The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution
When The Birth of Fascist Ideology was first published in 1989 in France and at the beginning of 1993 in Italy, it aroused a storm of response, ... Show synopsis When The Birth of Fascist Ideology was first published in 1989 in France and at the beginning of 1993 in Italy, it aroused a storm of response, positive and negative, to Zeev Sternhell's controversial interpretations. In Sternhell's view, fascism was much more than an episode in the history of Italy. He argues here that it possessed a coherent ideology with deep roots in European civilization. Long before fascism became a political force, he maintains, it was a major cultural phenomenon. This important book further asserts that although fascist ideology was grounded in a revolt against the Enlightenment, it was not a reactionary movement. It represented, instead, an ideological alternative to Marxism and liberalism and competed effectively with them by positing a revolt against modernity. Sternhell argues that the conceptual framework of fascism played an important role in its development. Building on radical nationalism and an "antimaterialist" revision of Marxism, fascism sought to destroy the existing political order and to uproot its theoretical and moral foundations. At the same time, its proponents wished to preserve all the achievements of modern technology and the advantages of the market economy. Nevertheless, fascism opposed every "bourgeois" value: universalism, humanism, progress, natural rights, and equality. Thus, as Sternhell shows, the fascists adopted the economic aspect of liberalism but completely denied its philosophical principles and the intellectual and moral heritage of modernity.