Does Fascism Inherently Oppose Internationalism?

Fascists have historically occupied a unique place in the international community. While they are often thought of as insular and isolated from other countries, they also understand that international collaboration between ideologically similar states can act as a countering force to less desired forms of internationalism, namely imperialism and communism. As Motadel observes, the Second World War saw a peculiar collaboration between the Nazi Party and various factions which were opposed to the imperialism of the western Allies or the communism of the Soviet Union. The degree to which this was based in a genuine affinity for each others’ causes is questionable. The Nazis certainly had practical reasons for forging alliances with other nationalist or anti-colonialist groups. In strengthening these elements, the Nazi’s enemies would be forced to concentrate more energy on subduing them instead of fighting Germany. It can also be argued that Nazi Germany did not truly oppose imperialism, evidenced by their expansionist plan in executing Generalplan Ost. They simply had disdain for the multiethnic, cosmopolitan imperialism, of which the British Empire was a prime example. However, as Ruth Ben-Ghiat points out regarding Mussolini’s Italy, the fascist’s views on expansionism was not monolithic. In fascist Italy’s case, they portrayed their occupation of Ethiopia not as a war of extermination, but as a civilizing mission. Still, the similarities to Nazi expansionism are clear because both were based in a shared view of “Aryan” superiority and not the materialistic motivations of capitalism or communism. In other words, fascists are ambivalent towards internationalism because they don’t consider it to be inherently positive or negative. If it takes the form of international capitalism or communism, then it must be opposed. If, on the contrary, the international community serves to strengthen each individual nation, then it is a desirable goal.   

Nationalism does not equal Anti-internationalism

Written by Emma Bronsema

Fascist and nationalist are against certain aspects of internationalism, especially in relation to the movement of people and ideas on a global scale. However, these regimes have worked in tandem with one another to preserve their ideals and see their nationalistic beliefs spread on a global scale. This cooperation between the like-minded nations is a part of the international phenomenon. 

Commonality is often found within the far right political spectrum. For example, fundamental fascists beliefs and policies are inline with other fascists in another part of the world. What these anti-colonials, nationalists and fascists stand for, are in line with each other. In other words, they share the same basic interests of the independent, self-sufficient, homogeneous cultured nation. This includes not encouraging the movement of people and keeping the population in groups based off of nationality, race and/or ethnicity.

Even though they are not completely in line with what the term internationalism has come to be defined as, fascists are not completely against it. Alliances and cooperation on an international level between like-minded nations is considered beneficial rather than a hindrance.

Through this camaraderie, they are able to maintain their desired homogeneity, but are involved in global discourse. There is also an understanding that there is strength in numbers, and their success in running their nation is a direct result of their relationship with internationalism. Moreover, the term internationalism acknowledges the existence and role of the nation – which is one of the major concerns of nationalistic regimes.


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

David Motadel, “The Far RIght Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism — But They Depend on It” The New York Times (July 2019).

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130.

Contradictions – the nuanced relationship between fascism and internationalism

Michaela Bax-Leaney

I would argue that the popular understanding of fascism, or at least my understanding of fascism, is one which by its very nature has a distain and distrust for that which lies beyond the borders of its state. If we understand fascism to be an authoritarian, strictly regimented society, then it would be expected that there would be a desire to keep out external corrupting, or worse, liberalizing influences. And yet, as Motadel and Ben-Ghiat show us, while an ideal world for a fascist might be one in which they do not need to engage with other nation states, that simply is not nor has it ever been a plausible reality. Thus, the ways in which fascism, and in the modern context the far right, engages on the international stage is utterly fascinating.

What particularly struck me in both Motadel and Ben-Ghiat’s academic pieces was the depiction of fascist interaction and engagement in the colonial project. In particular, as Motadel writes, “United in their global struggle against the imperial world order, Berlin’s anticolonial revolutionaries formed a nationalist international against empire.” Perhaps this reveals a juvenile understanding of the Nazi regime, but I would argue as it is popularly understood, Nazi Germany was inherently an imperial state, or at the very least sought to become one as they invaded, occupied, and installed their own form of government within conquered nation states. Of course, Motadel writes about revolutionaries within Berlin, not of official Nazi policy, but he does describe a pragmatic endorsement by the Nazi regime later in the war of these revolutionaries.

And, as Ben-Ghiat writes, Germany’s fellow European fascist state Italy embraced fully its role as a colonial power through its invasion and colonization of Ethiopia. It’s a notion that seems filled with contradiction – Motadel tells us that Berlin became home to some radical anti-colonial activism, yet history bears witness to dramatic engagement with both colonial and international stages by these fascist regimes, and all of this is read with the understanding that fascism is a rejection of empire and internationalism. It’s a sea of contradictions – but perhaps that is the point.

Works Cited  

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” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945

(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130.


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.

Works cited:

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

The Third Path?

Lucas Lang

Nationalism was born out of the failures of Imperialism and liberal democracy. Imperialism involved multiple nationalities coexisting under a single banner which often involved oppression and hierarchy based on nationality and race. This was understood through the examples of France and Great Britain. The Soviet Union, and thus Communism was seen by minorities in a similar light as it also enforced its political policies upon other nationalities within its borders.  Nationalism was seen as a third way which instead advocated for the independent nation’s ability and right to self-determinism. Nationalists do tend to focus primarily on national interests rather than international issues. They tend to see internationalism as an extension of communism. Rather than spreading out resources and having all suffer (or benefit) equally, nationalists prefer to ensure that their nation benefits first before resources can be spared to assist other states. This week’s readings ultimately show the oxymoronic and inconsistent effects produced by the realities of nationalism. On the one hand, nationalism can lead to rejection and discrimination against foreigners, as can be seen in Italy’s colonial expeditions in Africa. On the other hand, it also can lead to cooperation with foreign nationalists as can be seen in the example of Nazi Germany. While to some, nationalists working with foreign nationalists might seem ironic or non-sensible, it is more practical than might first be construed. If the goal of the Nationalist is to seek the independence and prosperity of his nation, it is to the nations benefit if others are not interfering because they are seeking the same goal. The real irony is that in expanding their borders for their nation’s benefit, they oppress other nation’s nationalism.

The Stability of Right-Wing Anti-International Internationalism

Jake Rooke

When one thinks of fascism, nationalism, or nativist projects and regimes in history and contemporary politics there seems to be the creation of a binary paradigm – that nationalism and internationalism are incompatible. That these paradigms cannot co-exist and must function in parallel. Why would a nativist and regime ideologically devoted to national tribalism cooperate with other regimes that deploy similar insular narratives? Accordingly, the binary paradigm crystalizes and adheres to a false narrative that fascist obedience and anti-internationalism are ideologically pure. Instead, there is a common cause in their approach that creates an internationalism that transcends nativism. This can be better understood through two methods: first, an ideological adherence to right-wing nationalism and second, a pragmatic realization that ideological purity is inflexible in an international environment that has immeasurable socio-political differences. Motadel’s (2019a; 2019b) articles balance these and display how anti-internationalism when projecting internationally, is still a global moment. Therefore, this authoritarian international doctrine can be better understood as an anti-international internationalism. The interconnections and unity between fascist nationalists are their ideological disdain for liberal internationalism and by a pragmatic understanding that your enemy’s enemy, is also your enemy. However, larger questions arise out of the stability of this authoritarian internationalism.

It is unknown what relationship Nazi Germany would have had with Mussolini’s Fascist Italy if the Axis had won. How would these two powers, or better yet, an Asian society such as Japan have been able to constructively cooperate in the international system with tribal devotions? This question also begs how other right-wing nationalist movements, with a plethora of racial and cultural distinctions, such as those in Motadel’s (2019a) article, would have been regarded in an international system devoted to conceptions of racial superiority, nativism and hyper-militarism. As Motadel (2019a) shows, the fascist regimes found it useful to harbour and support anti-imperial right-wing members of the global south for mainly pragmatic gain. That is, these would-be fascist leaders, aligning with the Axis would have caused an intra-empire movement to topple colonial authorities in the British and French colonies. However, it is unclear what the cost of such support for independence from Empire would have been, and how the fascist regimes would have extracted these costs from their new global south collaborators. Once the Allies had fallen and the ideal of the fascist nation-state became the proto hegemony, it is logical to assume that Nazism’s intermestic war-time strategy would have become more ideologically insular, and looked for ways to exploit those they saw as racially inferior and also militarily weaker. The global moment, for authoritarians, was a means to an end, as nativism adheres to an asymmetrical and zero-sum discourse. This winner-takes-all would result in the smaller nation-states either collaborating to prevent dominance or accepting a new fascist structured hierarchical neo-imperial system. It is unclear how a smaller fascist nation-state such as Egypt or Iraq would have survived in the face of blatant survival of the fittest geopolitics.

This anti-international internationalism propagated by right-wing populists globally is again gaining adhesion through a similar pragmatic understanding. This understanding of quasi-unity derives from their ideological disdain for liberal internationalism and what they see as a growing threat against the nation-state and the pure people. This begs a similar question to before: how would these right-wing populists and soft-nationalists, such as the Brexit Party’s Farage or Le Penn’s National Rally cooperate in an international system directed by anti-internationalism? It is plausible, that once the need for anti-international international pragmatism had exhausted itself, they would turn to more ideologically driven insular visions in their nation-state. Here is where conflict would arise. For in an international global authoritarian moment, where nativism devotes itself to hierarchy and for example, ‘America First’ policies, cooperation is impossible once pragmatism is eroded and your enemy’s enemy is vanquished. By overtly stating one’s nation as ‘First’, it communicates that others will come last. This mixed with militarism and the decoupling of interdependence is how global conflicts arise.

Works Cited:

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

Motadel, D. (2019b, July 03). The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism – But They Depend on It. Retrieved January 24, 2021, from

Nationalism and Internationalism

By Sydney Linholm

David Motadel points out the irony of the conflict between nationalism and internationalism in the statement “Internationalism, a concept that, after all, implicitly presumes the existence of the nation, and extreme nationalism are not necessarily incompatible.” He says that the far right depends on internationalism for the global cooperation of their groups and to increase their operations in transnational institutions, despite the far right’s repeated denouncing of internationalism. This is an intriguing point to make, as this can be seen within the Trump administration’s attitudes towards foreign policy. In a 2020 article for the Washington Post entitled “U.S. foreign policy might be too broken for Biden to fix”, Josh Rogin details the Trump administration’s distaste for funding American foreign policy, and has completely torpedoed international relations with his “America First” policies. For example, he has openly rejected multilateralism, tried to gut funding for diplomacy, and weakened some of the U.S.’s alliances. As a result, they benefit less from international cooperation because of their refusal to participate in it and threatening of neoliberal institutions such as NATO. In my mind, this is an example of a far-right politician being against internationalism, but in such a way that it is detrimental to their agenda. Motadel points out the history of far-right and fascist leaders engaging in internationalism, with examples being Conference of Fascist Parties convened by Mussolini, and the Nuremburg rallies in which the Nazis welcomed international like-minded groups. This is interesting to think about within the modern far-right group mindset that rejecting internationalism protects their agenda, with the Trump administration being an example, and forces one to think about why these groups feel the need to protect their agendas from internationalism when it was not rejected in the past.


Rogin, J. (2020, October 08). Opinion | U.S. foreign policy might be too broken for Biden to fix. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from

Motadel, D. (2019, July 03). The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism – But They Depend on It. Retrieved January 24, 2021, from

For the Nation, Against Empire?

Sara Dix

The articles by Motadel and Ben-Ghiat highlight the themes of anti-colonialism and cosmopolitanism through the historical fascist perspective. In The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt against Empire, Motadel discusses that while fascism was out to correct certain national issues, it also aimed at creating a new world order. So fascism, inherently, is cosmopolitan to an extent.

During WWII, the Nazi regime needed to engage with outside anti-colonial movements to achieve its goal for furthering an spreading its ideologies outside of Europe. Motadel also argues that Berlin’s anti-colonial revolutions was essentially anti-imperial and it called for an international order based on the principles of the nation and not empire which appealed to many anti-colonial nationalists worldwide. These included anti-colonial revolutionaries did not represent the majority which is why they needed to band together. Even Ben-Ghiat, through her analysis of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, mentioned that even though it was meant to portray this idea of creating an Italian empire, the result meant repeated Ethiopian rebellions and failure of the Italian authorities to secure Ethiopia as its own.

Motadel mentions the Catalan situation in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and Britain’s Brexit Party who turned their backs during the Union’s anthem. While “internationalism” is considered to be hated by contemporary nationalists, it is ironic that these same nationalist groups are seeking out allies across borders and becoming the definition of “internationalism” through transnational institutions. He calls it “reactionary cosmopolitanism” where these groups are working together as a reaction to their threatened nationalist perspectives and the idea that multiculturalism and pluralism only puts a negative weight on the state.

Works Cited

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

David Motadel, “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier than Internationalism – But They Depend on It.” The New York Times (July 3, 2019).

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945
(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130.

Fascism & The New Italian

By: Vincent Larocque

In this weeks reading and Youtube video had the idea of remaking and reworking the perceptions of the image of the average Italian as well as the Italian state itself.

In “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy by Ruth Ben-Ghiat observed the attempted creation of the new Italian “no longer becoming, but IS a soldier” amongst other ideals set forth by Mussolini and the Italian Fascist government. The theme of of renewal or change is present in the article as Italy was undergoing a type of identity crises all the while seemingly copying and trying hard to relate to the Nazi regime in Berlin. Mussolini and other Italian Fascist were off put by the Nazi’s bid to become the undisputed rulers of the “new Europe” and Italian fascists grew alarmed at the unequal relationship between Berlin and Rome since they considered themselves to be equal. As such, this accelerated the idea of Italians to become “a race of hard edged conquers” and even more alarming were the 1938 racial laws that sought to define Italians as Aryans by instituting a campaign of cultural reclamation (bonifica della cultura) and copying anti-Jewish measures for Mussolini’s plan of Italian “Aryanization” to overcome the national inferiority complex.

The idea of the “New Italian” is also present in the video presented of the week “Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema” where Italian cinema at this time reinforced Fascist racial and labour policies. The Italian style cinema, which has been compared to 1930’s Soviet realism, focuses on the “new man’ archetype where it is centered around the Italian male and has heavy connotations to Italian colonialism. Through film and because Italian colonial holding are not as historical and mostly new reflected a way to disengage audiences with domestic troubles, “don’t worry about what is going on at home when we are trying to re-create the Roman Empire” and through the cinematic experience of idealizing the Italian male, it could create a colonial history and behavior that reflects all the ideals of Fascist Italy.


Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945
(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130.

Ben-Ghiat, R. (2015, April 9). Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema. New York University. Retrieved from v=ZbFFLXVvtXc&ab_channel=CasaItalianaNYU

Does the Nationalist Fear Internationalism? Not Exactly.

By Bryce Greer

Does the nationalist fear internationalism? Not exactly. On the contrary, when looking at the history behind nationalist and fascist moments in the 20th century, one in its own repetition today, the nationalist fits within the concept of internationalism. David Motadel’s “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism – But They Depend on It” expresses concern for the idea of nationalist internationalism. From a contemporary standpoint, looking at July of 2019, he describes a far-right alliance of the European parliament, all forming under one goal, to undermine the European Union. Indeed, what appears from the article is nationalists forming together into an international league, and although they speak of nationalist rhetoric, their international alliance does not prevent them from their nationalism.  

Motadel voices his concern to a national internationalism and the analogy to the 20th century becomes striking in his work “The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt Against the Empire.” A less-spoken history is that of Nazi Germany’s pragmatic decision to align themselves with anti-colonial nationalists under banner, and this was to bring down the imperial powers of the Allies. Berlin was a haven for the nationalist internationalism. Despite disagreements to the Aryan supremacy of Nazi rhetoric, anti-colonist nationalists from Africa, India, the Middle East, etc. flocked to Germany due to their shared hate toward the imperial world orders. Allied through fear and the idea of liberation, it was clear that nationalists could pragmatically find an international alliance.

Yet, it is not just pragmatism that can allow for the alliance but rather the simple notion of having only one common goal or ideology. As Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Fascist Modernities reveals fascist Italy had its own imperialist mindset, yet this did not stop an international league of nationalists. To compare Motadel and Ben-Ghiat, anti-colonists found an ally with Nazi Germany through their distain against the oppressive Allied imperial orders. Italy, an imperialist themselves, found an ally with Nazi Germany for a shared ideological goal of bringing civilization to the “uncivilized” – a form to the Aryan supremacy. Fear is a strong method for nationalist internationalism. It becomes the rhetoric of “us” versus “them” that brings the nationalists under one banner. It is the “Other,” rather it be the imperialists who differ from the pragmatic goals of the anti-colonists, or the “uncivilized” for fascist Italy or even Judeo-Bolshevism, as Paul Hanebrink speaks of in A Specter Haunting Europe. Even today now, immigrants continue to be an “Other” for some of Europe’s nationalist leaders.

Therefore, it is not internationalism that the nationalist fears. Rather, as Motadel states, it is colloidal internationalism, a liberal internationalism that seeks to remove any existence of nation-states, that they fear. So, to combat this, nationalist internationalism, even through all their own disagreements, is formed and strives to exist for the sole purpose of keeping the existence of their nation-states alive.

Works Cited:

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945
(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130.

Paul Hanebrink, A Specter Haunting Europe : The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018.

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

David Motadel, “The Far-Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism – But They Depend on It.” New York Times (July 3, 2019).