Fascism and Authoritarianism in Eastern Europe


Socialism and Fascism

  • Socialist backgrounds of Fascists - Codreau (workers' movement) Mussolini - not an "opportunist" unlike the Bolsheviks. 
  • National Socialism - the merging together of the great ideologies of the 19th century 
  • WWI - took off and transformed into fascism. Traditional class based socialism had failed - people would rather fight for the nation rather than the working class. Nation rather than class was the organising priniple - a viable alternative to socialist internationalism. 
  • Socialist "decadence" - society, politics and Europe had become more decadent, losing its "revolutionary" element as it become more revisionist 
  • Fascism was an alternative to socialism - Unity of the nation. Natural and organic, developing through future. A common history, a common culture and common community. Communism had destroyed this role of society
  • Fascism appealed to all sections of society - working class in Hungary - Arrow Class 25% in 1939 Budapest which was a working class district. 
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A Revolutionary Ideology

  • Rise to providence owing to inequality and strengths 
  • Class and birth irrelevant - aristocracy of virtue of ability, the elite 
  • Mass education and health programs. Work camps by Romanian Legionary's provided free health care to children. Fascist movements worked with the plight of the peasantry and working class
  • Fascist movements alone in Eastern Europe represented the "true" revolutionary movement. Communism was discredited by the brutality of the Soviet Union e.g. the treatment of the Kulaks. Romania and Poland had deep rooted hostilities towards Russia 
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A Revolutionary Ideology (2)

  • Political left and ethnic minorities "Judeo-Bolshevism": 1919 Soviet regime in Hungary - Jewish origin. Antisemitism strong in the right-wing Eastern European politics. National Socialism rather than Judeo-Bolshevism as it was better with the acute political, social and economic problems
  • Liberal democracy had failed owing to the weak parliamentary ties and the Great Depression. Italy and Germany - solved these problems with NS regimes. Corrupt liberal governments in Eastern Europe that were not representing public opinion. Fascism argued that democracy did not work - the will of the people over the voice of the people. This was performed through a charismatic, strong leader. 
  • Heavy emphasis on youth as they represented the future and would replace old, corrupt politicians. Pre-war society was decadent and there was a need for fresh, strong men to take over. 
  • Morality and traditional values - cleanse of corruption and sin. Unifying the weak, physical health and spiritual wealth, creating a new man. 
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War & Appeal to Fascism

  • Role of the state grew after the Great War and fascists saw this as interfering. War generations fell for fascism as the "trenchocracy" had forged a heroic elite
  • Provided fascism with the justification of using violence 
  • Revisionism of treaties i.e. Hungary and Hungarism - the restoration of the great nation 
  • Fascist style - uniforms, military titles. Codreanu - "the capital." Party militias, marches - stems from extreme militarism during the war.
  • "Beautifying of politics" - emotionally charged, mass event. Centred upon traditional ceremonies and were used for political purposes.
  • Religious symbolism - defenders of Christianity in the Spanish Civil War 1936. Using the left's athieism to draw in faithful followers. Romanian fascist used icons of Christ and saints 
  • Cult of death - honouring dead military and fascist friends. Funerals were used as political events for public solidarity. 1937 Romania - soldiers died fighting in Spain - miracles of tombs of Ion Mota. Codreanu - died in 1938 and the Legionary came into power in 1940 with a dead leader. 
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Summed up:

Fascist leaders were distinguished men with socialist backgrounds. They were against liberal democracy and communism/socialism. The war brought these ideologies to clash and provided a blue print for the uses and absues of state power. Fascism was opposed to international communism and fought for unity, nationalism, etc. 

Eastern European fascism, at heart, was "revolutionary, not revisionary." 

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