pluto Press, 1999.

14. Or more poetically, ‘The bitch that brought him forth is still on heat’.

15. See for example Werner Loh (ed.), Erwägungsorientierung in Philosophie und Sozialwissenschaften, Stuttgart: Lucius und Lucius, 2001.

16. For a systemized version of Weber’s methodological theory see Thomas Burger, M a x Weber’sTheory of Concept Formation, History, Laws and Ideal Types, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1979. In terms of Weberian methodological theory, even attempts to define fascism on the basis of the ‘role model’ or ‘real type’ provided by Italian Fascism is at bottom an exercise in ideal type formation, one which ‘abstracts’ from a concrete example of the phenomenon the template for all its variants. See my critique of Wolfgang Wippermann’s attempt to produce a satisfactory theory of generic fascism using this procedure: Roger Griffin, ‘“Racism” or “rebirth”? The case for granting German citizenship to the alien concept “generic fascism”’, Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften, Vol. 11, (July 2000) No. 2.

17. Michael Freeden, ‘Political Concepts and Ideological Morphology’, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 2, (1994) No. 2, pp. 140-64.

18. E.g. Juan Linz, ‘Some notes toward a Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological Historical Perspective’, in Walter Laqueur (ed.), Fascism: a Reader’s Guide: Analyses Interpretations, Bibliography, London: Wildwood House, 1976, pp. 1-23; George L. Mosse, ‘Towards a general theory of fascism’, in G. L. Mosse (ed.) Interpretations of Fascism, London: Sage, 1979; Payne, Fascism:Comparison and Definition, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1980. 19. E.g. Gilbert Allerdyce ‘What fascism is not: thoughts on the deflation of a concept’, American Historical Review, Vol. 84 (1979) No. 2. The publication in this issue of Allerdyce’s article immediately followed by responses from Ernst Nolte and Stanley Payne make it an early example of an attempt to create the sort of discussion forum that EWE now offers to social scientists on a regular basis.

20. E.g. Roger Scruton’s definition of fascism in his A Dictionary of Political Thought, London: Pan Books, 1982, includes the observation that fascism has ‘the form of an ideology without the content’.

21. E.g. the article ‘fascism’ in Alan Bullock and Stephen Trombley (eds), The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, London: Harper Collins, 3rd edition 1999, pp. 310-11, attributes to fascism traits found in Nazism but not in Fascism, such as the systematic use of terror.

22. Roger Griffin, ‘The Primacy of Culture. The Current Growth (or Manufacture) of Consensus within Fascist Studies’, The Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37, (2002) No. 1.

23. Notable expressions of grave doubt about the existence of any sort of consensus are to be found in Renton, Fascism; Theory and Practice; MacGregor Knox, Common Destiny: Dictatorship,Foreign Policy, and War in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000; Stein Larsen, ‘Was there fascism outside Europe? Diffusion from Europe and domestic impulses’, in Stein Larsen (ed.) Fascism outside Europe, New York: Columbia University Press, Boulder Social Sciences Monographs, 2001; A. James Gregor, ‘Fascism, Marxism And Some Considerations Concerning Classification’, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Vol. 2 (2002) No. 2. See also The Journal of Contemporary History,Vol. 37 (2002) No. 2 (2002) for four academic reactions to my ‘Primacy of culture’ article written in the spirit of EWE’s ‘forum’.

24. Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, London: Routledge, 1993, p. 26: see Griffin, ‘The Primacy of Culture’ for examples of its application by other academics; see also Martin Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Far Right in Europe, 1914-1945, Harlow: Pearson, 2000 and Philip Morgan, Fascism in Europe 1919-1945, London: Routledge, 2002, both examples of university text books which apply the new consensus.

25. Eg. Mosley’s pamphlet ,‘Fascism in Britain’, London: BUF Press, 1933; Maurice Bardèche Qu'est-ce que le fascisme?, Paris: Les Sept Couleurs,1961; Giorgio Locchi, L’essenza del fascismo, La Spezia: Il Tridente, 1981. Mosley’s pamphlet, for example, opens with the declaration (p.3): ‘Fascism has come to Great Britain. It comes to each nation in turn as it reaches the crisis which is inevitable in the modern age. That crisis is inevitable because an epoch of civilisation has come to an end. It is our task to bring to birth a new civilisation and to organise its system’.

26. See: Roger Griffin, International Fascism, London: Routledge, 1998, Section 5.

27. Emilio Gentile, Le religioni politiche, Rome-Bari: Laterza, 2000; The definitional chapter of his book appeared in English as ‘The Sacralization of Politics: Definition, Interpretations and Reflections on the Question of Secular Religion and Totalitarianism’, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Vol. 1 (Summer 2000) No. 1.

28. Martin Blinkhorn’s ‘author’s response’ to Toby Abse’s review of his Fascism and the Far Right in History, Electronic Reviews in History, 24 Sep 2001, <ashepher@ihr.sas.ac.uk

29. Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Far Right in Europe, pp. 115-6.

30. p. 112.

31. See ‘Fascism as a Metapolitical Phenomenon’, Part Five of Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism, pp. 537-567.

32. A. J. Gregor, Italian Fascism and Developmental Dictatorship, Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979.

33. Zeev Sternhell, Ni Droite, ni Gauche, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1973.

34. Wippermann and Loh, ‘Faschismus’ kontrovers, pp. 1-70, pp. 163-174. For a fuller version of my critique of Wipperman see my two essays published in the same volume.

35. Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, London: Arnold, 2000, p. 43, footnote 60 (my emphasis). For an extensive application of this concept to Nazism see my ‘Hooked crosses and forking paths: the fascist dynamics of the Third Reich’, in Joan Mellòn (ed.) Orden, Jerarquia y Comunidad. Fascismos. Autoritarismos y Neofascismos en la Europa Contemporanea, Madrid: Tecnos, 2002, downloadable in its English final draft from my Webpage: http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/humanities/staff/hirg.html A more synthetic and condensed account of the heuristic value of seeing Nazism as a form of fascism, that is in basic harmony with the approach of such scholars as Juan Linz, Stanley Payne, George Mosse, and Roger Eatwell, is given in my two contributions to Wippermann and Loh, ‘Faschismus’ kontrovers, pp. 81-88,179-190. 36. Ian Kershaw, Hitler Vol. 1 Hubris; Vol. 2 Nemesis, New York, London: Norton, 1998-9.

37. Quote from a BBC 2 documentary on the Red Cross and Nazi Europe shown in 1997.

38. Payne, Introduction ‘Fascism: A Working Definition’, A History Of Fascism 1914-45. 39. Contrast Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, p. 26, p. 44 with my more recent article ‘Interregnum or endgame? Radical Right Thought in the ‘Post-fascist’ Era’ The Journal of Political Ideologies, Vol. 5, (July 2000) No. 2, pp. 163-178.

40. Pierre-André Taguieff, ‘Discussion or Inquisition: The Case of Alain de Benoist’, Telos, Nos. 98-99, (Winter 1993-Spring 1994), p. 54.

41. At this point I maybe opening up another conceptual and methodological ‘can of worms’, since some would argue that a distinction is to be made between ‘theorizing’ definitions and ‘modelling’ causally linked chains of events. Once we move from ‘static’ ideal types of generic concepts to talking about dynamic evolutionary processes we thus change methodology and move beyond the reach of ideal type construction. This distinction might invalidate my assumption that the ideological ideal type of fascism I have developed can be tracked throughout a number of significant mutations and permutations from 1918 to 2002 that have made it almost unrecognizable in terms of ‘organization’ and ‘style’. These are two definitional components of Stanley Payne’s ‘typological description’ of fascism that I dispense with as (see Payne, A History of Fascism, pp. 3-9). However, according to my interpretation of Weberian heuristics, both theorizing and modelling involve a procedure of ‘idealizing abstraction’ and hence produce ideal types, one geared to constructing ‘static’ generic concepts and the other ‘dynamic’ explanatory models of processes. I would welcome some help in clarifying the methodological issues involved here.

42. See Roger Griffin, ‘The palingenetic political community: rethinking the legitimation of totalitarian regimes in inter-war Europe’, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Vol. 3, (Winter 2000) No. 3, pp. 24-43.

43. I have called this simulation of fascism ‘parafascism’: see Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, Ch. 3.

44. On the spurious nature of the community forged by Nazism in the context of a generalized‘ sense-making crisis’ see G. M. Platt, ‘Thoughts on a Theory of Collective Action: Language, Affect, and Ideology in Revolution’, in Albin, M. (ed.), New Directions in Psychohistory, Lexington, Massachussetts: Lexington Books, 1980.

45. ‘Slime mould is one of a group of single- to multi-celled organisms traditionally classified as fungi but having characteristics of both plants and animals. They reproduce by spores, but their cells can move like an amoeba and they feed by taking in particles of food. Some types of slime mould are the bane of gardeners, forming a jelly-like surface on grass.’ Source: http://www.nifg.org.uk/facts_a.htm on 3/9/02.

46. Hans-Georg Betz, ‘Against Globalization: Xenophobia, Identity Politics and Exclusionary populism in Western Europe’, Socialist Register, 2002, (New York, Monthly Review Press), pp. 195-212.

47. Roger Griffin, ‘Last Rights?’: Afterword to S. Ramet (ed.) The Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe, Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 1999.

48. For an overview see Roger Griffin, ‘Europe for the Europeans: The fascist vision of the new Europe’, Humanities Research Centre Occasional Paper, no. 1, 1994. available at http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/humanities/staff/europ.txt

49. See Roger Griffin, ‘Plus ça change!: The Fascist Mindset behind the Nouvelle Droite’s Struggle for Cultural Renewal’, in Edward Arnold (ed.), The Development of the Radical Right in France 1890-1995, London: Routledge, 2000, pp. 217-52

50. For a fascinating personal testimony of the development form activist in a fairly traditional ultra-nationalist, partly neo-Nazified political party the head of a Third Positionist groupuscule with national-Bolshevik tendencies see Troy Southgate, ‘Transcending the Beyond: From Third Position to National-Anarchism’, Pravda Web-newspaper, 17/01/2001 at (30/08/02) http://english.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/17/25828.html. 51. Krebs, Die europäische Wiedergeburt, pp. 82-6.

52. Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, New York: The Free Press, 1993.

53. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun. Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, New York and London: New York University Press, 2002.

54. Roger Griffin, ‘Revolts against the modern world’, Literature and History, Vol. 11, (Spring 1985) No. 1, pp. 101-124.

55. Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, Oakland, Ca.: AK, Press, 1996.

56. Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America. Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

57. Nick Lowles and Steve Silver (eds.), White Noise, London: Searchlight, 1998.

58. Skrewdriver, ‘Hail and Thunder’, The Strong Survive, Germany: Rock-O-Rama Records, 1990, cited in the excellent article by John M. Cotter, ‘Sounds of Hate: White Power Rock and Roll and the Neo-Nazi Skinhead Subculture’, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 11, (Summer 1999) No. 2.

59. Richard Drake, The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989.

60. Michael and Dan Herbeck, American Terrorist-Timothy McVeigh And The Tragedy At Oklahoma City, New York: Avon, 2001.

61. Graeme McLagan and Nick Lowles, Mr Evil. The Secret Life of the Racist Bomber and Killer David Copeland, London: John Blake, 2000.

62. Both McVeigh and Copeland lived out a psychological syndrome remarkably similar to the one enacted by Robert Niro in Scorsesi’s film Taxi Driver.

63. See Roger Griffin, ‘Net gains and GUD reactions: patterns of prejudice in a neo-fascist groupuscule’, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 33 (April 1999) No 2.

64. See Ami Pedahzur and Leonard Weinberg, ‘Modern European Democracies and Its Enemies: The Threat of the Extreme Right’, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Vol. 2, (2001) No. 1, 52-72; Andreas Umland, ‘Towards an Uncivil Society?: Contextualizing the Decline of Post-Soviet Russian Extremely Right-Wing Parties’, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Working Paper Series, No. 02-03, 2002, available at (30/08/02): www.wcfia.harvard.edu/papers/555__Toward_An_Uncivil_Society.pdf

65. On the ‘rhizome’ see Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatteri, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, (trans. B. Massumi), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987, or the web articles (30/08/02) www.socio.demon.co.uk/rhizome.html and http://cs.art.rmit.edu.au/deleuzeguattarionary/r/r.html
For a sophisticated Web article that goes into the theory of the rhizome see Stephan Wray, ‘Rhizomes, Nomads, and Resistant Internet Use’, at: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/wray/RhizNom.html (viewed 14 November 2002). In addition to explicating the concept ‘rhizome’, Wray shows how both Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones and the Zapatista National Liberation Army utilize a rhizomic organizational structure in their struggle to overthrow the ‘system’ which has direct relevance to this article.

66. Quote taken from the web article on the rhizome: (30/08/02): http://cs.art.rmit.edu.au/deleuzeguattarionary/r/pages/rhizomic.html

67. For more on the groupuscular right see July 2002 edition of Patterns of Prejudice (Vol. 36, No. 3) devoted to the ‘groupuscular right’, and Roger Griffin, ‘From slime mould to rhizome: an introduction to the groupuscular right’, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 37, (March 2003) No. 1.

68. Arctogaia’s Website was at the time http://web.redline.ru/~arctogai/eng2.htm. It is now http://www.arctogaia.com/ and Jonny Rotten has apparently disappeared from the pantheon.

69. See Markus Mathyl, ‘The National-Bolshevik party and Arctogaia: two neo-fascist groupuscules in the post-Soviet political space’, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 36, (July 2002) No. 3; Griffin, ‘From slime mould to rhizome’

70. See the article by Michael Reynolds, ‘Virtual Reich’, Playboy, US edition, Vol. 49, (February 2002) No. 2, pp. 62-4, 146-152.

71. Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism, pp. 567. The original German text (Nolte, Der Faschismus, p. 545) reads ‘Trotzdem bleibt der Faschismus auch als transpolitisches Phänomen nicht ohne Ertrag für das Verstehen dessen, was heute ist: Erst wenn die liberale Gesellschaft die praktische Transzendenz als ihre eigenste, jedoch nicht mehr exklusive Hervorbringung unverrückbar und gedankenvoll bejaht, wenn die theoretische Transzendenz aus uralter Verschlungenheit in die politischen Interessen zu ihrer authentischen Freiheit sich löst, wenn die kommunistische Gesellschaft mit ernüchtertem Blick, doch ohne Zynismus, sich selbst und ihrer Vergangenheit nicht mehr ausweicht, wenn die Liebe zu Individualität und Grenze keine politische Ausdrucksform mehr annimmt und das Denken ein Freund des Menschen geworden ist — erst dann ist die Grenzlinie zu einem postfaschistischen Zeitalter endlich überschritten.

Address: Prof. Roger Griffin, Department of History, Oxford Brookes Universiity, Oxford, OX3 1DE

Theories Of The Right