"FASCISM: Past, Present, Future" by Walter Laqueur

"FASCISM: Past, Present, Future"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wide-ranging study of the many faces of fascism, by one of America's foremost historians (The Dream That Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union, 1994, etc.). ""Although fascism is dead,"" Laqueur notes in his introduction, ""it could have a second coming."" In an attempt to describe the seemingly persistent appeal of the concept, he considers its history, evolution, and a variety of current manifestations. Historical fascism, he suggests, is limited to the regimes of Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. Laqueur insists that Franco's Spain and dictatorships in Argentina and Brazil were not fascist but traditional conservative military regimes. He is careful to distinguish between the true barbarism of Nazism and the more ""benign"" form of Italian fascism. But both regimes were an uneasy mix of reactionary, traditional, and forward-looking elements. In addition, he is willing to grant both Hitler and Mussolini some credit in the rapid modernization of their respective countries. This is a debatable point, for there is no way to prove that other political forms would have failed in the process of modernization. In the book's second section, ""Neofascism,"" Laqueur examines the current reemergence of fascism in Europe, in nationalistic movements fueled by such elements as the fear of immigrants and resurgent anti-Semitism. The study's last section, ""Post-fascism"" raises provocative parallels between fascism and some current forms of Islamic fundamentalism; these comparisons are sure to generate controversy and debate. Laqueur argues that many religious fundamentalist groups are willing to use force to bring about their vision of the world and are therefore political and not just religious movements. With a conclusion devoted to the prospects for fascism in the future and a valuable bibliographical note, the book is a welcome addition at a time when we are witnessing the revival of a political force once written off as extinct.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 019511793X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.