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The British left and the rise of fascism, 1919–39
Author: Keith Hodgson

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.

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
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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
Keith Hodgson

4 The left and fascism in Britain, 1919–32 The British left formulated its impressions of European fascism from a wide variety of sources: the press, newsreels, the exile communities, information passed from the various socialist and communist internationals and from an increasing number of books and pamphlets by authors, both foreign and domestic, whose political views covered the entire spectrum from left to right. Occasionally, members of the British parties would visit a country in which the struggle against fascism was underway, or one in which fascism had

in Fighting fascism
Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and 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
Keith Hodgson

Introduction The definitions of Fascism abound, and are marked by the greatest diversity and even contradictory character, despite the identity of the concrete reality which it is attempted to describe. Rajani Palme Dutt1 The British left and fascism: some questions The British left is frequently overlooked when historians examine what socialists and communists thought of fascism in the inter-war years.2 There is a significant body of work dedicated to the analyses and responses of the German, Italian, Spanish and French labour movements to this complex and

in Fighting fascism
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The old left and the ‘new consensus’
Keith Hodgson

Conclusion: the old left and the ‘new consensus’ Fascism is a deceptive phenomenon and needs some real analysis before its real nature becomes apparent. John Strachey1 Understanding fascism Before the advent of fascism, the British left had differed over how, why and from where authoritarian and anti-working-class movements or tendencies might emerge. The parties shared a particular interested in this as they each wanted to advance the workers’ cause in their own way, to the greater or lesser discomfiture of the ruling class. A minority looked to the

in Fighting fascism
Keith Hodgson

5 Opposing the British Union of Fascists The very existence of the British Union of Fascists, formed by Oswald Mosley in October 1932 after the failure of the New Party, was enough to command the attention of the left parties regardless of its aggressive campaigning.They invested considerable time and effort in analysing and opposing the BUF and addressed many of the issues which divide historians of fascism today. In doing so, they have bequeathed an invaluable body of evidence, often overlooked, concerning the composition, policies and activities of Mosley

in Fighting fascism
Existing concepts of counter-revolution
Keith Hodgson

revolution.1 Their image of counter-revolution was set firmly in place by the study of the ‘White’ movements which emerged in response to the social upheavals that occurred in countries such as Russia and Hungary at the end of the First World War.The left was therefore better equipped than most when it came to analysing reactionary movements and their earlier observations provided a template which guided them in their understanding of fascism. When the first reports of fascism reached Britain, set in the context of the disturbed conditions that prevailed in Italy in 1919

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