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Kevin Harrison
Tony Boyd

Events have made ‘fascism’ a term of political abuse rather than one of serious ideological analysis. Moreover, self-proclaimed fascists have claimed that fascism is beyond intellectual analysis and have despised those who favour rational examination of their beliefs. However, we take fascism seriously as an ideology by examining fascist values and the concrete actions of some

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Abstract only
The British left and the rise of fascism, 1919–39

In the years between the two world wars, fascism triumphed in Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere, coming to power after intense struggles with the labour movements of those countries. This book analyses the way in which the British left responded to this new challenge. How did socialists and communists in Britain explain what fascism was? What did they do to oppose it, and how successful were they? In examining the theories and actions of the Labour Party, the TUC, the Communist Party and other, smaller, left-wing groups, the book explains their different approaches, while at the same time highlighting the common thread that ran through all their interpretations of fascism. The author argues that the British left has largely been overlooked in the few specific studies of anti-fascism which exist, with the focus being disproportionately applied to its European counterparts. He also takes issue with recent developments in the study of fascism, and argues that the views of the left, often derided by modern historians, are still relevant today.

Parties, ideology and culture

This book provides a clear and accessible guide to the essential features of interwar British fascism. It focuses on the various fascist parties, fascist personalities and fascist ideologies. The book also looks at British culture and develops the knowledge of undergraduate students by providing a solid source of background material on this important area of interwar British history. The focus on fascist culture throws new light on the character of native fascism and suggests a potentially rich vein of new enquiry for scholars of British fascism. The book considers the membership strength of Britain's interwar fascist parties. The ideas of racial Social-Darwinism influenced British fascism in a number of ways. To begin with, hereditarian ideas and biological determinist models contributed to the emergence of racial theories of anti-semitism. The anti-semitism of the Imperial Fascist League was of a very different order from that of the British fascism. Moreover, to Britain's fascists, artistic modernism, with its creative use of distortion, disintegrative images and general disdain for the traditional discipline of the art form, made a virtue of deformity. The search to uncover the anti-liberal and anti-capitalist pre-fascist lineage would become a highly subjective exercise in invention and take the fascists on an imaginative journey deep into the British past.

From movement to dictatorship, 1919–26
Keith Hodgson

2 Explaining Italian fascism: from movement to dictatorship, 1919–26 First impressions Given the tumultuous events surrounding the Russian revolution and civil war, the upheavals in Eastern Europe, the situation in Germany and developments on the home front at the end of the First World War, the British left could perhaps be forgiven for not placing Italy at the top of its agenda. While the origins of Italian fascism, both intellectual and organisational, would later be intensively analysed by the British left, the actual formation of the Fasci di azione

in Fighting fascism
The British Fascisti and the Imperial Fascist League
Thomas Linehan

regalia’. 10 By 1927 the BF had officially adopted a blue shirt, later adding dark trousers or skirts and a blue beret or fedora. Despite its evident affection for Mussolini, it is noteworthy that the BF did not wear the black shirt, a reflection of its desire not to be too closely associated in the public mind with the violent methods of his black-shirted squadristi. We can identify a number of stages in the BF’s development. Most historians of the BF agree that, from its formation until 1926, there was very little evidence of fascism in its ideology or programme

in British Fascism 1918-39
Abstract only
Keith Hodgson

6 Fascism and war As the 1930s progressed, the left had new opportunities to observe fascism and deepen its understanding of the phenomenon. In Spain in 1936, there was another assault from the right on a European democracy. Despite the differing perspectives the left parties had of the Spanish Civil War, there was broad agreement on the nature and purpose of the fascist challenge there. In Italy, Mussolini’s regime had become firmly established, the final centres of opposition were nullified and the actions of a ‘mature’ fascist state could be seen. In Germany

in Fighting fascism
Ulrike Ehret

05-ChurchNationRace_178-235 28/11/11 14:44 Page 178 5 Responses to fascism The failure of the Catholic Church to criticise the National Socialist regime for its discrimination against German Jews and eventually the persecution and murder of European Jewry has been attributed either to ideological affinities, in particular Catholic antisemitism and a fear of socialism, or structural restraints imposed by the dictatorial regimes in Europe.1 In the case of Hitler’s Germany, historians have also referred to the intransigence of the regime regarding one of the

in Church, nation and race
Jonathan Dunnage

6 Facing the demise of fascism Mussolini’s policemen Facing the demise of fascism In formal representations the creation of a police organisation which was both at the service of and assimilated into a fascist totalitarian civilisation was more or less complete by the end of the 1930s. This is exemplified by images of Public Security guards marching in Roman step and by the fascist symbols displayed on police uniforms. Junior fascist officials evidently saw this period as heralding completion of the ‘Revolution’ in the new era of international fascism, marked

in Mussolini’s policemen
Thomas Linehan

A number of points are in need of clarification before we proceed any farther. Firstly, there is no necessary or natural correlation between fascism and anti-semitism. As Zeev Sternhell has noted, racism was not a ‘necessary condition for the existence of fascism’, but was, on the contrary, a factor in fascist ‘eclecticism’. 1 Although the majority of inter war Britain’s fascist parties and groups professed anti-semitic beliefs, there were some that did not. Of the major parties, both the BUF and the IFL adopted an official anti-Jewish policy. For almost the

in British Fascism 1918-39
Welles at the Mercury Theatre
Andrew James Hartley

In November 1937, Orson Welles’s production of Julius Caesar, staged at New York’s Mercury Theatre on Broadway, opened to immediate adulation and controversy. The production, famously, was decked out with all the trappings and scenic theatricality of contemporary European Fascism and renamed Caesar: Death of a Dictator . However much scholars have sometimes questioned

in Julius Caesar