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Fascism and the Right in Interwar Europe: Interaction, Entanglement, Hybridity

Abstract and Keywords

Is it possible to speak of the interwar right in Europe in terms of a dichotomy between ‘fascism’ and ‘authoritarianism’, or of ‘new’ versus ‘old’ right? The rise of fascism in Italy and, later, Germany inspired fellow radicals in many European countries. In addition, however, the perceived ‘success’ of fascism exercised a critical influence on the ‘old’ conservative and authoritarian right, as both challenge and opportunity. Forces of the ‘old’ right responded to the perceived ‘success’ of fascism with a growing willingness to learn, reflexively appropriate, and selectively adapt fascist radical innovations to fit the particular characteristics of each national context. In this crucial respect, the story of the interwar European right is marked by ideological and political convergence, as well as unpredictable institutional hybridization, between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ right that produced a cumulative drive towards radicalization and dictatorship.

Keywords: fascism, authoritarianism, dictatorship, hybridity, entanglements, radicalization, interwar


The history of the concept of ‘fascism’ is marked by extremes of sweeping generalization and over-specification. For decades after 1945, ‘fascism’ was presented as a generic phenomenon in interwar European politics that was overwhelmingly defined through its antitheses: visceral opposition to liberalism and individualism, persecution of the Left, virulent anti-Semitism, destruction of democratic institutions, and so on. In historiographical terms, fascist movements and dictatorial regimes were often lumped together with limited attention to their significant differences or conversely with little interest in sophisticated comparative analysis. Viewed as a de facto phenomenon of the European Right,1 ‘fascism’ found it initially difficult to occupy its distinct place on the spectrum of political ideologies. Beyond Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany—which were widely regarded as its paradigmatic core—survey works on interwar fascism that appeared from the 1950s to the 1970s included or omitted case studies without scrutinizing their distinct ideological character or exploring the sources of their inspiration. Liberal historiography tended to present fascism as a tragic exception to what was otherwise a path of ‘progress’ charted by the Enlightenment and advanced through a modern emancipatory drive in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.2 In fact, the idea that ‘fascism’ was the rogue product of specific national traditions and mindsets (most notably the German ‘special path’3) made it possible for certain national historiographies to present ‘fascism’ as an alien import with no origins in national traditions.4 Thus, severed from the intellectual and historical trajectory of modern Europe, and deprived of its autochthonous roots in many European societies, the concept of ‘fascism’ in the 1950s and 1960s ended up being not only under-defined and under-theorized but also misleadingly ahistorical.5

(p. 302) But the often indiscriminate over-extension of the under-theorized concept of ‘fascism’ produced its historiographical nemesis. If fascism was more than just Italian Fascism, if it had distinct ideological qualities and transnational momentum in the interwar years, then its unique attributes had to be first identified and then negotiated against the broader landscape of right-wing politics in 1920s and 1930s Europe. New approaches (from Ernst Nolte and George L. Mosse in the 1960s to Roger Griffin, Zeev Sternhell, and Stanley Payne more recently6) sought to establish fascism as a discrete ideological ‘ism’ of the twentieth century, its intellectual origins meticulously charted, its popularity during the interwar years scrutinized, and its national permutations fruitfully analysed in comparative terms. Increasingly viewed as a distinct ‘third way’ phenomenon—a unique ideological–political synthesis that traversed the conventional left–right boundary—fascism ceased to be seen as a mere facet, however more radical, of the interwar anti-democratic/anti-socialist Right.7 In addition, the focus of definition gradually shifted from political praxis to ideas, from its outcomes to its declared intentions, from its truncated record or its failures to its expansive horizon of history-making ambition and endeavour.8

Nevertheless, defining ‘fascism’ and identifying its unique distinguishing attributes raised a host of new questions about how particular movements and regimes fitted the suggested definitions. Saving the concept of ‘fascism’ from overextension and trivialization produced a real danger of inflexible over-specification. Different taxonomies shifted the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion of case studies, with some seemingly less radical right-wing dictatorships and hyper-nationalist movements now falling short of the new conceptual and taxonomical benchmarks. Previous dualistic classifications—democratic versus dictatorial, revolutionary versus reactionary, modern versus anti-modern, totalitarian versus either authoritarian or pluralistic, fascist/totalitarian versus authoritarian—started to crumble upon closer empirical scrutiny. A host of new, betwixt and between taxonomical categories had to be created for the ‘not-quite-fascist’ candidates—‘semi-fascist’, ‘para-fascist’, ‘quasi-fascist’, ‘pseudo-fascist’, ‘would-be fascist’, ‘fascistoid’—all betraying a classificatory nightmare at the same time that they were celebrating the new-found conceptual sophistication of new paradigms of generic ‘fascism’.9

This taxonomical conundrum is more acutely observed in the case of interwar dictatorial regimes. Even the most elaborate and carefully theorized model of generic fascism has worked far better in the laboratory conditions of ideological pronouncements made by fascist movements than in the domain of political regimes. In his sophisticated survey of interwar fascism, Stanley G. Payne nevertheless felt the need to produce a seven-tier taxonomy of ‘national authoritarian’ regimes in interwar Europe, with labels such as ‘syncretic’, ‘semi-authoritarian’, ‘semi-pluralist’, ‘praetorian’, ‘bureaucratic’, ‘limited’, and so on.10 A similar tendency can be observed in Michael Mann’s taxonomy of interwar authoritarian regimes, with the distinct category of ‘fascist regimes’ juxtaposed to others defined as ‘corporatist’, ‘semi-reactionary’, and ‘semi-authoritarian’.11 Cross-overs between fascism and a more conventional authoritarianism were the norm in interwar politics; what is more, they seemed to work in either direction.12 Such slippages have (p. 303) introduced historiographical distinctions and suggested gradations that sometimes point to variation of degree or level of success while on other occasions refer to fundamental qualitative differences.

And yet, once again, this taxonomical labyrinth may actually come with its own Ariadne’s thread. Back in 1966, the pioneering volume edited by Hans Rogger and Eugen Weber on the history of the European Right had posed the question of the complex, very often untidy relation between ‘fascists’ and ‘conservatives’ in interwar Europe. While the two editors appeared to accept the Left–Right dualism, in the introduction to the volume Weber noted that such conventional dualistic labels ‘are cracking’:

Does dictatorship automatically classify a man, a party, a regime, as being of the Right and, if so, what do we do about Stalin or Tito? Does radicalism or revolution provide an automatic definition of the Left or does it allow for Kemal Ataturk and Nasser? … We continue to use (the label ‘right’) but no longer know, cannot possibly know for sure, quite what it covers, quite what we mean … The more we have inspected the image of the (European interwar) right the less sure we have become of what it is.13

Throughout the volume, editors and authors talked of ‘the love–hate relationship’ between ‘old’ and ‘new’ interwar Right, the latter becoming largely identified with ‘fascist’ and some of its ‘not-quite-fascist’ variants and the former featuring a bewilderingly broad spectrum of conservative and authoritarian forces divided by at least as much as what united them. This observation was the starting point of a new wave of scholarship that sought to engage with—rather than exorcize through taxonomical boundary-drawing—the relation between ‘fascists’ and ‘conservatives’. Martin Blinkhorn edited one volume and authored a monograph on this precise topic, combining the methodological sophistication of comparative analysis with a conceptually elastic approach that sought to map exchanges and mutual influences between the two broad families of the interwar Right. While his earlier edited volume resembled a survey study of such entanglements (and their unpredictability, varied in each case and time outcomes) in a broad sample of European countries, his 2000 monograph combined comparative analysis of domestic entanglements with a growing awareness of transnational influences, inspirations, and selective appropriations.14 In particular, Blinkhorn underlined the significance of the success of Italian Fascism and later National Socialism (success measured in terms of conquest of power, resilience, radicalizing momentum, tangible radical outcomes, as well as the impression of power and momentum) in spreading fascism across Europe and facilitating complex ideological–political entanglements between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Right. And he concluded:

Perhaps then the fascisant imitators … intuitively grasped an underlying truth that analyses based on fascist theory and elite culture have tended to avoid. This was that more often than not ‘fascism’, as ideology and stylistic veneer or as political movement, was something the conservative–authoritarian right could use, and when appropriate discard … Fascist features grafted onto a conservative–authoritarian body may produce (p. 304) a result little or no less authentically ‘fascist’ than a fascist movement that sells out to established interests.15

Here, then, rather unexpectedly, lay the promise of a way out from the taxonomical labyrinth: neither in further conceptual elaborations of the term ‘fascism’ nor in more complex, meticulously subdivided taxonomies, but in the recognition of entanglements, of the sheer complexity of transnational transfers, and of the exhilaratingly dynamic hybridity of the outcomes. Such hybridity that Blinkhorn’s volume had explored in relation to the fascist–conservative nexus in a number of European countries was mirrored in the more recent labours of transnational approaches to the study of fascism on the pan-European and indeed global level.16 Transnational history has embraced movement, encounter, dynamic interaction, and constant change. It has sought to contextualize national developments as facets of broader, more complex histories of dynamic exchanges, appropriations, and unique syntheses. The significance of this approach for the study of the interwar European Right lies in the recognition of the powerful transnational field of interactions in which its very different forces were shaped and kept operating in interaction with each other.

In this chapter, I suggest an approach to the analysis of the interwar European Right that aims to overcome rigid classificatory dichotomies between ‘conservative’ and ‘radical’ Right. While such distinctions remain valid and important on the conceptual level, they largely fail to navigate the granular empirical reality of interwar politics. I maintain that the paths of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Right intersected and overlapped significantly in the 1920s and especially 1930s, allowing for a far wider range of ideological–political syntheses that shaped the entire history of the interwar Right. Just like the rise of the fascists to power involved a series of compromises and tactical revisions of fascism’s earlier revolutionary outlook, the ‘old’ Right responded to the apparent success of ‘fascism’ by following a path of multiple radicalization—of ideas, of institutional experiments, and of political praxis. It is this radicalization of ‘authoritarian’ and ‘conservative’ politics that interests me here—a radicalization, I argue, that is impossible to comprehend without acknowledging both the critical influence of ‘fascism’ as un unfolding radical experiment in the 1920s and 1930s, and the reflexive feedback of constituencies of the ‘old’ Right as active, critical agents rather than passive imitators. The perceived success of ‘fascism’ in Italy, then in Germany, and later as the driving force of a wider ‘authoritarian turn’ across the continent exercised a profound transformative effect on the European ‘old’ Right. It functioned as both an energizing challenge and an empowering opportunity, providing (selective) inspiration and a tangible template for very different scenarios of radicalization. As a result, ‘fascist’ ideas and experiments travelled far across the continent, exercising a radicalizing influence on the politics of the ‘old’ Right that was disproportionately stronger than what observable political outcomes may suggest. They were adopted, reflexively and selectively, by an ever-expanding constituency of the ‘old’ Right—but only after refracting them through the lenses of national specificity and of their particular political expectations, producing in each case new, dynamic, and constantly mutating syntheses that spanned conventional dichotomies and point to a shared history of the interwar—‘old’ and ‘new’, ‘authoritarian’ and ‘fascist’—Right.

(p. 305) The Significance of 1922 and the Momentum for an Authoritarian ‘Departure’

There is no denying that the political experiment that was unfolding in Italy under Mussolini’s regime from 1922 onwards exerted a strong intellectual and political fascination on many contemporaries across the Continent and beyond. The so-called crisis of liberal democracy witnessed in Italy in the immediate post-First World War period was by no means unique, in either kind or intensity.17 That said, the dramatic sequence of events that led from Mussolini’s appointment to the subsequent declaration of the Fascist dictatorship in January 1925 unfolded against the backdrop of a wave of democratic experiments in the wake of the First World War, in both new countries created by the collapse of the European empires and in established ones—like the defeated Germany.18 Such experiments appeared for a short time to mark the victory of the liberal-democratic paradigm over authoritarian traditions and alternatives. Yet, democracy and liberalism were also resented by a broad spectrum of political forces that ranged from the revolutionary Left to sectors of the conservative Right and to radical nationalists. In a host of countries, especially in southern, central, and eastern Europe, liberal democracy was introduced or restored hastily, at times with external pressure, as an alien ‘import’ from the western democracies—‘a standard-issue English suit foisted’ on the vanquished and the weak, as Carl Schmitt noted.19 As such, the liberal-democratic paradigm was plagued from the outset by minimal or half-hearted elite support and popular legitimacy, as well as by the lack of a strong political and institutional foundation. Democracy appeared to become mainstream in the early 1920s, if by mainstream one means the number of countries formally adopting it and the predominant official discourse of political elites at the helm of these experiments. But this popularity was superficial, disguising mounting undercurrents of animus and suppressed desires to reverse it.20 In this respect, the agitation of radicals of either the Right or the Left against liberal/parliamentary democracy was neither surprising nor the most troubling challenge to the legitimacy of liberal-democratic rule in the immediate post-First World War years. The grudging, lukewarm, and increasingly faltering commitment of sectors of the ‘old’ Right to parliamentary democracy, on the other hand, was far more alarming, especially since these were supposed to be the pillars of the new institutional arrangements that were expected to defend it against its authoritarian and revolutionary enemies.21

To be sure, conservative elites did not have to wait for the ‘fascist’ alternative to show how grudging and reversible their commitment to democracy was. The short-lived revolutionary regime of Béla Kun in Hungary (March to August 1919) was suppressed by a coalition of conservative and authoritarian military forces under Admiral Miklós Horthy, who became Regent in 1920 and remained in that position until he was removed (p. 306) by Nazi Germany in 1944.22 Upon assuming power in 1920, Horthy insisted on expanded powers and repressive measure against the revolutionary Left; but he also resisted calls for establishing an outright dictatorship. Instead, interwar Hungary mutated into a rather unique political hybrid—‘semi-pluralist’ and ‘semi-authoritarian’ at the same time, as Blinkhorn noted—with regular elections but also systematic crackdown on radical political forces of the Right and the Left. Political repression was accompanied by an increasingly authoritarian concentration of power at the hands of the Regent and a weakened parliament dominated by a broad agrarian–conservative–clerical coalition of forces loyal to him.23

Still, the dramatic events of late October 1922 in Italy and the capitulation of Liberal Italy to Mussolini’s agitation tactics marked a decisive turning point and in hindsight set in motion a powerful transformative momentum with an international horizon. Unlike the traditional conservative coalition that had propelled and sustained Horthy’s authoritarian project throughout the interwar period, Italian Fascists were the perennial radical outsiders who had followed an unorthodox path to power and had been vindicated by the events that followed the ‘March on Rome’. Born in March 1919, in the uncertain but effervescent atmosphere of the Italian dopoguerra, the movement had already become notorious for its scathing critique of the old political class, its unique brand of paramilitarism, street activism, and violent attacks on the Left, as well as its revolutionary proclamations that evangelized a new heroic era in Italian history.24 Mussolini’s appointment in October 1922 was a decisive victory against many odds for the relatively small constituency of Italian Fascists. This victory was not fully apparent in October 1922: the head of a radical movement that had just staged a daring take-over assault on the liberal system in Italy had been placed as head of a coalition government, in a formally constitutional arrangement sanctioned—and in theory supervised—by incumbent mainstream elite actors. But it was the consolidation of the Fascist regime, first within the limits of the 1922 coalition and, after January 1925, as a single-party radical, indeed totalitarian, dictatorship that confirmed the viability of the political experiment and charted an alternative path beyond the liberalism of ‘the West’ and the revolutionary socialism of the Soviet Union. The ensuing political, institutional, and stylistic innovations that were pioneered by Mussolini’s regime throughout the 1920s cast a very different light on the significance of the events of October 1922. In charting a novel path for ‘successful’ radical political change in-the-making, the experiment appeared to confirm the viability of a post-liberal ‘departure’ and supplied a new radical template for pursuing it in a radical, taboo-shattering direction. What had started as an Italian experiment with uncertain chances of ‘success’ could now be seen as a seismic political paradigm shift whose resonance extended beyond Italy and whose ingredients of both diagnosis and remedy were apposite to other national contexts.25 As the Fascist regime continued to take shape throughout the 1920s and to show an increasingly self-confident radical knack, its ‘magnetic field’ grew stronger and wider,26 long before Mussolini himself spoke of Fascism as an ‘export product’ with an ambitious international horizon.27

The chain of events that led from the March on Rome to the Fascist dictatorship and the construction of the stato totalitario opened up a new field of possibilities for radical (p. 307) political change and established a powerful precedent that others beyond Italy were too keen to dissect for their own reasons. Yet different political constituencies of sympathetic observers translated the same set of unfolding developments into significantly divergent political ‘lessons’. On one level, the Fascist experiment was perceived as a long-awaited, viable trajectory and ‘destination’ for nascent radical, ultra-nationalist anti-system forces in many other countries. It offered a sort of tried-and-tested blueprint for the radical political action and vision needed to push through a revolutionary nationalist, post-liberal, and anti-socialist transformation. Radicals admired the scope of the Fascist regime’s radical and fanatically pursued regenerative horizon. Genuinely fascinated with Mussolini and the raw dynamism of the Fascist movement, many became convinced (and this conviction only gathered momentum in subsequent years) that Italian Fascism had triggered an international ‘domino effect’ that would soon sweep away liberals, socialists, and conservatives, ushering in a new sense of ‘heroic’ time in world history.28

On another level, however, what happened in Italy in the 1920s tapped into, and in turn fostered, a broader political demand for a post-liberal alternative to democracy—not revolutionary in its horizon but more radical than what more conventional authoritarian precedents had to offer. Sympathetic conservatives and authoritarians were interested in the actual compromise solution that brought about the successful post-liberal authoritarian ‘departure’ in Italy and unlocked a host of new possibilities for political synthesis between mainstream and (‘successful’) radical elements. They saw in the consolidation of Mussolini’s power the irreversible passing of the era of parliamentary democracy, the dawn of a new kind of populist dictatorship with a more radical edge derived from a unifying platform of organic nationalism, and a hugely effective strategy for obliterating the Left. Could it be then that the events of 1922 in Italy had rehearsed the viability of a new kind of authoritarian dictatorship—more populist, more attuned to the needs of modern mass mobilization and plebiscitary support, more radical in its institutional make-up and political praxis but still driven by established social and political power bases and successfully fending off the threat of a genuine social revolution by outsiders of the Left or the Right?29

Within barely a year after the March on Rome, these two wildly different scenarios had already been attempted elsewhere. In Germany, the young leader of a new political movement with the incongruous title National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP), a certain Adolf Hitler, interpreted Mussolini’s strategy of conquering power in literal terms. In November 1923, Hitler organized and headed a woefully misconceived coup in Munich—starting with a march on the streets of the Bavarian capital and aspiring to bring down the Weimar government. The November putsch ended in farcical failure. Yet, in 1941 Hitler confided that the charismatic personality of the Duce, the success of the March on Rome, and the practice of Fascist squadrismo exerted a powerful psychological influence on him:

Don’t suppose that the events in Italy had no influence on us. The brown shirt would probably not have existed without the black shirt. The march on Rome, in October (p. 308) 1922, was one of the turning points of history. The mere fact that anything of the sort could be attempted, and could succeed, gave us an impetus.30

At the time of the March on Rome, Hitler was just one of many aspiring radical nationalist leaders, leading a fringe political start-up with uncertain prospects. Within a few years, the Italian Fascist regime had established clandestine links with a constantly growing number of national radical subversive organizations across Europe. Macedonian and Croat separatists fighting against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Hungarian revisionists, and Romanian radical nationalists joined the NSDAP in the list of financial beneficiaries of the Fascist regime—a list that would grow much longer and reach much further in subsequent years.31 The choice of beneficiaries was driven primarily by geopolitical considerations, with ideology playing a secondary role in securing Fascist financial favours. However, as more and more radical nationalist movements with ‘fascist’ trappings appeared in many European countries in the 1920s and early 1930s (only a few, such as the British Union of Fascists, proudly proclaiming themselves ‘fascist’; the majority acknowledging their ideological debts to Mussolini’s regime but consciously shying away from adopting the label), Mussolini and his Fascism were recognized as the pioneers and leading forces of a transnational history-making project. The French author Robert Brasillach—like his mentor, Georges Valois, the founder of the Action Francaise—saw in the Fascist ‘totalitarian’ state a fascinating experiment with ‘Latin’ roots that combined the political with the dramatic and the aesthetic.32 The American poet Ezra Pound presented Mussolini as the modern embodiment of the ‘enlightened soul’ and artifex with a passion for construction, who would spearhead with his personality and determination the revival of a historic(al) epic.33 The leader of the radical Romanian movement Iron Guard, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, acknowledged the degree to which the March on Rome and the successful consolidation of the Fascist regime convinced him that the events of 1922 marked the beginning of a new era of transnational seismic transformation:

I heard the news of the huge Fascist eruption: the March on Rome and Mussolini’s victory. I rejoiced as much as if it were my own country’s victory … Mussolini, the brave man who trampled the dragon underfoot, was one of us, that is why all dragon heads hurled themselves upon him, swearing death to him. For us, the others, he will be a bright North Star giving us hope; … proof of the possibilities of victory.34

But the transnational field of Fascist sympathizers also featured other, far less likely members. In March 1923, the Spanish military headed by Miguel Primo de Rivera overthrew the liberal parliamentary system and established what at first sight resembled a traditional authoritarian dictatorship at the service of the monarchy, the armed forces, and the Church. Yet, Primo de Rivera was a strong admirer of Mussolini, describing him later as his teacher and primary source of political inspiration.35 In spite of his unlikely conservative provenance and his strong allegiances to eminently non-revolutionary (p. 309) institutions of the Spanish state, de Rivera ‘imported’ Fascist experiments such as the state regulation of labour relations on the basis of corporatism, the model of a single mass party organization (Union Patriotica), and the institution of a legitimizing parliament, again along the lines of the Fascist precedent.36 He was also known to have been planning the introduction of a new constitution inspired by Fascist corporatist ideas and a reorganization of Spanish youth organizations, again along the lines pioneered by Mussolini’s regime. Although he went to great lengths to present these experiments as organically linked to Spanish traditions and his own political thought, it proved hard for him to shake off the impression that he was simply drawing inspiration from his Italian political idol.

In many ways, Codreanu’s or Hitler’s fascination with Mussolini’s regime made sense in a way that Primo de Rivera’s did not. The revolutionary, action-oriented dynamic of Italian Fascism, its anti-systemic origins, and its strong sense of ‘rupture’ with the immediate past matched the National Socialists’ radical formation, world view, and intentions.37 Primo de Rivera, on the other hand, was a far more conventional conservative figure of the ‘old’ European Right seeking something akin to a counter-restoration of traditional monarchical power and the influence of Catholicism after decades of liberal experimentation in Spain. This, however, did not stop him from extracting political lessons and inspirations from the Italian case that served, shaped, and legitimized his very different political project. In so doing, he set a different kind of precedent for a fluent synthesis between facets of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Right that was to be repeated, in the more familiar form of dictatorial rule, in other parts of Europe in the following decade. By the time that Primo de Rivera’s regime collapsed in 1930, dictatorships had been established in Portugal (1926), Poland, Lithuania (both 1926), Albania (1928), and Yugoslavia (1929)—in all cases by conservative figures of the ‘old’ Right and with the support of powerful traditional institutions. A second phase of authoritarian ‘departures’ coincided with the appointment of Hitler as German chancellor and the consolidation of the Nazi dictatorship in 1933–4: in addition to Germany, Austria (March 1933), Estonia (March 1934), Latvia, and Bulgaria (May 1934) joined what Michael Mann has described as the ‘authoritarian half of (interwar) Europe’.38 Finally, a third phase swept away most of the remaining democracies in central, southern, and eastern Europe from 1936 until the outbreak of the war: again Greece (1936) and Spain (1939), but also Romania (1938, 1941). Only the more established northern democracies more or less successfully resisted the authoritarian onslaught. Even there, prominent figures of the conservative Right lavished praise and qualified admiration on Mussolini, albeit with the caveat that his ideas and style of politics were perfectly suited for Italy but unfit for their countries. Winston Churchill and Austen Chamberlain, as well as prominent businessmen from both sides of the Atlantic, expressed positive views in relation to the Duce’s crackdown on the organized Left and his success in restoring order in the previously deeply fractious and polarized political system of post-war Italy.39 Some went even further, praising corporatist economics, lauding Mussolini with coming to an accommodation with the Catholic Church in 1929, and even justifying violently repressive measures against the organized Left.40

(p. 310) Entanglements, Hybrids, and the Path of Radicalization

If in the 1920s Italian Fascism and Mussolini’s regime had been the only major source of influence for new radical movements and adventurous authoritarian proponents of the ‘old’ Right, the 1930s added National Socialist Germany, as well as a series of other regional experiments, to the inspiration pool. Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in January 1933 was hailed by Fascist Italy as a victory for ‘German fascism’, portrayed by the Italian press as a triumph of ‘Fascist civilisation, reincarnation splendidly young and vital of the civilisation of ancient Rome … advancing with its proud banners to conquer the hearts and minds’ of others across the Continent.41 And yet the two regimes remained viscerally divided on fundamental ideological and political issues. Contemporary sympathetic observers were fully aware of what divided the two paradigmatic fascist regimes of the interwar period, as well as of their bizarre competition for ‘primacy’. Many radical ultra-nationalist parties switched their loyalties in the process, in the overwhelming majority of cases from Italian Fascism to German National Socialism. By contrast, the new breed of dictatorships that appeared in Europe during the 1930s showed astuteness in borrowing liberally and selectively from each of the two regimes while avoiding a complete ideological alignment with either of them. Even then, however, they were eager to perceive in their collective agency of Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany a cumulative drive for a unique history-making project that seemed to be on the cusp of reshaping European politics and emerging triumphant.

The case of Gyula Gömbös, the Hungarian arch-conservative who served as prime minister from 1932–6, illustrates eloquently this new political trend. Having spent the 1920s as a vocal critic of Horthy’s semi-pluralist regime, he emerged in 1932 as the prime candidate of the resurgent Right’s bid for power. Ideologically situated between Horthy’s conservatism and the far more extreme rightist alternative of the fascist Arrow Cross, Gömbös was nevertheless strongly attracted to the new political vision and style of, first, Fascist Italy and, later, Nazi Germany. Already in 1929, as under-secretary to the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, he had visited Rome to meet Mussolini and express his admiration for his regime.42 He repeated this kind of political pilgrimage twice as prime minister—in November 1932 and again shortly before his death in 1936.43 But he was also impressively quick to congratulate Hitler on his appointment as chancellor in 1933 and earned the distinction of being the first prime minister to visit Berlin in June 1933 (a gesture that he repeated in 1935). Gömbös cultivated very close ties with both dictators and regimes, at a time when the two were seriously divided on key ideological and geopolitical issues. His profound anti-Semitism coexisted with his enthusiastic endorsement of the Fascist corporatism model and the ‘Fascist International’ project. This pick-and-choose attitude was motivated by his belief that the two regimes in Italy and Germany represented facets of the same wave of radical-authoritarian, one-party, anti-communist transformation in the politics of the European interwar Right. He (p. 311) spoke on numerous occasions of his hope that a ‘Rome–Berlin axis’ would emerge, leading the rest of the Continent in a new, post-liberal and post-Versailles realignment. He promised Goering in 1935 that, under his leadership, Hungary would become a one-party ‘totalitarian’ state fashioned after the Nazi model within a very short period of time.44 Just before his death, he was also planning on introducing a corporatism system in Hungary, devised under the influence of ideas already rehearsed in Italy.45 Still, Gömbös was a supremely pragmatic admirer of what he perceived as the new ‘fascist’ paradigm. He may have been determined to transform the regime that he headed into a fascist-like system but he chose to do so ‘from above’, and in opposition to the country’s primary ‘fascist’ movement (the Arrow Cross), borrowing ideas and practices from both Italy and Germany without aligning himself exclusively with either regime in order to construct a hybrid political formula that suited best Hungary’s particular political and social circumstances.46

Gömbös’s experiment turned out to be short-lived and reversible. The dictatorship headed by António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal from 1932, on the other hand, proved impressively resilient. Salazar, a conservative professor of economics, had been appointed prime minister six years after democracy had been replaced by a national authoritarian regime through a military coup. In the remaining years of the 1930s, he oversaw a major political and institutional transformation of the Portuguese state that was strongly influenced by Fascist corporatist ideas that had also underpinned a similar experiment in Austria under Engelbert Dollfuss. A new constitution introduced in 1933 codified an idiosyncratic mix of traditional social Catholicism with distinct ‘fascist trappings’ inspired by Mussolini’s regime, under the banner of the ‘New State’ (Estado Novo).47 Nevertheless, Salazar borrowed highly selectively and reflexively from both Italy and Germany, adapting institutional and stylistic influences in ways that suited the domestic conditions and his more conservative political horizon. If the dictatorship’s burgeoning corporatist vision, as well as its experiments with new youth and propaganda organizations, drew inspiration from Fascist prototypes, his new secret police and propaganda control institutions borrowed more closely from the Nazi model of the Gestapo and the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda respectively. As the Salazar dictatorship continued to take its distinct shape in the rest of the 1930s, it emerged as a paradigm for other aspiring authoritarians elsewhere in Europe—essentially as a tempered alternative to the two major fascist regimes in Italy and Germany, engineered ‘from above’ rather than spearheaded by a radical fascist movement, less radical and unpredictably dynamic and more order-affirming.48

Salazar also embarked on a policy of ruthless repression of Portugal’s own fascist movement—the National Syndicalists or ‘Blueshirts’. Under the leadership of Rolão Preto, the movement emerged as a significant political force in the early 1930s, advocating an amalgam of native organic nationalism imbued with loyalty to the Church and the monarchy (the so-called Integralismo Lusitano) and adapting ‘fascist’ ideas largely inspired by Mussolini’s movement in Italy.49 Preto had both praised Italian Fascism in the early 1920s and been a fervent supporter of the 1926 coup. For him the coup had produced both the political space and the ideological horizon for an open-ended (p. 312) revolutionary transformation in Portugal. Salazar initially co-opted the movement, using it as a vehicle of social mass mobilization and benefiting from its radical mystique;50 but the Blueshirts’ increasing radicalism and unruly activism convinced him that an outright ban was the best response. Thus in 1934 he ordered the violent dissolution of the National Syndicalists, with Preto, forced to go into exile, becoming a vehement critic of Salazar’s regime.51

Salazar’s volatile and contradictory stance towards the self-proclaimed fascists was symptomatic of the often difficult relations between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ interwar Right even when they shared common enemies and visions for the future. The pattern of initial co-opting followed by repression witnessed in Portugal was also followed in Romania under General Ion Antonescu, who briefly courted the support of the Legionaries of the Iron Guard before turning ruthlessly against them in January 1941. Other dictatorships ruled out any form of cooperation with the ‘new’ Right. The royal dictatorship of King Carol in Romania had outlawed the Iron Guard and executed its leadership, including Codreanu himself. In Hungary, Horthy’s regime outlawed and suppressed both the earlier Scythe Cross and the Arrow Cross fascist movements. Some dictators (e.g. in Austria, with the alliance between Chancellor Dollfuss’s authoritarian Ständestaat and the Heimwehr against the rising threat of the Austrian NSDAP) elected to embrace a less radical component of native ‘fascism’ under the supervision of traditional pillars of power and in defence of the existing political order, thus also manipulating antagonisms inside the radical constituency of the ‘new’ Right. Only in Franco’s Spain did a successfully symbiotic arrangement prove resilient, with the radical Falange Española transformed into one of the fundamental institutional pillars of the dictatorship.52

On the eve of the German attack on Poland, an arc of post-liberal, nationalist, and fervently anti-communist dictatorships sliced the map of Europe from Lithuania to the Balkans and all the way to the edge of the Iberian peninsula. While some were more radical in their discourse and praxis than others, they all featured elements that suggested a dual ‘departure’—from liberalism and towards a new paradigm of radical institutional and political transformation predicated on the perceived ‘success’ and dynamism of Fascist Italy and/or National Socialist Germany. Rather than viewing these two attributes of the interwar ‘authoritarian turn’ (departure from liberalism and departure towards a new, more radical authoritarian alternative) as a classificatory vexation or as justification for reinforcing the original conceptual dichotomies (i.e. the traditional distinction between ‘fascism’ and ‘authoritarianism’, ‘new’ and ‘old’ Right), we should recognize that they operated in, and emerged from, a shared transnational space of open-ended political hybridization. This approach does not question the validity of historiographical distinctions made between, say, Hitler’s regime and Salazar’s dictatorship. Indeed, when scrutinized more closely, each of these dictatorships proffered very different responses—partly inspired from developments elsewhere but also crucially informed by distinct domestic circumstances and traditions—to the broader perceived crisis of liberal democracy and the ostensible threat of international socialism. But the fetish of methodological individualism should not be allowed to obscure the critical influence that feedback from developments in one country had on other (p. 313) contemporary sympathetic observers elsewhere. What was happening in Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany mattered in a particular crucial way—as a taboo-breaking precedent and pool of radical inspiration that in the eyes of a growing number of contemporary observers of the Right constituted an unfolding ‘successful’ and viable political paradigm. But new hybrids, such as Salazar’s or Dollfuss’s dictatorships in Portugal and Austria respectively, which were seemingly situated in a grey zone between conventional authoritarian dictatorship and the novel Nazi–Fascist template of radical rule, also proved very influential beyond their original contexts, providing inspiration for other authoritarian dictators and guiding them further and further down the path of radicalization.

Inspiration by, and empowerment from, broader international radical precedents unfolded in a context of transnational political learning that was highly reflexive, versatile, and responsive to both domestic circumstances and external changes. Different—and shifting over time—understandings by a range of political constituencies of what was happening in Germany, Italy, or elsewhere combined with highly diverse initial conditions and feedbacks in each country to produce a kaleidoscope of hybrid political outcomes. Not only do these outcomes remain supremely resistant to classification but they require a different heuristic apparatus that gives equal weight to transnational influences and national responses. Even the most fervent transnational disciples of fascism—those genuinely fascinated by its ideological premise of profound civilizational regeneration, usually found among the founders and members of ‘fascist’ movements—were essentially marrying ‘fascist’ inspiration with traditions and circumstances particular to their national settings. So long as this ‘fascism’, in its particular Italian and/or German guise or as a combined force through the Axis alliance, was seen as ‘successful’ and victorious, others observed it as a critically empowering precedent that had opened up the field of opportunity in an increasingly radical and uncompromising direction. The kaleidoscope of ensuing hybrid ideological–political outcomes were not just different from their sources of inspiration or from one another but also occasionally even more radical in some respects than their prototypes, infused with communicative ingredients that only made sense in their originating particular national-cultural setting.

Reflexivity and ‘Recontextualization’: Making ‘Fascism’ Work for the Authoritarian Right

It was this kind of reflexive recontextualization, rather than slavish imitation, that produced what the historiography of fascism has often described as ‘fascist trappings’ in a wide range of countries during the 1930s and the wartime years. In 1935, Ferruccio Guido Cabalzar, a journalist and trusted political associate of Mussolini, visited Latvia (p. 314) on behalf of the Action Committees for the Universality of Rome (Comitati d’Azione per l’Universalità di Roma, CAUR)—an organization that the Fascist regime had set up in 1933 precisely to cultivate the ‘export’ of fascism into other parts of Europe. A dictatorship since 1934, the Latvian regime was headed by the conservative nationalist figure Karlis Ulmanis. An admirer of Mussolini, Ulmanis nevertheless approached ‘fascism’ as a spiritual matrix for idealist national action—not tied to predefined ideological doctrines but developed organically in each national context on the basis of reflection and acute awareness of domestic conditions. Cabalzar reinforced this message, stating that ‘fascism’, albeit based on putatively universal values, would crystallize in different forms in other countries.53 In Lithuania, the Smetona dictatorship (established in 1926) embarked on a major ‘fascistization’ drive, recontextualizing institutions from Fascist Italy in key areas such as youth, personal cult, and corporatist syndicalism. Neither of these dictatorial figures departed from the conservative-authoritarian mould and world view; in fact, by far the most widespread and successful model of ‘authoritarian departure’ in interwar Europe featured such unlikely—in ideological and political terms—figures of the ‘old’ Right. Still, there was ample evidence of growing political convergence, admiration for ‘fascist’ experiments as new radical technologies of rule in response to seemingly comparable ‘problems’, and a striking, yet highly reflexive process of political learning that produced a kaleidoscope of hybrid political solutions.

Convergence, this time with National Socialist Germany, marked the radicalization of other dictatorial regimes just before and during the Second World War, especially on the matter of racial/anti-Jewish policy. In Slovakia, a wartime state that was the product of the Nazi violent territorial reorganization of Europe, the clerical government introduced fully formed racial legislation in September 1941 in order to address the country’s so-called ‘Jewish Question’. The legislation, known as the Jewish Codex, was based on a very restrictive legal definition of Slovak citizenship and contained more than 300 specifically anti-Jewish regulations. The initiative was driven by a radical faction within the government that supported a closer ideological and political alignment with Nazi Germany, emboldened by the perceived ‘success’, dynamism, and impending victory of the Axis forces. Inspired by the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg ‘racial’ model, it also introduced religious principles that were more in line with the clerical roots of the governing Slovak People’s Party. In so doing, however, the Slovak definition of 1941 outdid the Nuremberg one, including not only more ‘half-Jews’ but also those with only one Jewish grandparent, so long as they had continued to practise the Jewish religion until April 1939.54 The year 1941 was also marked by the introduction of a racially based anti-Jewish law in Hungary by the Horthy regime. Hungary had already proved that it did not need any external inducement to identify a domestic ‘Jewish Question’ and seek to ‘solve’ it. Back in 1920, the country had introduced restrictive ‘quota’ legislation (numerus clausus) with a view to limiting Jewish participation in Hungary’s professional, economic, and cultural life. The legislation may have lapsed in subsequent years but the emergence of Gömbös in 1932 brought the ‘Jewish Question’ back onto the regime’s increasingly more radical political agenda. What Gömbös did not succeed in doing before his death in 1936, subsequent Hungarian governments achieved (p. 315) with striking alacrity in 1938–41. The 1941 anti-Jewish law mentioned earlier was in fact the third revised version of legislation that was first introduced in 1938 and then revised in a more restrictive direction in 1939 before reaching its predominantly racial, Nuremberg-inspired 1941 iteration. Recontextualization ensured that the first two laws introduced distinctions meaningful to their Hungarian context (allowances for those who had converted or moved to Hungary before a specific point). By contrast, the 1941 law divulged the empowering and radicalizing effect of Nazi taboo-shattering precedent in this domain; but it also continued to underline the significance of reflexive adaptation, with some regulations exceeding in harshness the Nuremberg mould or following a different restrictive recipe (e.g. the revival of the 1920 principle of numerus clausus) while other stipulations accounted for mitigating factors (religion, residence) that made sense in the Hungarian context alone.55

It is the example of the wartime Ustaša regime in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), however, that has been described as the most peculiar (and uniquely brutal) product of hybridization—both critically influenced by the precedent of Fascist and National Socialist radical praxis and unintelligible outside the particular ideological, political, and cultural context of the fledgling Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The dramatic events that followed the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1941 thrust the Ustaša into the forefront of Croat political life. The leader of the movement, Ante Pavelic, still in Italy at the start of the Nazi campaign in the Balkans and until only recently under surveillance by the Fascist authorities, watched the Axis invading forces occupy and dismember the state of Yugoslavia. On 10 April he heard on the radio the declaration of the Independent State of Croatia, made by the leading Ustaša figure Slavko Kvaternik. Three days later, after more than a decade of exile and clandestinity, Pavelic set foot on Croat territory as the unlikely leader of a new, in theory sovereign, state. In his meeting with Hitler in early June 1941, he was permitted to follow ‘a nationally intolerant policy [towards “alien” minorities … that] must be pursued for fifty years, because too much tolerance on such issues can only do harm’.56 ‘Cleansing’ operations, particularly in areas with sizeable Serb communities, had been reported only days after Kvaternik’s founding proclamation of the NDH. These were followed by a series of legislative arrangements that set the tone for the regime’s aggressively ethno-exclusive future policies, particularly with regard to Serbs and Jews (e.g. introduction of a blue band with the letter P to be worn by all Serbs inside the NDH, similar to the yellow equivalent for the Jews).57 While initially operating under the auspices of Fascist Italy and then growing increasingly closer to the National Socialist regime, the Ustaša movement was nevertheless consumed by its very particular goal of independent, homogeneous statehood and its uniquely retributive, fiercely eliminationist anti-Serb vision. Far from being a passive imitator, its leadership ‘decontextualized’ numerous ‘fascist’ ideas and practices in order to ‘recontextualize’ them, in an adapted form, to advance the Ustaša movement and regime’s particular priorities in direct relevance to its national setting and circumstances. As Jonathan Steinberg noted, ‘in the months of May and June 1941, it [the Ustaša regime] passed the laws that the Nazis had taken years to work out’.58 Still, both the brutal, ritualistic nature of the eliminationist violence unleashed by the NDH and its (p. 316) particular targets reflected unique accommodations between external (‘fascist’) influences and specific domestic attributes.59

Even in a country like Greece, which is perhaps unique in another way—lacking a distinct ‘fascist’ social or political constituency during the 1930s—the authoritarian turn of the 1930s did produce a hybrid dictatorship that borrowed reflexively from foreign ‘fascist’ models of rule while remaining rooted in, and responsive to, national traditions.60 The former general Ioannis Metaxas was perhaps the most unlikely figure to lead a radical transformation of the Greek state and society. A deeply conservative and staunchly pro-royalist figure with a distinguished military career but very limited political success in the 1930s, he seized power through a coup on 4 August 1936 with the blessing of the recently restored to his throne King George. Although Metaxas was a long-time admirer of German power and, once in power, cultivated closer economic and military powers with the Third Reich, he did not seriously challenge the traditional pro-British orientation of Greek foreign policy. His political motto of ‘transformation’ (metavoli) was a distinct hybrid, featuring a myth of national revival based on national millennial history (his so-called Third Hellenic Civilization), a rejection of liberalism and materialism in favour of traditional social and religious values, and a brand of political paternalism built around his modest and serious personality.61 Uncomfortable with modern techniques of populist politics and lacking a sizeable pool of social support, Metaxas was co-opted by the monarchy (and against the wishes of mainstream conservative and liberal parties) as a safe pair of hands, untainted by the bitter political polarization of the previous decades, seemingly predictable and pliable.

Nevertheless, this deeply conservative figure oversaw the introduction of a number of novel technologies of social and political radical transformation in Greece that would have been unintelligible without the radical precedents already rehearsed—seemingly successfully—elsewhere. His metavoli referenced, etymologically as well as politically, a ‘departure’ from the fractious Greek politics of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as from the canons of liberalism and parliamentary democracy. In addition, however, it charted a novel path of engineering a new kind of individual and society that illustrated both political learning from other prototypes and reflexive, highly pragmatic recontextualization. Metaxas personally handled the creation of a new type of holistic youth organization (Ethniki Organosis Neoleas, EON) that not only adapted similar experiments in Italy and Germany but was also intended to function as a vehicle for the consolidation and future radicalization of his regime.62 Similarly, during his short-lived dictatorship (until early 1941, when Metaxas himself died and soon afterwards Greece was occupied by the Axis military forces) he showed a clear appreciation of the Portuguese Estado Novo, with its mixture of social conservatism, corporatist organization of the economic and social spheres, and experiments with controlled mobilization. Predictably, the Greek dictator considered the case of Portugal as ‘in most respects resembling that of Greece’, in terms of both domestic conditions and governance.63 The regime’s ideologues were tasked to study the Portuguese experiment with a view to producing a new constitution for the Greek state. Weeks before his death, Metaxas appeared ready to introduce a draft for a new constitution, borrowing selectively from other countries but at the same (p. 317) time subsuming these influences into the core values of his dictatorship—in particular, supreme loyalty to the monarchy and the centrality of Christian Orthodox religion in the social sphere. His admiration for the ‘fascist’ models of rule, and his frustration with the Italian attack on Greece in the autumn of 1940, precisely because it brought the Axis bloc into a collision course with his own, otherwise sympathetic regime,64 coexisted with a reflexive appreciation of traditional aspects of the Greek state and society that dictated a distinct, different approach to the country’s post-liberal, authoritarian transformation.65

Conclusions: A Shared History for the Interwar Right?

It would indeed be hard to find an ‘authoritarian’ dictatorship in 1930s Europe, from Portugal to Romania and from Greece to Latvia, that had not developed a more radical ideological-political edge and displayed a series of what historians often describe, rather dismissively, as ‘fascist trappings’. These ‘trappings’ attested to the growing political influence of the ‘fascist’ regimes on the ‘old’ Right—as a pool of radical inspiration and a repertoire of experiments that could be reflexively recontextualized in other national contexts. And yet, the same ‘fascist trappings’ have also been used to drive a wedge between ‘fascist’ and ‘authoritarian’ types of rule, as well as to restate the differences between the ideologies of the ‘new’ and ‘old’ interwar Right that underpinned them, respectively. Classificatory distinction between ‘fascism’ and ‘authoritarianism’ or ‘conservatism’ remains paramount to historiographical attempts to understand the radical dynamic, alluring novelty, and conquering momentum of interwar fascism in its diverse iterations. However, a similar distinction in the political and institutional spheres falls apart upon closer scrutiny. ‘Fascist trappings’ tell us two very different stories—one about the perceived comparative shortcomings of the outcomes; and another about the channels of transnational diffusion and recontextualization that propelled even unlikely conservative figures such as Salazar, Ulmanis, and Metaxas into radicalization—and one with an increasingly ‘fascist’ complexion.

There is little doubt that 1922 was a critical turning point for the entire history of the interwar European Right—in all its shades from ‘old’ to ‘new’. No matter how different the political lessons that fascists, authoritarians, conservatives, and others extrapolated from the Italian case, Mussolini’s rise to power and the establishment of a new, more radical kind of dictatorship exercised a profound transformative influence well beyond the circle of ‘fascist’ sympathizers across Europe. The result was a broader and more radical ‘authoritarian turn’ in large parts of Europe, starting in the 1920s and gaining stronger momentum in the 1930s with the arrival of Hitler on the political scene. The perceived success and dynamism of Fascist Italy and then National Socialist Germany mattered as a legitimizing precedent and (partially at least) as a seemingly successful (p. 318) template for radicalization. It mattered enormously to the circle of radical ‘fascist’ start-ups that sprang up in most European countries during the interwar period. But it also mattered—far more than previously assumed—to a growing constituency of authoritarian leaders who saw in ‘fascist’ praxis a precedent for radical political change without necessarily leading to the same political outcomes that were unfolding in Italy and Germany. For them, the two regimes provided the historic momentum for change and a set of new radical ideas that, selectively and reflexively recontextualized, could be useful in other domestic contexts and political purposes. In short, the unfolding ‘fascist’ experiment mattered as an emphatic negation of the past and as a highly promising direction of travel, if not necessarily as a precise route or, even more so, fixed destination.

The question that Paul Mazgaj and other historians of interwar France posed in relation to the country’s new radical/fascist Right of the 1930s can be extended across Mann’s ‘authoritarian half of Europe’: ‘were the differences between the “new” and the “traditional” right, however real, less significant than what they shared as allies’ in the pursuit of a radically new, post-liberal and post-socialist order?66 If the study of these ‘not-quite-fascist’ dictatorships focused less on where they fell short in relation to the ‘successes’ of Fascist Italy or National Socialist Germany and more on why and how they chose to borrow reflexively from contemporary ‘fascist’ experiments, then assumed dichotomies between the ‘old Right’ and ‘fascism’ become far less empirically clear-cut or heuristically useful. Instead of approaching them as ‘species apart’ in self-imposed isolation and within classificatory silos, Michel Dobry has asked us to treat the ‘old Right’ and ‘fascism’ in far more intimate ‘relational terms’, as dynamic and multifaceted phenomena that should be compared for their intrinsic similarities and fascinating intersections in spite of their often different outcomes.67 Understanding the volatile and tangled history of the interwar Right demands a stronger, more constructive focus on these intersections and hybrid outcomes while never losing sight of the shared drive towards radicalization and the critical influence of ‘fascism’ at all stages of this process.


(1.) H. Rogger and E. Weber (eds.), European Right: A Historical Profile (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965).

(2.) F. F. Rizi, Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascism (Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press, 2003).

(3.) R. Stackelberg, Hitler’s Germany: Origins, Interpretations, Legacies (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2014).

(4.) For example, M. Dobry, ‘Février 1934 et la découverte de l’allergie de la société française à la “Révolution fasciste’”, Revue Française de Sociologie, 30/3–4 (1989), 511–33.

(5.) A. Kallis, ‘Introduction’, in A. Kallis (ed.), The Fascism Reader (London: Routledge, 2003), 21–9.

(6.) E. Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism (New York and Toronto: Mentor Books, 1969); G. L. Mosse, ‘Towards a General Theory of Fascism’, in G. L. Mosse (ed.), International Fascism: New Thoughts and New Approaches (London and Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1979), 1–41; R. Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London and New York: Routledge, 1993); Z. Sternhell, The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994); S. G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945 (London: UCL Press, 1997).

(7.) Z. Sternhell, Neither Right Nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 141ff; R. Eatwell, Fascism: A History (London: Pimlico, 2003), 14.

(8.) D. Roberts, The Totalitarian Experiment in Twentieth-Century Europe: Understanding the Poverty of Great Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006), 269.

(9.) R. Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London and New York: Palgrave, 1993), 121.

(10.) M. Knox, To the Threshold of Power, 1922/33, Vol. I: Origins and Dynamics of the Fascist and National Socialist Dictatorships (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 8.

(11.) M. Mann, Fascists (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 44–6.

(12.) A. Costa Pinto and A. Kallis, ‘Introduction’, in A. Costa Pinto and A. Kallis (eds.), Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014), 16.

(13.) Rogger and Weber, European Right, 2, 5, emphasis added.

(14.) M. Blinkhorn, ed., Fascists and Conservatives: The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-Century Europe (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990); M. Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Right in Europe, 1919–1945 (London: Longman, 2000).

(16.) For example, A. Bauerkaemper, ‘Transnational Fascism: Cross-Border Relations between Regimes and Movements in Europe, 1922–1939’, East Central Europe, 37/2–3 (2010), 214–46; C. Goeschel, ‘Italia docet? The Relationship between Italian Fascism and Nazism Revisited’, European History Quarterly, 42/3 (2012), 480–92.

(17.) J. Linz, The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976); ‘Fascism and non-democratic regimes’, in H. Maier (ed.), Totalitarianism and Political Religions, Vol. III: Concepts for the Comparison of Dictatorships—theory and history of interpretation (New York: Routledge, 2003), 225–91. See also G. Cappoccia, Defending Democracy: Reactions to Extremism in Interwar Europe (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005).

(18.) S. P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991).

(19.) S. Holmes, The Anatomy of Anti-Liberalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 37–8.

(20.) P. C. Caldwell and W. E. Scheuerman (eds.) From Liberal Democracy to Fascism: Legal and Political Thought in the Weimar Republic (Boston, MA: Humanities Press, 2000); N. Ezrow and E. Frantz, Dictators and Dictatorships: Understanding Authoritarian Regimes and their Leaders (London: Continuum, 2011).

(22.) R. Griffiths, Fascism (London: Continuum, 2005, 2nd edn), 107; B. Vago, ‘Fascism in eastern Europe’, in W. Laqueur (ed.), Fascism: A Reader’s Guide. Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 231.

(23.) Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Right, 46. On Horthy’s regime in interwar Hungary, see Mann, Fascists, 237–60.

(25.) A. Kallis, ‘The “fascist effect”: on the dynamics of political hybridisation in interwar Europe’, in A. Costa Pinto and A. Kallis (eds.), Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014), 13–41.

(26.) P. Burrin, ‘La France dans le champ magnétique des fascismes’, Le Débat 32 (1984), 52–72.

(27.) B. Scholz, ‘Italienischer Faschismus als “Export”-Artikel (1927–1935)’, Dissertation: Universität Trier, 2001; available at <>; A. Kallis, The Third Rome, 1922–1943: The Making of the Fascist Capital (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014), 226–8.

(28.) R. Griffin, Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning Under Mussolini and Hitler (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007), 209; R. Griffin, “‘I am no longer human. I am a Titan. A God!” The Fascist Quest to Regenerate Time’, in M. Feldman (ed.), A Fascist Century. Essays by Roger Griffin (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), 3–23.

(29.) G. L. Mosse, Masses and Man: Nationalist and Fascist Perceptions of Reality (New York: Howard Fertig, 1980), 183.

(30.) H. Trevor-Roper, Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941–1945 (New York: Enigma, 1996), 10, emphasis added.

(31.) A. Cassels, Mussolini’s Early Diplomacy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), 294–5.

(32.) M. A. F. Witt, The Search for Modern Tragedy: Aesthetic Fascism in Italy and France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), 149.

(33.) T. Redman, Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 102.

(34.) C. Z. Codreanu, Pentru Legionari (Sibiu: Tipografia Vestemean, 1936); English online translation by G. van der Heide available at <>.

(35.) S. G. Payne, The Franco Regime, 1936–1975 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 23.

(36.) S. Ben-Ami, Fascism from Above: Dictatorship of Primo De Rivera in Spain, 1923–1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983); Antonio Costa Pinto, The Nature of Fascism Revisited (Boulder, CO: Social Science Monographs, 2012), 124–5.

(39.) P. Neville, Hitler and Appeasement: The British Attempt to Prevent the Second World War (London: Continuum, 2006), 50; R. A. Rosenbaum, Waking to Danger: Americans and Nazi Germany, 1933–1941 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC Clio, 2010), 50–8.

(40.) T. Villis, British Catholics and Fascism: Religious Identity and Political Extremism Between the Wars (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013), 141–6.

(41.) “Il Reich fascista”, Il Messaggero, 7.3.1933, 1

(42.) Archivio Centrale dello Stato (ACS), Rome, Presidenza Consiglio Ministri (PCM), 1928–30, 4.2.15/8155 (Gömbös visit to Italy, 1929).

(43.) ACS, Segretaria Particolare del Duce (SPD), Carteggio Ordinario (CO), 137.389, 379 (file for Gyula Gömbös).

(44.) S. G. Payne, Fascism: Comparison and Definition (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1980), 112.

(45.) M. M. Kovacs, Liberal Professions and Illiberal Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 90–5; Costa Pinto, Nature of Fascism Revisited, 138–9.

(46.) On the idea of a ‘fascism from above’, see S. Ben-Ami, Fascism from Above: The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in Spain, 1923–1930 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1983); cf. A. Kallis, “‘Fascism”, “Para-fascism” and “Fascistization”: on the Similarities of Three Conceptual Categories’, European History Quarterly, 33/2 (2003), 219–50.

(47.) G. Adinolfi and A. Costa Pinto, ‘Salazar’s New State: the Paradoxes of Hybridization in the Fascist Era’, in A. Costa Pinto and A. Kallis (eds.), Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014), 154–75; A. Costa Pinto, Salazar’s Dictatorship and European Fascism: Problems of Interpretation (Boulder, CO: Social Science Monographs, 1995); F. Ribeiro de Menezes, Salazar: A Political Biography (New York: Enigma Books, 2009), 106ff.

(48.) A. Kallis, “‘Ideas in flux … ”: the “4th of August” dictatorship in Greece as a political “departure” in search of “destination’”, in G. Botz and A. Costa Pinto (eds.), Corporatism in Interwar Europe (forthcoming*).

(49.) A. Costa Pinto, “‘Chaos” and “order”; Preto, Salazar and Charismatic Appeal in Inter-War Portugal’, in A. Costa Pinto, R. Eatwell, and S. Ugelvik Larsen (eds.), Charisma and Fascism (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2007), 69.

(50.) A. Costa Pinto, The Blue Shirts. Portuguese Fascists and the New State (Boulder, CO: Social Science Monographs) 181–4.

(51.) P. H. Lewis, Latin Fascist Elites: The Mussolini, Franco, and Salazar Regimes (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002), 142.

(52.) Kallis, “‘Para-fascism’”, 233–4; M. Jerez Mir and J. Luque, ‘State and Regime in Early Francoism, 1936–45: Power Structures, Main Actors and Repression Policy’, in Costa Pinto and Kallis (eds.), Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship, 176–97.

(53.) J. Kuck, ‘Renewed Latvia. A Case Study of the Transnational Fascism Model’, Fascism, 2/2 (2013), 183–204.

(54.) E. Nižnanský, ‘Expropriation and Deportation of Jews in Slovakia’, in B. Kosmala and F. Tych (eds.), Facing the NS Genocide: Non-Jews and Jews in Europe (Berlin: Metropol, 2004), 205–30; A. Kallis, Genocide and Fascism. The Eliminationist Drive in Interwar Europe (New York and London, 2009), 244–50.

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