While reading the articles of this week, one common theme that I found interesting was the incoherence behind the fascist ideology of the Nazi portion that was supporting nationalist emergence in colonies of imperial regimes around the world, especially regarding racism and segregation. In this sense, the paper by David Motadel provided detailed general facts and the book chapter by Ruth Ben-Ghiat was a good completion with more specific examples. There is a sentence in Motadel’s article that I found particularly striking and that basically sums the incoherence: “in terms of ideology, colonial peoples were considered racially inferior, and thus could never be treated as equals, let alone partners”. This shows in my opinion how hypocritical the Nazi’s support was, and how the apparent ideological partnership between them and colonies such as Ethiopia for example, as presented by Ben-Ghiat, was really only just a game of alliances in the light of the war, seeking to weaken falling Empires by encouraging the emergence of national communities within them. The incoherence was not even concealed, as shown by the violence of Nazis against visiting members of these communities described by Motadel.
Upon listening to the podcast, A Specter Haunting Europe, it was surprising for me to learn that Jews had been associated with the creation and spreading of communism, because to me, by extension, it would mean that the people and groups making that association considered that Judaism, among other things, was behind, or rather rallied to, the communist ideology before it took over half of Europe. One of the main features of communism, from what I have learned, was its promotion of atheism. It seems interesting to say the least, and contradictory, to associate a religious group to this political ideology. I understand that it was a uniting matter for fascist and nationalist groups across Europe to have common enemies, and especially since Nazi Germany was a focal point that nationalist organizations in the colonial world were looking to, having the same enemies was a way of gaining recognition and legitimizing the nationalist path (by aligning oneself with the apparent leading fascist organization that is supporting nationalist movements). But I don’t think that the common enemies, Jews and communists, were linked in a dependant way. True, some Jews were communists and vice-versa, but Judaism, or being Jewish, certainly was not an inherent part of the creation and spreading of communism. I might be pushing this reflection a little far, but the way I see it, since the fascist Nazis were encouraging and supporting the emergence and claims of nationalist movements in colonies of imperial regimes, it would be by default supporting ethnic specificities, such as religion, whilst communism sought to eventually achieve atheist societies. To me, in this line of thought, it would make more sense that religious communities, if they had to be associated with a political current, would be so with fascist, considering its promotion of national identity (and what defines it, by extension), instead of communism. And the fact that fascism and Nazi fascist were against Jews is one more incoherence of this regime.
Paul Hanebrink, A Specter Haunting Europe (podcast)
David Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” inFascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130