Europe's Century of Discontent: The...

With the demise of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, a number of questions regarding the conventional understanding of totalitarianism could now be viewed in the new light. The classical studies of totalitarianism were undertaken when Nazism and Fascism had been vanquished, while the Soviet system still existed: this created an asymmetry which could now be overcome. The ideological Cold War edge which sometimes accompanied debates about totalitarianism was similar

4 ZEEV STERNHELL Italy and France, and that is a tendency to make every effort to minimize the significance of the 1930s and 1940s for the national histories of the three major European countries. Croce’s concept of “ Fascism as a parenthesis” and the whole branch of French historiography which tries to minimize the importance of Vichy in the history of the French twentieth century and portray it as a fusty and vaguely conservative régime have played and still are playing a similar role. One then sees how the fall of the Soviet Union and the weakening of the Communist parties in Western Europe have been elevated to the status of scientific proof, universally applicable, of the idea that any attempt to make a revolutionary change in the social and economic order must necessarily result, everywhere and at all times, in a terrible disaster. When François Furet speaks of the Communist illusion, he means “ illusion” in the Freudian sense. For him, as for so many others, the very idea that there can be a system fundamentally different from ours can only be an unconscious desire detached from reality. 3 This is only another way of celebrating the final and definitive victory of capitalism: the end of history once again knocks at our door. A whole world separates the Communist revolution, the Fascist revolution and the Nazi revolution in their essence and intellectual attitudes as well as in their objectives, their development and the nature of the régimes they gave rise to. However, the three revolutions did have one essential idea in common: the conviction that they held in their hands the key to the solution of a problem generally considered insoluble in the modern world: how to put an end to the conflictual nature of human society. One can easily see that this was a gigantic undertaking. One of the main features of the beginnings of liberal thought in the seventeenth century was the idea that conflict was inherent in the very essence of human society. From the Glorious Revolution to the American and French Revolutions through the second half of the nineteenth century, the only question was how conflict should be regulated. anti- Communism which has followed the fall of the Soviet Union. My criticism of Nolte’s thesis is now a quarter of a century old: Z. Sternhell, “ Fascist Ideology,” in W. Laqueur ( ed.), Fascism: A Reader’s Guide: Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, pp. 368– 371. 3 François Furet, Le passé d’une illusion. Essai sur l’idée communiste au XXe siècle, Paris: Robert Laffont/ Calmann- Lévy, 1995, Épilogue. In English: The Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C

Europe's Century of Discontent: The Legacies of Fascism, Nazism and Communism


About Book Europe's Century of Discontent: The Legacies of Fascism, Nazism and Communism

Front matterTitle PageCopyrightContentsPrefacePart One. THE THEORETICAL DIMENSIONFROM COUNTER-ENLIGHTENMENT TO THE REVOLUTIONS OF THE 20TH CENTURYTHE CONCEPT OF TYRANNYTHE DECAY OF THE NATION STATE AND PEOPLEÌS SOVEREIGNTY: THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM REVISITEDPart Two. IDEOLOGY AND POLITICAL DYNAMICSTAKING FASCISM SERIOUSLYThe Disappearance of FascismThe Originality of Fascism: The Old QuestionsNew QuestionsTaking Fascism Seriously÷TodayNAZISM, COMMUNISM AND THE MORAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE INEFFABILITY OF MEMORYRHETORICS OF HIERARCHY: ON LINGUISTIC AND IDEOLOGICAL PREMISES OF TOTALITARIAN FASCISMTHE CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCIST REGIMES: ELITES, SINGLE PARTIES AND POLITICAL DECISION- MAKING IN FASCIST ERA DICTATORSHIPSPower and Political Decision-Making During SalazarismMussolini and Italian FascismHitler and German National SocialismConclusions: Where is Fascism as a Political Regime?Part Three. THEORY AND REALITYSLOGANS RATHER THAN CONVERSATIONTOTALITARIAN REGIMESIntroduction1. The Evolution of the Concept of Totalitarian Regimes: A Critical Review2. A Typology of Political Regimes3. Types of Totalitarian Regimes4. The Stability of Totalitarian Regimes5. Totalitarian Regimes of the Twentieth CenturyReferencesPart Four. THE COMPARATIVE DIMENSIONTHE PROBLEM OF THE PARTY IN A POLICE STATE : NAZI AND SOVIET COMPARISONSThe Place of the PartyThe Politics of Mass ParticipationConclusionsIDEOLOGY AND CONTINGENCY IN TOTALITARIANISMÌS VIOLENCE: A COMPARATIVE APPROACH OF NAZISM, COMMUNISM, FASCISM TOTALITARIANISM : FROM AN INSTRUMENTAL TERM IN THE PUBLIC DEBATE TO AN ANALYTICAL CATEGORY – THE INTERWAR DEBATE IN FRANCEThe Comparison Between Fascism and Communism: Natural Weapon of the CentristsA Refutation of ExtremismToward the Creation of an Academic CategoryPart Five. AFTERMATH AND LEGACIESEQUALITY OF VICTIMS – EQUALITY OF REGIMES?THE AMBIVALENT LEGACY OF FASCISM IN ITALYANTI-EXTREMISM, NEGATIVE REPUBLICANISM, CIVIC SOCIETY: THREE PARADIGMS FOR BANNING POLITICAL PARTIESIntroductionI. Anti-extremismII. Negative RepublicanismIII. Civic Society: Towards a New Abstraction?IV. ConclusionIN LIEU OF AN EPILOGUE: IDEOLOGY AND REALITY IN NAZISM AND COMMUNISMLIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
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