After the readings this week, I got to see the terms we discussed last week, in particular fascism in a different way. We are used to hearing fascism discussed by people who were observing the regime, but this week we got to see an insider’s perspective as to why they were drawn to this idea. The prompt given prior to the readings was fascism: for the nation, against empire and it helped to direct my thoughts through the readings.
A theme I came across this week was nationalism and national identity and how these ideas played a role in the support for fascism. As Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s piece suggests a fascist regime was part of a cultural reclamation, where Italy felt that it had lost its national identity and were being populated with too many non-Italians which led to the need to reclaim their culture, which they felt was being lost. This loss of national identity also spurred the demographic colonization in Africa to help build the population back up in order to bring civility and discipline to the people of Africa. Fascism fueled the idea that countries belonged to the colonizers and it was their duty to civilize all they could.
As Paul Hanebrink mentions, Judeo-Bolshevism was a response to wanting to purify their country from immigrants. Rather than take responsibility, blame about communism was put on the Jews as an excuse to purify the country. The idea is that in order to have a true national identity, there must be a pure race, something that connects the entire country, diversity would harm this. It is interesting to see how fascist regimes did what they did as they thought it was helping their country, with little thought for the harm it would cause others.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45.
Paul Hanebrink, A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism (Harvard University Press, 2018), pp. 1-10, 11-45.