Explanations for the Rise of Fascism and National Socialism

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Explanations of Fascism and National Socialism

I. Russian Marxists--1920s

A. They used "Fascism" generically to describe Germany as well

B. Their explanation was that Fascism was a bourgeoisie conspiracy to stop a Socialist revolution in Europe, in which Italian leaders collaborated with German leaders to stop Socialism (of course this Fascist movement was therefore economically motivated as it was a bourgeoisie conspiracy)

C. The big problem with this explanation was that it was a mass movement, and mass movements are generally not anti-Socialist conspiracies organized by a few people in dark, smoke-filled rooms

II. Western Marxists--Pre-WWII

A. Formulated an economic reason for both movements' success

B. They discovered that the lower-middle-class (small shop owners, artisans, etc.) were disproportionately attracted to Fascism, and decided that this was because they were the ones most hurt by hyperinflation (their savings were wiped out, but the peasants and workers didn't have anything in the first place) and industrialism (goods now mass produced)

C. Therefore Hitler's promise to close down the department stores, therefore putting small shop owners back into the competition, and the Fascist Corporate State, although I don't recall why, appealed to the lower middle class; that's the reason for the parties' successes in that area

III. Western Historians--Post WWII

A. Gave a reason for National Socialism's success

B. It's part of Germany's culture: Germany has always had militaristic, conservative, and nationalistic tendencies

C. This, of course, doesn't explain Fascism

IV. Theory laid out in Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism

A. Defined Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism, placing National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union under the Totalitarian category and Fascist Italy under the Authoritarian category

B. A Totalitarian government had to have:

1. A very strong, singularly powerful leader who usually has a special title; Hitler (de Fuhrer) and Stalin (Comrade, although that...