By Jim Dagg

The Ben-Ghiat reading shows that Mussolini wanted an Italian-controlled empire: that’s the twisted take on internationalism for Italian Fascism. Mussolini expected that possession of his new empire would provide a means to develop and demonstrate the superiority of the Italian male, and especially the Italian soldier. Events shows that Empire was not a good fit: the military resorted to gas attacks to control the natives; and colonists – especially from the south of Italy (called “Italy’s own Africa”) – weren’t up to challenge of acting as the noble and superior manager.

Hitler wasn’t interested in overseas empire: his attention was on the European empire he wanted for Germany. Motadel’s academic article shows that he was willing to engage with anti-colonial authoritarians who might help his cause. Most of these were exiles from British colonies, who might create distraction for the British, and also serve as like-minded authoritarians in the event of successful revolution. Hitler apparently regretted not making better use of this opportunity. The fact is that he was focused on Europe and he didn’t look at that as an internationalist move, but rather as simple dominance.

Motadel’s NYTimes article identifies two Fascist initiatives that come closest to being internationalist in nature. He highlights the Spanish Civil War and the Anti-Comintern Pact. These two showed that far-right organizations time could collaborate at least to the extent of targeting a common enemy. Motadel believes today’s far-right groups will work together similarly – for example to undermine the European Union. He doubts though that more constructive international collaboration is likely, as members of these nationalist groups are highly focused on their local concerns. Historically, during WWII, suspicion and selfishness prevented constructive collaboration among the Axis partners – and Spain for that matter. Fascists mostly don’t do Internationalism.

Hanebrink’s article on the “Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism” provides more evidence of this. One of the common villainizing characterizations against Jews was that they were “root-less” border-crossers. Of course, this was combined with worse accusations, but it’s relevant to emphasize this aspect. People from away – call them internationals – are undesirable/despicable to Fascists.

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