- Series: Allen Lane History
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Allen Lane (April 29, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0713997206
- ISBN-13: 978-0713997200
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#4,659,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1571 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Fascism
- #6462 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Ideologies
- #14329 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > European
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The Anatomy of Fascism (Allen Lane History)
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A scholar of Vichy France, Paxton focuses here on the literature about fascism. The term is used with abandon in contemporary political discourse, reflecting scholarly disagreement about how to define it. His historical source material predominantly emanates from Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany, an obvious but necessary observation since the "fascist" status of other authoritarian regimes is contentious. Paxton does integrate biographies of the two ur-fascists into his dissection, but he comments frequently that a researcher's fixation on the leader obscures rather than clarifies the rise of his party, as does a propensity to focus on the party's ideology instead of its actions, and he follows the significantly different trajectories of radicalism taken by the Fascists and the Nazis. Formulating a five-stage life cycle of fascism from birth in "mobilizing passions" provoked by World War I to its destructiveness in power, Paxton wants his intricate but readable work to "rescue the concept [of fascism] for meaningful use," a laudable goal largely achieved. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"So fair, so thorough and, in the end, so convincing, it may well become the most authoritative . . . study of the subject. . . . A splendid book." "-The New York Times Book Review" "Useful and timely. . . . Mussolini and Hitler were the prototypical fascist leaders, and Paxton chronicles their rise to power--and their global influence and ultimate fall--with a brilliant economy." -"San Francisco Chronicle" "A deeply intelligent and very readable book. . . . Historical analysis at its best." -"The Economist ""[A] helpful contribution, thoughtfully mapping out the descent of a civilized people -- first the Italians, then the Germans -- into a primal state (and state of being) ruled by mythology, symbol and emotion. . . . Serves as a reminder of our power and responsibility." -"The Washington Post Book World" "Until now there has been no satisfying account of fascism that includes a convincing diagnostic kit for identifying its symptoms. . . . Robert Paxton steps in to restore sanity, with his view that fascism is not what was believed but what was done." -"Los Angeles Times Book Review" --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In "The Anatomy of Fascism," Robert O. Paxton seeks both to identify the key features of fascism and to describe five stages that a fascist movement may pass through. Arguing that fascism cannot easily be located on the traditional left-right political continuum, Paxton argues that its most salient features are: opposition to both the Left and the bourgeoisie; heavy reliance on emotion-filled mass politics; the idea that it represents a chosen nation/race/people; and a willingness to use violence to advance its ends.
Much of the book is devoted to a discussion of the five stages fascism may pass through, illustrated by copious examples, not only from Nazism and Italian fascism--the only fascist movements that have passed through all five stages--but also from unsuccessful fascist movements in such countries as France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Hungary, and Romania. He also discusses fascist movements outside Europe, including in the United States.
According to Paxton, the seeds of fascism exist in every developed or semi-developed country, for it is an outgrowth of modernity. Fascism does not have to display the swastika, use the Nazi salute, or be anti-Semitic.(It does, however, always identify one or more internal enemies which are supposedly preventing the chosen nation/race/people from fulfilling their destiny.) Most fascist movements fail; that is, they never achieve political power. History suggests that they come to power in a severe crisis, when asked to join a political coalition that is already in power.
I strongly recommend "The Anatomy of Fascism" to anyone who is interested in political science or early twentieth century European history. It is quite readable and should be accessible to a fairly broad audience.:
by Robert O. Paxton
So what exactly is Fascism ? Some claim “Same as Communism”, British Socialist and politician John Strachey in his post WW2 book “The Coming Struggle for Power” claims it to be “Any system dedicated to the suppression of the Working Class.” Paxton shows how neither claim has much validity nor does it apply to alleged Fascist dictators such as Franco, Salazar, and Pèron. Why ? Read the book and learn for yourself.
I spent some years in Ghana, West Africa, where Kwame N’krumah flirted with both Fascism and Communism. He seemed to be trying to combine them using Russians and Hannah Reitsch, a devoted ex Nazi, as advisers. It may have been Hannah’s influence that made him launch a referendum similar to that which gave Hitler absolute power. His Convention People’s Party was made the sole party in Ghana and even the flag was changed to the Party colours. Party hacks also began laws unto themselves in the best Fascist style.
Under Hannah’s guidance he started a Future Leaders’ course but the participants did not respond well to 6am calisthenics. They also dismissed her attempts to teach them aerodynamics by having them make flying model aircraft as “Playing with toys”. Luckily a coup de état ended whatever N’krumah had planned. Hannah left sadly shaking her had. The Russians were deported.
Emeritus Professor Paxton of the Department of Social Sciences at Columbia University takes us through Fascism’s historical background, rise, collapse, recent attempts to re-impose it and future dangers.
How then may Fascism be defined ? The reader must be patient as it is only toward the end of this book that Paxton gives a valid definition after several highly readable chapters delineating its development from WW1 onwards. He reaches his conclusions after analysing those factors in detail.
Unlike so many academics Prof Paxton writes clearly. He explains why only two men have succeeded in establishing truly Fascist states. Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler never won any elections but we learn the chain of circumstances which led to their gaining power. Those included supporting Conservative parties, uniforms, mass rallies, violence and murder. Mosley in Britain gets passing mention but his organisation never gained a seat in any election.
Part of the Fascist strategy is to try and unite the population against a common internal enemy. In Italy Socialists and Communists were targeted, same in Germany plus its small Jewish minority. I am concerned at the fact that Islam is currently the target in much of our Western World with the Internet being a great source of lying propaganda.
When you reach the final Chapter in this book you will have completed a dramatic historical journey and the realisation it could happen again. Prof Paxton delineates several stages in the development of this aggressive system of Nationalism. Some European nations are already at the first stage, I pray it goes no further.
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