The old left and the ‘new consensus’
in Fighting fascism
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That fascism should be understood primarily in economic terms was a belief retained by the left from its initial awareness of the movement in Italy in 1919 up to and beyond the outbreak of war in 1939. By using the simple expedient of enquiring into who actually ruled and who actually benefited, the left have bequeathed to us a model that we can use today to break through the still-resonant and apparently still-seductive assertions that fascism made in its own defence. The question of whether the British left's methods of opposing fascism can stand comparison with the tactics used abroad is addressed. The left parties in each country attempted to fight fascism in ways that accorded with their own political ethos and which they judged to be suitable at the time, each framing their opposition in the light of the threat as they perceived it. The extensive study of anti-fascism in Germany, Italy and Spain has tended to overshadow the struggle in Britain. Yet it can be argued that the British left utilised tactics that complemented the strategies of the various parties, which were appropriate to the nature of the fascist threat, and were decisive in limiting the growth of such groups as the British Fascisti and the British Union of Fascists.

Fighting fascism

The British left and the rise of fascism, 1919–39


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