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Article by Karin Priester

Populismus und Faschismus in Europa – Wahlverwandtschaft oder Mesalliance?

TD: volume 9, issue 2012, 2, page 213–234

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Es folgt die Zusammenfassung in englischer Sprache following the article short description

The relationship between fascism und populism has scarcely been scrutinized on a social and ideological level. Rather, their common features are seen on a socio-psychological level (anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and a liking for conspiracy theories). In this essay it is argued that, firstly, fascism had no fully fledged ideology of its own, but stemmed from different, sometimes even contradictory sources. This entailed continuous compromising between different currents within the fascist power bloc, among them also populist aspirations. Secondly, populism as a thin ideology, encompassing anti-elitism, anti-modernism, and nativism, is not considered as a characteristic property of fascism itself, but as an undercurrent. The more fascism established itself as a regime, the more populists became marginalized, and sometimes even an oppositional force claiming a second wave and a return to the origins. They advocated a genuine “people’s state” or a real “Volksgemeinschaft”, whereas Mussolini’s appeals to the people proved to be merely temporary instrumental moves in order to gain the approval of the masses. Furthermore, it is argued that the Italian populist “Strapaese” can be compared with the German “Völkische”. They both had an ambivalent attitude towards modernization and advocated not a technocratic, but an “organic” path to modernization based on a holistic world-view. Last but not least, populists expected fascism to foster an élite circulation, bringing the “sons of the people” into leading positions in the fascist regime. The relationship between the fascist regimes and populists finally turned out as a mutual disillusion.

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