Fascism and Internationalism

By Arianna Axe-Paterson

Nationalism is generally a term discussed in association with Fascism. Fascists tend to care about the prosperity and political unity of their own country and that countries people. Internationalism on the other hand is not something that I myself would directly associate with fascism. Internationalism implies that there is some kind of cooperation, more than likely political, between more than one country.  Though Ruth Ben-Ghait and David Motadel have allowed me to rethink the relationship between racism and Internationalism.  That Internationalism in relation to Fascism is calculated.

Ben-Ghait discusses how Mussolini efforts were to counteract the excessive individualism of Italians. Unity of political thought and ideology of Italians. The government in fascist Italy did this through the recruitment of intellectuals to study and go to other countries to see the weaknesses of their ideologies. An example being the freedom that women had in Russia. Or they would invite people into Italy to convince other intellectuals to join the Fascist movement. The promotion of the unity of other nation was not done with the intent that Internationalism would suggest, it was still for the benefit of Italy. To prove to the world the benefit of Fascism in Italy.

Motadel’s academic article focuses more on Nazi Germany. it discusses the rise in Anti-Colonial Nationalism in Germany during the Second World War. He points out that when Germany’s attempts at colonization failed they were in a position to call for the anti-colonization, which in turn aided them when looking for allies in the war. When the hope for an alliance with Britain failed, they could use Anti-colonization nationalist to mobilize with them against the countries that colonized them. This act of internationalism was done for the benefit of Nazi Germany during the war.

What is evident in both of these articles is that the fascist relationship with Internationalism was calculated and is utilized in a way that is very nationalist. Both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany promoted the idea of Internationalism for the success of their counties. It was a calculated decision because it would benefit the unity of ideology in each country. It was never about the unity of political ideology in other countries but about strengthening their own. Motadel’s New York Times article he says that “these alliances can be fragile and full of frictions,” while these calculated choices could be beneficial they can also show how damaging the conquest of internationalism within Fascism can be.

Works Cited

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. “Conquest and  Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945, (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism but they Depend on it,” The New York Times.com. The New York Times, July 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/the-surprising-history-of-nationalist-internationalism.html

One Reply to “Fascism and Internationalism”

  1. To add to your paragraph on the Russian women, the historical context of the late twenties and the depression that ensued in Europe and America, explains why Italy looked at the Soviet Union who started the first five-year plan industrialization in 1928 and where communism brought modernity to a country that recently freed itself from a feudal system through a proletarian revolution. Indeed, the communists being anti-intellectual it only made sense that Italy wanted to highlight the weaknesses of such a model, without forgetting to criticize the United States who relied too much on mass consumerism. By pointing out these flaws, it was also a mean to discourage the local sympathies to embrace such ideology. Like you said , Italy was looking out for itself only.

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