Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the idea of any major Western society choosing to adopt large-scale socialist policies, or any policies that fall left of the particular county’s ideas of neoliberalist capitalism, has felt unlikely. Although it is certainly debatable whether the Soviet Union even constituted a socialist or communist society, it was seen largely in the West as the epitome of Marxism, socialism, and left-wing politics as a whole. And so the idea of seeing these political ideologies rise in the West, particularly in the United States, the largest cultural influencer in the West, has seemed unlikely. In saying this, following the Second World War, it would have seemed crazy to imagine a similar ideology to what they just fought against would arise in the United States and the rest of the West, but it is completely legitimate to accept the ‘alt-right’ as a form of neo-fascism. If a form of fascism can rise following the Second World War, the Cold War shouldn’t stand in the way of a rise of socialism, especially considering far-winged emerging ideologies are often met with a rise of a contrasting ideology.
The Cold War was very much seen as a battle between both political and cultural ideologies. While the Soviet Union and the United State always portrayed the USSR as a socialist society and a self-proclaimed dictatorship of the proletariat, it truly was more of an authoritarian government that operated in state capitalism, particularly following the rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s. The dichotomy between American and Soviet societies created a significant resentment, particularly in the United States, towards socialism and other left-winged political ideologies. This resentment largely remains with those who grew up with it, but with the active population becoming ever-more populated with people who did not live during the Cold War, sympathy for these ideologies has risen.
While there certainly was some sympathy for Nazi Germany and their practices before, and presumably some after the Second World War, it is safe to say that fascism and Nazism were not well regarded in the West following the War. Despite this, seven decades later, there arses likeminded ideologies, both in Europe and North America, that can be considered modern versions of these WWII ideologies. While these people would still have likely grown up with an overall resentment towards fascists and Nazis around them, they did not experience or feel any direct affects from the War and the harm in which these ideologies directly affected. While there certainly are differences between the ways socialism and fascism were seen following the Cold War and Second World War respectively, there are similarities in the ways they can reappear in the public mindset, with younger people that didn’t perceive any negative experience from these ideologies.
In the past, a rise in a far-winged ideology has often been met with a rise in a contrasting far-winged ideology to oppose it. During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the Spanish Military, backed by a series of right-winged and far-right political parties, preformed a coup d’état on the Spanish government, which at the time was made up mostly of socialist and communists. The population was divided politically, with the backers of the military largely being fascists, and their opposers being backed largely by socialists, communists, and anarchists. Today’s West and 1930s Spain are most definitely very different places, but it is clear that these ideologies rose in opposition of the other. While fascism and socialism certainly aren’t polar opposite ideologies, and so a rise in a form of neo-fascism wouldn’t necessarily result in the rise of a neo-socialism, an overall rise in far-right ideologies could certainly result in an overall rise in farther-left ideologies, including socialism.
While in the many year during and since the Cold War many nations have instituted socialist or socialist-esque policies, its large-scale institution in the West has largely fallen out of favour. But, with the rise in youth who didn’t live during the Cold War and the rise of a somewhat contrasting ideology in the alt-right, socialism could rise to prominence in the West again.