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The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton

The Anatomy of Fascism (2004)

by Robert O. Paxton

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Muy buena descripción de la genesis y desarrollo del fascismo que escapa de los cliches de los que pretenden que fue una cosa rara que no se sabe como surgió o que eran una banda de locos que se apropiaron de algun estado. Seria interesante un pequeño agregado actualizando los ee uu el tea party y trump ( )
  gneoflavio | May 10, 2018 |
More than a review, I will let the author speak, after doing my second run through the book, this time focusing on origins and how to avoid its recurrence (of which we keep having way too many examples, since the fall of the Berlin Wall)

The Anatomy of Fascism
Robert O. Paxton

Hannah Arendt observed that Mussolini "was probably the first party leader who consciously rejected a formal program and replaced it with inspired leadership and action alone" Origins, p. 325, n. 39

[Yes, the "neither right nor left" was part of European politics a century ago]

...some countries with a powerful cultural preparation (France, for example) became fascist only by conquest (if then).

Fascism... is still visible today. Fascism exists at the level of Stage One within all democratic countries... "Giving up free institutions," especially the freedoms of unpopular groups, os recurrently attractive to citizens of Western democracies... We know from tracing its path that fascism does not require a spectacular "march" on some capital to take root; seemingly anodyne decisions to tolerate lawless treatment of national "enemies" is enough. Something very close to classical fascism has reached Stage Two in a few deeply troubled societies. Its further progress is not inevitable, however. Further fascist advances toward power depend in part upon the severity of a crisis, but also very largely upon human choices, especially the choices of those holding economic, social, and political power. Determining the appropriate responses to fascist gains is not easy, since its cycle is not likely to repeat itself blindly. We stand a much better chance of responding wisely, however, if we understand how fascism succeeded in the past. ( )
  aleph123 | Apr 15, 2014 |
If a liberal is a conservative who has been mugged, a fascist is a conservative whose wife has been given the vote. ( )
  KidSisyphus | Apr 5, 2013 |
A solid introduction to what is probably the most bewildering of political movements. Instead of striving to find an exact definition of fascism, what Paxton refers to as a "fascist minimum," "The Anatomy of Fascism" goes wide-angle, considering fascism as a phenomenon that occurred all over the globe and tended to undergo radical changes as it went from being a barely organized movement to a governing power. Paxton pays particular attention to the compromises that fascists and ruling parties tend to make in order to bring fascism to power and the parallel developments of democracy and fascism as relatively populist systems of governance. Since fascism can be studied from any number of angles and intellectual starting points, this book is unlikely to satisfy everyone, and I'm sure that there are lots of professional and semi-professional students of history out there leaving two-star reviews of this one all over the internet. Even so, the author devoted much of his intellectual life to researching the historical and intellectual questions that surround fascism, and "The Anatomy of Fascism" represents an admirably concise and thoughtful distillation of its most salient features. Recommended. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Sep 30, 2012 |
In "Il Gattopardo," Guiseppe di Lampedusa said of the Sicilian nobility that, "if we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." Robert Paxton asserts that the same can be said for the scholarship of fascism in "The Anatomy of Fascism," his insightful analysis of the rise, entrenchment, and political development of this body of political movements in twentieth century Europe. Instead of arguing that fascism is "of the left" or "of the right," Paxton both escapes those narrow confines while at the same time detailing why these categories are woefully inadequate. The book considers fascism's development chronologically: first, the prerequisites for fascism, then how it "takes root," how it gains power, and finally how it exercises that power. It should be noted here that the only two regimes Paxton considers in detail are those of Hitler and Mussolini. Others are mentioned in passing, but the deepest, most important lessons are drawn from these two cases.

Throughout most of the nineteenth century, politics was the business of the educated elite; the common man was often disenfranchised from the most important parts of the political process. It wasn't until "the masses, full of beer and nonsense" (as Carlyle once acerbically noted) were fully integrated that fascism was possible.

Fascism is often associated with often any ideological stances, from anti-capitalism to anti-socialism to (perhaps most commonly) anti-Semitism. Paxton attempts to show that no one fascist regime espoused all of these ideas at the same time. For example, while fascists often did attack bourgeois capitalists for their flabby materialism, once they gained power, they often joined powers with them later in order to build political alliances. In fact, fascist hardliners usually fancied themselves as apolitical, and refused to engage in decadent liberal parliamentarianism. Of course, as history continually tells us, purity is no way to gain political power or legitimacy. It's simply not enough to don a colored shirt and start beating up foreigners and minorities. Paxton describes how fully realized fascist mobilization took "a comparable crisis, a comparable opening of political space, a comparable skill at alliance building, and comparable cooperation from existing elites."

Paxton states that, in the long term, all fascists regimes eventually devolve through a period of entropy in which they slough off their purist elements and become something much more resembling authoritarians than fascists. He refers to this as their period of "entropy," whereby they undergo a kind of political and cultural normalization along the lines of political elites. He claims that the one regime that did not undergo this phase was Hitler's Germany. The next-to-last chapter considers fascisms (or fascist-like regimes) in other parts of the world, especially Peron's Argentina.

All of this is meant as a series of lessons which should enable us to, in the end, limn some of the fascism's defining characteristics. His final analysis concludes that most successful fascisms have several common characteristics. Some of them include a "sense of overwhelming crisis," "the primacy of the group ... and the subordination of the individual to it," "dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effects of individualism liberalism," "the superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason," and "beauty of violence and the efficacy of the will." While these aspects might not provide us with the fullest picture of fascism, it seems to provide a good baseline for scholarship, both past and future.

For a while, I have been reading "around fascism," especially William Johnston's "The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938." I found Paxton's book really valuable in providing the material to connect some really important dots as far as setting the political tone for the possibility of fascism. Also, one of the most wonderful resources in the book is the thirty-page, topically organized bibliographical essay. There is enough material in there to keep anyone interested in the subject reading for quite a while. ( )
  kant1066 | Oct 14, 2011 |
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Presents a detailed political analysis of how twentieth century fascism took hold and thrived in certain European countries, such as Italy and Germany, and not in others.

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