Once again, the readings from this week were in a lot of ways similar to the previous ones. The common theme here is fascism’s capacity to adapt according to the time. In week 4 we saw how Franco rebranded Spain as a beacon of freedom and hope in a world dominated by liberal democracies. He had to concede certain liberties to the people in order to keep his grip on power. The readings from week 5 showed how easily former Nazi officers were able to swiftly reintegrate society and occupy high offices. Here we are now in week 7, looking at the rise of neofascism, and how, despite promoting similar values than the “old-fashioned” one, had to adopt a different approach in the way it advertised itself.
Bland states that neofascism prioritize “demonstrating its antagonistic relationship with existing national and global power structures over asserting national and racial superiority” (Bland 113). Although national and racial superiority might have been looming in the background, the primary focus, prompted by the events of 1968, was the criticism of the systems in place, and to propose the introduction of a more authoritarian rule. This is what Amyot called the “strategy of tension”. This is very much a process that can be applied to Franco’s Spain. This example is perhaps even more telling, since we are dealing the same man over decades.
I am now reminded of one of our earliest readings, one that made the difference between the military victory and the structural/systemic victory over fascism. The amyot reading showed just how much the systemic victory was just as important as the military one, if not more. As he points out, postwar Italy sill had people from the previous regime in high offices, the fascist legal code was still in use and the firms that thrived during the fascist era were still dominant (36). This is what allowed for the rise of neofascism.
Another thing I think is relevant to talk about, is what Roger Griffin said about neofascism being a “faceless phenomenon” (Bland 113). By that, Griffin meant that neofascism became distinctively transnational in nature, less bent on national pride (again, needs of the time) in order to pose a viable opposition to liberal regimes. Now, we did see that the right depends heavily on universalism, no matter the era, so I was a bit confused at first as to why this particular aspect would set neofascism apart from its ideological parent. But since this new wave was built by the post-war world, it can be argued that even the transnationalism dimension of neofascism took a different approach. Griffin’s quote continues and explains that as a result of a changing world, “ideological coherence was prone to becoming an inevitably secondary concern.” (Bland 113). I think this is where the difference lies. I also think that it explains the doctrine of someone like Evola, who adopted a more cultural approach to fascism. Evola was concerned with the idea of Tradition, even borrowing from “exotic” religions to consolidate fascist ideals. Neofascism, I feel, is about grabbing whatever society threw and convert it (or at least try) into a powerful apparatus.