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Journal volume 9, 2012, issue 2

Populismus und Faschismus / Populism and Fascism



Priester, Karin:
Populismus und Faschismus in Europa – Wahlverwandtschaft oder Mesalliance? (S. 213–234)

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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.

Cavazza, Stefano:
War der Faschismus populistisch ? Überlegungen zur Rolle des Populismus in der faschistischen Diktatur in Italien (1922–1943) (S. 235–256)

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The article analyses the relationship between populism and fascism. The author argues that fascism cannot be considered a populist ideology or a populist movement. Nevertheless, populist elements can be found in the fascist political discourse. The article analyses four points in fascist ideology and propaganda, comparing them with populist features : the appeal to the people as a form of legitimation, rural ideology, resentment against the bourgeoisie in the late thirties and the way Mussolini’s image was represented. The article demonstrates that populist elements played an important role at the beginning, advertising the movement among the people. After the fascists seized power, populism still featured in regime propaganda, but in a more manipulative role.

D’Onofrio, Andrea:
Nationalsozialismus und Populismus (S. 257–277)

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In the various stages of its development – from a small right-wing extremist movement, opposed to the democratic parliamentary system of the Weimar Republic, to the solely ruling party of the most gruesome dictatorships of the 19th century – national socialism always bore features of protest - or government populism. This is characterized by a massive personalisation and emotionalisation of politics, the use of bogeyman figures and enemy stereotypes in an extremely dichotomous and simplified world view, a vertical juxtaposition of “below” (the people) and “above” (the elites / the system), frequent calls upon the “Volk” with an aggressive and depreciating attitude towards political adversaries, promises of liberation and salvation by a charismatic leader are some of the most important populist features of the national socialist party, which can at least partly be attributed to its “völkisch” origins. In any understanding, some features of national socialism are distinctly not populist, e.g. the will to power, the claim of totalitarianism, the readiness for tactical compromise and the massive use of force and terror prevent an interpretation of national socialism as a populist phenomenon tout court.

Bulli, Giorgia:
Die Populismen der Lega Nord und der Wandel ihrer Volksvorstellungen (S. 279–302)

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The polysemic nature of populism is perfectly reflected in the multifaceted populism of the Italian Lega Nord ( LN ). Born as the supposed receptacle of cultural and autonomist tendencies of the Northern regions, the party soon developed into a genuine right-wing populist party. Its programmatic platform and rhetoric – one of the major factors of its electoral success – reflect the breadth of the LN’s appeal to the people. The party program and rhetoric constantly fluctuate between an identity-based and a protest-based call for a deep renovation of the relationship between the people and its élite. This renovation includes the call for more autonomy of the Northern Italian regions – ranging from federalism to secession – which coexists within the LN platform with more genuine stances of European right wing populist parties: Anti-establishment and anti-party positions, anti-immigration in addition to law and order issues, the need to return to traditional family values and the rejection of a multicultural society. In order to correctly interpret one of the most important political actors of the Italian party system of the last two decades, the article analyses these programmatic dimensions as they shift during the evolutionary phases of the LN. Despite the recent crisis which affected the party and its leadership, the LN represents a prototypical example of how the contradictions of liberal democracies, due to which populism prospers, have been successfully exploited.

Reisigl, Martin:
Rechtspopulistische und faschistische Rhetorik – Ein Vergleich (S. 303–323)

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The relationship between fascism and right-wing populism is a complex one. Again and again, fascist rhetoric integrates populist elements such as the rhetorical figure of “synecdoche” and the argumentation scheme named “topos of the people” or – if the argumentation is fallacious – “argumentum ad populum”. This article investigates both common features and differences between the two kinds of rhetoric. It explains in which sense fascist rhetoric is more radical than right-wing populist rhetoric, as it is the case with respect to the call for violence and the discursive construction of the enemy. It looks at the role of mass-communication and it discusses various forms of the phatic function of language, which plays an important role in fascist and right - wing populist rhetoric. On the whole, the text argues that neither fascist nor rightwing populist rhetoric can be seen as being internally homogeneous and unchanging. Rather, they are historically situated and change according to the political position from which they are articulated, e.g. from opposition to government.

Schmeitzner, Mike:
„Parteitag der Totalität“. Ein unbekannter Beitrag Richard Löwenthals über Hitlers Nürnberger Heerschau vom September 1935 (S. 325–336)

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In October 1935, the German paper “Sozialistische Aktion” (“Socialist Action”) published an anonymous text about the recently held Party Conference of the NSDAP in Nuremberg. The text was entitled “Party Conference of Totality” and was written by the later widely known political scientist Richard Löwenthal. Löwenthal wanted to mobilize the German opponents of Hitler by making a case against the dictatorship. Analyzing the situation, he warned about the totalitarian and racist tendencies of the regime and its preparations for a “total war”.

Book Reviews

Rosa Luxemburg. Leben – Werk – Wirkung
Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp Verlag) 2010 / Autor: Dath, Dietmar
Rezension: Eckhard Jesse (S. 339–340)

Aufstieg und Fall des Kommunismus
Berlin (Propyläen-Verlag) 2009 / Autor: Brown, Archie
Rezension: Friedrich Pohlmann (S. 340–342)

Mussolini’s Intellectuals. Fascist Social and Political Thought
Princeton (Princeton University Press) 2006 / Autor: Gregor, James A.
Rezension: Lorenzo Santoro (S. 343–348)

Storia della cultura fascista
Bologna (Il Mulino) 2011 / Autor: Tarquini, Alessandra
Rezension: Lorenzo Santoro (S. 343–348)

Hitlers Charisma. Die Erfindung eines deutschen Messias
Frankfurt a. M. (S. Fischer Verlag) 2010 / Autor: Herbst, Ludolf
Rezension: Paolo Fonzi (S. 348–350)

Kommunismuskritik im westlichen Nachkriegsdeutschland. Franz Borkenau, Richard Löwenthal, Ossip Flechtheim
Berlin (verlag für berlin-brandenburg) 2011 / Autor: Keßler, Mario
Rezension: Mike Schmeitzner (S. 351–353)

Die extreme Rechte in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1949 bis heute
Darmstadt (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft) 2012 / Autor: Botsch, Gideon
Rezension: Uwe Backes (S. 354–358)

Freiheit, soziale Güter und Gerechtigkeit. Michael Walzers Staats- und Gesellschaftsverständnis
Baden-Baden (Nomos) 2011 / Autor: Nusser, Karl-Heinz
Rezension: Wulf Kellerwessel (S. 358–364)

„Rote Flora“. Ziele, Mittel und Wirkungen eines linksautonomen Zentrums in Hamburg
Baden-Baden (Nomos) 2011 / Autor: Hoffmann, Karsten Dustin
Rezension: Harald Bergsdorf (S. 364–366)