The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe

The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe

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How the development of twentieth-century fascism depended on strong civil societies

Drawing on a Gramscian theoretical perspective and developing a systematic comparative approach, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe challenges the received Tocquevillian consensus on authoritarianism by arguing that fascist regimes, just like mass democracies, depended on well-organised, rather than weak and atomised, civil societies. In making this argument the book focuses on three crucial cases of interwar authoritarianism: Italy, Spain and Romania, selected because they are all counterintuitive from the perspective of established explanations, while usefully demonstrating the range of fascist outcomes in interwar Europe. Civic Foundations argues that, in all three cases, fascism emerged because of the rapid development of voluntary associations, combined with weakly developed political parties among the dominant class, thus creating a crisis of hegemony. Riley then traces the specific form that this crisis took depending on the form of civil society developed (autonomous, as in Italy; elite-dominated, as in Spain; or state-dominated, as in Romania) in the nineteenth century.

Reviews

  • This brilliant comparative study of the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Romania brings Tocqueville and Gramsci into a novel and surprising conversation. It will change the way you think about civil society, fascism, and democracy.

    William Sewell, the University of Chicago
  • Make no mistake, this is much more than comparative fascisms. Dylan Riley not only rethinks and meshes the legacies of Tocqueville, Arendt and Gramsci; he sobers us up to the actual history of civil society and democratization in continental Europe. This theoretical lesson seems still gravely relevant elsewhere in the world today.

    Georgi Derluguian, author of Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-Systems Biography
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