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Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning Under Mussolini and Hitler: The Sense of a New Beginning Under Mussolini and Hitler [Hardcover]

Roger Griffin
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Book Description

1 July 2007
Intellectual debates surrounding modernity, modernism, and fascism continue to be active and hotly contested. In this ambitious book, renowned expert on fascism Roger Griffin analyzes Western modernity and the regimes of Mussolini and Hitler and offers a pioneering new interpretation of the links between these apparently contradictory phenomena. Using a wealth of examples, Griffin describes how modernism's roots lay in part in the fundamental human need to perceive a transcendent meaning and purpose to life--and to restore this purpose in times of experienced decay and social breakdown. This sense of revolution and rebirth provided the context in which fascism sought a new world based on the health and strength of the nation or race. Modernism and Fascism is an original and fascinating synthesis of data and ideas which will be of interest to art and intellectual historians, specialists in the study of modernity and modernism, and experts in fascist studies. It also offers stimulating new insights to all those concerned with the many contemporary movements (e.g. Al-Qaeda, Christian fundamentalists) prepared to fight for their belief in the transcendental meaning of life against the inroads of an increasingly globalized materialism. This is a book which promises to have a resonance far beyond the already broad academic parameters of the project, and will inspire a new wave of scholarly interest in modernity.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Schol, Print UK (1 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403987831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403987839
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.2 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,688,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'A product of enormous erudition and profound thought. I am truly enchanted - I thought that nothing new and eye-opening can be said on the topic, and (Griffin) proved me wrong...Congratulations on the great oeuvre.' - Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Prof of Sociology, Leeds University, UK

'What a tour de force you have produced! I send my warmest congratulations!...This is indeed a bold and invigorating discussion based on an absolutely admirable range of up-to-date interdisciplinary reference...I think you have an enormously important book here, one that deserves and will receive a wide readership - not just academic colleagues, but students, and even the broader public...I am absolutely delighted and bubbling with excitement! Thank you for the pleasure - it is very rare that I become this effusive.' - Modris Eksteins, Professor of History, University of Toronto, Canada

'This is a fabulous book. It is a grand synthesis which successfully takes the premise of (Griffin's) first book regarding the centrality of palingenesis to fascism and demonstrates that it is integral to modernism itself...Thank you for sharing this book with me-it is a major contribution!' - Mark Antliff, Professor of Art History, Duke University, USA

'I found this beautifully written and absorbing - an incredible synthesis of material from such a range of sources from the literary to contemporary film!...I was gripped - even at 4 am in the morning which is quite a feat!' - Josephine Reynell, Director of Studies for Human Sciences, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, UK

'This is an extraordinary book, the most important to appear on the history of fascism in a decade or more...the book itself is extremely original, not merely a pleasure, but even exciting, to read. More than any other study of recent years it accomplishes a sort of 'paradigm shift' in fascist studies.' - Stanley G. Payne, author of A History of Fascism, 1914-1945'

'This book is an exceptional work of analysis. It's unique and comprehensive perspective opens a window on a past that may become the future.' - Tom Baugh, Green Institute
 
'His book is refreshing not only for the eloquence of its wording but also for doing what should have been done years ago to understand the rise of fascism, namely, to capture its sudden eruption and headlong race toward a New Time and, retrospectively, toward disaster.' - Karla Poewe, Ethnos

About the Author

ROGER GRIFFIN is Professor in Modern History at Oxford Brookes University, UK. His major work is The Nature of Fascism (1991), which established the first new theory of generic fascism for over a decade. This is his first authored book since that 1991 breakthrough. He has also edited Fascism, a documentary reader of primary sources relating to fascism published by OUP (1995), International Fascism. Theories, Causes, and the New Consensus, a documentary reader of secondary sources published by Arnold in 1998, and the five volumes of secondary sources relating to fascism in Routledge's Critical Concepts in Political Science series (1993).

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Major contribution 29 May 2011
Format:Hardcover
Roger Griffin has been standing out as particularly sharp-witted theorist and interpreter of classical and neo-fascism. His 1991 monograph The Nature of Fascism has, perhaps, been the most influential book of its kind during the last twenty years. Since then, Griffin has published a number of collected volumes and scholarly papers that too have contributed to the renewed interest in the notion and permutations of international fascism in various disciplines including political psychology, the history of ideas or cultural studies.
With his 2007 second monograph and opus magnum Modernism and Fascism, Griffin adds another text to comparative fascist studies that is likely to become a classic, in the discipline. Griffin's 1991 monograph was an exercise in political taxonomy and historical explanation - a sometimes schematic and technical investigation into the relationship between social classification, terminology and theory. His many papers and various collected volumes contained conceptual elaborations and empirical illustrations of themes he had already touched upon in 1991.
With the present volume, Griffin enters new terrain, in terms of the style, purpose and contents of his writing. His older investigations were designed to help comparativists of the contemporary extreme right as well as area specialists to identify, classify and explain various proto-, para- and fully fascist tendencies in this or that country. His new book, in contrast, can be seen as an exercise in Verstehen (comprehending) why fascism was temporarily so strangely successful, on a number of levels. While Griffin's 1991 monograph is a, sometimes, difficult and dry read, his 2007 opus documents Griffin's literary talents and often reads like a novel.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the core of the matter 23 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback
Palingenesis has been used for the exact reproduction of ancestral features by inheritance. Roger Griffin understands the political ideology of Fascism as a palingenetic ideology, primarily as a result of the notion that Fascism itself is the rebirth of an empire in the image of that which came before it. The best examples of this can be found with both Fascist Italy and Germany - Italy looking to establish a palingenetic line between the 20th Century regime under Mussolini as being the second incarnation of the Roman Empire, while Hitler's 'Third Reich' was seen as being the second palingenetic incarnation - beginning first with the Holy Roman Empire (First Reich) then with Bismarck's Germany (Second Reich) and then resulting in Fascist Germany (Third Reich).

In other words it seeks, by directly mobilizing popular energies or working through an elite, to eventually conquer cultural hegemony for new values, to bring about the total rebirth of the nation from its present decadence, whether the nation is conceived as a historically formed nation-state or a racially determined 'ethnos'. Conceived in these terms, fascism is an ideology that has assumed a large number of specific national permutations and several distinct organizational forms.

Griffin's approach has already had an enduring impact on the comparative fascist literature of the last 15 years, and builds on the work of George Mosse, Stanley Payne, and Emilio Gentile in highlighting the revolutionary and totalizing politico-cultural nature of the fascist revolution (in marked contrast with Marxist approaches).
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the core of the matter 22 Feb 2008
By Volkmar Weiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Palingenesis has been used for the exact reproduction of ancestral features by inheritance. Roger Griffin understands the political ideology of Fascism as a palingenetic ideology, primarily as a result of the notion that Fascism itself is the rebirth of an empire in the image of that which came before it. The best examples of this can be found with both Fascist Italy and Germany - Italy looking to establish a palingenetic line between the 20th Century regime under Mussolini as being the second incarnation of the Roman Empire, while Hitler's 'Third Reich' was seen as being the second palingenetic incarnation - beginning first with the Holy Roman Empire (First Reich) then with Bismarck's Germany (Second Reich) and then resulting in Fascist Germany (Third Reich).

In other words it seeks, by directly mobilizing popular energies or working through an elite, to eventually conquer cultural hegemony for new values, to bring about the total rebirth of the nation from its present decadence, whether the nation is conceived as a historically formed nation-state or a racially determined 'ethnos'. Conceived in these terms, fascism is an ideology that has assumed a large number of specific national permutations and several distinct organizational forms.

Griffin's approach has already had an enduring impact on the comparative fascist literature of the last 15 years, and builds on the work of George Mosse, Stanley Payne, and Emilio Gentile in highlighting the revolutionary and totalizing politico-cultural nature of the fascist revolution (in marked contrast with Marxist approaches). Now, his latest book, Modernism and Fascism, locates the mainspring of the fascist drive for national rebirth in the modernist bid to achieve an alternative modernity, which is driven by a rejection of the decadence of 'actually existing modernity' under liberal democracy or tradition. The fascist attempt to institute a different civilization and a new temporality in the West found its most comprehensive expression in the 'modernist states' of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which also revealed the destructive and self-destructive nature of all fascist political projects to 'regenerate' the nation or achieving cultural renewal.

In this context the reviewer was most impressed by page 351: "Inter-war fascist movements had no exit strategy. ... They were bound eventually to become bogged down in their dynamism, moribund in their vitalism. There cound be no stabilization, no viable routinization of the charismatic legitimacy of the state (that means, no "Empire Artam"), no social or military peace, no institutional procedures for passing on power to a non-charismatic leader, or for reinvesting it in the party. Nor could power even on the paper be one day entrusted to the people itself in a gradual process of democratization ... . Had Mussolini and Hitler managed to cling on to power, ... then both regimes may have gone the way of Salazar's Portugal and Franco's Spain, charismatic power draining away to a point where the renewal of autocracy after their deaths was impossible, and rapid democratization ensued. However, such an atrophy of modernist energies would have been the ultimate betrayal of the fascist world-view."
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Major contribution 29 May 2011
By Andreas Umland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Roger Griffin has been standing out as particularly sharp-witted theorist and interpreter of classical and neo-fascism. His 1991 monograph The Nature of Fascism has, perhaps, been the most influential book of its kind during the last twenty years. Since then, Griffin has published a number of collected volumes and scholarly papers that too have contributed to the renewed interest in the notion and permutations of international fascism in various disciplines including political psychology, the history of ideas or cultural studies.
With his 2007 second monograph and opus magnum Modernism and Fascism, Griffin adds another text to comparative fascist studies that is likely to become a classic, in the discipline. Griffin's 1991 monograph was an exercise in political taxonomy and historical explanation - a sometimes schematic and technical investigation into the relationship between social classification, terminology and theory. His many papers and various collected volumes contained conceptual elaborations and empirical illustrations of themes he had already touched upon in 1991.
With the present volume, Griffin enters new terrain, in terms of the style, purpose and contents of his writing. His older investigations were designed to help comparativists of the contemporary extreme right as well as area specialists to identify, classify and explain various proto-, para- and fully fascist tendencies in this or that country. His new book, in contrast, can be seen as an exercise in Verstehen (comprehending) why fascism was temporarily so strangely successful, on a number of levels. While Griffin's 1991 monograph is a, sometimes, difficult and dry read, his 2007 opus documents Griffin's literary talents and often reads like a novel. The book's key argument is that pre- and inter-war European fascism has not been anti-modern and by no means a reactionary phenomenon. Fascism, to be sure, did constitute a particularly sharp reaction to classical Modernity. Yet, the solution that fascism provided to the psychological distress caused by modernization's increasingly fundamental disruption of traditional society since the mid-19th century was not rejection or reversion of Modernism, but an alternative Modernity. The palingenetic project that fascism offered to society was, strictly speaking, not the reborn, but a newborn nation. Griffin illustrates this point here with reference to Italian Fascism and German Nazism, as the paradigmatic cases of comparative fascist studies. He does so with a heavy bent towards the cultural aspects of these two fascism's national revolutions.
Apart from providing a dense and comprehensive description of various West European intellectual trends, political schools as well as artistic and literary phenomena from the late 19th century to 1945, this book's primary value is that of offering a "story" of how fascism became so attractive to millions of people including legions of educated Europeans - among them many prominent politicians, literati, artists and academics. Hugh Trevor Roper once wrote that Nazism was nothing more than a "vast system of bestial Nordic nonsense." Analogous statements have been made about Italian Fascism. Griffin largely succeeds with this book in explaining why Nazism and Fascism had, nevertheless, the capacity provide a majority of Italians and Germans with a sense of purpose and existential comfort in particularly liminal situations following such deep social disruptions as World War I and the Great Depression.
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