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THE BEAST REAWAKENS by Martin A. Lee

THE BEAST REAWAKENS

By Martin A. Lee

Pub Date: July 8th, 1997
ISBN: 0-316-51959-6
Publisher: Little, Brown

 Readers not obsessed with Nazis may lose sight of disturbing trends in this volume's mass of tedious details. Lee (Acid Dreams, 1986, etc.) introduces us to the key figures and interlocking relationships that have kept the National Socialist strain of fascism alive. The primary focus is on events in Germany, from the waning days of the Third Reich to the 1990s, but manifestations of fascism in other European countries and the Middle East, South America, and the US are also considered. This is a purely descriptive effort; no psychological, sociological, or political explanations of fascism's continued appeal are discussed. While the result is an incredibly dense historical tome, those who can follow Lee down the neo-Nazi trail will find their emotions roused by the thought that Hitler is still a threat even from his grave. The relative absence from Lee's pages of the evil superhumans that populate Nazi-genre fiction is some comfort; indeed, his protagonists are often simply ridiculous, especially in the US. But most of the major neo-Nazi figures are at least borderline sociopaths in their attitudes toward ``Others''--defined ethnically or ideologically--and it is not obviously preferable to be threatened by fanatics characterized by irrational anger rather than ruthless efficiency. Lee's conclusion that fascism is ``on the march again'' is overly dramatic, considering the small number of explicit devotees, but he points to a more disturbing indicator of the growing strength of the radical right: its presence in the political mainstream. Promoting anti-immigrant sentiments is high on the agenda of contemporary neo-Nazis, and tactics have moved beyond attacks on foreigners by skinheads to actual legislation both in Germany and, more recently, the US. Many will disagree with Lee's interpretation of recent events, but no one committed to liberal democracy will find reason to be complacent. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)